Category Archives: Church of Christ

The Gospel: Learning to obey Jesus in baptism

In John 2:1-11, we have an amazing story of the first recorded miracle of Jesus. Of all the miracles Jesus performed in his ministry the very first was turning water into wine for a wedding feast. During this wedding feast they ran out of wine and Mary acts quickly to remedy the situation. She goes to Jesus, knowing that he could fix this, and tells him of the problem. Jesus says “What am I supposed to do about that?” In Mary’s response we can learn a powerful lesson.

John 2:5, “… Do whatever he tells you.” 1

The gospel is the good news of Jesus Christ. It is the Son of God dying for our sins and through him we can have forgiveness and eternal life. In the process of hearing Jesus, confessing faith in Jesus, repenting of sins, and being baptized for the forgiveness of our sins we learn to obey Jesus Christ as Lord. Jesus Christ of Nazareth has all power and authority in this world and in heaven above (Matthew 28:18, cf. Daniel 7:13, 14; John 3:35; 13:3; 17:2; Acts 2:36; Romans 14:9; 1 Corinthians 15:27; Ephesians 1:10, 20-22; Philippians 2:9, 10; Colossians 2:10; Hebrews 1:2; 2:8; 1 Peter 3:22). He alone has the right and power to demand our obedience. Yet many today want Jesus and all that he promises without submitting to his authority.

Most today wouldn’t even consider saying no to Jesus. Yet our actions scream out in anger, “No! I will not do what you want,” “I don’t understand it or agree with it and I will not do it.”

We say “yes” when Jesus says to believe in him (John 8:24). We say “yes” when he says to confess our faith in him (Matthew 10:32-33; Romans 10:9-10). We say “yes” when he says that we have to change our lives for him (Luke 3:5; Acts 17:30). It’s easy to say yes to Jesus when he is asking for things we are willing to give but it becomes difficult when he asks for something we don’t understand or want to do. I challenge you to carefully read Matthew 7:24-27 and Luke 6:46-49 then ask yourself the question, “Am I building on the rock of Jesus’ teachings or am I listening to what someone else is telling me?

When Jesus says to submit to him in baptism (Mark 16:15-16; Matt. 28:19-20; Acts 2:38; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:27) for the forgiveness of our sins and we say “No” that is not building our lives or faith on Jesus! The difference between Christian and Non-Christian is a willingness to obey him. Which one are you? Now remember, your answer must come from more than words, it must come from our actions (James 1:21-25). Are you a Christian or not?

We must learn to submit to Jesus in all things, even baptism for the forgiveness of sins. Don’t allow anyone to convince you that Jesus doesn’t expect your obedience to him (Matt. 7:21-23; John 14:15; 15:10). 

1 The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. Wheaton: Standard Bible Society, 2001. Print.

The Value of Mom

I want to share something with you. I have always struggled with Mother’s Day. It has always been hard and brings up painful feelings for me. You see, my mom was never around for the majority of my life. When everyone else talks about how great their mom is I had to sit and listen.

This is just one of the reasons why I love my wife so much. She has always been the most valuable gift God could have given to me and our children. She has always valued God and our family above all things, even valuing it above her own health and needs at times. She valued her role as mom and loves it greatly. I am will always be greatly indebted to God for her.

Great women beginning with Eve and running through all time have been vital to God’s plan for the home, for her children, for her the husband, and for His kingdom. God’s plan to send the Savior was to be accomplished through the careful and loving hands of mom (Gen. 3:15).

Consider carefully what God says to us about the value of moms as Jesus spoke about His mom.

John 19:25–27 “but standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas, and Mary Magdalene. When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son!” Then he said to the disciple, “Behold, your mother!” And from that hour the disciple took her to his own home.” (ESV)

As Jesus hang on that cross, carrying the sins of the whole world, do you know what he was concerned about? He was worried about his valuable mom. Jesus knew that she would need someone to love and value her like He had. So, He made sure someone was there to become her son after He died. What a loving and painful act that must have been for Him.

I know that Mother’s Day can be both amazing and painful for many of us. There are many woman who have wanted desperately to enjoy being mothers who have only felt the pain of loss. There are men and women, too numerous to name, who miss their mom more every year since she passed from this life. There are those who have a lot of hurt and pain in their life because of the abuse of a mom who didn’t take seriously her value to them. In the midst of all this pain and hurt don’t lose sight of the value and love of moms in God’s plan.

So let me encourage you to value the role of mom. As a husband, never lose sight of all the great blessings your wife brings to you and to your children. Without her, life would not be the same. As a child, let me encourage you to love your mom and value her. Good or bad she is still mom who gave you life and God expects you to love her and treat her well. Lastly as mom, value your role as mom. Love your husband and children and cherish them because many would give anything to have what you have.

