As the Lord’s church, what is the best thing we can do for people living in sin? A great many are living outright wicked lives. Some seem to be just plain evil, mean people. Their rule in life is to do whatever they’re big enough to get away with. If it means stealing what belongs to others, no big deal as long as they don’t get caught. They force their will on others through violence and intimidation. They have virtually no conscience about anything they do.
Next Sunday evening I plan to begin an in-depth study on what we can learn from the scriptures about the Holy Spirit. What a great topic, and what a needed study! There is a great deal of interest in the Holy Spirit today, yet there is much confusion and misunderstanding on the subject. The only way to eliminate the confusion is to search the scriptures to see what the Bible really says.
Traditionally, today is a day when people all over the world think in a special way about Jesus, His death on the cross and resurrection from the grave. He went to the cross to die for the guilt of the sins of all humanity for all time (Heb. 7:27; 9:27-28). For all humanity? Yes, for all humanity. For all time? Yes, for all time. But Jesus’ death on the cross holds its greatest meaning for you personally when you view His death as being for you. You cannot make the death of Jesus have meaning for all humanity. You can only make His death have meaning based upon how you personally react to it. So, are you worth the death of Jesus
The scriptures teach us that Jesus gave up His place of equality with God in Heaven in order to come to this earth and live as a man for a time. He came as the Savior for all mankind and willingly allowed Himself to be crucified on a cross (Phlp. 2:5-8). In so doing, His death served as the perfect sacrifice to cover for the guilt of our sins (Heb. 9:28). Jesus lived on this earth as a man, a form a little lower than the angels, in order to suffer death for all men (Heb. 2:9). Did Jesus do all of that, did He go through all that He went through to be the Savior, in vain?
Things can happen so fast. A mother, shopping in a crowded store with her little one, turns away for what seems to be just a moment. When she turns back, her child is gone. A man I know left his little boy in the bathtub for just a moment while he stepped into the other room to get something. When he got back, his son had drowned. A driver looks away from the road, at his cell phone for just a moment. When he looks back, he’s ready to crash into the rear end of another vehicle. A woman is going about her daily routine, everything seems fine. Suddenly, her vision blurs, she’s dizzy and disoriented. She falls to the floor, helpless. She has suffered a stroke. One moment everything seemed all right. The next moment her life was in jeopardy.
The Apostle Paul, guided by the Holy Spirit, laid out a great treatise for Christian living in Phlp. 2:1-4. The first verse establishes the basic principle that a Christian ought to live and act as a Christian should. The next three verses lay out specific application according to this immediate context of scripture.
On the day of His ascension back to Heaven Jesus told His apostles to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mk. 16:15-16). What did Jesus mean when He told the apostles to preach the gospel to everybody everywhere?
The apostle Paul advised the Ephesians, “See then that you walk circumspectly, not as fools but as wise, redeeming the time, because the days are evil.” (Eph. 5:15-16). He exhorted the Christians at Colosse similarly, “Walk in wisdom toward those who are outside, redeeming the time. Let your speech always be with grace, seasoned with salt, that you may know how you ought to answer each one.” (Col. 4:5-6). The wise man wrote, “Ponder the path of your feet, And let all your ways be established. Do not turn to the right or the left; Remove your foot from evil.” (Prov. 4:26-27).
Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city that is set on a hill cannot be hidden.” (Matt. 5:14). In the immediate context of this verse Jesus set His followers in contrast with the rest of the world. This verse calls attention to a world that exists in darkness due to sin. The lives of followers of Jesus, in contrast, radiate the light of righteousness. The difference between His followers and the rest of the world is so stark that Jesus uses the illustration of a city built on a hillside. At night, when the sun goes down and the residents of the city light their homes for the evening, the city naturally stands out in the surrounding darkness. There is no way to hide a lit up city situated high up on a hillside at night. Its light calls obvious attention to itself.
The apostle Paul stated, “but one thing I do...” (Phlp. 3:13). In this chapter, Paul talked about himself. He listed something of his heritage in vs. 4-6. He noted that, from a purely physical perspective, he had excellent credentials. He could trace his bloodline back to the tribe of Benjamin, and that bloodline was pure, his being a Hebrew born of Hebrew parents. As far as his spiritual credentials were concerned, as they appeared on the surface, his were most impressive. He was a Pharisee, meticulous in keeping the law of Moses and zealous enough in his dedication to that law as to be an aggressive persecutor of the church.
Gary L. Hutchens