So you want to be like Christ? – Part 2

mahatma_gandhi_religion_5335

Ghandi has a quote that is attributed to him, and I guess I have no reason to doubt he said it. It goes like this “I like your Christ. I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.” Isn’t that an interesting quote on so many levels?

First of all there is a lot of hypocrisy in this statement. Was Ghandi like Christ? Some people think he was. Ghandi, never professed to be a Christian, as far as I know, but he is saying that if more people acted like Christ, then it might work better for him. Sure, I suppose… But more importantly, I agree with him. I also disagree with him, but I’m not going to spend time showing why I disagree, because I think there is enough here for the point of this article as to why I agree with his quote.

As a reminder, I started this little series based on a discussion I had with a friend over the years on whether one should be a follower of Christ, or Christ like. I argued that if we don’t start by following Christ we will never strive to be like Him, and that most will never TRULY follow Christ. Many will profess to follow, but when the going gets hard, the hardened get going.

But back to Ghandi…

Ghandi claims that Christians are not like Christ, and I have a lot of agreement with him on this point, so, how are we that truly follow Christ to be like Him? Have we considered, from the Bible, what it means to be like Christ? Let’s look at just two ways that we are to be like Christ. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11:1 Imitate me as I imitate Christ. Paul understood the desire to be like Christ. He had a proper grasp on what was valuable, but he also knew what it meant to really imitate Christ.

Suffering

Jesus Christ suffered. And so did Paul.

Therefore do not be ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me His prisoner, but share with me in the sufferings for the gospel according to the power of God… – 2 Timothy 1:8 The Christian life and suffering should be synonymous, this is being like Christ and being like Paul.

Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. – Matthew 5:10

Yes, and all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. – 2 Timothy 3:12

For what credit is it if, when you are beaten for your faults, you take it patiently? But when you do good and suffer, if you take it patiently, this is commendable before God. For to this you were called, because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps: – 1 Peter 2:20-21

The suffering and patient endurance for the spread of the gospel should be a privilege for all Christians to share in. Did you get that? It’s a privilege to suffer for the sake of the gospel. Yet in modern Christianity suffering for the gospel probably means the air conditioning is out at your church, or the latte machine is broken.

We have no concept of what it means to suffer for the sake of the gospel, in some cases you might be marginalized or laughed at. If you do any sort of open air ministry you will most definitely be mocked, if you are preaching the true gospel, but rarely will you be beaten. At least not in this country. So I think that true biblical suffering is not readily experienced by most Christians, in fact it’s experienced by very few. However, I will offer some hope that the day is coming when the true elect of God will be revealed through the suffering of the church and it appears that day is not very far away. Do yourself a favor and begin to experience it now, so it won’t come upon you as some sort of surprise.

Preaching

From that time Jesus began to preach and to say, “Repent for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” – Matthew 4:17

Well now, that’s a little bit inconvenient for most of us. In a culture that likes to say “preach the gospel always and if necessary use words” this upsets the apple cart. The word “preach” literally means public proclamation.

The word κηρύσσω kērýssō is a word that carries force and gravity. It means that someone is confronted to make a decision about what they have heard. In fact it demands a decision, and it is a call to obey. In the days before newspapers, the nightly news, and the internet, the way a king would get his message to his subjects was through a herald. One that was sent to deliver the message of the king. He went into the town square and read publicly the message. The subjects were called to obey.

Now it came to pass, when Jesus finished commanding His twelve disciples, that He departed from there to teach and to preach in their cities. – Matthew 11:1

But He said to them, “Let us go into the next towns, that I may preach there also, because for this purpose I have come forth.” – Mark 1:38

And He (Christ) commanded us to preach to the people, and to testify that it is He who was ordained by God to be Judge of the living and the dead. – Acts 10:42

Why is this so important?   Why such a radical call? Most professing Christians will think this is a foolish way to spread the love of Christ and they will offer alternatives like friendship evangelism, life-style evangelism or “missional” group evangelism. I’m not saying we should not evangelize our friends, or those in our life, or we shouldn’t have groups of people sitting around talking about missions, but this is not the primary biblical model that Christ, the apostles, the early church, and the church of the past century utilized.

