Our Priorities For The Next Life

In the early 1800s, it was not uncommon to see an ad in the newspaper for metal, vacuum-sealed coffins. Most Christian Americans believed that Jesus would need their physical body intact so that He might easier raise their bodies from the dead on the Day of Resurrection. Americans at the time felt a great urgency to preserve their bodies for Christ’s return. That is why they were buying and selling metal vacuum sealed coffins. However, according to Drew Gilpin Faust in her book This Republic of Suffering, the importance placed on preservation of mortal bodies drastically changed during the Civil War. Due to powerful artillery on the battlefield many families had to bury mutilated bodies of their fathers, brothers, and husbands. The bodies of some soldiers were so destroyed that no actual body was ever recovered. With these traumatic events taking place and no bodies to preserve, American Christians had to return to the scriptures and discover the truth about the Day of Resurrection and the return of Christ. 

35 But someone will say, “How are the dead raised up? And with what body do they come?” 36 Foolish one, what you sow is not made alive unless it dies. 37 And what you sow, you do not sow that body that shall be, but mere grain—perhaps wheat or some other grain. 38 But God gives it a body as He pleases, and to each seed its own body. (1 Cor. 15:35-38) 

Paul had to handle the same question with the Corinthians in the first century. People were concerned with exactly how the dead were going to be raised up and what type of body they would have. Paul intensely explains that the death and corruption of our mortal bodies would have no effect on our new spiritual body given to us on the day of resurrection. He makes the logical argument that for there to be a resurrection there first must be a death. God knows what happens to our bodies when they are buried, and He will have no trouble raising us from the dead even if our bodies are nothing but dust. Does the God of Heaven and Earth need our help to preserve our bodies? Does the Almighty need our help to fulfill His promises? The answer to both these questions is no. God does what He pleases, and He always keeps His promises. He has promised us that He will raise us from the dead (1 Cor. 15:50-52). 

When it comes to priorities for the resurrection, Jesus puts the urgency on our eternal home not our eternal body. 

28 And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. (Matthew 10:28) 

1 Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me. 2 In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also. (John 14:1-3) 

The Lord has the power to make our eternal home Heaven or Hell. However, He has made it possible for us to choose where we go. Let’s choose to believe in God. Let’s choose to follow Him every day, so that we get to spend an eternity with Him in His home. That is where our priorities should be. The urgency to choose a heavenly home with God is greater than any urgency to protect our worldly bodies. 

— Andrew Smith

What’s Your Practice?

I must admit that I enjoy hunting deer more than I do hunting turkey. Don’t get me wrong, I do turkey hunt some, but it seems as time goes on that I just don’t get as excited about turkey hunting as I do deer hunting. Could it be that I’m turning into one of those people who is only dedicated to hunting one certain animal? 

We all know of people like that, don’t we? Those who dedicate themselves to concentrating their free time only on the type of activity that truly drives them. Let’s consider a man, for example, who loves to play golf. He doesn’t want to think about playing another game because his love for golf won’t allow him to practice anything else. He’s a “golf man.” 

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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) 

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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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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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