Posts Tagged ‘Jesus Christ’

A Big Week

April 12, 2017

(This message was preached the Saturday night before Palm Sunday.)

Tomorrow morning kicks off the busiest week in the Christian calendar.  Palm Sunday we remember the triumphal entry of Jesus into Jerusalem.  He cleanses the temple by throwing out those who sold animals for sacrifice and the money changers.  He has several days filled with wonderful teachings and then we have what we now call Maundy Thursday.  That is the night that Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, instituted the Lord’s Supper and prayed in the garden before being betrayed and arrested.  Good Friday we remember His time in front of the Sanhedrin, then Pilot, then His crucifixion, death and burial.  Then on Sunday we will celebrate His resurrection.

Like I said, it is a big week, called Holy Week by many Christians.

Since we do not have services through the week here it seems like I need to pick what I consider to be the highlight of the week.  There is so much good material but there is certainly one part that stands out to me.

II Corinthians 5:12-21

 For we do not commend ourselves again to you, but give you opportunity to boast on our behalf, that you may have an answer for those who boast in appearance and not in heart. 13 For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; or if we are of sound mind, it is for you. 14 For the love of Christ compels us, because we judge thus: that if One died for all, then all died; 15 and He died for all, that those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for Him who died for them and rose again.

16 Therefore, from now on, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him thus no longer. 17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. 18 Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation.

20 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

I.  Compelled

It is the heart that matters most, but people do see the outside before they get to know what is inside.  Sometimes Pentecostal believers may act in peculiar ways during worship.  People respond differently to an encounter with the Holy Spirit.  When we are spending time in the presence of God our eyes should be on the Lord and not on each other.  When we preach and teach, hopefully, things are more straight forward.  We need to speak in ways that can be understood by all.  Through all of it we are compelled by the love of Christ; whether in worship or in preaching and teaching.

II.  A New Creation

The person who we were has been replaced with the person whom we are becoming in Christ.  The opportunity for a new beginning is a central promise of scripture.  The old man dies and we are born again as a child of God.

III.  Reconciled

A central part of this new life is the fact that we have been reconciled to God.  We were separated from Him because of our sin, but through Jesus Christ we can be reconciled with God.  On our own we could not make this happen.  It was necessary for God to reach out to us.

IV.  The Main Event

“He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us”.

We cannot begin to comprehend what this phrase truly means.  Jesus as God or man had never sinned.  He understood temptation, but He had never given in to sin.  Yet He took upon Himself the sins of the whole world.  The penalty for our sins was laid upon Him.  Exactly what this entails we can only speculate.  We do know that Jesus in the garden recognized the cost and asked if it could pass from Him, but if not, may the will of God be done.

There was, and is, no other way.

Salvation is only through Jesus and belief in Him who died for us.  (John 14:6)

Everything else in Holy Week is important, wonderful, beautiful and special, but without the death of Christ on the cross we would still be left in our sins.

Thank you God.

Thank you Jesus.

The Real Christmas Message

December 7, 2016

There are a lot of Christmas movies on television these days.  The vast majority of them are completely missing the mark because they make no mention of Jesus Christ.  He is the real message of Christmas.

I.  God Loves You:  John 3:16-17

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

This is the basic message that we share with the world.  God loves you.  At Christmas we see the love of God demonstrated through sending His son Jesus to be born of the Virgin Mary at Bethlehem.  We know that Jesus did not come to earth to reign as king, but to be the lamb of God, who would take away the sins of the world.  He did not come to judge the world, but to provide a means of saving the world.

Through Jesus, God offers to us the gift of eternal life.  That is the greatest gift of all!

II.  Turn and Live:  Ezekiel 18:31-32

Cast away from you all the transgressions which you have committed, and get yourselves a new heart and a new spirit. For why should you die, O house of Israel? 32 For I have no pleasure in the death of one who dies,” says the Lord God. “Therefore turn and live!”

