Tag Archives: Jesus

Jesus As King: An Old Testament Perspective — Gantt Carter

As Christians, we often sing phrases like, “Jesus is Lord” and “He’s my king.” Jesus is not only our Savior from our sins, but He also the Supreme King we are to submit to in love. The reality of Jesus’ kingship/lordship is set forth throughout the Writings of the New Covenant, the covenant in His blood.

Before the Jewish crowd makes their request, the apostle Peter proclaims that “God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified” (Acts 2:36). “Lord” can also be translated as “Master” and “Christ” as “Messiah.” Jesus of Nazareth is the Master and the Messiah, and that truth is at the core of Christianity (cf. Phil 2:5-11).

The Perspective

This important concept of Jesus as King/Lord did not begin in the first century A.D. The truth builds on the history of God and Israel and flows out of several passages in the writings of the Old Covenant. In fact, the Hebrew term we translate as “Messiah” refers to one who is anointed, especially as a king. Jesus fulfills the thrust of the Old Covenant and the Scriptures given during that time (see 1 Cor. 15:1-4). Consider Jesus own words and actions:

“And he said to them, ‘O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?’ And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he interpreted to them in all the Scriptures the things concerning himself” (Luke 24:25-27, cf. 32, 44-47).

Please join me now in an overview of the Old Covenant perspective on Jesus as King and Lord.

The Prophecies

The first specific reference to the coming One is in Genesis 3:15, but the first reference to His kingship may be near the end of the same inspired book. Within the blessings of Jacob upon his twelve sons, we find the following:

“Judah is a lion’s cub; from the prey, my son, you have gone up. He stooped down; he crouched as a lion and as a lioness; who dares rouse him? The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, until tribute comes to him; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples (Gen. 49:9-10).

The lineage of Judah is significant for more than one reason in the history of Israel. David, king of Israel, descended from Judah and all succeeding kings came from Judah. Othniel, the first judge, was of the tribe of Judah (1 Chr. 4:13). The temple builders, Solomon and Zerubbabel, also descended from Judah (1 Chr. 3). King Jesus came as the new temple (John 1:14-18; 2:19), and His people are the temple as they are added to His body (Eph. 2:19-22).

Although dismissed by some, we submit that Genesis 49:9-10 is a foretelling of the timing and nature of the coming One (cf. Num. 24:17). Even many Jews through history believed this text to be about the Messiah. As we reflect on this, what can we see here?

1) He would be a descendant of Judah, the tribe of the kings (Matt. 1:2-3).

2) He would come while the authority of Judah was still perceptible. The last of any indication of royal Judah ceased with the Roman occupation. The Romans removed their authority and destroyed Jerusalem in 70 A.D. With the second temple and the genealogies destroyed, there is not even a possibility of rulership out of Judah or someone claiming to be the rightful King of Israel.

3) He would receive tribute (as King). We can translate this portion of the text as “until Shiloh comes” or as a reference to the “ruler’s staff” belonging to Him. “Shiloh” is often considered to be another title for the coming One.

4) All people and nations would submit to Him in obedience, giving Him honor. Jew and Gentile unified as they joyfully submit to their one King (Eph. 1-4).

In 2 Samuel 7, God gives King David a powerful promise about his kingly lineage. The most immediate fulfillment is in Solomon and the succeeding kings from Judah until the exile. However, God later foretells of yet another coming king, a Davidic king who would finally fulfill the ultimate purpose of God for His people. The term “Branch” below may be a technical term for the legal heir to an established royal line of kings.

“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land. In his days Judah will be saved, and Israel will dwell securely. And this is the name by which he will be called: ‘The Lord is our righteousness’” (see Jer. 33:14-26; Ezek. 34:20-24; 37:24; Is. 11:10).

Gabriel tells the mother of Jesus that He will receive the throne of David and reign forever with His empire never ending (Luke 1:32-33). That parallels Isaiah who observes that the growth of His government and peace will be endless; that He will reign with justice and righteousness forever and ever (note Is. 9:6-7). Regarding David’s own understanding of the promises, Peter states:

“Being therefore a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him that he would set one of his descendants on his throne, he foresaw and spoke about the resurrection of the Christ, that he was not abandoned to Hades, nor did his flesh see corruption” (Acts 2:30-31; cf. Ps. 16:8-11; 110:1).

Zechariah, who prophesied after the return from exile, employs “the Branch” language in the inspired document that bears his name. At first glance in chapter six, God seems to only refer to the then present son of Jehozadak, Joshua (see Zech. 6:9-15; cf. 3:8-10). But we submit that the ultimate application of these words is to the final “Joshua” or “Jesus.” (Jesus and Joshua in English are from the same Hebrew name for “Yahweh saves”). Zechariah refers to a priest also ruling as a king (v. 13; cf. Jer. 33:17-18). Although unlawful under the Mosaic Law, Jesus is the King and the High Priest of His New Covenant and Law.

