Friday, November 18, 2016

Our Father's Business

Jesus, as a child of twelve years, was rebuked by Mary for remaining in Jerusalem after His family and acquaintances had left. He replied, "Did you not know that I must be about My Father's business?" (Luke 2:49). Our Father's business should take priority over everything else in this world. 

Jesus knew and understood the importance of obeying God. Our Father's business should be attended with wisdom and care. If some of those who call themselves Christians operated their own affairs in the sloppy way that they attend to the Lord's work, they would soon go bankrupt. The children of this world are storing up material goods to be used tomorrow, whereas the child of God should be storing up treasures in heaven.

Our Father's business calls for devotion, dedication, and duty. All work is done on a voluntary basis. In secular work, some do only what the boss absolutely requires. In our Father's work, we need to do all that we can. Jesus said, "So likewise you, when you have done all those things which you are commanded, say, 'We are unprofitable servants. We have done what was our duty to do.'" (Luke 17:10).

Our Father's business demands a positive, loving attitude. A critical, judgmental, harsh, negative tone is not characteristic of God's children.

Let us make sure that we are going about our Father's business.

Friday, November 11, 2016

The New Birth

The New Birth is a very important doctrine of the Bible. Long before Jesus walked on earth God's prophets pointed to it (I Peter 1:10-12). It was the theme of Christ's preaching. He said to Nicodemus, "Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God" (John 3:3). That should settle the importance of the subject. What, then is involved in the new birth?

First, there is a cleansing from sin. Paul wrote, "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost" (Titus 3:5). The word "regeneration" means "new birth" (Vine, P.267). This cleansing occurs when a penitent believer is immersed in water, as may be seen in Paul's own conversion. The instruction he received was, "arise, and be baptized, and wash away thy sins....” (Acts 22:16).

A clear example of the new birth is seen in the conversions which occurred on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem. Spirit-filled men preached a Spirit-given message. Believers were told to "repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remissions of sins....” (Acts 2:38). Eager listeners responded by being baptized and "the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls" (Acts 2:41). Remember how Jesus had promised that those who were born again would enter the kingdom? With these first converts on Pentecost that promise was fulfilled.

The Spirit's work in conversion is not in stimulating a feeling of ecstasy, but in providing men a knowledge of the truth. The Bible says, "Of His own will He brought us forth by the word of truth....” (James 1:18). And Peter declared, “Being born again, not of corruptible, by the word of God . . . And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you" (1 Peter 1:23, 25).

If you have not believed in Christ, repented of your sins, confessed your faith in Christ before men, and been buried with the Lord in baptism for the remission of sins, then you need to also be born in to His family today.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Is Sincerity Enough for Salvation?

Apparently many sincere people are trusting in their sincerity for salvation. But is sincerity enough? Jesus said, “....I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me” (John 14:6). Now what could this possibly mean if sincerity alone is sufficient? If there is no other way to salvation than through Christ, as He clearly stated here, then sincerity alone will not do, will it?

One of the classical examples of a man who was unquestionably sincere, and yet lost, out of Christ, and even an arch enemy of the early church, is that of Saul of Tarsus. Saul had even participated in the murder of the first Christian martyr, Stephen (Acts 7:58). He “....made havoc of the church, entering every house, and dragging off men and women, committing them to prison” (Acts 8:3). It is even reported further that “Saul, still breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord, went to the high priest and asked letters from him to the synagogues of Damascus, so that if he found any who were of the Way, whether men or women, he might bring them bound to Jerusalem” (Acts 9:1-2). So here is a man who is religious about persecuting the way of Christ, believing Jesus to be an imposter. Yet, though misguided, he said, “....I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day” (Acts 23:1). He had been sincere, but that sincerity wasn't enough, because you see, sin is not just a matter of violating your conscience; it is a matter of violating the will of God. John was speaking of this in 1 John, Chapter 3, verse 4, when he said, “Whoever commits sin also commits lawlessness, and sin is lawlessness.”

In the course of time a Christian named Ananias informed Saul, “And now why are you waiting? Arise and be baptized, and wash away your sins, calling on the name of the Lord’” (Acts 22:16). Yet Saul’s story ends happily because when he learned the error of his way, he was sincere enough to turn from his sins to Christ and he went on to become the great Apostle Paul.

In Acts Chapter 2, we read that there were dwelling at Jerusalem, Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven (verse 5). Yet, as Peter preached to these sincere people, he accused them with these words: “Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death” (Acts 2:23). Although they were devout, they had participated in the crucifixion of the Lord. On learning of their sin, they were (as the Bible says) "....cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, Men and brethren, what shall we do?” (Acts 2:37). They now realized that they were guilty before the Lord God. And as they were searching for a cleansing from this guilt, Peter said to them, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).

The role of sincerity is to enable a person to be fair and honest with the truth! Sincerity alone does not determine truth, scientifically, and medically, legally, or religiously. We can see then, what Jesus was saying when He said, “Not everyone who says to Me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21).