Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Watch Your Step!

"For we all stumble in many ways, and if anyone does not stumble in what he says, he is a perfect man, able also to bridle his whole body." James 3:2 ESV

I'm not one to see Scripture taken out of context at all. I think it's irresponsible for those who would consider themselves students of the Word to do so. We have a great responsibility to rightly divide the word of truth, being workmen who need not be ashamed. So, please understand my belief concerning this as I write briefly here today.

On Sunday morning, as usual, I stepped out of the house to be on my way to church. I leave my house just about every day, so leaving the house is not something I have to put much thought into. It's a very routine process. Well, that is until this Sunday.

When I walked out the front door, I noticed it was pretty wet outside. I thought to myself, "Maybe I should bring my umbrella with me today." But, then I remembered that my umbrella was in the car, so I was good...so I thought.

What I didn't realize was that on the second set of steps leading to the main sidewalk, was some ice...right on the edge of each of the two steps. Well, I slipped on the top step, falling backward and landing on that same step...back first. The "wind" went rushing right out of my body. The pain in my back, my chest, my right shoulder and right leg were all immediate. I couldn't breathe, couldn't call for help, couldn't do anything but lay on the ground, writhing in pain. It had been a while since I had the "wind" knocked out of me, so it was very scary not being able to breathe for about a minute or so (it seemed like forever!).

After a few minutes, I contemplated if I would continue on to church or if I would go back into the house, call my father, and see what to do next. Well, I decided that I would continue on to church. I really wanted to be there, worship with the body of Christ, and hear the Word of the Lord from my pastor. I was also looking forward to a Christmas social after church.

As I was driving to church, which is about a 20 minute drive for me, I was able to really think about what had just happened. The first thing that came to mind was that I should be very grateful to the Lord that nothing more serious happened. I could have easily hit my head on the concrete and died. I had a great uncle that had that happen to him when I was a child. So, I thanked the Lord for sparing me from that.

My next thought was to my own neglect in watching where I was stepping. I was so used to walking down those little steps that it never occurred to me that I should look where I was going. I hadn't prepared myself for what lied ahead.

How many times have we all done something so many times that it becomes so routine to us that we don't even think much about it? We go through life pretty much knowing what is being asked of us each day and what we need to accomplish. We usually have a pretty good idea of how we're going to accomplish it as well. But, how often do we consider variables that may change or challenge what we're setting out to do? Do we look at each task as a brand new task, or do we merely see it as something we need not pay much attention to? The Bible says that pride goes before destruction and haughtiness before a fall. How true!

My advice to us all today is to watch your step! Be careful where you step. Don't assume things are what you think they are. Sometimes things require further investigation. We all stumble in many ways. That's very true. Just be careful, brothers and sisters.

In Christ

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Life Together Under the Word

"Life together under the Word will remain sound and healthy only where it does not form itself into a movement, an order, a society... but rather where it understands itself as being a part of the one, holy, catholic (meaning universal, not Roman Catholicism, my explanation), Christian Church, where it shares actively and passively in the sufferings and struggles of the whole Church. Every principle of selection, every separation connected with it that is not necessitated quite objectively by common work, local conditions, or family connections is of the greatest danger to a Christian community.
When the way of intellectual or spiritual selection is taken, the human element always insinuates itself and robs the fellowship of its spiritual power and its effectiveness for the Church, and drives it into sectarianism."--Dietrich Bonhoeffer (bold, my emphasis)

For those who would seek to only focus on the struggles and sufferings of ONE group of people, but yet try to use the Bible to justify such partiality in concern, I think this quote speaks volumes. People need to see themselves as part of a larger body of believers and then take on the burdens of all believers everywhere, not just ones that look like us or experience the same struggles that we do.

There is much more to that can be said by this quote, but for now, I'll leave it here.

Monday, December 8, 2008

Remember Them That Are In Bonds

"Remember them that are in bonds, as bound with them; and them which suffer adversity, as being yourselves also in the body" Hebrews 13:3 KJV

Hebrews 13 starts off by saying "Let brotherly love continue." I'm sure we have read this chapter of Hebrews and remember some very important things that the writer wrote for us so that we can "let brotherly love continue."

We usually remember that we should be sure to entertain strangers, because it says that we may have entertained angels when we weren't even aware. We tend to remember the fact that marriage is to be honourable and the bed to be undefiled. We remember that we are to be content, not covetous and to also honor those whom God has appointed over us.

