As many of you know, I have committed to exercise and to lose weight. In other words, I want to look like Tom Cruise.
But even more important than looking like Tom Cruise (because he still looks awesome as an old man – like he’s never aged! …which is a little creepy when you think about it), I want this body that the Lord has given me to be the best “temple” it can be for His glory.
However, remodeling this temple of the Holy Ghost has not been easy.
Walking and Riding
I’ve been doing two kinds of exercise, walking and riding my bicycle. Each has it’s benefits, and each has it’s drawbacks.
For one, it takes longer on a bike to burn as many calories as walking, if, that is, the walking is fast-paced in sync with a song from Building 429. Riding, though, is more fun.
Last Saturday morning, with rainy mist in the air, I rode a 13-mile circuit around our little community. It was an enjoyable, scenic ride with very little traffic (I only saw 4 cars in the first hour). It took me 1 hour and 58 minutes to complete.
Today (a Tuesday), I rode 8.23 miles, and I did it in 1 hour and 3 minutes. The only thing is that I was less tired after the 13-mile ride than the one I did today!
I think I know the reason.
The Straight and Narrow
As I was riding this morning, I came to a point where I had to peddle in 1st gear for what seemed like an eternity (maybe 5 min.). You see, although the road I took was a straight shot from our community to the next town, there were some places where I had to ascend over a period of time. These inclines didn’t look like hills, yet what I rode added up to 196 feet in elevation.
While pacing myself, and while reminding myself of heroes like Marcus Luttrell (Navy SEAL) and all he went through to survive, I peddled in 1st gear until I reached the point where I could finally coast. It was then that a profound thought managed to form inside my brain, despite the 146 heartbeats per minute.
“The straight and narrow is not always the flat and level.”
Yes, much like the “straight and narrow” path of faith (loosely based on Matt. 7:14), the road I traveled was straight and free of any hidden obstacles or traps. Yet, “straight and narrow” should NEVER be interpreted as “flat and level.” No, there were more ups and downs than I could count! It took more energy to finish than the longer, more curvy road I was on last week!
If you’ve never heard it said, the Christian life is a joy, but it’s not easy. As a matter of fact, if you want an easy-peasy life, stay a tool of Satan; he’ll keep you comfortable till your dying day. But for the true follower of the One who carried a cross up a hill, why should we expect a road without those slow, aching, 1st-gear inclines?
I hope this post finds you well, whether it be a Wednesday where you are, or not 😉
This morning I went walking around my neighborhood in order to burn off some ill-gotten calories. While I was walking, a thought came to mind regarding the current social climate of unrest and ever-present protesting. As briefly as possible, I want to share my thought with you and beg your feedback.
By the way, this is a view of my office “work place” this morning.
Why do people protest like they do?
More specifically, why to white people run the streets tearing up stuff in support of Black Lives Matter? Please don’t be triggered – this is not a racial argument that I’m attempting to make. I ask this because the whites are not being treated like the blacks, so why protest and even risk (in a few places) being arrested?
Aside from those who join protests for no other reason than to find an accepted avenue through which to express their hoodlum-istic desires to vandalize something, I believe people join protests because they believe in the cause (whatever that may be).
Now, granted, the “causes” for many protests I’ve seen are weak and unsubstantiated, contrived, or overblown. But for the most part, the people marching, protesting, occupying, vandalizing, and even those who are acting like idiots while standing in front of moving trucks are doing it because they “believe” in something worth acting a fool.
Now, to the point…
I believe that what we are seeing in our nation, even the world, is the outward expression of a deep, inward void … an emptiness of moral value and sense of purpose, which leads a hopeless society to latch on to any cause that may sooth our souls’ desire for the spiritual.
In other words, what we are witnessing is a society, one that has purged itself of transcendent, objective meaning, all of a sudden finding within itself an insatiable hunger for what it refuses to accept, so it feeds on the artificial.
What I see are people who need to feel righteously indignant in order to gloss over the reality of their own unrighteousness.
Are there legitimate reasons for protests? Of course there are – at least in some cases. However, aside from any agenda that might be afoot and seeking to overturn our nation and system of government, what I see are not adults who’ve given a lot of well-informed thought to why they are doing what they are doing, but younger people who need a reason to wake up in the morning.
