Archive for the 'Jesus Christ' Category

25
Jan
10

Six Questions

 

Any English or Journalism major will tell you there are six important questions you need to ask when writing or investigating a story. They consist of five W’s and one H:

  • Who (was involved)?

  • What (happened)?

  • When (did it happen)?

  • Where (did it happen)?

  • Why (did it happen)?

  • How (did it happen)?

These six questions, whether in news style, research, or any investigation, form the basics tools of information-gathering. They represent a formula for getting the “full” story on something. For a report to be considered complete it should answer all six questions. So, if we’re going to give the full story, if we’re to be able to relate what we believe to others, we must be able to answer the five W’s and one H of the Gospel.

 The first of the six questions is:

 

“Who?”

Then he fell to the ground, and heard a voice saying to him, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?” And he said, “Who are You, Lord?” Then the Lord said, “I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting. It is hard for you to kick against the goads.”  

Acts 9:4-5

Who are the main characters involved in the above passage? Jesus Christ and Saul of Tarsus. Saul was on his way to Damascus, on orders from the High Priest to arrest some followers of a new Jewish cult, when he is stricken by a bright appearance, causing him to fall to the ground and hear a voice call out to him. Saul is confused and asks an important question (the same question we must answer if we are to understand the full story of the Gospel): “Who are you, Lord?”

If we are to have any success in sharing our faith with others, we must answer that same question for ourselves. Who is Jesus Christ to you? Your answer to that question colors your clear understanding of the Gospel and the ministry of Jesus Christ. Well, you might say, “Jesus is my Savior”. He is the King of Kings and Lord of Lords.” He is God’s only begotten Son.” He is the Lamb of God, who takes away my sins.” All of those are accurate enough, but it’s not enough to just say words, you must know, in your heart that He is exactly Who Scripture says He is, the Son of God, our Lord and Savior. He was fully man, so He completely understands everything you struggle with as a person. He understands hunger, fatigue, lust, temptation, etc. But unless this is a settled matter in your heart; unless your knowledge of this comes from an unshakable conviction of the truth it contains, than you do not truly know who Jesus Christ is. So, I again ask the question: Who is Jesus Christ to you?

Now we move on to the next question we must answer to understand the full story of the Gospel:

 “What?”

So he, trembling and astonished, said, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” Then the Lord said to him, “Arise and go into the city, and you will be told what you must do.” 

Acts 9:6

Saul next question is, “Lord, what do You want me to do?” We must answer this question too, if we’re ever to fully understand the Gospel fully. What does Jesus Christ want you do with your life? He sent Saul on into Damascus, blinded. Jesus may want you to stop seeing things as the world does (blindness) and see things, perhaps for the first time, as He sees them. See the sin in your life, as He sees it. Feel the pain it causes, as He feels it. Speak out about the lifestyles you see around you, regardless of what it may cost you.

An example of this kind of courageous behavior was displayed when on a recent panel discussion on Fox News, commentator, Brit Hume made the following statement regarding the predicament pro-golfer, Tiger Woods, finds himself in:

“The extent to which he can recover, it seems to me, depends on his faith. He is said to be a Buddhist. I don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the Christian faith. So, my message to Tiger would be, ‘Tiger, turn to the Christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.’”

A great many people immediately declared this the most outrageous thing they’d ever heard and denounced it as evidence of everything from chauvinism and bigotry to outright stupidity.

  • Jon Stewart used Hume’s words on the Daily Show, to mock and demean Hume’s convictions.
  • News commentator Keith Olbermann condemned Hume for trying to “threaten Tiger Woods into becoming a Christian.”
  • News commentator David Shuster suggested Hume had belittled his own religion by discussing it on a talk show.
  • A Washington Post TV critic mocked the idea that Christians should “run around trying to drum up new business” for their faith, unless of course “one believes that every Christian by mandate must proselytize.”

 

Mr. Hume simply shared what he thought Jesus Christ wanted him to do (i.e. testify to the truth of the Gospel). What does Jesus Christ want you to do?

