OriginalChristianity

Not Traditional, Original

Agape – First Things First – Christians Love

A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Joh 13:34-35 ESV)

These are the words of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. He says that the way that you know Christians is by their love. And he tells us that we are to love as we have been loved by him.

This is seen in evidence throughout history. The article Christians Stood Out In Early Christianity For Their Love To All During Terrifying Epidemics While Others Fled points out that Julian wrote to the high priest of Galatia that others needed to be like the Christians who were known for their love and care of people. He cites this care as primary to the cause of the rise of Christianity.

Today Christians do continue to love and give in many ways from running soup kitchens and shelters to working on housing for the poor to working in clinics to aid the sick among us. And as individuals when we see someone in need and feel the conviction of the spirit we give to that person.

The basic law of Christianity, the first and greatest commandment is to love God

But when the Pharisees heard that he had silenced the Sadducees, they gathered together. And one of them, a lawyer, asked him a question to test him. “Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Mat 22:34-40 ESV)

These verses go on to say that the second greatest law is like the first: Love your neighbor as yourself. Our life is all about the love of God, loving God and others with that same love.

The title of this article starts with “agape” because there are four words for love in the English Bible but the subject of this article is agape love, also defined as the love of God. Look for another article to further expound on the different words translated love in the bible but briefly the others are phileo love or friendship, eros love or romantic – sexual love, and storge – familial love or affection. But back to the love of God – agape ( a-GOP-?).

Jesus lived that love on earth. The Gospels are full of examples of the love of God manifested by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Everywhere he went Jesus reached out and touched people. He healed people from diseases.

That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. (Mat 8:16 ESV)

Jesus, aware of this, withdrew from there. And many followed him, and he healed them all (Mat 12:15 ESV)

Now when Jesus heard this, he withdrew from there in a boat to a desolate place by himself. But when the crowds heard it, they followed him on foot from the towns. When he went ashore he saw a great crowd, and he had compassion on them and healed their sick. (Mat 14:13-14 ESV)

In that last verse, Jesus was mourning the death of John the Baptist. He just wanted to be alone. But the crowd heard where he was, and walked on foot to find him. In spite of his grief, when Jesus saw the crowd he had compassion on them, and he healed the sick among them. What love!

Because of the love of God in Jesus multitudes were miraculously fed. The continuation of the verses above show just such a miracle:

Now when it was evening, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a desolate place, and the day is now over; send the crowds away to go into the villages and buy food for themselves.” But Jesus said, “They need not go away; you give them something to eat.” They said to him, “We have only five loaves here and two fish.” And he said, “Bring them here to me.” Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass, and taking the five loaves and the two fish, he looked up to heaven and said a blessing. Then he broke the loaves and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children. (Mat 14:15-21 ESV)

Another record of miraculous feeding illustrates the same thing.

Then Jesus called his disciples to him and said, “I have compassion on the crowd because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And I am unwilling to send them away hungry, lest they faint on the way.” And the disciples said to him, “Where are we to get enough bread in such a desolate place to feed so great a crowd?” And Jesus said to them, “How many loaves do you have?” They said, “Seven, and a few small fish.” And directing the crowd to sit down on the ground, he took the seven loaves and the fish, and having given thanks he broke them and gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up seven baskets full of the broken pieces left over. Those who ate were four thousand men, besides women and children. (Mat 15:32-38 ESV)

These were not mere displays of power, rather they were acts of love! This is the love of God to his people.

He healed the man born blind, something that had never been done.

As he passed by, he saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.” Having said these things, he spit on the ground and made mud with the saliva. Then he anointed the man’s eyes with the mud and said to him, “Go, wash in the pool of Siloam” (which means Sent). So he went and washed and came back seeing. (Joh 9:1-7 ESV)

He raised people from the dead.