But, how many of us remember verse 3 daily? Weekly? Monthly? Yearly? At all?

This verse tells us that we ought to remember those in bonds, even as if we were also in bonds with them. We should love and care for these brothers and sisters as we care for ourselves and our families. And in the case of those which suffer adversity, are we truly caring for them as we should? These people, mostly in other nations around the world that are hostile towards Christ and His gospel, are not simply foreigners. They are full-fledged members of the body of Christ, suffering for the sake of the gospel!

Are we praying for Evangelist Girmay Ambaye, who was arrested in Eritrea back in 2005 for witnessing about Christ to people on a city bus? This wasn't his first time being arrested. Evangelist Ambaye had been arrested at least twice before, yet he continued to preach Christ.

Evangelist Ambaye

How about Son Jong Nam? He was arrested in January 2006 for preaching the gospel of Jesus Christ in North Korea. He is now awaiting public execution for his "crime."

Son Jong Nam

There are many stories like this that the majority of us probably have no idea about. Are we praying for the persecuted church around the world? Are we even concerned to know what's going on with our brothers and sisters around the globe? Have we become so comfortable in our own Christianity in America that we don't look beyond the borders of our "free and democratic" society and really reach out to help our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ?

Let brotherly love continue!

How can we help? How can we be actively involved in the lives of our brothers and sisters? Well, thankfully, the Lord has provided a wonderful organization that seeks to do just that. I've been a supporter of this ministry, both financially and through prayer, for the last 2-3 years. The ministry I am referring to is Voice of the Martyrs. Many of you may have heard of this organization, but weren't sure if you'd get involved. I encourage you today to consider it, as it is a great way to "let brotherly love continue."

So, what is Voice of the Martyrs all about? (from http://www.prisoneralert.com/vompw_faq.htm):

Pastor Richard Wurmbrand founded VOM over 30 years ago. He was in prison in Romania for 14 years for his faith in Christ. In the `60s he and his family were ransomed out of Romania for $10,000 and came to the U.S. where he began traveling, educating the free world of the atrocities committed against Christians in Communist and other restricted countries. VOM's five main purposes are based on Hebrews 13:3. They are:

1. To encourage and empower Christians to fulfill the Great Commission in areas of the world where they are persecuted for their involvement in propagating the gospel of Jesus Christ. We accomplish this by providing Bibles, literature, radio broadcasts, and other forms of aid.

2. To give relief to the families of Christian martyrs in these areas of the world.

3. To equip local Christians to love and win to Christ their enemies who are opposed to the gospel in countries where believers are actively persecuted for their Christian witness.

4. To undertake projects of encouragement, helping believers rebuild their lives and Christian witness in countries that have formerly suffered Communist oppression.

5. To emphasize the fellowship of all believers by informing the world of atrocities committed against Christians and by remembering their courage and faith.

There are many ways we can help our brethren. Here are a few ways:

1. Prayer- We need to keep our brothers and sisters in prayer as they suffer though various trials for the sake of Christ. We need not only pray that persecution may decrease, but that their faith would increase as they endure the agonies of suffering at the hands of enemies.

2. Financially- I know we are going through tough economical times in America right now, but if you can still spend extra cash on items of entertainment, can you spare some extra money for those whose families have been severely burdened by the loss of a father/mother to imprisonment or death as a result of religious persecution? Many will go out this year, despite the economic recession, and spend lots of money on gifts. How much better would our time and money be spent praying and giving to those who need it?

3. Send encouraging letters to those imprisoned- VOM has a minsitry called Prisoner Alert (www.prisoneralert.com) in which they have set up a way for you to write to imprisoned Christians around the world. Each month they update the website with a profile of a Christian who is currently in bonds for preaching the gospel, or simply having Bibles in their possession. I highly encourage you to do this, if you can.

4. Send letters to government officials- Prisoner Alert also has an option to write short, to the point and respectful letters to government officials in countries who claim to promote religious freedom, yet deny those freedoms to Christians.

5. Preach the gospel- This is one thing that we really need to do more of, myself included. Here in America, we currently have no serious restrictions preventing us from freely and openly preaching Jesus Christ and Him crucified to those who are lost. We need to be on our knees thanking God for such freedom, but we can't stay on our knees. We need to get up, get out, and preach the gospel of Jesus Christ! It is the power of God unto salvation to those who believe (Romans 1:16) and we ought not be ashamed of it. How better to prove that we care about the sufferings of our brothers and sisters than to risk that same type of suffering ourselves?

