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Spotlight On A Bible Verse: Acts 4:12

Sunday, March 26, 2017

Spotlight On A Bible Verse: Acts 4:12

                   Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” This verse is the end of a larger thought wherein Peter defended himself before the Sanhedrin for healing the lame man and preaching Christ (Acts 3). The Sanhedrin wanted to know what authority granted these men the right to heal the lame man (Acts 4:7). Acts 4:9-12 is the full answer. Verse 12 reminds us that salvation comes by no other “name” or authority than Christ! If anyone is to be saved, we will do it through the authority of Christ or not at all (Jn. 14:6; Col. 3:17). Buddha, Shinto, Mohammed, Confucius, Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, Aimee Semple McPherson, and anyone else has no authority on earth (Matt. 28:18). We will be saved by the teaching and authority of the Lord, or we will not be saved! It is as simple as that!

– Jarrod Jacobs

What Will You Leave Behind?

Saturday, March 25, 2017

“What Will You Leave Behind At Death?”

Jarrod Jacobs

            Every day we learn of people who have died. Some die in their old age, some in their youth. Regardless of how long we live, or the reason for dying, our life is brief at its longest. Moses wrote that our life is “soon cut off” (Ps. 90:10). James says our life is, “even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (Jas. 4:14).

            With this in mind, have you considered what you will leave behind at your death? Some perhaps have taken out life insurance policies, and similar things to provide financial stability for their survivors. But, is this all that one will leave behind at death? By no means! What will a man leave behind at death?

            First, influence, good or bad, will be felt by our survivors. Concerning the death of the saints, Christ said, “their works do follow them” (Rev. 14:13; I Tim. 5:24). If we are unsure as to whether or not our influence is felt after death, tell me how many newborns are being named “Jezebel” or “Judas” these days? In contrast, many babies are named “Paul, “Hannah,” “James,” and “Sarah.” Why do people still cringe and shudder at such names as Adolph Hitler, or Mussolini if it is not for the influence those people left behind?

            Yes, our influence is felt even after death. Therefore, let us make sure our influence is godly (Matt. 5:16). Our children and grandchildren deserve no less than to observe a righteous influence in us!

            Secondly, all decisions we had to make are left behind. Once this earth-life is over, there is no coming back. Solomon said, “Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it” (Ecc. 12:7). Therefore, let us get our priorities in order. If you die in your sins, you will have wasted your life. When you die, decisions left undone will remain undone! Seeing that this is the case, perhaps we can better appreciate the emphasis the Bible makes on folks doing things “now” and “today” while we still have the opportunity (ex: Acts 16:33). Make the right decision and remember “now is the accepted time ... now is the day of salvation” (II Cor. 6:2). If we don’t take advantage of this day, with its opportunities, we may not get another chance!

            When we die, will we enter into the bosom of Abraham, and to the safety of our Father? (Lk. 16:19-31) Will we be lost in our sins? If we love Christ, we will be busy doing His will right now (Jn. 14:15). Sadly, many are satisfied to do their “own thing”, living a life of carelessness and wickedness; (being friends of the world and enemies of God, Jas. 4:4) and are not ready at all to enter into eternity.

            Are you a friend of God, or Satan? You must be one or the other (Matt. 6:24, 12:30)! There is no “middle ground” with God. You’ll either be for Him or against Him; His friend, or His enemy. Remember, friendship with God depends upon whether or not you are a Christian (Acts 22:16), a joint-heir with Christ (Rom. 8:17). Are you a Christian? If not, please obey the gospel message today (Mk. 16:16).

What Is Your Attitude Toward Sin?

Friday, March 24, 2017

“What Is Your Attitude Toward Sin?”

Jarrod Jacobs

            What is your attitude toward sin? Do you consider it funny? The Bible says, “fools mock at sin” (Prov. 14:9). Is sin something that you consider “no big deal”? Perhaps you think sin is serious, but not serious enough to cause you to change your life? When we read the Bible, we are warned about sin, and told that folks need to change their lives immediately! (Acts 22:16; II Cor. 6:2; etc.) Tomorrow may be too late.