A.  Turn

We are called to turn back to God.  We have made wrong choices, wrong decisions and are going the wrong way.  We are called to turn back to God, which is the true meaning of repentance.  Like the prodigal son, we have lost our way, but when we come to our senses and return to our heavenly father, we will find Him waiting for us.

B.  Live

God offers to us a new heart and and new spirit.  God desires that we would turn to Him and live.  I get very upset with people who think that God hates people and that He takes delight in sending them to hell.  God loves us and offers us a new life.  That is our message.  It is not “Turn or burn!” but rather “Turn and Live!”

III.  Born Again:  John 3:1-6

 There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.”

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”

Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?”

Jesus answered, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

We are born of water, which is a reference to the physical birth.  We also have the offer of a new birth, being born of the Spirit.  These verses are where the concept of being born again originated, although they go along nicely with Ezekiel 18:31-32.

We also read in II Corinthians 5:17:

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new.

This is again the message that we share with the world.  II Corinthians 5:20-21

 Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ’s behalf, be reconciled to God. 21 For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.

With our limited understanding we will never be able to fully appreciate what God did for us through Jesus Christ, but we can believe in His name, and say “Thank you, Jesus!”

IV.  In Our Hearts:  Ephesians 3:14-19

 For this reason I bow my knees to the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 15 from whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, 16 that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with might through His Spirit in the inner man, 17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; that you, being rooted and grounded in love, 18 may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the width and length and depth and height— 19 to know the love of Christ which passes knowledge; that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

It is from these verses that we can know that Christ can dwell in our hearts through faith.  That is the way that we are born again, when the Spirit of Christ comes into our hearts through our faith in Him.  This faith is a gift from God, by His mercy and His grace.

This gift is offered to us all, but all do not accept it.

Even after Christ dwells in our hearts there is yet more to come.  We grow in our understanding of the love of Christ and are filled with the fullness of God.  This is an ongoing process which God continues to work in us throughout our lives here on earth.

As we grow in our knowledge of the love of God, our lives will become increasingly more what God would desire.  We will be more and more molded into the image of His Son.

Philippians 1:6

being confident of this very thing, that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ;

God loves us.

He is at work in us.

He wants to work through us.

That is the real message of Christmas.

These are the sermon notes from 12/4/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

 

 

Like a Shadow

September 28, 2016

Solomon was a wise man, but even he struggled sometimes with what God was doing in this life.

I.  Like a Shadow:  Ecclesiastes 8:10-13

 Then I saw the wicked buried, who had come and gone from the place of holiness, and they were forgotten in the city where they had so done. This also is vanity. 11 Because the sentence against an evil work is not executed speedily, therefore the heart of the sons of men is fully set in them to do evil. 12 Though a sinner does evil a hundred times, and his days are prolonged, yet I surely know that it will be well with those who fear God, who fear before Him. 13 But it will not be well with the wicked; nor will he prolong his days, which are as a shadow, because he does not fear before God.

A.  The Wicked and the Righteous

Throughout scripture there is a basic division between those who serve God and those who do not.  Whether the terms used are the wicked and the righteous, the foolish and the wise, or believer and unbeliever, it is understood that there are only two sides.

We want to be on the right side.

B.  Delayed Sentence

The scripture tells us that the righteous will be rewarded and the wicked will be punished.  Sometimes we see that in this life and sometimes we do not.  Sometimes the wicked prosper while the righteous barely seem to get by.  It may not seem fair, as if God is not keeping his promises.

C.  The Day Will Come

We need to remember to keep an eternal perspective.  This life will be over soon enough and eternity is a long time.  If we have not received the fulfillment of promises in this life, we know that the best is yet to come.  For the wicked, the day of judgement will be terrible.  We should not envy their current prosperity, for their future is bleak.

II.  Doesn’t Make Sense:  Ecclesiastes 8:14

 There is a vanity which occurs on earth, that there are just men to whom it happens according to the work of the wicked; again, there are wicked men to whom it happens according to the work of the righteous. I said that this also is vanity.