Zechariah 9:9 foretells of a king who brings righteousness and salvation as he rides humbly on a donkey’s colt. Verse 10 includes a reference to battle and to the extension of his dominion but shows him speaking peace to the nations. Matthew 21:1-11 provides us with a clear fulfillment of this text in the life of Jesus as He enters Jerusalem gently and humbly on a colt. Born in David’s Bethlehem (Mic. 5:1-2; Luke 2:1-7), the eternal Ruler shepherds His flock “in the strength of the Lord, and in the majesty of the name of the Lord His God” (Mic. 5:4a).

The last chapter of Zechariah gives us a (at least slightly) different portrayal of Israel’s coming king. First, a terrible and violent battle scene is picture (14:1-2), and then Yahweh Himself goes to war with the nations on behalf of His people (v. 3; cf. 9:14-17). If the Lord is the King after all, then what does this say of Jesus? Jesus is a member of the Godhood. Yes, He is the Great I Am (Ex. 3:13-14; John 8:58; Phil. 2:5-11). Jesus is the Lord, the Master of the universe.

The language of Zechariah 14 relates well to the second Psalm and the lyrics about the possession and the wrath of the King and Son (Ps. 2:6-12). Let there be no doubt, this Messiah is a force to be reckoned with (cf. Ps. 102:25-27; Heb. 1:10-12). But as the battle smoke clears, note the beautiful and powerful words below:

“On that day living water will flow out from Jerusalem, half of it east to the Dead Sea and half of it west to the Mediterranean Sea, in summer and in winter. The Lord will be king over the whole earth. On that day there will be one Lord, and his name the only name” (Zech. 14:8-9).

On one hand, the Messiah meekly rids a donkey into town and suffers terribly for His people (Zech. 12:10-11; Is. 53). On the other hand, He proudly marches into battle and crushes His enemies with comprehensive authority. This seeming oddity led some Jews to conclude that there would be two different Messiahs: Ben Yosef (the suffering son of Joseph) and ben David (the ruling son of David). Others saw and continue to see this as either different possibilities or different points in time.

The Point

We know that Jesus became King by means of His death, resurrection, and ascension to the throne in heaven. The good news is “Your God reigns” (Is. 52:7). The Messiah was and is the ultimate Prophet, Priest, and King (Heb. 1:1-13) of the true Israel (Gal. 6:16).

Zechariah 14 may refer to the gospel even in a certain sense, or perhaps it pictures the final coming of the Messiah. A time when He will deal with evil and suffering once and for all and rescue His people by granting them life forever with Him (Heb. 9:28; 1 Cor. 15:24-28; 1 Thess. 4:13-5:6).

Jesus was and is the long-awaited King that the people of Israel were longing to come and bring them final deliverance and peace. Of course, the fulfillment of these promises did not always match their perceptions of what He would be and how He would accomplish His work. As noted above, the true messiah (anointed King) is far more than a mere earthly king. For example, examine the way Jesus quotes and applies Psalm 110:1 in Matthew 22:41-45.

As the Prince of peace (Is. 9:6), He is their security and He is their peace (Mic. 5:4b-5). His peace is a different kind of peace than that of the world (John 14:27). His peace is about finding rest for our weary souls (Jer. 6:16; Matt. 11:28-30; Phil. 4:4-9). He reigns in our hearts as we delightfully obey His commands.

As Christians, we eagerly await the return of the King. He will quiet us by His love and sing loudly to us (Zeph. 3:15-20). We shall see the King someday!

Gantt resides in Elk City, Oklahoma, with his wife and two children. He is the preaching minister at the 2nd & Adams congregation.

 

Jesus-Centered Evangelism — Edwin S. Jones

Church growth, in my experience, seems to have developed much like a game I grew up with, “Pass it On.” In this game, someone reads a message from a piece of paper, whispers the words to the next person and so on until the relayed message gets back to the person with the original. Even if you have not played the game, I suspect you know what happens.

As has been observed in conversations about the Restoration Principle, the source, Scripture, is the only place to go if we are to be sure we are getting Christianity right. My following words on evangelism suggest we need to apply this original source principle to our outreach efforts. See what you think.

Have We Seen What The Bible Reveals?

When we see the various ways that evangelism is promoted and defined among us, we ought to ask ourselves why the New Testament does not address evangelism the way we commonly do.  Where, for instance, do we find much of our current language represented in principle in the New Covenant?

Where are all the verses urging us to remember to take the gospel to our friends and neighbors?  Where are all the “deathbed” stories?  And where do we find that inspiration’s favorite inquiry is, “If you died tonight would you be lost?” Odd, do you not think, that such things, and many more modern areas of emphasis, are conspicuous by their absence in the Bible?

By speaking this way I do not at all want to question anyone’s sincerity or deny that the reality that souls have been won by the gospel through methods I believe to be a few steps removed from strict biblical patterns. What I ask us to do is to see what we discover by taking a fresh look at Scripture.

