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Seeking truth and want to know more about God, Christ, the Gospel, and God's Book? Come join us or we will come study with you. Message us here.

(229) 226-4102
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711 E Pinetree Blvd
PO BOX 6116
Thomasville, GA 31792

Articles
Thursday, February 11 2021

These "table talk" discussions to encourage conversations about God and reality that intersect with your family and friendships. Having begun and concluded with prayer, we can talk to family, friends, peers, and neighbors (Colossians 4:2–6). Here are 5 discussions for 5 days:

 

1. What would you say to a friend who said that they do not believe unborn infants and the elderly have a right to life?

- Can human rights exist equally and constantly for everyone if there is no Creator? Why?

- Do people commonly do what Isaiah 5:20 says some have done to morality? Why?

 

2. Would it be good if your peers determined what is right and wrong for others based on their views?

- How does belief and trust in God change a person's beliefs about what is right and wrong?

- How does Romans 2:14–15 convey the reality of a common moral code?

 

3. How would you respond if a family member justified times when abusing others, murder, stealing, and lying about others are not always wrong?

- Where do right and wrong behaviors come from — self, society, survival, or God?

- Can someone be righteous who does not know God according to 1 John 2:4–10?

 

4. How would you talk to a friend who spreads gossip but thinks it is wrong for others to slander her?

- Do people's views of what is right and wrong change when their beliefs come from self and society rather than God?

- How would hypocrisy cause problems according to Romans 2:17–24?

 

5. Should you remain silent when a friend poisons his mind with lies and speaks evil as long as he does not hurt others and himself physically?

- Why would someone choose not to consider God as the constant standard to determine right and wrong, good and evil?

- Do you think your friends and family would agree with the description of rebellion against God in Romans 1:18–21? 

Posted by: Scott J Shifferd AT 07:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, February 09 2021

When does a pregnancy become a human life in the womb? At conception, the fertilized egg becomes a living cell with its own human genetic code. In a week after conception, the living fertilized cell, a zygote, forms into a blastocyst, a human life as a group of cells. In the third week from conception, the human life changes from the blastocyst to enter the embryonic stage developing nerve cells, blood cells, kidney cells, and a heart, brain, and gastrointestinal tract that begin to grow. In weeks 4–5, the heart of the human life is beating blood and has eyes, ears, arms, and legs that are beginning to grow (MedlinePlus Medical Encyclopedia – online 17 September 2020). After this stage, women can confirm pregnancy of this human life as early as 4–8 weeks.

            The Bible and science agree that human life begins at conception. In chapter 1 of Luke’s Gospel, an angel reported to Mary that the Holy Spirit will come upon her so that she would conceive a son — the Son of God. Likewise, the angel told Mary that her relative Elizabeth “conceived a son” (Luke 1:35–36). The Scriptures do not describe a mass of tissue or some other substance as conceived within these women but they conceived “sons.” Furthermore, Luke reported, “the baby leaped in the womb” when Elizabeth heard the voice of Mary (Luke 1:41, 44). Elizabeth blessed Mary by the Holy Spirit calling her “the mother of my Lord” (Luke 1:43). Mary was already a mother of her unborn Son, and Elizabeth had a baby in her womb as she was 6 months pregnant.

            A baby in the womb is a child from conception. Jesus declared via Isaiah, “The LORD called Me from the womb, from the body of My mother He named My name” (Isaiah 49:1). The Scriptures note throughout that children are in the womb of the pregnant woman. Moses described Esau and Jacob as children in the womb (Genesis 25:22). Paul described how Rebekah “conceived children” who were not yet born (Romans 9:10–12). A human life in the womb is a child (Ruth 1:11; 2 Kings 19:3). The Bible revealed, “Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward” (Psalm 127:3). The wicked nations do not pity “the fruit of the womb” as Isaiah 13:18 states, “they will have no mercy on the fruit of the womb; their eyes will not pity children.”