Black lives matter, so that means they, too, can find meaning – and matter. Even more, they can be a part of a group, a community of like-minded activists complete with vibrant, charismatic speakers, which will literally walk along side them and encourage them to stay strong.
Therefore, it appears to me that the world STILL needs Christ, whether they want to admit it, or not. As a matter of fact, this modern culture of protest and activism only confirms there’s a greater need than ever to share Jesus.
The following is an outline (nothing but an outline) that I prepared to preach one Sunday several years ago. I found it while searching through some documents on my computer and felt led to share it with you. Feel free to use it, if that’s what you do. Other than that, maybe you could use it as a study tool.
Maybe I’ll share it with the folk at Bethlehem Baptist one day 🙂
“Examining the Universality of the Gospel”
Luke 2:9-10. Is the Gospel good news for all people?
The word “people” was “pointing specially to the people of Israel.”
II. What does it mean to be universal?
The term universal is described by one dictionary as an “adjective relating to or done by all people or things in the world or in a particular group; applicable to all cases.”
III. What is the Gospel?
The gospel is the The Eng. word “gospel,” i.e. “good message,” is the equivalent of euangelion (Eng., “evangel”). In the NT it denotes the “good tidings” of the Kingdom of God and of salvation through Christ, to be received by faith, on the basis of His expiatory death, His burial, resurrection, and ascension, e.g., Act 15:7; 20:24; 1Pe 4:17.
Paul’s Definition: In 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 Paul makes it very clear that the gospel is simple, not complicated, and consists of two central features:
Jesus the Messiah died on the cross and
He rose from the dead according to the Scriptures.
IV. Objections and False Gospels Some object to a Universal Gospel because race, culture, past experiences, etc.
From those who have been hurt or don’t understand. “You say that you are sent to instruct us how to worship the Great Spirit agreeably to His mind; and, if we do not take hold of the religion which you white people teach we shall be unhappy hereafter. You say that you are right and we are lost. How do we know this to be true? We understand that your religion is written in a Book. If it was intended for us, as well as you, why has not the Great Spirit given to us, and not only to us, but why did He not give to our forefathers the knowledge of that Book, with the means of understanding it rightly. We only know what you tell us about it. How shall we know when to believe, being so often deceived by the white people?” – Chief Red Jacket, 1805, in a speech to the Six Nations and an American missionary, Mr. Cram.
The Jews. In the eleventh chapter of the book of Acts, for instance, we read how that Peter, when he went to Jerusalem, “contended” with the Jews over the issue of the gospel being presented to the Gentiles. In 1 Thessalonians 2:14-16 Paul mentioned those who forbade him to “speak to the Gentiles that they might be saved.”
Prosperity Gospel. It is certainly not a gospel that expects “blessing and favor” as evidence of God’s grace.
V. A Gospel that IS Universal
Not limited by race, gender, age, nationality, boundary of any kind, or economic status. It is truly “good news” to anyone and everyone as long as they first realize they have a need for it.
Meet the most basic needs of Humanity.
Sin. All men have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God (Rom. 3:23). Because of Adam, sin entered the world, and death by sin; therefore death has passed as a consequence upon all men (Rom. 5:12). Jesus Christ died for the sins of all, and whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved (Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13).
The gospel is universal because it addresses the world we all live in. It answers the questions of pain and suffering. It gives meaning to the struggles of life. The gospel is not a drug or panacea of some sort; it is a reality pill.
Love and Compassion. Mother Teresa said, “Maybe they are starved for bread in Africa. You are starved for love in the United States.” What greater message of love can one share than that of the gospel of Jesus? “Hereby perceive we the love of God, because he laid down his life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16).
VI. Conclusion The gospel that is truly universal in its scope and application.
All men are born in sin – Romans 5:12
There is none righteous – Romans 3:10
All have sinned – Romans 3:23
Jesus is the only Way – John 14:6
One day ever knee will bow and ever tongue will confess – Phil. 2:10-11
“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.” – Mark 16:15 KJV
A message of love to every “creature” (κτίσις , εως f creation, what is created, created order, creature) – how much more “universal” can a gospel get?
