2/24/14

From Steve Singleton... What is the Central Claim of Christianity?

What is the Central Claim of Christianity?

elevator speech illustration
Prepare an "Elevator Speech"

Near the first day of sales training your trainer will ask you to give "an elevator speech." It's called that because there's tremendous value in being able to explain your product or service in the time it takes to ride in an elevator. To do so, you have to cut all of your usual verbiage down to the bare essentials. Also, you must tell your story from the point of view of the listener, explaining things in terms of W-I-I-F-M ("What's in it for me?"). When those elevator doors open up and the person you've been talking to walks away, he or she should have a fairly good idea of what you offer and why it is worth the price.

Just the Essentials

Let me give you my "elevator speech" about Christianity. These are the essentials. Although God created us human beings to share in His nature and to have a close relationship with Him, every one of us has rebelled against Him, choosing instead to go our own way and suffer the consequences. Those consequences are bad, including purposelessness, a sense of worthlessness, isolation and animosity, suffering, and, yes, death.

But God was willing to do something about our predicament. What He did was to send us His Son, who became a human being, modeled for us what it means to be pure, to love God, and to lovingly serve our fellow humans. More than that, He took upon Himself our guilt and paid the debt we owed by dying on the cross. Arising from the dead, He demonstrated that He has the power and authority to offer us His forgiveness and His righteousness in trade in exchange for our sins and defilement.

He wants us to trust Him with all of our being. This trust includes repudiating our rebellion, declaring before others our allegiance to Him, joining in a re-enactment of His death, burial, and resurrection so that the exchange can be made. Then He calls on us to follow Him for the rest of our lives in humble submission to the lifestyle and the mission He has in mind for us.

Not only do we experience a closer relationship with Him, but we also have a close fellowship with all other human beings willing to obey Him like we have. His promise is that our relationship will just get better and better until He transforms our mortal bodies for glorified ones that are just like what Jesus received when he arose from the dead.

Christocentric Message

That's pretty much it. As the elevator doors open, did you notice that Jesus Christ Himself is the central theme of the "elevator speech"? Someone long ago noticed that when you take "Christ" out of "Christian," what do you have left? I-A-N, which stands for "I am nothing," or in the Texan dialect, "I ain't nothin'."

Without Christ, I am nothing. But with Him, I am all I was meant to be, all God designed me to be. With Him, "I can do all things through Him who enables me" (Philippians 4:13).

What About W-I-I-F-M?

What's in it for me? How about forgiveness and a high and noble a reason for living? How about a world-wide support network and a burning message of hope and healing? How about confident anticipation that pierces the dark grave and an expectation of eternity in union with a loving God? What about discovering glimpses of His likeness in your personality even now, and the secure promise that as you follow Him, those glimpses will coalesce into His likeness? What's in it for you? Getting to where you no longer ask such an ego-centric question and ask instead, every day for the rest of your life, "What's in me for Him?"

Now It's Your Turn

See if you can write your own "elevator speech" about being a Christian. Or if you are not a Christian, write about what you are instead. Your own personal elevator speech will help you clarify your thinking regarding who you are and what you're about.

Want to go deeper?

The New Testament authors furnish us with several succinct summaries of the gospel message similar to what I call the "elevator speech." Examine each of the passages in this sampling:
  1. Luke 24:44-48
  2. Acts 10:36-43
  3. 1 Corinthians 15:1-11
  4. 2 Corinthians 5:14-21
  5. Titus 2:11-14
  6. Titus 3:3-8
Now see if you can find some on your own.

Recommended for purchase:


Edmund P. Clowney. Preaching Christ in All of Scripture. Crossway, 2003.




Recommended for online reading:

Gordon Cooke. The God of Glory Thunders: A Christ-Centered Devotional Exposition of Psalm 29 (Evangelical Movement of Wales, 2006).

Benjamin Franklin (1812-1878) – "What Must Men Believe to Be Saved?"

As always, I don't necessarily agree with everything these books teach. Part of "going deeper" is developing your own spiritual discernment. It's good to "taste-test" before swallowing.

Many thanks to brother Steve Singleton, for allowing me to post from his website, deeperstudy.com --- Gary

From Jim McGuiggan... What Christ thinks of the Church

What Christ thinks of the Church

We don't believe in the Church in the same way we believe in Jesus. The truth is, sometimes it's hard to believe in the Church in the way we should be able to believe in the Church. She's such a mess but after a while you get weary of hearing her jeered at and crowed over, especially when her Lord, who can't be fooled, looks at her and tells her he isn't ashamed of her. So maybe it's time that some of us shut our mouths.

