“Fight the Good Fight”
From the opening verses of Scripture we encounter a God who is beyond our comprehension. It is impossible for us to conceive of nothing: no light, space, time or matter. That all changed at the mere flexing of His all-powerful muscles, and when His word grabbed the raw materials all heaven broke loose. It doesn’t take very long to realize that this Creator exceeds our imagination. No one could make up someone like Him.
The creation continues to baffle us. How much more does the force behind it remain beyond our grasp? If we cannot figure out what we can see and touch, how could we possibly hope to gain a full understanding of the invisible entity that runs it? Stars and planets continue in their orbits. Hearts continue to beat. Mysteriously, they stop. Seasons come and go. Plants grow. Life. Death. Infinity. Who can begin to explain the maker of it all?
God made an unmistakable declaration of His existence through the creation. We cannot know everything about Him by looking at a tree or studying the far flung galaxies, but we can know something. He is there. He is not a figment of some man’s imagination. All of this remarkable world came from somewhere. It bears witness to His undeniable power and nature. It should motivate us to want to find out all we can about this unseen Being.
The human capacity for being duped comes quickly into view in their original perfect environment. After all, if a serpent can persuade us, then we are pretty persuadable. He dangled a piece of forbidden fruit before the woman along with a slight tweak of the word of God and she bit. Sin is introduced into paradise. Man, woman, God and the devil; the dynamics of our human existence are in evidence very early in the history of the world. We can avoid none of them.
The first temptation disrupted that which was very good. The original couple enjoyed unbroken fellowship with God. Nothing came between them until the devastating choice to disobey. Then came consequences. Expulsion from the garden. A sweaty existence for him. Pain for her. A curse on the serpent, and even on the planet. Lesson learned: Sin brings heavy repercussions that echo throughout the whole creation.
God saw it coming. He knew. He knows everything. Sin didn’t surprise Him. Nothing does. He anticipated the fall and planned for its cure. Yes, He knows. Sin hurts His creation. It harms the sinner. It scars innocent bystanders. It damages everything it touches. He told them not to. They did anyway. Serpents are crafty salesmen. They are still in business.
Modern America thinks it has outgrown God. They are wrong. It simply shows that they are totally ignorant of the One who created it all. He also sustains it and one day will end it. Then we will meet God.
“In Step With the Spirit”
Sorry, no audio this week.
The rumors were rampant (Matthew 16:13-20). Reputation circulation had provided nearly everyone with an opinion. Jesus confronted His disciples with the question of what was being said about Him. There was no shortage of speculation, but all were wrong. He was neither John the Baptist, Elijah nor Jeremiah. He was more than a prophet, and people failed to see it. Did they?
They had traveled with Him, seen His miracles and heard His teaching. The others had, too, and they misunderstood who He was. They underestimated His role, but His immediate concern was not the thoughts of the masses but those to whom He was speaking. What about you? Who do you say that I am? It was a critical moment. The implications of that question and answer are transforming.
Simon spoke up (Hard to believe, Huh?!), and nailed it. Jesus was the Christ. He came on a mission of deliverance. Sin has a stranglehold on people and chokes the eternal life out of them. His purpose was to free Satan’s slaves and to change the course of their journey. We sometimes believe that we can only come to the Lord when we have escaped sin. That is out of order. We come to Him and He breaks the bonds of sin (John 8:36).
Jesus was no less than the Son of God. The old fisherman knew that this was more than a prophet who stared them in the eyes. He was unique. What an extraordinary expression of heaven’s love for misguided people. The world had gone astray. Misconceptions abounded. Christ revealed a deity that the people did not recognize. From His birth among the animals to His death on a cross, He simply was not anything that they expected.
He made a promise to Simon that day. He had the facts precisely right about who the Christ was. He had not bought into public opinion but had accepted what the Father had revealed. It is not always easy. The word of God can challenge our long held beliefs. It can come into direct conflict with popular thought. Now, as much as ever, that is true. The question is: Who will we believe? Peter had the correct understanding because of the source of His information, and it was on that foundation that He was going to build His church.
There is as much speculation today about His church as there was then about who He was. Virtually everyone has an opinion. Does it matter? Jesus bought the church on a cross with His blood (Acts 20:28). It matters that much to Him. He loves His church (Ephesians 5:25). It is described as His bride (Ephesians 5:22-33). The relationship between Christ and His church is impossible to overstate, and it will be that important to us as well unless we believe world opinion rather than the word of God.
Bible Class, Feb. 10, 2013