Faith And Water

Noah’s faith saved him and his family. When the Lord told him that there was going to be a destructive flood, he believed. He believed enough to construct the ark, and he and his family were saved. Noah had a faith that could look forward and see the invisible. 

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. 2 For by it the elders obtained a good testimony.3 By faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that the things which are seen were not made of things which are visible.” (Heb. 11:1-3) 

Noah lived in a world in which it had probably never rained. Genesis 2:5 says, “For the Lord God had not caused it to rain on the earth, and there was no man to till the ground.” So when the Lord told Noah it was going to flood, what was he supposed to think? He had never seen any small floods before. Yet, Noah’s faith and trust in God made him believe. Noah obeyed and built the ark. 

“7 By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith.” (Heb. 11:7) 

When Noah built the ark, he condemned the world. His construction of the ark made a clear distinction between the obedient and the disobedient. The obedient were preparing for salvation while the disobedient were preparing for destruction. Noah’s ark was a symbol of salvation for himself and a reminder to all others that they were condemned. Perhaps there were scoffers in those days that mocked Noah for his construction. Many may have hated what Noah was doing. However, Noah’s faith persevered. 

Peter uses Noah’s ark as a symbol of baptism: 

“When once the Divine longsuffering waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, in which a few, that is, eight souls, were saved through water. 21 There is also an antitype which now saves us—baptism (not the removal of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God), through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,” (1 Pet. 3:20-21) 

Are there those who scoff baptism? If so, why? Like the ark, baptism condemns the world. If you believe that baptism is for the remission of sins, (Acts 2:38) then by being baptized with faith you are saved. For everyone that is not baptized, baptism is a symbol of condemnation. How do we deal with scoffers? We deal with it with our faith, just like Noah did. We must have a faith that looks forward to salvation, confident in our baptism into Jesus Christ. 

Faith is the reason why baptism into Jesus Christ is for the remission of sins. There is nothing special about water, but there is something special about the “answer of a good conscience toward God.” Noah was not the only person in the Old Testament saved by faith and water. The people in Exodus who crossed the Red Sea were saved by faith and water too. They were fleeing Pharaoh’s army trying to escape to the other side of the Red Sea. God split the waters as they crossed over on dry land. Then the Lord closed the sea back on the pursuing Egyptians. 

“29 By faith they passed through the Red Sea as by dry land, whereas the Egyptians, attempting to do so, were drowned.” (Heb. 11:29) 

God has a tradition of using faith and water to save His people. 

–Andrew Smith 

Handling Our Hurts

One of life’s most difficult challenges is overcoming the harm that is done to us by others. No matter if it’s physical or emotional, hurts and harms are hard for us to deal with. When someone does harm to us, it’s human nature for our immediate reaction to be “You may have gotten me, but I’m going to get you so much worse!” We dwell on it as we lie in bed, and we can’t sleep thinking of how we were treated. We become so angry that we pace the floor, plotting and scheming how we are going to get even. But wait a minute. Is this how God would want the Christian to handle this type of situation? 

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Beware Of The Cut-Rate

We have all seen the commercials advertising the cut-rate car insurance. So-and-so company can save you hundreds of dollars a year if you will switch to them but will it cover allthe “mayhem” that is out there in the world? There is always a reason why something is so-o-o-much cheaper than the rest. You always get what you pay for. 

In the same way, most of the religious world has invented its own form of cut-rate salvation. They have cheapened the price of discipleship by saying, “God doesn’t care about what we do; He only cares about who we are.” Or many will say, “The wonderful grace of God will overlook every sin I commit as long as I’m in a relationship with Jesus Christ.” They will even go as far as trying to justify this kind of thinking with passages like, “But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7).  

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Rejoice In The Lord Alway, Again I Will Say Rejoice!

This is a popular verse in Philippians. When this passage is studied, someone usually says, “Paul commands Christians to rejoice always and he means it so much, he says it twice.” That is a good point, but it is missing one of, if not the most important part of the verse: “In the Lord.” Our continuous rejoicing is not in our career, property, hobby, or even our family. It is in the Lord. He is the only Being that can empower us into a state of constant rejoicing. 

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Encompassing Belief, Part 2

Last month we looked at the way Luke uses the word believe in the book of Acts. Passages like Acts 2:44-47 and Acts 16:31-34 use the word believe to describe conversion. The context of the passage defines what the word means. This month, let us look at how James uses the word believe in a different context, with a different meaning. James does not use the word believe as conversion but as a fruitless belief in God’s existence. 