            Perhaps our attitude toward sin is not what it ought to be because we do not appreciate how terrible it is. Let us consider God’s definition of sin as revealed in the Bible:

            The Bible compares sin to a terrible wound (Isa. 1:6). God looked upon national Israel and said, “From the sole of the foot even to the head there is no soundness in it; but bruises and sores and raw wounds; they are not pressed out or bound up or softened with oil.” David described sin in a similar way in Psalm 38:7-8.

            Another description of sin is a heavy burden (Ps. 38:4). David said, “For my iniquities have gone over my head; like a heavy burden, they are too heavy for me.” He continued to describe their putrid nature by saying, “My wounds stink and fester because of my foolishness” (Ps. 38:5).

            Our Lord describes sin as a debt (Matt. 6:12). He instructed His disciples to pray: “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors.” Do we recognize that sin is a debt we have? Have we forgiven others that need our forgiveness? If not, how can we expect God to forgive us of our debts (Matt. 6:14-15, 18:21-22, 35)?

            The Bible also describes sin as a stain (Isa. 1:18-20; Jas. 1:27). The “stain” of which Isaiah speaks is compared to a garment which has been “double-dipped” in dye so that the fabric is vibrant with color. James reminds Christians to make sure and not be “spotted” with the corruption found in this world! The way we can keep from such is described for us in James 1:25-27.

            The New Testament reveals that sin enslaves us (Jn. 8:34; Rom. 6:16; II Pet. 2:19). One who is in sin is in slavery and a citizen in the kingdom of darkness (Col. 1:13; I Pet. 2:9). Hence, the need for “redemption!”  How terrible it is, though, when we see folks who are slaves to sin and either don’t know or don’t care! May we avoid such attitudes!

            Sin results in spiritual death (Rom. 6:23; Rev. 21:8)! No one who dies in sin will see God.

            Sins such as lying, immodest dress, drinking alcohol (“socially” or otherwise), adultery/fornication, homosexuality, filthy language, and lusting after the opposite sex, etc. (Gal. 5:19-21; Eph. 5:3-7; Rev. 21:8) are not “minor” things. Your soul is in jeopardy so long as you continue to live in such sins!

            Seeing that the above is true, if one could go to someone who can heal the wound, lift the burden, forgive the debt, cleanse the stain, give us freedom, and bring spiritual life, would we not do it? Of course, we would! Then, what is YOUR delay? Repent and be baptized (Acts 2:38). What is your attitude toward sin?

The Dangers Of Assumptions

Thursday, March 23, 2017

“The Dangers Of Assuming About Other People”

Jarrod Jacobs

            II Samuel 10 (and its parallel text, II Chron. 19) speaks of the occasion when David’s kindness was misinterpreted as evil. An assumption was made by the princes of the Ammonites that David had sent spies into the country (v. 3). He had not done this. Rather, this was a diplomatic action following the death of Nahash the Ammonite (v. 2). Yet, because of the princes’ assumption, David’s men were insulted, horribly mistreated, and sent away (v. 4-5). The end result was that the Ammonites hired the Syrians as soldiers and David and Israel went to war with the Ammonites and Syrians. By the end of the chapter, we read that the Ammonites and Syrians lost to David and the Israelite army (v. 6-19).

            THINK ABOUT THIS: This whole event, including the resulting war, came about because someone ASSUMED the wrong thing and then acted upon that assumption. Consider for a moment the death, the bloodshed, the widows, the fatherless children, the economic problems, and the other consequences that came to the people because the princes of the Ammonites could not imagine David doing a kind thing for them (though it was a kind act, v. 2)!

            Truly, Psalm 19:13 would ring true in David’s life. He asked God, “Keep back your servant also from presumptuous sins; let them not have dominion over me.” In essence, Psalm 19:13 is David’s prayer that he might not act as the Ammonites did! Let this be our prayer as well.

            I Corinthians 13:4-8 declares that an attribute of love is that it “thinketh no evil” (v. 5, KJV). Love also “believes all things” and “hopes all things” (v. 7). No, this is not encouraging some naïve display of love. Rather, love thinks the best of others and of their intentions. Love wants to believe the best and strives to believe the best in people until proven wrong. Love does not assume things, nor try to “read hearts”.  Again, this is not being naïve, nor blind to the truth. Instead, love is thinking the best of others, while having one’s eyes open to the facts. Friends, do we do this? Please go back and reread II Samuel 10 and I Chronicles 19 and see the results of presuming or assuming the motives of others. In truth, those chapters would not even read the way they do if it had not been for the assumption and evil surmising of the Ammonites!