The Hebrew writer insisted (2:11) that, "Both the one who makes men holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers." The NRSV brings out his meaning when it says that Jesus who makes people holy and the people he makes holy "all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters."
He’s not ashamed to call us brothers and sisters! Claims like that need to be tasted and savoured a while before they’re subjected to deeper examination. It’s not that the claim will prove false when closely examined; no, that’s not it. It’s just that sometimes we’re too smart for our own good, or worse, sometimes we’re (God help us!) a bit on the cynical side and tend to analyse rather than being moved to embrace things with a joy-filled heart. It’s a bit like wanting to analyse the words of a clean, strong ten or twelve year old boy when he says from a full heart, "I love you dad." We’re supposed to be moved by words like that. Analysis is no bad thing—unless it’s a bad thing, unless it diminishes our joy and leads us to feel embarrassed that we feel so moved and inspired by what we’ve heard.

But some claims are so wonderful that we can hardly help it that we wonder if they can be true; they seem too good to be true! Is the Hebrew writer’s claim not a bit like that? "Jesus who makes people holy and the people he makes holy all have one Father. For this reason Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters."

Who is this that is not ashamed to call us his brothers and sisters? He is the holy one, sinless in his holy righteousness! And is this the one who gladly steps forward and identifies us as his brothers and sisters? The very one! He is the majestic one, Lord over all principalities and powers, might and dominion, Lord of death and life, sovereign over everything from your house to the ends of limitless space. And this is the one who with earnest and eager voice pushes his way through the crowd, puts his arms around our shoulders and says we’re his brothers and sisters? That’s him!

There have been times—even when I was alone—when I’ve been so ashamed of myself that I could hardly bear to identify myself with myself. I’ve known times when petty little bureaucratic tyrants made me go away and wouldn’t even let me tell my sad, pain-filled story. (Oh, God, in all my awful and frequent sinning, have I done that as well? I would like to think I haven’t but I suppose I must have. How horrid.) But he who knows us—truly and fully knows our darkness and shame—tries the door handle and finding it locked, and knowing why we feel we must be alone, begins to knock. "Jim...Jim...come on, open the door. I don’t want you to keep me out, especially at this time." Filled with shame and the sense of our weakness we murmur through the door that all our efforts—such as they are—come to nothing and that we find the world too strong for us. And he who knows that—and knows it full well—leaning his forehead against the door while he knocks, wants to know, "If you could save yourself do you think I ever would have come? I alone have and can overcome the world and it’s only in and through me that you can. Never without me, never apart from me, never the both of us independent of one another; only me and therefore you in me." And he reminds us that his majesty and power is for each of us and that he is bringing us to a life of inexpressible moral glory. This is the one who has become one of us and never repents of having done so. This is the one who is not ashamed of us. Is there better news than that?

"But you don’t understand because you don’t know how far and how often I’ve strayed!" Perhaps, but does he not know? The Christ would want you, me and this whole big round teeming world to know: "There is nothing about you that I don’t know! I take your sins more seriously than you can imagine but I'm not ashamed to call you brothers and sisters."

If you knew where I’ve been you would be ashamed of me.

"I am not ashamed to call you brothers and sisters!"
If you knew what I’ve done, again and again...
"I am not ashamed to call you brothers and sisters!"
If you knew how cold and uncaring my heart is and has been...
"I am not ashamed to call you brothers and sisters!"

©2004 Jim McGuiggan. All materials are free to be copied and used as long as money is not being made.

Many thanks to brother Ed Healy, for allowing me to post from his website, theabidingword.com.

From Mark Copeland... God's Perfect Spokesman (Hebrews 1:1-3)

                      "THE EPISTLE TO THE HEBREWS"

                    God's Perfect Spokesman (1:1-3)

INTRODUCTION

1. In our introductory lesson, we saw how "The Epistle To The Hebrews"
   is unique in its beginning...
   a. There is no mention of the author's name, nor the recipients
   b. Rather, it starts like an "essay" - cf. He 1:1-3

2. We also noted regarding the purpose of the epistle...
   a. To encourage Jewish Christians to remain steadfast in their faith
   b. Accomplished by showing the superiority of Christ and the New
      Covenant

3. That superiority is demonstrated through a number of contrasts...
   a. The very first contrast begins in these first three verses
   b. In which Jesus is contrasted with the prophets of the Old 
      Testament

4. In this lesson, we shall take a close look at the contrast...
   a. Noting how God spoke "in time past", and how He speaks "in these
      last days"
   b. Observing how Jesus is certainly qualified to be "God's Perfect
      Spokesman"

[We begin by considering what is said regarding...]