Our next question to consider is:

 

“When?”

Now as He sat on the Mount of Olives opposite the temple, Peter, James, John, and Andrew asked Him privately, “Tell us, when will these things be? And what will be the sign when all these things will be fulfilled?”

Mark 13:3-4

Four of His disciples ask Jesus “When will these things be?” Jesus just described the destruction of Solomon’s Temple, and they basically ask when it will happen and when will Jesus usher in the Kingdom they so long for. We must ask ourselves when we trusted Christ. It’s important to know when you yourself trusted our Lord, not to the day or hour, but that it happened. The Gospel tells us Jesus will destroy sin’s reign over our lives, but we must ask the question when. When will we start living like we’re dead to sin? When will we start acting as we should toward our family, friends, or the world? And if we’ve not trusted Christ as Savior, then we must ask ourselves when will we?

The fourth of our six questions is:

 

“Where?”

And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, “Master, Master, we are perishing!” Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. But He said to them, “Where is your faith?” And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, “Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!”

Luke 8:24-25

In this passage (and in the other Gospel accounts of this event) the disciples ask a couple of questions: Don’t you care that we are perishing? Who are you that you’re able to control the natural elements? The question we need to consider though is the one that Jesus asks: “Where is your faith?” The disciples had heard Jesus teach about the power of faith and even observed Him heal Peter’s mother-in-law. They walked so close to Him, yet didn’t understand what it meant to have faith. “Oh, ye of little faith,” is how it’s translated elsewhere. Jesus asks them (and us) where does your faith reside when you’re afraid, when you’re overwhelmed, when you’re pushed to your limit? Is your faith in Jesus (Philippians 4:13) or is still in yourself? You can’t begin to share your faith until you’re completely certain as to where is your faith resides.

The last of the five W’s is:

“Why?”

Now as He was going out on the road, one came running, knelt before Him, and asked Him, “Good Teacher, what shall I do that I may inherit eternal life?” So Jesus said to him, “Why do you call Me good? No one is good but One, that is, God.  

Mark 10:17-18

Note the question Jesus asks of the rich young ruler, “Why do you call me good?” The young man wanted to be sure he had eternal life, in case he’d left something out.  He comes to Christ and calls him “good teacher” (a formal greeting, not a true estimation on his part). He had an intellectual recognition of Christ as an instructor, but Jesus asks him if he recognizes the true Lord standing before him. He was underscoring that man’s goodness isn’t comparable to God’s absolute and undefiled goodness. Jesus was asking if he could see the Messiah, the Lord, standing before him. If we’re to be effective in sharing our faith, we must understand why Jesus Christ is the only One Who can save us from our deserved fate. Why do you call yourself a Christian? Have you truly, unreservedly, totally given your life over to Him as your Master, or are you still holding something back. Why is Jesus the only One capable of bringing you salvation?

Now we move to our final question:

“How?”

Jesus answered and said to him, “Most assuredly, I say to you, unless one is born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.”  Nicodemus said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 

John 3:3-4

Nicodemus asks “How can a man be born…a second time?” Jesus has told him he must be born from above to get into the Kingdom. In effect Nicodemus asks: “How can I be born again?” And that is the final question in our investigation of the full story of the Gospel that we must be able to answer. We must be able to explain that one must accept the fact that we deserve nothing more than death and eternal separation from God. We must be able to believe that God sent His only Son, out of His magnificent love, to die in our place. We must confess (agree with God) that we are sinners, and can do nothing, of ourselves, to escape our fate. It is Jesus who saves us.

GB&G2U

16
Jan
10

A RIGHT TO BE RIGHT?

AGREE? or DISAGREE? 

 

 

Have you ever been slapped into attention by a particular topic from the Bible? I have! The topic was forgiveness. In the short span of about two days, I heard two of the godliest men I’ve ever had the privilege of learning from teach on that very topic. You can’t ignore that kind of divine poke in the ribs! This all led me to begin considering forgiveness in light of a particular perspective.

Do we have a right to be right?