I believe if more people in America were concerned with evangelism, we would receive persecution. But, as it stands today, there's no real reason for our pluralistic society to be that concerned. There's only really a handful of us out on the frontlines. Perhaps fear of man and what he can do to us is what's really behind the lack of concern for evangelism. But why fear man, who after they kill us, can do nothing else to us? We need to fear God over man. We need to seek to please Him and not men.

So, today, I just want to encourage you to head over to Voice of the Martyrs' ministry Website at: http://www.persecution.com or to the Prisoner Alert Website at: http://www.prisoneralert.com

"Let the brotherly love continue!"

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Sinner of All Sinners, Saved By Grace!

One of my favorite parts in the movie "Amazing Grace", which is about English abolitionist/politician William Wilberforce, is where his former pastor, John Newton says something like, "There are two things I know. I am a great sinner, and Christ is a great Savior."

That phrase sums it all up for me. When I think about where the Lord has brought me from, I can't help but agree. Even when I consider how terribly short I fall as a Christian, I know that there is still much work to be done for me to really look like Christ. Am I being sanctified? Absolutely. But there's still much to be done. Though I am a great sinner, Christ is a great Savior. He knows how to save His people completely and perfectly. Praise God for divine providence!

When I look back at my life prior to being saved by God's grace, I can truly say that I am the worst sinner I know. When I think about all the horrible thoughts I've had, horrible things I've done, and horrible things I've said, I know my own sin more than I know anyone else's. With other people, I can only know the sin they show me. I can't know or begin to know the very thoughts of their hearts. That isn't even my job. So, what I see from others, as far as sin is concerned, is limited.

Even when I consider notorious sinners like Adolph Hitler or Jeffrey Dahmer, I know that my crimes against God and humanity have not been any better than their's. Yes, if I compare myself to them, I'd look like a saint. But, comparing my personal sin against God's standard, we are equal. It's only God's grace that I did not commit the same atrocities. God detests all sin. His nature, being holy, cannot tolerate sin. We've all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23) and the wages we have earned is death (Romans 6:23). Oh, but the precious gift of God is eternal life, through Jesus Christ our Lord!

Oh, what a precious gift it is! When I consider my great sin, and then I consider the perfect righteousness of Christ, I know that I am truly unworthy even to be called a Christian. To bear the name of the One who lived a perfectly holy life and then laid down His life for His sheep, of which I am allowed to be a part of, seems so very unfair to Christ. Why should an innocent man die for such great sinners?

"For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever would believe in Him shall not perish, but have everlasting life." John 3:16

God loved this great sinner! He was merciful to me and has been merciful to all who come to Him in truth, confessing and repenting of their sin and placing their faith in Christ alone! He chose us in Him (Christ) before the very foundations of the world. He foreloved us even before we knew ourselves. He loved us before we were born, our parents were born, and even before Adam was created.

I’m forgiven because You were forsaken,
I’m accepted, You were condemned.
I am alive and well, Your spirit is within me,
Because You died and rose again.

Amazing love,
How can it be
That You, my King, would die for me?
Amazing love,
I know it’s true.
It’s my joy to honor You,
In all I do, I honor You.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Lois Feldman: Victim?

By now, many of you may have heard or read the story of a 38 year old wife and mother of three from Iowa named Lois Feldman. It's a sad story for many reasons. If you're unfamiliar with the story, allow me to give a brief synopsis.

On Saturday, November 22, 2008, Lois Feldman, along with her husband, Kelly, went to Minnesota's Metrodome to cheer on their beloved Iowa Hawkeyes in the Iowa-Minnesota game. Before the game, however, she says that she was drinking heavily. That proved to be a very bad decision for Mrs. Feldman.

Just before halftime, Lois decided she needed to use the ladies room. No one is really clear as to what transpired from the time she left her husband watching the game to when police arrived at the scene of two people, Lois Feldman and Ross Walsh, being cheered on by onlookers as they were engaged in sexual intercourse in the handicapped stall of the men's restroom. Both were ticketed for indecent conduct and Feldman was released into the custody of her husband and Walsh to his girlfriend (probably ex-girlfriend now).

Feldman now claims that she was so drunk on wine that she doesn't remember anything about the incident at all and she has stated that it has "ruined my life" saying that it wasn't just the incident itself that ruined her life, but also the press coverage. She told the Des Moines Register that she was fired by the assisted living center she had been an administrator of.

