Who Do You Say That I Am?

Photo by Michelle Pearson

Who Do You Say That I Am?

In Matthew 6:13-20 we read about the time when Jesus first asked His disciples who people say He is. The answer was varied, he said in verse 14, “Well,” they replied, “some say John the Baptist, some say Elijah, and others say Jeremiah or one of the other prophets.” But, Jesus didn’t stop there. The next thing He asked in verse 15 was, “Then he asked them, ‘But who do you say I am?’” So, after they told Him who everybody else thinks He is, He turns it on them, and of course Peter, being who he jumps up and says in verse16, “Simon Peter answered, ‘You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.’” Peter never beats around the bush, does he?

But, I love Jesus’ reply to him. He says in verse 17, “Jesus replied, ‘You are blessed, Simon son of John, because my Father in heaven has revealed this to you. You did not learn this from any human being.’” You see, none of us has learned that Jesus is the Christ of anyone else. Oh, we may have heard it in Sunday school or church, or read it in the Bible, or heard it from an evangelist or a friend, but we learned it from God. Only God can reveal this to us.

So, who has God revealed this to? Psalm 98:2 tells us, “The Lord has announced his victory and has revealed his righteousness to every nation!” In Isaiah 40:1-5 we read about the coming of the Messiah, and it says, 1Comfort, comfort my people,” says your God. “Speak tenderly to Jerusalem. Tell her that her sad days are gone, and her sins are pardoned. Yes, the Lord has punished her twice over for all her sins.” Listen! It’s the voice of someone shouting, “Clear the way through the wilderness for the Lord! Make a straight highway through the wasteland for our God! Fill in the valleys, and level the mountains and hills. Straighten the curves, and smooth out the rough places. Then the glory of the Lord will be revealed, and all people will see it together. The Lord has spoken!” So, who does it say He will reveal Himself to in verse 5? All People!

We see that He has been revealed to all people, so why aren’t all people going to heaven? You see, God has revealed Jesus as the Chris to all of us, but the onus is still on us to accept and believe. The reason God revealed Jesus as the Christ to all of us is that He doesn’t want to see any of us miss out on His blessings. 2 Peter 3:9 says, “The Lord isn’t really being slow about his promise, as some people think. No, he is being patient for your sake. He does not want anyone to be destroyed, but wants everyone to repent.” So, we must believe, we must trust, and we must follow Him.

So, just who is this Jesus? Revelation 1:8 tells us that He is the beginning and the end and the He is the Almighty One, “I am the Alpha and the Omega—the beginning and the end,” says the Lord God. “I am the one who is, who always was, and who is still to come—the Almighty One.” According to Exodus 3:14, He is the Great I Am, “God replied to Moses, “I am who I am. Say this to the people of Israel: I am has sent me to you.” According to Revelation 22:16 He is the bright morning star, “I, Jesus, have sent my angel to give you this message for the churches. I am both the source of David and the heir to his throne. I am the bright morning star.” And Revelation 19:16 says that He is the King of kings and Lord of lords, “On his robe at his thigh was written this title: King of all kings and Lord of all lords.”

So, who is Jesus? HE IS GOD! Colossians 2:9, “For in Christ lives all the fullness of God in a human body.” Do you believe this? God has revealed it to you, but do you accept it? Because, here’s the thing, I could give you a lot of facts about why the Bible has to be the word of God. For instance, the fact that it is comprised of sixty-six books, written by forty-eight different people over a period of four thousand years, and never contradicts itself. This fact alone should make people believe, but the reality is that it’s not about facts, it’s about faith. You see, the Bible tells us that without faith, it is impossible to please God, Hebrews 11:6. And, it goes on to tell us that this faith must be a life-changing faith as we see in James 2:19, “You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.” Because, faith without works is dead, James 2:26.

So, the question I must ask myself, the question we all must ask ourselves is, who do I say He is? What we believe doesn’t change who He is, it changes us.

Am I Offensive?

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Photo by Michelle Pearson

Am I Offensive?

In today’s Social Media World, it seems like everyone is offended by everything. I think back to the sixties and seventies when nothing seemed to offend anyone. The other day I had an old jingle pop into my head out of nowhere. When I started thinking about the words, I realized that this commercial jingle would never fly today. See if you remember this one if you are old enough:

Hotdogs, Armored hotdogs.

What kind of kids eat Armored hotdogs?

Fat kids, skinny kids, kids that climb on rocks.

Tough kids, sissy kids, even kids with chickenpox love hotdogs

Armored hotdogs.

The dogs kids love to bite.

So, how many people would that song offend today? Even PETA would be all over that one! But, the Bible has a lot to say about offending people, and it has a lot to say about being offended.

