Monday, January 23, 2012

As You Go

And as ye go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. (Matthew10:7)

Many good tools have been developed for sharing the Gospel.  Some of these include “Evangelism Explosion,” “F.A.I.T.H.,” “Four Spiritual Laws,” “The Romans Road,” and several others.  Many of these tools require memorization of a presentation script along with many verses of Scripture from both the Old and New Testaments.  Any of these tools can be very useful in a witnessing situation, but if the witness relies too heavily on them, he or she may find themselves at a loss for words when asked a question that does not follow the script.

How much better it is to hide God Word in your heart (Psalm 119:11) than to simply memorize Scripture.  Hiding God’s Word in your heart makes it part of your being so that you will “be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you” (1Peter 3:15).

In our text, “As ye go” is the Greek present participle poreuĆ³menoi that could be better translated “as ye are going.”  Jesus did not have in mind Tuesday night visitations here, but rather a lifestyle of witnessing that is prepared in every circumstance “to give an answer.”  Jesus used the same participle in giving the Great Commission:  “As you are going, teach (make disciples of) all nations, baptizing them …” Matthew 28:19).  This commandment, as that in our text, addresses all followers of Christ, and it is not limited only to special occasions such as “Bring a Friend Sunday” or “Pack the Pew Night,” nor is it reserved only for Tuesday night visitation.  This command is valid at any time, any place, and with anyone God puts in your way.  There is no devised script that will fit every situation, but God’s Word in your heart will fit any situation.  And the message is simple: “The kingdom of heaven is at hand!” 

Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Fruit Inspectors

Judge not, that ye be not judged. (Matthew 7:1)

This verse is one of the most misquoted verses in the Bible, and is often used by critics to intimidate Christians from making any kind of moral judgment on just about any given situation.  But did Jesus really mean that His followers are to put their brains on the shelf and withhold any comment about the wrongs they observe?

The word translated “judge” in most translations of the Bible is the Greek word “krino,” which implies to condemn and not simply to distinguish between good and evil.  The Amplified Bible probably renders it best as, “Do not judge and criticize and condemn others.”  In this case, God is the ultimate judge, “Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man [Jesus] whom he hath ordained” (Acts 17:31).  Anyone who judges another in a condemning way usurps the place of God.  We cannot judge as God judges.  “The LORD looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).  “I know also, my God, that thou triest the heart” (1 Chronicles 29:17); “he knoweth the secrets of the heart” (Psalm 44:21).  We are incapable of judging the heart; therefore Jesus warns, “For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged” (Matthew 7:2).

This does not mean, however, that we are exempted from using proper discernment.  Just a few verses later Jesus says not to give “that which is holy unto the dogs, neither cast ye your pearls before swine” (Matthew 7:6).  Judgment is required to discern “that which is holy” and the value of “pearls.”  One also needs to be able to recognize “the dogs” and the “swine.”  We must also “Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves” (Matthew 7:15).  We must be able to judge between sheep and wolves and between true and false prophets.  “Ye shall know them by their fruits” (v. 16).  And what are these fruits?  “[L]ove, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, [m]eekness, temperance” (Galatians5:22-23); these all require sound judgment to discern.  We are not called to be judges, but we are to be fruit inspectors!

Monday, January 9, 2012

In All Points Tempted

Then was Jesus led up of the spirit into the wilderness to be tempted of the devil.  (Matthew 4:1)

An oft asked question is:  “How is it that Jesus could be tempted, if He is God?  The mystery will never be fully understood by the human mind this side of eternity, but the Bible clearly teaches that Jesus is simultaneously fully man and fully God.  Some things we must simply accept through faith.

Jesus said, “I and my Father are one” (John 10:30).  He said, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58), signifying His eternal nature while at the same time identifying Himself as the eternal God.  The Pharisees understood His plain speech, and therefore “took they up stones to cast at him” (v. 59) because such a claim coming, from a mortal man, was blasphemy.  Yet, while He is God, He is also man.  “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us” (John 1:14). 

As God, he is incapable of sin, but as man He could be tempted.  He “was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews4:15).  The schemes of Satan are not new; they are as old as creation:  the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life (1 John 2:16).  Jesus was tempted by all three.  He was tempted through the flesh: “If thou be the Son of God, command that these stones be made bread” (Matthew 4:3).  He was tempted through the lust of the eyes:  Satan took Him atop a high mountain “and sheweth him all the kingdoms of the world and the glory of them” (Matthew 4:8, emphasis added).  Finally, He was tempted through the pride of life: “If thou be the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee” (Matthew 4:6).

Jesus withstood the test by standing firm on the Word of God.  Therefore, “we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15); and now we can claim that power through the Holy Spirit.