If we know in our heart that we are right (scripturally, morally and intuitively), what rights do we have? Consider some the answers I found:

I and My Father are one.” Then the Jews took up stones again to stone Him. Jesus answered them, “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me?” The Jews answered Him, saying, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy, and because You, being a Man, make Yourself God.”

John 10:30-33

 

While ministering in Jerusalem, the Jewish authorities attempt for a third time to stone Jesus. He had just asserted that He and the Father were one; in effect, claiming His deity. What He’d said was most certainly the truth, but how did the authorities of the day respond to such truth? They sought to kill Him. Did Jesus remain and assert His right to be right?

Therefore they sought again to seize Him, but He escaped out of their hand. And He went away again beyond the Jordan to the place where John was baptizing at first, and there He stayed.

John 10:39-40

 

Jesus withdrew and went into a place beyond the Jordan River. Jesus understood God’s timing. He knew that standing toe-to-toe at this point in time, even with the certainty of His authority, would be manifestly unproductive. Sometimes, even when you are right, it’s better to withdraw rather than press your point. I didn’t like that as a solution. You see, when I am right, I can be so very good at being righteously indignant. However, I was compelled to consider these passages a little further.

Where did Jesus go? He withdrew to Perea, where John had preached and baptized Him before Jesus opened His public ministry. I found it ironic that Jesus went to a place identified with a special defining moment in His ministry. He returned to Perea, where His public ministry began, just before He would, for the last time, turn His face toward Jerusalem and His ultimate death. Like Elijah, Jesus went to a place of beginnings. Just beyond the Jordan was a place of descents or endings. How ironic, or was it? You see Jesus did nothing apart from the perfect Will of God.

If we name Christ as our Lord, we are to follow His example. Paul urges just that in 1 Corinthians 11:1 when he challenges us to imitate him (Paul), as he also imitates Christ. In Matthew 16, Jesus calls us to follow His example in very dramatic terms.

Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.

Matthew 16:24

 

What Jesus demands from His disciples, and from us, is total commitment. This was a call to full surrender, a call to life-or-death devotion to Christ. In light of this, I had to return to my initial question: Do we have a right to be right? What rights do we have? If God were to ask, would you give up your right to be right? Would God ever do that?

He does every time He calls us to forgive and reconcile with another brother or sister in the Lord. When it comes to forgiveness, we have no rights to stand on. We are not in ourselves worthy of forgiveness. God’s forgiveness of us through Christ demands that we forgive others. End of argument. The right to be right collapses before the matchless power of grace, because grace brings responsibility and obligation. Jesus put no limitation on the scope to which we are to forgive each other. The reference to “seventy times seven” in Matthew 18:22 is not a limitation, but rather an illustration of going way beyond what we think is humanly possible.

To what lengths are you willing to go to forgive and be reconciled? Would you be willing to walk away from a situation before your right to be right led you to commit sin? Would you be willing to give up your right to be right? Which is more important: being right or being obedient to the gracious command of our Lord?

GB&G2U

25
Feb
09

The Name Game – Part 2

your-name-hereContinuing the discussion about how we go about naming Jesus to a person and culture who do not have the same frame of reference that we do: In any discussion, there are certain presumptions. If I say “Hello,” and you say “Hi,” I may presume you speak English and embark on a conversation. It’s my presumption you are going to understand what I say. Better still, if you’ve ever spoken a feeble, eighth-grade inspired “Buenos Dias,” to someone who fluently speaks Spanish and they then launch into a Spanish monologue, leaving you in the conversational dust, only able to sputter “Que?” you probably understand what I mean.

 

We often engage in conversations about Jesus thinking we’re all speaking the same language. I once wrote a little skit to highlight this disconnection of ideas, where the believer would use terms like “washed in the blood” to the horror of the non-believer. Jesus ran into similar circumstances as He spoke to Nicodemus, a religious scholar of his day.

 

There was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. This man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, ‘Rabbi, we know that You are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that You do unless God is with him.’

