Disparaging the Divine

Blasphemers

The Assyrian king sent his men to frighten the people of Jerusalem. The king’s agents spoke of the nations they had already conquered, whose gods were powerless to deliver them. In other words: Your God will be like all those other gods we defeated.

“They spoke of the God of Jerusalem as of the gods of the peoples of the earth, the work of men’s hands” (2 Chronicles 32:19).

God answered their arrogance by slaying the entire Assyian army of 185,000 men!

Mockers

Enabled by God, Nehemiah led his people in rebuilding the fallen walls of Jerusalem. Their critics taunted, “What are these feeble Jews doing?” “. . . if a fox should jump on it, he would break their stone wall down!” (Nehemiah 4:2-3).

But Nehemiah later wrote, “So the wall was completed . . . in fifty-two days. When all our enemies heard of it . . . they lost their confidence, for they recognized that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God” (6:15-16).

Deniers

During Jesus’ ministry His enemies accused Him of being demon-possessed, insane, a blasphemer, glutton, drunkard, deceiver, etc. (John 9:24; John 10:20, 33; Matthew 11:19; 27:63).

They even said He cast out demons by the power of Satan (Matthew 12:24-28).

But it wasn’t long until the risen Christ, fully vindicated, was enthroned in glory at God’s right hand—where He reigns still.

Hecklers

At Pentecost the Holy Spirit empowered the apostles to speak in languages understood by the people who heard them. Some in the audience mocked, “They are full of sweet wine” (Acts 2:13).

But before the day was over, some 3,000 were convicted by Peter’s forceful sermon, and the mighty church of God was born.

The final verdict

Today we still have those who scorn the Scriptures and deride the bride of Christ, the church. But God will have the last word.

He always does.

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

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The Exclusive/Inclusive Christ

Christ is inclusive.

His salvation is offered to all without distinction. Christ invites the poor, the oppressed, and people of all nations to receive freely the blessings that are in Him (Mark 16:15-16; Luke 14:21-23).

Jews and Gentiles are saved on exactly the same basis (Acts 10:1-11:18; Ephesians 2:11-22). Slave and master stand as equals in His sight (Galatians 3:28). Though He has assigned men and women their respective roles, He treats them both as fellow heirs of the grace of life (1 Peter 3:7).

“. . . He died for all . . . .” (2 Corinthians 5:15).

Christ is exclusive.

He Himself said, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me” (John 14:6). He made it abundantly clear in His teachings that there are but two alternatives: either Christ or destruction (Matthew 7:24-27; Mark 16:16; John 8:24; 12:48).

Peter said of Him, “And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).

Paul describes it this way: “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow . . . and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord . . .” (Philippians 2:10-11).

Offensive?

Those who find repugnant His claim to be the only way to God are invited to consider a few points:

  • We all deserve hell because we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23; 6:23).
  • God owes us nothing, but because of His mercy He extends the opportunity to everyone alike to find salvation in His Son. That’s true love!
  • The gospel of Christ is a tremendous offer. But it can be rejected. God does not force His grace on anyone. He respects our freedom of the will.

Yes, there is only one way to God, but there is a way.

What if there were no way?

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

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Satan

How much do we know about Satan? Second Corinthians has quite a bit to say about him. What does Paul say in this letter about our enemy, the devil?

Knowing how Satan works is essential.

“. . . that no advantage would be taken of us by Satan, for we are not ignorant of his schemes” (2:11).

Just as an army is vulnerable if it doesn’t learn the enemy’s tactics, we too must know Satan’s strategies if we are to defeat him.

Satan tries to keep people from believing.

“. . . the god of this world [Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ . . .” (4:4; cf. Luke 8:12).

How Satan hates the gospel! He knows it is for our salvation. He succeeds whenever he keeps people where he wants them—in the dark, unbelieving, and lost.

Satan is subtle.

“But I am afraid that, as the serpent deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds will be led astray from the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ” (11:3).

Satan led Eve to think it was to her advantage to eat the forbidden fruit. Satan tries to fool us in the same way—if we let him.

Satan is a master of disguises.

“. . . even Satan disguises himself as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness . . .” (11:14-15).

Satan uses certain religious leaders to promote his lies. They may pose as spokesmen for God but are actually working for the devil himself. Millions are tragically deceived!

These passages not only alert us to the dangers but can motivate us to learn more about the one who wants us to be with him forever in hell. Equipped with this knowledge and with the help of our God, we can and must defeat him!

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

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Comfy?

air conditioner-tagged

Reducing discomfort

Technology enables us to enjoy an increasingly comfortable existence.

Who’d want to go back to the days before indoor plumbing, A/C, and automatic washers? We can be thankful for these things.

But there’s a subtle danger in all this: What happens when doing right isn’t comfortable, convenient—or safe?

Getting out of our comfort zone

Nothing is more incompatible with comfort than the cross. “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:38).

Without this Christ-like toughness in our commitment, we’ll bail out when faithfulness has a sharp edge to it.

Let’s share Paul’s perspective, “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).

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

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Aimless Living

My dilemma

As I approached graduation from high school, anxiety possessed me. I had to make a choice: What would I do with my life? I recognized that saying “yes” to one thing meant saying “no” to everything else, and that felt like a burden too great to bear.

But the most important decision was much easier than that. It was not what would I do with my life, but who would I serve?

My decision

“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33).

That one decision has made all of the others in my life.

Don’t live aimlessly. Aim to please God.

man facing choices-tagged

By guest writer: Randy Daw (Johnson Street Church of Christ, Greenville, TX)

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

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Grace and Baptism

 

To say that baptism is essential to salvation does not contradict the truth that we are saved by grace (Titus 3:4-7).

We can never earn our salvation. Baptism is a condition of salvation (John 3:5; Acts 2:38; 22:16).

A remarkable parallel

Dipping seven times in the Jordan was a condition for Naaman to be cleansed of leprosy (2 Kings 5). Could he expect a cure without going to the water?

Was there something about Jordan River water that cleansed leprosy? No, Naaman was healed on the condition of his obedience. Cleansed by the grace of God, he had nothing to boast about.

man arising from water-tagged

Grace applied

Water cannot wash away sins; Christ’s blood does. When? At the moment we are buried with Him in baptism (Colossians 2:12-13).

Praise be to God for His marvelous grace!

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Perspective

A mind-changing experience

What is there about a sonogram that changes the mind of many a woman considering an abortion?

This technological window into the womb makes it so very evident that what is living, moving, and growing inside the mother IS HER BABY, not mere fetal tissue.

Seeing it as God does

The Hebrew word for child (ben) is frequently used in the Bible of those who have been born, but also of the pre-born twins Jacob and Esau (Genesis 25:22).

The same Greek word for baby (brephos) is used of John the Baptist in Elizabeth’s womb (Luke 1:41, 44) and of Jesus after His birth (Luke 2:12, 16).

What does that tell us about how God views children in utero?

And how should we see them?

fetus-tagged

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