 Marvin Richardson Vincent, Word Studies in the New Testament (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1887), Lk 2:10.
 Catherine Soanes and Angus Stevenson, Concise Oxford English Dictionary, 11th ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2004).
 W. E. Vine, “Gospel (Noun and Verb: to Preach)”, Vine’s Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words. Blue Letter Bible. 1940. 24 June, 1996 3 Dec 2012.
 Donny Mathis, “Gospel” In , in Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, ed. Chad Brand, Charles Draper, Archie England et al. (Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers, 2003), 671.
 Bryan, William Jennings, ed. The World’s Famous Orations. New York: Funk and Wagnalls, 1906; New York: Bartleby.com, 2003. www.bartleby.com/268/. [Accessed Dec. 2, 2012].
 G. Curtis Jones, 1000 Illustrations for Preaching and Teaching (Nashville, TN: Broadman Press, 1986), 257.
 Barclay M. Newman, Jr., A Concise Greek-English Dictionary of the New Testament. (Stuttgart, Germany: Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft; United Bible Societies, 1993), 104.
This blog was never intended to become a ministerial diary, of sorts, but reality is what reality is, not what we want or perceive it to be.
Therefore, I will continue to share my observations as we press forward in this new (to us) work in Georgia.
Getting strait to the point, there is a spiritual war going on, and you and I are involved in the conflict. It doesn’t matter where you and I are; the war is on-going and world-wide. We will never escape it until it’s over.
Unfortunately, too many think that life, with all its problems, is rarely affected by the spiritual conflict that rages all around us, even within us. Yet, the reality is that nearly everything we experience in this life is tactically connected to innumerable, web-like strategies meant to bring either victory of defeat. And depending on which side you are on – and that is debatable – victory may mean either bondage and destruction, or hope and deliverance.
There are no coincidences, and no small decision is devoid of long-reaching consequences. This is reality, and that’s a check you can cash.
The Influence Factor
To be fair, it doesn’t matter who you are, where you are, or what responsibility you’ve been given: you’ll never know the full extent of how your life and your decisions will affect others. However, what is equally true is that the more influence a person has, the more of a “high-value” target he or she becomes. And because we are in a spiritual war, this is especially true for those in ministry.
Just since the last post I wrote, the one about “Food and Fur,” I have been reminded that the more influence one has, the more the enemy will attack. I have been reminded that the enemy will wait until we are comfortable, then strike where we are least expecting it, and usually with weapons and tactics for which we have little defense. Or, rather, the defense we do have is more than adequate, but the enemy knows we have not done much training on how to use it. Either way, the attack is meant to knock us back and reconsider our ability to continue the fight.
This is why it should never be an aspiration for a minister to obtain a “larger church” or anything like that, for unless it’s in God’s timing, and unless the minister and his family are equipped, because of the “influence factor,” they – and I do say “they” – may not be able to handle it. The more influence over the lives of others, the more the Enemy will desire your destruction.
The “Fear” Factor
You do remember the TV show Fear Factor, don’t you? Do you remember how that it was perfectly possible for every contestant to complete the required challenges, if only they could conquer their own fears? They all had the strength, the coordination, and the skill, but it was so often the fear that immobilized the contestant who failed. So often in this spiritual warfare what we find is that we’ve been given all we need by the Holy Spirit to be victorious, but fear – fear of failure, fear of exposure, fear of sacrifice, fear of inadequacy, fear of the Enemy – saps our strength, makes us weak in the knees, causes us to run, or convinces us to surrender.
This week (even yesterday) my family was threatened. The threat is hard to assess, but it is being taken seriously, so much so that police departments in two states are now involved. Yet, should we live in fear? Should we be intimidated?
Or, should we refuse to cower and hide, put feet on our faith, and trust our God to deliver?
In the Messianic Psalm 91, David wrote of how he would handle threats. He wrote:
“He who dwells in the secret place of the Most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. I will say of the Lord, ‘He is my refuge and my fortress; my God, in Him will I trust’” (Psa. 91:1-2).
Later in verse five he writes: “You shall not be afraid of the terror by night, nor of the arrow that flies by day.”
