Tuesday, March 8, 2016

Everything to Lose, Nothing to Win

1 John 2:3-6 Now by this we know that we know Him, if we keep His commandments. He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him. But whoever keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.”
Now that my wife and I have recovered fairly well, we've returned to our Wednesday night Bible Study group to enjoy the fellowship and teaching of the "That the World May Know" video series by Ray Vander Laan. This week, we learned that a “disciple” is many times referred to as a “student”; people who want to know what the teacher knows. But a “talmid” is someone who wants to be what the Rabbi is; a passionate commitment to act like he acts and know what he knows, having his godly character.
Vander Laan taught that fulfilling the Torah means to interpret the sacred Scriptures so that people keep it correctly. Jesus’ mission was to take the Torah and use it to show His followers how God wanted them to live in this relationship, we call “Christianity”. And as they learned to live God’s way, they found the real meaning and true purpose of life. In this world, people do not understand that there is a connection between their religion and how they are to live; morality really doesn’t matter to them. But, it is important how you live to God. Faith for the Western culture tends to be what we know, what we believe to be true, but faith for a Jewish person is a passionate commitment to action; not just knowing the truth, but pursuing and living it.
In Matthew 16:15, Jesus asked, “Who do you say I am?”  In Matthew 16:16, Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God - meaning “the promised  Messiah of the living Creator God, not like these pagan, erotic gods of stone in Caesarea Philippi”. This statement produced passion among the disciples and Apostles to bring Jesus and His gospel of salvation to their world because that revelation came from God himself. And Jesus replied in Matthew 16:18a, “and on this rock I will build my church.” Caesarea Philippi was the “Sin City” of the Biblical times and represented everything that was disgusting, broken and wrong in the world we live in. What Jesus wants us to do is to bring the message of the love of God. He wants us to show them that these sinful ways are wrong and then replace them with what is truly meaningful and significant. To build God’s community on top of this perverted rock and replace it with godliness and righteousness. And Jesus goes on to say in Matthew 16:18b, “and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it.” A gate is a defensive position of a walled city and if the gate will not stand, the city shall fall. It is the community  of God who is bringing the message of the gospel to to gates of Hell that shall make it fall. Let’s go for it!

Acts 1:8 But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.”

In Matthew 16:24, Jesus said: “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.” This is a call by the Lord to us all to not give into the sinful lusts of this lost and dying world. It is not where true meaning, purpose, significance and value come from. Jesus asks, “Do you really know what you are doing?” In Matthew 16:25, Jesus states, “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” - meaning that anyone who thinks that sinful pagen values and deadly idolatry of sensual living is going to give them “real” life is going to end up empty, broken and lost. But, if you love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, mind soul and strength, and your neighbor as yourself, you will give your life to others, as Jesus did, then you will save it. The gospel message spread rapidly because disciples are “Talmidim” – passionate, disciplined followers, who not only know what Jesus taught, but put His teachings into practice, seeking to live as Jesus lived in every way, every day, totally committed witnesses of the gospel message. That is Jesus’ method. In Matthew 16:26, Jesus asks us all: “For what profit is it to a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul? Or what will a man give in exchange for his soul? Jesus challenges the very heart of sinful secular pagan beliefs. The spiritually blind may think that Christians are fanatical idiots, but the truth shall prevail.
In Mark 8:38, Jesus says: For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.” Never will a Christian/Talmidim be ashamed to be a follower of God’s Messiah, Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world and His words. May God give us the courage and commitment to the truth, willing to walk to the devil’s doorstep and bring the message of the gospel and advance the kingdom of Heaven with a calm, confident passion to the very people that needed to hear it most.

In Christ, Brian

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