John 3:1-2

 

nicodemus_51Nicodemus was a Pharisee, a member of what constituted the then Jewish Supreme Court. As a political and social party, the Pharisees were zealots for adhering to ritual and took great pride in that they maintained religious purity based on the Mosaic Law and their own strict traditions. Notice that Nicodemus calls Jesus “Rabbi,” a term of honor and recognition for a teacher of God’s truth. He was willing to acknowledge, as would many scholars in today’s world, that Jesus taught important truths about God. Nicodemus was even willing to go as far as to recognize the miraculous things Jesus had done.

 

However, note how very candid Jesus is in His response. He does not, as some modern methodologies would advise, shy away from religious or church words or terms. He immediately addresses Nicodemus’s primary need: rebirth as a true son of God. Jesus knew what He had just said would both resonate and trouble the Pharisee. As a Jew, Nicodemus understood the birth analogy. Aside from the obvious reference to physical birth, Jews also understood this terminology to refer to a conversion experience; persuading one to a new, and obviously, better way of life. But Nicodemus chooses to challenge Jesus over the literal birth meaning.

 

 

you_must_born_againNicodemus repeats the same words Jesus used twice, but without the born “again” qualifier and that is key, because that little word, “again,” also means from above; a specific spiritual reference which Jesus goes on to explain to the man.

 

We are often coached, by those who seek to reach a post-modern, post-Christian society, to avoid “church” words, since they will have little meaning for our hearers and may even offend them. Jesus Himself purposely uses language that would provoke both thought and some confusion, causing the listener to question further. And those questions are a natural invitation for us to share our testimonies about Christ and His ministry in our lives.

 

Rather than fearing my words would offend a listener, I fear misleading or worse still failing to communicate truth to them. In fact, there are times when I would question if my words are not offensive, whether they are accurate and true. The message of the Gospel is at once offensive, to those in sin’s grasp, due to the convicting power of the truth, and on the other hand very appealing to a generation that is looking for something authentic. Our witness needs to express true devotion to our Lord and Savior, Who has something to offer this post-modern generation: the unadulterated truth that Jesus Christ sacrificed His life for their sins and that trusting Christ is their only way to re-establish a relationship with the Holy God of all creation. 

to_be_continued_11

God Bless & Grace 2 U,

 

17
Feb
09

The Name Game – Part 1

It was an old song, made popular by Shirley Ellis back in the 60s, and went something like this: 

 

“Hannah, Hannah, Bo-Bannah,

“Banana, Fanna, Fo-Fannah,

“Fee, Fi, Mo-Mannah…Hannah!”

 

name-gameThe nonsensical Name Game song took a name, played with it, changed it, and then finally came out with the original name again in the end. I was reminded of this children’s son while reading an article on my favorite Christian hedonist blog, John Piper’s Desiring God. Written by Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, New Testament Professor, D. A. Carson, the article discussed the theme of naming God in a pluralistic society: or more directly, talking about Jesus in our current world.

 desiring-god

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As I’ve been doing some research lately on the whole “Emerging/Emergent Church” issue (I can’t keep them straight yet), Carson’s article caught my imagination. Just how do we, who trust Jesus, name Him to others who do not have the same familiarity with Him? According to Carson’s article, to some Jesus is one of long list of profanities employed; to another, He is an ideal but certainly not a person; to yet another He was a man who obeyed God, but not God, and so on.

 

Often when we engage our modern-day, Godless culture in a discussion about Jesus, there is little to no agreement about the terms we are about to use. I say “Jesus.” You say “Right.” I say “Savior.” You say “Sage.” I say “God.” You say “Good man.” And so it goes. We engage in what we think is dialogue, but in reality it is two conversations, going in separate directions, that just happen to be in the same vicinity: Talking at each other, rather than to each other.

 

Jesus ran into similar circumstances with those He interacted with and addressed: The woman at the well, Nicodemus, the rich young ruler, the list goes on. Each time, there were misconceptions about who they were talking about (on the part of those He engaged, certainly not on the part of Jesus).

 

In John 4:1-30, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman. In their exchange she makes an observation about Jesus that tells us her perspective of who she thinks she is talking both to and about.