Then Jesus, deeply moved again, came to the tomb. It was a cave, and a stone lay against it. Jesus said, “Take away the stone.” Martha, the sister of the dead man, said to him, “Lord, by this time there will be an odor, for he has been dead four days.” Jesus said to her, “Did I not tell you that if you believed you would see the glory of God?” So they took away the stone. And Jesus lifted up his eyes and said, “Father, I thank you that you have heard me. I knew that you always hear me, but I said this on account of the people standing around, that they may believe that you sent me.” When he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lazarus, come out.” The man who had died came out, his hands and feet bound with linen strips, and his face wrapped with a cloth. Jesus said to them, “Unbind him, and let him go.” (Joh 11:38-44 ESV)

And not only did Jesus do these things he loved and inspired people to be far greater than they thought possible.

And more than ever believers were added to the Lord, multitudes of both men and women, so that they even carried out the sick into the streets and laid them on cots and mats, that as Peter came by at least his shadow might fall on some of them. The people also gathered from the towns around Jerusalem, bringing the sick and those afflicted with unclean spirits, and they were all healed. (Act 5:14-16 ESV)

And God was doing extraordinary miracles by the hands of Paul, so that even handkerchiefs or aprons that had touched his skin were carried away to the sick, and their diseases left them and the evil spirits came out of them. (Act 19:11-12 ESV)

Our Lord Jesus told us that are defining mark is our love for God and for one for another.

By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (Joh 13:35 ESV)

Jesus told us how we love will be the main factor in him recognizing us eternally.

“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ “Everyone then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house, but it did not fall, because it had been founded on the rock. And everyone who hears these words of mine and does not do them will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell, and great was the fall of it.” (Mat 7:21-27 ESV)

“Whoever receives you receives me, and whoever receives me receives him who sent me. The one who receives a prophet because he is a prophet will receive a prophet’s reward, and the one who receives a righteous person because he is a righteous person will receive a righteous person’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward.” (Mat 10:40-42 ESV)

Love, people, Love, with the love of God.

November 26th, 2019 Posted by | Basic Christianity | no comments

Holiness, Part 2

In Part 1 we looked at the definition of the word holy: Something that is holy is something that is set apart for God’s purposes. We also looked at how that our call to holiness is a call to good works. We discussed how we are saved by grace and those good works don’t save us. But we are called to be holy.

Now, let’s start by deepening our understanding and look at some of the things called holy in the Bible. Again, holy in the Greek is the word hagios, And it is found 665 times in the English standard version of the Bible.

One of the first things God set apart is the seventh day, the Sabbath. God set apart the seventh day in Genesis. He made it holy:

So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation. (Gen 2:3 ESV)

God made some gatherings (assemblies) holy:

On the first day you shall hold a holy assembly, and on the seventh day a holy assembly. No work shall be done on those days. But what everyone needs to eat, that alone may be prepared by you. (Exo 12:16 ESV)

The Father set some garments and accessories of the priests holy:

These are the garments that they shall make: a breastpiece, an ephod, a robe, a coat of checker work, a turban, and a sash. They shall make holy garments for Aaron your brother and his sons to serve me as priests. (Exo 28:4 ESV)

The Lord made foods holy in the Law. In the Law, a number of things were made holy. We are no longer under the Law, but studying them helps us understand this great concept of holiness:

They shall eat those things with which atonement was made at their ordination and consecration, but an outsider shall not eat of them, because they are holy. And if any of the flesh for the ordination or of the bread remain until the morning, then you shall burn the remainder with fire. It shall not be eaten, because it is holy. (Exo 29:33-34 ESV)

Every male among the priests may eat of it. It shall be eaten in a holy place. It is most holy. (Lev 7:6 ESV)

The Lord made the firstborn cow, sheep, and goat holy here:

But the firstborn of a cow, or the firstborn of a sheep, or the firstborn of a goat, you shall not redeem; they are holy. You shall sprinkle their blood on the altar and shall burn their fat as a food offering, with a pleasing aroma to the LORD. (Num 18:17 ESV)

The Lord made the altar holy here:

Seven days you shall make atonement for the altar and consecrate it, and the altar shall be most holy. Whatever touches the altar shall become holy. (Exo 29:37 ESV)

God made his chosen people, the Israelites, holy:

And they shall be called The Holy People, The Redeemed of the LORD; and you shall be called Sought Out, A City Not Forsaken. (Isa 62:12 ESV)

He called the nation holy:

and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words that you shall speak to the people of Israel.” (Exo 19:6 ESV)

There is a greeting with a kiss that is called holy:

Greet one another with a holy kiss. All the churches of Christ greet you. (Rom 16:16 ESV)

Apostles and Prophets are called holy:

which was not made known to the sons of men in other generations as it has now been revealed to his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit. (Eph 3:5 ESV)

The above is just a partial list but it illustrates that what the Lord set apart as holy is a long list. The Word talks of Holy covenants, places, districts, prophets, commandments, foods, livestock, and more. So holiness isn’t limited to Sunday Services on church grounds. Holiness is a lifestyle.

Next, set apart from what, you may ask. The Bible tells us that believers are to be set apart from the world, dedicated to the purposes of God.

Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. (Rom 12:2 ESV)

I have talked with a number of Christians that act like they are still the same person after becoming a Christian, it’s just that now they go to church and have that in their lives. O, they are glad that they have Christ, but to a large degree, they still want to think the same way about things and live the same life. For a lot of things talked about in the Bible they say that its a different culture now than in the Bible. And so they say that we don’t have to do a lot of what the Bible says because there is a different culture now.

As Christians, we are not under the dietary and ceremonial tenets in the Law. But study shows us that the moral law is carried forth into the Church we are all part of. And, besides, the New Testament alone is full of commands telling us how to live holy lives:

The list of New Testament commands is not small, one site online lists 1050 commands. Here are just some highlights: i

Put on Christ (ROM 13:14) 2. Put on the armour of light (ROM 13:12) 3. Put on the new man (EPH 4:24; COL 3:10) 4. Put on the whole armour of God (EPH 6:11,13) 5. Put on the bowels of mercy (COL 3:12) 6. Put on kindness (COL 3:12) 7. Put on humility (COL 3:12) 8. Put on meekness (COL 3:12) 9. Put on longsuffering (COL 3:13) 10. Put on love (COL 3:14) 11. Put on the breastplate of faith and love (1.THESS 5:8) 12. Put on the hope of salvation (1.THESS 5:8)

Put away lying (EPH 4:25). Put away all bitterness (EPH 4:31). Put away wrath (EPH 4:31). Put away anger (EPH 4:31). Put away clamour (EPH 4:31). Put away evil speaking (EPH 4:31). Put away all malice (EPH 4:31).

1. Put off the old man (EPH 4:22; COL 3:9) 2. Put off anger (COL 3:8) 3. Put off wrath (COL 3:8) 4. Put off malice (COL 3:8) 5. Put off blasphemy (COL 3:8) 6. Put off filthy conversation (COL 3:8)

Let not the wife depart from her husband (1.COR 7:10) 8. Let not the husband put away his wife (1.COR 7:11) 9. Let not the Christian put away the unsaved companion who wishes to remain (1.COR 7:12,13) 10. Let not the sun go down on wrath (EPH 4:26) 11. Let not fornication, uncleanness, covetousness, filthiness, foolish talking, and jesting be mentioned among you as becometh saints (EPH 5:3-4)

These things were not written by some theologian from a tradition other than your churches’ that you may disagree with. Every statement above, every command, was written by the apostle Paul in his letters to us as Christians. The above are just some of the things that are found in the New Testament. I say that because it is true that our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, fulfilled the law. And so it is correct to say that just because it’s in the law that doesn’t mean it applies to us as Christians after the law is fulfilled. But the amount of commands, the amount of charges that we as believers are charged to do is huge.

