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Archive for the ‘gospel’ Category

 One year for my birthday I received a gift from my brother. It was a NASCAR computer game, complete with a USB controller. It was my first real computer game beyond the standard solitaire loaded on every Windows PC. The graphics on the box looked incredible and I could hardly wait to get it loaded and start doing laps at Daytona Speedway. My visions of beating Jeff Gordon in the points race were shattered when I realized my machine did not meet the necessary requirements to install and run the game. To my wife’s delight, I had no choice but to head to the computer store and purchase a new graphics card for our PC so I could fulfill my dreams of chugging milk at Indianapolis. Without the minimum necessary requirements, I was never going to be able to use the gift that was given to me.

I have come to realize that faith is a lot like that computer game. If a Christian is to have faith working in their life, there are certain requirements for getting the most out of a relationship with God. Here are three requirements I found in my studies of the scriptures.

Crown Him

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, (10) so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, (11) and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Philippians 2:9-11 (ESV)

The first requirement is to crown Him as King. This is a most elementary understanding of Christian faith and yet so often overlooked. If Jesus has the name that is above every name, then that means His name is above mine. Working in the mail room of a law firm in college I learned that the person in charge has his name listed before everyone else. Do you live like Jesus’ Name is above your name? Every Christian who has studied the scriptures knows that Jesus is King. The sentence written on His cross was that He is King (Luke 23:38). If you are going to accept Jesus as Lord, then you have to accept him as Lord of your life. This means He is Lord of your finances, relationships, career, schedule and family. Have you crowned Jesus? Or is your name still above His? Until He is at the top your faith won’t amount to much.

Imitate Him

Whoever says he abides in him ought to walk in the same way in which he walked.

1 John 2:6 (ESV)

Along with making Jesus our King, we also have to make Him our role model. Christians today are called just like the first 12 disciples in the first century. Jesus calls out “follow me,” and he expects us to follow. To follow means to do the things Jesus did. He laid down his life for others, fed the hungry, healed the sick, spoke to the outcasts and encouraged those who were troubled. Jesus gave a clear example that is meant to be followed. The first Christians followed Him literally! They went to wedding parties, travelled on foot, travelled by boat, ate meals and watched him interact with the teachers of the Law. They saw how he acted and reacted, they watched him in the synagogue and in his daily interactions. They did this because they wanted to be like him. We should follow His example today for the same reasons. There were those in the first century that believed in him because of what he could give them, but these didn’t follow long. Only those that truly wanted to be like him followed him to the end of their days.

Glorify Him

“Let the one who boasts, boast in the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 1:31 (ESV)

You don’t have to be around someone for very long to learn whats most important to them. Jesus said that “out of the mouth the heart pours forth speech.” We talk about the things most important to us. When we have faith in Jesus that means our mouths should testify to His goodness and presence in our lives. The Christian who puts his whole trust in Jesus can’t help but testify to what Jesus has done in their life. This doesn’t mean we have to only talk about our faith all the time, but it does mean He will come up when we talk about our hopes, fears, struggles and celebrations. When Tim Tebow became an unexpected star for the Denver Broncos, there was controversy over how outspoken he was with his faith. Some affirmed him and said it was good that he took the opportunity to profess Jesus, while others said he went a bit over the top. Regardless of how you feel about Tebow, the sad reality in our day is that too few are willing to profess their faith in a day when simply having faith seems to be considered an offence. If Jesus is Lord, you will at some point be faced with the choice of giving him the credit for your life, or keeping it all to yourself.

 

Knowing the Requirements

The power of faith can only be realized with the necessary requirements. Sadly some people pull faith out of the box and attempt to live a life of faith without considering what all it implies to be in Christ. Some set their faith aside when it doesn’t seem to work and never recognize why they haven’t entered the abundant life that Jesus promised. They didn’t have software in the first century, but Jesus did touch on this subject. In Luke 14:28 He asked who would start building a tower without considering all the materials necessary to complete it. Today he might have said, who hasn’t looked to see the minimum requirements on a software box? If you don’t meet the requirements for following Him, you aren’t gonna get very far.

You definitely won’t be chugging milk at Indianapolis.

 

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I was listening to Dennis Miller on the radio yesterday and picked up on an interesting topic of conversation concerning the Christian view of heaven and hell.  He said that the majority of Christians that he knew were good people, but he really couldn’t stand the groups that say those that don’t profess Jesus to be Lord are going to spend the rest of eternity in hell.  I like Dennis and can understand why it seems a little unloving to send a message that really leaves the listener with no choice.  Where is the love in a God that forces you to call him Lord or throws you in the fires of Hell for all eternity?  The message that says “you are all going to hell!” surely isn’t the “good news” talked about in Scripture is it?

I think the problem has arisen through the message some Christian’s send that is not “news” and could no way be considered “good.”  The problem is that we have confused the message we are supposed to be sharing to the world with the message we are supposed to be sharing with the church.  We all need to learn to speak the words of Paul and say “What business is it of mine to judge those outside the church?” (1 Cor 5:12)

The problem is that there is no more “good news” left in our message.  We share about a God who is going to either send you to heaven or to hell and it all depends on whether or not you agree to the reality that he died and rose form the dead three days later so that one day on the distant future you will be forgiven of your sins and get to spend an eternity in heaven with this God you don’t know while all your friends here on earth spend their eternity in hell burning like Johnsonville brat’s on the grill for all eternity with no hope of ever receiving relief. 

If you look at Paul’s message in Acts 17 you will see that he mentions nothing of hell to the pagan philosophers of the day.  This message instead brings the good news of God’s unveiling of himself to the Greek people of the day.  It was a message that revealed a God that could be known and walked with through life.  A God who allow sinful man to have relationship with him despite their out and out rebellion towards him.  Finally these men could stop talking about God and begin to talk with God.  Eternity could start now and this was evidenced in the resurrection.  The good news is that heaven has come to earth and all those willing could enter this rest today.

I think this whole heaven and hell thing would be better understood in the answering of this question: “Is this life more like heaven or more like hell?”

Jesus said that hell is a place where there will be much weeping and gnashing of teeth.  (Matt 8:12)  Is this something we can relate to, or is it pain we cannot relate to?  Just this week there have been two murderers brought to justice and at each of their sentencing the families who spoke were definitely weeping and gnashing their teeth.  Anyone who has lost a loved one, suffered divorce, been wronged by a friends, been robbed or cheated, suffered loss, etc. has experienced pain and gnashing of teeth. 

For people in these times of life’s troubles, does it not stand to reason that they know more of what hell is like than what heaven is like?  For most people hell is their point of reference.  This is why when Jesus looked at people he saw men and women who were already suffering, not needing to hear another message about suffering. (Matt. 9:36)

What would happen if Christians began to express a message that heaven was coming to earth and that anyone from the most seedy to the purest of us could freely enter?  What would our generation have to say about the good news then?

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