John 20:29 (NIV) - Then Jesus told him, “Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.” - I think that John 20:29 can be thought of as the basis for the entire Christian church on earth, because it talks about the faith and blessedness of anyone who believes in Christ without having seen him. God has forbidden us to make images of him, and of course there are no photos or accurate portraits of him that we can point to. But we know he’s there, that’s what faith is all about. Having faith in God is the “linchpin” of belief in him and something that he demands (Hebrews 11:6 – And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.) According to the Bible this doesn’t have to be a strong unwavering faith, it can be a weak faith like the apostle Paul talks about in Romans 14:1 – (Accept the one whose faith is weak,,,). There are no high and mighty requirements for coming to God, and sometimes we’re going to have struggles, but accepting God and his son Jesus as our Savior requires only simple faith. What About Jesus?
Deuteronomy 7:6 (NIV) – For you are a people holy to the Lord your God. The Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on the face of the earth to be his people, his treasured possession. – The prophet Moses is generally regarded as the author of the book of Deuteronomy in the old testament of the Bible. Written shortly before his death about 1406 B.C. he summarizes God’s laws and reminds the Israelites that they are chosen by God as his treasured possession. The Israelites probably didn’t know it, but they were being prepared to teach the world about the coming Messiah, Jesus Christ. I think that is what made the Israelites God’s chosen people. Now let’s fast-forward about 1,469 years to the new testament of the Bible to 1 Peter 2:9 (NIV) – But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.) - It’s possible that Peter was familiar with Deuteronomy and was paraphrasing Moses’ words and expanding on them or was writing completely original thoughts. Whatever the reason for the parallels between the two is, it gives me comfort to know that Moses and Peter wrote basically the same thing almost 1500 years apart about people that believe in God. Though there are exceptions the world today seems to be convinced that Christians are about nine bricks short of a load (Matthew 5:11 – “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me). Christians can regard themselves as special and chosen by God. Not because we have done anything to deserve such treatment, but because God has called us out of darkness by his grace. God is calling to everyone and whoever answers and believes that his son Jesus Christ is the Savior of all is his treasured possession. What About Jesus?
Ephesians 2:7 (NIV) – … in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus. – Concerned with how long ago Christ was here some people may say “why is God taking so long to come back, shouldn’t he have been here by now?” And some have undoubtedly fallen away from the Christian faith thinking he’s not coming or are tired of being made fun of and considered behind the times by some. But Christ tells us in Matthew 10:22 – You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. - He makes it plain that he has not forgotten us and that we need to stand firm in the faith until the end of time to be saved. God does things on his timetable, not ours, and we are told in 2 Peter 3:8 – But do not forget this one thing, dear friends: With the Lord a day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like a day.- I think we need to remember that time as we know it (which didn’t start until creation) doesn’t apply to God and that he is eternal, so what is time to him? One of the definitions of the word ‘age’ (or ‘ages’ as used in this scripture verse) is a certain period of time (such as bronze age or space age). In most cases there isn’t a set amount of time defined when the word is used this way. One of the Merriam-Webster Dictionary definitions is simply ‘a long time’ and one of Easton’s Bible Dictionary definitions is ‘an indefinite period’. The Bible makes it clear that a long time will pass before judgement day, but God’s plan of salvation in his son Jesus Christ is worth waiting for. What About Jesus?
Luke 18:9-14 (NIV) To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’ “But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’ “I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.” – Here Christ is talking to members of a Jewish denomination, probably the Pharisees. In Christ’s time and place the Pharisees were very big and controlled the “religious institutions”. Among other things they replaced the word of God with their own, told people they could be saved by their own works, and generally looked down big time on anyone who was not of their ranks. I think that the term we would use is that they were “full of themselves”. While the Pharisees (mentioned about 87 times in the new testament) thought they were so great before God they actually became an example of what Christ said not to be like, so we need to be careful not to adopt their attitudes and become like them (Matthew 23:1-3 – Then Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: “The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses’ seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach). When the Pharisee in the parable prayed, he didn’t humble himself like the tax collector did because he thought he was so great (tax collectors were considered very low because when they went door to door collecting taxes they often charged more than the law stated then kept the difference for themselves). Thinking we’re better or less sinful than others puts us in the same boat that the Pharisee was in. God sent his son Jesus (because he was the only one qualified) to be the Savior of everyone including the Pharisee, but the tax collector had the attitude that was more pleasing to him, so let’s try to be more like the tax collector. What About Jesus?