            When does a human life become worthy of protection? God forms life in the womb as God makes each child in the likeness of His image. The prophet and king, David revealed that God formed him “in my mother’s womb” for this he declared that he was “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:13–14; cf. Genesis 1:26–27). God warned and declared, “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in His own image” (Genesis 9:6). When God commanded, “You shall not murder,” He clarified that if a man hits a pregnant woman causing a miscarriage, then the payment is “life for a life” referring to the order to execute that guilty man (Exodus 21:22–25). Without God, no one has an objective moral standard to oppose murder. By God, no one has the right to choose to end the life of an unborn child.

            Love does not murder (Romans 13:8–10). God condemned murder as God commanded, “Do not kill the innocent,” which is the definition of murder (Exodus 23:7; Proverb 6:16–17). Jesus taught that murder is an evil that comes from the heart (Matthew 15:19–20; Mark 7:20–23). Jesus instructed, “See that you do not despise one of these little ones. For I tell you that in heaven their angels always see the face of my Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 18:10; cf. Psalm 106:36–39). Christians must receive children in His name to receive Christ (Mark 9:36–37).

            Should we trust any civil leader who supports the practice of ending a pregnancy as a right and a choice? Since 1973, the CDC counts ~1.4 million to 700,000 abortions each year in the U.S. totaling about 60 million deaths. Should we trust leaders who support abortion as though they are too incompetent to know that clinicians are dismembering unborn human lives in the womb? Do they not care to uphold the right to life endowed by the Creator? God’s judgment is just and clear. Christians have the wisdom to choose just leaders who respect every human life.

Posted by: Scott J Shifferd AT 07:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Thursday, February 04 2021

The cost of following Christ has never changed. However, many hesitate at the idea of dying to self and being raised from baptism to a new life. How can Christians help others to overcome the hesitation to give one’s life to Christ?

 

1. Continue to share the gospel to help others to realize the love of God in Jesus’s sacrifice for them. Jesus paid the debt of death for sins. He ransomed the faithful with His blood (1 Peter 1:18–19). Christ declared, “For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45 ESV). Christ demonstrated His love for all by overcoming death and sin (Romans 5:8).

 

2. Emphasize that one’s life must be lost to be saved. Many are reserved about giving oneself a living sacrifice, and that lives behind the resistance to baptism (Romans 12:1). Christ declared, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will save it” (Luke 9:23–24). By accepting this verse that dying to oneself is essential to salvation, then one will be more willing to accept the teaching of new life from baptism (Romans 6:4–5; Colossians 2:12–13). Furthermore, the apostle Paul taught the truth of Jesus Christ that believers “put off the old self” of the former manner of life and be renewed in the mind “to put on the new self” (Ephesians 4:21–24).

 

3. Encourage them to count the cost. Counting the cost may cause some to back away, but counting the cost is essential for a complete commitment to avoid falling away. Jesus taught, “Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’” (Luke 14:27–30).

 

4. Focus on the peace of following Christ to overcome anxiety. Jesus revealed, “Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light” (Matthew 10:28–30). Christ lightens the burdens of life so that every fearful possibility and worst-case scenario are no longer threats. For the faithful, God gives us peace beyond understanding (Philippians 4:4–7).

 

5. Teach the hope of eternal life. God blesses the faithful now and in the age to come (Mark 10:29–31). Jesus proclaimed, “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:40). Paul revealed that Jesus Christ “will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself” (Philippians 3:20–21).

 

6. Warn about the coming judgment as Jesus did (Matthew 7:13–14, 21–23; 13:36–50; John 12:48). Jesus taught, “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved; whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). The apostles revealed, “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each one may receive what is due for what he has done in the body, whether good or evil” (2 Corinthians 5:10; cf. Acts 17:31; 1 Peter 4:17).

 

7. Pray for those whom you encourage. God desires that Christians pray for all people because God desires that all be saved (1 Timothy 2:1–4; cf. Romans 10:1). Therefore, "Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving" (Colossians 4:2).

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Tuesday, February 02 2021

What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” (Romans 6:1–2 ESV). Since the grace of God through Jesus Christ has brought forgiveness of sins, many have sought to take advantage of God’s forgiving grace. Some say, “God understands that I need to let loose. I mean God gave me these desires.” God’s grace saves repentant-baptized believers from sins so that they no longer let sin reign over them. “If I cannot continue to sin, what use is grace to me?”

