Resurrection Witnesses

August 10, 2016 at 12:51 pm | Posted in Matthew | 3 Comments
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In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre.

Matthew 28:1

We might ask why were only the women performing this thankless and grief-laden task of caring for the post-Crucifixion body of Jesus. Where were the men? Were they hiding and scared while the women were doing the hard work? We might also ask what these women thought they were going to do about the stone that sealed the entrance to the sepulchre (Mark 16:3). They were carrying perfume and spices to care for a body they weren’t going to be able to access. Perhaps their love and their grief overcame their common sense.

And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it.

Matthew 28:2

There is a certain humor in the thought of the angel sitting atop the very stone that had been intended to keep the followers of Jesus from getting into the tomb. However, during the night before, there had been nothing humorous to the guards about his appearance.

His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men.

Matthew 28:3-4

This was a very holy and frightening angel. Roman soldiers weren’t easily frightened by mere men.

And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

Matthew 28:5-6

“As He said” was a gentle, though perhaps chiding, rebuke, referring to one of His least palatable prophecies:

From that time forth began Jesus to shew unto his disciples, how that he must go unto Jerusalem, and suffer many things of the elders and chief priests and scribes, and be killed, and be raised again the third day.

Matthew 16:21

And while they abode in Galilee, Jesus said unto them, The Son of man shall be betrayed into the hands of men: And they shall kill him, and the third day he shall be raised again. And they were exceeding sorry.

Matthew 17:22-23

And Jesus going up to Jerusalem took the twelve disciples apart in the way, and said unto them, Behold, we go up to Jerusalem; and the Son of man shall be betrayed unto the chief priests and unto the scribes, and they shall condemn him to death, And shall deliver him to the Gentiles to mock, and to scourge, and to crucify him: and the third day he shall rise again.

Matthew 20:17-19

 

But after I am risen again, I will go before you into Galilee.

Matthew 26:32

The testimony of Jesus Himself, the testimony of the angel, and the empty tomb all bore witness to Jesus’s Resurrection.

 

And go quickly, and tell his disciples that he is risen from the dead; and, behold, he goeth before you into Galilee; there shall ye see him: lo, I have told you.

Matthew 28:7

Note how the angel used the words “from the dead,” reinforcing the truth that Jesus had actually died.

 

And they departed quickly from the sepulchre with fear and great joy; and did run to bring his disciples word.

Matthew 28:8

It is a difficult combination to explain, but it is true that fear and joy can go together. God created them both, and there is great joy in having a fear of the Lord. Some of the greatest blessings you will ever experience are when you are facing, and overcoming, a terrifying challenge. The women who saw the empty tomb and heard the words of the angel were afraid, and they ran, but it was not an occasion of “fight or flight.” It was an occasion of “fright and flight.” They ran to bring “word,” and we need to always be running to bring the Word.

And as they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, All hail. And they came and held him by the feet, and worshipped him.

Matthew 28:9

Whenever you are running to do something in obedience to Him, no matter how fast you run, He is already there before you. The struggle to exercise patience, and to overcome procrastination, is a battle that almost every Christian fights. Impatience is unbelief when you don’t know God’s will, but procrastination is unbelief when you DO know God’s will.

The Disciples grabbed Jesus’s feet – His physical resurrected body – demonstrating His humanity. They also worshiped Him, demonstrating His Deity.

Then said Jesus unto them, Be not afraid: go tell my brethren that they go into Galilee, and there shall they see me. Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers,

Matthew 28:10-12

The soldiers went to the Jewish leaders first. They could have been killed by their Roman authorities for allowing the body to be stolen. The Jewish leaders bribed them, but they also promised to protect them.

Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you.

Matthew 28:13-14

Beware of Satan’s techniques. First he plays on your fears. Then he sends someone to help you make up a lie. Then he sweetens the deal with money. Then he gives you a false security and makes you think God will not mind your sin all that much.

So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.

Matthew 28:15

Each lie that denies the Resurrection has had its day, and come and gone: the swooning lie, the imposter on the Cross lie, the hallucination lie, the conspiracy lie. None are convincing. Only those who hate the Truth can voluntarily blind themselves to it. The Bible bears witness, 500 witnesses saw Him, the martyrdom of the Disciples bears witness, the empty tomb still bears witness, the Church meeting today still bears witness. If they could have produced a body, all of history would be different. Christianity wouldn’t exist. His Spirit bears witness with our spirits. There is more credible evidence for the Resurrection of Jesus than there is for the for the existence of Plato.

Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them. And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted. And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.

Matthew 28:16-18

The King’s Trial, Execution, and Victory

July 22, 2016 at 1:36 pm | Posted in Matthew | 3 Comments
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There came unto him a woman having an alabaster box of very precious ointment, and poured it on his head, as he sat at meat. But when his disciples saw it, they had indignation, saying, To what purpose is this waste? For this ointment might have been sold for much, and given to the poor.

Matthew 26:7-9

The Disciples accused the woman with the alabaster box of wastefulness, but Jesus defended her. The one who was really guilty of “wastefulness” was Judas Iscariot, whom Jesus called the “son of perdition.” Judas wasted his opportunities, and betrayed his Master. He was not a martyr or an innocent tool of providence. He thought that he could “use” his place in the earthly ministry of Jesus for profit. Remember, things are to be “used;” people are to be “saved.” Things “used up” for the glory of Christ are not “wasted.” The King will be loyal to those who truly worship Him.

In Matthew Chapter 27 the King was placed on trial. The charges were: misleading the nation; forbidding the paying of taxes; and claiming to be king, as shown in Matthew 27:11-26. This third charge is the one that Pilate dealt with because it could have been a threat to the Roman Empire.

Pilate found no fault, because he understood that Jesus was claiming to be King of a Kingdom “not of this world.” However, Pilate chose to yield to the people and not to the true King.

At this point, King Jesus demonstrated His meekness and submission and strength. For His willingness to submit and for the strength that allowed Him to endure this tremendous, indescribable humiliation, we who know Him as Savior shall be eternally giving thanks.

He saved others; himself he cannot save. If he be the King of Israel, let him now come down from the cross, and we will believe him.

Matthew 27:42

It was ironic for the people to claim that they would like to have a king who would save himself and not others. That’s how warped their idea of kingship had become.

Now from the sixth hour there was darkness over all the land unto the ninth hour. And about the ninth hour Jesus cried with a loud voice, saying, Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani? that is to say, My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? Some of them that stood there, when they heard that, said, This man calleth for Elias. And straightway one of them ran, and took a spunge, and filled it with vinegar, and put it on a reed, and gave him to drink. The rest said, Let be, let us see whether Elias will come to save him. Jesus, when he had cried again with a loud voice, yielded up the ghost.

27:45-50

Jesus was crucified at what we would consider to be 9:00 a.m. He was on the Cross for three hours until noon. At noon darkness covered the land – not a coincidental eclipse or a sandstorm, but a supernaturally produced darkness. Then it was dark for three hours. To the extent such a thing can be said to have occurred in “time,” this is believed to have been the time when Christ was “made sin.”

And the LORD said unto Moses, Stretch out thine hand toward heaven, that there may be darkness over the land of Egypt, even darkness which may be felt. And Moses stretched forth his hand toward heaven; and there was a thick darkness in all the land of Egypt three days:

Exodus 10:21-22

My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me? why art thou so far from helping me, and from the words of my roaring? O my God, I cry in the daytime, but thou hearest not; and in the night season, and am not silent.

Psalm 22:1-2

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

Isaiah 53:10

The King’s victory was yet another proof of His Kingship. In earthly governments, such as the Roman Empire of that time, it is common to see the principles of realpolitik and “might makes right,” but with God His might and His right flow from His Divine nature, so that He can never be overcome by, or with, wickedness.

In the end of the sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, came Mary Magdalene and the other Mary to see the sepulchre. And, behold, there was a great earthquake: for the angel of the Lord descended from heaven, and came and rolled back the stone from the door, and sat upon it. His countenance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow: And for fear of him the keepers did shake, and became as dead men. And the angel answered and said unto the women, Fear not ye: for I know that ye seek Jesus, which was crucified. He is not here: for he is risen, as he said. Come, see the place where the Lord lay.

Matthew 28:1-6

The angel sat upon the rock, bearing witness to the King’s Resurrection, but we bear witness today by standing upon the Rock and speaking forth the truth of Scripture.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Matthew 28:19-20

The King commands us to be active, making not just converts, but also disciples: making learners and doers. We are not called to be, or to make, mere spectators.