First, let’s look at what the Bible says about being offended. In Colossians 3:13 we read, “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others.” As always, the scripture doesn’t need to be interpreted, it is crystal clear. We must realize that those outside of Christ are sinners and will act as such. It never ceases to amaze me when Christians are offended by a movie or TV show. Here’s another news flash, unbelievers will act like unbelievers. Now, don’t get me wrong, that doesn’t mean that we should lie down and accept it. For instance, just last week on The View, when talking about our Vice President, they referred to Christianity as a mental illness. Don’t be offended by this, be outraged. Call ABC at (888)994-8384 and let them know that we won’t stand for hate language either. When Christ saw the money changers in the Temple He wasn’t offended, He was outraged and did something about it. But, this verse isn’t just talking about unbelievers, we must realize that our brothers and sisters in Christ are human and will make mistakes. It is our job to forgive them the way that Christ forgave us.

In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus gave His disciples, what we often call The Lord’s Prayer, at the end of it He said, Matthew 6:14-15 14 “If you forgive those who sin against you, your heavenly Father will forgive you. 15 But if you refuse to forgive others, your Father will not forgive your sins.” This goes with what John said in 1 John 4:8, “But anyone who does not love does not know God, for God is love” because remember that Love is Longsuffering, so if we love others, we will forgive them.

Here’s the catch though, sometimes it is okay to offend. Check out what Christ told His disciples in Matthew 15:12-13, 12 Then the disciples came to him and asked, “Do you realize you offended the Pharisees by what you just said?” 13 Jesus replied, “Every plant not planted by my heavenly Father will be uprooted,”. You see, if someone is not preaching the truth, we can’t worry about whether we offend them or not, we are obligated to speak the truth.

Besides, throughout the scripture, we see that God’s word will offend. Because people want to believe that what they believe is right, and anything contrary to that can be offensive. 1 Corinthians 1:20-23 says, 20 So where does this leave the philosophers, the scholars, and the world’s brilliant debaters? God has made the wisdom of this world look foolish. 21 Since God in his wisdom saw to it that the world would never know him through human wisdom, he has used our foolish preaching to save those who believe. 22 It is foolish to the Jews, who ask for signs from heaven. And it is foolish to the Greeks, who seek human wisdom.23 So when we preach that Christ was crucified, the Jews are offended and the Gentiles say it’s all nonsense.” So, the Bible is offensive to some, and nonsense to others. Nothing has changed, has it? Paul told the Church in Galatia this, Galatians 5:11 “Dear brothers and sisters, if I were still preaching that you must be circumcised—as some say I do—why am I still being persecuted? If I were no longer preaching salvation through the cross of Christ, no one would be offended.” And, then in 1 Peter 2:7-8 we read that Christ will be a stumbling block, Yes, you who trust him recognize the honor God has given him. But for those who reject him, “The stone that the builders rejected
has now become the cornerstone.” And, “He is the stone that makes people stumble, the rock that makes them fall.”  They stumble because they do not obey God’s word, and so they meet the fate that was planned for them.”

Here’s the thing, we will be offensive, we will be hated, and we will be persecuted, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise. In fact, 2 Timothy 3:12 says, “Yes, and everyone who wants to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution.” Notice it doesn’t say we might be persecuted, it says that if you are living a godly life, you will be persecuted. But, there is always a silver lining. Matthew 10:22 says, “And all nations will hate you because you are my followers. But everyone who endures to the end will be saved.” So, yes, you will be hated by every nation, but if you endure, you will be saved!

Isn’t it beautiful how, when God tells us something bad is going to happen, He also helps us see the big picture? He gives us a glimpse of what’s to come. So be prepared and endure. Don’t seek to offend others, and if you do offend someone wrongly, even if you think they just have thin skin, make it right. But know that, if you are living a godly life, and if you are speaking the truth, you will be persecuted, you will offend many. I want to leave you with one more promise. John 16:33 says, “I have told you all this so that you may have peace in me. Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.” Always remember that He has overcome the world!

Valentine’s Day-What is Love?

The Kiss
Photo by Michelle Pearson

Valentine’s Day-What is Love?

Well, it’s Valentine’s Day, and we all have love on our minds. Some of us are thinking of our spouses, some are thinking of their boyfriend or girlfriend, and some are lonely today, wishing they had someone, but love is on our minds, one way or another.

I posted a series on 1 Corinthians 13 several months ago titled “A More Excellent Way”, and I will be talking about some of that passage again today. If you’ve been reading my blog for long, you will realize that I talk a lot about keeping scripture in context. One of the biggest mistakes the Church today makes is interpreting scripture, because, if we put our flawed interpretation on scripture, it is no longer perfect. When talking about this, I often use 1 Corinthians 13:1 as an example. I won’t go through the whole example, if you are interested you can go back to my series, “A More Excellent Way”, and read it. But, suffice it to say, that if you take this passage literally, it is saying that Love is a gift of the Spirit, it is the only gift of the Spirit that every believer can have, and it is the only gift of the Spirit that we will need in Heaven.