Then King Solomon, David’s son, echoes these very words when he describes the kind of peace one can enjoy when he puts his faith in the true God and trusts His word:
“Trust in the Lord with all thine heart, and lean not unto your own understanding: in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths…When you lie down, you will not be afraid; yes, you will lie down and your sleep will be sweet. Do not be afraid of sudden terror, nor of trouble from the wicked when it comes; for the LORD will be your confidence, and will keep your foot from being caught” (Proverbs 3:5-6, 24-26).
Believe me, I am concerned. I am concerned for the safety of my daughters, my family in general, myself, and even my friends and congregation. But I refuse to live in fear! I refuse to live in hiding. I refuse to accept that threats from enemies of God – the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and my Father in Heaven, the One who tells me to call Him “Abba” (Daddy) – carry more weight than the promises from God’s Word!
Since I’m already at 907 words, I should bring this “Observation” to a conclusion.
First, I don’t think it’s wise to share specific details about what is going on that made me write this post. Doing so would not help keep anyone safe any more than what is already being done. So, don’t expect any real details to come out in future posts.
However, I will say this: Even in America there are those who will swear they are not radical, but will nevertheless use the “fear card” credit their fellow faith-members have earned as a tool. Even should their veiled threats be hollow and only mean, it is impossible to know what is truly in the heart or intended, and should therefore be taken seriously.
Evidently, the Enemy wants to put a stop to what God is doing, and he’s not going to play nice. When people down here said they’d heard I was stirring things up, this wasn’t exactly what I had in mind! And whether or not what we are going through right now as a family is related at all to the overall plan here in Georgia, in reality, it’s all related.
So, pray for us.
Your soldiers on the battlefield in middle Georgia
BONUS: Here’s a song my daughter Katie sang several years ago (I think she was 17). I think it’s pretty appropriate for today. Are we fearless, or full of faith?
Folks, I’m just going to shoot straight with you this Saturday morning. I only have a short amount of time to write this, so I’m just going to type it, post it, and not worry about the aesthetics.
Like the title of this post says, our life is like a dad gum reality show in the making. I don’t know who would sponsor it, and I don’t know who would watch it, but there’s more that happens to us in any given week than ever takes place on a TV reality show. The DRAMA! The TRAGEDY! The COMEDY!
The only problem is that what happens in our family, should it be made into a reality TV program, would be considered made-up, fake, or overblown just to get ratings. In other words, no one would believe it.
You may be reading this with a little smirk, thinking to yourself, “Yeah, right. It couldn’t be THAT bad, Anthony. Everybody’s got their issues.” Maybe, but consider what has happened in just the last couple of weeks.
After 14 months out of work (except for the occasional insurance commission), I finally got through all the red tape of getting my CDL (Commercial Drivers License) back in order to drive a school bus – that story is a book to itself. THEN, I only worked 2 days before Spring Break came – without pay.
Friday, the last day of Spring Break, I had a heart attack which required 4 days in the hospital and 2 stents. Now I can’t drive a school bus until I’m cleared by a cardiologist.
Our insurance through the Marketplace changed, so NONE of our doctors were covered – we had to find new ones. The only problem is that hardly any doctors or hospitals in our area take the new insurance! SOOOO, I’m having to wait 2 weeks to see a cardiologist.
The day before yesterday, in the morning, on the first day I was at home from the hospital, my mother (who stays with us) wouldn’t wake up. We had to call an ambulance. I had to take a nitro pill. She went to the hospital and didn’t wake up until 8 p.m.! We still don’t know why!
While at the hospital, I got a little too winded, so my wife said she would push me in a wheelchair. On the way to the van she flipped her knee scooter – the one she was riding because she had a broken bone in her foot and a fractured tibia from dropping my mother’s wheelchair arm on her foot – and fell in the hospital parking lot, doing more damage to her leg…now she’s in a full-blown cast.
Oh, she also broke her toe in the hospital where I was being treated. She closed the reclining chair she was sleeping on and it closed on her toe.
When my wife and I got the wheel chair out of the van, she pushed me (imagine how that looked) into the hospital where my mom was (they moved her from the ER to a room). As she was pushing me in, she looked down as we were going through the automatic doors. They opened outward, not inward, so she ran me right into them!
