The Glory of the Lord

We Saw the Word and Beheld His Glory

And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14). There is so much more in this verse than the average reader of the Bible may see. This is likely because we fail to notice the uses of the expression, “the glory of the Lord,” in the Old Testament.

Where do you find the Glory of the Lord?

Where do you find the Glory of the Lord?

The Glory of the Lord in the OT

When the children of Israel left Egypt and arrived at Mt. Sinai, they saw a visible manifestation of the glory of Jehovah. “And the glory of the Lord abode upon mount Sinai…and the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount” (Ex. 24:16-17).

While at that mount they built the tabernacle and before it was ever used God hallowed it with His presence. “Then a cloud covered the tent of the congregation, and the glory of the Lord filled the tabernacle” (Ex. 40:34). Almost five hundred years later the tabernacle (a tent) was replaced with Solomon’s majestic temple. Read the Divine record of what happened as the temple was sanctified. “Now when Solomon had made an end of praying, the fire came down from heaven, and consumed the burnt offering and the sacrifices; and the glory of the Lord filled the house. And the priests could not enter into the house of the LORD, because the glory of the Lord had filled the Lord’s house” (2 Chron. 7:1-2).

Two Shining Faces and the Glory of the Lord

Think about the events preceding Moses wearing the veil at Mt. Sinai. In Exodus 33, Moses asked the Lord, “Please show me Your glory.” The next day Moses ascended Mt. Sinai with two tablets of stone and was protected by the hand of the Lord while His glory passed by. He had been in the very presence of God and the result was seen in his shining face.

The events on Mt. Sinai shed light on what happened at another mount, the mount of Jesus’ transfiguration. On that mountain, His face began to shine like the sun, and His garments became radiant and exceedingly white. The three apostles who were with Him “…were heavy with sleep; and when they were fully awake they saw His glory” (Luke 9:32). His transfiguration was an affirmation of His Deity.

It was not just on this mount where His glory was seen. It was visible in all He did. Paul said, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Col. 2:9). He was “…the brightness of His glory and express image of His person” (Heb. 1:3). Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Behold Him! See His glory! (More next week).

 

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Be Authentic

Be Authentic

Authenticity is a big buzz-word in our culture today.  We want people to be authentic—to be their true selves—and not to string us along with some contrived identity for some less-than-noble purpose.  The Bible doesn’t use the word “authentic,” but it does use the word “sincere” and often “authentic” is what the Bible means by the word.  Paul prayed that the church at Philippi would grow so that they could be sincere (Philippians 1:9-10).  The Greek word for “sincere” means to judge by sunlight, or sift by rolling.  The result of the process is purity, and sincerity is purity of person.

Is your life authentic?

Is your life authentic?

An authentic person who is not a Christian maintains some kind of identity.  However, one’s identity can and does change during life. One typically becomes what one desires to be.  We are not born with a fixed identity.  The standard of what is right and wrong is not inside of us (Jeremiah 10:23).  Many make the mistake that authenticity is equivalent to goodness; it isn’t.Authenticity is necessary, but not sufficient.

We need Christ in our life because with Christ we can be both authentic and righteous.  We accept Christ as our identity by being baptized into His body (Romans 6:1-11).  When we do this, not only do we find identity for ourselves, but we are restored to what God intended us to be as authentic humans.  Many other identities will compete with our Christian identity and challenge us, but as long as we are faithful, we will return to the Shepherd and Overseer of our souls (1 Peter 2:25).  Being authentic means that we are true to our identity and we don’t try to be something that we are not. Ultimately, that human identity is found in Christ.  God bless you, and I love you.

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Preach! It’s a Matter of Eternal Life and Death

Personal Evangelism – A Matter Of Eternal Life… & Death!

A few years ago, brother Phil Sanders of In Search of the Lord’s Way (http://www.searchtv.org), wrote the following in their monthly newsletter: “The churches of Christ have declined in recent years. We are losing more than 8,000 members and about 50 churches every year… As you can see, we have much to do to take the gospel to the lost. The world has always been worldly and deceived by false religion. We must do all we can to preach the truth in love, so that by all means we might save some.” Such congregational graying, shrinkage, losses and spiritual fatalities certainly come as no surprise to most of us.

Preach!  Proclaim!  The Old Paths aren't being shared and it shows.

Preach! Proclaim! The Old Paths aren’t being shared and it shows.

The Waldron Newsletter (Vol. 49; #8) for Aug. 2015 also confirmed: “According to the 2015 edition of Churches of Christ In The United States, there were 13,155 congregations in 2003, w/1,656,495 adherents.” It then went on to report how, over the next dozen years, the Lord’s church experienced a 6.5% overall loss in the number of congregations, and an 8.3% overall drop in the number of adherents (or 136,800 precious and priceless souls lost) over that same twelve year time period.

But perhaps the most stunning point of that entire article was the revelation that, “Thirty five years ago, we and the Mormons were about the same size…” But while we stood at approximately 1.5 million members (when that article was written in 2015), Waldron reported that “they are four times as large as we” – with a whopping, reported, 6.2 million members at that same time! How does that even happen?!? Especially when so many of their doctrines are so far askew from anything even vaguely resembling biblical truth as to be absolutely ridiculous in the first place?!? The answer (according to Waldron), was that they grew like that “…because of leg work, the riding of bicycles and the pounding of pavements.” In other words, because of each individual member, doing their own individual part, in personally spreading their message. So why don’t we, who speak “as the oracles of God” (1 Peter 4:11) and who claim to proclaim the ‘book, chapter, and verse’ gospel truth as our only message (2 Timothy 3:14-4:2; Jude 3), make an even more diligent, devoted, personal and individual effort to share that daily?