Sometimes bad things happen to good people, and good things happen to bad people.  In this life, it doesn’t make sense, but we do not see the whole picture.

III.  Enjoy!  Ecclesiastes 8:15

So I commended enjoyment, because a man has nothing better under the sun than to eat, drink, and be merry; for this will remain with him in his labor all the days of his life which God gives him under the sun.

A.  The Wicked

The person who has chosen to reject God might as well enjoy this life.  It is all they will have, their future is bleak.

B.  The Righteous

The person who is serving God can also enjoy this life.  Christ came that we might have the abundant life.  (John 10:10)  That life does not begin at death it begins when we are saved by the grace of God.  As believers we can enjoy what blessings God gives to us in this life, knowing that the best is yet to come.  Yet we do not simply hang on, waiting for heaven, but we enjoy the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Today is the day of salvation.  Today we can experience the goodness of the Lord!

IV.  The Work of God:  Ecclesiastes 8:16-17

When I applied my heart to know wisdom and to see the business that is done on earth, even though one sees no sleep day or night, 17 then I saw all the work of God, that a man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. For though a man labors to discover it, yet he will not find it; moreover, though a wise man attempts to know it, he will not be able to find it.

Solomon was a wise man, yet he acknowledged that he could not comprehend the ways of God.  We recognize that God’s ways are not our ways, that His thoughts are not our thoughts.

God knows what He is doing.

We do not.

We can, however, believe and trust Him.  He is worthy of our trust.  In the end, it will all work out for good for those who believe.  (Romans 8:28)

V.  What is His Name?  Proverbs 30:4

Who has ascended into heaven, or descended?
Who has gathered the wind in His fists?
Who has bound the waters in a garment?
Who has established all the ends of the earth?
What is His name, and what is His Son’s name,
If you know?

I have always found it interesting that this section of scripture is dropped into the book of Proverbs.  Obviously, it is talking about God, but the revelation of the Son was to come in the fullness of time.

VI.  His Name is Jesus:  Acts 4: 10-12

 let it be known to you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead, by Him this man stands here before you whole. 11 This is the ‘stone which was rejected by you builders, which has become the chief cornerstone.’ 12 Nor is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.”

We cannot always understand, but we can always trust in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd of our souls.

 

These are the sermon notes from 9/26/16.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them. 

 

 

 

Make Room

January 15, 2015

The Christmas story never grows old.  Each time that we read it something different stands out to us.  Today is Christmas Day and the scripture reading is from Luke chapter two.

Luke 2: 1-20

And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered. This census first took place while Quirinius was governing Syria. So all went to be registered, everyone to his own city.

Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, to be registered with Mary, his betrothed wife, who was with child. So it was, that while they were there, the days were completed for her to be delivered. And she brought forth her firstborn Son, and wrapped Him in swaddling cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.

Now there were in the same country shepherds living out in the fields, keeping watch over their flock by night. And behold, an angel of the Lord stood before them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were greatly afraid. 10 Then the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. 11 For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord. 12 And this will be the sign to you: You will find a Babe wrapped in swaddling cloths, lying in a manger.”

13 And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying:

14 “Glory to God in the highest,
And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

15 So it was, when the angels had gone away from them into heaven, that the shepherds said to one another, “Let us now go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has come to pass, which the Lord has made known to us.” 16 And they came with haste and found Mary and Joseph, and the Babe lying in a manger. 17 Now when they had seen Him, they made widely known the saying which was told them concerning this Child. 18 And all those who heard it marveled at those things which were told them by the shepherds. 19 But Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 Then the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told them.

I.  Peace, Goodwill to Men

Peace to Earth.

Humanity deserves judgement.  We have sinned.  We have turned away from God.  We have abandoned His laws and denied His existence.   Yet God so loved the world that He sent His son into the world to be our savior.  God offers us forgiveness, instead of judgement.  He offers us a peace that this world does not understand, and that this world cannot take away.

