Sunday, August 12, 2018

Hold it up to the Light

From Romans: Finding the Faith

Romans 8:18

For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.

Holding it up to the Light
When you need to get a good look at something you hold it up to the light and make sure that you are getting a clear view.  The believer is to hold all of their struggles up to the light of God’s revelation to us in the Bible.  When we look at what has been promised to everyone who enters into a relationship with Christ through faith we get to see things in perspective.  And that makes all of the difference. 

Very often we look at our situations and get bent out of shape about a detail, or an offhanded comment, or some minor incident.  Looking at it a day later we find that the thing that had our feathers so very ruffled was really nothing of any great importance when considered in perspective.  This is what happens to EVERY struggle when we truly understand the magnitude of the glory that the Lord has shared, and will share, with us in the person of Jesus Christ.

Sunday, August 5, 2018

Know Jesus, Know God

From 1-3 John - Life in Fellowship:

1 John 2:22-23
22Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ?
This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.
23Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father;

the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.

Know Jesus, Know the Father
Jesus Christ is the perfect representation of the Father.  The character of God is more clearly portrayed in the Person of Jesus Christ than anywhere else.  The world may be comfortable with Jesus, so long as He is not said to be the “only way” to God.  However, this is the clear message of Scripture.  It seems that John had the conversation recorded in John 14:6 very much in mind when He wrote this passage as it parallels that account clearly:

5Thomas said to Him, "Lord, we do not know where You are going, how do we know the way?" 6Jesus said to him, "I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me. 7"If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also; from now on you know Him, and have seen Him." 8Philip said to Him, "Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us." 9Jesus said to him, "Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, 'Show us the Father'? 10"Do you not believe that I am in the Father, and the Father is in Me? The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works. 11"Believe Me that I am in the Father and the Father is in Me; otherwise believe because of the works themselves. - John 14:5-11 NASB
Christ made it abundantly clear: to know Jesus is to know the Father, and apart from Jesus there is no way of knowing the Father.  It is also important in understanding the deity of Jesus Christ.  These statements could not be made of any mere human.  The only person who could speak in such amazing terms (and about Whom such amazing things can be said) must, of necessity share the essence of God.  This is foundational to the core reality of the Trinity in Scripture.

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Older Women and Younger Women and Encouragement

Titus 2:3-5
3 Older women likewise are to be reverent in their behavior, not malicious gossips nor enslaved to much wine, teaching what is good,  4so that they may encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children,  5to be sensible, pure, workers at home, kind, being subject to their own husbands, so that the word of God will not be dishonored.

In Greek, this word has the idea of encouraging someone to their personal duty.  The older women are to be teaching the young women.  It is very interesting the older women are given the responsibility to be teaching, caring for, and disciplining the younger women.  This is very important, especially in this day in age.  It is not usually appropriate for a male elder to council a young woman, especially in a one on one setting.  This is something that Paul gives to the older women to oversee and care for.  We have seen in our day, some of us from very close quarters what can happen when men and women get involved in inappropriate ways, often with the very best intentions.  It is also affected by the fact that even if nothing inappropriate happens it can raise questions in the minds of onlookers and mar the credibility of church members.  This is a massively important task without which the Local Church could fall apart completely.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

Two Real Men

Romans 5:12-17 (NASB)
12Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinned – 13for until the Law sin was in the world, but sin is not imputed when there is no law.  14Nevertheless death reigned from Adam until Moses, even over those who had not sinned in the likeness of the offense of Adam, who is a type of Him who was to come.  15But the free gift is not like the transgression.  For if by the transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to the many.  16The gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose from many transgressions resulting in justification. 17For if by the transgression of the one death reigned through the one, much more those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.

Two Men
In these verses we see two men contrasted.  The first is Adam and the second is Christ.  The first thing we must note is that if Adam didn’t literally live this passage is meaningless.  Paul, along with all of the other Biblical Authors (and Christ Himself), views Adam as a real literal man, who was the first of all men, created by the very hand of God.  It may seem like a compromise to suggest the days of creation are “symbolic” or to be interpreted “poetically” but if this is so there is absolutely no theological meaning for what follows hereafter, as we will see.  The remainder of this study will take for granted that Adam was a real, physical man and really was the first of all men whom we are all ultimately descended from, not a “symbol” or a “poetic device” or any other allegorical non-sense. 

The contrast is between Adam and Christ and will give us an understanding of the two positions that are available to mankind.  We can be positioned in Adam, and identified with his sin and our own, or we can be positioned in Christ, and identified with His righteous sacrifice and perfection.  This is yet more important information in understanding the character and nature of our salvation and will be the very important background information as we begin to consider sanctification in the coming chapter.

Sunday, July 15, 2018

Good Senses

An excerpt from 1-3 John: Life in Fellowship 
1What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we have looked at and touched with our hands, concerning the Word of Life-- " John 1:1

John here breaks his witness down to the very core level, his very senses and experience.  While he was the final remaining Apostle there may have been other disciples still alive who had seen Him.  John is also, possibly, invoking the memory of the other apostles that had passed away and saying, “We all had this experience.”

Hearing – The first sense with which John mentions having experienced the person and ministry of Jesus Christ is with his ears.  This is in the perfect tense which is “past tense completed action with results going into the present.”  There may be a sense of “we heard Him and His voice still rings in our ears.”  John heard Jesus and remembered very well what He said.

Seen – The next way in which John interacted with Jesus Christ during His earthly ministry is that he saw Jesus.  To the verb “seen” John adds “with our eyes.”  John wanted to make sure that everyone understood that this is not a metaphor for spiritually seeing Jesus.  He actually SAW Jesus.  He saw Jesus make footprints, he saw Jesus eat, He likely camped out close enough to Jesus to know that when He tossed in his sleep he upset the blankets that were draped over Him.  Then he says “we looked”, this is to look so as to gain insight.  They gazed at Jesus and studied Him!

Touch – Not just that, John touched Jesus.  He undoubtedly exchanged the traditional greeting of a holy kiss on the cheek and felt Jesus’ beard on his face.  John remembered that Peter was raised out of the water by Jesus’ own hand, and himself reclined against Jesus at the last supper.  Jesus had come fully in the flesh and it is of the utmost importance that He did.

Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Disciple Making the Right Way

Matthew 28:19-20 is often called “the Great Commission”.  In these verses the Risen Christ tells his disciples:

“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.”

While English translations can give the impression that the command is to “go” the word translated go is actually a passive participle.  While a little clunky in English, the translation “As you are going…” gives the sense of the Greek –while we move along the Lord’s paths for us we are to be doing something.

The imperative comes next: They are commanded to “make disciples.” this is quite different than making converts.  It meant to teach, coach and mentor people in the ways and thinking of another – in this case: The ways of Jesus Christ!  Discipleship meant more than a transfer of information, it was knowledge demonstrated in the life of the disciple or learner.

This verse is clear – the focus is not on the “going” but the “making of disciples” and there is not one person on earth who is excluded from the potential for Biblical discipleship.  Believer’s today are playing the key roles in this very mission of making Disciples for Jesus.