Faithful Wounds Part 2

October 6, 2014 at 11:47 am | Posted in Biblical friendship, Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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In response to my post called “Faithful Wounds,” which you can read by clicking here, I received the following comments on another forum, and gave the following responses:

Commenter: If the ignorant boy knows the man, and has an ongoing trusting relationship, it’s more likely that he will heed the warning without much incident. What I think you have argued is the fallacy of incongruent analogy.

And, would not God be the one doing the chasing, or “tackling”, anyway? If the Spirit is not working in the heart of that person, it matters not what variety of message we use. It will be to no avail. So, why not build a bridge?

Me: The boy in the analogy wasn’t just ignorant – he was dangerously ignorant. And, being completely oblivious to the danger and running out of space before he met an ugly end, there wasn’t time to build a bridge of relationship. We could argue, I suppose, that the man should have built a relationship with the boy a long time ago, but the (made-up-for analogy) “fact” that he didn’t build one before, doesn’t make the analogy incongruent.

I agree that God’s Spirit does the chasing and the tackling in one sense, but I also believe He uses loving Christians as His instruments many times. God is powerful enough to supernaturally implant the Gospel message into a person’s brain, and He is powerful enough drop a blockade from the sky that would keep everyone from racing into traffic, but the fact is, for some reason, it pleases Him to use redeemed sinners to declare His Gospel, and to form relationships, and even to, once in while, roughly shake someone we love into his senses before he hurts himself.

Commenter: You are saying that God’s Kingdom is built by hateful and rash behavior.

Me: That’s not what I said. I said the man who tackled the boy “appeared” hateful and rash, but that he actually acted out of true active love. I do not believe the Bible condones rash hatred, and did not mean to imply it.

Commenter: You are crazy. Someone needs to tackle you, mate.

Me: I’m sorry you think I’m “crazy.” Hopefully you are just joking and not being mean-spirited. Name calling is purportedly not helpful to building a bridge of relationship.

If you truly do think I’m crazy though, I guess I’ll have to live with the label. They said the same thing about Jesus (Mark 3:21) and the Apostle Paul (Acts 26:24). Anyway, “crazy” can be pretty subjective. Older Christian men will tell you that, several decades ago, it was pretty common for people to tell people right to their face that they God loved them, and that they could be saved from the consequences of their sin by trusting Jesus. They say that these people weren’t considered “crazy” at all. However, I admit that the standard has changed. These days, forcefully confronting someone with the Gospel when they don’t want to hear it is often described as “crazy,” while it is considered not only sane, but worthy of adoration, to wear a “meat dress” or to dance around in underwear on a stage while people scream out that they would die for you. “Crazy” can be sort of a relative term.

As far as someone tackling me, you’re a little too late – it’s already happened both in the literal (when I tried to stop a bigger person from beating up a smaller person, and his friends didn’t like it!) and in the figurative sense – many years ago – when a stranger who loved me enough to tell me the truth told me that, according to the Bible, I had sinned against God and needed His loving Son to save me. The Holy Spirit also “tackled” me at that point, opened my willfully blind and oblivious eyes, and showed me it was true. That Truth is something wonderful that I want everyone to know – even the ones who think they don’t want to hear it. That might appear hateful and rash, but it is not being hateful or rash.

Commenter: The primary flaw with your analogy is that anyone can by force save the boy from his path of destruction – in fact against his own will. Your analogy seems very similar to the comedian-magician Penn Gillette’s words, that “If you see someone about to get hit by a truck, there comes a point when you tackle them.” But what we are dealing with here is a soul’s choice to accept or reject the Gospel. It would be more accurate to say that one man prayed and pleaded and begged the boy to turn aside, and that the second, more forceful man, shouted and harangued and yelled at the boy to turn aside. But neither of them could do anything other than speak to the boy. The path of his own life or destruction – of any soul’s – is ultimately their own decision.

Me: You might believe that the analogy makes a point that you do not happen to like, believe, or agree with, but I respectfully submit that, in the scenario of the analogy itself, the point was not that anyone could stop the boy by force – the point was that only one person was willing to stop the boy by force. Someone had already tried more polite methods and they didn’t appear to be working.

