Examine Your Faith

(2 Corinthians 13:5-8)

When you went to school, (or if you are still attending), there were always tests and examinations to ensure you were competent in the subject being studied. I am sure we all groaned about the litany of pop quizzes, tests and exams when they came along, but they were being done for our good.

Examine your faith
Examine your faith

Generally, at least in my own experience, as we approached the end of year examinations, we would test our knowledge by doing exams from previous years so we could understand the types of questions likely to be asked. By this process we could examine ourselves to see whether our knowledge was going to be adequate to gain a passing mark, or if we needed to do more work.

Likewise, in the scriptures, we are told in many and various places that we will be tested for the sake of what we believe. But here in 2 Corinthians 13:5-8, we are being told to “test ourselves” and to “examine our faith” to ensure we are holding fast to the truth of the faith that is in Jesus Christ. So let us look at that process and see what needs to be done to meet the test.

Continue reading “Examine Your Faith”

You Can’t Please Everyone

(John 10:31-39)

If there is one thing we must learn and understand as Christians it is that we cannot please everyone. You cannot be the friend of every person and you will not be able to prove your faith to everyone, even though we know it is the greatest thing on earth and we want everyone else to share in it.

Rejection

Bottom line is that it just ain't gonna happen! We see it clearly in this section of scripture where Jesus, for all the good that he did amongst the people, was not accepted and in fact they tried to stone him to death. There is a lesson for us in this too. Don't expect that everyone will listen to the truth even when you know it is to their advantage.

Continue reading “You Can’t Please Everyone”

Sending out the Seventy

(Luke 10:1-15)

Often we think that Jesus worked only through the twelve disciples, but here we see that he sent out seventy of his followers to do ministry in and about the region. He gave all of them the authority to heal the sick as he charged them to preach the gospel of the kingdom.

Testing their Faith

Amongst other things this was a test of the faith of the disciples and the provision of God. All of these people he sent out were instructed to take nothing with them; no extra clothes, money, food, provisions or anything else for “the labourer deserves his wages.” (Verse 7)

As ministers of the Lord and doing the work of ministry they were entitled to be provided for. They were entitled to receive food and drink and the necessities of life that would sustain them in their mission.

The Lord was testing their faith by showing them that God would provide. They would not go without but he would ensure they had provisions for their journey and their stay.

Testing Humility

However they were also instructed to stay in the one house when they went to these towns and not to go from place to place. There may have been a number of reasons for this, but the main one that comes to mind is practicality.

From a practical perspective it made it easier for the people to find the disciples. If the townsfolk knew where to find the disciples they could come and receive teaching and healing. But if the disciples were constantly moving they could miss out.

Second, they were to be provided for by that house. They would not get rich and that was not the intention, but they would receive what was necessary. But also that house received a blessing for the provision they gave. I am sure that the Lord would have blessed that house with more than sufficient provisions to provide the disciples needs, just as he blessed the widow who Elijah stayed with during the great drought.

Testifying to the work

He ensured that the work was witnessed for the truth stands by the evidence of two or more witnesses. As such the disciples were sent out in pairs to prepare the way for the Lord as he was to come into all these towns shortly.

We see also that the process of spreading the gospel the Lord provided was the same as he practiced himself. The disciples were to go into the towns and villages to heal the sick and to preach the gospel. It was the healing process that they carried out which testified to the truth of the gospel for God bore witness to the message by the signs, wonders and healings that the disciples were permitted to carry out.

This is according to the scripture for he said, “And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it.” (Mark 16:20)

Finally we see that if a town accepted the disciples the town was blessed and the peace of the Lord came upon it. But if the town rejected the disciples they were to even shake the dust off their feet as a sign that their rejection was noted and they would suffer rejection by God.

In either case they were instructed to tell the townspeople that the Kingdom of God had come near them. Their acceptance or rejection was their own decision and they had the choice. Hopefully those who rejected at that time turned and repented at a later time, but we do not know the outcome of whether this occurred or not.

You might also like:

The Great Commission

Marriage in the Resurrection

(Matthew 22:23-33)

The Sadducees were testing Jesus again after he had silenced the Herodians. The Sadducees believed there is no resurrection, but showed their malice towards Jesus by questioning him over a matter to do with resurrection, marriage in the resurrection.

They concocted a situation of a man who had a wife and the man died leaving no children. Under the Law of Moses the man’s brother was to take the wife and raise up children for his dead brother. However the second brother died. The woman was then married to a third brother who also died. She was married in total to seven brothers all of whom died leaving no children and finally the woman herself died. Their question to Jesus was, “In the resurrection, to which of the seven will she be wife?” (Verse 28)

The mere fact that they would ask such a question shows their malice. They did not believe in the resurrection anyway, so why would they accept a response from someone who did? This was purely a question designed to put Jesus to the test. But Jesus could simply answer the question, for unlike the Sadducees, He knew how the resurrection worked and he knew how these things would occur in the kingdom of heaven.

He began his response quite clearly and put them in their place. “You are wrong, because you know neither the scriptures nor the power of God.” (Verse 29) This is a warning to all of us to be sure that we learn and know the scriptures so that we are not likewise pushed away. They were wrong because they failed to realise from the scriptures that marriage is of this life only. A man and a woman are married only while they live on this earth. Marriage does not extend beyond the grave; it is for this life only. We see that marriage is binding on a husband and a wife while they are alive, but if either one of them dies the living party is freed from the bond and laws of marriage. They are then free to remarry anyone they may choose.

If the Sadducees had known the scripture they would have realised the foolishness of their argument. For if marriage extended beyond the grave and into the resurrection, then the woman and the last six of the seven brothers would have been guilty of committing adultery. But marriage is of this life only and so there was no sin in what they did. At death every married person is freed from his or her vows, so there is no marriage carried forward into the resurrection. They are all free like the angels in heaven as Jesus stated.

Will there be marriage in the kingdom of God when He returns to the earth to rule and reign forever? Perhaps there will, but what form it may take is unknown. Scripture suggests there will be children in the new kingdom, so one would expect there may be some kind of union of a man and woman, but how or what that may be has not been shown to us. I should add here that this is pure conjecture on my part and I do not offer it as doctrine. I will wait to see what the Lord has in store.

As for the issue with the Sadducees though, Jesus then goes on to upbraid them about their lack of belief in the resurrection of the dead. He quotes the words of God saying, “I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob.” (Verse 32) Now when he says “I am” he is not talking in the past tense. He did not say, “I was the God of Abraham, etc.” speaking of these three forefathers of Israel as being dead, but he speaks of them as being still alive. Then Jesus adds, “He is not God of the dead, but of the living.” (Verse 32)

These three men were alive then and are still alive today. Jesus and God do not see what we know as death to be the true death. What we know as death is the separation of the spirit from the body. The body decays and rots away, but the spirit is still alive and living. This is why Jesus said God is God of the living and not the dead.

A further aspect is that those who choose to do evil and to reject Jesus Christ could also be considered as dead, even while they live on the earth. Their lot is to be destroyed after the final judgement, so they are good as dead even while they live. Their God is not the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, but the god of this world, who is Satan. (2 Corinthians 4:4)

While we live we need to focus our priorities and attention on finding the truth. Learn the things of Jesus so that you can be counted amongst the living and find your place in the resurrection of the just.