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Two Minutes With The Bible

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#1081
nChrist

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The Truth Of Christ
by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam


    “As the truth of Christ is in me…” (II Cor. 11:10).

How often St. Paul, in his letters, speaks with an oath! “God is my witness” (Rom. 1:9), “As God is true” (II Cor. 1:18 ), “Behold, before God, I lie not” (Gal. 1:20), “God is my record” (Phil. 1:8 ), “I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not” (I Tim. 2:7), etc., etc.

As Dean Howson has said: “When Paul makes a solemn statement under the sense of God’s presence, he does not hesitate to express this.”

But had not others spoken under the sense of God’s presence? Of course they had, yet Paul calls God to witness far more often than any other Bible writer. Why is this? The answer is found in the distinctive character of Paul’s ministry as the apostle of “the mystery.” John the Baptist, the four evangelists and the twelve apostles did not need to speak with oaths since they proclaimed that which had already been prophesied. But with Paul it was different. Separate from the twelve, who were widely known as the apostles of Christ, Paul had been raised up to make known a wonderful secret which God had kept hidden from all who had gone before. While not a contradiction of prophecy, this secret had nevertheless not been prophesied; it was a new revelation. Hence it was appropriate that the Apostle should insist again and again that he wrote as in the presence of God.

As we consider Paul’s oaths, however, we must ask ourselves whether anyone ever used the oath with more solemn sincerity. Did anyone ever suffer so intensely for the truths he proclaimed, or pay so dearly to convince others of them? Could anyone say with such simplicity to those who knew him best:

    “Ye know… after what manner I have been with you at all seasons, serving the Lord with all humility of mind, and with many tears and temptations [testings]… and how I kept back nothing that was profitable unto you…” (Acts 20:18-20).



#1082
nChrist

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What Is Saving Faith?
by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam


“What saith the Scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him for righteousness” (Rom. 4:3).

The Apostle Paul uses the above quotation from Genesis 15:6 to prove that “to him that worketh not, but believeth on Him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness” (Rom. 4:5).

It is wonderful that God does not require — indeed, does not permit — human works for salvation, but only faith. But the question is: What is faith? What kind of believing saves?

There is no indication in Scripture that “the gospel of the grace of God” or “the preaching of the cross” was proclaimed to Abraham. We must go back to the passage which Paul quotes to see what Abraham believed. Genesis 15:5 says:

    “And [God] took [Abraham] forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell [count] the stars, if thou be able to number [count] them: and He said unto him, So shall thy seed be.”

It is this simple, wonderful promise about the multiplication of Abraham’s seed which is followed with the words: “And he believed in the Lord; and He counted [reckoned] it to him for righteousness” (Ver. 6). We do not mean to imply that this was the first expression of Abraham’s faith, for in Hebrews 11:8 we read:

    “By faith Abraham, when he was called to go out into a place which he should after receive for an inheritance, obeyed; and he went out, not knowing whither he went.”

This took place considerably before the Genesis 15 incident and we are specifically told that through his faith he “obtained a good report” (Heb. 11:2).

From all this it is clear that Abraham believed what God told him and was counted righteous — as we now know, through a redemption still to be wrought by Christ. We, now, must believe what God tells us — and this is nothing less than the account of the all-sufficient finished work of Christ, wrought in our behalf, on Calvary’s cross.

    “[He] was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification” (Rom. 4:25).



#1083
nChrist

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What We Believe
by Pastor Paul M. Sadler


Scripture Reading:

    “Who also hath made us able ministers of the New Testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”
    – II Corinthians 3:6

We have been hearing from a good number of our readers who are confused, perplexed and even concerned over the doctrine of the New Covenant. Apparently there are a number of strange teachings floating around the Grace Movement on this subject, which has given rise for alarm among some of the brethren.

It is our firm conviction that the Body of Christ falls under the umbrella of the New Covenant. Paul clearly teaches in Romans that we are partakers of Israel’s spiritual blessings (Rom. 15:27 cf. Eph. 1:3-14). There is absolutely no possibility that this could refer to anything other than the New Covenant. One thing that should never be overlooked, however, is the fact that Israel received it by promise whereas we are the glad recipients of it by grace (Jer. 31:31 cf. Titus 2:11).

As we know, one of the principal blessings of the New Covenant is the blood of Christ. This particular element can never be divorced from the covenant nor should it be. We have often said that if the Body of Christ has no connection to this covenant whatsoever, then our Savior must return a second time to die for the Gentiles. To us this is unthinkable. Christ died “once for all” (Heb. 10:9-12). Furthermore, the New Covenant shows that there is a connection between the two programs of God which highlights His eternal purpose. Surely, He is Lord of all.

