“Believed on in the World”

Yesterday’s post focused on the fourth in the series of six great truths about Jesus Christ: “Proclaimed among the nations” (1 Timothy 3:16).

Today’s truth is the logical result of yesterday’s. When the gospel (good news) of Jesus is proclaimed, God intends for those who hear to believe and obey the gospel (Acts 11:13-14; Romans 1:16; 10:10-17; 16:25; 2 Thessalonians 1:7-10). Only then can anyone be saved (Mark 16:15-16).

Broadening proclamation

The gospel first went to the Jews: “And all the more believers in the Lord, multitudes of men and women, were constantly added to their number . . .” (Acts 5:14).

Then to the Samaritans: “But when they believed Philip preaching the good news about the kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ, they were being baptized, men and women alike” (Acts 8:12).

And finally, to the Gentiles: “. . . you turned to God from idols to serve a living and true God, and to wait for His Son from heaven, whom He raised from the dead, that is Jesus, who rescues us from the wrath to come” (1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).

Expanding response

“. . . before seventy years had passed . . . men from every nation accepted this crucified Jesus as Saviour and Lord. Here in this simple phrase [“Believed on in the world”] there is the whole wonder of the expansion of the Church, an expansion which on any human grounds was incredible” (Wm. Barclay, The Letters to Timothy, Titus and Philemon, Westminster Press, 105).

Who but God could use such improbable means to achieve such incredible ends?

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Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Over Our Heads?

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They just didn’t get it!

It’s remarkable how often what Jesus said went right over the heads of His hearers.

When Jesus was talking with the Samaritan woman at Jacob’s well, He offered her “living water” that would deeply and permanently satisfy, unlike the H2O she drew from the well.

Her response? “Sir, give me this water, so I will not be thirsty nor come all the way here to draw” (John 4:13-15). By “living water” Jesus meant the Holy Spirit imparted to believers (John 7:37-39).

When Jesus’ disciples returned from buying bread, they urged Him to eat. Jesus replied, “I have food to eat that you do not know about.” The disciples assumed He meant literal bread, but then Jesus explained, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me and to accomplish His work” (John 4:31-34).

So often Jesus and His listeners were operating on different wavelengths. Since His words were so frequently misunderstood, was He then an ineffective communicator?  As the Master Teacher, He was aiming to elevate the sights of His listeners from the mundane to the spiritual, from the earthly to the heavenly.

He refused to dumb down His message. He was trying to make people think—something many of us would rather not do.

Note this interchange: “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” Those who heard Him say this thought He meant the Jerusalem temple, but as John explains, “He was speaking of the temple of His body. So when He was raised from the dead, His disciples remembered that He said this; and they believed the Scripture and the word which Jesus had spoken” (John 2:19-22). It finally clicked!

When we finally get it!

Jesus’ statements are all the richer as we understand them in the context of the Big Picture of the great plan of God. Our faith in Him can be strengthened as we think through His words until a light comes on in our minds, and our faith grows. Those “Aha!” moments are priceless!

I once heard a highly-educated and accomplished man say that in all the various fields of study he had pursued, he has found none more challenging than the study of the Scriptures. How true! There’s more than enough there to keep us occupied for a lifetime.

This is but another evidence that the Bible is what it claims to be: the inspired and living and powerful word of God (1 Thessalonians 2:13; 2 Timothy 3:16-17; Hebrews 4:12; 1 Peter 1:23-25; 2 Peter 1:20-21).

As a result of its divine origin, for nearly 2,000 years it has been transforming millions of hopeless sinners into the likeness of God’s Son.

Can you think of any other book that could do that?

 

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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Believe–What?

The difference a day makes

Imagine getting up one morning believing one thing, but before day’s end believing something dramatically different.

That’s what happened to many who heard Peter preach. What convinced them? The ample evidence he provided (Acts 2:22, 29-33).

Peter confronted them with shocking news: “God has made Him both Lord and Christ—this Jesus whom you crucified” (v. 36).

The difference truth makes

Truth can hurt: “. . . they were pierced to the heart . . . ‘Brethren, what shall we do?’” (v. 37).

Truth can also heal: forgiveness, if they would repent and be baptized (v. 38). Some 3,000 of them were only too glad to do so (v. 41).

What a day! What a day!

It goes to show it does matter what we believe and what we do with what we believe.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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The Original Recycler

Recycling is in vogue, but our generation can’t take credit for it. God is the Original Recycler.

God does good work!

God uses evaporation and condensation to turn filthy water into fresh. He created the decay process, using microbes, and buzzards to take care of the carrion.

God made our bodies fully biodegradable (Genesis 3:19). Some of us, I’m afraid, are getting a head start on the process.

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His best work!

But God doesn’t stop there. He recycles old, beat-up, worn-out, hopeless sinners, and He converts them into brand-new people with direction and purpose for living (1 Corinthians 6:9-11; 2 Corinthians 5:14-17). He can take drug addicts, alcoholics, convicts, and unwed moms and dads and turn them into something beautiful—a work of art!

That’s what God can do. And it’s wonderful!

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Grace is Amazing!

 

Describing his niece’s greatly improved attitude, a man told me, “She made a 360º turn.” Although that’s not exactly what he intended to say, I knew what he meant.

 About-face!

If anyone did a 180, it was Saul of Tarsus, who violently persecuted the church, traveling far and wide in his zeal to destroy.

On one such trip he was stopped dead in his tracks. Three days later he was a Christian, and what a Christian he became!

What changed him?

Seeing Jesus who appeared to him, Saul then realized how wrong he had been. We know him today as the apostle Paul.

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If Jesus could save Saul, He can save anyone (1 Timothy 1:12-17).

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The Joy of a Fresh Beginning

Off to a wrong start

I heard a speaker say if you start buttoning wrong, there’s no way to make it right except to start over.

When we realize we’ve taken a wrong turn in driving, do we think, “Oh well, I’ve gone this far. I might as well keep going”?

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Off to a right start!

When we turn to Christ for healing, we then enjoy a status we’ve never had before. We are no longer the innocent children we once were. But neither are we the condemned sinners we were before Christ cleansed us.

“Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Reborn, renewed, redeemed—rejoicing!

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: http://www.lockman.org/

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