 

The woman said to Him, ‘Sir, I perceive that You are a prophet…’

John 4:19

 

womanatthewell013A prophet, in mere secular terms was a mystical person who could interpret hidden knowledge. However the woman was a Samaritan, so she had some knowledge of the God of Israel. So we might consider her as a “religious” person (but not a necessarily believer). Her frame of references in addressing Jesus as a prophet was that she was speaking to a man who, by God’s Spirit, could declare truth concerning the kingdom of God and the long sought for Messiah.

 

Many today are in the same camp when it comes to talking about Jesus. They recognize a holiness, or perhaps a wholeness, in which He appears to be an embodiment of a longed for spiritual perfection they seek to encounter. They recognize Him to be authentic, but His representatives here on earth as less than genuine. If we engage these modern seekers but are not aware of this gap in their presuppositions about Jesus and those of us who follow Him, we’re liable to think they accept our line of thought when in fact, they are moving away from us and closer to some mystical, spiritual “Christ-concept” that is antithetical to our purposes.

 

womanatthewell021As He addresses the woman, Jesus deals directly and unequivocally with her perceptions. He speaks to her need to understand worship and describes spiritual worship that pleases God. Since she was a Samaritan, Jesus knew she longed to worship God in a genuine and God-pleasing fashion (not unlike what some in the Emerging/Emergent movements seek today). When she takes the discussion to another level of inquiry, acknowledging a genuine faith in the promised Messiah, Jesus presents genuine truth, candidly and straightforwardly declaring Himself to be “Messiah.”

 

As we engage the current culture (the postmodern or, as some refer to it, the post-Christian era), we must bring the truth authentically, genuinely and directly. We are not to conform Christ or Christianity to look more like the culture. Christ is genuine enough for any era. He is inherently essential to every need. All we need do is represent Him as directly as He Himself did to this Samaritan woman. And we are fully equipped to do so as His disciples. Christ is not a commodity to be packaged and marketed to better appeal to a consumer. Christ is the Messiah, the Savior, and all we need do is let His Holy Spirit equip and enable us to proclaim His Gospel to the world.

 

to_be_continued_1

 

God Bless and Grace 2 U

14
Oct
06

Best Friends

While teaching my Journey 24/7 group the other night, I challenged some of them to describe their best friend. You may want to do this too. However, I wanted a very precise description. These are the questions to be answered:

What is your best friend’s exact height?
What color are your best friend’s eyes (natural color, not contacts)?
How much does your best friend weigh (touchy question for the ladies, but when I asked this of two guys, they were way off)?
What’s your best friend’s least favorite vegetable?
What is the color of your best friend’s hair (again this would be natural color)?
When was the last time your best friend’s hair was cut?
What does your best friend aspire to be someday?
How old was your best friend when they learned to ride a bike?
What’s the best thing about your best friend?

Now all of this is fairly mundane, it’s certainly not profound, but I did it to underscore how much we don’t know about those we count as our best friends. I discovered last year, remarkably, that a man I had counted as my best friend for years, a man I knew to be a devout, committed believer and man of God, had never shared his testimony with me. Here I was, supposedly as close as a brother with the man, and we’d never sat down and shared with each other how we’d come to trust Jesus Christ as our Savior! Maybe it was just that we felt so familiar with one another, that we assumed we instinctively “knew” certain things about each other. I fear it’s that way sometimes with Christ. As we count Jesus as our Savior, I contended many times most Christians know considerably less about Him than they think they do. We assume we know Jesus. That’s all fine, but shouldn’t we be striving for a higher level of intimacy with the One Who loved us enough to sacrifice His life on the cross?

As Paul wrote the Colossian church, they were being threatened by a heresy (false doctrines or teachings that deny a foundational belief of the church). In this case the heresy denied Christ was deity (God). If that’s not a foundational belief for me and my church, I don’t know what is. Paul begins with some very key points about Who Jesus Christ is.

