January 30, 2011

When Christ Comes Again – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

It had been almost 400 years since Malachi, the messenger of Jehovah, urged the people to return to God. When the time was right, God sent his son into the world to accomplish what no other man could. Christ came into the world to seek and save that which was lost. (Luke 19:10) To accomplish this he first announced that the kingdom of heaven was at hand and that men should repent. (Matthew 4:17). His call to repentance was for man to turn away from the perversion of the law that had taken place under the Pharisees and Sadducees. He pronounced many “woes” on them for leading astray God’s chosen people. He described them as a people that honored him with their lips, but whose hearts were far from him. (Matthew 15:8) Jesus taught and preached about the kingdom and what men needed to do to be faithful unto God. He spent three years preparing his apostles to continue his work after his death on the cross and ascension into heaven. After his departure, he sent the Holy Spirit to guide his apostles into all truth. (John 16:13). But before his departure, he assured his apostles that he would come again. He would go to prepare a place for them so that when he returned and received them, they could be with him also. (John 14:3)

When He Returns

For centuries man has been awaiting Christ’s return. While Peter was still alive there were many who had already started scoffing about Christ’s return since it had been over 30 years since he died on the cross. Some of the Thessalonians had developed slothful attitudes being certain of Christ’s imminent return. They believed there was no need for them to be hard working, but Paul put that foolish idea to rest. (1 Thessalonians 3:10) Jesus never taught that his return would be soon after his resurrection. In fact, he taught that no man knows that time, only his Father in heaven. (Matthew 24:36). We do know that it will come suddenly as a thief in the night (1 Peter 3:10) and at a time when many don’t think it will happen (Matthew 24:44). Therefore, Jesus admonished that we all should watch and be ready. (Matthew 24:42) There will be no mistaking his return because every eye will see him. (Revelations 1:7)

Some Will Rejoice and Some Will Not

When Jesus comes he will judge those who are living and those who have died, (2 Timothy 4:1) and we all will stand before him in judgment. (2 Corinthians 5:10, Matthew 16:27) For those who have been faithful, they will receive a crown of life (Revelations 2:10) and this crown will never fade away. (1 Peter 5:4) Paul tells us that this crown is not only for him, but for all who those who will love the appearing of Jesus. (2 Timothy 4:8)

Jesus uses several parables to explain the benefit to those who have prepared for his return and have remained faithful. The parable of the ten virgins tells us about five who were wise and five who were foolish. The wise prepared for the late arrival of the bridegroom and entered in with him when he came. The foolish who had not prepared were left outside. The Lord ended this parable by saying, “Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” (Matthew 25:13)

In the parable of the talents, Jesus describes three men to whom their master had given them various talents to use while he was absent from them. To those who put their talents to good use, their master said upon his return, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou has been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter into the joy of thy lord.” (Matthew 25:23) But to the one who had done nothing with his talent, the master said, “And cast ye the unprofitable servant into outer darkness: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” (Matthew 25:30)

Jesus concludes his teaching by describing the judgment of the nations when he will come in his glory. (Matthew 25:31-46) He said there will be a separation of individuals just as a shepherd separates the sheep from goats. He will say to the one, “Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world.” To the other he will say, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels.” What was the difference between the two? One had been faithful to the will of God and the other had not. The faithful had heeded the word of God which commands all to love him with all their heart, soul and mind, and to love their neighbor as themselves. (Matthew 22:37-39) Jesus said he did not come into the world to judge the world, but to save it. (John 12:47) However, when he comes again, he will judge the world. The word of God will serve as the basis for the verdict Jesus will render with respect to the individual’s eternal destiny. (John 12:48)

It is clear what will happen to those who have not been obedient to the word and believed that Jesus is the only begotten son of God sacrificed for the sin of the world. The imagery used in the apostles’ writings should leave no doubt. Paul wrote that, “The Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power.” (1 Thessalonians 1:8-9)

Contrast that with those who have obeyed the gospel. They will inherit the kingdom. They will enter into the joy of their Lord. They will not be separated from Christ, but will live with him eternally.

Some will mourn at Christ’s coming. Others will rejoice. Let us all strive to be of a mind and spirit to be able to say, “Come, Lord Jesus, come.” ———Amen.

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January 16, 2011

Grace and Faith – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

We have all heard it said that we are saved by grace. That’s true, but there is more to it. These are the words of the Spirit through the apostle Paul: “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God.” (Ephesians 2:8) In a similar fashion Paul wrote to the Romans, “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” (Romans 5:1-2) It would appear that by the grace of God we enjoy the blessing of salvation and hope through and by faith. The word through is a very interesting word. In Ephesians 2:8 it is used in the sense of instrumentality. Faith is the instrument by which we avail ourselves of the grace of God. In Romans 5:1 it is used in the sense of agency. Jesus Christ is the agent by which we have access to the grace of God by faith. In both cases, faith is linked with grace. God has done his part toward our salvation by his grace. Man’s part is faith.