Who could fail to see that Paul charges us to remember the blood of this covenant until the Lord comes: “This cup is the New Testament [Covenant] in my blood: this do ye… in remembrance of me. For as often as ye [Members of His Body] eat this bread and drink this cup, ye do show the Lord’s death till He come” (I Cor. 11:23-26).



#1084
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Forgiven
by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam


    “We have… the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7).

The climax of Paul’s first recorded sermon is reached in Verses 38 and 39 of Acts 13, where he declares:

    “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this Man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:

    “And by Him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses.”

Thus God, through Christ, forgives and justifies those who believe. Nor is this all that was accomplished for us by the death of Christ at Calvary. There is also reconciliation, baptism by the Spirit into Christ and His Body, a position at God’s right hand in the heavenlies and all spiritual blessings there.

“The forgiveness of sins” must come first, however, and the above passage assures us that in Christ we have this — not barely, but “according to the riches of His grace.” Indeed, the next verse continues: “wherein He hath abounded toward us…”

Thus Eph. 2:2-7 declares that though we were once “the children of disobedience,” and therefore “by nature the children of wrath,” “God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love wherewith He loved us” has given us life and raised us from the dead, exalting us to “heavenly places in Christ…” His purpose in all this? “That in the ages to come He might show the exceeding riches of His grace in His kindness toward us through Christ Jesus” (Verse 7).

When God forgives us He no longer sees us in our poor selves, but in Christ, who took our place, dying for our sins on Calvary’s cross. There He hung in our place that we might now stand in His — “complete in Him” (Col. 2:10).



#1085
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Don't Tell Him A Thing
by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam


Many years ago the writer’s father, then a city missionary, received a telephone call from a prominent liberal clergyman.

“Peter,” said the clergyman, “I’ve got a young man here in the outer office who seems to be in great distress. He says he feels he’s so great a sinner that he’s overstepped the line and God won’t forgive him. Now you’ve had a lot of experience with such people. What shall I tell him?” The clergyman didn’t even know how to help a troubled soul.

“Don’t tell him a thing; I’ll be right over ,” said dad, and he left immediately to deal with the young man himself. Dad knew very well what was the matter with this young lad. The Holy Spirit had convicted him of his sin (John 16:8 ). The lad had come to see himself as he really was — as God saw him, and sees any unsaved person, no matter how religious.

No person ever comes to see his need of a Savior until he has first come to see himself as a condemned sinner before God. And it is only when we come to see ourselves as we are in the sight of a holy God that there is hope of salvation.

The self-righteous do not see their need of a Savior. What would He save them from? What have they done that is so wrong? This is the way their reasoning goes. It is only when we begin to appreciate the holiness and righteousness of God that it dawns upon us that our condition is hopeless without a Savior.

Strange, is it not, that so many people have pictures hanging on their walls of our Lord crowned with thorns or hanging on a cross, yet do not really know Him as a Savior, their own Savior.

But when we have been convicted of our sin and our hopeless condition before God, we are ready to take in the words spoken by Paul to the trembling jailor at Philippi:

    “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).



#1086
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More Than Conquerors
by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam


Two boys fight in a back alley. Fists fly. Shouts go up from the other youngsters standing by. “Give it to ‘im! Let ‘im have it!”

Finally one of the two struts away with an arrogant bearing, head and shoulders wagging. He has won!

But has he? Look at him. He has a bloody nose, a black eye and welts on his face and arms. And if looks could kill he wouldn’t even be alive, for while his friends shout his praises, the boy he has beaten gives him a look that says: “Just wait.” He has not won anything except, perhaps, a bitter and lasting enemy.

So it is with the wars that nations wage against each other. Necessary as it sometimes becomes to defend our liberties, our homes, our way of life, by force of arms, seldom does any nation actually win the war. Rather all lose, even the “victors,” as in their “victories” they sow the bitterness and hate which are the seeds of future wars.

It is different, however, with “the good fight of [the] faith,” for the Christian may come out of every battle stronger than when he went in. Only the Christian can say with regard to the heartaches and disappointments, the difficulties and obstacles, that cross his path: “In all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us” (Rom. 8:37).

During Paul’s busy ministry for Christ he suffered a painful “thorn in the flesh,” and “besought the Lord thrice” that it might be taken away. The Lord did not see fit to remove the thorn, but answered Paul:

    “My grace is sufficient for thee, for My strength is made perfect in weakness” (II Cor. 12:9).

