What Does The Empty Tomb Mean To Us?
Almost 2000 years ago, Jesus was crucified between two thieves. When He died, His body was laid in a new tomb belonging to Joseph of Arimathea (Mk. 15:43-47), there to await His resurrection on the third day. The account of the women and the apostles finding Jesus’ tomb empty is found in Matthew 28:1-10, Mark 16:1-11, Luke 24:1-12, and John 20:1-10.
The empty tomb means something to Christians. It is important and has great value to all those who believe that Jesus is the Son of God. What does the empty tomb mean?
The empty tomb means that death is conquered! Jesus became the “firstfruits of them that slept” (I Cor. 15:20). Colossians 1:18 declares that Christ’s resurrection gives Him the preeminence in all things. Hebrews 2:9 shows us that Christ tasted death for every man. Therefore, Christians have nothing to fear in death.
In writing on the subject of death and the resurrection of all mankind, Paul said, “So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory? The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 15:54-57). Why not look into the tomb, and see the victory that Christ has given to all since He arose from the dead?
The empty tomb means salvation for all! Before Christ, Jewish people were considered the chosen nation, and they labored to keep the Old Testament (Mosaic) Law. They offered animal sacrifices to atone for their sins, but this was not enough (Heb. 10:1-4). Seeing that Jesus gave His life, shed His blood, and arose from the dead, He offers salvation to everyone (Matt. 11:28-30). In Mark 16:15, Jesus instructed His apostles to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature.” In Colossians 1:5-6, 23, we read that this command was carried out! Paul declared that “every creature which is under heaven” heard the gospel. Jesus wanted no one to be ignorant of His will, and neither should we.
The empty tomb means Jesus told the truth! Throughout Jesus’ preaching, He prophesied of His death, burial, and resurrection, and that He is the Son of God. A few passages that declare this are: Matthew 12:38-40; Matthew 16:21; John 8:24, 58-59; John 10:30-36; and John 18:36-37. That empty tomb tells mankind that the Son of God walked this earth, told us the truth about all things, that He loves us and wants to save us!
If we can believe that Jesus told us the truth on these things, why do we not believe Him on the other things He teaches in His word? There has been much dispute over certain parts of the Bible for many years. Obviously, Jesus did not teach two or more conflicting doctrines, but spoke the Truth consistently. Knowing this and knowing that He told us the truth about His death, burial, and resurrection; why do we not believe His teachings on other subjects? Why do we not do the things He requires?
Friend, the stone wasn’t rolled back so Jesus could escape. It was rolled back so we could look in! Have you looked with the eye of faith into that empty tomb? I pray that we might all come to a better understanding of what the empty tomb means.
Is One Church As Good As Another?
Perhaps the most common attitude among “religious” people is the attitude that one church is as good as another. Many who believe it “taboo” to talk about religious matters will say words to the effect, “You do what you want to do and I’ll do what I want to do in religion.” Once the conversation turns to religious matters, some will cut you off saying words to the effect, “Just stop right there, I’m satisfied with what I have!” Friends, what does this say about people’s attitudes?
Let us take a moment and consider the consequences of the statement, “one church is as good as another.” If “one church is as good as another,” this says:
1. The name of men is as good as the name of Christ. Is this true? Peter said, “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).
2. The blood of men is as good as the blood of Christ. Yet, Paul said that the church was purchased by Christ’s blood (Acts 20:28). Is there anything more precious than the blood of Christ that purchased the Lord’s church (I Pet. 1:18-19)?
3. The foundation of men is as good as the foundation of God. However, when we study, we learn that the foundation of the church of Christ, is Christ (I Cor. 3:11; Matt. 7:24-27)!
4. The will of men is as good as the will of God. Read Hebrews 9:15-17 and learn that Christ is “the mediator of the new testament.” As a result of His death on the cross, His testament is in force. Where is man’s testament that nullifies or makes void the New Testament?
5. The word of men is as good as the word of God. In truth, it is only God’s word that gives us “all things that pertain to life and godliness” and “thoroughly furnishes us unto all good works” (II Tim. 3:16-17; II Pet. 1:20-21). What word/work of man (creed, etc.) could make this claim?