I don’t know much about Penn Gillette, and I can’t really tell if you are agreeing with his statement or not, but on the surface (without knowing the context and without agreeing with him on other things) it appears to make sense. If I’m about to get hit by a truck, I would like someone (even someone who doesn’t particularly like me) to tackle me. As stated above, someone did that to me, spiritually speaking, several years ago, and I love him for it. Even more, I love the God Who I believe authorized and empowered him to do it. I have done it to others, and they have testified that they are grateful for it, too. I would argue that there is evidence in the Bible of evangelistic “tackling in love” and that it is portrayed in Scripture as the God-ordained thing to do in certain circumstances.

You state, “It would be more accurate to say that one man prayed and pleaded and begged the boy to turn aside, and that the second, more forceful man, shouted and harangued and yelled at the boy to turn aside. But neither of them could do anything other than speak to the boy.” Well, you are free to make up your own analogy I suppose, but to say that mine is less “accurate” kind of misses the point. The boy and his tackler landed just shy of the path of a speeding truck! Are you suggesting that the haranguing and yelling would have been worth the risk considering the magnitude of the harm averted? Everyone is free to dislike the analogy, but I would hope it wouldn’t be judged internally inconsistent, just like I would hope the tackler’s motives wouldn’t be mischaracterized as hateful and rash, when they are clearly stated to be otherwise.

You state: “The path of his own life or destruction – of any soul’s – is ultimately their own decision.” I want to give you credit (and I’m not being sarcastic) for the boldness of your convictions on this point. I would agree that each soul’s decision plays a part, but I would also argue (I think I can support it from Scripture) that other people who encounter a person also play a part in determining that person’s path, and that certainly God Himself plays a part in determining our path. To say that the person himself is the “ultimate” determiner, instead of God, is where we disagree.

Beware the Full Focus

July 9, 2014 at 10:20 am | Posted in The Fives | 1 Comment
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Jerusalem was in a location chosen by God, yet surrounded by nations of people that did not believe what His people believed.

Thus saith the Lord God; This is Jerusalem: I have set it in the midst of the nations and countries that are round about her.

Ezekiel 5:5

This was a dangerous and precarious position, but it was also a great opportunity.

In a world of merchant trading and traveling, Jerusalem could profit from her role as a major trade route, and could benefit commercially. More importantly, however, Jerusalem could share the truth of the One True God with her visitors and surrounding neighbors.

The danger was also twofold. Being landlocked amidst hostile pagans, Jerusalem would have to remain vigilant on all sides. Again, though, more importantly, rather than influencing her neighbors with the truth, there was always the danger of lapsing into the idolatry and sinful culture that beset her on every front. Sadly, this is precisely what happened – to an even greater degree.

And she hath changed my judgments into wickedness more than the nations, and my statutes more than the countries that are round about her: for they have refused my judgments and my statutes, they have not walked in them.

Ezekiel 5:6

Christians today face the same predicament. We are ensconced in a world hostile to our Lord and skeptical of His ways. We are set forth with a mission to evangelize the unbelievers, but we are also a curiosity piece when we consistently practice what we believe. Will we succumb to the influence and wilt under the withering focus of those who think us old-fashioned, foolish, or judgmental? If we do, we are subject to embarrassing rebuke and public humiliation.

Therefore thus saith the Lord God; Behold, I, even I, am against thee, and will execute judgments in the midst of thee in the sight of the nations.

Ezekiel 5:8

Or will we shine brightly with the light of the Savior even as the darkness encroaches ever more tightly upon us? Will we speak boldly and live with integrity so that we become a refuge for the heathens when they see the futility of fighting against the real God? If so, we will know the blessing of the presence of the Lord in our lives.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Matthew 28:19-20

Sharpening Your Focus

July 12, 2013 at 11:14 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments
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F.uel

When you have no provision or strength for the battle you are facing, then it seems to make little sense to go into the battle. You would not have the ability to do what you have been called to do. But that is never the case for a Christian in spiritual warfare.

Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.

Philippians 4:11-13

Philippians 4:13 has become a popular verse in American sports culture, but it is not really a verse about athletes winning ball games or fighters beating up their opponents. It is about drawing strength from somewhere else when you have none of your own. It is about sharpening our focus.

When we talk about drawing strength from somewhere else, when it comes to Christian warfare, what we really mean is from Someone else. When you are preparing for battle, draw your strength from Christ. In preparation you must believe that the message given to us by Christ will work.