Paul’s response:

    “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me… for when I am weak, then am I strong” (Vers. 9,10).

Let all go well, and we are prone to grow careless in our Christian lives. Adversity, on the other hand, makes Christians lean the harder and pray the more — and therein lies their strength and their victory.



#1087
nChrist

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The Hope of Glory
by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam


We are taught in Romans 5 that the believer in Christ receives justification, peace with God, access to God and the “hope,” or anticipation, of sharing His glory some day. God wants His children to enjoy this coming glory by faith, to live in eager anticipation of it.

How much there is to humiliate us in this life! God created man in His own image and likeness, but man sinned and fell from his exalted position. To Adam God said:

    “Cursed is the ground because of thee; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life.”

Since that dreadful day man’s life has been a constant struggle. Everything tends to go wrong rather than right. Each has his share of trouble, sorrow, sickness and then — death, the greatest humiliation of all, when in sickness and pain, or at best in utter weakness, he must give up this life itself.

Sin and the fall! This is what modern science and philosophy fail to face up to. Most popular scientists and philosophers today hold that man has come up from the slime pit and the ape to modern man; that man is improving all the time. But the truth of God’s Word is that man has fallen through sin and is growing worse morally and spiritually until now he can kill more of his fellowmen faster than he ever could before.

But it is this fact, this fact of sin and the fall that God has so graciously provided for. He took all the suffering and shame, paid all the penalty for our sins, and then rose from the dead so that we might rejoice in the hope, the eager anticipation, of glory to come!

As St. Peter puts it in I Pet. 1:3:

    “[He] hath begotten us again unto a living hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”



#1088
nChrist

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Wrath or Respite
by Pastor Ricky Kurth


When natural disasters such as hurricanes and tsunamis take their toll in death and destruction, many preachers insist these calamities are the result of the wrath of God on sin, pointing to such verses as Ephesians 5:6, where speaking of the sins of Verses 3-5, Paul says:

    “…for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.”

Since the Greek word for “cometh” here is in the present tense, we believe Paul is saying that while God’s wrath is coming, it hasn’t yet arrived. Consider: after the Lord announced that His betrayer was “at hand,” we read that “immediately… cometh Judas” (Mark 14:42,43). However, we know that Judas had not yet arrived, for Verse 45 tells us what happened “as soon as he was come.” You see, the word “cometh” means that something is presently on its way, but the word must be in the past tense for us to understand that whatever is coming has arrived.

While many preachers declared that Hurricane Katrina was God’s wrath on New Orleans for the debauchery of Mardi Gras, others surmised the catastrophe was rather an example of God’s mercy, for thousands more would have died had the levies broken during the storm rather than after. Herein lies the problem in determining what God is doing or not doing by trying to interpret circumstances, which are always subjective and open to speculation. The only sure way of knowing what God is doing is from the Word of God, and God’s Word tells us that the presence of even ten believers in New Orleans would have prevented God from destroying it (Gen. 18:23-33). And so while even insurance companies call tornadoes and earthquakes “acts of God,” the Bible asserts that we are living in the dispensation of grace (Eph. 3:2), an age in which God is dispensing grace, not wrath, an age in which mankind is experiencing a respite from His judgment.

But if the reader of this page is not saved, please don’t think you will get away with sin forever. Romans 2:5 describes you as one who “treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath.” You may not have an account with any bank, but you have a sin account with God. His wrath on your sin is not being revealed today, but the day of the “revelation of the righteous judgment of God” is coming. Why not “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).



#1089
nChrist

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A Spiritual Workout
by Pastor Kevin Sadler


    “Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling.  For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:12,13).

Perhaps you have seen the Christian slogan, “Exercise Daily.  Walk with the Lord!”  Essentially, that is what the Apostle Paul is calling for when he requests for the Philippians to “work out your own salvation.”  When Paul makes this statement, he has already acknowledged that he is writing to “saints” (Phil. 1:1), to believers who were positionally in Christ, set apart from sin and set apart to God.  Paul does not say to “work for your own salvation,” but to work “out” the salvation God had already given them.  Scripture is clear that salvation today is all of grace through faith, not of works, lest any man should boast (Eph. 2:8,9).  Salvation must first be worked in before it can be worked out.

The Philippians are instructed here by Paul to “work out,” to put into practice in their daily experience what God had wrought in them by His Spirit.  When we trust the all-sufficient provision made for us by Christ’s death and resurrection, salvation is worked in by the Spirit (Titus 3:5).  And salvation is worked out by the Spirit through our faith and obedience to God’s Word (Rom. 8:11).

