Panicked Pressing

May 29, 2009 at 9:41 am | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Biblical Violence | 6 Comments
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What would a person who is truly in danger of losing his life do to be saved? What about a person who is in danger of losing his eternal soul?

As Jesus taught and lived the Word and will of His Father, He was sometimes scorned and mocked by those who believed their religious rites, rituals, and self-righteous “good works” made them “too good” to repent of their sins. However, when John the Baptist came on the scene, announcing the entrance of Christ, even those who had been told by the religious elite that they had no hope of salvation began to see for the first time that the kingdom of God actually was open to them.

The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.

Luke 16:16

These men and women who “pressed in” included publicans, harlots, and sinners, who cast aside public perception and the lukewarm attitude of the falsely secure when they saw the Way of salvation. In their violent excitement they thrust themselves forward, and thrust the naysayers aside, rushing headlong, and storming the kingdom of God.

What if today men and women began to see their true peril? To realize that they needed a Savior more than they needed the approval of men or the sanction of a religious leader? Would not such an attitude stoke the fires of revival in a society that so seldom sees the dire consequences of going into eternity without the cleansing blood of Christ having been applied through receiving Christ personally as Savior?

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

Mark 16:16

C.S. Lewis Liked to S.W.I.M.

May 28, 2009 at 8:25 am | Posted in Quotes | 1 Comment
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…take a boy learning to swim. His reason knows perfectly well that an unsupported human body will not necessarily sink in water: he has seen dozens of people float and swim. But the whole question is whether he will be able to go on believing this when the instructor takes away his hand and leaves him unsupported in the water — or whether he will suddenly cease to believe it and get in a fright and go down.

Now just the same thing happens about Christianity. I am not asking anyone to accept Christianity if his best reasoning tells him that the weight of the evidence is against it. That is not the point at which Faith comes in. But supposing a man’s reason once decides that the weight of the evidence is for it. I can tell that man what is going to happen to him in the next few weeks. There will come a moment when there is bad news, or he is in trouble, or is living among a lot of other people who do not believe it, and all at once his emotions will rise up and carry out a sort of blitz on his belief. Or else there will come a moment when he wants a woman, or wants to tell a lie, or feels very pleased with himself, or sees a chance of making a little money in some way that is not perfectly fair: some moment, in fact, at which it would be very convenient if Christianity were not true. And once again his wishes and desires will carry out a blitz. I am not talking of moments at which any real new reasons against Christianity turn up. Those have to be faced and that is a different matter. I am talking about moments where a mere mood rises up against it.

Now Faith, in the sense in which I am here using the word, is the art of holding on to things your reason has once accepted, in spite of your changing moods.

C.S. Lewis

You Need To Know This

May 27, 2009 at 8:50 am | Posted in Salvation | 5 Comments
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Jesus Christ was crucified and died for the sins of the world. He was buried, and He rose again from the dead on the third day. He lives now and forever more, and He offers salvation from sin, and salvation from eternal judgment in hell, as a free gift to anyone who will repent and receive Him by faith as Savior, according to the Scriptures. This is what the Bible calls the “Gospel” message.

Friends or Foes?

May 22, 2009 at 9:32 am | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Biblical neighbors, Selected Psalms | 7 Comments
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The great psalmist of the Bible, David, was surrounded on all sides by threats, enemies, danger, and slander. He described his condition in Psalm 31:11: “I was a reproach among all mine enemies, but especially among my neighbours, and a fear to mine acquaintance: they that did see me without fled from me.” Malicious lies have a way of spreading, and fake friends, perceiving that someone is persecuted, tend to make themselves scarce in the time of need.

David’s response to this situation should be an example for us today: He put his trust in the Lord, believing that his “times” were in God’s hand. (Psalm 31:15) Understanding that God is in complete control of all circumstances is a great source of comfort, and a great encouragement to draw near to Him. What enemy can intimidate us when we are in His hands?

