Thursday, May 9, 2013

Ascension Day Is Institutional Church Day Verse for Today

Ascension Day Is Institutional Church Day

Ephesians 4:11-13  “And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ….”

Today is the Institutional Church Day… or perhaps more commonly known as Ascension Day.  This is the day the Christian Church has historically marked as the day Christ ascended up into heaven.  One can and should read of this in Acts 1:1-11 (if not now when?). 

From the lack of attention this “holy” day receives from the Church (let alone the World), we might suppose that it’s not actually that important.  Even religious calendars often fail to include reference to it.  However, if we assume that what the World says and does is generally wrong and the opposite of what Biblical Christianity should say and do, we should probably take note. 

In Ephesians 4:7-8 we’re told, “But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.  Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.”

It might be a little hard to see but the flow of thought is clear.  Christ suffered and died for the sins of his people.  He rose victorious on Easter morning.  Having prepared and taught his apostles for 40 days, he returns to heaven and sends the promised Holy Spirit to establish, build and inhabit the New Testament Church.  This Holy Spirit was poured out upon the church on Pentecost Sunday.

The question then becomes, ‘How has He chosen to do this?”  Well, this is what Ephesians 4:11 is talking about.  “He Himself gave officers (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers) to establish the New Testament Church.  The Apostle and Prophets laid the foundation of biblical truth (see Ephesians 2:19-20).  Their role was unique in that they were inspired by God write the New Testament Scriptures.  As the New Testament unfolds we see God continues to call and use godly men to lead and care for his flock.  These leaders are identified by various names: pastors, elders, bishops, elders, teachers, evangelists and deacons. 

All these have the responsibility of caring for church of the Lord Jesus Christ.  They are told to shepherd, feed, watch, and oversee the congregations of our Lord.  This they do primarily by teaching and preaching the Holy Scriptures (see 2 Timothy 3:16-17 and 2 Timothy 4:1-4

So, Ascension Day really is the Institutional Church Day.  Christ’s Kingdom is REAL.  It is manifest (seen) wherever God calls and gathers His People together by His Spirit and Word. Jesus Christ is the Only Head of His Church.  His Word is the sole authority by which Spiritual Truth is known.  Not every assembly or gathering that calls itself Church or Christian is true.  Christ’s Church will be built on the only true foundation (remember Ephesians 2:19-20)… the Truth of the Word of God. 

The Faith has been once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3).  It has been boldly proclaimed and clearly taught throughout history.  The Ancient creeds and historic confessions of Christianity demonstrate a continuity of true and living faith throughout history.   The Apostle Paul warns the Galatians and all churches that if anyone comes to you and preaches any other Gospel or message than what he had taught (and wrote) to them… even if it’s an Angel from heaven, you should not listen.  They are accursed--damned (Galatians 1:8,9).  The Scriptures are the only sure foundation for spiritual truth.  

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Real Religion: Verse for Today - Hebrews 9:27-28 "EAGERLY WAITIN...

Real Religion: Verse for Today - Hebrews 9:27-28 "EAGERLY WAITIN...: "And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To tho...

Verse for Today - Hebrews 9:27-28 "EAGERLY WAITING FOR HIM?"

"And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment, so Christ was offered once to bear the sins of many. To those who eagerly wait for Him He will appear a second time, apart from sin, for salvation." Hebrews 9:27-28 Hebrews chapter 9

This is an important verse.  For a long time I have understood it as primarily focusing on the fact that men live and die once... And that after this living-and-dying-once it is too late to change one's spiritual state or future.

As I reflect on this passage today... it does teach what I always thought, but there's two additional points to be made by what follows.

1. Christ's atoning death is a once and done event.  It was and is a wholly sufficient payment for all the sins of His people (those who hope in and receive God's grace).

2. His people are then described as "those who eagerly wait for Him."

I guess this is the part that intrigued me... Do we eagerly wait for Him? What does, or what should, that look like?  As Chapter 9 concludes and Chapter 10begins, it is clear that we should trust in Christ's perfect sacrifice for the forgiveness of sins.  

Verses 19-25 are worth a careful reading.  Look for the words: "faith," "hope," and "love."
Then notice his final exhortation.  "...not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together as is the manner of some..."  Wonder why?  Short answer: God says so and we can trust He knows what we need.

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Verse for Today - Psalm 18:1 How We Ought to Think of God

"I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold."

Read all of Psalm 18

Psalm 18 begins with this preface... which is part of the inspired text: 
"To the Chief Musician. Psalm of David the servant of the Lord, who spoke to the Lord the words of this song on the day that the Lord delivered him from the hand of all his enemies and from the hand of Saul. And he said:...."

In other words the Psalm is a memorial to his escape from his enemies.  Notice he doesn't give himself the credit... his cunning, speed, agility or strength.   Even though he may have had those, he gives credit to God.
He begins with words of affection... even love. "I love you, LORD, my strength."   His words are (as are ours) a reflection of his heart.  He recognizes that God's grace has brought him safe thus far and rightly says so.

This leads into a string of affirmations that further describes David's understand of God.  This is valuable for us to think about, because God doesn't change.  As He was David's God, He has become our God.  Just think... He is our rock, our fortress, and our deliverer.  Through the Gospel of Jesus Christ, we find protection and a sure place of safety.  Nothing in all creation can loosen His grip upon those who come to Him with sincere faith.  In Christ, the promise has become reality.  

Remember Romans 8:38,39   "For I am persuaded that neither death nor life, nor angels nor principalities nor powers, nor things present nor things to come,  nor height nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord."

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Verse for Today - James 1:2-3 (click to read)

James 1:2-3

"Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance."

Read all of James 1

I was looking over all the Verse for Today verses I've not written about or forwarded and was caught by this one.  Consider if pure joy... not just joy, but PURE joy when you face trials of many kinds.

Why is that?  Well, the author (James) provides the answer in Verse 3, "because you know...."   We're supposed to know more than just the unpleasantness of going through trials.  We're supposed to recognize that we're going through them for a beneficial reason.  That our faith is being tested, tempered, tried... so that it will produce perseverance.   

And what is perseverance and why should we want it?  It is longevity in the faith... endurance to the end.  Without it we would fall short or lose interest.  Trials cause us to rely wholly upon the LORD... and that is what we're supposed to do all the time.  Hence, God's word to Paul and us all:  "My grace is sufficient for you, for my strength is made perfect in weakness" (2 Corinthians 12:9)."