Now, Mrs. Feldman says that she believes that SHE is the victim in this case. She believes she was a victim of foul play rather than a willing contributor. Could it be? Surely. Is it likely? I'm not sure. Speaking about the incident, she says:

"I would never ever do that...My kids are my life. I go to church every Sunday."

Her contention is that she may have been drugged or someone may have slipped something into her drink. Unfortunately, for her defense lawyer, she and Mr. Walsh refused to submit to toxicological testing, so the extent of her drunkenness or even if there were foreign substances in her drink is unknowable at this point.

As someone who used to drink quite often, and have experienced being drunk on many occasion in my life before Christ, I can certainly understand how this might have happened to Mrs. Feldman. I remember doing things I would have never done under normal circumstances, but for me, liquor (especially wine) provided "liquid courage" to an otherwise "safe" kind of guy like myself. I felt free from all inhibitions and I dared to do things I would have never actually done without the alcohol. Notice that I didn't say I had never "thought" about doing those things, but just that I never would have actually done them.

As I was discussing this with a close friend of mine yesterday, she said that she believes alcohol works as sort of a "truth serum" where things that are down within an individual eventually come to the top. I agree, as that has been my experience with being intoxicated. But, outside of experience, I now know it to be true because God's Word says so.

Proverbs 20:1 says:

"Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise."

Proverbs 23 has this to say:

29 Who has woe? Who has sorrow? Who has strife? Who has complaining? Who has wounds without cause? Who has redness of eyes?

The answer?

30 Those who tarry long over wine; those who go to try mixed wine.

The wounds I received, as well as Mrs. Feldman, are self-inflicted wounds. The woe and the sorrow, along with strife are because of our dealings with drunkenness. Notice that complaining accompanies it. "It's ruined my life," she proclaims. She complains that she is a victim. I agree, but not of anyone else. She is a victim of her own sinful inclination (Genesis 6:5) that led her to drink heavily in the first place.

31 Do not look at wine when it is red, when it sparkles in the cup and goes down smoothly. 32 In the end it bites like a serpent and stings like an adder.

33 Your eyes will see strange things, and your heart utter perverse things.

Mrs. Feldman says that she goes to church every Sunday. So, with that, I would assume she believes that she is a Christian, probably having made some sort of profession of faith at some point. Jesus told us in Matthew 7 that a good tree cannot bring forth corrupt fruit, nor can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. We will know those who are His by their fruit. But, what does the Bible say about those who engage in drunkenness and sexual immorality?

19 Now the works of the flesh are evident: sexual immorality, impurity, sensuality, 20 idolatry, sorcery, enmity, strife, jealousy, fits of anger, rivalries, dissensions, divisions, 21 envy, drunkenness, orgies, and things like these. I warn you, as I warned you before, that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. Galatians 5:19-21 ESV

Please understand that my intent is not to pick on Mrs. Feldman. But, according to the accounts of this incident, she is guilty of at least all of the emboldened acts listed above. Am I saying that I know without a doubt that she's not a believer? No, I'm not saying that. However, her response to all of this is not one of a genuine believer who is grieved over their sin. It isn't one of a truly repentant person, who acknowleges their wrongdoing and takes responsibility for it. Like Adam and Eve in the garden, the natural tendency of the human heart is to shift blame to others.

Believers know that God is truth. We also know that God requires truth in the innermost parts of us. We believe, as God's Word teaches us, that God is spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in spirit and in truth. In order for us to have any kind of relationship with the Lord, we must be honest with ourselves and more importantly God, and take ownership of our wrongdoings and understand that we are responsible for our own sin. If we are unwilling to even acknowledge fault, we lie, and do not the truth.

That's really what this blog was all about today--personal responsibility. Tomorrow, we'll take a look at another way to deal with wrongdoings. I think you'll be surprised to see who I use as an example.

Until next time....

Monday, December 1, 2008

Defects and Defilements

Defects and defilements

(Letters of John Newton)

Dear friend,

You say that you are conscious of defects and defilements. But your heart could not be right--if you did not feel these things. To be conscious of them, and humbled for them--is one of the surest marks of grace; and to be more deeply sensible of them than formerly--is the best evidence of growth in grace!

Our righteousness is in Jesus alone; and our hope depends, not upon the exercise of grace in us--but upon the fullness of grace and love in Him, and upon His obedience unto death.

