Archive for October, 2012


All Saints Weekly Devotional

Volume 1 Number 36

October 11, 2012

Why Did Jesus Come to this Earth?

From Pastor Bordwine

 

It is a trustworthy statement, deserving full acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, among whom I am foremost of all.

(1 Timothy 1:15)

Preaching recently from 1 John, I examined John’s words concerning false teaching and the threat of antichrists. Sometimes, you don’t even have to leave your house to encounter these enemies of the gospel. With these topics still fresh in my mind, I decided to share this experience.

Early this morning, our doorbell rang and when I opened the door, there stood a well-dressed man and woman. I knew who they were immediately—or, I should say, I knew who they represented immediately.

Without delay, the man asked me a question: “Do you think that a lot of people these days are having trouble finding happiness?” Still drowsy and wearing jogging pants and a tee shirt, I mumbled something like “Yes, I would say so.” Then he added: “Did you know that Jesus talked about this problem a long time ago?” Apparently, this was a rhetorical question because he didn’t wait for my response. Instead, the man opened a book and pointed to what he said was the Gospel of Matthew.

With his finger resting on the page, the man stated that “In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus said: ‘Those who find happiness will be blessed.’” As he explained, the man said: “This is why Jesus came to earth—to make us happy.” Before he could ask me if I wanted to be happy, I interrupted with a question of my own: “What is that book you just read from?” Thinking he had just met the ideal candidate for proselytization, the man raised the book to eye level and replied: “This is the Bible.”

At that moment, the conversation took an uneasy turn as I said: “I don’t think so.” The eyes of the woman popped open wide as she turned to look at her friend. For his part, the man remained cool and collected. My guess is that he had faced an experience like this before. Whatever the case, I didn’t wait for his answer. Instead, I added: “Jesus never said anything like that in His Sermon on the Mount. And I know for a fact that Jesus didn’t come to Earth to make us happy.” [NOTE: The Jehovah’s Witnesses “bible” is called The New World Translation and falsely claims to be a faithful translation of ancient Biblical texts.]

The man shot back: “I assure you that this is the Bible. It was produced by a host of Hebrew and Greek scholars based on many, many ancient manuscripts.” Being quite familiar with the history of his book, I asked: “Which ancient manuscripts?” “Well, we aren’t here to debate such technical details,” the man said.

“Do you see the reliability of your book as a mere technical detail,” I responded. “No, no, that’s not what I meant,” the man answered, “My purpose for being here today is to help people find what Jesus offers.” “Happiness?” I asked. “Is that all people need—happiness? What about sin? What does your book say about sin?”

“Well, we believe that people hear enough bad news. They need to hear something encouraging,” the gentleman declared. “But wouldn’t it be most helpful to tell people how God sees them so that they could then learn about His provision of salvation?” I responded.

By this point, I was a little annoyed as I thought of the deception this man was taking from door to door in my neighborhood. I decided to end the conversation: “Jesus came to Earth because we were condemned before God. We were helpless and hopeless and faced the wrath of a holy God. As my Substitute, Jesus came to pay the penalty demanded by God’s perfect justice. I didn’t need happiness, I needed redemption. Does your book say anything about such things?”

The man did not respond immediately, but reached into his briefcase and pulled out some literature, which he handed to me. “May we leave this material with you?” he asked, “It will tell you more about us and the wonderful message we have to share.” As I took the pamphlets, I said: “After I read these, I may have some more questions for you. How do I contact you?” Already making his way down the sidewalk, the Watchtower agent said back over his shoulder: “Contact information is printed inside.”

Although this is a simple report on something I experienced, it does have devotional value. My conversation with the representative of the Watchtower Society gave me three points to ponder. First, threats against the pure gospel of Jesus Christ are still very active in this world. In fact, as long as the Church preaches the gospel, we can expect determined opposition to remain. This opposition is deceptive by nature; it consists of lies. Therefore, we should be vigilant in guarding our own hearts and those of others by committing ourselves to the defense of the gospel.

Second, we should be thankful that God has given us a gospel that is true, reliable, defendable, and, above all, supernatural. Our problem as fallen men and women was one that required divine intervention. We have that power of God in the gospel. Jesus Christ came to this Earth according to the merciful provision of God for our redemption.

Third, Christians need not be intimidated when it comes to confronting false teachers. I say that because God has given us the truth. It is not difficult to expose error when you know the truth.