6. The organization of men is as good as the organization of Christ. Local congregations of the Lord’s church are scripturally organized when they have elders, deacons, and saints (Phil. 1:1). Has anyone been able to improve on this plan? No!
If you lost sight of your child in a crowd, what would you think of the person who said to you, “If you can’t find your child, just take another one. One child is as good as another”? Would this scare you, or would you think such a suggestion was “enlightened” and “fair-minded”? What if you attended a wedding, and the groom didn’t marry the intended bride, but another, and said, “One wife is as good as another”? If you have health problems, is one medicine from the pharmacy as good as another?
Friends, if we recognize the folly of such a suggestion with our children, a spouse, our medicine and other things, why do we accept such reasoning when it comes to the Lord’s church? One church is not as good as another. Our responsibility is to be a part of the Lord’s church if we expect to please Him (Rom. 16:16).
Consuming Alcohol Deceives The Drinker
The consumption of alcohol is a rampant problem in our world. In fact, drinking alcoholic drinks has become a “way of life” for many cultures where some of the youngest among us are brought up drinking alcohol. In our society, teenagers are encouraged by their peers to drink alcohol, as well as consume other drugs. In connection with the dangers associated with alcohol, including addiction, there are any other dangers. The dangers include destroying the body, the failure of marriages, losing a job, loss of money, and the break-down of the family environment. Underneath all of this is the very real danger of self-deceit. When drinking alcohol, people deceive themselves into thinking that the alcohol is harmless to themselves and others, and any harm they are feeling is the result of other things.
The other day, a friend and I were talking about the dangers and the deceit associated with alcohol. During our conversation, I was reminded of Solomon’s words, “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler: and whoever is led astray by it is not wise” (Prov. 20:1). In addition to this, Proverbs 23:29-35 explains the results of drinking alcohol in great detail. People who justify drinking alcohol are deceiving themselves! With all the harm alcohol can do to a person, perhaps deception is the worst harm it brings! Solomon says it best when he writes that those who drink alcohol say, “I must have another drink” when they come off of their drunken stupor (Prov. 23:35). So long as one has deceived himself by denying the true reason for his troubles, he will continue to drink and ruin his physical health, his family, his life, and worst of all, he will jeopardize his soul!
We know one jeopardizes his soul in the drinking of alcohol when we read passages like I Peter 4:3-4. There, the apostle Peter wrote, “For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries: Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you.” The context of I Peter 4 contrasts the people’s old way of life with the new way of life in Christ (see also: II Cor. 5:17). In so doing, Peter equates all degrees of alcohol consumption (excess of wine, revellings, banquetings) with “lasciviousness, lusts … abominable idolatries … excess of riot”! We know that lasciviousness, and those other sins mentioned are not “harmless pleasure,” or ways to “relax.” Why then would we place the consumption of alcohol into such a category? Truly, we have deceived ourselves when we treat the drinking of alcohol as “nothing”. Alcohol will maim and destroy lives. In addition to these passages, let us add I Corinthians 6:10 and Galatians 5:21 to our study. Yes, the consumption of alcohol will jeopardize our souls. Stay away from it (Prov. 23:31)!
What Is God’s Definition Of A Family?
Why ask the above question? First of all, because the home and family are Bible subjects! God established the home in Genesis two and continued to speak of the necessity of the family all the way through the Bible. Secondly, we ask this question because society continues to try to “redefine” what a family is. Third, it is a necessary to ask this question because if we do not teach our children the truth about the home and family, no one else will do it!
Friends, let us realize that there is a definite, concrete answer to the question in our title. The problem with many today is that they have allowed the wrong ones in our society to answer the question, “What is a family?” If we are going to get the correct answer to this question, doesn’t it make sense that we ask the Author of the family what constitutes a family? It makes sense to me, too! What is God’s definition of a family?
God’s definition of a family is revealed in Genesis two. After seeing that man was alone, He said, “I will make an help meet for him…” (Gen. 2:18). In making this helper, God created a woman for the man (Gen. 2:21-22). In seeing her, the man said, “This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Gen. 2:23-24). Please take note that at this early point in the history of man, we have already learned about a man marrying a woman. We also have here mentioned for the first time “father” and “mother.” In the first century, Jesus spoke about this event as He taught the Pharisees and others the truth in Matthew 19:4-6.