Acts and the Apostles: Activated, Authorized, Audible, and Accountable

May 21, 2009 at 12:47 pm | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Acts | 22 Comments
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Acts 2:38 reads: “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”

Does this mean you have to be baptized to in order to be saved? The answer is “no.” “For,” in this verse, means “on account of” or “on the basis of.” Christians are to be baptized on account of their sins having been remitted, or, on the basis of the remission of their sins.

We have a similar thing in modern English. I might say, “I wore this jacket for the cold weather.” Did my wearing the jacket make it cold? Did wearing the jacket stop it from being cold? If I forget the jacket, does that mean I am really warm? No, my wearing of the jacket for the cold just acknowledges that I realized it was already cold.

For the first Christian believers, baptism was a testimonial proof of what already happened in their hearts. It was more of a “get to” than a “have to.”

In Acts Chapter 2 the early Church was faced with the remarkable predicament of 3000 new believers who needed to be discipled. As we looked for patterns in the text of Acts, we previously saw the role of women in the early days of the Church. Here is another pattern that can be identified: the tendency to do things on a daily basis.

And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart,

Acts 2:46 (emphasis added)

They met more than once a week.

Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Acts 2:47 (emphasis added)

They went soul-winning daily.

And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.

Acts 6:1 (emphasis added)

They cared for needs of people daily.

And so were the churches stablished in the faith, and increased in number daily.

Acts 16:5 (emphasis added)

They grew daily.

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Acts 17:11 (emphasis added)

They studied their Bible daily.

Another central theme in the early chapters of Acts (especially Chapters 3 and 4) is the emphasis on Jesus Christ’s NAME.

Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk.

Acts 3:6 (emphasis added)

And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all.

Acts 3:16 (emphasis added)

And when they had set them in the midst, they asked, By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?

Acts 4:7 (emphasis added)

Be it known unto you all, and to all the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole.

Acts 4:10 (emphasis added)

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 (emphasis added)

But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name.

Acts 4:17 (emphasis added)

And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

Acts 4:18 (emphasis added)

By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child Jesus.

Acts 4:30 (emphasis added)

There can be no denying that the early Church was zealous that the Name of Jesus Christ be magnified and glorified!

It seems that the more they used His Name, the more the Gospel spread, and the more opposition they faced.

Chapter 2 describes the inauguration of the Church – and this caused somewhat of a public stir. Some people at least must have been impressed. Contrast Chapter 3, which shows the day to day ministering that only God and His workers see.

In Chapter 2, Peter preaches to thousands. In Chapter 3, Peter preaches to one lame man.

In Chapter 2, the ministry brings celebration and blessings. In Chapter 3, the ministry brings persecution and arrest.

No one can accuse these early Church leaders of greed or pandering for popularity. When Peter talked to the lame man, he said “silver and gold have I none.” Today, most so-called faith healers can not say the same: silver and gold have they plenty.

Instead of silver and gold, the Apostles had the Name of Jesus Christ, and the authority and the power of that Name.

Spending Your Retirement on Your Children

May 20, 2009 at 9:39 am | Posted in Biblical Parenting | 8 Comments
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At the age of 85, Caleb, who, along with Joshua, had survived the wilderness wandering in fulfillment of the promise of the Lord, might have felt a desire in his flesh to retire. However, instead of seeking an earthly “retirement plan,” he continued to wholly follow the Lord.

And now, behold, the LORD hath kept me alive, as he said, these forty and five years, even since the LORD spake this word unto Moses, while the children of Israel wandered in the wilderness: and now, lo, I am this day fourscore and five years old. As yet I am as strong this day as I was in the day that Moses sent me: as my strength was then, even so is my strength now, for war, both to go out, and to come in. Now therefore give me this mountain, whereof the LORD spake in that day; for thou heardest in that day how the Anakims were there, and that the cities were great and fenced: if so be the LORD will be with me, then I shall be able to drive them out, as the LORD said.

