Spotlight On A Bible Verse: Ephesians 4:4-6
“There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” When writing to the Ephesians, the apostle Paul reminded the Christians to “keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3). In this letter, he did not merely tell them to be united, but by inspiration (I Cor. 14:37), he showed them (and us) the true “platform for unity” in the Lord’s church. If we are to be united, we need to respect the seven “one’s” (body, Spirit, hope, Lord, faith, baptism, and God) that needs to be among God’s people. These simple words are packed with meaning and truth that deserve more attention than we can devote in this short article. Just understand that when we remember the basis or foundation of religious unity, we will be able to withstand anything that Satan will throw at us! Satan tries to “divide and conquer” in order to get us away from Christ and devour us (I Pet. 5:8). Yet, in Christ, we have unity (Gal. 3:28) and victory (I Cor. 15:57)! Let us be active and fulfill Ephesians 4:3 by living Ephesians 4:4-6!
– Jarrod Jacobs
Jesus Marveled At The People
It is not uncommon to marvel. We might marvel at a great feat of God or man. However, to think about the Son of God marveling at something merits our attention. It is twice recorded that Jesus marveled at men. The first time is in Matthew 8:5-10. “When he entered Capernaum, a centurion came forward to him, appealing to him, ‘Lord, my servant is lying paralyzed at home, suffering terribly.’ And he said to him, ‘I will come and heal him.’ But the centurion replied, ‘Lord, I am not worthy to have you come under my roof, but only say the word, and my servant will be healed. For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, Go, and he goes, and to another, Come, and he comes, and to my servant, Do this, and he does it.’ When Jesus heard this, he marveled, and said to those who followed him, ‘Truly I say tell you, with no one in Israel have I found such faith.’”
The second time we read about Jesus marveling is in Mark 6:1-6. “And he went away from there and came to his hometown, and his disciples followed him. And on the Sabbath, he began to teach in the synagogue, and many who heard him were astonished, saying, ‘Where did this man get these things? What is the wisdom given to him? How are such mighty works done by his hands? Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James, and Joses, and of Judas, and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us?’ And they took offense at him. And Jesus said to them, ‘A prophet is not without honor, except in his hometown and among his relatives and in his own household.’ And he could do no mighty work there, except that he laid his hands on a few sick people and healed them. And he marveled because of their unbelief.”
As Jesus looks at us, does Jesus marvel at our belief or our unbelief? Faith is produced through hearing God’s word (Rom. 10:17). Therefore, do we accept God’s word, or reject it? Do we believe what has been taught? Do we respect the man who stands before us and preaches the Truth, or do we want our “ears tickled” rather than the truth preached (II Tim. 4:2-4)? When reading articles like this, do you cast them aside, or do you sincerely read them and read the Scripture references with the intention of learning what the Bible says (Jn. 5:39; Acts 17:11)? Our answers to these kinds of questions reveal whether or not Jesus marvels at our belief or our unbelief.
Do we believe Jesus’ words when He says, “He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned” (Mk. 16:16)? Do we believe the words of Colossians 3:16 which say, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord”? Do we believe the Bible when it teaches there is only one church mentioned in the Bible — the church of Christ (Matt. 16:18; Rom. 16:16)? Friends, the truth of God’s word must be believed and obeyed! When you leave this world, it will be too late. We only have here and now (II Cor. 6:2). Why will Jesus marvel at YOU?
“Noah Condemned The World By Faith”
How many times have we heard people say words to the effect, “If you tell me that there is only one way to Heaven, then you are condemning me (or my family, etc.).”? Is this a valid charge?
Friends, when one takes a stand for the truth, he will be condemning those who are not following the truth. Please read Hebrews 11:7 to see a Biblical example of what we are discussing. “By faith Noah, being warned of God of events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.” The Bible says that when Noah built the Ark, following God’s plan to the letter (Gen. 6:13-22), he condemned the world. How did Noah do this? How could he have condemned the world when he was simply doing what God said?
First, he condemned the world by living by faith (Heb. 11:7). When God told Noah what to do, he did it without question (Rom. 10:17; Gen. 6:22). Noah heard God’s word and obeyed. This is living by faith! As a result of his words and example, his family followed his lead (I Pet. 3:20). Sadly, the rest of the world refused to listen to God (through the preaching of Noah, II Pet. 2:5) and drowned in the Flood. Notice that Hebrews 11:7 begins and ends stating that Noah lived “by faith”. Therefore, through his faith, Noah condemned the world.
He also condemned the world by heeding the warnings of God (Gen. 6:13). In contrast, when the people heard Noah’s preaching, they refused to heed God’s warnings and get into the Ark. When Noah was warned of “things not seen as yet,” he heeded the warning. In like manner, we are warned by God of an eternity in Hell for our disbelief and disobedience. Are we heeding the warning of the Lord who has said He will come “in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (II Thess. 1:6-9)? Consider this carefully.
