October 29, 2011

Christian Image…

Posted in Uncategorized at 8:50 pm by sranderson0103

Christian Images – Don R. Patton

“My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me” (John 10:27).
Christians and their characteristics are described in terms of many colorful metaphors in the Bible. Figures of speech often reach beyond the scope of our literal language and effectively communicate complex concepts in easily understood pictures. Picture what Christ is saying in the above text. Christ calls us “my sheep,” and has also said: “I am the good shepherd, . . . and I lay down my life for the sheep” (John 10:14-15). The relationship between sheep and shepherd, familiar to New Testament Christians, beautifully illustrates sacrificial care, guidance, dependency, etc. Jesus says if we are truly His sheep, then we will listen to His voice, follow Him, eager to receive safety, peace, and nourishment.
He has also said: “You are the salt of the earth:…You are the light of the world” (Matthew 5:13-14). We are therefore expected to bring the salt of preservation and joy to a bland, tasteless, and otherwise decaying world. We are entrusted with the light of salvation to guide a dark, tragically lost, sinful world to an eternal home in Heaven.

In another beautiful metaphor, the Lord Jesus has likened us to fruitful branches: “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing.” (John 15:5). Does He see you as fruitful branch or barren, uselessly absorbing nutrients with no produce?
The apostle Paul compares us to soldiers, to athletes, and to farmers: “Suffer hardship with me, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier in active service entangles himself in the affairs of everyday life, so that he may please the one who enlisted him as a soldier. He expects hardship. It’s a part of his job. Also if anyone competes as an athlete, he does not win the prize unless he competes according to the rules. He understands, stepping out of bounds disqualifies. The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the bountiful harvest (II Timothy 2:3,5,6). These figures should illustrate and help us understand what Jesus expects of us.

With regard to our Christian life, Christ said “Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and innocent as doves.” (Matthew 10:16). The apostle Paul compares us to individual members in a great body. “Now you are Christ’s body, and individually members of it.” (I Corinthians 12:27). Peter says we are like, “living stones, …being built up as a spiritual house for a holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.” He says we are, “chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation” (I Peter 2:5,9).

There are many other beautiful and meaningful figures of speech in the New Testament, all of which help us to appreciate the richness and fruitfulness of the Christian life. (Adapted from article by Henry Morris)

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October 22, 2011

The Bible’s Story – Terry Starling

Posted in Uncategorized at 10:49 pm by sranderson0103

The Bible’s story is about God, Creation, and man’s fall and redemption. Every book penned by inspiration has something to do with this central theme. The Scriptures affirm god’s existence and reveal all we can know about Him. They tell us about His nature, character and work in Creation, and what He expects from us. The Bible discloses man’s sin and his helpless condition. From the book of Genesis to the book of Revelation God makes known His plan to save.
Some have calculated the book of Genesis covers about the first twenty-three to twenty-four hundred years of man’s life on this earth. During this time man sinned (Genesis 3) and grew more evil (Genesis 6:5 and Genesis 18:20). A few remained righteous and faithful before God (Genesis 6:8 and Genesis 15:6). Abraham received a Divine promise about salvation (Genesis 22:18).
The next four books, Exodus through Deuteronomy, reveal God’s special bond with Israel. God freed the Jews from Egypt, gave them a law and protected them on their journey to Canaan. We also see that even God’s people can rebel, and when they do there are Divine penalties.
Joshua took the people into Canaan, beginning with the great conquest of Jericho. From this story we learn that God gives victory to His people. However, we also see the devastating effects of sin in the story of Achan and the battle of Ai. By the end of Joshua God had fulfilled many of His promises to Abraham. His family had grown to a great nation and inhabited the land of promise, but the most important vow was yet to come.

The book of Judges records Israel’s fickle nature as they wavered between faithfulness and rebellion. Samuel was the last judge because the Jews desired a king to be like the other nations. God warned them about the result of having a king, but their heart turned against Him. First and Second Samuel, first and second Kings and first and second Chronicles report the deeds of the kings and the events resulting in a divided kingdom.

Prophets warned the people about apostasy and encouraged them to remain faithful. The Northern Kingdom, Israel, rebelled to a point that God destroyed them as a nation of people. Judah was only a little better in that they were loyal at times, but God tired of their wavering and allowed the Babylonians to conquer them. Prophets continued to work during the captivity and in the Jews’ return to Jerusalem. You see, a remnant of the Jews had to survive for God to carry out His plan to save. They also foretold of Christ and His kingdom, all of which came about exactly as stated.

The books of poetry praise God’s wisdom and power. We’re reminded of our place and dependency on the Most Holy One, and the fact He will protect us if we are faithful. The only sensible response is to trust and serve Him.
As we come to the New Testament and the four gospels we read more about how God intended to fulfill His final promise to Abraham. God the Son came to this world in the flesh. Jesus lived among men, endured temptation without sin, and suffered physical death as we must. The purpose for all of this was simple; to redeem man’s soul by the blood of Christ. So the gospels record His ministry, teaching, and sacrifice. They also tell about His choosing of the apostles and their preparation.