I. GOD'S SPOKESMEN "IN TIME PAST" (1)

   A. THE EXPRESSION "IN TIME PAST"...
      1. Refers to the period of time prior to the coming of Jesus
      2. I.e., that period of time described in the Old Testament
         (Genesis-Malachi)

   B. GOD SPOKE "TO THE FATHERS BY THE PROPHETS"...
      1. The "fathers" would be the ancestors of the Israelites
      2. The "prophets" would include great men like Samuel, Elijah, 
         Isaiah, Ezekiel, Daniel
         a. The Hebrew word for "prophet" means "one who boils over"
         b. It refers to one who is inspired by God to speak for Him 
            - cf. 2Pe 1:21
      3. At times, the prophets themselves were unsure of what they 
         spoke - 1Pe 1:10-12

   C. GOD SPOKE "AT VARIOUS TIMES AND IN DIFFERENT WAYS"...
      1. His revelation did not come all at once, but progressively at
         different times
      2. His methods varied as well, using visions, dreams, symbols, 
         etc.

[So God has clearly revealed Himself as One who "speaks"; that is, He 
communicates His will to mankind! What He revealed through His prophets
"in time past" is certainly wonderful, but now consider what we learn
regarding...]

II. GOD'S SPOKESMAN "IN THESE LAST DAYS" (2-3)

   A. THE EXPRESSION "IN THESE LAST DAYS"...
      1. Literally, "at the end of these days", which may be understood
         as referring to either:
         a. The closing period of the Jewish age (cf. Milligan)
         b. The period of the Messiah (most commentators)
      2. The Old Testament often spoke of "the last days" - e.g., Isa 2:2; Micah 4:1
      3. As such it often had special reference to the age of the 
         Messiah
         a. The apostles spoke of their time as the time of this 
            fulfillment - Ac 2:16-17
         b. Thus it denotes the final phase of history, brought on by
            the first coming of Christ, continuing until His second 
            coming and the consummation of all things - cf. He 9:26;
            1Pe 1:20; 1Co 10:11

   B. GOD "HAS SPOKEN TO US BY HIS SON"...
      1. God has spoken once again, but note the contrast!
      2. "In time past" it was through "prophets"; but "in these last
         days" it is by "His Son"!
         a. God has sent His own Son to speak for Him!
         b. As wonderful as the prophets were, how can they compare to
            God's own Son?
      -- There is no contrast, especially as we read on and notice...
      
   C. THE EXCELLENCE OF "GOD'S PERFECT SPOKESMAN"...
      1. Jesus is "the appointed heir of all things"!
         a. The author may have had Ps 2:8 in mind, for in verse 5 he
            quotes from Ps 2:7
         b. As the "beloved Son", it is only natural that He would be
            the appointed heir
         c. What does "all things" include?
            1) All that the Father has! - Jn 16:15
            2) The authority to raise and judge the dead - Jn 5:26-29
            3) The authority to rule in heaven and on earth - Mt 28:18
            4) This authority Christ has even now! - Ac 2:36; 10:36;
               Ep 1:20-22; 1Pe 3:22; Re 1:5
      2. Jesus is "through whom He (God) also made the worlds"!
         a. Not only the "Heir", but also the "Creator"!
         b. For it was through the Son that God created the universe 
            - cf. Jn 1:3; Col 1:16
            1) All things were created "by (or through) Him" (He is the
               Creator)
            2) All things were created "for Him" (He is the rightful
               Heir)
      3. Jesus is "the brightness of His (God's) glory"!
         a. In Jesus we see the very radiance of the glory of God!
         b. As John wrote, "...we beheld His glory, the glory as of the
            only begotten of the Father..." - Jn 1:14
         c. When we behold Jesus, we see an extension of the glory of 
            God!
      4. Jesus is "the express image of His (God's) person"!
         a. He is the exact representation of God's being and 
            character! - cf. Col 2:9
         b. Therefore Jesus could say...
            1) To Thomas:  "If you had known me, you would have known
               my Father also; and from now on you know Him and have 
               seen Him." - Jn 14:7
            2) To Philip:  "He who has seen Me has seen the Father;" 
               - Jn 14:9
      5. Jesus is "upholding all things by the word of His power"!
         a. Not only the Creator, but also the Sustainer of the 
            universe - cf. Col 1:17 ("in Him all things consist")
            1) By His word the universe holds together!
            2) All He has to do is say the word, and the universe is no
               more!
         b. Note well:
            1) This illustrates the power of His Word
            2) Shall we not listen when He speaks? - cf. Lk 6:46
      6. Jesus has also "by Himself purged our sins"!
         a. A clear reference to His death on the cross for our sins
         b. This speaks to His role as our Redeemer, a theme that will
            be prominent later in this epistle - cf. He 2:17; 9:26,28
      7. Jesus has also "sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on
         high"!
         a. This Jesus did when He ascended to heaven - Ep 1:20; 1 Pe 3:22
         b. Sitting at the right hand of God is a place of honor, but 
            for Jesus it is also a place from which He reigns!
            1) As indicated in Ep 1:21-22; 1Pe 3:22
            2) It is true that He is waiting for the His enemies to be
               made His footstool (He 10:12-13), but He is reigning
               until that time! - cf. 1Co 15:25-26
            3) As stated in Ps 110:1-2, from which the author to the
               Hebrews quotes, the Messiah was to "rule in the midst of
               Your enemies"
         c. Thus Jesus is truly "the ruler over the kings of earth"
            - Re 1:5; 17:14