So, what is this gift of Love? Well, 1 Corinthians 13 gives us a list in verses 4-7, Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wrongedIt does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins outLove never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.” Notice that this list gives both the things that love is, as well as the things that it is not. So, let’s break this down.

  1. PatienceVs 4 “To be longsuffering, as opposed to hasty anger or punishment. To EXPERIENCE understanding and patience toward persons.
    1. Proverbs 10:12 “Hatred stirs up quarrels, but love makes up for all offenses.”
    2. Proverbs 17:9 “Love prospers when a fault is forgiven, but dwelling on it separates close friends.”
    3. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 “Brothers and sisters, we urge you to warn those who are lazy. Encourage those who are timid. Take tender care of those who are weak. Be patient with everyone.”
    4. 1 Peter 4:8 “Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other, for love covers a multitude of sins.”
  2. KindVs 4
    1. Ephesians 4:32 “Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.”
  3. Not Jealous Vs 4
    1. Proverbs 14:30 “A peaceful heart leads to a healthy body; jealousy is like cancer in the bones.”
  4. Does not brag and is not arrogantVs 4
    1. 1 Corinthians 4:6 “Dear brothers and sisters, I have used Apollos and myself to illustrate what I’ve been saying. If you pay attention to what I have quoted from the Scriptures, you won’t be proud of one of your leaders at the expense of another.”
  5. Does not act unbecominglyVs 5
    1. Philippians 4:8 “And now, dear brothers and sisters, one final thing. Fix your thoughts on what is true, and honorable, and right, and pure, and lovely, and admirable. Think about things that are excellent and worthy of praise.”
  6. Does not seek its ownVs 5
    1. 1 Corinthians 10:24 “Don’t be concerned for your own good but for the good of others.”
    2. Philippians 2:21 “All the others care only for themselves and not for what matters to Jesus Christ.”
  7. Is not provokedVs 5
    1. Proverbs 15:1 “A gentle answer deflects anger, but harsh words make tempers flare.”
  8. Does not take into account a wrong sufferedVs 5 An intentional wrong that was done
    1. 2 Corinthians 5:19 “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation.”
  9. Does not rejoice in unrighteousnessVs 6
    1. Psalm 119:1-3 1How blessed are those whose way is blameless,
      Who walk in the law of the Lord. How blessed are those who observe His testimonies, who seek Him with all their heart. They also do no unrighteousness; They walk in His ways.”

Pretty clear, isn’t it? Okay, now I want to talk to the husbands out there. I have been a husband to my wife Michelle for thirty-three years, but believe me, that does not make me an expert. To be honest, I struggle with loving my wife all the time. You see, I am a very selfish person, and I don’t like putting anyone ahead of myself. But, God recently showed me something that I would love to share with you.

Ephesians 5:25-30 says, 25 For husbands, this means love your wives, just as Christ loved the church. He gave up his life for her 26 to make her holy and clean, washed by the cleansing of God’s word. 27 He did this to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault. 28 In the same way, husbands ought to love their wives as they love their own bodies. For a man who loves his wife actually shows love for himself. 29 No one hates his own body but feeds and cares for it, just as Christ cares for the church.30 And we are members of his body.” First, notice that the Bible never tells the wife to love her husband. You see, loving others, and putting others first comes naturally to most women, it’s part of that motherly instinct, so God never had to tell them to love their husband. But, us men are a different breed. We tend to be selfish and need a little reminding occasionally.

This passage starts out by telling us to love our wives the same way that Christ loved the church. He loved us so much that He died for us. He is reminding us to put them and their needs first. He is telling us to love them, even if they don’t seem to love us. Because, let’s be honest, sometimes it seems that way, and for good reason. I know that I am not always that loveable. Look at Romans 5:8, “But God showed his great love for us by sending Christ to die for us while we were still sinners.” Now, skip down to verse 10, “For since our friendship with God was restored by the death of his Son while we were still his enemies, we will certainly be saved through the life of his Son.” Verse 8 tells us that He loved us while we were still sinners, and verse 10 tells us that He loved us even when we were His enemies. That’s how we need to love our wives, unconditionally. What is our goal in this? Verse 27 told us, “to present her to himself as a glorious church without a spot or wrinkle or any other blemish. Instead, she will be holy and without fault.” Our goal is to make our wife look spotless and without fault.

So, men, on this Valentine’s Day, and every day hereafter, love your wife like your own body. Nourish her, care for her, and love her unconditionally.