Grace

The grace of God finds its expression in the Savior, the Holy Spirit and the scriptures. In the beginning, everything was perfect. God and man enjoyed a relationship that might be described as heaven on earth. But man destroyed that relationship by his disobedience to God’s commands. From that time until now, God has given man the means to be

reconciled to him. In every case it required obedience on the part of man with God always standing ready and unchanging in his love for mankind. Only man’s sin separated himself from God. But God so loved the world that he sent his son, Jesus Christ, to be our savior. (John 3:16) Jesus came preaching repentance to the Jews for the kingdom of heaven was at hand. (Matthew 4:17) God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. (2 Peter 3:9) Repentance is necessary, but without Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, man could never be reconciled unto God. A savior is a necessary part of God’s grace toward mankind.

So also is the Holy Spirit. Jesus told the twelve that he would pray to the Father who would send a comforter to them. This comforter, the Holy Spirit, would do these five things for them. He would abide with them, He would teach them and call to their memories all things that Jesus had said them, He would testify to them of Jesus, He would guide them into all truth, and He would show them things to come. (John 14:16 and 26, 15:26, 16:13) By the grace of God the Holy Spirit guided Peter on the day of Pentecost as he delivered his great message which pricked the hearts of many of the hearers so much so that 3000 repented and were baptized for the remission of their sins. It was on that day that the blood bought church of Christ was established (Acts 2:14-41) The Holy Spirit guided the apostles during the establishment and growth of the early church. It was through the inspiration of the Holy Ghost that the apostles taught and wrote about our savior, Jesus Christ, and how we aught to live to be pleasing in the sight of God.

It is by the grace of God that we have the New Testament scriptures and also those of the Old Testament. Paul instructs us that the Mosaic law contained in the Old Testament Scriptures is our tutor or schoolmaster to bring us to Christ. (Galatians 3:24). All scripture is profitable to us for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness. (2 Timothy 3:16) Paul told Timothy that the scriptures were able to make him wise unto salvation. (2 Timothy 3:15) Without the scriptures we would not know God or of his grace and mercy toward us

Faith

God in his grace has done his part. He sent us His son and the Holy Spirit. Through his grace we have the Bible. Man’s part is to be obedient to God’s will which he learns from a study of God’s word. The remainder of 2 Timothy 3:15 tells us that Timothy would be made wise unto salvation through faith and we know that faith provides us with access to the grace of God (Romans 5:2). Today faith comes from hearing the word of God as it is contained in scripture. (Romans 10:17) Without faith it is impossible to be please God. (Hebrews 11:6)

God and Christ are the objects of our faith. (John 14:1) If we love Jesus, we will keep his commandments. (John:14:15) It is faith that gives us the will to keep those commandments. As faithful Christians we will first of all seek the kingdom of God and his righteousness. (Matthew 6:33) We will continually seek those things that are above and set our minds on them. (Colossians 3:2). Seeking carries with it the sense of action, striving to reach a goal or objective. We will do those things that bring us closer to God and not be lured away by the things of this world that lead to eternal death and destruction. We will lay up treasures in heaven and not on earth. (Matthew 6:19-20). Setting our minds on things above we resolve or dedicate ourselves to reaching that goal and will let nothing get in the way.

Seeking those things that are above and setting our minds on them means that we will love God with our whole heart, soul and mind. (Matthew 22:37) Jesus put it into perspective for his followers when he said, “And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household. He that loveth father or mother more than me is not worthy of me: and he that loveth son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me.” (Matthew 10:36-38) When he spoke those words he had in view those who would accept him as the messiah and those who would not. Those who would believe his words and those who would not. The same is true today. How wonderful it is to have a family that puts God first. If that is the case, then the love that the family has for each other as a reflection of their love of God will be stronger than any other. God has done his part by extending his grace to us. Let us do our part through faith. —— Amen.

January 9, 2011

Why Do The Heathen Rage? – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:00 am by sranderson0103

These are the words of the Psalmist written in Psalm 2:

“Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing? The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying, Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us. He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision. Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure. Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion. I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee. Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession. Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel. Be wise now therefore, O ye kings: be instructed, ye judges of the earth. Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling. Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and ye perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all they that put their trust in him.”

Why do the heathen rage? Because they want to. Why do the people imagine a vain thing? Because they want to. And why do they want to? The answer to that is not easy and may not be the same for all. However, the root of their thinking is the unwillingness to have God above all else.

From the very creation which God created for man through the sending of his son to die for the sin of the world, God has demonstrated his power and might. He continues to watch over and bless his children as they make their way through this pilgrim land.