Working out your salvation is about living the way you were saved: by grace through faith in Christ (Col. 2:6).  Salvation is found in a Person.  Christ is our salvation.  At the moment of trusting Him alone for our salvation, Christ’s life is in-worked in us.  Paul says in Colossians 1:27 that all who have trusted the Lord Jesus as their personal Savior have “Christ in you, the hope of glory.”  After salvation from sin’s penalty, God desires Christ’s life to be outworked practically in our lives, so others see His life in our life.  As we do so through the Spirit’s power, by the Word, in faith, we work out our own salvation and our lives will exhibit Christ-like attributes (cf. Gal. 5:22,23).  To work out our salvation is also to live in victory over sin in our daily lives, experiencing salvation over sin’s power by God’s resurrection power within, living righteously in the life and freedom we have in Christ (Rom. 6:1-13).

Verse 12 shows us there is human responsibility to our Christian lives as we are told to “work.”  Effort must be put into the Christian life, effort to grow, effort to know the Word, effort to pray, effort to serve, and effort to be in fellowship with others.  And Paul says that we are to work out our own salvation “with fear and trembling.”  These terms show us that the outworking of our salvation must be done realizing the seriousness of the Christian life in living before a lost and dying world.  We live “in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation [generation]” and God would have us shine brightly and boldly for Him “as lights in the world” (Phil. 2:15).  Working out our own salvation with fear and trembling also reminds us of our own weakness and inability to live the Christian life in our own strength.  We should rightly fear and distrust our own ability to meet God’s will and instruction.  We need to humbly trust in Him and not in ourselves to live godly lives.  By His power we work out our own salvation and can show Christ’s life in us.

Paul is talking about the believer’s practical, daily sanctification here and he shows both the believer’s responsibility and God’s role in it.  Verse 12 could not be carried out without the reality of verse 13.  We could never work out our own salvation and grow and mature to be more like Christ without God working in us.  God does not ask of us what we can’t do, and He Himself is our provision.  The Christian life is a process of “ins” and “outs.”  God works in and we work out.  As God works in us and we grow spiritually in Him and His Word and prayer, we then work out His life and light, serving Him and others.

I Thessalonians 2:13 says, “the Word of God…effectually worketh…in you that believe.”  God works in us by His Word, and changes our will and desires as we grow and apply it.  Our minds, attitude, priorities, worldview, and understanding of life are transformed by the Word of God.  Through it we learn to see the world through His eyes and feel with His heart.  As God works in us by the Word, His “will” becomes ours, and we will seek to “do” things of “His good pleasure” (Phil. 2:13).  And to will and do of God’s good pleasure is about “Look[ing] not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others” (Phil. 2:4).  God’s will and desire is for us to put the needs of others first, in love, like Christ did for us at the Cross (Phil. 2:5-8.).

In Ephesians 3:20, Paul writes, “Now unto Him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.”  Paul says the unlimited power by which Almighty God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask in prayer is the same power that works in us.  So there is no limit to what God can do in and through you and me.  As God works in us, He is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, or could ever conceive, or possibly imagine through you and me!



#1090
nChrist

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Birth, Death And Rebirth
by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam


St. Peter declares that to obtain eternal life we must be born again, since by nature we were born but to die.

    “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which liveth and abideth forever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth and the flower thereof falleth away. But the Word of the Lord endureth forever, and this is the Word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (I Pet. 1 :23-25).

Our Lord emphasized this same fact to the Pharisee Nicodemus. “That which is born of the flesh,” He said, “is flesh… Marvel not that I said unto thee, ye must be born again” (John 3:6,7).

Nicodemus was devoutly religious, and he even recognized Christ as “a teacher come from God” (John 3:2). But he was not saved. He had not been “born of the Spirit,” and “that which is born of the flesh is flesh,” even though it is “religious flesh.” Therefore it must die. Nicodemus, like many sincerely religious people today, needed to be born again — of the Spirit, by faith in the Word, of which the Spirit is the Author.

Some suppose that Paul did not teach the new birth, but they are wrong. He taught it consistently, and nowhere more clearly than in Titus 3:5, where he wrote by divine inspiration:

    “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration [re-birth] and renewing of the Holy Spirit.”



#1091
nChrist

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Conversation Peace
by Pastor Ricky Kurth


    “Only let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ: that whether I come and see you, or else be absent, I may hear of your affairs, that ye stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel” (Phil. 1:27).

