Searching for Salvation

Where is God?

When things were good, and he had been blessed, the King David praises God and gives thanks. When things were bad, and he was distressed, he wonders where God is and cries out for His salvation (Psalm 22:1). But through it all, good and bad, he puts his trust in the Lord. He knows that it is God who sustains, blesses, and protects him. Even when he doesn’t feel God’s presence.

Look to God for Salvation.

Look to God for Salvation.

Be still, cleanse your hands from all iniquity, purify your heart, be humble, and be honest. When David cried out “My God, my God, why hast thou forsaken me?” God was in the same place He was when Jesus cried those same words (Matthew 27:46). God was there then and He is here now and His desire will be done. Look to Him for salvation, trust in Him, obey Him, and be faithful!

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Circumcision: The sign of the Covenant

Circumcision: The sign of the Covenant

In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

Buried with him in baptism.

Buried with him in baptism.

Colossians 2:11-12

In order to understand this weekend’s passage of scripture, let’s back up to the Old Testament and go all the way back to the beginning…Genesis.  In Genesis chapter 17, we read of God making a covenant (agreement) with Abraham that the Holy Land, the land of Canaan, would always belong to Abraham’s descendants as long as they obeyed him.  The “sign of the covenant” would be the circumcision in the flesh of every male at least eight days old (vs. 10-14).  Abraham immediately made sure that he and his entire family were circumcised that same day (vs. 22-27).  This was the basis for the law in the Torah which required that all Jews be circumcised (Lev. 12:3).

Thousands of years later during the early days of the church, Jewish Christians who had converted out of Judaism were trying to bring tenets of Judaism into Christianity.  Circumcision was one of these tenets (Acts 15; Gal. 1-6).  Paul made it clear that physical circumcision was not required to be a Christian like it was in order to be a Jew.  However, the Holy Spirit inspired him to use the Jews’ mindset of circumcision being a sign that they had a covenant with God to teach a very important lesson about baptism in the book of Colossians.  This brings us to our Scripture of the Weekend.

Much of Colossians dealt with Paul reassuring Gentile Christians that they did not have to obey all the laws of Judaism in order to be Christians.  While doing so, he told them that they, like all Christians, had been filled in Christ, who is the head of all rule and authority (Col. 2:10).  Notice what he said next in our Scripture of the Weekend, Colossians 2:11-12:  “In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.”

Think about this for a second.  We are not under the covenant God made with Israel.  That was taken out of the way at the cross (Col. 2:14), and we are under a new covenant (Heb. 8:6-13), Christ’s covenant.  But just like physical circumcision was required as a sign of the old covenant, God still requires “circumcision” of a sort as a sign in the new covenant.  But this is not a literal, fleshly, physical circumcision.  No, Paul says that it is a spiritual circumcision, “made without hands.”  He then clarifies it has having occurred when one was baptized – literally “immersed” in the Greek – in water.

From Abraham to the beginning of the church, God and everyone else would know whether or not one was a Jew if they were physically circumcised.  Today, does God and everyone else recognize you to be a Christian?  Baptism after repentance (Acts 2:38) which was brought on by faith (Mark 16:16) is the key, the key to salvation and forgiveness of sins.  It is only through baptism that one is spiritually buried with Christ to rise again to a new life (Col. 2:12; Rom. 6:3-4).  It is only through baptism that one puts on Christ and becomes a child of God (Gal. 3:26-27).  It is only through baptism that the Holy Spirit adds you to Christ’s body (1 Cor. 12:13), that body being His church (Eph. 1:22-23), of which there is only one in the sight of God (Eph. 4:4-6), not the many found in the numerous sects and denominations of Christendom today.

Have you been spiritually circumcised?  Are you truly a Christian in the sight of God?

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The Empty Tomb

The Empty Tomb

Having looked in the tearful eyes of parents whose children have abandoned the Faith, I have learned there are a million miles between our children “going through the motions” in reference to the spiritual lives versus our children possessing hearts that dictate their actions. In this column, I plan to share with you what I hope to instill in the hearts of my children and those whom I love.

If Jesus could not make it out of the tomb, we don't have any hope.

If Jesus could not make it out of the tomb, we don’t have any hope.

Every year thousands of Muslims make a pilgrimage to Mecca to the tomb of Muhammad. Likewise, followers of Confucianism visit the grave of Confucius in Qufu, Shandong Province of China. Similarly, the Temple of the Tooth or “Dalada Maligawa” is believed to house some of the cremated ashes of Buddha. Having been buried centuries ago, the physical bodies of these religious founders are slowly turning to dust as millions journey to pay honor and respect.

Christianity is unique in that we serve a risen Savior. There are no remains to which to pilgrimage. Our Savior Jesus Christ fully conquered death. For those skeptics who vehemently cling to naturalistic causes for everything, the bodily resurrection of Jesus seems ludicrous. They laugh at the very notion. Yet, what does the evidence prove?

Here’s what I intend on teaching my children about the resurrection.
Everything hinges on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up-if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:14-17). Simply put, if Jesus could not make it out of the tomb, we don’t have any hope.

When you consider the resurrection, ask yourself first and foremost: Who moved the stone? Make no doubt about it, the individuals living at that time took ample measure to make sure the tomb was secure. The chief priests and Pharisees spoke to Pilate and said, “Sir we remember while He was still alive, how that deceiver said ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away” (Matthew 27:63-64). We learn from Matthew’s account that the stone in front of the tomb was sealed and a guard was assigned to watch the tomb (27:65-66).