In the days of King David the heathen kings refused to bow before the one true and living God. It was not only the heathen peoples, but the Israelites too. He supported them through their departure from Egypt, their travels through the wilderness to the promised land, and their victories in battle necessary for the taking of the land from the idolatrous and wicked inhabitants. He watched over them and blessed them and they prospered when they were obedient to his law and his will. However, he also punished them when they were disobedient.

We get some insight as to why the heathen rage from John 11:47-49. Many were beginning to believe what Jesus was teaching. The chief priests and Pharisees got together and discussed what they should do with him since he had done many miracles. Their concern was not about his teaching, but that the Romans would come and “take away their place and the nation.”

The same can be said of those who rage against God today. The root of their concern is if everyone believes that God exists and that Jesus is his only begotten son, then they will lose their influence and will no longer be able to set the moral compass for their followers. Their moral compass does not point the way to heaven, but to hell. Jesus said in John 12:46-50, “I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness. And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. For I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak. And I know that his commandment is life everlasting: whatsoever I speak therefore, even as the Father said unto me, so I speak.”

Those that rage against God must deny that he exists. The Psalmist wrote, “The fool has said in his heart, there is no God.” (Psalms 14:1, 53:1) In the face of much evidence to the contrary, the fool refuses to believe that there is a God. They refuse to acknowledge his power and, more importantly, his love for mankind. They rage that the God of the Bible is a vengeful  God and jealous in the worst sense of the word.

Winston Churchill said, “Those that fail to learn from history, are doomed to repeat it.” We know that the things that were written in the Old Testament were for our learning and to point the way to the Christ that would come to seek and save the lost. They were written to show how a loving God dealt with his people. The Israelites also failed to learn from their history as evidenced by the cycle of sin, sorrow, supplication and salvation recorded for us in the book of Judges. Their failure to remember and to learn from those things that happen aforetime eventually led to the destruction of the northern kingdom of Israel and the carrying away of the southern kingdom of Judah into 70 years of captivity.

What can be said of us today? Will we listen to the raging of the heathen who deny God, refuse to accept the Bible as the word of God, and ridicule the notion that a savior was sent from heaven to redeem mankind and reconcile him to God? Will we allow our government to set the moral compass for our nation. God forbid! That certainly will not be an indication that we have learned anything from history. The heathen rage because they want to follow their own ideas and do the things they want to do.  They want to be able to destroy unborn life without feeling guilt, to abuse the institution of marriage which God has reserved for only a man and a woman, and to ignore God’s warning about adulterers. In short, they want to establish their own rules based on shifting circumstances. It all depends on the situation.

But just as in King David’s time, God shall laugh at them and hold them in derision. “And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9) ——Amen

January 2, 2011

Tell Me The Story Of Jesus – Ray Anderson

Posted in Uncategorized at 12:08 pm by sranderson0103

“Tell me the story or Jesus, write on my heart every word, tell me the story most precious, sweetest story that ever was heard.” These words written by Fannie Crosby in 1880 should be something that every Christian can sing with enthusiasm and understanding. Jeremiah foretold of the new covenant when he wrote, “But this shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the LORD, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts; and will be their God, and they shall be my people.” (Jeremiah 31:33 ) This writing on the heart of a Christian comes through hearing the word of God and making it a part of their very being. One Christian tells another who tells another who tells another as Christians have done for centuries. This is in keeping with what Paul wrote to Timothy, “You therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus. And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.” (2 Timothy 2:1-2) We are commanded to teach others just as Christ did command his apostles, “All authority hath been given unto me in heaven and on earth. Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you: and lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world.” (Matthew 28:18-20) 

Our Responsibility

Hosea, speaking for God, said, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge.” (Hosea 4:6) That is still true today. Many do not take the personal responsibility of obtaining their own knowledge of God. They are willing to accept what they hear at face value and follow like sheep. We cannot trust our leaders without examining what they say. When one reads 1 and 2 Kings, you can see how a whole nation was led astray by the people listening to their kings. We learn that we cannot trust “politicians” to know what is right and to do God’s will. We also learn that a deteriorating moral climate will eventually lead to ruin. Remember, “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.” (Romans 15:4)

As learners we must be like the Bereans who searched the scriptures to determine whether the things they were being taught were true. (Acts 17:11) We should study the scriptures diligently. (2 Timothy 2:15) Then, having proved all things, we should hold fast to those things and not be moved from them. (1 Thessalonians 5:21). We should be like David who said, “I have set the LORD always before me: because he is at my right hand, I shall not be moved.” (Psalms 16:8) We should listen to the words of Peter who wrote, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge.” (2 Peter 1:5)

The Story Most Precious

“Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Saviour Jesus Christ: Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.” (2 Peter 1:1-3) The story of Jesus Christ and his sacrifice for the sin of the world is the most important story that could ever be told. Hear it, learn it, teach it and may it ever be so. ——Amen