Goodwill toward men.

God offers us an abundant life.  To choose to follow God is to choose the better path.  God loves us and wants what is best for us.  Part of that life is learning how to live and act justly.  This past year in our country there has been much unrest, much turmoil, much conflict in the pursuit of justice.  God offers us a better way.  We are not to detach and let the world go its own way.  We are to engage, to be salt and light in the world.  We are to be the hand of God extended to those who live in darkness.  We should pursue peace and justice in our world.  May God help us to express His goodwill towards humanity.

II.  No Room for Them

This is an eloquent symbol of many people today.  Just as there was no room for Mary and Joseph in the inn, so there seems to be no room in people’s lives today for Christ.  We are busy with so many activities that prayer, scripture, and church are frequently squeezed out of people’s lives.

Our government, in the name of separation of church and state is busily pursuing the removal of religious symbols.  It is all that much more important that Christians do all that they can do to keep Christ in the forefront of their lives. The light should shine in the darkness.

We should make room in our lives for Christ, so that we can be a living source of peace, goodwill towards all people.

These are the sermon notes from 12/25/14.  Any advertisements that might appear are placed by WordPress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

My Redeemer Lives

December 23, 2013

Job is an unusual book to begin a Christmas message, but that is where my message is starting today.

I.  My Redeemer Lives:  Job 19:23-25

“Oh, that my words were written!
Oh, that they were inscribed in a book!
24 That they were engraved on a rock
With an iron pen and lead, forever!
25 For I know that my Redeemer lives,
And He shall stand at last on the earth;

Job is considered by many to have lived about the same time as Abraham.  That would place him about 2000 BC. In his misery, as he is arguing with his friends he blurts out this statement of hope.   “My Redeemer lives, and He shall stand at last on the earth:” .  At the time it was  a deeply held conviction that God would somehow redeem him.   As we look back, we know that Jesus Christ is the Redeemer, and that he did indeed stand upon the earth about two thousand years ago.

Job looked forward to the time of Christ and professed his hope.  We look back to the the time of Christ and profess our belief.  Still today, we can cry out “Our Redeemer lives!”  and “He shall stand at last on the earth”.  The difference is that we look back to the time when Christ came as a servant, and we look forward to the time when He returns as King.

II.  The Word Becomes Flesh:  John 1:1-5,14

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it.

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.

We know that Jesus is our redeemer.  I love these verses in John that speak of the incarnation of Christ, here called the Word.  It is one of the scriptures which clearly identifies Christ as God.  That is, of course, what we truly celebrate at Christmas, that God became a man, and dwelt among us for a time.  He was the light that shines in the darkness.

Not everyone understands.  Not everyone is drawn to the light.  We should not be surprised when people reject the message of hope that we offer.  We should not be discouraged, but continue to allow the light of Christ to shine through our lives.  Some will reject that message, but some will receive it.

III.  I Shall See God:  Job 19:26-27

And after my skin is destroyed, this I know,
That in my flesh I shall see God,
27 Whom I shall see for myself,
And my eyes shall behold, and not another.
How my heart yearns within me!

The Old Testament does not speak frequently about life beyond the grave, but in this instance Job cries out a conviction that we share, that after death, we shall see God.  I am reminded of the verse “to be absent from the body, is to be present with the Lord” (II Corinthians 5:8)

Christ came to earth to be our redeemer.  We celebrate His birth at Christmas, but more importantly we proclaim our faith in Him as the Messiah, the one who saves us from our sings, the one who reconciles us to God, the one in whom we have the hope of everlasting life.

Our redeemer lives!

These are the sermon notes from 12/22/13.  You are welcome to ask questions or make comments.

Any advertisements attached to this blog are placed there by wordpress.  I have no control over them, nor do I receive any money from them.

Our Labor in Christ

August 26, 2013

Here are the notes from 8/25/13.