It is a mighty manifestation of His grace indeed--when it can live, and act, and conquer in such hearts as ours; when, in defiance of an evil nature and an evil world, and all the force and subtlety of Satan--a weak worm is still upheld; when a small spark is preserved through storms and floods!

In these circumstances, the work of grace is to be estimated, not merely from its imperfect appearance--but from the difficulties it has to struggle with and overcome. Therefore our holiness does not consist in great attainments--but in spiritual desires, in hungerings, thirstings, and mournings; in humiliation of heart, poverty of spirit, submission, and meekness; in hearty admiring thoughts of Jesus, and dependence upon Him alone for all we need. Indeed these may be said to be great attainments; but they who have most of them are most sensible that they, in and of themselves, are nothing, have nothing, can do nothing--and see daily cause for abhorring themselves and repenting in dust and ashes!

Friday, November 28, 2008

'Tis the Season to Be.....What?

This picture is a familiar scene for many who brave the large crowds and cold morning air on the day after Thanksgiving. Yes, probably the biggest shopping day of the year...Black Friday! One day after giving thanks (prayerfully to the Lord and not simply unassigned gratitude), folks run out to get the best deals on things for themselves and others as the Christmas holiday approaches.

I've never actually been shopping on Black Friday. I've heard enough horror stories about it that I am not interested in going. Sure, I may miss out on greatly reduced prices, but I'd rather not endure the crowds and utter lack of courtesy that is shown this time of year.

I'm sure we've all either read stories, watched news reports or have even had personal experiences with shopping during the Christmas season, especially on Black Friday. People have been trampled in a mad dash to grab the coveted gift. People have stolen things from other people's carts that they couldn't grab for themselves earlier. They push past each other, bump each other and generally show a lack of consideration for their fellow shoppers. It's so bad that many local law enforement agencies place uniformed officers in these stores to try to keep some semblance of order.

People line up as early as 3am (maybe even earlier), just to wait for store openings, and when the doors open, all breaks loose. Common decency often flies right out of the window.

The Christmas season is supposed to be about our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It's supposed to represent the time where our gracious God sent His only begotten Son into the world so that all those who will repent of their sin, believe the gospel and place their complete trust in Christ will be saved. Unfortunately, with much of the carrying on (even by some believers), I don't think Christ's example is being accurately depicted during this season, at times.

If the Christmas season was truly all about Christ in America, I'd hate to say that this is what I think might more accurately depict the scene at many shopping areas, just a day after Thanksgiving.

Don't Just Do Something, Sit There!

"Don't Just Do Something, Sit There!"
by M. Adolphus Armstrong

In today's evangelical Christian church, there seems to be a high emphasis on ministry, and rightly so. Everyone should be involved in some sort of service to help the local church.

Many have taken on a very "purpose-driven" mindset about ministry, even to the point where a person may be involved in 5, 6 or even 10 different ministries or more. They always seem to be doing something at the church. They're at this practice, this gathering, this rehearsal or meeting, etc. There's nothing wrong with these things. In fact, they're all very honorable things.

However, what I've noticed is that oftentimes these ministries take up so much time actually doing something that many suffer when it comes to personal time reading and studying the Bible.

Notice that I said reading AND studying. There's a bit of a difference in the two. For instance, I can read my Bible in the morning for a few minutes before I head off to work/school, etc. But, study takes considerably more than just a few minutes. Studying takes time.

But, if we're constantly on the move, where do we find real and substantial time to study? The answer is, we usually don't. By the time we're finished from all of our daily, weekly or monthly duties, we're just too worn out to put real quality time into our studies. So, instead, we wind up going to church and allowing our pastors to spoon feed us everything we know about the Bible. While pastors are put in place to teach us, if we only learn from him and never on our own, we will never go beyond his level of understanding. We will be subject to what he knows alone.

So, that brings me back to the title of this article. "Don't Just Do Something, Sit There!" You might have had to give that a second glance. Usually the saying is, "Don't just sit there, do something!" Well, some of the problems we face in our Christian walk is because we are always doing something, yet never just sitting and learning from God.

I want to share a story with you from the Bible concerning this issue I'm writing about today. Let's look at the Gospel of Luke, Chapter 10:

38 Now as they were traveling along, He entered a village; and a woman named Martha welcomed Him into her home. 39 She had a sister called Mary, who was seated at the Lord's feet, listening to His word. 40 But Martha was distracted with all her preparations and she came up to Him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to do all the serving along? Then tell her to help me." 41 But the Lord answered and said to her, "Martha, Martha, you are worried and bothered about so many things; 42 but only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her."