            For the perimeter of God’s forgiveness, the apostle John’s words in 1 John 1 are excellent for understanding the extent of God’s forgiving grace. John wrote, “But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin” (1 John 1:7). Walking in the light means that Christians no longer continue to sin (1 John 2:1–6; 3:4–6; cf. Hebrews 10:26–27). Walking in the light does not mean that Christians must not ever sin again. John noted after this, “If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us” (1 John 1:8). For Christians, confessing these sins to God is essential to forgiveness as John expanded, “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us” (1 John 1:9–10). Therefore, Christians can live with great confidence when we faithfully walk in the light and live apart willfully continuing to sin. The perimeters of God’s grace are that God continues to wash away our sins as the faithful walk in the light and confess our sins to Him.

            How do the conditions of God’s grace change the conditions of the Christian’s life? The apostle Paul explained that believers are baptized into the death of Christ to walk in a new life apart from sin (Romans 6:3–4). Baptized believers are crucifying the old person with Christ in order that they may destroy the body of sin to no longer be enslaved to sin (Romans 6:6). Because of the deadly nature of sin, the apostle expanded and taught, “Therefore, sin must not reign in your mortal body unto this to obey your desires” (Romans 6:12). Grace trains Christians to deny apathy and worldly desires to live controlled, upright, and devoted lives (Titus 2:12). Further in Romans 6, Paul commanded that Christians must not offer the members of one’s body as instruments of unrighteousness and sin, but offer themselves to God as alive from the dead and offer one’s members as instruments of righteousness to God because Christians are under grace (Romans 6:13–14). However, God’s grace through Jesus Christ does not permit continual sinning (Romans 6:15). Christians must allow God’s grace to train them and change them. A person is a servant to what they obey either to sin unto death or to obedience unto righteousness (6:16). Offering the members of one’s body as an obedient servant of God brings the believer to righteousness and unto holiness (6:19).

            By God’s grace, all people have the opportunity to repent (2 Peter 3:9). God’s forgiving grace for the evil that we have done urges repentance. For God’s grace and mercy, Paul declared, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship” (Romans 12:1). Thank God for His forgiving grace and the conditions of grace in Jesus Christ. Christians can live with great confidence when we walk in the light and live apart from willfully living in sin. God continues to wash away our sins as we walk in the light and confess our sins to Him.

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Thursday, January 28 2021

“Could evangelism be easier?” That depends. Evangelism does not need to be overly complex, as many have made it. Throughout the churches of Christ, many teach programs requiring the memorization of hundreds of Bible verses. The trainers use of a number of pamphlets filled with questions and 30 or more scriptures about the church but not so much about the hope of the gospel. When the trainer is finished training the trainee, he is already burned out or frustrated because no one wants to study with him. What can we do about this? Consider the examples of Jesus, the apostles, and the evangelists in the Bible.

            Christians should follow the examples of asking discussion questions to hear why people believe what they believe and then teaching a few scriptures ready to share the gospel with others (especially our unchurched friends who are open to faith in God and Christ). Christians should also consider the various ways that we have for sharing these passages such as posting on social media, asking a family member, friend, or coworker what they think of a scripture, mentioning a scripture in passing conversation to a neighbor, and requesting to come by one’s home and talk about God.

Here are my suggested scriptures for your consideration and reference in personal evangelism:

 

1. Predictions of the Coming Messiah: Isaiah 53

 

2. The Identity of Jesus: Acts 2:22–24

 

3. Witnesses of Jesus’s Resurrection: 1 Corinthians 15:1–8

 

4. Hope of the Resurrection: John 6:39–40

 

5. Warning of God’s Judgment: Matthew 7:13–14

 

6. Obeying the Gospel: Luke 9:23–24; Romans 6:3–6

 

This list comes from a number of examples of evangelism in the Bible. Evangelists in the Bible supported their faith in Jesus by referencing preexisting predictions of the coming Christ as Peter did in Acts 2:14–36 and Philip in Acts 8:26–40. They used these scriptures to launch into sharing the life of Jesus (Acts 2:22–24). They further supported the gospel with witnesses of Jesus’s resurrection (Acts 2:32; 13:30–31). Jesus’s resurrection opened the door to teach hope of eternal life (Acts 17:18, 32; 23:6; 24:15; 26:6). They warned of the coming judgment and pleaded that people repent and be baptized (Acts 2:40; 13:38–41; 17:30–31). Christians should proclaim that very biblical presentation today.