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All Saints Weekly Devotional

Volume 1 Number 35

October 4, 2012

Life in Death

From Pastor Bordwine

“O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

(1 Corinthians 15:55)

 We know only too well that life is full of challenges and disappointments. And on occasion, we learn that life includes painful tragedies. Regardless of our experiences, we have to admit that we will never be truly at ease until we leave this world. Only then will we no longer be subject to this world’s assaults.

It’s true that we enjoy a great amount of happiness in this life, but we never really escape the threats associated with an environment that has been thoroughly corrupted by sin. The most agonizing of our trials cause us to ponder a multitude of questions. Many of them are answered in God’s revelation and others seem to have no answer at the present time. This is certainly the case when the fiercest of incidents occur. I am referring, of course, to death. Sometimes death comes with a warning, such as a prolonged illness. At other times, death strikes unexpectedly. This latter kind of experience is the most shocking and upsetting.

A couple of days ago, my wife’s sister committed suicide. News of this act stunned us and our grief was immediate. This was one of those onslaughts from which we don’t recover—not in this life. For the believer, receiving news like this is heartbreaking, but it is not necessarily the end.

From the beginning of our history, mankind has been subject to death, which is the chief weapon of our adversary and by which he has tormented those made in the image of God. Therefore, when death strikes, it appears to be a victory for the devil.

While describing the nature of Christ’s earthly ministry, however, the writer of the book of Hebrews states that Jesus shared in our flesh and blood in order to serve as our Representative before God’s bar of justice. As the God-Man, Jesus received the penalty that was due to us. He died in our place. (cf. Heb. 2:14, 15)

The justice of God was satisfied when Jesus paid what we owed with His own life. But that wasn’t the end of His mission. To demonstrate that death no longer bound us, Jesus rose from the dead and this act declared that death was dead. In Christ, even death does not prevail against us.

In this same passage, the writer observes that Jesus became a Man so that “He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil, and might free those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives.” The defeat of death was long anticipated by the people of God. We were promised that one day the Savior would come and free us from death’s dominion. And so it has come to pass. Death remains active, but we no longer fear it. Life awaits us on the other side of the grave.

As painful as it was for us to hear about our loved one’s death and as unsettling as the circumstances were, we have not been left without comfort, nor have we been deprived of hope. Because of our Savior’s sacrifice, death is now powerless. It can never gain the victory over us. Jesus gives us never-ending life in death, His death. Therefore, with glad hearts we look forward to that Great Day when the redeemed of God will be raised to everlasting glory. And then, Paul’s words, quoted above, will ring throughout creation: “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”

1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world.

Although the details are few, we know that some kind of disruption occurred that resulted in some who had professed to be Christians leaving the group to which John is writing. John indicates that this caused a great amount of stress. Based on the verses just read, another source of danger was false teaching.

It is generally agreed that John is referring to self-proclaimed prophets (or teachers) when he issues the warning that we see in verse one. The threat was significant, according to his description: “many false prophets have gone out into the world.” This meant that these believers had to be extremely careful regarding their sources of instruction. The only thing that could be done is what John advises, namely, “test the spirits to see whether they are from God.”

The word translated “test” (dokimazo) means “to scrutinize something to determine its authenticity.” The apostle is telling his readers to examine the message of those who claim to be speaking for God and compare what they hear with what the apostles had already imparted. John infers that such an examination can lead to a definitive conclusion regarding truthfulness.

The means of testing is not left up to the people, however. John tells them what standard to apply when they assess the proclamations they encounter. In the second verse, he reveals the key to identifying the prophets of God: “every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh is from God.” This tells us, it appears, that the fundamental issue being debated had to do with the nature of Jesus Christ.

In his typical style, John is blunt in his assessment of these false prophets: “this is the spirit of the antichrist.” Already, he adds, these enemies of the gospel are at work in the world seeking to oppose the preaching of the good news and keep people from finding deliverance in Christ.

The gospel message included this declaration that the Savior was not a mere man, but was God in the flesh. This fact meant that Christ’s sacrifice was infinitely worthy and could, therefore, atone for our sins. The death of a man could not provide what was required, but the death of God, as it were, was more than sufficient to satisfy the demands of God’s justice. Therefore, those who were proclaiming that Jesus Christ was not God in the flesh had to be rejected.