We’ve had little income, more bills than money to pay them, multiple injuries and illnesses, sermons to preach, people to visit, jobs that have been lost, arguments that have escalated, death that nearly happened, and people wondering what in the world we did to deserve all that’s been happening to us for the last 25 years.
YET… God is good, all the time.
But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us. [We are] troubled on every side, yet not distressed; [we are] perplexed, but not in despair; – 2 Corinthians 4:7-8 KJV
People look at us with wonder and ask, “How do you do it?” All I can say is that “He giveth grace.”
I don’t know why we have so much happen to us. I don’t know why it’s been so hard the last year and a half, especially. It could be that Satan is trying to attack us and defeat us. It could be that the Lord is testing us.
Either way, I will not yield ground to the Enemy by giving up. I will not surrender my faith by doubting God’s goodness, mercy, and grace. I will not give up. I’ll keep getting up. I’ll keep pressing on.
I’m still not sure what I’m going to be preaching on tomorrow morning, but I can promise you one thing: The devil won’t like it.
Above is the view from my hospital bed at Coliseum Medical Center in Macon, Georgia. It’s not a view that compares with those my friend David Welford posts on instagram, but at least it’s a view – there were no windows in the ICU.
However, this morning my wife and I will be driving the 4-or-so hours back to Chattanooga, enjoying the view through the windshield. FREEDOM!
Last Friday I entered a new era in my life, one that will require lots more medication, a radical change in diet, and a physical therapy program that will probably turn into a regular workout program. I went from living life a certain way to living it a totally different way. I went from life as usual to life unexpected.
That’s what happens when you have a changed heart.
My heart began to change the moment I realized I was in trouble and admitted my need for help. Had my pride said, “I can handle this…I’ll be OK,” I would have been dead. But the painful feeling in my chest convinced me nothing I could do was going to change my condition – I needed a doctor.
The next step in my change of heart came when I submitted to the recommendations of those with whom I consulted. There was the doctor in the first hospital in Washington County who told me: “We got the results of your blood test…there’s something going on…you need to see a cardiologist tonight.” Then, several hours later, after a long ambulance ride and a lot more tests in another hospital (Coliseum), there was the cardiologist who said, “You need surgery.”
If I had rejected the recommendations of either, I would not be writing this; someone else would be writing my obituary.
The final step came when I submitted to the wisdom and ability of Dr. Nisreen Jallad and allowed her to fix what was wrong by weaving a wire up through my wrist and arm, all the way to the blocked arteries in my heart. Had I just agreed to what was needed, nothing would have changed. It was only when I put my life in her hands and allowed her to perform the scary, painful, life-saving angiogram and arterial surgery that change actually occurred.
Over the next couple of days, as I lay in the intensive care unit (ICU), there were times when I felt pain in my chest. Was I having another attack? More surgery?
That’s when Dr. Jallad calmly reassured me, “You came in with problems, but you are fixed…don’t worry.” All I was feeling were a combination of soreness and anxiety, not a heart attack; my heart was working fine.
What’s the next step? Live like my heart has been changed.
With a changed heart I will no longer consume the same foods; I will be on a healthier diet, one which will demand I think before I eat.
With a changed heart I will require an ongoing relationship with a cardiologist, someone who knows how the heart works and how to keep it working.
With a changed heart I will have to maintain a very specific regimen of medications for the rest of my life, else the devices in my heart will cease to perform as designed. The change was permanent, but its usefulness could be thwarted by my complacency and lack of discipline.
Can you see any comparisons to the spiritual heart? Some people claim to have had a change, but where’s the evidence?
Was there ever a moment of crisis? A moment of need? A time when you realized something was seriously wrong and there was nothing you could do to fix yourself?
Has there been a change of diet and discipline? Has the change been taken seriously?
Was there ever a surrendering to the Savior’s surgical hand, or did you simply continue as you were with only His words to contemplate?
Is there an ongoing communication with the Great Physician, the Cardiologist of the soul? Or, was that one trip to His office enough for you?
Then did a heart change really take place?
All I know is that everything changed for me the day my heart was changed.