CONCLUSION

1. The sentence does not end with verse three...
   a. It continues on into verse four, with a declaration of Jesus' 
      superiority over angels
   b. But that verse and the rest of the chapter we shall save for the
      next study

2. But what have we seen in this lesson?
   a. God is clearly a God who speaks, He makes His Will known to 
      mankind!
   b. And now He speaks through His Son, Who is:
      1) The appointed Heir of all things!
      2) The Creator!
      3) The brightness of God's glory, the express image of His 
         person!
      4) Our Sustainer, Redeemer, and King!

How can one turn their back on Him?  Especially when the Majesty on 
high proclaimed at the Mount of Transfiguration:

   "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. Hear Him!" 
                                       - Mt 17:5

Are you heeding the words of the Beloved Son, "God's Perfect 
Spokesman"? - cf. Mt 28:18-20; Re 2:10

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2011


From Gary... Bible Reading February 24






Bible Reading  

February 24

The World English Bible



Feb. 24
Exodus 5

Exo 5:1 Afterward Moses and Aaron came, and said to Pharaoh, "This is what Yahweh, the God of Israel, says, 'Let my people go, that they may hold a feast to me in the wilderness.' "
Exo 5:2 Pharaoh said, "Who is Yahweh, that I should listen to his voice to let Israel go? I don't know Yahweh, and moreover I will not let Israel go."
Exo 5:3 They said, "The God of the Hebrews has met with us. Please let us go three days' journey into the wilderness, and sacrifice to Yahweh, our God, lest he fall on us with pestilence, or with the sword."
Exo 5:4 The king of Egypt said to them, "Why do you, Moses and Aaron, take the people from their work? Get back to your burdens!"
Exo 5:5 Pharaoh said, "Behold, the people of the land are now many, and you make them rest from their burdens."
Exo 5:6 The same day Pharaoh commanded the taskmasters of the people, and their officers, saying,
Exo 5:7 "You shall no longer give the people straw to make brick, as before. Let them go and gather straw for themselves.
Exo 5:8 The number of the bricks, which they made before, you require from them. You shall not diminish anything of it, for they are idle; therefore they cry, saying, 'Let us go and sacrifice to our God.'
Exo 5:9 Let heavier work be laid on the men, that they may labor therein; and don't let them pay any attention to lying words."
Exo 5:10 The taskmasters of the people went out, and their officers, and they spoke to the people, saying, This is what Pharaoh says: "I will not give you straw.
Exo 5:11 Go yourselves, get straw where you can find it, for nothing of your work shall be diminished."
Exo 5:12 So the people were scattered abroad throughout all the land of Egypt to gather stubble for straw.
Exo 5:13 The taskmasters were urgent saying, "Fulfill your work quota daily, as when there was straw!"
Exo 5:14 The officers of the children of Israel, whom Pharaoh's taskmasters had set over them, were beaten, and demanded, "Why haven't you fulfilled your quota both yesterday and today, in making brick as before?"
Exo 5:15 Then the officers of the children of Israel came and cried to Pharaoh, saying, "Why do you deal this way with your servants?
Exo 5:16 No straw is given to your servants, and they tell us, 'Make brick!' and behold, your servants are beaten; but the fault is in your own people."
Exo 5:17 But he said, "You are idle! You are idle! Therefore you say, 'Let us go and sacrifice to Yahweh.'
Exo 5:18 Go therefore now, and work, for no straw shall be given to you, yet you shall deliver the same number of bricks!"
Exo 5:19 The officers of the children of Israel saw that they were in trouble, when it was said, "You shall not diminish anything from your daily quota of bricks!"
Exo 5:20 They met Moses and Aaron, who stood in the way, as they came forth from Pharaoh:
Exo 5:21 and they said to them, "May Yahweh look at you, and judge, because you have made us a stench to be abhorred in the eyes of Pharaoh, and in the eyes of his servants, to put a sword in their hand to kill us."
Exo 5:22 Moses returned to Yahweh, and said, "Lord, why have you brought trouble on this people? Why is it that you have sent me?
Exo 5:23 For since I came to Pharaoh to speak in your name, he has brought trouble on this people; neither have you delivered your people at all." 