Finally, he condemned the world by preparing for the coming flood. Noah’s preparation of the Ark showed that he not only believed in God, but believed God. He believed the warnings and then acted upon what he had heard. Those who have faith today will also do what God says to do (Rom. 10:16). Christ gave a similar warning in Matthew 25:1-13, where we see that those who were prepared were rewarded and those who refused to prepare were condemned. It was the same in Noah’s day! Noah prepared for the Flood, and in so doing, condemned a world of fools!
Noah condemned the world at that time because he followed God and had the backbone to stand for his convictions and preach God’s word to others. He did God’s will regardless of the consequences to himself or his family. There are too few people like this today. Let us stand behind God’s will and have the backbone that was characteristic of Noah! Have we complained that someone was “condemning” us? Perhaps it was because they were doing God’s will, and we were not! Let us repent while we still can (Lk. 13:3; II Cor. 6:2).
Spotlight On A Bible Verse: I Peter 4:11
“If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” Peter’s words closely parallel the words of Colossians 3:17. They are a reminder that in whatever we say or do, it needs to be for the glory of God! When we speak, let us speak as the oracles (utterances) of God. What has God “uttered”? We will only know when we spend time in God’s book (Eph. 3:4)! Our actions need to be a reflection of what Christ did. Christ left “us an example, that ye should follow his steps” (I Pet. 2:21). When we speak and act according to the will of God, we also bring glory to God. Truly, this is our reason for being here! We ought to live so as to glorify God and bring others to Him (Matt. 5:14-16). Are we speaking and acting in a way that reflects the command of I Peter 4:11? If not, why not?
- Jarrod Jacobs
Where Is Jesus?
Do we remember the hype and excitement of December 25, 2016? After Thanksgiving Day 2016, we saw numerous billboards, TV and radio ads, etc., which reminded us to remember the “reason for the season.” Yet, beginning December 26th and to this present time, it has been very hard for me to find any type of display reminding me of the One who seemed so important to folks for the majority of December. What happened to Jesus?
It seems to me that if folks are excited about the event of the Christ-child’s birth, His life ought to produce that much, if not more excitement. Sadly, this doesn’t seem to be the case! Many are willing to look upon the “babe in the manger” as He coos and cries in the stable. Yet, the number of people interested in Him dwindles rapidly when we look for folks ready to follow the adult Jesus to the cross! Why is this? Where is Jesus?
So we all understand, I do not believe Jesus was born on December 25th. Biblical evidence suggests another time. I do not celebrate any day as “Jesus’ birthday”, for Jesus never told us to celebrate His birth. Some folks will reason, “Since we don’t know the exact day of His birth, December 25th is as good a day as any to remember His birth. It gets folks to think about Christ.” Such statements declare that folks either have not read the Bible, or they just do not care to listen to what Christ said. Christ and His apostles continually emphasized His death, burial, and resurrection, not His birth (Matt. 26:26-29; Jn. 18:37; Acts 2:42, 20:7; Rom. 6:3-6; I Cor. 15:1-4; etc.). At the same time, I cannot help but note the inconsistency when the bulk of our population claims to love Jesus and wants to celebrate His birth; and yet after December 25th, these folks will return to the way they were acting before December! Am I the only one who sees this hypocrisy? Where is Jesus?
I know Jesus could not have died on the cross had He not been born; yet when we listen to Jesus, He essentially tells Pilate, “I was born to die” (Jn. 18:37)! Therefore, let us follow Jesus, not to the manger, but to the cross (Matt. 10:38). Let us not follow the shepherds to the barn, but follow the “chief shepherd” (I Pet. 5:4) to Heaven (I Pet. 2:22; Heb. 6:20, 10:19-20; Acts 7:56). Let us not follow the wise men to the house (Matt. 2:12)! Let us be wise men and follow the Lord’s footsteps to Heaven as He teaches us how to be true disciples (I Pet. 2:21; Jn. 8:31-32; I Cor. 15:58; Col. 3:17; Heb. 6:19-20).
Friends, where is Jesus? Jesus is not to be found in the lives of the bulk of our population! We know this to be true based upon our observations of man’s inhumanity to man. God does not want His creation to be cruel and hate each other (Jas. 3:9-20; I Jn. 4:20). How then can we treat one another the way we do? It is because the bulk of our population is satisfied to keep Jesus “in the manger” instead of allowing Him access into their hearts and lives.
How do we allow Jesus access into our lives? Jesus told folks, “Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21). Therefore, it takes more than simply speaking a word or a prayer, and saying, “Jesus come into my heart” to be saved. It demands action! We must believe that He is the son of God (Jn. 8:24; Rom. 10:17), and we must obey what He says (Jn. 14:15; Rom. 10:16; Jas. 2:24, 26) and be baptized (Mk. 16:16; Acts 2:38)! “Where is Jesus?” He is not in a manger, or a stable, but is in Heaven, wanting mankind to hear, believe, and obey Him (Mk. 16:15-16; II Cor. 6:2; II Pet. 3:9)!