Thursday, December 27, 2007

Unless You Believe

"Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He, you will die in your sins" (John 8:24).

Belief in Christ is essential for salvation. But the belief that Jesus mentions here is more than just a belief that he existed, came to earth, died for our sins, rose again from the dead, and ascended back into heaven. Yes, we must believe those things about Jesus. But if that is the extent of our belief, we will die in our sins.

If you read this verse in your Bible, where Jesus says, "unless you believe that I am He," the word "He" is probably in italics, differentiating it from the rest of the words. The reason for this is that the word was added by the translators. It is not in the original text. What Jesus actually said is, "unless you believe that I am, you will die in your sins." This clearly points back to Moses' conversation with God when God called Himself the "I AM" (Exodus 3:14). This is also not the only time Jesus used this phrase in this way (John 8:58).

So what Jesus is actually teaching here is that unless we believe that He is God, we will die in our sins. That means we must recognize Him as our God and humbly submit to His will in faithful obedience (Hebrews 5:9). If we truly believe in Christ, that He is "King of kings and Lord of lords" (Revelation 19:16), we will do what He has instructed us to do.

"Faith without works is dead" (James 2:26), and a dead faith will ultimately result in us dying in our sins.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Rest for the Weary

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest" (Matthew 11:28). This is the great invitation offered by Jesus. He offers the invitation and makes the promise to those who will come: "you will find rest for your souls" (Matthew 11:29).

However, we must work in order to receive rest. We must take on His yoke. As a yoke is placed upon the oxen so they do the work their master guides them to do, we must do the work Christ has given us to do. Work precedes rest. And so we must see to it that we are working the "works of God" (John 6:28) so we do not miss out on the promised rest. The Hebrew writer warned, "Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience" (Hebrews 4:11).

Jesus never promised a life of ease and comfort here and now. The promised rest comes after death (Revelation 14:13). We need to continue working as He would have us to and guard against becoming complacent. If we give up at the end and instead of entering into His rest, we "come short of it" (Hebrews 4:1), we will miss out just the same as those who never tried.

"Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest" (Hebrews 4:11) and "let us not grow weary while doing good" (Galatians 6:9).

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Why was Simon Called to Bear Jesus' Cross?

"As they were coming out, they found a man of Cyrene named Simon, whom they pressed into service to bear His cross" (Matthew 27:32).

Why was Simon made to perform this task? Because Jesus stumbled as He carried the cross, right? That's what so many people believe. But if you look at the gospel accounts, there is no mention whatsoever of Jesus stumbling while on the way to be crucified.

There could have been many reasons why Simon was pressed into service. Maybe Jesus was walking slower than the soldiers wanted, so they got someone else to carry the cross. Perhaps Simon looked at one of the soldiers the wrong way and they forced him to do this. It might be possible that Jesus stumbled. But in reality, we don't know. Any reason we might give would be purely speculation.

But many people choose to believe that Simon was called to bear the cross because Jesus stumbled. The thought of Jesus stumbling and falling underneath the weight of the cross can have a great emotional impact on someone. It could even bring them to tears. Preachers could use this emotionalism to their advantage in trying to provoke one to respond to his message. So this idea has been popular through the years.

Our goal, however, is not to make people cry. Our goal is to bring them to the point of faith. Faith is to be based upon the word of God (Romans 10:17), not our speculations and imaginations.

The point in all of this is to remember to "examine everything carefully" (1 Thessalonians 5:21) and test all teachings with the Scriptures (Acts 17:11). We must not believe something because we've always heard it, it sounds good, or it makes us feel good. We must believe what God has revealed in His word.

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

BOTC - December 2007

The new issue of Banner of the Cross is now online and contains the following article:

Right & Wrong by Andy Sochor

Banner of the Cross

Saturday, December 1, 2007

PBT - December 2007

The December issue of Plain Bible Teaching is now online with the following articles:

Editorial: Is This Website Authorized? by Andy Sochor
Be Ready by Andy Sochor
Prayer by Andy Sochor
Denominationalism by Andy Sochor

You can read the new articles by clicking on the link below. I hope you may find the new material helpful to you.

Plain Bible Teaching
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