Sunday, February 25, 2007

Crucified with Christ

Paul told the Galatians, “have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.” (Gal. 2:20)

All Christians have been “baptized into Christ” and “baptized into His death” (Rom. 6:3). It is in baptism that we become “united with Him in the likeness of His death” (Rom. 6:5). This is when we, like Paul, are “crucified with Christ”.

This event should mark a change in our life. Paul said it was “no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me”. That is, Paul was no longer living for himself and fulfilling the desires of the flesh. He was now living “by faith”.

Likewise, when we have been “buried with Him through baptism into death,” we rise from that watery grave to “walk in newness of life” (Rom. 6:4). The intent is that “our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves of sin” (Rom. 6:6). Now that we have been “freed from sin,” we must become “slaves of righteousness” (Rom. 6:18).

Let us “put off the old man” and “put on the new man” (Col. 3:9-10) that we might be found pleasing to the Lord who loved us and gave Himself up for us.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

True Love

Love is a favorite topic for many in the religious world. While it is good for us to talk about love, John warns us not to stop there. “Little children, let us not love with word or with tongue, but in deed and truth.” (1 Jn. 3:18) That is, we must display love in our actions, not just our words.

In the surrounding context, John is pointing to the examples of God and Jesus as motivation for us to show love. God demonstrated His love by sending His Son to die on the cross (1 Jn. 4:10). Jesus demonstrated His love by willingly sacrificing His life for us (1 Jn. 3:16). So John says, “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 Jn. 4:11)

It is important that we demonstrate our love toward one another. When Jesus was asked what was the “great commandment”, He answered: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.” (Mt. 22:36-37) John said that if one says he love God, but not his brother, “he is a liar” (1 Jn. 4:20). We cannot fulfill the “great commandment” and not fulfill “the second [which is] like it, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’” (Mt. 22:39)

But how do we fulfill the command to love God? Demonstrating our love for our brethren is part of it. But John explained how we are to love God. “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments” (1 Jn. 5:3) Jesus said, “if you love Me, you will keep My commandments.” (Jn. 14:15) It is not enough to simply talk about how much we love the Lord. If we truly love Him, we will obey His word.

Monday, February 5, 2007

Don't Believe Everything You Hear

"The naive believes everything, but the sensible man considers his steps." (Pr. 14:15)

When it comes to things that pertain to the Bible, many have a belief that is based upon what someone has told them, whether that is a parent, preacher, pastor, etc. But we are being naive if we believe everything someone might tell us, regardless of how much respect we have for that person.

Paul told the brethren in Thessalonica, "do no despise prophetic utterances." (1 Th. 5:20) That is, do not despise the things that have been revealed by God. Today we have these prophetic utterances contained in Scripture. He then told them, "But examine everything carefully, hold fast to that which is good; abstain from every form of evil." (1 Th. 5:21-22) If we do not examine carefully the things we are taught, we despise the word of God by blindly accepting what man has said instead of testing those things according to God's word.

The Bereans were commended for their attitude when Paul came and preached to them. They were described as "noble-minded", because they were "examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so." (Acts 17:11) They were not naive and did not just blindly accept what Paul was saying. They made sure what he taught was right, then they accepted it. But not because Paul said it, but because it was the truth.

Do not accept what anyone teaches in matters of religion simply because they said it, no matter who they are. "Examine everything carefully" (1 Th. 5:21) and do so according to the infallible standard of the word of God. Do not be naive. Do not despise the word of God. Rather, examine the Scriptures daily to determine what is the truth.

The Lamp - January 2007

The January issue of The Lamp has been posted. I was out of town for a few days. That accounts for it being posted late. I encourage you to check out the latest article now.

Achieving Obedient Faith by Matt Nevins

The Lamp
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