An Obedient Universal Faith

An Obedient Universal Faith

The book of Romans is a letter sent from the apostle Paul to the Christians of Rome.  It opens up declaring the Gospel had been long promised.  The Gospel by definition means “good tidings” or “good news”.  The prophets which had promised the good news tied it to universal blessing (Genesis 22:18), to a future prophet king (Deuteronomy 18:15, Jeremiah 23:5-6), a new covenant identified by forgiveness (Jeremiah 31:31-34), and a pouring out of the Holy Spirit (Joel 2:28-32).  Paul declared the good news to be about Jesus, the Son of God, who fulfilled all the expectation and prophecy which had been foretold.  It was by the authority of Jesus that all of the apostles including Paul received the charge of their apostleship.

There is one road of the Faith.  Will you walk it?

There is one road of the Faith. Will you walk it?

What was that charge of the apostles? Matthew 28:18-20 as well as Mark 16:15 are the common passages utilized to explain the charge of the apostles.  Authority is there bestowed by Christ to baptize and preach the Gospel to all creation.  Recall of Christ’s teachings would be essential so that there would be unity of teaching.  This is why Jesus sent the promised Spirit (John 16:13, 2 Peter 1:21). Paul declares to the Romans: “I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established.  That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me.” (Romans 1:11-12).  The gifts of the Holy Spirit are what enabled the first century to provide the unadulterated truth to mankind and establish the Church throughout the world.  Once the Gospel was written down, man could properly refer to God’s Word with knowledge and confidence and the gifts would no longer be needed.  However, during the era of Paul’s writing, God’s written Word was not in the hands of men.

Paul mentions the charge of apostleship in Romans 1:5.  What was the purpose of the charge?  “for obedience to the faith among all nations”.  If the Holy Spirit through the hands of the apostles enabled the one faith (Ephesians 4:5) to be taught, then the apostles and the Church would indeed have a mutual faith.  They would be able to go beyond being “children tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness…” (Ephesians 4:14).  This one faith would enable mankind to be obedient to the direction of God.  If you know what the faith is, you can follow it.  If you have a roadmap, you can get to your destination.

It can be understood that charge of sharing the Gospel did not end at simply providing the one truth.  When Christ established the Gospel charge, He said in regard to the teaching of the world, “Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you…”.  Hearing and not obeying is a deception of self and not what God desires (James 1:22, James 2:17-26).  It is the equivalent to proclaiming you are going on a journey, but never taking a step. Paul establishes in Romans 1:17, “The just shall live by faith”.  I suggest “to live” is not merely an ending point, but also a journey.  I John 1:7 declares: “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanseth us from all sin.”  The charge of the apostles was to baptize which forgave sins (Acts 2:38, Romans 6:1-7) and then to instruct a walk of faith which results in the continual cleansing from sin.  The good news of Paul was the power of salvation to all mankind.  It meant man no longer had to walk with the weight of sin upon his shoulders.  Christians have been freed from sin!  It was the Gospel that truly provided eternal life (John 3:16, James 1:21).  Boldly embrace the Gospel and freely walk in it to the journey’s end.

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A King Like No Other

“Lord, To Whom Shall We Go?”

The sixth chapter of John records that day when the tide of popularity turned against our Lord. That first year of the public preaching of Jesus was characterized by multitudes following Him. John shows just how popular He had become, and early in this chapter we read that they were about to take Him by force and make Him their king.

Jesus had no desire to be an earthly king.

Jesus had no desire to be an earthly king.

Think about the motive many of them had for wanting a king like Jesus. He had just fed 5,000 men. This number did not include the women and children, so there likely were more than 10,000 fed that day. Who would not want a king who would feed you so that you would never have to work again? They wanted an earthly king. How did Jesus respond? John described the events of that day so vividly. “When Jesus perceived that they were about to come and take Him by force to make Him king, He departed again to the mountain by Himself alone” (v. 15). He had no desire to be a king sitting on an earthly throne in Jerusalem.

The next day, they learned that He was several miles away from the site of the feeding of the multitudes, and they rushed to where He was. Look at what Jesus said to them. “Most assuredly I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled” (v. 26). He knew their hearts. They were not interested in the signs showing His divinity. They only wanted the free food He gave them. So, when He told them that He was the living bread who came down out of heaven, they complained. They thought that because they knew His mother and father who had raised Him in Nazareth there was no way He could have come down out of heaven. Jesus went even further that day in His teaching.