I purpose we need to take another look at the Bible to measure our efforts by the original message. We would agree God’s Word is the very place we will find God’s plan for evangelism.  It is in Scripture where we will learn what we are asked to do in church growth.

When we embark upon a search for the original message about evangelism, we will see a picture that is both personal and practical.  We will discover that the most basic needs in evangelism are not for more programs, better methods, bigger and fancier campaigns, or an increasing reliance on mass media.  The main need, the most central component of evangelism, is found in our daily living of the principles of Jesus.  It is the daily practice of biblical Christianity that Scripture emphasizes.

God’s goal for the church has always been that Christians would be conformed to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29).  It is therefore no coincidence that the Bible says Scripture gives us “the knowledge of the Son of God to a mature man, the measure and stature which belongs to the fullness of Christ” (Eph. 4:13).  We have, consequently, “the mind of Christ” revealed in the New Testament (1 Cor. 2:16).

The “mind of Christ” is, however, not intended to be something that is  found only on the printed page.  We are to have Christ’s mind in us (Phil. 2:5). Paul’s prayer for brethren was that they would have Christ dwelling in their hearts by faith (Eph. 3:16-17; cf. Rom. 10:17).  Paul intended that every Christian would be a living epistle (2 Cor. 3:1-4)!

The “process” of this transformation is most significant.  We learn in the Bible that it is a daily walk with Christ that changes us from the inside out. We are to look to the Lord as the model or pattern for our change, “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18; cf. Rom. 12:1-2). In this process, we are to “in humility receive the word implanted,” and “prove ourselves doers of the word and not merely hearers” (Jas. 1:21-22).

Paul could well relate to this process of transformation for he was a zealous participant, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me” (Gal. 2:20).  Paul practiced what he preached and we must also realize that the preaching of this process of transformation was not a lesser concern—it was central to Paul’s message.

In Colossians 1:24-29 we find Paul relating the plan he used when  he  worked  with newly formed congregations.  We are more accustomed to thinking of Paul as a congregation starter.  However, we need to see the rest of the story—how Paul worked to bring congregations to maturity.  This methodology is vital to understanding our need for evangelism. Also, we need to understand that this method was not the exclusive method of Paul. Paul did not start the Colossian church; it was Epaphras. Nevertheless, Paul knew that the approach he took was the approach taken by all who would follow the Lord’s pattern.

Paul pointed out in this passage that Christ “in” a Christian was a believer’s hope of glory (Col. 1:27).  Paul saw his ministry to the saved as being one of presenting them “complete in Christ” (Col. 1:28).  It was for that very purpose that Paul would “labor and strive” (Col. 1:29). This work or labor of developing Christ in a Christian was what Paul engaged in after he planted a church (cf. Acts 20:17-35).

This plan that Paul pursued with such diligence is reflected in his striking remarks to the churches of Galatia.  The brethren in Galatia were being led astray by Judaizing teachers who sought to take them into a legalistic, Old Testament oriented manifestation of Christianity. Paul knew that the brothers and sisters only real hope was in bringing them to maturity in Christ.  His words still ring with passion, “My children, with whom I am again in labor until Christ is formed in you” (Gal. 4:19).

Paul well understood that if the Christian life was to be lived successfully, people had to be brought to maturity.  The maturing process would not only provide great preventive medicine against false teachers and false doctrine; it would equip the saints for their work of service (Eph. 4:12-15).

It is with the most positive aspect of Christianity, Christ-likeness, that we find the Bible’s central teaching about evangelism.  As we “grow up in all things unto Him who is the head, even Christ” (Eph. 4:15), one of those “things” is most certainly evangelism.  As we become more like Jesus, we become better able to relate to the lost in Jesus’ own way and as suggested by the Great Commission, “as you are going” (Matt. 28:18-20).

In taking this look at the way of Christ concerning evangelism, we must be careful to understand the seriousness of reviving this vital pattern.  We would be most remiss if we saw the value of the pattern for first becoming a Christian, organizing the church, and worshipping God under the authority of Jesus, but did not esteem God’s pattern for evangelism.

Even as Moses was instructed by God to “make all things according to the pattern” (Heb. 8:5), so we must give “much greater attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it” (Heb. 2:1).  There is a great need for the church to return to God’s pattern for evangelism!

The Christ-Centered Evangelistic Plan

The New Testament pattern for evangelism is what the church needs. This pattern centers in personal Christ-likeness.  All through the record of the New Testament the church is constantly and passionately admonished to live in a manner compatible to the nature of Christ.  That is what walking in the light and fellowship are all about.  “If we walk in the light as He, Himself is in the light; we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son, cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7).

Consider the wisdom of this plan.  Who could do a better job with God’s work than a person conformed in a mature way to the image of Jesus?  Is there a better plan than that?  Of course not!

There could be no better way of conducting the Father’s business.  Whether the service to God would involve benevolence, edification or evangelism, the best way to conduct the business of God is to do it as Christ would do it.  Jesus’ entire earthly mission was followed by a singular devotion to the will of the Father (John 4:34; 5:30; 6:38; 8:28; 12:49; 14:10).  We cannot do no better than to follow His example.