Perhaps It Is Because We Choose To Fool Ourselves When It Comes To The How And Who Of Personal Evangelism: Contrary to popular opinion, simply inviting someone to church (presumably so that the paid ‘professional’ preacher can then take over and do all the necessary teaching) is not really engaging in personal evangelism by any biblical stretch or definition. The fact is that you can search from one end of the New Testament to the other, and you will never once, ever find, where any Christian ever invited any lost soul to the worship assembly of the church so that they might possibly be converted – ever. Just like the so-called ‘Sinner’s Prayer for Salvation,’ it simply isn’t there anywhere in the Scriptures. (And so the question is, if we don’t believe in the ‘Sinner’s Prayer for Salvation’ simply because it is never found in the Scriptures anywhere, then how can we possibly insist on such a pattern for evangelism as inviting lost people to church to be converted when that isn’t ever even found once therein either?)

But the first-century church, despite no member ever being recorded as having invited any lost soul to the worship assembly of the church so that they could be taught and converted, and despite epic life and death persecution on a scale which we cannot even scarcely begin to imagine, still grew like wildfire! How on earth did they do it? What is the divinely-inspired blueprint and biblical pattern for achieving such? Well here it is:

1. When we read Acts 3:1-4:4, we see that Peter did not invite the intrigued masses to church the following Sunday to hear the word of God, but took full advantage of, and seized the moment to teach them the truth of the gospel right then and there on the spot… and church growth exploded!

2. When we read Acts 5:42-6:2, we see that lost sinners were not being invited to church to be converted, but were receiving life and soul saving instruction from the word of God right there on the spot, daily… and church growth exploded!

3. When we read Acts 7:58-8:12 and 11:19-26, we note that it was not the ‘professional’ preachers (the apostles) who were scattered by the persecution and yet still preached the word everywhere they went, but everyday Christians like you and I… and church growth exploded!

4. And whether we talk about Phillip and the Ethiopian Eunuch (Acts 8:26-40); Peter in the house of Cornelius (Acts 10:1-48); or the Apostle Paul with Lydia (Acts 16:10-15), the jailor (Acts 16:25-34), or Crispus the synagogue ruler (Acts 18:4-11), we see the same, exact, distinct pattern of evangelism and conversions: No one was ever invited to church the next Sunday to hear the word, but were taught by individual members, right then and there on the spot …and the number of conversions and church growth exploded!

The way in which we often choose to fool ourselves when it comes to who is actually responsible for evangelism, is that seeing as how we put money in the plate to support the evangelist, we deceive ourselves into thinking that we are thereby, somehow totally relieved of our personal responsibility to go and make disciples, as it now all falls to him and the rest of the congregational leadership. WRONG! All Christians – including the elders, deacons, preachers, teachers, newly-converted and pew-warmers alike – all legitimately share the same exact amount of responsibility when it comes to personal evangelism. And while it is true that those in leadership do have one added responsibility when it comes to evangelism, alleviating and taking over each of the other member’s individual responsibility for personally evangelizing is certainly not it! What it is instead, is to make sure they, as the God-given leadership in each congregation, equip each individual saint therein, so that they can then best and most efficiently do their part in contributing to the growth of the congregation (See & study: Ephesians 4:11-16)! Part of the purpose for congregational bible study and the worship assembly of the church is to continually help to equip, empower, energize and encourage the saints to go out and seek and save the lost – not to be the time and place where the lost are invited to come in order to be converted!

This is the eternally-settled, divinely-inspired, biblical pattern, for effective everyday evangelism. Individual, on the spot, personal evangelism is as much a part of the divine pattern for church growth, as individual, on the spot baptism is a vital part of the divine pattern for salvation. The bottom line is simply this: If we want the church to grow now, anywhere near like it grew back then, then we must do what they did then. We Must Stop Simply Inviting People To Church; And Instead, Start Instantly & Individually, Involving Them In An In-Depth Investigation Of The Scriptures With Us Personally, On The Spot, At Every Opportunity! This is how they managed to accomplish such magnificent, astounding, and outstanding evangelistic results in the first century. Each and every member of the church talking about Jesus and teaching the gospel to anyone and everyone they could get to listen to their message! And doing so with a divine sense of love and urgency – in the streets, in the marketplaces, in the prisons, in private homes, from house to house, and on the banks of the rivers, etc. – constantly, consistently, continually, and individually! And it wasn’t just the apostles or ‘professionals.’ It was every saved and grateful member with a mouth and a heart after God who wanted to go to heaven and take others with them! Let’s all join them each and every one and turn this thing around in our generation! Personal Evangelism Is Indeed: A Matter Of Eternal Life & Death!

If you or the individual Christians in the congregation you serve need to perhaps become better equipped to conduct effective everyday evangelism, please consider the book, Effective Everyday Evangelism. See reviews, page samples, and ordering information by clicking on:

http://churchofchristarticles.com/blog/administrator/effective-everyday-evangelism-2

www.amazon.com/author/douglasdingley

www.jameskaypublishing.com

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