And yet, even with all of this preparation, the tomb was found empty. Logic tells us that if the Jews took the body, they would have paraded it all around town denouncing the notion that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. If they really knew where the body was, it would have surfaced not long after the crucifixion. Likewise, if the disciples took the body then they would have known for certain that the resurrection was a hoax. Not only did they preach about the bodily resurrection of Jesus, but many went to their deaths in proclaiming it. Who would go to his own death perpetuating a lie? A stranger off the street would not have taken it for fear of the guard and breaking the seal-besides what use would the body have been to a stranger? None of these options is logical-and yet the tomb remains empty.

I have come to regard the resurrection as probably the best “Christian evidence” material in existence. Scholars who don’t believe in the Bible will concede that a man named Jesus walked the earth and was crucified. We have ancient historical writings that serve as evidence for these events. But how can one explain away the empty tomb? Again, who rolled away the stone? How was it that Saul-who would later become the apostle Paul-was so utterly convinced of the resurrection? Additionally, why would thousands of religious people change their day of worship from the Sabbath (Saturday-Exodus 20:8, Exodus 31:15-19) to the first day of the week (Sunday-Acts 6:7; 21:20). Finally, why would thousands of Jews be pricked in their hearts on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) if it were merely a hoax?

Jesus conquered death. This exciting fact gives meaning to every aspect of our modern-day worship. We now have a mediator through which we can pray. It gives meaning to the Lord’s Supper that we observe on the first day of the week. The truth that Jesus came out of the grave gives Christians the hope that we too will one day spend eternity with Him! Study the resurrection, for it will certainly strengthen your faith.

Love,

Dad

Having looked in the tearful eyes of parents whose children have abandoned the Faith, I have learned there are a million miles between our children “going through the motions” in reference to the spiritual lives versus our children possessing hearts that dictate their actions. In this column, I plan to share with you what I hope to instill in the hearts of my children and those whom I love.
Every year thousands of Muslims make a pilgrimage to Mecca to the tomb of Muhammad. Likewise, followers of Confucianism visit the grave of Confucius in Qufu, Shandong Province of China. Similarly, the Temple of the Tooth or “Dalada Maligawa” is believed to house some of the cremated ashes of Buddha. Having been buried centuries ago, the physical bodies of these religious founders are slowly turning to dust as millions journey to pay honor and respect.
Christianity is unique in that we serve a risen Savior. There are no remains to which to pilgrimage. Our Savior Jesus Christ fully conquered death. For those skeptics who vehemently cling to naturalistic causes for everything, the bodily resurrection of Jesus seems ludicrous. They laugh at the very notion. Yet, what does the evidence prove?
Here’s what I intend on teaching my children about the resurrection.
Everything hinges on the resurrection of Jesus Christ. Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, “And if Christ is not risen, then our preaching is empty and your faith is also empty. Yes, and we are found false witnesses of God, because we have testified of God that He raised up Christ, whom He did not raise up-if in fact the dead do not rise. For if the dead do not rise, then Christ is not risen. And if Christ is not risen your faith is futile; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:14-17). Simply put, if Jesus could not make it out of the tomb, we don’t have any hope.
When you consider the resurrection, ask yourself first and foremost: Who moved the stone? Make no doubt about it, the individuals living at that time took ample measure to make sure the tomb was secure. The chief priests and Pharisees spoke to Pilate and said, “Sir we remember while He was still alive, how that deceiver said ‘After three days I will rise.’ Therefore command that the tomb be made secure until the third day, lest His disciples come by night and steal Him away” (Matthew 27:63-64). We learn from Matthew’s account that the stone in front of the tomb was sealed and a guard was assigned to watch the tomb (27:65-66).
And yet, even with all of this preparation, the tomb was found empty. Logic tells us that if the Jews took the body, they would have paraded it all around town denouncing the notion that Jesus was indeed the Messiah. If they really knew where the body was, it would have surfaced not long after the crucifixion. Likewise, if the disciples took the body then they would have known for certain that the resurrection was a hoax. Not only did they preach about the bodily resurrection of Jesus, but many went to their deaths in proclaiming it. Who would go to his own death perpetuating a lie? A stranger off the street would not have taken it for fear of the guard and breaking the seal-besides what use would the body have been to a stranger? None of these options is logical-and yet the tomb remains empty.
I have come to regard the resurrection as probably the best “Christian evidence” material in existence. Scholars who don’t believe in the Bible will concede that a man named Jesus walked the earth and was crucified. We have ancient historical writings that serve as evidence for these events. But how can one explain away the empty tomb? Again, who rolled away the stone? How was it that Saul-who would later become the apostle Paul-was so utterly convinced of the resurrection? Additionally, why would thousands of religious people change their day of worship from the Sabbath (Saturday-Exodus 20:8, Exodus 31:15-19) to the first day of the week (Sunday-Acts 6:7; 21:20). Finally, why would thousands of Jews be pricked in their hearts on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2) if it were merely a hoax?
Jesus conquered death. This exciting fact gives meaning to every aspect of our modern-day worship. We now have a mediator through which we can pray. It gives meaning to the Lord’s Supper that we observe on the first day of the week. The truth that Jesus came out of the grave gives Christians the hope that we too will one day spend eternity with Him! Study the resurrection, for it will certainly strengthen your faith.
Love,
Dad
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