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Death Defeating: 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

Walking and Rejoicing in the Lord is the Priority

Sections of church history are like sections of the Old Testament.  While there are glorious moments, there are many periods where people just plain messed up!  In the previous post, Part of the Good News is Bad News, I include an appendix that lists 40 verses where the people “did evil in the sight of the Lord” that illustrates how common that behavior was.  These verses are included for our learning:

For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. (Rom 15:4 ESV)

I want to look at the verses after that:

May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. For I tell you that Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarchs, (Rom 15:5-8 ESV)

Look at the words here:  endurance, encouragement, harmony, accord, glory!  The point of looking at what is past and being instructed by it is to have these great qualities in our lives!

Despite what may have happened in the past we are charged to:

But I say, walk by the Spirit, (Gal 5:16 ESV)

And walk in love, as Christ loved us and gave himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God. (Eph 5:2 ESV)

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope. (Rom 15:13 ESV)

For all the incredible power and tremendous spiritual qualities we see in the first believers they were living in a dangerous world with a knowledge of how believers in the past had erred.

So the charge is still the same for us.  We need to learn from the past while we walk in the spirit, in love, filled with joy and peace in believing, abounding in hope!

So, if the material gets to where you can’t do that, stop looking at it. I don’t believe that everyone is called to do the same thing at the same time.

The analogy that we are given by the Apostle Paul is that we are different parts of the same body.  Some are hands, some are legs, some are eyes, some are kidneys, livers, and lungs.  In other words they are different parts doing different things to help the body.  These functions are things they were made to do, their calling, if you will.  If the eye says it wants to be a lung, how does that work?

Likewise, in the body, we are called to different functions in the body.  While all can share the word, some are called to be teachers and apostles.  These offices are called to share the word to a degree way beyond the rest of us believers.  That doesn’t mean the rest of us don’t share the word, we just don’t do it to the degree that teachers and apostles do.

I don’t know that everyone is called to study original Christianity and church history in the depth that I feel called to.  There is a way that it grounds me.  It is something that I feel called to do, and I feel the leading of the spirit in it.

Look at where the spirit leads you to grow, and to increase in the fruit of the spirit.   Remember that the priority is that we walk and rejoice in the Lord.

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

Part of the Good News is Bad News

In the previous post 03.8.2 The Sanitizing of the Writings of the Church Fathers I wrote about the sad state of affairs where the Roman Catholic Church made it the law of the land where Christians persecuted and even killed heretics and burned their writings.  As a result the record of what happened after the book of Acts is incomplete.

Some people criticize this kind of writing as critical and negative.  But it is not unlike the Bible in places. The bible is full of references to actions and times where the people were not in God’s will.  For example, the phrase “did evil in the sight of the Lord” is listed in 40 verses in the appendix below. Think about the story of the flood where all men were so evil that all were killed except those on the ark. How many years were the Israelites in captivity because they had stubbornly gone a way different than the one the Lord directed?   Even David, a man after God’s own heart had Bathsheba’s husband killed because he had adultery with her. Other godly men made mistakes that were reported like Jonah, a prophet swallowed by a whale for refusing to give the word that the Lord had directed him to deliver.

The Word of God is the story of the deliverance of man by Jesus Christ.  But, as it says in Timothy,  it is useful not just for doctrine, but also for reproof, and correction.  Without the stories of sin and wayward lives we would not be equipped to recognize when reproof and correction are needed.

Without being stated it appears that many church histories, especially Catholic ones, teach church history from the perspective that the church is in the will of God always or with very few deviations.

Where do you start in Christian history with ungodly practices: Rome’s declaration that it’s bishop is over all others, mandatory celibacy of priests, the inquisition, the crusades, selling of indulgences and church offices, homosexual practices among some church elite (where are they honoring clerical chastity or are only local clergy supposed to honor the vow?) in the Vatican[i], the current crisis about pedophilia in the clergy and the cover-up?  Protestant churches are not above reproach.  There were protestants that killed people (heretics) in the name of Christ, the Lutherans and other denominations  engaged in war also perhaps just in self defence, but still we have vast periods of time where Christians are warring with each other.  One record says that the 30 Years’ war between the Catholics and the Lutherans killed one third of the population of Germany

So yes , we want to celebrate the countless good works of believers where Christians aided the sick, fed the poor, and spread the good news. We want to celebrate the abundant life that Jesus made available, and the power of God in people’s lives.  We rejoice wherever we see the love of God in actions.  But just like the Old Testament records there are times since Pentecost when the believers “did evil in the sight of Lord” and we need to learn to recognize those.