Yes, there is a Bible answer to the question, “What is a family?” A family constitutes a man married to a woman, who within this relationship may legitimately bring forth and raise children (Heb. 13:4; Eph. 6:4; Titus 2:4; etc.).
Having said this, it is clear that what folks in our country have termed “the nuclear family” (husband, wife, children) is not a product of western society. It is not the product of “1950’s America”. It is not the product of the “Puritans”, or any other group of people. Rather, this is what God designed from the beginning!
Some who have tried to define a family absent of God’s definition, have said that a family is any group of people who love one another. While loving people is a wonderful thing, is this what constitutes a family? What is their relationship to one another? How are they connected? Just because two men (or three or four) decide to live in the same house, this does not make them a family any more than if the same number of women decided to do that. A group of strangers living under the same roof does not constitute a family! In addition to this, homosexual relationships do not fit God’s definition of marriage and family (Rom. 1:26-27).
Therefore, let us respect God’s definition of the family. God’s ways are higher than man’s (Isa. 55:8-9), and He knows what is best. Are we willing to accept what God has said and live by it?
Three Sins That Condemned Daniel
Daniel, the prophet of God, was an outstanding character of the Old Testament. Most of his life was spent in captivity: first under Nebuchadnezzar and the Babylonians, then under Darius the Mede, and Cyrus, king of Persia (Dan. 1, 6, 10). In spite of his being away from family and loved ones, he knew about God and worshiped Him faithfully. His faithfulness so impressed God that God said Daniel was one of only three men who “should deliver but their own souls by their righteousness” while the rest of the land would be laid waste by God because of the people’s sin (Ezek. 14:12-20).
Yet, on one occasion, Daniel was condemned. Daniel was condemned to die, not by God, but by men, because he prayed to God after a decree had been made that no one could pray to anyone or any “thing” except to the king. Daniel’s condemnation came because three sins were committed. Not his sins, but because certain others committed sin. If we are not careful, we may also be guilty of these same sins. Let us study Daniel chapter 6, and see what three sins condemned Daniel to death.
The first sin to condemn Daniel was envy. Daniel had risen to a position of leadership, not unlike Joseph in Egypt. During the reign of Darius, Daniel was placed over several governors. These men didn’t like this, and in their envy, they devised a way to trap Daniel (Dan. 6:1-4). In Daniel they found “no error or fault.” Therefore, they decided, “We shall not find any ground for complaint against this Daniel unless we find it in connection with the law of his God” (Dan. 6:5). The only thing they could find “wrong” with him was his loyalty to God, and that he would put God above all else. (Wouldn’t this be a good problem for all of us to have?)
The second sin that condemned Daniel was lying. Based on their decision to trap Daniel by forcing him to choose between the laws of the land and the laws of God; they met with the king, saying: “All the presidents of the kingdom, the prefects and the satraps, the counselors and the governors are agreed that the king should establish an ordinance and enforce an injunction, that whoever makes petition to any god or man for thirty days, except to you, O king, shall be cast into the den of lions” (Dan. 6:7). This was a lie, for “all” were not “agreed”! Daniel would not support this legislation. They had conspired and lied against Daniel, the very one who was over them (Dan. 6:2-3).
The third sin condemning Daniel was pride. Friend, think about it. Why then did this edict pass (Dan. 6:9)? It is because of the King’s pride! He could have refused the legislation, but he, like Nebuchadnezzar, was proud and wanted to be worshiped. Why else would one sign such a decree? In the end, though, he was humbled when he realized what his signature and seal had done to Daniel (Dan. 6:14-15, 18-19). The sins of these men condemned Daniel to the lion’s den. Why? Because when Daniel “knew that the document was signed, he ... gave thanks before His God, as he had done previously” (Dan. 6:10). He did not alter his prayers, nor hide in the corner from anyone.
The sad thing is that these sins are still with us today, and it is possible for us to be guilty of envy, lying, and pride if we are not careful. (In fact, these sins nailed Christ to the cross!) We know the outcome of Daniel and of his accusers (Dan. 6:23-24). What about us? Are we the kind of people that have such conviction and dedication that, no matter what, we will be faithful to God? Remember, Daniel didn’t know he would be rescued when he made his stand! In like manner, we don’t know the end of things when we stand for the Lord. However, we know Who holds the future! If you were put on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?