jtrhart

Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

Acts 14:7

In acts_14_7 on May 6, 2008 at 6:55 pm

This week, an interesting take on the forgiveness of sins from Josh Harris.

httpv://youtube.com/watch?v=SjvelbJCoNA&feature=related

“And there they continued to preach the gospel” – Acts 14:7

Each Tuesday a different reflection on the gospel and its continual effect on our lives

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Luke 12:22-34; Part I

In bible on May 4, 2008 at 9:03 pm

Here is Luke 12:22-34:

22 And he said to his disciples, “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat, nor about your body, what you will put on. 23 For life is more than food, and the body more than clothing. 24 Consider the ravens: they neither sow nor reap, they have neither storehouse nor barn, and yet God feeds them. Of how much more value are you than the birds! 25 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 26 If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest? 27 Consider the lilies, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 28 But if God so clothes the grass, which is alive in the field today, and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, how much more will he clothe you, O you of little faith! 29 And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried. 30 For all the nations of the world seek after these things, and your Father knows that you need them. 31 Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.

32 “Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom. 33 Sell your possessions, and give to the needy. Provide yourselves with moneybags that do not grow old, with a treasure in the heavens that does not fail, where no thief approaches and no moth destroys. 34 For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

This passage is similar to the one found in Matthew 6:19-34. There are a few differences though.

  • Luke includes v26, If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?, in speaking about worrying adding one hour to your life. This seemed somewhat humorous to me. Basically Jesus says the ability to add an hour to our lifespan is just a small matter.
  • Luke says in v30 that all the nations of the world seek after these things, whereas Matthew says Gentiles seek after these things. Not a huge difference but it’s interesting to note that there isn’t anyone exempt from the statement “all nations”.
  • The biggest difference is in the endings. Matthew ends with a command to be anxious about nothing but Luke adds a bit more, saying that we should be without fear for God delights to give us the kingdom. Then Luke concludes in the same way that Matthew began in vv.19-24, telling us not to lay up treasures for ourselves in heaven and that we cannot serve two masters; we either serve God or money.
  • Oh and one last thing, in v33 Luke’s account includes a command for us to sell our possessions and give to the needy

possessions

I’m going to post another part to this and talk more about this command but I’d like to hear your thoughts on this. I’ve never met a believer that had sold all of their possessions so either we’re all disobeying this command or there is another way this is meant to be interpreted. What do you think?

How Do You Define Religion?

In news on April 24, 2008 at 7:30 pm

My good friend and realtor extradorinare Dave passed this article my way. It seems Florida is considering offering a license plate with a cross, a stained-glass window and the words “I believe” on it. This would be in addition to the plethora of other sports team and college university logos already offered by the state. Obviously there is opposition to this, it could be seen as state-endorsed religion (a big no-no according to the US Constitution). One law-maker was quoted saying:

“It’s not a road I want to go down. I don’t want to see the Star of David next. I don’t want to see a Torah next. None of that stuff is appropriate to me, I just believe that.”

So this got me thinking. It is easy to say that Christianity, Judaism, Buddhism, Hinduism and Islam are religions because it’s always been that way. But when you get down to it, how do you define religion? Belief in God? There goes Buddhism. Belief in an afterlife? See ya Hinduism (sort of). So what distinguishes religion from other belief systems?

During the course of a week millions of people flock to large meeting places, some indoor, some outdoor, some capable of holding thousands, some only a few dozen, to join with each other in their common love for a particular thing. During their meetings they express their excitement in various ways, sometimes in song, sometimes in silence, sometimes with clapping, other times you’ll see arms stretched towards the heavens. There are common rules at these gatherings that most folks will follow and there are consequences for breaking these rules. But even when these folks aren’t gathered together, they still connect and read and experience whatever it is they worship. There are websites, radio stations, TV channels, books, magazines and plenty of merchandise devoted to their similar object of affection.

Is this how you define religion? Does that sound like church or the NFL to you? You really could substitute just about any passion in that last paragraph I just used sports because I see a lot of parallels between the worship of our favorite teams and the worship of God. One could argue that no one really considers sports to be of eternal consequence but what about religions that don’t even believe in an afterlife?

This seems like a difficult question, I mean let’s face it, Jedi is considered a religion in the UK so I’m not sure anyone has really nailed this one down.

So, after all that, what do I think? From a legal standpoint you have to define it somehow, otherwise everyone would claim themselves as a religious organization on their income tax forms and not have to pay taxes. But how about from an eternal standpoint? I think Tim Keller says it well when he says “religion is I obey and then I’m accepted by God”. Religion is a way to get what you want from God be it blessings, health, happiness, or a good spot in heaven. Religion turns God into a genie-in-a-bottle. Someone to give you what you want and to make everything go smoothly in your life. Here’s what Christ says about all this, “For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world, and forfeit his soul?” Jesus says we’re not to give up parts of our lives or follow a set of rules to gain favor, He says we’re to give up our entire lives and follow Him; a person, God.

I don’t like thinking of Christianity as a religion but yet I can’t escape it. I just hope that, given the animosity that seems to exist against organized religion, my practice of following Christ will be seen as so different it doesn’t even have the smell of religion.

