Faith Trusts Actively

There are at least four situations when our faith in God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ must cause us to actively, obediently trust Him.

  1. Trust God when you don’t know WHERE life is going (Gen 12:1, 4; Heb 11:8-10)
  • God is a gracious giver (1 Peter 1:6-7; 1 Tim 6:17; Jas 1:17; Matt 6:25-30)
  • Saints are sojourners (Heb 11:9, 13; 1 Peter 2:11)
  1. Trust God when you don’t know HOW He works (Heb 11:11-12)
  • He works in the Christian (Phil 1:6; 2:13; 1 Thess 2:13)
  1. Trust God when you don’t know WHEN He will act (Heb 11:13-16; 11:1)
  • Keep your eye on the greater promises (2 Pet 1:10-11; 2 Tim 1:12)
  1. Trust God when you don’t know WHY He commands certain things (Heb 11:17-19; Gen 22:4-5, 10-13)
  • Sacrificial life (Rom 12:1-2)
  • God is faithful (Deut 7:9; Phil 4:19; 1 Cor 10:13; Phil 4:6-7; John 6:40)

Faith Trusts God Obediently (Acts 22:16)

Being A Christian: The Wedding & The Marriage

We are on solid biblical ground when we suggest that becoming a Christian is very much like marriage. Paul made good use of this meaningful analogy (2 Cor 11:2–3; Eph 5:22–33) and had behind him the rich imagery of the Old Test. prophets (Hos 2:19–20; Isa 62:4–5; Jer 3:14).

When we are single, unmarried, we are free of responsibility and commitment to another. Our time is our own. Everything turns on the simple question of what we want for ourselves. Even so there is something bittersweet about that exhilarating “freedom.” It is also, we note, a freedom to be alone, unloved and unfulfilled.

Then we meet someone who makes our single freedom lose all its appeal. We realize that marriage will be costly to our independence. It will now be “we” instead of “me.” We will have to take into consideration the needs of our new-found partner in every decision. But, we say, it’s worth it! So we gladly renounce our old freedom for a higher one—the freedom to love and be loved in return, to have a companion who cares and shares life intimately with us. We, therefore, commit ourselves “to love and to cherish ‘til death do us part.” In a sense we lose our life to gain it.

When we live our lives without any commitment to God we are free to do what we please without concern for His wishes (Romans 6:20). There are no agonizing moral and spiritual decisions to make. We travel the open road of our own desires and whims. There are no entangling promises to honor. But even while the wind of freedom is blowing tantalizingly through our hair, there is a disquieting sense of guilt which hovers around so many of our free-wheeling ways. Our self-serving concerns, once so attractive, become gradually tinged with emptiness and loneliness. The things we feel “free” to do seem less and less worth doing and the further down the road we go the more death haunts the future (Rom 6:21).

Then we come to know of God in His Son—a chance reading of the Bible, a conversation with some concerned Christian—and the formless guilt in us turns specific and deep. The vague sense of emptiness becomes a yawning chasm. The love of God manages to make our free-and-easy ways seem more like slavery—a pointless freedom to self-destruct, to live life against the grain, to drive through the stumps and the thicket instead of on the road. The liberty to live with guilt, alienation and hopelessness loses its appeal and we respond longingly to the selfless love of Christ for us. As in a marriage vow, we who have so long said “No” to Him, now gladly say, “I will.” We lose our lives to gain them back again remarkably transformed (Matt 16:25). We give up our freedom to be what we please to be to gain the freedom to be what we need to be—what God in His mercy and wisdom planned that we should be.

All this comes about because we finally realize that every man must be a servant of something (Rom 6:16). Everyone who refuses to serve Jesus Christ is not thereby free. He is destined instead to become a slave to his own pride and insatiable passions. Long after the “season of pleasure” (Heb 11:25) has ended mindless lusts and stubborn self-will will keep him in bondage to a grinding necessity. The addiction to sin will continue even when one knows it is destroying him. So we begin by luxuriating in our freedom to sin and end up longing for the freedom to be good. It is that possibility of the freedom of righteousness and the true life it promises which draws us to the Son of God (Rom 6:23).

Just as becoming a Christian is very much like getting married, so being a Christian parallels the ongoing marriage relationship. The commitments of the wedding last only a moment but working them out takes a lifetime. The joy of that first moment will be tested by problems which will come to try the depth of your commitment to one another.

One of those problems may be doubt. You won’t be together 24 hours a day. How do you know your mate will be faithful and keep on loving you? Basically, because he or she promised to do so. Marriage is a relationship built on trust. When doubts about your partner’s faithfulness begin to arise out of nowhere, the relationship will soon begin to unravel.