We won the war when Jesus died for us on the cross, but there is still a war going on.  The New Testament is full of warfare analogies:

For though we walk in the flesh, we are not waging war according to the flesh. For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, (2Co 10:3-5 ESV)

Recognizing where believers including ourselves are off track is important to waging the war righteously and growing in the Lord.

 

Appendix

Verses with “did evil in the sight of the Lord”

Jdg_2:11  And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals.

Jdg_3:7  And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. They forgot the LORD their God and served the Baals and the Asheroth.

Jdg_3:12  And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD strengthened Eglon the king of Moab against Israel, because they had done what was evil in the sight of the LORD.

Jdg_4:1  And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD after Ehud died.

Jdg_6:1  The people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and the LORD gave them into the hand of Midian seven years.

Jdg_10:6  The people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth, the gods of Syria, the gods of Sidon, the gods of Moab, the gods of the Ammonites, and the gods of the Philistines. And they forsook the LORD and did not serve him.

Jdg_13:1  And the people of Israel again did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, so the LORD gave them into the hand of the Philistines for forty years.

1Sa_15:19  Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD? Why did you pounce on the spoil and do what was evil in the sight of the LORD?”

1Ki_11:6  So Solomon did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and did not wholly follow the LORD, as David his father had done.

1Ki_14:22  And Judah did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins that they committed, more than all that their fathers had done.

1Ki_15:26  He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and walked in the way of his father, and in his sin which he made Israel to sin.

1Ki_15:34  He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and walked in the way of Jeroboam and in his sin which he made Israel to sin.

1Ki_16:25  Omri did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, and did more evil than all who were before him.

1Ki_22:52  He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and walked in the way of his father and in the way of his mother and in the way of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, who made Israel to sin.

2Ki_3:2  He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, though not like his father and mother, for he put away the pillar of Baal that his father had made.

2Ki_8:18  And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for the daughter of Ahab was his wife. And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD.

2Ki_8:27  He also walked in the way of the house of Ahab and did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, as the house of Ahab had done, for he was son-in-law to the house of Ahab.

2Ki_13:2  He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD and followed the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin; he did not depart from them.

2Ki_13:11  He also did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. He did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin, but he walked in them.

2Ki_14:24  And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. He did not depart from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin.

2Ki_15:9  And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, as his fathers had done. He did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin.

2Ki_15:18  And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. He did not depart all his days from all the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin.

2Ki_15:24  And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. He did not turn away from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin.

2Ki_15:28  And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD. He did not depart from the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, which he made Israel to sin.

2Ki_17:2  And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, yet not as the kings of Israel who were before him.

2Ki_21:2  And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the despicable practices of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel.

2Ki_21:16  Moreover, Manasseh shed very much innocent blood, till he had filled Jerusalem from one end to another, besides the sin that he made Judah to sin so that they did what was evil in the sight of the LORD.

2Ki_21:20  And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, as Manasseh his father had done.

2Ki_23:32  And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done.

2Ki_23:37  And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his fathers had done.

2Ki_24:9  And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that his father had done.

2Ki_24:19  And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that Jehoiakim had done.

2Ch_21:6  And he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, as the house of Ahab had done, for the daughter of Ahab was his wife. And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD.

2Ch_22:4  He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, as the house of Ahab had done. For after the death of his father they were his counselors, to his undoing.

2Ch_33:2  And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to the abominations of the nations whom the LORD drove out before the people of Israel.

2Ch_33:22  And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, as Manasseh his father had done. Amon sacrificed to all the images that Manasseh his father had made, and served them.

2Ch_36:5  Jehoiakim was twenty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned eleven years in Jerusalem. He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD his God.

2Ch_36:9  Jehoiachin was eighteen years old when he became king, and he reigned three months and ten days in Jerusalem. He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD.

2Ch_36:12  He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD his God. He did not humble himself before Jeremiah the prophet, who spoke from the mouth of the LORD.

Jer_52:2  And he did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, according to all that Jehoiakim had done.

 

 

[i] https://www.vanityfair.com/culture/2013/12/gay-clergy-catholic-church-vatican

January 5th, 2019 Posted by | Basic Christianity | no comments