Friday, January 21, 2011

“Eye Hath Not Seen, Nor Ear Heard”

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him” (1 Corinthians 2:9 KJV).  This passage is often misapplied, particularly in funeral sermons.  However, the reference is not to heaven, but to the revelation of God’s will to mankind.  In fact, the very next verse, which is seldom read with the previous, would make this clear to the hearer.  “But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God” (v. 10). 

What is it then, that has been revealed by God?  God has revealed the things which before were neither seen, nor heard, nor had entered the heart of man.  Of necessity, there had to be a revealing.  Now, these things have been revealed by God; therefore, it is no longer true that “eye hath not seen” the things that have been revealed.  It is important to keep in mind that this was prophesied nearly 750 years before Christ by Isaiah (Isaiah 64:4).

Therefore, Christianity is neither a mystery, nor is it mysterious.  In fact, Paul refers to it as a mystery explained, a secret reveal and made known to all nations for the obedience of the faith (Romans 1:15, 25,26).  The apostle, by revelation,” came to know the mystery “which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is NOW REVEALED unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit: that the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ BY THE GOSPEL” (Ephesians 3:3-6, emphasis, WR).  It should be noted that the mystery of the Gospel was revealed to the apostles and prophets by the Holy Spirit.  They wrote it so that we could read it, and understand it.  In verse four, Paul stated: “Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ.” 

The finality of God’s revelation to mankind is often affirmed in the Scriptures.  God is making NO new or LATTER day revelations (Galatians 1:6-10; Revalation 22:18-19).  This is why we appeal to the Bible in all matters of faith and practice.  “Beloved, while I was giving all diligence to write unto you of our common salvation, I was constrained to write unto you exhorting you to contend earnestly for the faith which was ONCE FOR ALL DELIVERED unto the saints” (Jude 3 ASV, emphasis, WR).  Consider also Peter’s words: “According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue” (2 Peter 1:3 KJV).

Saturday, January 15, 2011

A Truly Misunderstood Word

So many in today’s society in trying to be respectful have used and misunderstood the word “reverend.” On numerous occasions, I have been called or referred to as “Reverend Wayne Rodgers.” While I understand that they were only trying to be respectful, it amazes me to see the term “reverend” used so loosely.  The word, “Reverend” should be reserved for use only with the name of our Lord. The Psalmist stated, “holy and reverend is his name” (Psalm 111:9).  When one reads and studies their Bibles they find out that the word “reverend” used here is the only time it is used the whole Bible. And it is used here, only with reference with God.   It is rather a special word, reserved in the Scriptures for God alone. We use it frequently, but seldom do we ever use it to refer to God.  Instead, we have used a word that has been used specifically for God to refer to man. Therefore, it has become familiar in its use for man, and like everything that is familiar, reverend has lost its distinctive meaning. 

The Hebrew word for “reverend” is yârê’ which means “to fear, to revere, to frighten, to make afraid - terrible” (Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible). And that is the word used exclusively in the Scriptures for God. The King James has it, “Holy and Reverend is His name” and the New King James has it, “Holy and awesome is His name.” The American Standard Version says, “holy and reverend” and the New American Standard Version has, “holy and awesome.” But the Revised Standard Version translates it, “Holy and terrible is His name.”  The idea is that God Himself is holy and reverend, awesome or terrible.

Since we use reverend so commonly referring to men, and since we have trivialized awesome to mean just about anything that is a bit unusual or delightful, perhaps the word terrible is the most fitting of the three English words used to describe God. “Holy and terrible is His name.” There may be some that would never think of God as “terrible” or “frightening.” However, this is a part of the nature of God that is revealed in the Scriptures that modern man just does not care to know or to think about.  He would much rather think of God as a loving, gift-giving, buddy that you would never even have to dress up for.  Someone who you can joke with or joke about, someone who makes you feel good about yourself.  If this is the way you feel about God, then please reconsider. Again, “Holy and reverend is His name.” What an awesome thought to be in the very presence of God.

In the New Testament, in the model prayer given by our Lord in Matthew 6:9, Jesus taught: “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.”  “Hallowed” literally means “to make holy, to purify or sanctify, to venerate.” In prayer and other avenues of worship, God’s name and God Himself is to be revered as the one and only, distinctive one.  Therefore, when we come into His presence in prayer or other avenues of worship, we fall or bow down before Him in respect, adoration and honor.

I find it very interesting that in today’s society we have made the decision when it comes to the worship of God that we feel as though we can be casual about the way we dress and approach the presence of God. It is sad indeed that there are many today who have advertised that one can come to “their church” and you will find a laid back, casual approach to worship.  This is the Lord’s Day not “casual Friday!” The Scriptures teach us to give our best to God. To always put Him first in our lives and to revere His holy name. In Exodus 19, we read of a time when Moses went upon the mount to be in the presence of God and to receive the law of commandments written on the tables of stone. The people were not permitted to come and go with him. They were not even permitted to touch the mountain under the penalty of death. They were instructed to wash their clothing and to bathe and to be ready.  Does that sound like a God that does not take notice of how we appear before Him? Lest any of them should take it lightly, God sent Moses a second time to tell them to bathe, wash their clothes, and not to touch the mountain. Hebrews 12:21 says, “And so terrible was the sight that Moses said, I exceedingly fear and quake.”  Moses, obviously, did not descend from the mountain with dancing and shouting as some want to do today “in worship.” 