Read Colossians 1:15
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

Paul says Christ is “the image or the invisible God.” The heresy of the time proposed that Christ was like an angel. If accepted, we would have to understand that since angels are created beings (Psalm 148:2-5) they are not equal in any way to God. They are, however, superior to human beings, have power and strength unmatched in mankind and superior intellect. But they are not all-powerful (omnipotent), all-present (omnipresent), nor all-knowing (omniscient). So what does Paul mean by calling Jesus the image of God? How can he be God’s image if He was a created being like all the angels? By image Paul means that Jesus is a copy or likeness of God. However, he further qualifies God by saying that He is unseen or can’t be seen. To know God, who is invisible, unseen to our temporal and material eyes, we must know Christ (which is basically what Jesus said in John 14:6). To know Jesus Christ is to know He is the perfect, exact likeness or image of God the Father. Jesus is fully God in every way (and he was fully man as He walked the earth).

But what does Paul mean by calling Him the “firstborn”? Doesn’t that indicate that Jesus was indeed created like the angels? Firstborn can mean born first in order, the first to be born of all creation, a created being. But that would be an inaccurate reading to the word. Firstborn can also mean top in rank or position. Jesus Christ’s position in God’s kingdom is over creation (firstborn over all creation); He existed before creation and is exalted over any created thing.

The spectacular thing about knowing Jesus is that he was fully God, but also fully man, otherwise we do not have a high priest who can sympathize with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15). Jesus was human! He was born, like we are (Luke 2:6-7). What an incredible experience for the prince of glory to be born into human flesh, unable to care for His slightest needs! He grew (Luke 2:52), not just in stature, but in wisdom and favor with men. What must it have been like fro Jesus to deal with the pains of human growth, the insecurities our frail flesh imposes upon us? He got tired (John 4:6)! Jesus, the agent of creation, got weary! He became fatigued from toil. He suffered from thirst (John 19:28). When His body was being deprived of the very blood that pumped through His veins, he experienced the parched torture of unquenched thirst. He Who had never experienced such need when He resided with His Father. Finally, as part of the Godhead, the Trinity, He experienced death (Matthew 15:37), perhaps the ultimate human experience.

You can probably recognize your best friend from across the street. They are almost immediately recognizable to you. Yet there are many things you don’t know about them. Would you recognize Jesus if you saw Him?

If you read a description of your best friend, would you be able to identify who was being written about? Do you really understand what you read about Christ to get a clear picture of Who He really is?

The older I get, the more I realize there is so much more I need to know about Jesus before I can truly say I know Him. By His grace, I will be given that time. We’ve just scratched the surface here. Go get your Bible and dig in. Get about the work of knowing Jesus, better than your best friend!

Grace 2 U All!

18
Sep
06

Why Study Doctrine?

It’s early on Sunday evening and I’m putting the finishing touches on a lesson I’ll be teaching to my Journey 24/7 group tomorrow night. The lesson will be a very brief introduction into our study in basic Biblical doctrines. When I think of the study of doctrine, I think of my son-in-law, Jason, who graduated from seminary last year. According to the Merriam Webster Online Dictionary, a seminary is an institution for the training of candidates for the priesthood, ministry, or rabbinate. In my son-in-law’s case, it was training for the ministry.

A good portion of his education over the last few years has centered on doctrine, those core beliefs about God, the Bible, humankind, Christ, the church, and other concepts that my faith (Christianity) considers authoritative and accepted by all adherents. Simply put, doctrine helps us answer the question, “What does a person need to know to be a Christian?” In my mind, this question goes beyond the “steps” one takes to appropriate salvation. One might answer the question with the declaration that one must know that Jesus Christ died for our sins (yours and mine too, I might add). But to that, I’d ask, “How does one ‘learn’ that?” How does one come to understand that Jesus Christ indeed did just that? How does one grasp the significant impact that has on their life going forward? Again, all this presupposes the individual has trusted Jesus Christ as Savior. For me, the study of Christian doctrine guides us through the collected teaching about Christ’s sacrificial death and a good deal more we need to know as born-again believers in the Lord Jesus Christ.

