President Trump visited Pittsburgh, Pa., this week to pay his respects to those in the Jewish community who were killed by a deranged gunman. And interesting contrast was noted. The synagogue’s rabbi was appreciative, and respectful to the president. A short distance away a female Presbyterian pastor repeatedly shouted at the president, “Everybody is welcome here. You’re not welcome here.” She sounded deranged.
Theology is the doctrine of what is true and what is false about God. Ethics is the doctrine of what is right and what is wrong. Duty and doctrine always go together, for it is not enough for us to understand explanations about God, we must translate our learning into living. We must show, by our daily living, that we trust God’s Word.
We unfortunately are living in the post-modern world, and one of the characteristics of this world is it disavows truth. Truth has been replace by feelings, and therefore, the answer to an ethical question is, “If it feels right, it is right.” A response to someone’s unsubstantiated testimony is, “I believe your truth.” Yuck, too wishy-washy for me.
In this post-modern world there is a lot of crazy talk, vitriol, and anger, like what was witnessed in Pittsburgh. It is designed by Satan to confuse you and confound you, and separate you from real truth. As Christians we walk in the sandals of the carpenter. This means His theology and His doctrine are ours, and we are to translate that theology and doctrine into all we do.
In His Sandals,
A doxology is a hymn of highest praise to God for his work. Paul once sang this doxology, “Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been his counselor? Who has ever given to God that God should repay him? For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen” Rom 11:33-36).
Think about “The depth … of God.” The word depth in the Greek is an expression for an inexhaustible abundance. The word applied to God means God is a bottomless or infinite in resource of riches, wisdom, and knowledge. In thinking of the depth of God it is proper for us to consider His riches, His wisdom, and His knowledge in His dealings with us, for have they not been, and are they not an inexhaustible abundance?
We cannot fully understand how this is all possible, but just because we do not understand how it is possible for God to be involved in our lives does not mean we should reject Him. We like Paul should contemplate the plan of God in our lives. With such a thought, our hearts should also be filled with awe, and we in turn should responds with our own hymn of highest praise for the things God has done in our lives.
Jesus said, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man abides in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). What does abide in Jesus mean? The answer is found in something else Jesus said, “If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching. My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him,” (John 14:23). Jesus is concerned about the interior life of a believer; the struggle that is going on inside of a Christian.
Today our struggle is finding meaning to life in a world framed by suffering, and evil. We want answers that have meaning to our lives. But we live in the post-modern world that disavows truth, and settles on feelings as the answers to what is right, “If it feels right, it’s right.” In the world today truth is what you believe it to be.
Jesus did not come to give us a new thought; though there is nothing more profound then knowing him. He did not come to give us a new experience; though there is nothing more life changing than him. He did not come to give you a new list of things to do; though we are known by the things we do. Christianity is rooted in abiding in Jesus. The apostle John once wrote, “In him was life, and that life was the light of men” (1:4). Jesus is not an abstract thought, he is real, and abiding in Him gives us the answer we seek.
When I meet someone new, and they find out I’m a pastor, they inevitably ask, “What denomination are you?” They are surprised when I tell them I’m not from any denomination, I’m just a Christian. I answer this because when you read and study the Bible you learn that those who respond to what the Bible teaches become only one thing – Christian.
A Christian believes in the Catholic Church, or the universal church, but they are not Roman Catholic. They believe in the reformation of the church, but they are not Lutheran. They believe in in baptism, but they are not Baptist. They believe in the orthodoxy of the church, but they are not Orthodox. They believe in Pentecost, but they are not Pentecostal.
A Christian simply opens the Bible and replicates what Christians did in the first century. What did they do? They met on the first day of the week, which is Sunday. They sang songs of praise to God, and Jesus. They celebrated communion. They read from the Torah, and from the letters from the Apostles as they received them. They prayed for each other. They baptized new believers. They met regularly with each other during the week. They receive gifts from the Holy Spirit known as fruits of the spirits, and used those gifts to enhance the Church, and to further the Gospel. Finally they welcomed others into their meetings.
That is what the first church did, and that is what this church does. We do it because we are just Christians.
Just a Christian,
We all have a Bible in our home. It was probably gifted to you when you went through confirmation class, or graduated from high school. Since that gifting it has followed you around through your various moves. There are two remarkable similarities to all those Bibles that are out there in our homes. First, though different in translation, they all have the same message: God loves you, and Christ died for you so that you can have eternal life. Second, those Bibles have lasted all this time because no one has ever read them.
Paul wrote, “When I was a child I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became an adult, I put childish ways behind me” (1Cor. 13:11). Isn’t it time we put away our childish thoughts about the Bible, and began reading it?
Here are some hints to help you read that Bible. The first hint is what the Bible is about. Genesis 1-11 is about the fall of man. Genesis 12 – Revelation 22 is God’s response to that fall. It’s God’s offer to man for a way back to Him. That’s the whole story in a nutshell. Second, just read 7 minutes a day, but before you start pray. Third, start your reading in the Book of Luke, then go to Acts, and then to Genesis. Once you have read these three book you will have the big picture of the Bible. From there you can skip around and read any of the books that interest you.
Throwing clay is a profession unchanged, for today, as centuries ago, it consists of just three parts: the potter, the wheel and the clay. A metaphor arises out of the image: The potter is God’s authority, the wheel is the circumstances in which we live, and the clay is our nature being molded by God. God, my circumstances, and my life is an interesting metaphor. God has a thought of me, the circumstances of my life are turning and fashioning what God plans for me to be. However, I can rebel and take the clay out of the Potter’s hands, but to do so is to render my life useless. Think of the wrecks in the potter’s field; half formed, marred, and broken. Lives that might have been forms of beauty, but they did not yield.
“So they used the money to buy the potter’s field” (Matt 27:7), and they called it the field of blood (Cf. 8). At one time we were all wrecks, and could be found as discarded and broken in the potter’s field. A field that was bought with the blood money.
Sounds hopeless! But we rejoice when we read from the book of Jeremiah, “But the pot he was shaping from the clay was marred in his hands; so the potter formed it into another pot, shaping as it seemed best to him” (Jer. 18:4).
I came across this poem by Henry Francis Lyte. The first two verses are:
Abide with me! Fast falls the eventide;
The darkness deepens, Lord, with me abide!
When other helpers fail, and comforts flee,
Help of the helpless, O abide with me!
Swift to its close ebbs out life’s little day!
Earth’s joys grow dim, in glories pass away,
Change and decay in all around I see,
O thou, who changest nor, abide with me!
Mr. Lyte wrote this poem 2 weeks before his death. What caused him to write his poem? When we are close to the end of our life the curtain between this world and the next grows thin, and causes us to look for something we can hold on to. Mr. Lyte was looking for a rock, and he found the rock to be Jesus Christ.
Where does one find Jesus? We find him in Bible verses such as “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” In such verses we find the perfect answer to the questions a person has when death draws near.
In this verse we see that Christ was always alive. Christ was at the beginning. Christ will be at the ending. Christ is unchanging, never destroyed, and never weary. We may tire, but no matter how tired we may be, he never tires, and never fails. No one who ever walks with Christ found themselves bored, for He is forever bringing to them new surprises that amaze them. He is the same yesterday, and today, and forever.