We must understand that God’s very presence is not to be taken carelessly and casual. May we all be concerned with how we approach God and man. Let us do away with the idea that the popular perception that God is just some casual friend.  He can be a friend, but He is so much more. This has caused such a irreverent approach to the way many try to give honor and glory today.  Let us all remember the words of the Psalmist, “Holy and reverend is HIS name.” (Ps. 111:9). Let us be respectful to man, but save the “reverend” for God.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Life of a Christian

When we consider our lives as Christians, we come upon areas in which we know we could do (be) better.  As a part of self-examination (2 Cor. 13:5), we should look at ourselves and see where we might be lacking. 

              Consider LIFE:
We must be Loyal to Christ, to His church, and to our families.  The idea of one’s loyalty comes from a significant feeling of ownership and pride in something.  We must be loyal to Christ, seeking Him and His church first.  This will often mean that must learn to prioritize differently.  What will I have to give up or rearrange so that I can serve Christ first.  While many understand this when it comes to our physical families, what about our spiritual families?  Do we prefer to be with God’s people?  And more specifically, do we prefer to be with our family at OceanSide?  We must be loyal to the congregation and be proud of the work here and take part in it.
Again, the idea of self-examination is not new.  Paul admonished the Corinthians to examine themselves as to whether they were in the faith (2Cor. 13:5). God’s people were reminded that their ancestors had been “destroyed for a lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6). We are to investigate God’s Word daily (Acts 17:11) and compare that to what is being taught.  John admonished us to “try the spirits” (1 John 4:1).
The Bible warns of fellowship with the “unfruitful works of darkness” (Eph. 5:11).  There are boundaries set for fellowship by God, which man has no right to cross.  But, first we must make sure that we are in fellowship with God (1 John 1:6-10).  Fellowship with God and with His people is only available to those “who walk in the light” (1 John 1:7), and it is not to be extended to those who do not teach the “doctrine of Christ” (2 John 9).
All of this comes into the practical realm when we consider Eternity.  Whether, Heaven or Hell, we will spend an eternity somewhere (Mt. 25:46).  Therefore, we must choose to be Faithful in this LIFE as Christians (Josh. 24:15; Luke 16:19-31; 2 Thess. 1:6-10). 

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Religious or A Christian?

Sincerity may make a person religious. Having a good moral character may make a person religious. Going to church may make a person religious.  However, alone these traits are not sufficient to make a person a Christian, because they are lacking something. 
First, the Bible teaches that sincerity is not enough (Matt. 7:21). Second, the Bible teaches that even a good man might lack something, like Cornelius (Acts 10). Also, Jesus rebuked the lukewarm church of Laodecia (Rev. 3:14) for their indifference, which would be their downfall. 
Just being religious does not make a person a Christian.  Only the Gospel of Jesus Christ has the power to make a Christian (Rom. 1:16). Today, we see many people who seem religious, but if we examine closely, there are identifying marks of a Christian that will be evident.  The scriptures teach we must be obedient unto Christ (Heb. 5:8,9), we must obey the truth (1 Pet. 1:22), we must obey the Gospel (2 Thes. 1:7-9), and we must be faithful even unto death (Rev. 2:10). 
Obeying the Gospel, the truth, and Jesus, according to Scriptures, means that we must believe that Jesus is the Christ (John 8:24), we must be willing to confess our faith in Christ (Matt. 10:32,33; Rom. 10:10), we must be willing to make a change of life, which is seen in repentance (Luke 13:3,5; Acts 17:30), and we must then be willing to be baptized (immersed) in water for the remission of our sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21).  At this point, the person is saved by the power of the Gospel, the blood of Christ washes away the sin and the Lord adds those to His church (Acts 2:47).
In the Scriptures, we see several different responses of people who heard the Gospel preached.  In Acts 7, Stephen preached the Gospel of Christ and they stoned him to death, because they were angered at what was preached.  Likely, Stephen thought what the apostle Paul would later write, “Am I become your enemy because I tell you the truth” (Gal. 4:16).  In Luke 18:18-28, we find a man who had it all and had kept the Old Law faithfully, yet he lacked something. Christ told him what he should do, but he went away sad.  In Acts 2, the apostle Peter preached the Gospel of Christ with a multitude of people present, they were pricked in their hearts and asked “Men and brethren, what shall we do?”  Realizing they were lost, they were glad to hear this Gospel and the offering of salvation.
How will you respond to the Gospel? Will those who preach the truth become your enemy or your best friend?  The difference in a religious person and a Christian is in obedience to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Become a Christian today by obedience to His Gospel.