            The Christian must rely on Jesus and the Bible for persuading others about the truth of the gospel for faith comes from hearing the Word of Christ (Romans 10:17). After studying the gospel according to scriptures like these, then Christians can plead with friends and family members, who share the same faith and hope in the gospel, for the need of churches to repent and restore New Testament Christianity. The effective evangelist starts with the gospel and then the Lord adds to the church. Thank God for these biblical examples of evangelism.

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Tuesday, January 26 2021

Is there any archeological evidence for the core Christian belief of Jesus’s resurrection? Yes, there is archeological evidence that supports the Christian faith in Jesus’s resurrection. Archeologists continue to uncover artifacts of ancient Jewish tombs and monuments. Artifacts are material evidence that rely on the corroboration of primary sources according to the legal-historical method. The evidence from archeology aligns with the historical sources for the resurrection of Jesus. Historians have authenticated Jesus's earliest followers who testified of Jesus’s resurrection. Jesus's apostles told all that they witnessed, saw, heard, touched, and ate with Jesus who was bodily alive after death (Luke 24; 1 Corinthians 15:1–8).

 

The following 3 archeological finds support the truth that Jesus’s followers believed that they witnessed Jesus bodily risen and alive from the dead and they told the world:

 

1. Jehohanan’s Ankle and Nail – A bone-box of a crucified man named Jehohanan was found in a tomb of Jerusalem that demonstrated that one could receive an honorable burial after crucifixion. Bone-boxes or “ossuaries” contained the bones of the deceased a year after one’s death. The Jews buried in this way in preparation for the coming resurrection of the dead. Some critical scholars have doubted that Jesus had an honorable burial according to the custom of the Jews because the Romans crucified Jesus as claiming to be king in rebellion against Rome. However, the remains of Jehohanam’s ankle and nail disprove that assumption.

 

2. The Nazareth Inscription - The Nazareth Inscription is a marble tablet in the once insignificant town of Nazareth that gives a Roman imperial decree in Greek from Emperor Claudius (AD 41–54). The inscription warns of capital punishment for those who move a body from a grave or tomb. Why would Emperor Claudius have this posted in Nazareth in the first century? The best and most obvious explanation is the spread of the message of Jesus’s empty tomb and resurrection. The emperor of Rome blamed Jesus’s empty tomb on theft and this event was so significant that he posted a decree.

 

3. The Bone-Box of James the Son of Joseph – The discovery of a bone-box with the inscription of “James, the son of Joseph, brother of Jesus.” The inscription on the bone-box noting 3 names is too specific to be any other than James the brother of Jesus of Nazareth. Not only was Jesus’s tomb empty but no bone-box exists for Him like His brother James.

 

Where is the bone-box of Jesus? Where is His grave? Where is Jesus's body? Why is Jesus's tomb empty? With these noted artifacts, each person can observe that Jesus of Nazareth lived, died, and was buried. No one knew where Jesus’s body had gone soon after His death. Something about Jesus’s empty tomb disturbed the whole world so that Caesar Claudius recognized the insignificant town of Nazareth in the province of Judea. These artifacts are supporting evidence of the message that spread early in the first century when people claimed to have witnessed Jesus alive from the dead. This evidence challenges everyone to explain the missing body of Jesus and the witnesses of His resurrection that started a movement that changed the world. The earliest claims bear the most explanative power that explains the message of Jesus’s resurrection from the dead. This is even more reasonable considering the universe must have a supernatural, superpowerful, and super-creative cause that brought life into being from nonliving material.

            Christians have concluded that Jesus resurrected from the dead. One cannot be a Christian unless that person believes that Jesus bodily resurrected. The apostle Paul stated, “And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is in vain and your faith is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14 ESV). Furthermore, Paul observed, “And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile and you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17). Therefore, Christians thank God that Jesus rose from the dead.