 
Feb. 24, 25
Matthew 28

Mat 28:1 Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to see the tomb.
Mat 28:2 Behold, there was a great earthquake, for an angel of the Lord descended from the sky, and came and rolled away the stone from the door, and sat on it.
Mat 28:3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothing white as snow.
Mat 28:4 For fear of him, the guards shook, and became like dead men.
Mat 28:5 The angel answered the women, "Don't be afraid, for I know that you seek Jesus, who has been crucified.
Mat 28:6 He is not here, for he has risen, just like he said. Come, see the place where the Lord was lying.
Mat 28:7 Go quickly and tell his disciples, 'He has risen from the dead, and behold, he goes before you into Galilee; there you will see him.' Behold, I have told you."
Mat 28:8 They departed quickly from the tomb with fear and great joy, and ran to bring his disciples word.
Mat 28:9 As they went to tell his disciples, behold, Jesus met them, saying, "Rejoice!" They came and took hold of his feet, and worshiped him.
Mat 28:10 Then Jesus said to them, "Don't be afraid. Go tell my brothers that they should go into Galilee, and there they will see me."
Mat 28:11 Now while they were going, behold, some of the guards came into the city, and told the chief priests all the things that had happened.
Mat 28:12 When they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave a large amount of silver to the soldiers,
Mat 28:13 saying, "Say that his disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept.
Mat 28:14 If this comes to the governor's ears, we will persuade him and make you free of worry."
Mat 28:15 So they took the money and did as they were told. This saying was spread abroad among the Jews, and continues until this day.
Mat 28:16 But the eleven disciples went into Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had sent them.
Mat 28:17 When they saw him, they bowed down to him, but some doubted.
Mat 28:18 Jesus came to them and spoke to them, saying, "All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.
Mat 28:19 Therefore go, and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
Mat 28:20 teaching them to observe all things that I commanded you. Behold, I am with you always, even to the end of the age." Amen.



From Gary... Just do it!!!


Today it is cloudy in Florida. Doesn't matter. Today, bills are due- Lord willing I will pay them. This morning I kissed my wife goodbye as she left and told her to drive safely. If something happens to her, it happens. The point here is though matter what happens, the above sign is true.  I like what The Apostle Paul wrote to the young evangelist, Timothy...

2 Timothy, Chapter 4
  1 I command you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at his appearing and his Kingdom:  2 preach the word; be urgent in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with all patience and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not listen to the sound doctrine, but, having itching ears, will heap up for themselves teachers after their own lusts;  4 and will turn away their ears from the truth, and turn aside to fables.  5 But you be sober in all things, suffer hardship, do the work of an evangelist, and fulfill your ministry. 

  6  For I am already being offered, and the time of my departure has come.  7 I have fought the good fight. I have finished the course. I have kept the faith.  8 From now on, there is stored up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will give to me on that day; and not to me only, but also to all those who have loved his appearing.

Heaven awaits the faithful, so be faithful!!! Encourage others to be and be sure to give them a good example to follow!!! Every single day we chose to go to HEAVEN or to a much warmer and unpleasant place (how's that for being euphemistic?). Purpose in your heart to be the best you can be and be happy!!!!  Enough said- just do it!!!