Moms are valuable because God chose to give her to the world and in that simple act proclaims her value to us.

Happy Mother’s Day.

The Gospel: learning to hear Jesus

In today’s bulletin article we are going to continue our series on the Gospel. In this series I want to get back to the state of mind and heart that is necessary for a person to want to be saved. Often, within the church, the focus is placed on the things we must do to be saved. We know and teach that the heart is fundamental to the gospel but we have not focused enough on the heart of New Testament Christianity. We have been taught to focus on (doesn’t that sound familiar?) one part of the larger whole.

Do you realize that the “5 steps” as we known them are not in the bible? Do you realize that they were originated by Walter Scott in the early 19th century? You will not find a single passage in scripture that lists these 5 steps. The individual parts are there but not the 5 steps and not in that order. Much like “salvation by faith only” is not in the bible we cannot turn to a single book, chapter, and verse for all 5 steps. I would contend that we are really good at seeing what others are doing wrong and not so good at being honest with our own beliefs. To be honest, it seem a bit inconsistent for me to give others a hard time about teaching something that is not found in the bible while doing the same thing?

I want to see us, the Lord’s church, have a more balanced view of salvation and our part in that salvation. Works alone cannot save, keeping a law system cannot save, just as importantly depending on self (self-righteousness) cannot save. Now I am not saying that it is not necessary to be obedient to the gospel but the mindset that begins with “I” is shortsighted at best, and doomed along with the Pharisees at its worst.

So what separates these two extremes which are miles apart? We have one extreme of depending only on self and the other extreme of being blind in our own obedience. How do we get to a place where we are balanced in our approach to Christ, His church, and our own salvation?

The middle ground is found in learning to hear Jesus above all other voices. It is foundational to being Christ-like and without a profound, empowering knowledge of who Jesus is, and what He expects of us (mind, body, soul, and spirit), we will never find the safety and confidence of True New Testament Christianity.

Acts 3:22–23

“Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your brothers. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul who does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’”

Will you listen to Jesus today?

Is obedience to Jesus even necessary?

I read an article the other day that really caught me off guard. I was settled into a relatively difficult article on the many different aspects of salvation when the author shocked me. I backed up to the beginning of the paragraph and read it again. I needed to verify what I was seeing. Yep, that is exactly what he said. Obedience to Jesus was not necessary! The author didn’t stop there but went a step further and said that not only was obedience not necessary but even commendable if we did not obey him.

How could any intelligent person who had obviously read the bible make such a claim? He didn’t say it verbatim but he said it none the less. What he said was that Jesus’ claim that we must confess him before others was not necessary. That in our current culture the need to confess him before others was not necessary and if it would cause hardships then it should not be done. The author went on for a couple of pages about the different scenarios a so-called Christian could find himself in, deny Jesus, and it be for everyone’s best interest.

Consider just a few of the verses that stand in objection to such an idea.

Matthew 10:32–33 “So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.”

2 Timothy 2:11–13 “The saying is trustworthy, for: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he also will deny us; if we are faithless, he remains faithful— for he cannot deny himself.”

Romans 10:8–10 “But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”

I cannot tell you how this person came up with such nonsense but I am sure that Satan is behind it. What I can say with absolute confidence is that Jesus will not confess me before the father if I don’t confess him before those in this life. I can name numerous situations where doing so would be difficult and might even cost your life but that does not remove the demand of confession.

Yet isn’t that kind of the point in New Testament Christianity? To place Jesus on the throne of my life and allow him to be number 1. Anything less is to place that thing, person, or myself above my Lord. Church, we live in a time when man has been set up as the greatest of all things and anything that would endanger that is to be quickly cast aside. Satan has blinded the eyes of those people but we are not blind to his attacks. Obey Jesus and Live.

Because I said so!

I always hated hearing my dad tell me “because I said so.” He would tell me to do something and instead of just doing what he asked I would protest. Why I couldn’t just do what he asked is beyond me but I would ask the question, “Why?” That is still my favorite question to ask about almost everything in life. I really just wanted a reason for why I should do or not do whatever he asked (TOLD) me to do. In my mind, I wasn’t rebelling but seeking to understand why. I never really got the answer I was hoping for. I usually got something but it wasn’t an answer.

I always promised myself I would never use those words with my children. Then one day it happened! I was shocked and a bit frustrated with myself. I had asked (TOLD) one of the kids to do something and they asked the question, “but why?” At first I tried to reason with them, what a mistake that was, and it didn’t work. I tried to help them understand I was trying to help them and not hurt them but they didn’t understand. So in a moment of desperation I said it. Those horrible words I promised myself I would never say, “Because I said so.”