I.  The Crucified Christ:  I Corinthians 1:18-25

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. 19 For it is written:

“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise,
And bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.”

20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? 21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. 22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom; 23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness, 24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God. 25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

Some people want to be able to reason their way into believing.  God has ordained that we cannot know God through reason.  Reason can serve faith, but it cannot produce faith.  Other people want to physically demonstrate the reality of God’s existence, but God exists outside of the material realm, therefore empirical proofs do not work.  God has established our existence in such a way that we must come into a relationship with Him on His terms.  He requires faith, and faith not in a generic god, but in the crucified Christ.

II.  Christ the Foundation:  I Corinthians 3:6-15

I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the increase. So then neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labor.

For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, you are God’s building. 10 According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. 11 For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 Now if anyone builds on this foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, 13 each one’s work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. 14 If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. 15 If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.

Christ is the foundation.  The starting point of our faith and our lives.  Our lives are to be spent in service to God.  “Only one life, will soon be past, only what is done for Christ will last.”  I am not sure where I first heard that saying, but it is a good saying.  It does not mean that we can never have a moment of rest or relaxation, but it certainly does imply that we should carefully consider how we use the resources of our life in serving God.

I also appreciate the realization that it is God who gives the increase.  We are responsible to do our part.  God is responsible for the results.  We are called to be faithful servants.  We do not have to measure our success in the same way that the world would measure us.

III.  Our Hope in Christ:  I Corinthians 15:50-54

Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption. 51 Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed— 52 in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. 53 For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality. 54 So when this corruptible has put on incorruption, and this mortal has put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written: “Death is swallowed up in victory.”

Our greatest hope is not in this life, but in the life to come.  If God blesses us in this life, then we should take to heart “to whom much is given, much will be required”.  We are to be good stewards of all that God gives to us, recognizing that our true reward is not in the things of this world, but the promise of the life to come.

IV.  Our Labor for Christ: I Corinthians 15:58

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

Our labor for Christ is not in vain.  Sometimes we may become discouraged because we do not see the fruit of our labor.  It may seem as if nothing is happening in our work for Christ.  We can take heart, even if we are not seeing the results with our own eyes, that our labor is not in vain.

Be steadfast, don’t give up.  Continue your work for Christ.  It is not in vain.

Who is Jesus?

June 25, 2012

A group of ministers and ministers-in-training were sitting around the other day discussing preaching themes and topics.  It just so happened that the next Sunday I was preaching on the most important topic.  I was preaching Christ.

Colossians 1:13-20

13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood,[a] the forgiveness of sins.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

He, meaning God, has delivered us from darkness.  Some Christians, like myself, have grown up in the church.  This is a testimony of the power of God to keep His people in a relationship.  For all of us parents who have raised our children in the church it is comforting to know that we do not have to walk away from God.  For people with this experience, we do not have much knowledge of life in the dark.

Other people have spent many years living in the darkness, for them the contrast of life before Christ, and life after Christ is crystal clear.

Jesus is a king, but His kingdom is not of this earth.  His kingdom will never end and it is the kingdom of light, filled with the love of God.

Jesus is the redeemer.  We are able to become a part of this kingdom only through our faith in Jesus who redeemed us by His blood.   Jesus is the only means of salvation.  There is no other way to be a part of the kingdom of God.

Jesus is the image of the invisible God.  God revealed His character through Jesus.  Christ told His disciples “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father.”

Jesus is the firstborn over all creation.  Some people mistakenly interpret this to mean that Jesus was the first thing created.  It is better understood as a metaphor, referring to Jesus place as head over all creation.

Jesus is the creator.  At creation, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, all took part in the creation of the world.

In Jesus, all things hold together.  This is particularly fascinating to me.  Science can explain only so much of the mechanics of our universe.  The force that holds everything together is Christ Himself.

Jesus is the head of the church.   There are human leaders, here on earth, but no one can usurp the unique place of Christ as supreme leader of all believers.