So, what is the difference between living now, and living under the law, if there is still over 1000 commands that we need to follow? The difference is that Jesus paid the price for our sins, and mediates between us and the father. The burden of the law was heavy. Some sins required the death penalty. There is no death penalty now because of Christ’s sacrifice. His life paid the penalty for us all. But not so that we could just live conformed to the world in sin and not care. The abundant life that Jesus came to make available, the joy, the peace, the love, all the fruit of the spirit that is available to us as born-again believers is available to us as we walk in the spirit, striving against sin, dedicating ourselves to live the holy lives that God calls us to live.

iChristian Assemblies International, 1050 New Testament Commands, located at https://www.abc.net.au/reslib/201407/r1308729_17984331.pdf

November 14th, 2019 Posted by | Basic Christianity | no comments

Holiness, Part 1

Therefore, preparing your minds for action, and being sober-minded, set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ. As obedient children, do not be conformed to the passions of your former ignorance, but as he who called you is holy, you also be holy in all your conduct, since it is written, “You shall be holy, for I am holy.” (1Pe 1:13-16 ESV)

This is a verse on our charge to be holy. We are called to be holy in all our actions. But what does that mean? The simplest definition of being holy is “Dedicated or consecrated to God or a religious purpose; sacred. “i

The emphasis of the definition is on God, dedicated to God. As opposed to what, you may ask. As opposed to self, others, things, idols, etc. A phrase often used is “set apart”. Something that is holy is something that is set apart for God’s purposes.

Holiness is a fundamental part of being a Christian. It’s basic to Christianity. Holy in the Greek is the word hagios, and it is a major topic in the bible. It is found 665 times in the English standard version of the Bible. Again, holy means to set apart, dedicated to God’s purposes.

We are charged with being holy. The above verse compares a person living according to the passions of their former life, i.e., before they were Christian, with afterward. So the point is that we’re not supposed to live according to our old passions, but we are supposed to live in obedience to the Lord in our conduct.

So, what we have is a comparison, a before and after. That comparison is right at what the definition of the word holy tells us.

Now, before we go deeper, doesn’t that sound like works? After all, we have heard that we are saved by grace, not by works. Yes, that is true. We are not saved by our works. We are saved by grace:

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
(Eph 2:8-9 ESV)

But we are called to good works as the next verse after the above verses declare:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them. (Eph 2:10 ESV)

Our works can never save us, but the life of the believer is doing the works that the Lord has prepared for us.

Doing works that God has set apart for us to do is how we are holy in the conduct of our daily lives.

That is a simple look at holiness. We are going to look at it in more detail in part two on this topic.

ihttps://www.lexico.com/en/definition/holy

November 13th, 2019 Posted by | Basic Christianity | no comments

The Standard for Believing Set in the Book of Daniel for All Believers

Many people know the story of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in Daniel chapter 3.  Nebuchadnezzar the king made an image of gold.  Then he made it a capital offense not to bow down and worship the image:

Then the herald cried aloud, To you it is commanded, O peoples, nations, and languages, that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up; and whoso falleth not down and worshippeth shall the same hour be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace.  (Dan 3:4-6 ASV)

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were God-fearing men, and they didn’t bow.  Well, there were some Chaldeans that didn’t like that and they reported back to the king the Jew’s disobedience to their decree.  Nebuchadnezzar called them to task:

Nebuchadnezzar answered and said unto them, Is it of purpose, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego, that ye serve not my god, nor worship the golden image which I have set up? Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of music, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made, well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that god that shall deliver you out of my hands? (Dan 3:14-15 ASV)

But the guys were committed and their response set a standard for what it takes to be a believer:

Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-nego answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer thee in this matter. If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace; and he will deliver us out of thy hand, O king. But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.  (Dan 3:16-18 ASV)

There it is: a standard for believing.  They told the king that they knew our God could deliver them.  They stood their ground, and they said that our God will deliver them out of the hand of Nebuchadnezzar.