F.uel
O.ptimism

For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:

I Corinthians 15:3-4

It is a message that is comprehensible enough that we should be able to present it straightforwardly, boldly, and with confidence. We have the message.

F.uel
O.ptimism
C.ommission

And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Matthew 28:18-20

Our mission is not optional, so lack of preparation is unthinkable. When Jesus commissions His followers there is a a transfer of authority, but it is still His authority. Matthew 28:19 says, “Go ye therefore…” and the “therefore” refers back to the authority which He has the sole right to distribute and supervise. Christians should not be “tale-bearers” (Proverbs 26:20) with this one exception: We carry the “tale” of the incarnation, life, death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and, because it is His “tale,” it deserves to be told. Most of us really love the idea of, “Lo, I am with you always” but the “I am with you always” is not detached from the “go ye.”

F.uel
O.ptimism
C.ommission
U.nction

And when they bring you unto the synagogues, and unto magistrates, and powers, take ye no thought how or what thing ye shall answer, or what ye shall say: For the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say.

Luke 12:11-12

The unction that the Holy Spirit gives to those engaged in the battle is not an excuse not to prepare for the battle. Notice that the people being addressed in Luke 12 are people who are already in the battle and have already prepared. As Christians we must be prepared to speak, but we trust the Holy Spirit to help us when we get a response we don’t expect.

F.uel
O.ptimism
C.ommission
U.nction
S.ubmission

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings:

Philippians 2:13-14

Don’t fall for the excuse that you are too small to make a difference. If you think you are too small to make a difference, then you have never been in a tent with a mosquito! When it comes to spiritual warfare, don’t make excuses. An “excuse” is often just the skin of a reason stuffed with a lie. Our comfort is not what is important. The will and glory of God are what is important. He works in us to do His will and His good pleasure. Sometimes (to borrow an overused cliche’) we have to “just do it.” We are under attack from the enemy – there is no doubt about it. We need to prepare to start fighting back, stop grumbling and complaining, and joyfully submit to the Lord.

F.uel: From Whom do we draw our strength?
O.ptimism: Why is it important to have confidence in our message?
C.ommission: Is the battle optional for us?
U.nction: Who do we have in the midst of the battle in case we encounter something for which we are unprepared?
S.ubmission: What needs to be our attitude about preparation?

Faithful to Him and to Each Other

April 25, 2011 at 10:51 am | Posted in Bible Studies, I Corinthians | 4 Comments
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Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

I Corinthians 4:2

Christians should be reliable and trustworthy in ministry. Even as others rely on us, we must remember that we, too, rely on Someone ourselves.

II Chronicles 16 tells about Asa, the king who ruled Judah for about 40 years. He was mostly a good king, a Godly king, but near the end of his reign he had trouble remembering on Whom to rely. He entered into a treaty with Benhadad, king of Syria, because he didn’t trust the Lord to give him the victory.

And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the LORD thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand. Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the LORD, he delivered them into thine hand. For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.

II Chronicles 16:7-9

No matter how much success we have with our ministry, and no matter how much we come to trust in the ways we minister and find motivation, we must remember to trust the Lord. We must remember to give Him the credit and the praise. We must remember to be faithful to follow His Word and His doctrine, and not to try to rely on our own personal beliefs.

And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,

Ephesians 1:22

Christians are stewards and servants – first and foremost to Christ – but also, in many ways, to those to whom we minister. We need to have a desire to promote spiritual growth – growth in the form of maturity and in the form of closeness in fellowship.

When I Corinthians 4:2 says that faithfulness is required in stewards, it means that, obviously, unfaithfulness is not an option.

He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

Luke 16:10

Each person has different talents and abilities, but every Christian has the ability to be faithful.

For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.

II Corinthians 10:18

I am glad that we are not responsible for commending ourselves. I’m also glad that the Lord’s acceptance of us is not conditional on the approval of others. What we’re seeking is the commendation of the Lord Himself.

We all are members of a body, and every member is important. For the body to function at full capacity, all the members should be faithfully working.

For the body is not one member, but many.

I Corinthians 12:14

The Body of Christ is alive. I know that sometimes Christians can tend to overemphasize organization. The Body of Christ is more of an organism than an organization, but an unorganized organism would not live very long! Therefore Christians need to work together and get along with each other. We are valuable to each other, and, in a sense, we are even valuable to the Lord.

Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

Matthew 10:31

When Jesus received the authority granted to Him after the Resurrection, He proceeded to allocate His authority to His disciples. Our “value” lies in our willingness to serve. God doesn’t “need” me in the sense that He needs my permission to accomplish His will, but I am “valuable” to Him in the sense that He loves me and that it pleases Him to use me to accomplish His will.

Discipleship Lesson 8: The World

April 6, 2011 at 12:03 pm | Posted in Discipleship Lessons | 47 Comments
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I. Why does the world oppose Christians?

A. The world opposes Christians because the world opposed Christ.

If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you.

John 15:18-19

B. The world opposes Christians because Christians are supposed to live for Christ.

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

II Timothy 3:12

C. The world opposes Christians because there are two spiritual families that are at war with each other.

But as then he that was born after the flesh persecuted him that was born after the Spirit, even so it is now.

Galatians 4:29

D. The world opposes Christians because the world’s system is opposed to Christ.

Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.

James 4:4

II. How does the world oppose Christians?

A. By using those closest to Christians.

For I am come to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man’s foes shall be they of his own household.

Matthew 10:35-36

B. By cooperating with Satan in using unredeemed sinners against Christians.

Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

Ephesians 2:2

III. How can a Christian get the victory over the world?

A. By showing love, kindness, meekness, and gentleness to others.

A soft answer turneth away wrath: but grievous words stir up anger.

Proverbs 15:1

If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.

Romans 12:18

B. By pleasing the Lord.

When a man’s ways please the LORD, he maketh even his enemies to be at peace with him.

Proverbs 16:7

C. By faith in God.

For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith. Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

I John 5:4-5

D. By returning good for evil.

Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Romans 12:21

But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;

Matthew 5:44

E. By choosing our friends wisely.

He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.

Proverbs 13:20

F. By renewing our minds every day in the Word of God.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:1-2

IV. How should the world view Christians?

A. As sincere, by our actions even more than our words.

But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

I Corinthians 8:3

B. As set apart and different.

Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness? And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel? And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

II Corinthians 6:14-18

But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:

I Peter 2:9

B. As open and honest.

Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.

Romans 12:17

Providing for honest things, not only in the sight of the Lord, but also in the sight of men.

II Corinthians 8:21

C. As people who love unbelievers, but know what we ourselves believe.

Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.

Colossians 4:6

Moreover he must have a good report of them which are without; lest he fall into reproach and the snare of the devil.

I Timothy 3:7

V. How should Christians view the world?

A. The way a pilgrim views a strange land.

Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;

I Peter 2:11

These all died in faith, not having received the promises, but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them, and confessed that they were strangers and pilgrims on the earth.

Hebrews 11:13

B. From the viewpoint of a citizen of Heaven.

For our conversation is in heaven; from whence also we look for the Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ:

Philippians 3:20

And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

Ephesians 2:6

C. As a mission field.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Matthew 28:19-20

VI. Questions

A. What three institutions has God ordained for man in this world?

The family, the government, the church.

B. Where is a Christian’s home?

In Heaven.

C. What is the principle of “separation” for a Christian?

To be in the world, but not of the world. Not to touch the unclean thing.

VII. Memory Verses

Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.

II Timothy 3:12

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

I John 2:15-16

But if any man love God, the same is known of him.

I Corinthians 8:3

Discipleship Lesson 3: Baptism

November 17, 2010 at 1:48 pm | Posted in Discipleship Lessons | 17 Comments
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I. Why does God want me to be baptized after I am saved?

It is the first act of service in obedience to the Lord. Anyone can be baptized – it takes no special talents or effort.

Jesus set the example by submitting to baptism before He began His public ministry.

Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John, to be baptized of him. But John forbad him, saying, I have need to be baptized of thee, and comest thou to me? And Jesus answering said unto him, Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness. Then he suffered him. And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him: And lo a voice from heaven, saying, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Matthew 3:13-17, emphasis added

And it came to pass in those days, that Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee, and was baptized of John in Jordan. And straightway coming up out of the water, he saw the heavens opened, and the Spirit like a dove descending upon him: And there came a voice from heaven, saying, Thou art my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

Mark 1:9-11, emphasis added

Now when all the people were baptized, it came to pass, that Jesus also being baptized, and praying, the heaven was opened, And the Holy Ghost descended in a bodily shape like a dove upon him, and a voice came from heaven, which said, Thou art my beloved Son; in thee I am well pleased.