During their time with Jesus, the apostles did not fully understand His teaching or the nature of the coming kingdom. God would make these matters known after Christ’s ascension. The Holy Spirit would real the mystery to the inspired teachers of the New Testament. Jesus told the apostles to wait in Jerusalem for this power.
The book of Acts tells us how God kept His promise to Abraham that “in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed” Genesis 12:3). After the apostles received power from the Holy Spirit on Pentecost they taught the people about Christ. (Acts 2:4) They affirmed Him to be the Chosen One and that His death was exactly according to God’s plan. (Acts 2:21-24) Those convicted asked the apostles, “Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37) Peter told them to “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” (Acts 2:40) He urged them to “Be saved from this perverse generation.” (Acts 2:40) “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them.” (Acts 2:41)

As one studies Acts it’s clear the plan unfolded exactly as God said. “And you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:8) Due to persecution Christians scattered throughout the world and they went everywhere preaching the gospel. (Acts 8:4) In Acts 8 Philip preached in Samaria. In Acts 10 Peter took it to the first Gentiles. Paul’s missionary journeys begin in Acts 13. So the book of Acts records God’s work to forgive man.
We have the epistle to keep us strong and faithful. Christians need to know how to live and worship. (1 Timothy 3:14-15) We need an encouraging word to remind us that salvation is worth the price. (Romans 8:18). The Bible is all about our needs and wellbeing. From the book of Genesis to the book of Revelation God tells us what we need to know to please Him. What are you going to do with the book and its message?

October 15, 2011

Forgiveness – Jay Adams

Posted in Uncategorized at 11:06 pm by sranderson0103

What a wonderful word! Yet, what does it mean? How do you grant forgiveness; and, for what?

As much as Christians talk about forgiveness, you’d think they could tell you all about it. Yet, there are few who can give sound, Biblical answers to the questions above.

Forgiveness of others is to be modeled on one’s own forgiveness by Christ: “… forgiving one another just as God, in Christ has forgiven you” (Eph. 4:32).

Forgiveness must be extended to all who say they repent—even if the offense has been repeated (Cf. Luke 17:3). But it is only to be granted to those who confess wrong doing, claim to be repentant, and ask forgiveness (Prov. 28:13). Forgiveness of others must reflect God’s forgiveness; He forgave you when you repented.

Because in forgiving one promises not to bring up the offender’s sin, to him, to others, or to himself, it is not right to forgive before repentance. Jesus requires you to confront an offender (Matt. 18:15ff) in order to bring about reconciliation. If he refuses to listen to you, instead of forgiving him, you must tell one or two others. If he won’t hear them, then you must tell the church. Indeed, apart from repentance, the matter must be brought up to an increasingly larger number of persons. Why? Through their aid to win the offender. In love, true forgiveness seeks not to relieve the forgiver, but to deliver the offender from his burden of guilt. Out of concern for the other person, the offended party pursues the offender until the matter is settled before God and men. Any bitterness on his part, Jesus said, must be dealt with in prayer. Because forgiveness is a promise not to refer negatively to the offender’s sin any more, it would be utterly inconsistent to forgive an unrepentant person before Church discipline has been successfully used.

People who try to be kinder than God, end up becoming cruel to others. The kind thing is not to focus on relief for one’s self, by forgiving others whether they repent or not, but by every Biblical means to win offenders. It may seem unkind to bring matters up again and again when an offender refuses to be reconciled, but you must do so, not to irritate, but to help relieve him of the burden of his sin. To ignore him and focus on one’s self, saying, “feel better since I forgave Bob, even though he didn’t seek forgiveness,” is the epitome of the modern, self-centered psychological heresy.

Seeking forgiveness is not apologizing. There is nothing in the Bible about apologizing—the World’s substitute for forgiveness that doesn’t get the job done. You apologize, and say “I’m Sorry,” but have not admitted your sin. The offended party feels awkward, not knowing how to respond. You are still holding the ball. You asked him to do nothing. But, confess your sin to him saying, “I have asked God to forgive me, and now I’m asking you,” and you pass the ball to the other person. You ask him to bury the matter for good. Jesus commands him to say “yes,” thereby making the promise that God does: “Your sins and you iniquities will I remember against you no more.” That brings the matter to a conclusion. Apologizing does not.

Is there someone to whom you should go ask forgiveness? Has someone sought it from you to whom you said “Once, yes; twice, maybe; three times, no!”? Perhaps there is someone whom you have never confronted about a matter that has brought about an un-reconciled condition between you. Are any of these problems outstanding? Then you have business to attend to. Why not settle the matter today?

You don’t have to feel like it to forgive. Forgiveness is a promise that you can make and keep, whether you feel like it or not.

And, it is easier to forgive another—even when he sins against you seven times a day—when you remember Christ’s great sacrifice for your sins by which He forgave you. And, then too, remember how many times a day He forgives you ever since you have become a believer. One other fact may help. If you have truly forgiven, it isn’t the fifth, or the third; it’s not even the second time. If you have truly buried the matter, truly forgiven—it’s always the first. (Adapted)