Interestingly, whenever Paul uses the phrase “stand fast,” it is always to challenge people to stand fast in an area in which they were not standing fast! For instance, he tells the Corinthians to “stand fast in the faith” (I Cor. 16:13), for they had lost their faith in one of the fundamentals of the faith, the resurrection (I Cor. 15:12-50). He told the Galatians to “stand fast in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free” (Gal. 5:1) because they were forsaking grace for the law. He told the Thessalonians to “stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught” (II Thes. 2:15), especially the “tradition” of working for a living (3:7-12). The Thessalonians had become so excited about the Rapture that many of them quit their jobs in anticipation of the Lord’s coming!

But here in Philippians 1:27, Paul tells the Philippians to “stand fast in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel.” This is because two ladies in the church were quarreling (4:2), and some in the church were siding with Euodias and some with Syntyche. “Striving together” is the Greek word sunathleo. The prefix sun means together with, and athleo is the word from which we get athlete and athletics. Athletes are often teammates who must strive together to achieve a common victory, and this is what Paul was calling on the Philippians to do for the cause of Christ.

Notice Paul isn’t talking about faith in the gospel. The faith of the gospel is our faithfulness or fidelity to maintaining the gospel as God gave it, just as old “high-fi” or “high-fidelity” records claimed to be highly faithful to the sound recorded in the studio. We are to strive together to maintain fidelity to the gospel God gave to Paul.

Finally, Paul does not say we should strive with one another for the faith of the gospel. He rather says we should be striving “together” as those who see the fellowship of the mystery with those who don’t. With all the talk about “peace on earth”, how refreshing it would be if we could enjoy the “conversation peace” Paul longed to see in Philippi! (Psa. 133:1; Eph. 4:3).



#1092
nChrist

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He Gave Thanks
by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam


At the institution of the Lord’s Supper, as He took the bread and the wine, we read that he “gave thanks” (Matt.26: 26,27; Luke 22:19,20).

Surely on this occasion He did not give thanks for food supplied! He was handling the symbols of His broken body and His shed blood. How we would like to know just what He said at this solemn moment; just what He gave thanks for!

This we shall never know in this life, but there are some basic facts we do know.

It was for love for sinful men that He was to die. He was to pay their debt of sin, and He looked forward to the time when, not only redeemed Israel, but the redeemed of every nation and dispensation will rejoice in sins forgiven and all that this entails for them. As He “gave thanks” in view of Calvary, He will then rejoice at the results of Calvary. The overflowing joy that will be the portion of the redeemed will be a greater joy to Him.

Thus Paul’s words in Hebrews 12:2 give us cause to rejoice in true thanksgiving of our Lord’s finished work of redemption on Calvary cross:

    “Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”



#1093
nChrist

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What Shall We Do?
by Pastor Cornelius R. Stam


When John the Baptist appeared as Christ’s forerunner, God’s chosen people had lived under the law of Moses for fifteen hundred years but had not kept it. Hence John’s call to repentance and baptism for the remission of sins (Mark 1:4).

John was in earnest, too, for when the thoughtless multitude came to him to be baptized, he sent them back, saying: “Bring forth fruits worthy of repentance” (Luke 3:7,8.).

Their lives were to be changed and they were to show it.  When the people asked: “What shall we do, then?” he told them to live for others rather than for self (Luke 3:10,11). When the tax collectors asked: “What shall we do?” he demanded that they stop cheating the tax payers and live honestly (Vers. 12,13). When the soldiers asked: “What shall we do?” he told them to forbear violence, false accusation and bribery (Ver. 14).

Clearly, righteousness was demanded under John’s message. His hearers were to repent, be baptized, and bring forth the fruits of true repentance. When our Lord appeared, He proclaimed the same message as John (Matt. 3:1,2; 4:17). A lawyer asked: “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” and He replied: “What is written in the law?” When the lawyer recited the basic commands of the Law, our Lord answered: “This do and thou shalt live” (Luke 10:25-28.). God was still demanding righteousness. They were all under the Law (Gal. 4:4,5; Matt. 23:1,2; etc.).

Some suppose this was all changed after Calvary by the so-called “great commission.” This is not so. When, at Pentecost, Peter’s hearers were convicted of their sins and asked “What shall we do?” Peter commanded them to “repent and be baptized… for the remission of sins” just as John had done (Mark 1:4; cf. Acts 2:38.). He did not tell them that Christ had died for their sins.

Paul was the first to say: “But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested… [We] declare His righteousness for the remission of sins” (Rom. 3:21-26). When the Gentile jailor fell on his knees and asked: “What must I do to be saved?” Paul replied: “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:30,31). This is God’s message for sinners today, for “we have redemption through [Christ's] blood, the forgiveness of sins according to the riches of His grace” (Eph. 1:7).






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