The gift of tongues in Acts is always associated with the baptism in the Holy Spirit. The promise of the Father, baptism with the Holy Spirit, filled with the Spirit, and references to the Holy Ghost being poured out or falling upon believers are terms used interchangeably in Scripture with one exception which R. A. Torrey notes: Baptized with the Holy Spirit, is nowhere used in the Bible of any experience but the first and suggests an initial or initiatory experience.(65) He suggests we therefore use this term only to describe the initial filling of the believer with the Holy Spirit.
This point is generally agreed upon even by those who reject tongues, since the New Testament clearly and repeatedly admonishes believers to be filled with the Spirit. The points of contention are whether the initial filling necessarily happens to every Christian at the moment of regeneration, and whether or not tongues should still be expected as a necessary sign of it. This debate necessarily narrows down to the purpose of speaking in tongues. Given Luke’s relatively cursory mention of this gift, one could ask what his purpose is in mentioning it at all?
Luke’s purpose in writing, as stated by himself in Luke 1:1-4, was to set down an orderly account of those prophesies concerning the Messiah and His church which had been fulfilled before their very eyes, in order to strengthen the faith of Theophilus. In Acts, he shows how the church fulfilled not only O.T. prophecy, but Christ’s commission as well. Since Jesus Himself, in referring to the enduement with power as the promise of the Father, as well as Peter in Acts 2 and Paul in 1 Cor. 14:21, each indicate that the gift of tongues is a fulfillment of O.T. prophecy concerning the church and the last days, Luke includes it in his account; documenting its part in the fulfillment of Christs commission as well. Thus, the fulfillment of prophecy and of Christs commission are the only two purposes for tongues with which Luke is concerned, since this is the focus of his writing. An extensive treatment of the purpose of tongues in collective worship or the spiritual life of the average believer of that day would be a departure from his point.
Also, since he is writing for Theophilus, not for us, he naturally would have excluded extensive information about subjects with which Theophilus would undoubtedly have been all-to-familiar, such as the structure and events of a typical early-church worship service.
We know from Paul’s testimony in 1 Cor. that apparently quite a number of the believers in Corinth spoke with tongues, as did Paul himself. That the Ephesian believers spoke with tongues is indicated by his admonition that they should pray in the Spirit (Eph. 6:18 cf. 1 Cor. 14:15). The fact that Luke mentions only three major instances of tongues, and relates them to the spread of the gospel to the major people groups, while neglecting their mention in ch.8 and the many other salvation accounts, does not mean they did not occur in these instances. Luke may have just been avoiding redundancy (especially in light of that days paper costs) and sticking to his purpose, which was to chronicle the fulfillment of prophecy and Christs commission.
Luke also chooses not to teach us of the Eucharist in Acts, so we base our understanding of it on Christs command and Paul’s teaching on the meaning of and procedure for observing it, given to the Corinthians because of their abuse of this ritual. Likewise, we must look elsewhere for detailed treatment of the gift of tongues; and we find it from the same sources. In Mark 16:17, Jesus states that tongues are a sign that will be manifested in those who believe. Luke leaves us wishing for the testimony of one who was there as to what part, if any, tongues played in the individuals spiritual life and collective worship at that time. Paul gives us exactly this, and again his most detailed treatment is directed toward those who were abusing it. Thank God for the Corinthians! Is it not comforting to see how God can use even our shortcomings to the benefit of His church?
What does Paul tell the Corinthians (and us) about the correct purpose and use of the gift of tongues? Citing Isaiah 28:11, he says that tongues function as a sign. Just as the strange tongue of the Assyrians was to be a sign to Ephraim of Gods judgment, so the gift of tongues in the N.T. served as a sign to the Jews of Gods involvement in those events as well. There is, however, a further purpose for tongues. Paul says the gift, when properly used, is intended to edify the individual and, when interpreted, the church body.
But how is this accomplished? What is the point, after all, of speaking a language even you yourself cannot understand? Paul answers this question in 1 Cor. 14:2, For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God. In verse 14, he states, For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth (emphasis mine) and continues in verse 15 with, I will pray with the spirit and, I will sing with the spirit. In verses 16 and 17 Paul indicates that tongues are used to bless and give thanks to God. Instead of being in the form of a message directed toward the church, which is always the case with prophecy, it is intended to be a form of worship and prayer. This worship and prayer interpreted generates participation on the part of other members of the body, and thus it becomes a means of edification equal to prophecy, In prophecy the edification springs from the Spirit-quickened Word, while in tongues and interpretation the edification springs from Spirit-quickened worship and prayer.(Brandt, 55).