Proverbs 16:16 (NIV) – How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver. - We all know we can’t pay any bills with wisdom or buy anything with it, but the Bible says it is better to have than gold. It’s hard for us to believe this, and that’s why trust in God is so important, he will always take care of us even if we don’t agree with his methods. Being rich is fine but wisdom should come first. God was so pleased that King Solomon asked him for wisdom (after offering him his choice) instead of riches that he gave Solomon both (1 Kings 3:13). To me it seems like wisdom is in short supply these days. It seems like our politicians and world leaders demonstrate a lack of wisdom and then tell us it’s for the best. People on the street seem to think that it’s no big deal to be ignorant. So if it’s so great where can we get wisdom that pleases God? The Bible tells us the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom (Proverbs 1:7). To me the key word here is ‘beginning’. With “the fear of the Lord” we can build God pleasing wisdom in whatever field we choose. With God pleasing wisdom we can see the need for Jesus Christ and why he came to be our Savior. The Bible tells us in Christ there is wisdom (Colossians 2:3 (NIV) – in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.) What About Jesus?
Mark 10:13-14 (HCSB) - Some people were bringing little children to Him so He might touch them, but His disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw it, He was indignant and said to them, “Let the little children come to Me. Don’t stop them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I wouldn’t want to enter an airliner or operating room or somewhere mistakes can be dangerous and find a little kid in charge. For our safety and theirs, because of their lack of experience, knowledge and good judgement, children are kept out of areas of high responsibility in all the cultures that I know about. But coming to him by little children is something that Christ encourages, and he tells us not to hinder them. That means they should be trained in God’s word in a manner they can understand. Christ even used little children to illustrate what those in God’s kingdom will be like (Matthew 18:3 – And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven). Is Christ saying he likes children better than anyone else? No, he’s saying that simple child-like faith in him as our Savior is all that is required to enter the kingdom of heaven. Once again we see God doing just the opposite of what most of us would do. Where we might think the scholars and learned is what God would be interested in, he tells us he prefers the attitudes of little children more. Little children tend to accept things easier than adults. God wants us to think of him as our father as we go through life, and believe that his son Jesus is our only Savior from our sins . We can do all the studying about God that we want, and become highly learned, but unless we adopt child-like faith in him it means nothing. What About Jesus?
Isaiah 64:6 (NIV) - We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away. - I think that all to often today we hear of the need for Jesus Christ and though it does come up, it seems to me we don’t hear why we need him enough. And I think the why is crucial for churches trying to reach the non-Christian. I think it’s only natural for non-Christians to say “what do I need Christ for?” Without knowing why we need a Savior, the Gospel sounds ridiculous and unnecessary (1 Corinthians 1:18 – For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God). Adam and Eve fell into sin in the Garden of Eden and since then all people ever born are sinful and had/have a sinful nature that wants to control us and causes us to want to go our own way instead of God’s way. Easton’s Bible dictionary describes sin as ‘any want of conformity unto or transgression of the law of God’. God’s first promise of a Savior was made when he was talking to Satan in Genesis 3:15 – (And I will put enmity (a very deep unfriendly feeling) between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel”). Enmity is exactly what’s happening between Christ and Satan. And each of them are calling to us and despite his claims Satan can only offer us death and destruction, while as our Savior Christ can offer us salvation and eternal life. What About Jesus?