As we come to see the significance of the Christ-centered New Testament plan, we come to see certain well-known teachings in a broader light.  For instance, consider the Bible’s teachings on Christ as the head of the church (Eph. 1:22; 4:15; 5:23; Col. 1:18; 2:19; I Cor. 11:3).  We realize that this means that there is only one head and thus only one church.  This is devastating to modern denominationalism, but there is more to this teaching than just what it rules out.  There is much here that is ruled in.

By studying the headship of Christ as it relates to the need for the church to practice biblical evangelism, we might readily think of a number of applications.  One example is how a body cannot function unless it receives instructions from the head.  Likewise, the church cannot carry out God’s will unless it understands the thinking of the head, Christ.  Without a strong connection to Jesus, the church is capable of only spasmodic movements that cannot accomplish God’s purpose.

Remember the slogan for the United Negro College Fund, “A mind is a terrible thing to waste”?  That memorable phrase has an application to our subject.  The church has been given the mind of Christ (I Cor. 2:16) and each Christian is to take up that mind (Phil. 2:5).  What a waste it would be if Christians looked to themselves and their own devices in evangelism, rather than to the thinking of Christ.

Another thing in this evangelistic rethinking of ours concerns Christ as the Master Teacher.  We readily acknowledge that Jesus is the master teacher, the greatest teacher that ever lived.  Are we, however, really using what we know about Him in our evangelistic efforts? To what extent are our evangelistic patterns compatible with the practices of Jesus? Do we traditionally begin with a first look at the Christ, or at something steps removed?

What we do learn from Jesus is unmistakably that He did not have any one-size-fits-all method.  While He was always seeking to get people to arrive at the same place,  His methods were as numerous as the people, circumstances and situations He faced.  The truth never changed, but the way Jesus addressed the many conditions He encountered was forever changing. Is that not one of the main reasons we call Him the “Master Teacher”?

I realize that Jesus’ approach requires maturity and growth before a Christian would be able to go at personal evangelism in such a flexible way.  I also know that the various program methods available can be helpful in getting us to a more confident, mature, flexible approach.  However, I even more significantly know that we rarely give priority to the flexible teaching example of Christ.  We speak of Christianity being a lifestyle; yet rarely see the obvious connection with evangelism being a lifestyle.  We might go as far as to say that Christianity is God’s plan for evangelism just as it is for everything else.

Methods can easily get us in a rut.  A thing that might help us to grow can, at times, actually become a crutch. Studies have shown that the most effective means of study is one person sitting across the table from another with an open Bible between them.  Good, old-fashioned Bible studies that use the Bible as the “equipment” not to mention Jesus sanctified in the heart as the always ready as you are going “method.”

One more thing about the Jesus emphasis, and this might be the most important benefit of all.  As we come to know Him better we will grow in our love for Him. When all has been said, the conclusion of this and all things Christian is this.  If we love Jesus, we will keep His commandments (Jn. 14:15, 23; 2 Cor. 5:14-15)! Good bye apathy, hello Christ motivated life!

Conclusion

Brethren, the need for evangelism is great, but evangelism needs to be understood by first listening to God.  The slower, less sensational way of the New Testament is to be chosen over a  “quick fix.”  We of all people who stand for  Pattern Theology should make every effort to get back to the Bible to learn the old way of evangelism.

“Thus says the Lord, ‘Stand by the ways and see and ask for the ancient paths, where the good way is, and walk in it!” (Jer. 6:16a).

Edwin has been active in a wide variety of ministries for almost fifty years.  Currently he serves the Lehman Avenue congregation in Bowling Green, KY, and is director of the Commonwealth Bible Academy (CBAKY.com).

 

Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ — Robert Bedenbaugh, Jr.

It has been said, “One who studies only the Bible doesn’t know much about it.” This statement recognizes the fact that we are so greatly removed from the original languages. Even what we can read “in black and white” is just a translation and “some things do get lost in translation.” Conversely “commentaries written by men are just that” and not the Word of God. I admit at times, early in life, I blindly disregarded God’s Word because reading and understanding modern human writings was an easier choice compared to following 2 Timothy 2:15.

Instead, consider supplementing your personal Bible study with reference books of the original language: dictionaries, concordances, lexicons, and the like. Any human comment(ary) must refer back to God’s Word or it is opinion. Discern what God meant by where, how, and in what context He used words versus what someone says He meant.

As we explore our topic, we will consider both words, Lord and Savior, their generic and specifically divine uses, and introduce another word that may help blend the two together and clarify our understanding of His role as both our Lord and our Savior.

Jesus Christ, Our Lord (Romans 1:4)

The word kurios, translated “lord,” may also be translated as “master” when referring to one who is in control of another person (Acts 16:16-19; Eph. 6:5-9) and “sir” in situations of cordial politeness (John 4:11-19, 49; 5:7). It is also used and typically translated “lord” when referring to an owner of a thing. Each references, at its root, the ultimate power to control the fate of a person or thing.