Here we have Jesus entering into a village, and there He is met by Martha. Martha has a sister named Mary. Martha was so worried about preparing things for Jesus, so cumbered about with ministry (for she was seeking to minister to him), that she missed the most important thing for her to understand. Mary had chosen it, and He said it would not be taken away from her.What was it that Mary had chosen? Mary chose to sit at the Lord's feet and listen to His word. She chose to be still and learn from Him. That was what was most important.

Dr. John MacArthur says this:

"Jesus was not speaking of the number of dishes to be served. The one thing necessary was exemplified by Mary, i.e., an attitude of worship and meditation, listening with an open mind and heart to Jesus' words."

In order for us to truly understand what it means to minister for Christ, we must first know Christ intimately, through personal worship, prayer and the reading and hearing of His word.

Are you taking real time to sit at the feet of Christ? Are you scheduling yourself enough time to really dig into His Word and know Him more intimately? Or, are you cumbered about with so many things like Martha?

I encourage all who read this to carefully consider your own schedule, and see if your study of His Word is lacking. Knowing God rightly is vitally important to being a faithful servant of Christ.

Our Hope in the Resurrection of Christ

"Our Hope in the Resurrection of Christ"

"I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell and of death:" Revelation 1:18 KJV

Over 1900 years ago, the apostle John wrote these words of our glorious Savior and King, Jesus Christ. A lot of believers misunderstand the book of Revelation to be about the anti-Christ and the seals and the devil and the lake of fire. Their fixation is upon the eschatological (end times) unfolding within the pages of the book. And while these things are all included, this is not the true object of the book of Revelation.

"The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:" Revelation 1:1 KJV

The book of Revelation is about He who lived, and was dead, and now lives forevermore. The book of Revelation is about Jesus Christ, the victorious King of kings and Lord of lords, who defeated death on the cross, and was raised up with all power in His hand. It is a revealing of what was once hidden and now made clearly seen. Jesus Christ in His full glory.

While I don't want us to delve into Revelation today, I want us to focus on what it means for us that Christ was raised from the dead and now lives forevermore. Let's look to the words of the apostle Paul in 1 Corinthians 15.

"1 Now I make known to you, brethren, the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received, in which also you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast the word which I preached to you, unless you believed in vain.

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received, that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 After that He appeared to more than five hundred brethren at one time, most of whom remain until now, but some have fallen asleep;7 then He appeared to James, then to all the apostles; 8 and last of all, as to one untimely born, He appeared to me also." 1 Corinthians 15:1-8 NASB

Here we have the most important message that the world has ever been delivered, that Christ died for the sins of His people according to the Scriptures, was buried and was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures. This is certainly good news for us, who were dead in our trespasses and sins and utterly helpless, without hope.

Much is talked about concerning Christ's perfect life of obedience to the will and purpose of the Father as well as His sacrificial, substitutionary atonement on the cross, but many miss the importance of Christ's bodily resurrection. All three of these truths are foundational to the Christian faith.

But, in the Corinthian church, there was some misunderstanding about Christ's resurrection. Yes, they believed in Christ's resurrection, but some of them were having trouble accepting the resurrection of the believers also. At the time of the Corinthians, there was a tenet of Greek philosophy called dualism. It basically stated that everything that was physical was intrinsically evil. Because of this widely held belief, the thought of resurrected bodies was disgusting. We see this type of reaction from the Epicurean and Stoic philosophers in Acts 17:32:

"Now when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some began to sneer, but others said, "We shall hear you again concerning this."

Epicureans were materialists, and while they did not deny the existence of God, they didn't believe He was involved in the affairs of men. They believed that the body and soul of a man disintegrated when he died.

It's also possible that some Jews in the Corinthian church may have been influenced by the Sadducees, who denied the resurrection even though it was "according to the Scriptures" as Paul noted in 1 Cor. 15.

12 Now if Christ is preached, that He has been raised from the dead, how do some among you say that there is no resurrection of the dead?

Here Paul begins to lay out the argument for the necessity of the resurrection.

"13 But if there is no resurrection of the dead, not even Christ has been raised; 14 and if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain, your faith also is vain. 15 Moreover we are even found to be false witnesses of God, because we testified against God that He raised Christ, who He did not raise, if in fact the dead are not raised. 16 For if the dead are not raised, not even Christ has been raised; 17 and if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins. 18 Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished. 19 If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied."