            Thank God that Jesus did resurrect. The apostle Paul taught, “Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with Him. We know that Christ, being raised from the dead, will never die again; death no longer has dominion over Him” (Romans 6:8–9).

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Thursday, January 21 2021

Is Jesus’s tomb empty? Did Jesus have even a tomb? Did Jesus really receive an honorable burial? Critical scholars have wrestled to answer these questions, but the faithful have confidence in the facts. The following list includes basic facts from obvious sources for Jesus’s burial and empty tomb:

 

1. One of the earliest sources that attest to Jesus’s burial comes from Saul of Tarsus who taught the account that he received at conversion. Saul also called Paul wrote, “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that He was buried, that He was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, and that He appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve” (1 Corinthians 15:3–5 ESV). Critical and believing scholars agree that this statement of faith predates the writing of 1 Corinthians to about AD 35 a few years after Jesus’s crucifixion. This confession of faith aligns with Peter’s preaching that David's body remains buried in his tomb but Peter and witnesses attested that Jesus resurrected (Acts 2:22–29). Furthermore, Paul’s teaching about baptism confirms his faith in Jesus’s burial. Paul taught that baptism was a burial uniting a believer with Christ in His death (Romans 6:4; Colossians 2:12). As a witness of the empty tomb, Peter connected baptism with having power “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3:21; cf. 2 Peter 1:16).

 

2. Another significant fact is that Joseph Arimathea, a council member of the Jewish supreme court, placed Jesus’s body in his unused tomb (Mark 15:43; cf. Matthew 27:57; Luke 23:50; John 19:38). Many would have refuted claims like this if Joseph of Arimathea did not exist and did not bury the body of Jesus. Joseph’s family would have certainly objected. However, no contrary testimony exists as would have remained if Joseph of Arimathea did not bury Jesus’s body in his tomb.

 

3. Another significant detail supporting Jesus’s empty tomb is that women and not the apostles were the first to find the tomb empty. This account comes from Mark 15:46–16:8. The earliest Christian writers include Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John who wrote that women were the first witnesses to find empty the tomb of Jesus and experienced hearing from messengers that Jesus had resurrected from the dead (Matthew 27:61; Luke 24:1–3; John 20:1). Anyone finding the empty tomb of Jesus before Jesus’s apostles would have embarrassed the apostles especially because they report that they hid in fear (John 20:19). This criterion of embarrassment affirms Jesus's tomb was empty.

 

4. A hostile source from an ancient Jewish denial of Jesus’s resurrection claimed that the guards at the tomb witnessed the disciples of Jesus taking His body from the tomb (Matthew 28:11–14). However, this conspiracy accusation against Jesus’s disciples did not stand without witnesses because the apostles attested of Jesus’s resurrection despite the threats of persecution. Furthermore, the accusation proves that Jewish leaders set guards at Jesus’s tomb, and thus Jesus must have been buried in a known tomb that was confirmed to be empty.

 

The big question is “What happened to the body of Jesus?” Many past skeptics have suggested a few possible alternatives for who took Jesus’s body, but now unbelieving scholars assume an agnostic position and give no plausible explanations. The assertion of such possibilities is a faulty way of reasoning and finding the truth.

            The basic facts for Jesus’s burial and empty tomb continue encouraging many to consider the empty tomb, ancient predictions, and witnesses of Jesus’s resurrection. The apostles proclaimed these evidences and so should we (Acts 2:22–36; 13:26–41; cf. 1 Corinthians 15:3–11).

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Tuesday, January 19 2021

When Jesus cried out and yielded up His spirit in His death on the cross, the earth quaked, rocks split, and tombs opened. After Jesus resurrected, many saints resurrected bodily and came out of the tombs and appeared to many in Jerusalem (Matthew 27:50–53). The centurion who oversaw Jesus’s execution was in awe seeing the earthquake and its effect so that he declared, “Truly this was the Son of God” (Matthew 27:54). Why did these saints resurrect when Jesus resurrected?

            Jesus’s resurrection is the power of resurrection for all. Did Jesus need to be buried in a tomb for others to come forth from the tombs? Christ predicted, “Do not marvel at this, for an hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come out, those who have done good to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil to the resurrection of judgment” (John 5:28–29 ESV). Jesus promised to resurrect everyone who believes in Him on the last day (John 6:39–40). He revealed, “Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day” (John 6:54).