When He told them that unless they ate His flesh and drank His blood there was no way for them to be saved, it was more than they could accept. Their response was, “This is a hard saying, who can hear it” (v. 60). The tide of popularity changed. “From that time many of His disciples went back and walked with Him no more” (v. 66).

Jesus even asked His closest disciples if they were going to leave, and Peter said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

What a lesson for our world to learn! If we turn away from Jesus, where can we go? Yet, in religions today, many have tried to change the King and make Him a king that suits them. They ignore what He said and design “Christian” lifestyles to please themselves.

Think about Peter’s question. To whom shall we go? There is no other way than His way!

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Tolerance? Why?

Tolerance? Why?

We live in a very tolerant culture, and it seems to be growing more tolerant by the day. Tolerance is defined as the ability or willingness to put up with those practices or opinions contrary to those held by one’s self. We are told we need to tolerate just about anything and everything, no matter how vile, depraved or unwholesome it is. Who are you to judge, is the cultural standard.

Under what circumstance is tolerance expected?

Under what circumstance is tolerance expected?

Here is a blunt and controversial thought, but one very biblically sound: God, as described in the Bible, is not a tolerant God. He does not agree to disagree with people, and His standards are absolute. Consider the evidence presented in the Scriptures…

1) The wrath of God is revealed from the heavens against the unrighteousness and wickedness of men. (cf. Romans 1:18)

2) God commands all men everywhere to repent because there is coming a day in which He will judge the world. (cf. Acts 17:30-31)

3) The wicked and the unrighteous are not allowed into God’s Kingdom (cf. Matthew 5:20; 1 Corinthians 6:9; Galatians 5:21).

4) Those who refuse to repent of their sins and change their ways, who continue in those sins, will be condemned eternally. (cf. Revelation 21:8)

This understanding of God is perhaps best summarized by the prophet Habakkuk who said, “You are of purer eyes than to behold evil,and cannot look on wickedness (Habakkuk 1:13a; NKJV).”

This “intolerance” of God towards sin is one of the reasons so many people in our day and age have a problem with the Bible and what it teaches. We have become so hammered by the belief that nobody has a right to criticize or judge another, that we try and apply that same standard to God, refusing to acknowledge that the Creator has the right to have certain expectations of the creation.

Here, however, is another thought: God, as described in the Bible, is a very patient God. This is to be expected as the Bible tells us that God is love, and also that love is patient and longsuffering. (cf. 1 John 4:8; 1 Corinthians 13:4)

Tolerance and patience are not at all the same thing. Tolerance is a willingness to accept what one finds disagreeable. Biblical patience is the willingness to continue working towards a particular goal. In the case of God and man, the goal is change; not the changing of God, who is unchangeable, but the changing of man into what God wants man to be.

The Scriptures teach: “The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” (2 Peter 3:9)

Notice first of all that the promises of God are valid and to be taken seriously. In the context of 2 Peter 3, the apostle is talking about the promise of judgment. If God says He is going to judge the world, we should trust His veracity. It will happen. But it hasn’t happened yet, and the reason is God’s patience. God wants to give men an opportunity to repent and change.

Repentance is a change of heart and mind which leads to a change of action. God cannot tolerate sin. He demands we change. He commands repentance of sinful men. (cf. Acts 17:30; Luke 13:3) But He is patient with us to allow us the time and opportunity needed for us to change. He is doing His best to encourage us to make the changes.

More than this, God is not tolerant of sin, but He is very merciful towards sinful men who are willing to repent and turn themselves around. God says, “if a wicked man turns from all his sins which he has committed, keeps all My statutes, and does what is lawful and right, he shall surely live; he shall not die. None of the transgressions which he has committed shall be remembered against him; because of the righteousness which he has done, he shall live.” (Ezekiel 18:21-22; NKJV)

In this mercy and goodness, God sent Jesus to be the propitiation for the sins of men, creating a channel of mercy in which men can be saved. (cf. John 3:16; Hebrews 2:17; 1 John 4:10)

We should not deceive ourselves. God is not a modern thinker, willing to tolerate anything and everything men choose to do, giving the same His tacit approval. The unrighteous cannot inherit the Kingdom of God. But God is patient and merciful and God wants to save you. And He has worked to make that salvation possible.

 

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