Why this method?

Paul is very helpful to our understanding of why open air preaching and gospel proclamation is imperative to the spread of the good news. In short God uses this method to save people. Not all will be saved in this manner, but many will.

So, as much as is in me, I am ready to preach the gospel to you who are in Rome also. For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek. – Romans 1:15-16

Do we see it? The gospel saves…

The proclamation of the gospel, in particular, through the foolish preaching of the cross of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:18) is the method that God, in His wisdom, chose to save those who believe. That is hard to comprehend, but it is the truth.

And I can affirm to you that one way to bring suffering (like Christ) is to proclaim the gospel.  Publicly, for those called to do so, through the oversight of your church.  The local church is to provide cover and support for this endeavor.  The Elders affirm a man’s ability to preach and they provide accountability, and protection against errant messages.  Understanding that it is to be men that publicly preach, just as in the local assembly.  Women are also called to serve in evangelism but not in the same way as preachers.  They can be engaged in one on one conversations, or passing out gospel tracts and eliciting conversations with people.  In properly ordered churches this will have an impact on the community.  In this manner we can begin to disciple the nations (Matthew 28:18-20).  It’s a beautiful thing.

This will bring persecution and it will bring salvation’s. If you want to be like Christ, these are two ways for you to imitate Paul as he imitates Christ.

 

Kevin

Another kind of Christ – Part 1

shepherd-sheep-12Author note: This will be a three part series that I will intermingle with my regular posts over the next few weeks.  I will do my best to give some parallels and hopefully an application for life as Christians.

Do you read the Old Testament with an eye on Christ?  It’s important that Believers study the Old Testament and look with a broader view of how it all points to the Lord and His coming.  He was promised to the Jews as their King yet most missed Him.

Most still miss Him today.

It’s important to see how the entire Bible is consistent and how God has purpose in every word that is written and more importantly it all points to Christ.  It’s this lack of understanding and this denial of the truth that leads people to deny the authority of Scripture.  It allows atheist’s to misunderstand, misapply and take things out of context, so they can deny God.

Most Christians know and understand the prophecies of Christ in passages such as Isaiah 53 and Psalm 22 these are very clear but have you seen Christ revealed in pages of the Old Testament at nearly every turn of the page?  Today I want to look at a foreshadowing of Christ as contained in the pages of Exodus chapter 3.

Moses had fled from the glories of Egypt where he had been a prince of the people.  He had a life of great responsibility and pleasure.  He was a ruler and authority over a great kingdom where he had spent the first forty years of his life being groomed to rule over all of Egypt.  Now Moses is a simple shepherd tending to a small flock.  Do you see the similarities that Christ left His heavenly throne to come to earth and live among man?

What was the purpose of God having Moses as a shepherd for forty years?  That’s a long time.  Think of the trials you’ve faced and the times you thought they’d never end but forty years is a long time to be trained by God.

Spurgeon commenting on this time in the wilderness:

It must have been a great change for Moses, after forty years in the court of Pharaoh, to be spending another forty years in the wilderness. But it was not waste time; it required the first two periods to make Moses fit for the grand life of the last forty. He must be a prince, and he must be a shepherd, that he might be both a ruler and a shepherd to God’s people, Israel. He must be much alone; he must have many solitary communings with his own heart; he must be led to feel his own weakness. And this will be no loss of time to him; he will do more in the last forty years because of the two forties thus spent in preparation. And it is not lost time that a man takes in putting on his harness before he goes to the battle, or that the reaper spends in sharpening his scythe before he cuts down the corn.
There is nothing dishonourable about common trade, and matters of business at all. Here is a shepherd, who keeps his flock, and God keeps him and reveals himself to him. When God wants a man to lead his people he seeks for him not among idlers, but busy, active men, and God was pleased to show himself more to Moses as a shepherd, than he had ever shown himself to him as a prince in Egypt. I find no glowing Deity in the halls of Pharaoh, but I find the consuming fire manifested in the lone wastes of the desert of Sinai.