But…  They added a “but”.  They were committed even if the deliverance didn’t come. They said, but if not, we will still not bow!

You see, there were times that people suffered. Joseph was an example of righteous believing but as a  child, he was thrown into a well, sold into slavery, accused of rape and thrown in prison, and suffered so for about 17 years.

Prophets were mocked and persecuted:

But they kept mocking the messengers of God, despising his words and scoffing at his prophets, until the wrath of the LORD rose against his people, until there was no remedy. (2Ch 36:16 ESV)

Look at some of the things that happened to Jeremiah. Among other things he was thrown into stocks and cast into a well (cistern).

Now Pashhur the priest, the son of Immer, who was chief officer in the house of the LORD, heard Jeremiah prophesying these things. Then Pashhur beat Jeremiah the prophet, and put him in the stocks that were in the upper Benjamin Gate of the house of the LORD. (Jer 20:1-2 ESV)

So they took Jeremiah and cast him into the cistern of Malchiah, the king’s son, which was in the court of the guard, letting Jeremiah down by ropes. And there was no water in the cistern, but only mud, and Jeremiah sank in the mud.  (Jer 38:6 ESV)

Elijah ran for his life doing his job as God’s spokesman. I mean, yes, he killed the prophets of Baal with the sword and the record says:

And the hand of the LORD was on Elijah, and he gathered up his garment and ran before Ahab to the entrance of Jezreel. (1Ki 18:46 ESV)

But then King Ahab directs his ire against Elijah and next, he’s running for his life.

Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and how he had killed all the prophets with the sword. Then Jezebel sent a messenger to Elijah, saying, “So may the gods do to me and more also, if I do not make your life as the life of one of them by this time tomorrow.” Then he was afraid, and he arose and ran for his life and came to Beersheba, which belongs to Judah, and left his servant there. But he himself went a day’s journey into the wilderness and came and sat down under a broom tree. And he asked that he might die, saying, “It is enough; now, O LORD, take away my life, for I am no better than my fathers.” And he lay down and slept under a broom tree. And behold, an angel touched him and said to him, “Arise and eat.” And he looked, and behold, there was at his head a cake baked on hot stones and a jar of water. And he ate and drank and lay down again. And the angel of the LORD came again a second time and touched him and said, “Arise and eat, for the journey is too great for you.” And he arose and ate and drank, and went in the strength of that food forty days and forty nights to Horeb, the mount of God. There he came to a cave and lodged in it. And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, and he said to him, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” He said, “I have been very jealous for the LORD, the God of hosts. For the people of Israel have forsaken your covenant, thrown down your altars, and killed your prophets with the sword, and I, even I only, am left, and they seek my life, to take it away.” (1Ki 19:1-10 ESV)

God certainly delivered Elijah, sending an angel with food and hiding him in a cave for a long time, but don’t tell me that wasn’t an ordeal. That was spiritual warfare at it most intense!

There’s more: John the Baptist was beheaded.  Stephen was stoned to death. Believers got sick too: Epaphroditus almost died of sickness.  Jesus talks about how God’s spokesmen, the prophets, were and are persecuted:

Therefore I send you prophets and wise men and scribes, some of whom you will kill and crucify, and some you will flog in your synagogues and persecute from town to town, so that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah, whom you murdered between the sanctuary and the altar.  (Mat 23:34-35 ESV)

As less than perfect believers, we don’t always find deliverance.  But the standard of believing is that we obey the Lord.

In the case of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, we know that the ordeal was intense.