Read 1 Timothy 4:13-16

Till I come, give attention to reading, to exhortation, to doctrine. Do not neglect the gift that is in you, which was given to you by prophecy with the laying on of the hands of the eldership. Meditate on these things; give yourself entirely to them, that your progress may be evident to all. Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

The Apostle Paul is planning to return to rejoin his young protégé, but until such time, what three things does he direct Timothy to pay particular attention to in verse 13? Reading, exhortation and doctrine.

If you accept, as I do, that what is written in the Bible is addressed to us as well as the stated recipients, then to what are we to give attention to reading? Scripture; We and Timothy are to practice the public reading and exposition of Scripture. This, in one form, is preaching, plain and simple. But it also encompasses the entire scope of public proclamation of the truths of Holy Scripture. Whenever I give testimony, in a public forum, to the affirmation of what Scripture teaches I am fulfilling Paul’s charge.

Next Paul encourages us to be attentive to exhortation. He’s calling us to challenge those who hear God’s Word to apply it in their daily lives. The world has many Christians who are content to live out their Christianity quietly and without challenging those brothers and sisters in their sphere of influence to live lives aligned with the teaching and example of Jesus Christ. Exhortation could include rebuking or warning a fellow believer when they are engaging in activities that Scripture clearly forbids or directs us to avoid. Exhortation may also be encouraging or comforting a believer who is discouraged or hurting. Note that both reading and exhortation are linked by a verbal component. Both require speaking to one another. Paul repeats his call to give our attention to doctrine in verse 16, where he urges us to learn and teach the personal applications of doctrine.

But why? Why study doctrine at all? Couldn’t I just as easily tell the young men and women in my Bible study to simply read the Bible? Well, in a very profound way, that’s exactly what I’m doing when I’m asking them to spend some time examining the basic doctrines of our faith. I am challenging them to read and understand the Bible in a way many of them have never considered before.

Read Matthew 28:18-20

And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen.

This passage is familiar to every student of the Bible as “the Great Commission.” Here Matthew records Christ’s commissioning of His disciples, and each of us who have trusted Christ, to go out and evangelize. It is quite an eloquent call to action. By the authority given to Christ by His Heavenly Father, we are commanded to take positive, intentional action in going (leaving our comfort zones) and reproducing followers not of ourselves, but of Jesus Christ. However the only way they can know how to follow Jesus Christ is by examining our actions as we reflect Christ to them. That’s a very sobering prospect, when I think that if I am deficient in reflecting Jesus Christ; if I distort His holy image in any way, I am not reproducing followers of Jesus Christ, but of some perversion of Christ.

But the commission goes further by calling us to lead these new followers of Jesus to identify with Him through obedience in baptism. Furthermore, we’re to teach them in all the things Jesus commanded us to do. Here the Great Commission is fully rounded out, going from the call to be faithful and obedient in heeding His call to action that results in followers of Him and then to continue in our call to discipleship, by teaching them everything He taught.

Teaching in Biblical times was an oral exercise. So to teach all that Jesus commands includes all that He orally taught while here on earth. To do this I have to look no further than the Gospels, as they reveal Jesus Christ’s “lesson plans”, if you will. But if I stop there, I’ve not fulfilled the commission. To teach all that Jesus commands must include the interpretation of His teachings and examples and their application in the early assembly of His church, as recorded in the book of Acts. However, I’ve not faithfully discharged all that the commission requires unless I also teach what Paul and the authors of the Epistles wrote under the supervision of the Holy Spirit as they reflected the commands of our Lord. In effect, all that Jesus commands is what is recorded in the entire New Testament. But it goes further than that, as the New Testament repeatedly records that Jesus demonstrated an absolute confidence in the authority and accuracy of the Old Testament Scriptures as God’s Word, faithful and true. So all that Jesus commands must include the Old Testament too. Taken in this context, the Great Commission not only calls us to evangelize and preach the good news of Jesus Christ to the lost but to teach all the doctrines found in our Bible.

Why study doctrine? To fulfill the Great Commission, that’s why!

Grace 2 U All!




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