Doubts will also arise in the new Christian’s mind about his relationship with God. Satan will be urgent in feeding every uncertainty (“Hath God said …? Genesis 3:1). “How do you know the Lord loves you?” “What makes you think the Son of God would want the likes of you?” “What makes you think you’re a Christian?” The answer is simple—because He promised! He said He loved and died for all men (John 3:16; Hebrews 2:9) and that all who truly believed in Him and sealed that faith in baptism would be saved (Mark 16:16) and united with Him (Rom 6:3–5; 7:4). Moreover, He said that He would never forsake those who came to Him (John 6:39; Hebrews 13:5) and would always be the same (Heb 13:8). When we doubt, all we have to do is look at our “marriage license.” The One who cannot lie promised (Titus 1:2) and the seal on the marriage covenant is His own blood! (Heb 9:17–18). — Paul Earnhart, Christianity Magazine, Vol. 2 #6

How Many Plans of Salvation?

Does the New Testament present more than one plan of salvation? One man is promised that he and his household will be saved if they believe (Acts 16:30-31). Multitudes are told to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:37-38). One is told to arise and be baptized, in order to wash away his sins (Acts 22:16). Yet another text states that one must believe and confess Christ to be saved (Rom 10:9-10). Jesus offers salvation to the one who believes and is baptized (Mark 16:16).

Now should we consider these to be different plans of salvation? May we use one passage to rule out the information presented in the other instances? Do they not rather all harmonize? Instead of choosing bits and pieces of the written counsel of God, let us heed this counsel: “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God” (Matt 4:4). So every word which the Lord has revealed on a subject must be heeded. All these commands and examples together dis close what the sinner must do: hear and believe the Gospel of Christ, repent of sins, confess His name, and be baptized in His name for the remission of sins. Submit to the entire plan. It’s the one and only plan He has. — J.P. Simons

Whether Ambulance or Hearse

Sirens scream, colored lights flash. A distant vehicle is zooming less distant by the milli-second. Is it an ambulance? … a police car? … a fire-truck maybe? Oh, I see it clearly now: never mind, it’s just a hearse! But wait: since when does a hearse sport siren and flashing lights?

And just why don’t hearses have sirens and flashing lights? What’s that? Yes, come to think of it, perhaps the condition of their passengers is a factor in the matter! Or more to the point: the impotence (powerlessness) of any living soul to alter that condition is definitely a factor.

Ironically, the reason that ambulances do sport sirens and flashing lights is because of that same impotence. Indeed, time is of essence! For if the ambulance passenger arrives alive at the hospital, somebody can perhaps do something to keep him from dying. But alas, the world’s ablest doctor can’t do much for the victim who turns up “dead on arrival.”

Consider then, that the Bible account of Luke 7:11-16 is not about flagging down an ambulance and performing some dramatic life-saving procedure upon the critically injured occupant. Rather, Jesus halts a funeral procession and addresses the dearly departed. The dead boy comes to life, at which point funeral services are terminated for obvious reasons. Jesus Himself would soon afterwards die, and would with great power arise from the dead (John 10:17-18; Acts 2:24). As the resurrected Christ puts it, “I have the keys of death…” (Rev 2:18).

Hear His promise: “Marvel not at this: for the hour cometh, in which all that are in the tombs shall hear his voice, and shall come forth; they that have done good, unto the resurrection of life; and they that have done evil, unto the resurrection of judgment.” (John 5:28-29)

But there’s more. The Great Physician can give life to the dead in more ways than one. For unlike the most skillful surgeon on earth, Jesus can extricate deadly sin from the soul (Matt 9:1-13). He can give life and hope to the spiritually dead (John 5:25; Eph 2:1, 5). It was in order to qualify for this saving role that He Himself died (Heb 5:7-9). As worded in Hebrews 2:14-15, Jesus was willing to die: “that through death he might bring to naught him that had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver all them who through fear of death were all their lifetime subject to bondage.”

Thus, persons who are dead in sin may be baptized into Christ in order to die to sin and be resurrected to spiritual life: “having been buried with him in baptism, wherein ye were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. And you, being dead through your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, you, I say, did he make alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses…” (Col 2:12-13).

The fastest ambulance can’t save you from the second death. Jesus alone can manage that (Rev 2:11; 20:14). So, whether you should find yourself riding as passenger in an ambulance or in a hearse, make sure that you have Jesus with you! – J.P. Simons

Gospel Meeting

All are invited to our Spring gospel meeting: April 23-26.

Green Meadow Reminder

“We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ” (Col 1:28).

Sunday: 9:30, 10:30 a.m., 6:00 p.m.
Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday: 7:00 p.m.

Speaking: J.P. Simons, Jonestown church of Christ, Jonestown, TX

Audio

Sunday Class: Let’s Take It From The Beginning
Morning: What’s Wrong with Non-Wrong Activities?
Evening: Simplicity
Monday: Sanctified Worshippers
Tuesday: Obvious Differences
Wednesday: Necessary but Not Meritorious