The speakers in tongues in Acts 2:11 were proclaiming the wonderful works of God. In the house of Cornelius, they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God.(Acts 10:46). In Acts 19:6, who were the speakers in tongues addressing? Paul, who witnessed the event, tells us that he that speaks in an unknown tongue speaks not unto men, but unto God. Furthermore, he encourages the Ephesians to pray in the Spirit(6:18), and Jude likewise tells us to build ourselves up in our faith by praying in the Holy Spirit.
According , then, to both the record of Luke and Paul’s teaching, the gift of tongues serves two primary functions. It is a sign to the unbeliever of Divine presence and activity, and a means of building up the believer and the church through Spirit-inspired prayer and worship.
Although some contend that the gift of tongues was meant only for the early church, Scripture nowhere states that this is so. In fact, there are two quite strong statements to the contrary: Paul’s command in 1 Cor. 14:39 to forbid not to speak in tongues, and Peters statement in Acts 2:39, For the promise is to you and to your children, and to all who are far off, as many as the Lord our God shall call (emphasis mine). Taken together with Christs statement in Mark 16:17, as well as the various admonitions to pray in the spirit throughout the N.T. , I see no scriptural reason for believing the gift tongues is not meant for believers throughout this church age.
Brandt, R.L. Tongues, the Greatest Gift?; Bridge Publishing, c.1981
Torrey, R.A. Baptism With The Holy Spirit; Revell, c.1897
If you are familiar with the Bible, you probably remember the story of Jesus walking on the water. And if you remember that, you may also recall that the apostle Peter was the one who walked on the water with Jesus – until he began to look around.
But if you don’t remember the story, here it is as found in the NIV version of Matthew 14:25-33.
During the fourth watch of the night Jesus went out to them, walking on the lake. When the disciples saw him walking on the lake, they were terrified.
“It’s a ghost,” they said, and cried out in fear. But Jesus immediately said to them: “Take courage! It is I. Don’t be afraid.”
“Lord, if it’s you,” Peter replied, “tell me to come to you on the water.” “Come,” he said. Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.
But when he saw the wind, he was afraid and, beginning to sink, cried out, “Lord, save me!” Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
And when they climbed into the boat, the wind died down. Then those who were in the boat worshiped him, saying, “Truly you are the Son of God.”
Now that you are familiar with the story, have you ever seen paintings or illustrations depicting this passage of Scripture? Of all the ones I have ever seen, Jesus is usually portrayed as a calm, sad-looking, and often effeminate water-stroller. Peter is always some scruffy-looking, heavy-as-stone fraidy-cat.
Then what about those waves? In all the depictions of this story, how high are the waves? Usually they are no more than just a few inches high around the Lord and his bobbing disciple, Peter.
Well, I am here to challenge the common perception based on these fallacious (that means stupidly wrong) paintings.
I am not a seafaring man like my friend David Welford, but I would bet even he would say that 6-8 inch waves would have been NO problem for some experienced fishermen. What ever frightened Peter, once he looked around, had to have been more than a ripple on the surface.
Consider how the Bible described what was happening to the boat in Matthew 14:24: “But the ship was now in the midst of the sea, tossed with waves: for the wind was contrary.” Do kiddie pool waves toss a boat? No, but real waves do.
In stead of tossed, other translations use words like buffeted, beaten, and battered. The New Living Translation says that “a strong wind had risen, and they were fighting heavy waves.” It would seem to me that the disciples were facing a life-or-death struggle, not inconvenient weather.
The Wacky Request
People often belittle Peter for his “lack of faith.” They think less of him because he took his eyes off of Jesus and began to sink. But who on this earth that is not currently on anti-psychotic medication would actually ask a UWG (Unidentified Walking Ghost), “If it is you, compel me to do something totally irrational and dangerous, OK?” What kind of crazy question was that?
I believe there is more to this story than we have been told. Why didn’t Peter just ask Jesus to come a little closer? Why not just ask Him to get in the boat and take a load off? What would have caused Peter to think of leaving the boat?