Dr. John MacArthur writes:

"In these verses, Paul gives 6 disastrous consequences if there were no resurrection: 1) preaching Christ would be senseless (v. 14); 2) faith in Christ would be useless (v. 14); 3) all the witnesses and preachers of the resurrection would be liars (v. 15); 4) no one would be redeemed from sin (v. 17); 5) all former believers would have perished (v. 18); and 6) Christians would be the most pitiable people on earth (v. 19)"

What a hopeless people we would be without the resurrection of Jesus Christ. We'd have no hope of future bodily resurrection and all those before us would have died believing in vain. As seen in verses 13 and 16, the resurrection of Christ and the resurrection of believers stand and fall together. If there is no life to come, we'd be better to "eat, drink and be merry" for tomorrow we die.

I'm going to leave off today with the Scriptures. They explain our hope in the resurrection infinitely better than I could even attempt.

"20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. 21 For since by a man came death, by a man also came the resurrection of the dead. 22 For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in his own order: Christ the first fruits, after that those who are Christ's at His coming, 24 then comes the end, when He hands over the kingdom to the God and Father, when He has abolished all rule and all authority and power. 25 For He must reign until He has put all His enemies under His feet. 26 the last enemy that will be abolished is death. 27 For HE HAS PUT ALL THINGS IN SUBJECTION UNDER HIS FEET. But when He says, "All things are put in subjection," it is evident that he is excepted who put all things in subjection to Him. 28 When all things are subjected to HIm, then the Son Himself also will be subjected to the One who subjected all things to Him, so that God may be all in all"

"54 But when this perishable will have put on the imperishable, and this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the say that is written, "DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY." 55 O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?" 56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law; 57 but thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.

58 Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord."


Thoughts on Adoption

The doctrine of adoption is one that particularly rings loudly in my heart. I understand, being adopted naturally, the difference between being someone's natural child and being an adopted child.

You see, adoption involves a choice to be made. But, this choice isn't made by the child, but by the parent. I didn't choose my mom and dad. They chose me as a little baby. Their choice to love me despite not having any blood ties to me was one of the greatest acts of love I've ever encountered in 30 years of life. They didn't have to pick me out of all the little babies who were much cuter than I. But, they did.

I was what you'd call "the runt of the litter." I was undersized and underdeveloped for my age (14 months old). I was a sickly child (was extremely anemic). But, they chose me--a sick child, to lavish their love upon. That's amazing grace.

So, when it comes to the doctrine of adoption, I realize that this is exactly what God had done for me, and for all those who are His. He didn't take the most qualified people. He didn't take those who were the greatest of them all. He took the least of us and brought us into His family. He called us His sons. He gave us a distinction that the rest of the world does not have. We are children of the Most High God. We have been allowed entry into an everlasting love relationship with a God who did not have to choose any of us, but saw our sick condition and decided to lavish His love upon us, outside of any human counsel. That's amazing grace.

One of the major differences with natural adoption and spiritual adoption as sons of God, is that my adoptive parents here on earth cannot pass down any of their unique attributes to me. I don't have my father's eyes, or my mother's nose, or even the dark skin of my father. But, my heavenly Father has given me the mind of Christ, made me a part of His own body, and has sent His Spirit to live within me, leading me and guiding me along the way. That's amazing grace!

Oh, the doctrine of adoption! So sweet the sound of God's loving melodies towards His children! May we all walk in this truth and live lives worthy of our calling.

Praise the Lord!!!! I'm FREE!!!!!

I'm so thankful that the Lord has seen fit to allow this blog to be released from blog purgatory! LOL. Now, before anyone starts trippin' about my use of the word "purgatory", please understand that it's just a joke. Purgatory does not exist. It's completely foreign to the pages of Scripture.

But, I'm so thankful that I can now post freely. Praise the Lord! So, watch out for new blogs coming soon! I'll actually be moving some of my old blogs here today as well!

Grace and peace,

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Brand New Blog!

Hey Everyone:

I decided that my old blog name (anexpositorsthoughts.blogspot.com) was too close to an existing blogsite. I didn't do this intentionally, but after I realized how close it was, I decided it be best if changed my blog name/address. So, I'll be posting here periodically. So, be on the lookout for some blogging in the coming weeks. I actually have one in mind that I may get to today.

Until then, Grace and peace.