Foundation

01/28/2009 at 12:28 pm (bible)

I think that much of the Christian church today has lost its way. I think we’ve forgotten what it is we’re supposed to stand for.

10 Because of God’s grace to me, I have laid the foundation like an expert builder. Now others are building on it. But whoever is building on this foundation must be very careful. 11 For no one can lay any foundation other than the one we already have—Jesus Christ.

12 Anyone who builds on that foundation may use a variety of materials—gold, silver, jewels, wood, hay, or straw. 13 But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value. 14 If the work survives, that builder will receive a reward. 15 But if the work is burned up, the builder will suffer great loss. The builder will be saved, but like someone barely escaping through a wall of flames. – 1 Corinthians 3:10-15

But what is the foundation of Christ? Jesus said: “For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Save from what? The modern Christian would say sin.

But what is sin? Romans 7:7 tells us that the Law reveals sin to us. But what did Christ say about the Law?

35 One of them, an expert in religious law, tried to trap him with this question: 36 “Teacher, which is the most important commandment in the law of Moses?”

37 Jesus replied, “‘You must love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, and all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and greatest commandment. 39 A second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 The entire law and all the demands of the prophets are based on these two commandments.” – Matthew 22:35-40

Christ said that all of the commandments boiled down to either loving God or loving our neighbors. Basically he said that all sin was a direct result of a failure to love.

But what is Love? Christ said: “There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” John 15:13. Furthermore 1 John 3:16 says: “We know what real love is because Jesus gave up his life for us. So we also ought to give up our lives for our brothers and sisters.”

But Christ took it one step further. He said in Matthew 5:

43 “You have heard the law that says, ‘Love your neighbor’ and hate your enemy. 44 But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! 45 In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike. 46 If you love only those who love you, what reward is there for that? Even corrupt tax collectors do that much.

Christ said don’t love just the people who love you back, but love even the people who curse you! What a mandate!

But how many churches are there today who embrace and embody true Love? Not many.

Some churches focus on sin. They preach and rail against it. But I think it interesting that Christ did not tell us to condemn sin. He told us “let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!” (John 8:7).

Many churches focus on the “gifts of the spirit.” But 1 Corinthians 13 says:

1 If I could speak all the languages of earth and of angels, but didn’t love others, I would only be a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I had the gift of prophecy, and if I understood all of God’s secret plans and possessed all knowledge, and if I had such faith that I could move mountains, but didn’t love others, I would be nothing. 3 If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing.

Many churches focus solely on faith. But in James chapter 2 it is written:

14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone? 15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing, 16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do?

17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.

18 Now someone may argue, “Some people have faith; others have good deeds.” But I say, “How can you show me your faith if you don’t have good deeds? I will show you my faith by my good deeds.”

19 You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror. 20 How foolish! Can’t you see that faith without good deeds is useless?

21 Don’t you remember that our ancestor Abraham was shown to be right with God by his actions when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see, his faith and his actions worked together. His actions made his faith complete. 23 And so it happened just as the Scriptures say: “Abraham believed God, and God counted him as righteous because of his faith.” He was even called the friend of God. 24 So you see, we are shown to be right with God by what we do, not by faith alone.

25 Rahab the prostitute is another example. She was shown to be right with God by her actions when she hid those messengers and sent them safely away by a different road. 26 Just as the body is dead without breath, so also faith is dead without good works.

I think it is very interesting that the example given in James was not any of the multiple activities that the modern church engages in. The example given was of helping folks in need. Another example is found in James 1:27, “Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you.”

Jesus also dealt heavily with this subject referring to the final judgement in Matthew 25 he said:

31 “But when the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit upon his glorious throne. 32All the nations will be gathered in his presence, and he will separate the people as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 He will place the sheep at his right hand and the goats at his left.

34 “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the Kingdom prepared for you from the creation of the world. 35 For I was hungry, and you fed me. I was thirsty, and you gave me a drink. I was a stranger, and you invited me into your home. 36 I was naked, and you gave me clothing. I was sick, and you cared for me. I was in prison, and you visited me.’

37 “Then these righteous ones will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry and feed you? Or thirsty and give you something to drink? 38 Or a stranger and show you hospitality? Or naked and give you clothing? 39 When did we ever see you sick or in prison and visit you?’

40 “And the King will say, ‘I tell you the truth, when you did it to one of the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were doing it to me!’

41 “Then the King will turn to those on the left and say, ‘Away with you, you cursed ones, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his demons. 42 For I was hungry, and you didn’t feed me. I was thirsty, and you didn’t give me a drink. 43 I was a stranger, and you didn’t invite me into your home. I was naked, and you didn’t give me clothing. I was sick and in prison, and you didn’t visit me.’

44 “Then they will reply, ‘Lord, when did we ever see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and not help you?’

45 “And he will answer, ‘I tell you the truth, when you refused to help the least of these my brothers and sisters, you were refusing to help me.’

46 “And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous will go into eternal life.”

I pray that I can live up to the mandate given to me by the one who loved me enough to lay down his life for me.

All scripture quotations from the New Living Translation
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Fear

01/18/2009 at 7:32 pm (bible)

After a couple weeks without the internet I can safely say that I’m not missing it all that much.

I’ve been poking around the last couple days, and quite a bit of what I see boils down to one thing … fear.

And a lot of it is from folks who call themselves Christians.

This is interesting to me because two of the Charity tapes we’ve listened to in the past week had to do with fear.

Here are a couple Bible verses:

The LORD is on my side; I will not fear: what can man do unto me? – Psalm 118:6

For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind. – 2 Timothy 1:7

We are not to be fearful. In fact we are given the command to rejoice always!

Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice. – Philippians 4:4

Most folks probably don’t give much thought to the seriousness of fearfulness, I among them. Then I came across this verse:

But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. – Revelation 21:8

It is a very sobering thought to me to realize that God puts fearfulness on the same level as murder and all manner of ungodliness.

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