Maybe, just maybe, what Jesus was doing looked like fun.
The next time you look out over a stormy sea capable of sinking a boat, try to find the smooth spots. The paintings that show the Savior walking delicately over glassy H2o in the middle of a gale are unrealistic.
My guess is that Jesus was doing more than simply walking. He was having fun! He was probably surfing without a board. It is possible that He was going up and down…up and down…up and down…smiling the whole time. That’s when Peter said, “If it is you, Lord, tell me to come out there with you…that looks like fun!”
Seriously, just stop and think about it. Here was a storm that was beating up a boat and wearing out the crew; waves that were anything but small; a boat full of panicking people; and a Man walking on water. Peter must have concluded that if there was going to be any place to be, it was with Jesus, riding the waves.
We can’t help the fact that storms come. But if there is any lesson to be learned from this story it is that the worst possible place to be can be the safest and most peaceful, as long as our eyes are on Jesus and we are walking with Him.
Does it make sense? No. Is it irrational? Maybe. But as long as we have faith in Jesus, we can ride atop the tallest tsunami, admiring the view.
Let’s get serious for a few moments now. Based on the standard of the law, we are all guilty of breaking it. I am; you are, every single one of us is. Someday we will all stand before God and the only possible verdict is a resounding GUILTY! This however, is not armed robbery, and the penalty is not simply imprisonment. What, then is the penalty? God’s Word tells us the answer to that question:
Romans 6:23 The wages of sin is death………
That’s right, the penalty prescribed in God’s Law for violation of that law is the death penalty. The penalty is not penance, or purgatory, or a monetary fine or any sort of good works to make up for what we have done. The penalty for our sin is death. What does this mean? Well, after the first sin, it meant physical death. If Adam and Eve had not sinned, they would have lived forever in their physical forms, in harmony with God. Their sin brought into the world all the sickness and death as we know it today.
Death also means spiritual death. Even though we all eventually die physically, we are are all eternal in our spirits. Our spirit, or soul will exist for all eternity. So, again, what is it to spiritually die? Spiritual death is eternal separation from God in a place of torment we call Hell. It’s really that simple. When God says the wages of sin is death, that is the death of which He speaks.
The penalty is due; we all owe it, for we have all sinned and transgressed God’s law. And each and everyone of us can pay that penalty ourselves if we want to. We each owe it, and we can each pay it. I could have payed for my own sin; you can pay for yours if you wish. But that’s the point of this article. We don’t really want to pay our own way; we don’t want to suffer eternal death in a place called Hell.
Although we can certainly pay our own way, we do not have to. The title of this article is Jesus Paid it All, and He did. The Good News of the Gospel is that even though a penalty is was due and payable, it has already been paid! We need to go back to Romans 6:23 and look at the rest of that verse, as we only showed part of it earlier:
Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.
God has given us a gift. Even though we owed the penalty of death for our sin, He have us His Son, Jesus Christ as a way for that debt to be satisfied. God became flesh, in the form of Jesus Christ and became incarnate on this Earth for that very reason. Jesus Christ was fully human, so He could pay the price humans owed for their sin; He was also fully God, so He could pay the infinite price of the sin of all humanity past, present and future. Despite how He hates sin, God loves us deeply and completely.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.
It is a gift, we do not pay a thing for it; Jesus paid it all. We do not deserve it and we do not earn it. All we have to do is accept it. How do we do this? Let’s look at what the Bible teaches about this:
Romans 10:9That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.
Romans 10:13For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.
It’s simple really. We have to confess Him. Basically we have to agree with Him that our sin is wrong and understand we should have paid for it. We agree with God that our sin is wrong and turn away from it. We call that repentance. We also need to believe that Jesus paid the price we should have paid ourselves, and to trust Him as our Savior and Lord. And finally, we do have to call on Him. Romans 10:13 teaches that. The gift is available, and it is free; however God will not force it on anybody. He does require that we call on Him and ask for that gift.
Jesus paid it all. Four words full of meaning. We all have a choice. We can pay our own way or we can accept that Jesus has already paid our way, if only we repent toward God and believe in Jesus Christ.