Jesus is referred to as the Lord of inanimate objects. He’s Lord of the Sabbath (Matt. 12:1-8,; Mark 2:23-28; Luke 6:1-5). Since He and His Father are One (John 10:30), He is also Lord of heaven and earth (Matt. 11:25; Luke 10:21; Acts 17:24) and Lord of the harvest (Matt. 9:38; Luke 10:2). None of these come as a surprise since He is Lord of everything that exists (Ps. 24:1; John 1:3; 1 Cor. 8:6).

Neither is it a surprise that He is Lord of His people, since they are His (Rom. 12:13; 1 Cor. 6:2). In fact, He is Lord of all people (Acts 10:36; Phil. 2:11) even of those that are called lords (1 Tim. 6:15; Rev. 17:14; 19:16). Incidentally, what comes to mind when you hear “Jesus is Lord of lords”? Replace the word “Lord” with any of our definitions. He is Master of masters. He is Controller of controllers. He is in control of those who are in control. He decides the fate of those who decide fates. He is Lord of lords…and King of kings or Ruler of those who rule and reigns over those who reign.

But our topic says “our Lord.” Is He? There are two answers to this question because there are two points of view, one objective and one subjective. If we stand back and view our relationship with Him as the Creator and the Creation, then absolutely yes, He is everyone’s Lord as we noticed earlier (Acts 10:36; Phil. 2:11). He is Lord of all and one day all will admit that fact. Yet if we consider our personal relationship with Him, and ask, “Is Jesus my Lord?”, there may be a different answer. We’re given the opportunity in this life to voluntarily submit to Him and have Him as our Lord (Josh. 24:14-24). We can choose to do otherwise and often we all do fail to submit to Him and allow our lives to be mastered, controlled, and owned by Him.

Some years back, I saw a little skit exemplifying this very thing. The stage was the life of a little girl and in the middle of the stage was a throne. As the skit began, she was on the throne of her life and various individuals would come on stage representing friends and acquaintances, each putting her in different situations. She was in charge and did what she willed. Shortly, one friend actually brought in another friend whose name was Jesus. Jesus and the little girl were introduced and the friend helped the little girl understand who Jesus was, what He had done, what He offered the little girl, and what He required (Matt. 7:21). Essentially, He wanted to sit on the throne of her life. She agreed, got down out of the throne and Jesus sat down becoming her master.

Friends and acquaintances continued to come.  In each situation, she’d ask Jesus what she should do. She would obey, even if she didn’t like His answer. Her friends wouldn’t understand her choices and might ridicule her but she obeyed. As the situations became more intense, she began to argue with Jesus and even try to squeeze herself into the throne with Jesus. At the climax, she shoved Jesus out of the throne of her life and she sat down. She was back in charge. Jesus stood up from the floor, dusted Himself off, and simply asked her, “What are you doing?”

Brothers and sisters, have you ever been there?  Have you ever been at a point where you could imagine that Jesus was asking you, “What are you doing?” Maybe you’re there now. Maybe you’re in that far off country eating pig slop. Someone is waiting for you. Come to your senses and do yourself a favor.  Go home and be willing to owned. Instead, you’ll actually be treated like family (Luke 15:11-24).

Is He your Lord? Objectively, He is whether you like it or not and one day you’ll admit that He is Lord. Subjectively, only you and He know the answer. If He isn’t on the throne of your life, get out of His way and let Him be your Master, your Controller, your Lord.

Jesus Christ, Our Savior (Titus 1:4)

The word soter, translated “savior,” is defined as just that, a savior, a deliverer, a preserver. At that, I think of a life preserver without which we would lose our spiritual life, drowning in sin and its consequences. Maybe you think of something else but roll those words over in your mind and get a good picture of the act of saving. In case that were not enough of a word picture, we look beyond the word to its root.

So often we learn more about a given word by researching its etymology. The noun soter has its root in the verb sozo which is defined as “to save” but also “to make well,” “to restore to health or heal,”, and “to make whole.” Hopefully the analogies are obvious. Jesus Christ, our Savior makes us well from the disease of sin, restores and heals our sin-sick soul, and makes our spiritual life whole again.

He is Savior in both His accolades and in His actions. Let’s observe His accolades as Savior. He is the promised Savior (Acts 13:23), the Savior of His body, the church (Eph. 5:23), and, as pointed about above, the Savior of the world (John 4:42, 1 John 4:14). Even His human name, Jesus, means savior, deliverer, and rescuer (Matt. 1:21). Let’s also notice His actions as Savior. He gives repentance and forgiveness of sins (Acts 5:31), abolishes death and brings life and immortality (2 Tim. 1:10), and is the medium through whom God richly poured out His Holy Spirit (Tit. 3:4-6).

Without any of these facts about or deeds done by Jesus Christ, He would not be our Savior because we would not be saved, nor made well or whole, nor restored to health or healed. He is the Savior of the world because all humanity has the opportunity to have this salvation (Tit. 2:11) but He is, most affectionately, pictured as the Savior of His people (Matt. 1:21; 23:37).