            The apostle Paul wrote that those who have united in Jesus’s death by baptism will rise in a resurrection like Christ’s resurrection (Romans 6:4–5). How so? Paul spoke of the power of the Holy Spirit revealing, “If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in you” (Romans 8:11). Paul taught, “Knowing that He who raised the Lord Jesus will raise us also with Jesus and bring us with you into His presence” (2 Corinthians 4:14). The faithful will resurrect bodily as Jesus resurrected. The apostle Paul noted, “And God raised the Lord and will also raise us up by His power” (1 Corinthians 6:14). Jesus is the firstfruits of the resurrection. He is the beginning of the coming resurrection (1 Corinthians 15:20–26).

            The nature of the resurrected will be bodily and spiritual. The natural body will change and put on the immortal and imperishable nature. The apostle Paul revealed, “So is it [the glory] with the resurrection of the dead. What is sown is perishable; what is raised is imperishable” (1 Corinthians 15:42). How can this be? The mortal body does not dissolve forever but resurrects and changes (1 Corinthians 15:51–52). “For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:53). Paul noted that the resurrected will not put off the body but put on the new nature as he also stated, “For while we are still in this tent, we groan, being burdened — not that we would be unclothed, but that we would be further clothed, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life” (2 Corinthians 5:4). Otherwise, “I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable” (1 Corinthians 15:50). The body must change to enter the heavenly homeland.

            For this reason, the apostle rejoiced, “Thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 15:57). Jesus’s resurrection is the reason that the gospel is the power of God to salvation (Romans 1:16). Jesus’s resurrection is the source and the reminder of the hope of eternal life. Paul declared, “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved” (Romans 8:23–24a). Therefore, let us proclaim the gospel of Jesus’s resurrection with hope of eternal life.

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Thursday, January 14 2021

Many lack faith in God by lacking faith in God’s promises. However, Abraham had no unbelief that hindered his faith. Paul reported, “No unbelief made him waver concerning the promise of God, but he grew strong in his faith as he gave glory to God, fully convinced that God was able to do what he had promised. That is why his faith was ‘counted to him as righteousness.’” (Romans 4:20–22 ESV). Abraham was willing to sacrifice his son Isaac because Abraham believed that God would allow him to return home with Isaac (Genesis 22:5). It is written, “He considered that God was able even to raise him from the dead, from which, figuratively speaking, he did receive him back” (Hebrews 11:19).

            Why did Abraham believe that God would resurrect Isaac? This is not because the Scriptures report that God told Abraham that He would resurrect Isaac. Abraham believed that God could resurrect the dead and would resurrect Isaac because God keeps His promises. God promised, “Through Isaac shall your offspring be named” (Hebrews 11:18; cf. Genesis 21:12). Many misotheists (haters of God) revile the Bible for teaching that God would command a father to kill his son. However, Abraham’s faith demonstrated that he believed God was just and there was no evil in sacrificing his son, because God promised to bless the nations through his son. Abraham believed that God must intend to resurrect the innocent and just.

          God saves those who trust in Him specifically those who share the faith of Abraham (Romans 4:13–16). God’s grace is promised to more than the Israelites who received the Law but to all who have faith among all nations of the world (Romans 4:16). For this reason, Paul reported that Abraham is the father of all the faithful among the nations. Paul wrote, “as it is written, ‘I have made you the father of many nations’ — in the presence of the God in whom he believed, who gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist” (Romans 4:17). Trusting in God is believing that God brought everything in the universe into existence, so God can restore even recreate the bodies of the dead to life.

          The Pauline writer of Hebrews declared, “By faith we understand that the universe was created by the word of God, so that what is seen was not made out of things that are visible” (Hebrews 11:3). In other words, faith in God is the only view that accounts for everything and makes sense of reality. The faith that perceives the attributes of the Creator in the creation is the faith that a Christian must have. The writer of Hebrews further explained, “And without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

            Abraham believed in God’s power to create, resurrect, and prepare a place for the resurrected. By faith, Abraham obeyed God and went to live in the Promised Land because “he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God” (Hebrews 11:10). Christians live the way that Abraham did because the faithful like Abraham look forward to a city in a heavenly homeland that God has designed for them when they resurrect. Those who die in faith “desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore God is not ashamed to be called their God, for he has prepared for them a city” (Hebrews 11:16).