I have often wondered how many times God has felt like saying that to me. But God, why do I need to do this, “Because I said so.” But God, why shouldn’t I get to indulge this, “Because I said so”.

The Bible is full of great and precise promises from God. It is full of things that God says we should do and things we should not do. He instructed us by carefully crafting each sentence in the Bible to guide us to a place of safety.

I love that God uses the lives of individuals throughout the Bible narrative to illustrate what works in this life and what doesn’t. He could have just made a plain list of “Do’s” and “Do not’s” instead He, like a loving Father will, tries to guide us with love and gentleness. Dear friends, the Bible’s message is simple. It is faithfulness to God equals success and unfaithfulness equals failure. It is laid out for us to see if we will just look for the answers.

In spite of God’s clear reasoning with us we still find ourselves asking Him why. Instead of just listening to Him we rebel, we demand answers, and much like a spoiled child, we want to have the very things God tries to protect us from.

Let me encourage you not to look to the Word of God as rules and regulations about things we want to have. Instead I want you to look to the word of God for what is beneficial to us.

1 John 5:3

“For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.”

Drawing near to God

The process of drawing near to God is not something that is meant to be difficult. God has every intention for His creation to be close to Him. In fact, when God created man (Gen. 1:18) with no one like him in the garden God looked on him and said “It was not good for man to be alone”. God created us to have fellowship with Him and with each other. That is why he created us like Him (Gen. 1:26-27) and then walked and talked with man in the garden.

Sin destroys the relationships of man. When Adam and Eve ate the forbidden fruit they knew they were naked, fashioned clothes to cover themselves, thus hiding from each other. Then to make things even worse sin caused them to hide from God when He entered the garden (Gen. 3:7-8). At once sin ripped apart what God had joined together. Sin caused the man and his wife to hide from each other and then hid from God.

No wonder man has longed for and struggled after real relationships in life. Sin corrupted our ability to be close to each other and to God. All of the Bible is about restoring the relationship that was lost in the Garden of Eden. From beginning to end it is a love story about God reaching out to His creation trying to restore the fracture that we allowed between us and God (Isa. 59:1-2; Gen. 3). I am often amazed at the analogy of people being like sheep. Sheep tend to wander off into situations that could harm them and yet thank the Lord, we have a Great Shepherd who is searching for us (Luke 15:3-7).

Throughout scripture God has been calling for the prodigal sons and daughters to come home to Him (Luke 15:11-32).

Malachi 3:6–7

““For I the Lord do not change; therefore you, O children of Jacob, are not consumed. From the days of your fathers you have turned aside from my statutes and have not kept them. Return to me, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts. But you say, ‘How shall we return?’”

Zechariah 1:3

“Therefore say to them, Thus declares the Lord of hosts: Return to me, says the Lord of hosts, and I will return to you, says the Lord of hosts.”

James 4:8

“Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.”

Our God is a loving and just God who longs for us to be close to His side. When we reach out for Him in accordance to His word, He will always be there, waiting to forgive us, and restore us to Him (Ps. 145:18; Acts 17:26-27).

Being Good Enough

The more time I spend with Jesus reflecting on His priorities and His teachings the more I want to be like Him. Jesus had a way of stripping away all the uselessness that typically weighs us down. I see in Him a love and standard for life that drives right to the very core of who we are. In Jesus the words of Hebrews 4:12-13 seem to come alive with power.

For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart. And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account.” (ESV)

His words have a way of getting right to the heart of the problems that separate us from Him. The word of God has a way of severing us from our sins and what stands between us and God.

I am impressed with just how far we have come as a church and how far we still have to travel. And yet, I see a fundamental difference in the values we hold as American’s and what Jesus taught His followers. It is my prayer and my heart’s desire that we can simply be followers of Jesus Christ and allow His words to completely sever us from the world around us.

Following Jesus is not a matter of being perfect. It is not about being good enough. You see, we spend most of our time being taught to either believe we are good enough or believing that success is a matter of being good enough. We are taught to believe that anything is possible if we work hard enough. Not only does that go against what the New Testament teaches us, it also creates within us a sense of shame and failure when we cannot be successful.

In Mark 10:17–18 we see an interesting situation that I think helps us grasp this concept of being good enough.

“And as he was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone.”

This young man came to Jesus thinking salvation, eternal life, was something he could achieve by being good enough. Jesus’ response to him is enlightening. Jesus reminds the young man and us that no one is good except for God. Jesus as God in the flesh was good enough but we are not. Christianity at its very core is not a matter of being good enough. Instead it is a matter of following the One who is good enough and trusting in Him to save us.

In Jesus we find what our soul longs for and the salvation we so desperately need. He is good enough and by following Him in pure, simple faith we can find the redemption of our souls. Don’t worry if you’re good enough, just follow and trust Him to be good enough.