Let’s stay with our last reference (Matt. 23:37), where Christ says He longed to gather the children of Jerusalem as a hen gathers her chicks under her wing. Google images of a hen with her brood. That’s the picture Christ is sharing. He, with arms out-stretched, gathers, covers, and protects those who are His family, or at least He wants to. He desires to self-sacrificingly suffer by sheltering those He loves so dearly, but He is brought to tears by those who “were not willing.”

Are there benefits to being “gathered” to the Savior of the world? Certainly so. There is fellowship with Him and the Father (1 John 1:3). There is life in the light without darkness (John 8:12; 12:44-46; 1 John 1:5-7) but with godliness and contentment (1 Tim. 6:6-10). And just as we see in Matthew 23:37, there is a family (Eph. 2:19-22; Gal. 6:10; 1 Tim. 3:14-15).

Have you been gathered to Christ? Are you gently nestled close to Him…or have you been unwilling? Only in Him who is the fullness of the deity (Col. 2:9) can every spiritual blessing be found (Eph. 1:3). He invites each of us as a group and individually to come to Him (Matt. 11:28-30).

Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ

It is interesting that these exact words are only found three times and each is in the book of 2 Peter (1:11; 2:20; 3:18). Paul does mention the idea once and so does Jude to some degree, but only Peter pens “κυρίου ἡμῶν καὶ σωτῆρος Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.” But before we comment on that, let’s have a few thoughts on inspiration.

I would never argue against the fact that all scripture is God-breathed (2 Tim. 3:16) and I, in no way, acknowledge or subscribe to neither dynamic inspiration nor limited inspiration. However, it is noteworthy that each pen-wielder of our New Testament has a personal style. The elite education of Paul can be seen in the letters he penned (large compound words and long sentences) and likewise for John and his lack of formal education (small words and short sentences, yet just as profound). Luke, the physician, has his personality revealed as well. We also have Peter, who, by inspiration, openly admitted that some things Paul wrote were hard to understand (2 Pet. 3:16).

Peter, like John, came from a simple life and was promised to be transformed from a “human who fished” into one who “fished for humans” (Luke 5:10).  His is the only pen that writes “our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ,” and only three times in only one letter.  Why him and no one else?  I’m not sure that question can be answered this side of eternity, but let it suffice to say that all scripture is God-breathed and the roles of both Lord and Savior are not contradictory but complementary in every way.

The Good Shepherd (John 10)

It seems the roles described separately by the terms Lord and Savior may come together in the role of Shepherd. Jesus shows the Good Shepherd is Lord of the sheep because He owns them (John 10:14) and He even calls them “My sheep” (v. 27). Jesus also indicates that the Good Shepherd is Savior of the sheep because He lays down His life for them (vs. 11, 15) and provides life to them (v. 28).

Consider Psalm 23:1-3 where David wrote of the responsibilities of a shepherd as fulfilled by God. He, as Lord, commands His sheep making them to lie down and leading them. He, as Savior, provides His sheep with that which is required for life (still waters and green pastures) and even restores their very soul.

I close by asking the reader to examine Ezekiel 34 and notice the word pictures God uses of how His sheep were being treated and how He would treat them, being their master and their healer. Also recall the parable of the lost sheep and the risk the Shepherd takes and the care He provides (Luke 15:4-6) all because of His compassion for them (Matthew 9:36). Our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, truly is the Good Shepherd.

Robert worships at the Seneca Church of Christ in Seneca, SC, with his wife, Heather, and their daughter, Savannah.

 

 

 

“Jesus Is Lord”, A Controversial Phrase — Caleb Colley

Christians love to say and sing the words “Jesus is Lord,” because the phrase is a summary statement of biblical faith. It affirms not only that there is a God, but that the Person of Christ, has visited Earth as Jesus, the Son of Man, and has sacrificed Himself for the sins of the world (Jn. 3:16-17). “Jesus is Lord” is also a basic affirmation of Christ’s exclusive authority over all things on Earth, as He affirmed: “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Mt. 28:18; cf. Ph. 2:9-11). To say that “Jesus is Lord” is to imply that Hindu and Buddhist gods have no authority, that Muhammed has no authority, and that no other supposed gods have authority.

“Jesus is Lord” is a short, simple, beautiful phrase. It contains the basic content of the confession that everyone makes in obeying the gospel (Ro. 1:9; cf. 1 Co. 12:3). And yet, this phrase is becoming more controversial.

The Sydney Morning Herald reports that the student union of the University of Sydney, in Australia, has threatened to revoke its recognition from one particular religious student group, because the religious group centers around Jesus. Since 1998, the religious group has required its members to sign that they believe “Jesus is Lord.” This policy has offended the student union, which now threatens to deprive the religious group of access to university facilities and membership fees. Ironically, the union is using anti-discrimination policies in order to discriminate against the more than 200 students who require belief in Jesus for membership in their religious group.