Then Nebuchadnezzar was filled with fury, and the expression of his face was changed against Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. He ordered the furnace heated seven times more than it was usually heated. And he ordered some of the mighty men of his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, and to cast them into the burning fiery furnace. Then these men were bound in their cloaks, their tunics, their hats, and their other garments, and they were thrown into the burning fiery furnace. Because the king’s order was urgent and the furnace overheated, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. (Dan 3:16-22 ESV)

But just as intense as the ordeal was the deliverance:

Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.” Then Nebuchadnezzar came near to the door of the burning fiery furnace; he declared, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, servants of the Most High God, come out, and come here!” Then Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego came out from the fire. And the satraps, the prefects, the governors, and the king’s counselors gathered together and saw that the fire had not had any power over the bodies of those men. The hair of their heads was not singed, their cloaks were not harmed, and no smell of fire had come upon them. Nebuchadnezzar answered and said, “Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who has sent his angel and delivered his servants, who trusted in him, and set aside the king’s command, and yielded up their bodies rather than serve and worship any god except their own God. Therefore I make a decree: Any people, nation, or language that speaks anything against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego shall be torn limb from limb, and their houses laid in ruins, for there is no other god who is able to rescue in this way.” Then the king promoted Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego in the province of Babylon.  (Dan 3:24-30 ESV)

There’s the wow moment!  God sent his messenger, his angel to protect them from the flames and they were delivered!

(Notice that it says God sent his angel.  I have seen some people make a doctrine that the deliverer was Jesus.  It doesn’t say that.  It also says “the fourth is like a son of the gods.”  There are a number of Old Testament references that talk about sons of God and they are not talking about Jesus.  In Job 2 the angels are called sons of God.  In Romans 8:14 we are called sons of God. Angels performed wondrously at different times throughout the Bible and this was one of them.)

But this was a fantastic deliverance.  They weren’t harmed.  Their clothes had no smell of fire.  They got promoted.  And our God was recognized for who he is, the only living, true God there is. Hallelujah. That is what it is all about, worshipping our God and him alone. God sends his power when his word is promoted.

The point is, though, believers believe, whether there is deliverance or not.  That’s the standard. We believe whether we get delivered or not:

But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods… (Dan 3:18 ESV)

June 22nd, 2019 Posted by | Basic Christianity | no comments

Defeating Death: He is Risen

The last enemy to be destroyed is death. (1Co 15:26 ESV)

Death is such an enemy.  The fear of death drives so many decisions in our lives.  We have safety standards, guidelines, practices to avoid injury and death.  We have medical systems, doctors, clinics, pharmacies, hospitals to avoid sickness and death.  We have fire departments to avoid fire and death.  We have police departments to avoid injury, theft, arson, and death.  We have caregivers to protect our loved ones from injury and death.  Some of us secure our homes to avoid robbery, injury and death.  Many of us have guns to protect ourselves from robbery, injury, and death. Avoiding death drives many decisions in our lives.

But one man has defeated death.  He talked the walk and walked the talk and he defeated death to make the same available for us.

As Peter said on the day of Pentecost:

“Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— this Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men. God raised him up, loosing the pangs of death, because it was not possible for him to be held by it. (Act 2:22-24 ESV)

This is Jesus the man, our brother, the firstborn among many brethren:

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.(Rom 8:28-29 ESV)

This is the emphasis of original Christianity, that Jesus the man led the way for us to be able to claim eternal life by what he accomplished for us and helped us to become.  What ever you think of Jesus in the magnificent quest, remember this:  He did it for us so that we can be like him and with him in heaven.

Jesus’ humanity is clearly and plainly  emphacized over and over in the writings.  He was born.  He grew.  He got tired, he got annoyed, he got mad, he marveled, he cried.   He labored long and hard.  All of that helps us identify with him.  He was truly flesh and blood in every sense.

And now we are like him.  If you want to talk about his divine nature then you need to talk about our divine nature because we are like him, he’s our older brother! If you want to talk about his power and miracles then you need to talk about how that same power is in you because its Christ in you, the hope of glory.  If you want to talk about Jesus with the Father in heaven then you need to put yourself in that picture because we are seated with him there:

even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ—by grace you have been saved— and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus, so that in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.  (Eph 2:5-7 ESV)

Praise the Lord!  For he is risen! And he is with us. And we are with him. Now!

April 14th, 2019 Posted by | Basic Christianity | no comments