April 10, 2011

Paul Said, “I am …” – Paul Adams

Posted in Uncategorized at 3:55 pm by sranderson0103

The apostle Paul serves as a great example of one who was committed and devoted to faithful service to God. We can observe in three statements in Romans 1:14-16 that he has a great attitude toward his work of preaching the gospel. Consider three things Paul said about himself.

I am a debtor …

“I am a debtor both to Greeks and to barbarians, both to wise and to unwise.” ( Romans 1:14 )

Paul was saying that he owed an obligation that he was indebted to pay. This was not a financial matter. He was a debtor, in that he felt a heavy weight of responsibility to teach the lost the way of salvation. This opportunity was among the gentiles. Paul realized where he had come from, and that by the grace of God he had an opportunity to obey the gospel.  His life was totally changed. He went from persecuting Christians, to being one. “For you have heard of my former conduct in Judaism, how I persecuted the church of God beyond measure and tried to destroy it.” ( Galatians 1:13 ) He went from seeing that a gospel preacher was put to death, to devoting his entire existence to preaching that same gospel. “And when the blood of Your martyr Stephen was shed, I also was standing by consenting to his death, and guarding the clothes of those who were killing him.” ( Acts 22:20 )  Most importantly he went from being lost to having the hope of heaven. “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfected; but I press on, that I may lay hold of that for which Christ Jesus has also laid hold of me. Brethren, I do not count myself to have apprehended; but one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind and reaching forward to those things which are ahead,  I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” ( Philippians 3:12-14 ) Since he had been given this hope, he was a debtor to share it with others.

I am ready …

“So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also.” ( Romans 1:15 )

This shows Paul’s prepared mindset. With everything he could muster, he was ready to preach. Paul had traveled to many places preaching the things of God. “Then after some days Paul said to Barnabas, ‘Let us now go back and visit our brethren in every city where we have preached the word of the Lord, and see how they are doing.’ … And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.” ( Acts 15:36,41 ) Now, to these good brothers, he is ready to go to Rome, to preach to them as well. Paul made his plans to travel to churches and strengthen them, so that they would be established in the faith. We see his attitude in the words that express his readiness. There is no wavering, no excuse, and no procrastination. He was READY!

I am not ashamed …

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.” ( Romans 1:16 )

Paul lived in a day when many were pressured to give up their faith. The pressures to give up would have been even more powerful against those who were preaching. Here Paul expresses an appreciation for what the gospel is. It is power, God’s power to save. The preaching of the gospel was essential so that the people of that day could learn, obey, and be saved. “For if I preach the gospel, I have nothing to boast of, for necessity is laid upon me; yes, woe is me if I do not preach the gospel!” ( 1 Corinthians 9:16 ) Paul refused to be intimidated. Without shame, he would boldy proclaim God’s word, even if it cost him his life. “For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” ( Philippians 1:21 )

The lessons for us are clear:

  • When we obey the gospel and receive forgiveness, we become debtors to share that message with others.
  • We need to be ready to serve the Lord in whatever way we are able to do. Not everyone is a preacher, but all must be ready to do what they can.
  • We must never be ashamed of the Lord, nor of His saving gospel.
  • Let us follow the good example of Paul.  He said, “Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” ( 1 Corinthians 11:1 )
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April 3, 2011

Believe and Live the Way You Want To – Terry Starling

Posted in Uncategorized at 6:00 am by sranderson0103

“You believe and live the way you want to, and I’ll do the same” is a common response from others when challenging their faith and life. For whatever reason, some find comfort by the thought that religion is personal and no one else’s business. It’s as if they believe it’s a license to be wrong without penalty. Consider a few points associated with this attitude.

First, faith and life choices are personal and no man can impose his on another. We are individuals, with the God given right and duty to choose our own path. (Proverbs 1:29-33). In fact, it’s not even possible to make someone believe—God gives the evidence and each one must decide.

Thankfully I’m not bound by someone else’s conviction and choices. Can you imagine a world in which all believed and did the same things? It might not be so bad if everyone followed the highest principles, but they don’t. I am grateful that God has given me the power to choose my direction. (Revelation 22:17)

Second, people can believe and live the way they want because there is more than one possible path. (Matthew 7:13-14) This fact is demonstrated in the Garden, when Adam and Eve could either obey or disobey God’s will. While all have sinned and separated themselves from God, not everyone has accepted the means for salvation. God has given the way, but I can do with it as I please. (Mark 4:20)

 Third, some act as if one alternative is just as good as another. (Isaiah 5:20) You choose your path to salvation and I’ll choose mine, and we will both arrive at the same place. This mind-set denies God’s rightful place in the equation– he alone has the power to decide this matter. Were Judaism and paganism just as good as Christianity, then why preach the gospel to begin with? (Acts 4:12) If a person saved with or without baptism, then why preach baptism for the forgiveness of sins? (Acts 2:38) While faith and life choices are personal, they do not all lead to the same place.

Fourth, just because you and I can believe and live the way we want doesn’t mean we can do so without consequence. Think about the laws of our land for a moment, can I not do with them as I please? No one can make me believe they’re good, or even obey them, but I’m still accountable to the powers that be. I don’t have to believe and follow God’s laws, but I cannot escape His judgment. (Hosea 4:6)

I don’t want to be liable for another’s mistake or poor judgment. (Ezekiel 18:20) Abel was not answerable for Cain’s sin. Judas was guilty of treachery, not the other eleven apostles. In the same manner, I cannot benefit from another’s goodness. Paul fought the good fight and prepared himself to meet the Savior. I must do likewise. (2 Timothy 4:6-8)

Fifth, I can and should challenge error, even if you have the right to be wrong. (James 5:19-20) We do this all the time in other areas of life. For example, children can lie to their parents, but good parents teach them it’s wrong to lie. If I believe there is right and wrong, then I must uphold my view. Even those who say “you believe and live the way you want to, and I’ll believe and live the way I want to” are defending a standard.

Sixth, we should never feel comfortable about being wrong, especially in spiritual matters. (Zechariah 10:2) Am I going to feel better about being lost because no one could tell me what to do? I wonder if the suffering of hell will be less because I was free to choose. The origin of truth and righteousness is with God and no matter what I believe and do the standard remains.

In conclusion, when two disagree religiously and spiritually, one cannot dictate what the other believes or does. If God doesn’t make someone obey, then neither should I try to force His will on them. God reveals what is right, presents evidence, and allows man the choice. What more can I do? (Ezekiel 3:17-19)

THE BREAD OF LIFE

By Ray Anderson

It has been demonstrated many times that man can sustain himself with bread and water alone for short periods of time. The nutrients contained in bread combined with water provide the necessary ingredients to maintain life. But, such a life is only temporary.

Jesus said. “I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” (John 6:35) Many followed Jesus because he had fed them. (John 6:1-13) As was the case many times during the ministry of Jesus, the people thought about the physical application of his words when Jesus was speaking about spiritual things. Jesus went on to say, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. The Jews therefore strove among themselves, saying, How can this man give us his flesh to eat? Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, except ye eat the flesh of the Son of man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you. Whoso eateth my flesh, and drinketh my blood, hath eternal life; and I will raise him up at the last day.” (John 6:51-54) Since the people were thinking materially, many turned away after Jesus spoke these words. When Jesus questioned whether his disciples would also turn away, Peter responded, “Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life.” (John 6:68) He was right. Peter later said of Jesus, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)—Amen