The Law

Old Courthouse Museum
Photo by Michelle Pearson

The Law

I’m afraid the Church is confusing many unsaved people, as well as many new Christians, and even many older Christians for that matter. I hear it over and over, they say, “you say the Bible never changes. Then why were the people in the Old Testament saved by keeping the law, but you say that we’re saved by grace through faith now?” I’m sure we’ve all heard this question. But, here’s the problem. They are confused because many of our churches, many well-intentioned pastors, are unknowingly preaching a false doctrine. Please don’t stop reading here and think that I’m one of those guys that think I’ve figured it out and everyone else is wrong. I just want to share what scripture says, and you can make your own decision, but remember to keep everything in context, and don’t try to interpret the Bible.

So, did the law ever save anyone? Romans 8:3 tells us, “The law of Moses was unable to save us because of the weakness of our sinful nature. So, God did what the law could not do. He sent his own Son in a body like the bodies we sinners have. And in that body God declared an end to sin’s control over us by giving his Son as a sacrifice for our sins.” The campus pastor at our church, Steve Meharg, would say right now, “don’t you hate how the Bible is so vague?” So, what is the Bible saying here? The first sentence of this verse tells us that the law of Moses was not able to save us. Why? Because of our sinful nature. You see, we can’t be good enough to get to heaven, because of our sinful nature.

Here’s wherein the problem lies. We are sinners! Romans 5:12, “When Adam sinned, sin entered the world. Adam’s sin brought death, so death spread to everyone, for everyone sinned.” Again, so unclear, right? When we try to be good enough to get to heaven, we are measuring ourselves up to other people, and we can always find someone who is worse than ourselves. A serial killer can say that he’s not as bad as Jeffery Dahmer because he isn’t a cannibal. But, here’s the catch, God doesn’t measure us up to each other, He measures us up to Himself. Galatians 5:19-21 says, 19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.” Do you see that…no sin can enter heaven…none! Notice that, along with idolatry and sexual sin, He also adds quarreling and jealousy…any one sin will keep you out of heaven. We also read in Ephesians 2:8-9, God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it.” Again, he says that we are not saved by our works, not now, not ever!

We also know that they weren’t saved by just being born into one of the tribes of Israel, although they tried to make it about that too. Look at the examples of Rahab and Ruth. Rahab was a prostitute and a Canaanite, and Ruth was a Moabite. Not only did Rahab not keep the law of Moses, she wasn’t born an Israelite…that’s a double whammy. And, Ruth was not an Israelite either, she was a Moabite. But, not only did God save them, He went a step further. God did something He didn’t have to do by making Rahab and Ruth part of the lineage of Christ. We see this in the first chapter of Matthew. The first sixteen verses are giving the lineage of Christ, from Abraham to Joseph, and in verse 5 it says, “Salmon was the father of Boaz (whose mother was Rahab). Boaz was the father of Obed (whose mother was Ruth).” There are very few mothers mentioned in this passage, but he names two in this verse alone, Rahab and Ruth. Both of these women are in the lineage of Christ, and neither are Israelites.

So, if the Old Testament believers weren’t saved by keeping the law, and they clearly weren’t saved by being born a Jew, then how exactly were they saved? Yes, it is true that they did have to offer sacrifices every year because the perfect sacrifice had not yet come. But it wasn’t the sacrifice that saved them, it was their faith. Let’s take a minute to look at Hebrews chapter 11, the chapter known as the Believer’s Hall of Faith. I’m not going to print the entire chapter here, but take a minute to read it, even if you have read it many times, then come back.

Did you notice something about it? Let’s take a look at the people mentioned here: verse 4, Able; verse 5, Enoch; verse 7, Noah; verses 8-10, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; verse 11 Sarah; verse 21, Jacob; verse 22, Joseph; verse 23, Moses; verse 31, Rahab; verse 32, Gideon, Barak, Samson, Jephthah, David, Samuel, the prophets. Everyone mentioned in this passage is from the Old Testament. They were not made righteous by keeping the law, they were made righteous by their life-changing faith! In the middle of all this it says in Hebrews 11:6, “And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.” It is, and always was, IMPOSSIBLE to please God without FAITH!

But, something we must remember because we humans always try to make it about ourselves, is that it’s not our faith that saves us. God saves us when He sees our faith. And, faith doesn’t just mean believing. The Bible tells us in James 2:19, “You say you have faith, for you believe that there is one God. Good for you! Even the demons believe this, and they tremble in terror.” So, you see, it’s not just about believing, it’s about trusting and changing. Just before this verse, we see in James 2:14-17, 14 What good is it, dear brothers and sisters, if you say you have faith but don’t show it by your actions? Can that kind of faith save anyone?15 Suppose you see a brother or sister who has no food or clothing,16 and you say, “Good-bye and have a good day; stay warm and eat well”—but then you don’t give that person any food or clothing. What good does that do? 17 So you see, faith by itself isn’t enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.”

We are now, and always have been saved by God’s grace, through our faith…our life-changing faith. So, let’s stop confusing people and start living by faith.

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