Joshua 14:10-12

Caleb apparently had little desire for physical “rest,” preferring instead the spiritual rest that comes with conquering mountains and overcoming giants in the name of the Lord. Caleb’s faith allowed him to claim valuable property for his family. Even his daughter, no doubt influenced by her father’s Godly leadership, followed his example of faith.

And it came to pass, as she came unto him, that she moved him to ask of her father a field: and she lighted off her ass; and Caleb said unto her, What wouldest thou? Who answered, Give me a blessing; for thou hast given me a south land; give me also springs of water. And he gave her the upper springs, and the nether springs.

Joshua 15:18-19

We must never underestimate the effect that our walk with the Lord has on our children.

Quarterback Commandment No. 7

May 19, 2009 at 12:12 pm | Posted in Quarterback Commandments | 1 Comment
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This is a continuation of the series of Quarterback Commandments given by Bill Parcells to Tony Romo, quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys.

Quarterback Commandment No. 7: Throwing the ball away is a good play. Sacks, interceptions, and fumbles are bad plays. Protect against those.

For those whose football parlance is somewhat lacking:

“Throwing the ball away” is when the quarterback intentionally throws a pass that no one can catch. This ends the play, and the next play starts where the previous one started, without any loss of yardage. The reason for doing this is that, among the possible outcomes of a pass play – sack (the quarterback is tackled before throwing the ball); interception (the pass is caught by someone on the other team); and incomplete pass (described above) – the incomplete pass is the least harmful.

A “fumble” is when someone carrying the football during a play drops the ball. Fumbles often occur during sacks, and often result in the other team grabbing the loose ball, which is disastrous.

The gist of Parcells’s commandment is: Rather than trying to force the best result out of every play, quarterbacks, when faced with a possible disaster, have to learn when to settle for a less-than-stellar result, so their team can have another chance on the next play.

Spiritual application: Christian ministers must learn to avoid strife over non-essential issues which will ultimately hurt the cause of Christ.

As you minister for Christ Jesus you will find yourself opposed. You will also find yourself having to decide where to draw the line as far as with whom you will minister and fellowship. A Christian minister often finds himself in the position of encountering opposition, much the same way a quarterback faces defenders who want to keep him from moving the ball downfield.

Thus, like a quarterback, a Christian minister must learn that there are times when it is better to salvage what he can from a bad situation, than to try and make a bad situation into a good one. “Live to fight another day” is the military slogan.

The Holy Spirit, through the Apostle Paul, instructed Timothy to be a very aggressive Christian quarterback:

Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

II Timothy 2:1

But He also let him know that it’s good, once in a while, to throw the ball into the first row of spectators:

But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.

II Timothy 2:23

Titus got similar instructions: Play hard, and keep trying to win the game until the final whistle blows:

This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

Titus 3:8

But do not get bogged down by forcing the issue when the game is not on the line:

But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.

Titus 3:9

So, as a Christian quarterback, I would like for everyone to use the King James Version of the Bible, but if you want me to go with you to visit your lost cousin in the hospital, and you insist on taking along your New King James, or even your NIV, I’m not going to refuse to go.

I believe that Jesus Christ is going to rapture His Church out of this world before the Tribulation starts, but if you don’t believe that’s precisely the order of the end-times events, I still want you to faithfully attend my Sunday School class.

When R.G. Lee, one of the best preachers of all time, pastored the First Baptist Church of New Orleans, he was allowed to go, once a week, and speak on the campus of Tulane University. He would answer questions from students, many of whom were skeptical about the truth of the Bible. On a particular occasion, a young lady raised her hand and asked, “Well, if what it says in Genesis is the literal truth, would you mind telling me just where Cain got his wife?”

Dr. Lee, not taken aback at all, responded, “Ma’am, I don’t know and I don’t care. If she was good enough for Cain, she’s good enough for me.”