In the early Christian centuries, many lost their lives because they were committed to the reality that “Jesus is Lord.” Stephen, the first Christian martyr, accused the murderous Jews of killing “The Righteous One,” Jesus, and they stoned him for it (Ac. 7:52-60). Polycarp, a personal friend and pupil of the apostle John, was martyred after refusing to deny Christ. He famously said, “Eighty-six years have I have served him, and he has done me no wrong. How can I blaspheme my King and my Savior?”1.

As culture becomes more secular, it will be more controversial to sweeten our lips with the name of Christ. Nevertheless, we will never stop confessing our Savior (Mt. 10:32-33).

http://www.calebcolley.com

1Philip Schaff, A History of the Christian Church (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1891), 2:52

Jesus and the Quran – Stewart Schnur

We need to understand what the perspective of our Savior is according to the writings of the Quran, the Islamic Holy Book. Our faith centers around Christ and their faith centers around Muhammad and the words of the Quran that others wrote down after Muhammad’s death. Only among Christians is Jesus seen as the Son of God.

We Christians know little about Muhammad and Muslims know little about the Jesus of the Bible. Jesus is given a somewhat distorted and piecemeal presence in the Quran. Seeing there are some 31 verses out of 6666 verses (called ayets in the Quran) that speak of Jesus, we can become familiar with these verses and begin here to teach them the rest of the story about Jesus. In our New Testament we find the word Jesus on every page. It is interesting to bring to their attention that Muhammad is mentioned only five times in their Quran.

I list for you the 31 verses from the Quran that speak of Jesus: 2:87, 136, 253; 3:3, 45, 52, 55, 59, 84; 4:157, 163, 171; 5:46, 78, 110, 112, 114, 116; 6:85; 19:32-35; 33:7; 42:13; 43:57, 61, 63; 57:27; 61:6, 14

When you have an opportunity to study with a Muslim I suggest you become somewhat familiar with their limited understanding of Jesus.

Jesus is spoken of as “a word from Him/Allah and his name will be Christ/Messiah Jesus the son of Mary” (3:45). For us, “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God” (Jn. 1:1), and that Word became flesh (Jn. 1:17).

Jesus and Muhammad speak of the same prophets of God. “We believe in God, and in what was revealed to Abraham, Ishmael, Isaac, Jacob, and the Tribes and in (the Books) given to Moses Jesus, and the Prophets” (3:84).

Jesus did find unbelief on their part and said: “Who will be my helpers to (the work of) Allah? Said the Disciples: “We are Allah’s helpers: We believe in Allah, And do thou bear witness that we are Muslims” (3:55). So Muslims believe Jesus and His disciples were Muslims.

Jesus is a model of virtue. 43:57 and 43:63 says, “When Jesus came With Clear Signs, he said: ‘Now have I come To you with Wisdom, And in order to make Clear to you some Of the (points) on which Ye dispute; Therefore fear Allah AND OBEY ME.’” A question here we can ask Muslims is, “Do you know Jesus’ commands? Our Jesus does say, ‘If you love Me keep My commandments’ (Jn. 14:15). What are Jesus’s commandments?”

The Quran says Christ Jesus was not killed or crucified in (4:157). This then denies a core belief of ours that Christ in shedding His blood at the cross made full payment for sins of the faithful to the one true God. They do believe that Jesus like Elijah and Enoch ascended into heaven (3:55; 4:158). They believe Allah purposefully deceived people into thinking Christ was killed and crucified. Our question must be, “Why would Allah want such a deception?” Some Muslims conjecture Judas or Simon who carried the cross for Jesus was placed on the cross.

Furthermore, we are not filled with doubts about Christ’s death and crucifixion as we have multiple prophecies and witnesses of this event. Muslims, like the Jews, do not believe God would allow the Messiah to die the death of a criminal. These have not read Isaiah 53. Since they do not believe Jesus died they do not believe He was resurrected from the dead, which to us is the final approval of Christ and His work from the Father.

The concept of Trinity is clearly spoken against in Surah 4:171 and 5:73. Here again we must make it clear that we believe in one God who for our needs chooses to reveal Himself to us as three persons and not three Gods. In Surah 5:116 Allah will ask Jesus if he has said for people to worship him and his mother (Mary). During Muhammad’s time Mariolatry was developing and Muhammad was influenced by this erroneous thinking.

Jesus did miracles as evidence of His bond with God and Muhammad did none. In Surah 5:110 Jesus is credited with the alleged miracles of speaking in infancy and giving life to a clay bird. The Quran and the Bible in this passage acknowledge Jesus did heal those born blind and the lepers and did resurrect the dead.

It is affirmed in the Bible and Quran that Jesus was born of a virgin and this miraculous birth was to be a sign (19:21). Jesus in the cradle tells his family Allah had made him a prophet (19:29-30).