Luke 3:21-22, emphasis added

Jesus was baptized in obedience to God’s plan. The single most important thing about baptism sounds like two things, but it is really two-things-in-one: submission and obedience.

And immediately there fell from his eyes as it had been scales: and he received sight forthwith, and arose, and was baptized.

Acts 9:18

And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

Acts 8:36-39

And at midnight Paul and Silas prayed, and sang praises unto God: and the prisoners heard them. And suddenly there was a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison were shaken: and immediately all the doors were opened, and every one’s bands were loosed. And the keeper of the prison awaking out of his sleep, and seeing the prison doors open, he drew out his sword, and would have killed himself, supposing that the prisoners had been fled. But Paul cried with a loud voice, saying, Do thyself no harm: for we are all here. Then he called for a light, and sprang in, and came trembling, and fell down before Paul and Silas, And brought them out, and said, Sirs, what must I do to be saved? And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house. And they spake unto him the word of the Lord, and to all that were in his house. And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.

Acts 16:25-33

These are all examples in the Book of Acts of people who were baptized after being saved.

II. What is my being baptized supposed to show to others?

Physical baptism is a picture of spiritual truth.

What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life. For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. For he that is dead is freed from sin.

Romans 6:1-7

Baptism pictures the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. It is also a public testimony of identification with Christ.

III. What is the requirement for being baptized?

And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized? And Philip said, If thou believest with all thine heart, thou mayest. And he answered and said, I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

Acts 8:36-37

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved. For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.

Romans 10:9-10

Baptism does not save anyone. The requirement for being baptized is the requirement of first being saved. The requirement for being baptized is believing in your heart that Jesus Christ is your Lord and Savior, and confession that He is Lord and Savior. In the Bible Christians are baptized after being saved.

But when they believed Philip preaching the things concerning the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ, they were baptized, both men and women.

Acts 8:12

And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.

Acts 18:8

IV. What is Biblical baptism?

And he commanded the chariot to stand still: and they went down both into the water, both Philip and the eunuch; and he baptized him. And when they were come up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord caught away Philip, that the eunuch saw him no more: and he went on his way rejoicing.

Acts 8:38-39

Both Philip and the eunuch went down into the water. So did Jesus.

And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

Matthew 3:16

Baptism is a picture of death, burial, and resurrection. No one is buried by having dirt sprinkled on them.

Baptism does not save (Ephesians 2:8-9), but it is essential for service and spiritual growth.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Matthew 28:19-20

Baptism is right up there with teaching, maybe before, in importance.

V. Questions

A. Why should babies not be baptized?

They are not saved.

B. Why is sprinkling with water not Biblical baptism?

It’s not a picture of death, burial, and resurrection.

C. Where should the baptism take place?

In public (in front of witnesses), as part of a Christian church service.

VI. Memory Verses

Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Romans 6:3-4

And Jesus, when he was baptized, went up straightway out of the water: and, lo, the heavens were opened unto him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove, and lighting upon him:

Matthew 3:16

And as they went on their way, they came unto a certain water: and the eunuch said, See, here is water; what doth hinder me to be baptized?

Acts 8:36

Next time: Discipleship Lesson Four – The Bible

Tips for Teachers

August 18, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Posted in Biblical Teaching, II Corinthians | 6 Comments
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Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.

II Corinthians 3:1-3

Christian teachers are to strive for excellence – to be the very best teachers we can be – not necessarily the best there are – but the best we can be. We may not have the most expensive materials or the fanciest facilities. Our students may not have read the lesson. In fact, they are more likely to read the teacher than the lesson. So we must make sure we are good “letters.”

Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

Romans 12:11

“Fervent” is more than “not slothful.” We are to prepare our lessons while being mindful that we are serving the Lord. Don’t prepare just for the students – do it for the Lord.

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

Colossians 3:23

I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.

Proverbs 8:17

Planning ahead of time makes for smooth-sailing on the day of the lesson. Take some time thinking about and planning your routine.

Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

I Corinthians 4:2

As a teacher, be reliable. This is more than not missing the teaching time. It includes being trustworthy as a person. We want our students to grow in number, in knowledge, in maturity, and in fellowship and closeness.

For the body is not one member, but many.