Acts 14:7

In acts_14_7 on April 8, 2008 at 8:53 pm

Jude 3…the faith which was once for all handed down to the saints. There is something I have in common with Peter the apostle, and Paul the apostle, and Augustine, Justin Martyr, John Wycliffe, Martin Luther, John Calvin, John Wesley and George Whitefield. We all became believers of the gospel message. When I read about the sacrifices these men made to preach the gospel to people who had not believed, I feel a sense of unity with them, a common bond, because of the gospel message. The message hasn’t changed over the years. God hasn’t been refining the gospel since it was first preached as if it were something that means different things to different people. The truth that Peter believed is the same truth I now believe.

All of these men came from different backgrounds, lived in different cultures, spoke different languages and had different careers. Yet, each one believed he had sinned against God and that only Christ’s atoning death and resurrection could save him. The gospel is universal, it is not exclusive to certain races or educational backgrounds. The gospel is for everyone because all are guilty of sin. This message was entrusted to the apostles that they should teach it and pass it down from generation to generation regardless of race, nationality, age, gender, geographic location, or lifestyle. All those who believe are united in Christ according to the same gospel message.

“And there they continued to preach the gospel” – Acts 14:7

Each Tuesday a different reflection on the gospel and its continual effect on our lives

Acts 14:7

In acts_14_7 on April 1, 2008 at 6:19 pm

Do you ever think about how much it delighted Jesus to serve us? Do you ever consider that Jesus rejoiced at the idea of becoming like us and suffering as he did? Listen to what John Owen said:

As then we lay under the eye of Christ in our misery, we were the objects of his pity and compassion; but as he looketh on us as recoverable out of that state, his love worketh in and by delight. It was an inconceivable delight unto him, to take a prospect of the deliverance of mankind unto the glory of God; which is also an act of love. See this divinely expressed, Prov. viii. 30, 31, as that place has been elsewhere explained.

Don’t miss what’s being said here, Christ delighted in his life, death, and resurrection. In the gospel, we see that he did not leave his father begrudgingly with an attitude of annoyance at having to come down from his throne; he came because it was his joy to do it. He finds his pleasure in us! Jesus said he did not come to be served, but to serve. God serves us? The maker serves the created? The only explanation for this is love. God loves us with such a passion that he was not only willing, but excited, to come and take on our sins so that he could restore our relationship with him.

“And there they continued to preach the gospel” – Acts 14:7

Each Tuesday a different reflection on the gospel and its continual effect on our lives

Easter Resources

In reference on March 22, 2008 at 7:16 am

Have a blessed Easter weekend!

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Acts 14:7

In acts_14_7 on March 18, 2008 at 5:44 pm

There is an interesting verse in Romans 1:15, Paul says, “I am eager to preach the gospel to you also who are in Rome.” The reason this is so interesting is because just a few sentences earlier in his greeting he had addressed the folks he was writing “To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints.” If he was writing to Christians, why would he tell them he was eager to come and preach the gospel to them? They were already believers, why do they need to hear that again?

To answer that, let’s look at what Paul says about the gospel. In 1:16 he calls the gospel the power of God for salvation to everyone that believes. So, he recognizes the gospel’s saving power as something that comes directly from God. And what are the benefits of this salvation? Well, in this letter Paul describes how sinful man is and how we all try to make up for our sins in various ways, trying to be good in God’s eyes. Recognizing just what the gospel saves you from is something you want to remember. Then he says that even though they are sinners, Christ died for them to pay the penalty they deserved and that even though they still have sin in their lives they are no longer enslaved to that sin but they are joined with Jesus Christ to be free from that bondage. Then he encourages them in that they have the Holy Spirit to pray for them when things are so hard in this life that they won’t even know how to pray, that since it is God who removes their sins they can stand in the face of pure evil and laugh when their sin tries to make them believe God doesn’t love them anymore, that they will face trials and sufferings and even physical death but that NOTHING will ever separate them from the love of God, that He has been working this entire plan since He invented time and that it will finish exactly how He wants it to. Do you think this is something they needed to have preached to them again? How often do you need to hear this?

“And there they continued to preach the gospel” – Acts 14:7

Each Tuesday a different reflection on the gospel and its continual effect on our lives

The Truth of the Cross; A Review

In books on March 17, 2008 at 5:27 pm

The Truth of the Cross
by R.C. Sproul
Reformation Trust, 2007

Overview

The Truth of the Cross coverThe cross has been the center of discussion and debate since the early beginnings of Christianity. What exactly happened that night? Did it even have to happen? What was Jesus going through as it happened? Who benefits from what happened on the cross? These are the simplified versions of some very complex theological questions arising from our understanding of Christ’s work on the cross but if you think about it, so much of the way you live the Christian life is rooted in what you believe really took place on the cross. The author himself spells out how important this is in his comment

If you take away the cross as an atoning act, you take away Christianity.