Clearly, this was a good example of avoiding foolish contention, strife, and unlearned questions.

If I’m playing quarterback, and it’s fourth and long with no time left on the clock, with my team trailing by six points, I’m going to stand in the pocket, ignore the rushing linemen, and do my best to throw the ball to my receiver in the end zone even if he’s surrounded by defenders, because giving up on that play is not an option. In the same way, you and I are not going to be able to minister together if you do not believe that men are saved by grace through faith, and not of works, or if you believe that the Bible is errant and fallible, or if you believe that Jesus of Nazareth wasn’t really the Son of God. Again, in military language, although it is good to live to fight again another day, the slogan, “there are some hills worth dying on,” is also true.

It is against a good quarterback’s nature to slack up, to give up on a play, or to admit that he can not improvise his way out of a bad situation. In other words, quarterbacks are not, by nature, meek. However, Parcells must believe that, to be successful, a quarterback’s natural boldness must be tempered by meekness in some situations, as part of the overall effort to win a game.

Did not Jesus Himself give us a similar example for the Christian life? Never giving up in accomplishing His ultimate objective, He nevertheless knew when to walk away from strife and contention:

He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.

Matthew 12:19

During His boldest pronouncements, He sometimes invited peaceful submission rather than forcing His will upon His enemies:

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

Matthew 11:29

He even taught His disciples that sometimes it was better to throw an incompletion than to take a sack, give up an interception, or fumble the ball:

And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.

Matthew 10:14

When God Condones Violence

May 18, 2009 at 9:52 am | Posted in Biblical Violence, Matthew | 11 Comments
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Bible scholars believe that John the Baptist first appeared on the scene approximately two years before Jesus made this exceptional statement about his ministry:

And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

Matthew 11:12

The word “suffereth” in this verse does not mean that the Kingdom of Heaven “suffers” in the sense of having pain or damage inflicted on it. Rather, “suffer” in the Bible means “to let” or “to allow.” (Matthew 19:14) Christ is saying that the Kingdom of Heaven, although it is ruled over by the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), does make allowances for certain types of violence.

Chiefly, this is the violence of those who suddenly recognize their lost condition, and see their urgent need for a Savior. Under conviction of God’s Holy Spirit, these lost souls may be excused for having an unruly and even desperate desire to get to Jesus – He being the only Way (John 14:6) to get to the Father, and to escape the merited punishment for our sins.

Those who trusted Christ years ago certainly find a peace and a comfort in resting on the promises of God’s Word, and knowing their eternal inheritance is secure. However, it pays to remember the Kingdom of Heaven still suffers violence, and that there are times when we should desire the abiding presence of God on our lives so desperately that we become intensely serious about seeking His will and the filling of His Spirit.

R.C. Sproul “S.W.I.M.s” with Thanksgiving

May 15, 2009 at 9:12 am | Posted in Quotes | 5 Comments
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We live in a world of grace, swimming in it like fish, by God’s grace, swim in water. Which means in turn that we ought to be swimming in a world of thanksgiving.

R.C. Sproul

Just the Facts

May 14, 2009 at 9:09 am | Posted in Salvation | 6 Comments
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Here are some very basic – but also very eternally significant – facts that everyone needs to know:

1. The Holy Bible is God’s Word, and it contains no errors. (II Timothy 3:16)

2. Anyone who will go to Heaven will only go by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ, and no other way. (Ephesians 2:8-9)

3. Everyone comes into this world as a sinner, who is separated from God because of that sinful condition. To see the Kingdom of Heaven, and to be reconciled to God, we must be born again by believing on the Lord Jesus Christ, and not by any form, type, or amount of works. (Psalm 51:5, John 3:3)

4. Those who are born again will spend eternity in Heaven with God. (I Peter 1:23, John 14:1-3)

5. Those who are not will spend eternity in hell, suffering for their sins. (Revelation 20:15)

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