I Corinthians 12:14

The Body of Christ is alive. A living body is an organism, but a disorganized organism will die. Therefore, teachers need to work together with each other and with those in other ministry positions. We need to work together and meet together. Not only are we valuable to each other, but we are valuable to the Lord.

Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

Matthew 10:31

Right after Jesus proclaimed His authority He proceeded to allocate His authority to His disciples. But their enthusiasm must have been somewhat dampened when He told them what this authority meant, and how they were to use it. Our “value” lies in our willingness to serve. God doesn’t “need” me in the sense that He needs my permission to accomplish His will. Teachers have a target on them. We may only influence our students for an hour a week. They may be “taught” by someone else all the rest of the week. That’s going to lead to conflict once in a while between us and their “other teachers.” Just like some parts of the body protect other parts, we need to be loyal to each other. One of the reasons we value each other so much is because we know the Lord values us, and we are under His protection.

For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

Hebrews 6:10

It’s natural to start off life as a child, and it’s natural for a new believer to start off as a child. But teachers, like good parents, not only love their students, but want to see them grow up, too. Proper growth comes about from feeding (the Word), exercise (getting them involved in service), and instruction (the teaching itself.) To encourage others to grow, we need to make sure we’re growing ourselves.

Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?

Romans 2:21

If students outgrow teachers, teachers are going to have trouble teaching them.

Insincerity, Inaccuracy, or Incompletion?

October 12, 2009 at 8:51 am | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Acts | 5 Comments
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In Acts Chapter 18 Paul goes from Athens to Corinth. Corinth was a very unlikely place to start a church. Since Paul went to Corinth alone, it was clear that, if he was to be successful there, God would have to intervene. Corinth was the Las Vegas or New Orleans of its day. It was a place of vice, greed, and wicked spiritualism.

God knew that many of those in Corinth who pretended to be involved in spiritual pursuits were actually trying to manipulate people out of greed. So He allowed Paul to be distinct by earning his living making tents.

And because he was of the same craft, he abode with them, and wrought: for by their occupation they were tentmakers.

Acts 18:3

God took care of the problem of Paul being alone in Corinth by providing Aquila and Priscilla, a married couple. Paul worked during the week and preached on the Sabbath. Then God sent financial help with Timothy and Silas, which allowed Paul to preach full-time.

When Paul encountered opposition in the synagogue, God sent Titus Justus to open a place for him to preach right next to the synagogue.

And he departed thence, and entered into a certain man’s house, named Justus, one that worshipped God, whose house joined hard to the synagogue. And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized.

Acts 18:7-8

The chief ruler of the synagogue was saved!

Paul carried out the Great Commission, and he received the assurance from Jesus that is attached to it.

Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

Matthew 28:19-20

And Crispus, the chief ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his house; and many of the Corinthians hearing believed, and were baptized. Then spake the Lord to Paul in the night by a vision, Be not afraid, but speak, and hold not thy peace:

Acts 18:8-9

Paul never quit; opposition only strengthened his commitment. The blessing of the Old Testament is prosperity; the blessing of the New Testament is persecution.

When the Jews tried to take the Christians to court, God intervened, and caused Gallio, the Roman proconsul, to declare the preaching of Christianity a Jewish religious matter, and not a matter of Roman law.

Paul was in Corinth for about 18 months. Then he went back to report at Antioch, and then back to Ephesus. This would be his third missionary journey.

Ephesus did not have Corinth’s reputation for wickedness, but it had a population of about 300,000 people, compared to Corinth’s 200,000. Ephesus was steeped in idolatry. It was the capital of Asia. The temple of Diana there was one of the “seven wonders of the world.” Paul stayed in Ephesus about three years.

In Acts Chapter 19 we see a historical oddity: people who sincerely professed to be Christian disciples, but who were lacking the Holy Spirit. Their testimony was not insincere, but it was probably inaccurate, and it was it was definitely incomplete.

The ministry of John the Baptist – probably through Apollos – had a big influence in Alexandria and Ephesus, so these men were disciples of the teaching of John the Baptist.

Here is what the Bible teaches about the Holy Spirit in connection with salvation:

But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.

Romans 8:9

In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

Ephesians 1:13

The requirement today for Holy Spirit baptism is not water baptism. It is not the laying on of hands. It is salvation. These men in Acts 19 knew that John the Baptist had prophesied about the giving of the Holy Spirit, but they did not know at first that it had already happened.


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