Jesus is the first-born from the dead.  There were people in both the Old and New Testaments who were raised from the dead.  These people later died a natural death and their lives on earth were over.  Jesus was the first to be raised from the dead and given His new body.  One day we too, will be raised and will be like Him.

Jesus was fully God.  Jesus was a human, but He was also fully God.  This is impossible in human reasoning, but not impossible with God.

Christ is the way, the only way to be reconciled with God.  Some people read verse 20 and believe that all creation will be saved; that even the devil will one day be reconciled to God.  If Colossians 1:20 were the only verse in the scriptures then we might continue to think that is true.  There are more scriptures.

Revelation 20:12-15

12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God,[a] and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. 13 The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. 14 Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death.[b] 15 And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.

Clearly not all are saved.  Yet I believe that salvation is offered to all.  The problem is that not all receive salvation because they reject the offer of salvation in Christ and do not believe in the One who died for them.

John 3:16-19

For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. 17 For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.

18 “He who believes in Him is not condemned; but he who does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. 19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.

So Jesus is our King, our redeemer, the image of God, the firstborn over all creation, the creator, sustainer, the head of the church, the first-born from the dead, He is God-in-the-flesh.

His offer of salvation is offered to all, but will we accept His offer?

Ask Anything

June 13, 2011

And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.”  John 14:13-14

When we read these verses, it sounds like we are being given a blank check.  We can have whatever we ask for in the name of Jesus.

It is not that simple.  The phrase “in My name”  refers to asking on behalf of Christ.  It is similar to the phrase “Dad, said…” that we may have used as children when dealing with our siblings.  When used properly, it was powerful.

“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us.  And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.”   I John 5:14 & 15

The phrase “according to His will” is critical.  Do we know the will of God?  God’s ways are not our ways.  If we are honest, we will acknowledge that God may use ways that we do not like, nor understand, to accomplish His purposes.

“Yet you do not have because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.”James 4:2b-3

We can, and should, ask for anything that we desire, but we should recognize that not all things are according to His will.  We must always be willing to submit to the will of God.  It is not all about us, and our happiness or desires.  It is about living out “thy will be done”.

Honest Questions

May 12, 2011

I remember when I was a young man attending a church that was fervent in the proclamation of the gospel.  They gave detailed directives for how one should follow Christ.  One day when I questioned some of the teachings I was told that “I should just accept what they are saying, because they were more mature in Christ.”

I accepted that comment at first. Then they started to change the rules.  If they changed, then they were not right at first, and so it was appropriate to question what was taught and to think for myself about what I believe, and why.

As a person in ministry I believe that honest questions about our faith deserve answers.  It has long been a part of my approach to ministry to allow people to ask any question that is on their mind or heart, that is pertinent to our Christian walk.

I believe that a sincere search for truth will eventually lead one to Christ, who said “I am the way, the truth and the life.”  John 14:6

Good Enough for Jesus

May 30, 2009

The Catholic Old Testament and the Protestant Old Testament do not contain the same number of books.   The Catholic version contains the Apocrypha, seven books that were written in the time period after the book of Malachi was written.  The early church adopted the Septuagint, a Greek version of the Hebrew scriptures that was widely used during the time of Christ, likely the version used by Jesus and the apostle’s.

In the second century Jewish leaders reviewed the collection of scriptures that they accepted as fully inspired by God and decided to cut off the official canon at Malachi.  After sixteen hundred years of use by the Christian church, Protestant reformers decided that they would go with the canon of scripture adopted by Jewish leaders in the second century.  At first, the Apocrypha was included in some printings, but it has slowly faded from most editions used by Protestants. 

I think that is a shame.  The scriptures of the Old Testament, including the Apocrypha, were good enough for Jesus, the apostle’s, and for sixteen hundred years of church history.  The next Bible that I buy will include the Apocrypha.  It was good enough for Jesus, that is good enough for me.