Exodus 3:7 And the LORD said: “I have surely seen the oppression of My people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters, for I know their sorrows. 

Can we clearly see the relation God has with Moses and His people?

Can we see the relation between Moses and Christ?

God’s people are oppressed by sin and their inability to break the bonds of slavery.  God’s people need to be delivered.  They need a Savior.  The children of Israel and those that will be redeemed today still need a Savior.

Are you in bondage to your sin today?  If you are a Believer do you need to be delivered from a nagging sin you just can’t shake?  If you’ve never seen the ugliness of your sin and you don’t even know you are a slave do you realize there is a solution?

Jesus Christ is a High Priest and was tempted in all the same ways as is common to man.

Hebrews 7:26-27 For such a High Priest was fitting for us, who is holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from sinners, and has become higher than the heavens; who does not need daily, as those high priests, to offer up sacrifices, first for His own sins and then for the people’s, for this He did once for all when He offered up Himself.

The only solution is turning to Christ.  Turn to Him and be delivered just as the children of Israel followed Moses out of the bondage of slavery to Egypt there is a solution for the sins that are keeping you from the Promised Land.  Christ is that solution.  Turn to Him and live or die in the wilderness of your sin.

Kevin

I Don’t Believe in Atheism

“Atheism is a strange thing. Even the devils never fell into that vice.” -C. H. Spurgeon

Beautiful_Sunset_by_BradyB&W

I don’t believe in atheism.

I don’t believe people, when they say they don’t believe in God.

I don’t believe God is a mystery that cannot be known.  He’s real, He’s alive, and all are responsible to know Him.

Of course I realize people claim to be atheists; it seems to be somewhat popular these days.  Atheists say they don’t believe in God or a god.

For today’s discussion I’d like to say that nobody really believes what they say because the Holy Scriptures contradict them.  I realize this is a circular argument in their eyes but for me the argument ends there, it’s just that simple.

A so-called atheist might say, “you can’t prove there’s a god” and since I’ve come to this conclusion, I don’t believe it, or we can’t see God so we don’t believe it.

God has revealed himself to mankind and just because we say we don’t believe it doesn’t make it so.

Romans 1:19-23 because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.  For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God, they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened.  Pressing to be wise, they became fools and changed the glory of the in corruptible God into an image made like corruptible man-and birds, and four-footed animals and creeping things.

Man is without excuse.   God has revealed Himself through nature.

Hebrews 1:1-3 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself purged our sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high…

Man is without excuse.  God has revealed Himself through His Son.

Luke 1:1-4 Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and minister of the word delivered them to us.  It seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainly of those things in which you were instructed.

Man is without excuse.  God has revealed Himself through His Word.

Opponents of God are free to believe or not believe as they wish but they must know that won’t release them from accountability.  Every human in all of history will stand before God and give account of their life.  Nothing will be left hidden.  Every sin you’ve ever committed will be brought before the Just Judge and a verdict will be rendered.

You might say well my sin isn’t that bad, or I’m a relatively good person compared to that guy….

You need to compare your life to the life of Christ and see how you measure up to His standard.  Perfection is the measuring stick by which you will be judged.  Every thought, word and deed for the entirety of your life must be perfect.

You may not like this, you may not believe this and you may not accept this as truth, but that won’t change it.

You can laugh, you can scoff, you can ridicule but what you can’t do is escape it.  I must warn you today not to take that chance.

Ezekiel 3:17-19 “Son of man.  I have made you a watchman for the house of Israel: therefore hear a word from My mouth, and give them warning from Me:  When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die,’ and you give him no warning, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life, that same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood I will require at your hand.  Yet, if you warn the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but you have delivered your soul.”

So why are there people that call themselves atheists?  Again the answer is simple.

No accountability.

If they say they don’t believe what the Bible says, they don’t have to give account for their sin.  They can live guilt free and never have to answer for how they lived their life.

Turn to Christ, see Him as the only One that can save and cast your cares upon Him.  Matthew 7:24 “Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock…

 

Kevin