Outline

R.C. Sproul’s most recent book The Truth of the Cross checks in at about 167 pages, a quick read if you are willing but certainly not sparse in depth. When the cross is discussed, normally you would hear the words atonement, justification, sacrifice, redemption, substitution, debt, suffering, and hell. Amazingly enough, you will find all of these topics covered in this book in a way that RC is well-known for: easy to understand but never lacking in thought-provoking theology.

Obviously in a shorter book like this it is difficult to thoroughly examine all of these topics but that wasn’t the author’s intent. The author seems to have written an introductory book, giving the reader who may have questions about the cross or maybe hasn’t ever studied some of these topics a good overview of the subject.

Although the book answers a lot of questions throughout its first nine chapters, I particularly enjoyed the tenth chapter, “Questions and Answers”. Some great questions are asked and RC briefly responds with just enough to cover the question but leaves the reader to ponder some more and, hopefully, dig into the Bible for more answers. I wish more authors provided a Q&A section within their books; a mini-catechism of sorts. This also serves as a good quick-reference guide to the book written in a much more readable form.

Summary

This is a great book for those looking for a quick introduction to the questions they have about the cross and some of the more theological terms associated with it. But of course, this would be an excellent book for anyone who has studied the cross but loves to hear the story again and again.

Colorado Gunman's Pleas From His Letter

In news on March 13, 2008 at 7:58 am

The Associated Press is running a story today with the details of a handwritten letter found in the car of the Colorado gunman who killed 4 people in Dec. 2007. I can’t seem to find a copy of the whole letter but the bits and pieces found in the article are difficult to read: “Jesus, where are you? Do you even care these days?”, “What have I done so wrong? What is wrong with me anyways? Am I really such a bad person?”, and the most telling “Am I too lost to be saved? My soul cries for deliverance. I’m dieing (sic), praying, bleeding and screaming. Will I be denied???”.

How many millions have these same thoughts?

I wonder though, if someone were to share similar thoughts with you as a reason they didn’t believe, what would you say to them?  It would be great to get some discussion going on this topic so maybe I can start off with a few things.

  • Am I too lost to be saved? Two Scripture passages come to mind, Romans 5:8 “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” and Luke 23:39-43 where the thief condemned on the cross cries out to Jesus and Jesus assures him he would join him in heaven. One passage gives clear teaching that Christ died for unworthy sinners, not somewhat worthy sinners or sinners with a little bit of good in them. There is no distinction here, it says that Christ died for those who needed salvation the most. The other passage gives an example of a man who was so lost in his sins that he was sent to his death but yet Jesus still assures him that his sins will be forgiven. The condemned sinner has no chance to prove his salvation by living a good life afterwards, he died in a few hours.
  • Will I be denied? Romans 10:13 (quoting Joel 2:32) “for ‘whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved'”. This is pretty clear teaching that God will deny no one who calls on him for salvation. I think we need to be careful here though, Jesus talks about people who try and get in through a back door by believing in Jesus but still attempting to work their way into heaven by their good works in Matthew 7:21-23. Salvation is of the Lord (Jonah 2:9), it is not of man’s good works.
  • What have I done so wrong? Again, Romans 1:23 says we all have exchanged the glory of God for an idol. We have all traded what is infinitely valuable for what is worthless. Everyone has done this, everyone has sinned against God. It is important to talk about our sinful nature and not our individual sins though. People easily get hung up on a one-time sin they did a long time ago, or they are caught up in a repetitive habit of the same sin over and over and can’t get past this. But, it’s not like God overlooks all the other smaller dirt and just focuses on the mud pile so that if you could just find forgiveness for the one big sin everything would be ok. All of these sins we commit are the evidence of our sinful nature, our bent towards doing the opposite of what we know to be the right thing to do. We need salvation from our sinful selves and Christ promises to forgive all sins.

Now it’s your turn, would you say things differently? What else would you say? The gunman also asked, Why couldn’t you write your (expletive) book more clearly?” What would you say to that?

Acts 14:7

In acts_14_7 on March 4, 2008 at 9:47 pm

Thomas Watson, 17th Century preacher, wrote in his Art of Divine Contentment:

The gospel is full of jewels, but they are locked up from sense and reason. The angels in heaven are searching into these sacred depths. (1 Pe. 1:12)

We get a picture that the things of the gospel as being very highly desired but very well guarded. To us, the gospel is guarded from our intellect. We would never figure it out on our own, it’s too simple; forgiveness come from being justified to God by faith in Christ? That’s too easy, there has to be a way in there for us to do something ourselves, for us to add to it. But it is that simple. It is that God-centered.

To the angels, it is guarded from their nature. Angels were not created to be the receivers of the gospel message. Christ did not die for the angels. Jesus died so that we would be his people, his church. The angels know that their existence is to glorify God and Jesus is the radiance of God’s glory (Heb 1:3) so they desire to look into the gospel and its mysteries. Looking into God’s reason for creating humans and angels is a wonderful thing to dwell on, it humbles us to know that we are created for God’s glory alone.

“And there they continued to preach the gospel” – Acts 14:7

Each Tuesday a different reflection on the gospel and its continual effect on our lives