James explains to his audience that faith without good works is dead. Faith has no meaning if the person of faith is not willing to act on it. He gives the example of someone seeing his brother or sister without daily food, and he says, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled.” What good did that do? Unless he acted on faith and gave food to his brother or sister, his command profited nothing. That person might claim to have faith, but his actions say otherwise. James then says that person’s belief in God is not all that special. 

“You believe that there is one God. You do well. Even the demons believe – and tremble! But do you want to know, O foolish man, that faith without works is dead?”  (James 2:19-20) 

Is James using the word believe the same way Luke does in Acts 2:44-47? Is James saying that the demons have an encompassing belief in God that produces repentance, baptism, and the free gift of salvation? Are the demons converted to God? No. James says that his audience, like the demons, believes that God is a real person with real power, but refuse to be moved to action. This is not an encompassing belief; this is a belief that is only a thought. This is a belief that resides in the mind but never moves to the heart or the hands. This is not an encompassing belief.It  is a fruitless belief. 

John 12 gives another example of fruitless belief. Jesus performs many signs and wonders and some of the rulers of synagogue believed in Him. However, notice their reaction. 

“Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” (John 12:42-43) 

These rulers believed in Jesus, but due to their fear of the Pharisees kicking them out of the synagogue, they did not confess Him. Their belief was only a thought. 

Is our belief in Jesus an encompassing belief or a fruitless belief? Is it a belief that leads to repentance, baptism, and salvation? Is it a belief that is no more than a thought that God is real, like the demon’s belief? 

Why do we not believe like we should? Like the rulers of the synagogue, it might have a lot to do with fear. John says, “They loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.” They became afraid that if they pursued Jesus they would be rejected by men. Christians that act on their belief today are treated cruelly. In the South, perhaps, not many will ridicule a Christian for believing in God. But when that Christian tries to act on hisbelief, some might ridicule trying to justify his own non-action. Just like those in James 2 that deceived themselves by saying that a belief without action was enough to please God. 

— Andrew Smith 

Does Jesus Know You?

Have you ever had someone ask, “Do you know Jesus?” Consider a more important question:  Does Jesus know you? 

The Bible tells us: “Nevertheless the foundation of God standeth sure, having this seal, The Lord knoweth them that are his. And, Let everyone that nameth the name of Christ depart from iniquity” (2 Timothy 2:19). While many people may mistakenly think they know Jesus, Jesus is never mistaken about knowing His own people.  

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Encompassing Belief, Part 1

What does the word believe mean? Well, it all depends on the context. Throughout the book of Acts, believe is an encompassing term that describes converts to Christ. However, James will use the word believe to mean a fruitless understanding that God is real, or God is all powerful. In this article we will cover two passages in which Luke uses the word to describe the action of being converted.

In Acts 2, Peter delivers a sermon on Pentecost proving that Jesus is the Lord and Christ, the Messiah. The people are cut to the heart. They asked Peter what they should do with their guilt. Peter responds: “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (v,38). Luke then says that many of the people obeyed: “Then those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them” (v.41). Luke goes on to describe these people as “all who believed.”

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Relationships

I don’t know if you do this too or if it’s just me, but when I hear the word relationship, my mind turns to affairs of the heart. Who is romantically involved with whom? Who is he or she dating? How is that couple doing? Are they still getting along? Even on social media, when we look at the “Family and Relationships” section, most people write about their marriage partners or the person they are dating.

While who we may be romantically involved with is most certainly a relationship, it is definitely not the only one we have. Simply put, a relationship is the way in which two or more people or things are connected, behave, and deal with each other. If we think about our everyday lives and routines, we are surrounded by relationships. We have a relationships with our family, of course, but we also have relationships with friends, co-workers, people with whom we do business and countless others.

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The God Of All Comfort

We have and will suffer on this earth. God has never promised us anything different than that fact. From Elijah to Jeremiah, from Stephen to Paul, all of God’s people have suffered. Paul wrote to the Corinthians about the state of his suffering. Something was happening to him in Asia. Paul said, “we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves” (2nd Cor. 1:9). Have you ever felt that you were burdened beyond measure? Have you felt like the world has sentenced you to death? You probably have.

Thankfully, Paul shares his outlook on his suffering. Paul says that he might be sentenced to death, but he has put his trust “in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us” (2 Cor. 1:9-10). God has the power to raise the dead. Even if our suffering leads to death, who better to put our trust in than He who has conquered death?

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The Force Of The Apostle’s Teaching

The words that Jesus spoke in person are precious. Everyone who respects the Bible values the sayings of Jesus. However, there are those who value the words of Jesus, yet devalue the words of His apostles. The “red letters” in your Bible were put there by man; God did not make the print red. In fact, a careful examination of the Gospels will reveal that Jesus Himself taught that the words of the apostles would be a continuation of His own teachings. The words of the apostles do carry much weight.

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