            For Abraham, “faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Do you have faith like Abraham? Do you believe God will resurrect the faithful and believe in God’s coming judgment? Jesus’s resurrection is the gospel of hope that Christians proclaim as Jesus's resurrection is essential to the Christian faith. Thank God that Jesus bodily rose from the dead.

Posted by: Scott J Shifferd AT 07:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email
Tuesday, January 12 2021

People are fascinated with other worlds in books, movies, video games, and vacations. Most like to think of the experiences of traveling to foreign places. The anticipation in planning to travel is a part of the joy. Why does the anticipation of a better place appear to be innate within most people? Many dream of a better life. What about the afterlife?

            Some describe death or the afterlife as a great adventure. Many debate whether life exists after death. Beliefs about the cause of all life determine what someone believes about the afterlife. While nothing is what rocks dream about, people dream of other worlds. Engineers design roving robots to detect their environment before they create them in one place and test them for use in anticipation for other locations. Why do humans desire better homes? Why do so many look forward to an afterlife?

            People can see that the cause of the universe must exist beyond the universe and its natural laws. No mindless cause of the universe can decide how intelligent life would come to exist and understand its origin. However, the intelligent Cause would engineer intelligent life that can reason that the original cause of the universe is the intelligent Creator. Therefore, one must think rightly about God who created human life to want to keep living and who made every place of people to dwell. For God, another world to come is no challenge for Him.

            By a reasonable faith in God, Christians hope for life in a renewed body resurrected never to die (Romans 8:23; 1 Corinthians 6:14; 15:53). The Christian faith is the most reasonable hope for human life to be restored to life after death by the Creator of all living things. The afterlife is apparent in trusting the witnesses of Jesus’s resurrection. The hope of eternal life fills Christians with joy to live another kind of life now and forever. Those who rise again to eternal life must have a compatible place to live. Jesus gave hope to His followers by overcoming death and preparing a place for them (John 14:1–3; 1 Corinthians 15:20–28; 2 Timothy 1:10). Christians look forward to a city in a heavenly country designed and prepared by God for the faithful (Hebrews 11:10, 16).

            In Matthew's Gospel, Jesus of Nazareth taught His disciples while sitting on a mountain by first proclaiming blessings as the conditions of joy and happiness that align with the character of those who are faithful to God. Jesus’s blessings foretold of the coming kingdom that His followers looked forward to entering (Matthew 5:3–12). Jesus described the kingdom of heaven as a place of comfort, fulfillment, and mercy for those who mourn sin, hunger for righteousness, and are merciful to others. The kingdom of God includes the meek inheriting the earth that is the heavenly land (Matthew 5:5; 19:28–29; cf. 2 Pet 3:13; Rev 21:1–2). In that kingdom, the pure of heart will see God, and those who make peace will be called “sons of God” (5:8). Jesus encouraged His followers to express joy when others curse, persecute, and slander them (5:10–12). Why? The teacher taught His students that the kingdom of heaven is theirs. The kingdom of God is worth the trials of life, so we trust God.

            Do we have the character of those who inherit the kingdom? The character of those entering the kingdom are humility in spirit, mourning human rebellion, meekness in self-control, hunger for righteousness, merciful in abundance, purity in heart, makers of peace, and enduring persecution for righteousness. By the hope of the kingdom of heaven, Jesus called His followers to be salt and light in the world (Matthew 5:13–16). The glory of those faithful to God is like a city on a hill that no one can hide. The follower of Jesus is a light that illuminates an otherwise dark room so everyone can see (5:15). Followers of Christ give light so that others can see their works and praise God (5:16).

           Thank God for the hope of eternal life! God help us to live by the character of the kingdom according to Jesus’s preaching!       

Posted by: Scott J Shifferd AT 07:00 am   |  Permalink   |  Email

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