            In making application to ourselves, stop and consider the following. When someone does something nice for us, do we say or think, “I know the real reason why they did that...”? I have seen folks who were treated nicely look to the person and ask, “OK, what do you want?” Are we always assuming that others have “ulterior motives” in what they do? Why is this? Biblical love doesn’t act this way. If one says, “I act like this because those people have shown themselves to be two-faced”, then my question is, why are you still associating with them (I Cor. 15:33)? Let us stop presuming things about others. Love does not do this, and as we have already noted, assuming matters brings trouble and hardship!

            No, we cannot read other people’s minds (I Cor. 2:11a). Let’s stop acting like we can by presuming or assuming things about God and others! Let us do as love demands and then see how we (and others) can be blessed.

What Prevents Me From Being Baptized?

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

“What Prevents Me From Being Baptized?”

Jarrod Jacobs

            The above question was asked by an Ethiopian many years ago. As Philip preached Christ to him (Acts 8:35), they came to a certain water and “the eunuch said, See, here is water! What prevents me from being baptized? … and they both went down into the water, Philip and the eunuch, and he baptized him” (Acts 8:36-39). The question the eunuch asked is still valid. What is preventing you from being baptized?

            Is false teaching preventing you? Many people today are taught that baptism is not necessary for salvation. They are told to simply believe or to say a sinner’s prayer for salvation. Isn’t it telling to see that when the preachers of the New Testament taught folks, those listening wanted to be baptized! Yet, when many preach today, people do NOT want to be baptized!

            Please read Acts 8 and notice that when Philip preached Christ to the people in Samaria (Acts 8:5), he taught them about “the kingdom of God, and the name of Jesus Christ” and baptism (Acts 8:12). “Simon the sorcerer believed, and after being baptized, he continued with Philip” (Acts 8:13). When Philip spoke to the eunuch and “preached unto him Jesus” (Acts 8:35); the first time he saw plenty of water, he wanted to be baptized. Are we seeing a pattern? The teaching concerning baptism began with Christ (Matt. 28:19; Mk. 16:16). The apostles and disciples of the Lord then carried this message to the world (Acts 2:38, 10:48, 18:8, 22:16; I Pet. 3:21; Col. 2:12; Gal. 3:26-27). When the people heard the New Testament heroes preach, they wanted to be baptized. What is hindering you from being baptized?

            Are friends and family preventing us? Depending upon our friends and family, they can pressure us to do the right things or the wrong things. Have they pressured us into not obeying the Lord? The Bible says: “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). Jesus said: “Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me” (Matt. 10:37). In order to please our Lord, we must obey His command to be baptized for the remission of sins regardless of what others might say about us (Phil. 3:8). What is hindering you from being baptized?

            Does the urge for popularity prevent us? It is not popular to be a Christian. In fact, Jesus promised His apostles that men would hate them for no other reason than they served the Lord (Jn. 15:18-20). Peter said that some men would be “surprised when you do not join them in the same flood of debauchery” (I Pet. 4:4). We need to decide whether we wish for popularity with this world or to be the friend of God. We cannot have it both ways (Jas. 4:4)!

            Could selfishness be preventing us? Some people refuse to do anything unless it is their idea. Could that be my attitude? Have I not been baptized simply because I didn’t want to? The Bible says that I need to put away such attitudes and place Christ’s kingdom first (Matt. 6:33). I need to love God even more than my own life (Lk. 14:26-27).

            Whatever is hindering you from being baptized, realize that this hindrance is keeping you from enjoying spiritual blessings (Eph. 1:3); from being in a covenant relationship with Christ (Gal. 3:27); from having your sins forgiven (Acts 2:38, 22:16); from being a child of God (Rom. 8:16-17); and from a home in Heaven (Col. 3:1-4; Rev. 2:10). Is this really worth it?

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