These are some basic things we need to understand about a Muslim as we teach them more perfectly the way of the truth.

stewarteschnur@yahoo.com

Christians and Government – Brock Harwigsen

How should Christians interact with government?  The Jehovah’s Witnesses teach that Christians are to have no interaction at all.  They teach that Christians should not vote, should not participate in national holidays, such as 4th of July and Memorial Day, and that Christians should not even pledge allegiance to the flag.

Others not only condone voting, participating in holidays and pledging the flag, but they also take money out of their church treasuries to directly support political candidates running for office or to support political causes.  Some denominational preachers in the name of Jesus and justice lead protests and demonstrations for or against government and its policies.

Who is right?  Who is wrong?  What should a Christian do when it comes to his involvement with civil government?  As with any other question about what should a Christian do, the answer is to follow Jesus’ example.  After all, to be a Christian means to be a follower of Jesus.  Christians can’t go wrong if they will but follow Jesus’ example.

Two World Sectors

Before we look at Jesus to see how He interacted with civil government, we need to recognize two world sectors ordained by God.  The first and most important sector is the religious or spiritual sector.  This sector is the Kingdom of God, i.e., the church.  Jesus is the head of this sector.  Jesus told Pilate, “My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence” (John 18:36).

The second sector ordained by God is world governments.  The second time Jesus was brought before Pilate, before His crucifixion, Jesus affirmed that civil government gets its authority from God (John 19:10-11).  Paul by inspiration taught the same thin in Romans 13:1-7.  “Let every soul be subject unto the highest powers.  For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.”  In verses 4 and 6 Paul wrote the civil authorities are actually ministers/servants of God.

Sadly, there have been a lot of civil governments down through the ages and holders of authority in these civil governments that did not know or did not care that they were God’s servants.  The same can be said for most if  not all governments today.  There have been and there are many rulers and governments that in no way, manner, shape or form resembled anything Christian or good.  Their actions don’t change the fact that they were and are still God’s servants and God will hold them accountable in the end for not behaving properly as His servants.

Everybody who holds an office in government or is thinking about running to hold an office in government, be it city, county, state or federal needs to understand that they first work for God adn then, here in American at least, they secondly work for the people they represent and last and least for the government.  Civil authorities need to heed the words that King Jehosaphat said to the judges of his day in 2 Chronicles 19:6-7.  “Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man, but for the Lord, who is with you in the judgment.  Wherefore now let the fear of the Lord be upon you; take heed and do it: for there is no iniquity with the Lord our God, nor respect of persons, nor taking of gifts.”

How Jesus Interacted

Now let’s look at how Jesus interacted with earthly government.  Most people are familiar with what Jesus said about paying taxes (Matt. 22:17-21).  Even though the Roman government used tax funds to build and maintain pagan temples and to support a conquering army that was suppressing the Jewish people, Jesus still said, “Pay your taxes.”  Jesus peacefully submitted to His arrest even though it was unjust and illegal.  Jesus was a radical, but He never led a riot, organized an underground movement nor criticized civil government.  Jesus never took part in the Jewish movement against Rome.  He never offered Himself as an advocate against society on behalf of many innocent victims of social injustice.  Jesus was not a revolutionary in any modern sense of the word.  He respected civil authority.  But, he caused the greatest revolution the world has ever seen.

Peter wrote, “Submit unto every ordinance” (1 Pet. 2:13f).  Paul wrote that civil authorities were “ordained of God” and were “ministers of God” (Rom. 13:1-7).  There is no hint in the New Testament or early church history of Christians ever organizing to change or nullify civil laws.

Some ask, “But what about unjust laws and government treatment?”  Jesus’ arrest and His trial were unjust and illegal, but He did not protest.  We consider slavery unjust and unChristian.  But, in the book of Philemon Paul tells Onesimus, Philemon’s runaway slave and new convert, to return to his slave master.  Christianity put an end to slavery not with civil disobedience, but by conversion.

What should a Christian’s relation to the government be like?  Like Christ we must obey and submit.  We, however, must disobey if we are commanded to disobey God.  “Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye” (Acts 4:19-20).

Can Christians speak out against corrupt government officials? Yes, but it must be done in a legal and orderly way.  Can Christians vote?  Yes.  In fact, voting is one way Christians are to be “the salt of the earth” and a “light of the world,” one way Christians can influence society in an orderly and civil manner, as Jesus tells us in Matthew 5:13-16.  Christians can be a positive influence for good by their votes.  Can Christians run for and hold political office?  Yes.  Who would want only the most despicable among us to seek and hold public office?

The Bible does not say that all governments will be Christians, that all laws will be just, that all laws will be fair, there will be no prejudicial laws.  But the Bible does say we are to follow Jesus’ example and Jesus never spoke out against or disobeyed civil laws.  Jesus did not rebel, protest, or fight against and outside of the law.  We need to remember Paul’s warning: “Whosoever, therefore, resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation” (Rom. 13:2).  Christians need to be law abiding citizens who work inside the law to make their country a better place.                                                 stantonchurchofchrist@mindspring.com