In times of crisis, and at all times, there are some important things that Christians need to keep in mind. While there are several items that could make that list, here are four to think about this morning.
Though final chapters of Paul’s letters often contain several names and greetings, they are not entirely without lessons that we can learn to help us in our walk with Christ. In the closing words of 1 Corinthians, we see a lesson about pursuing opportunities, preserving unity, and persevering in the faith.
The Resurrection of Jesus Christ is a pivotal moment in human history. And for those of us who are in Christ, who have our hope because He was resurrected, there are many good things that we can know because our Lord is risen from the dead.
I am certainly not the first, neither will I be the last person to make a vision pun in this new year of 2020. I can’t even promise that this will be these last time I will make such a reference over the next 12 months. I can say for certain that I think having a clearer spiritual vision could be an excellent goal for each and every Christian as we traverse this new journey around our sun.
If we are going to have clearer vision in 2020, we must have our eyes fixed in the right direction. We are all running this race called life, and if we want to run with endurance, we must have our eyes trained on what we are running toward. The writer of Hebrews wrote that “since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to (fixing our eyes on) Jesus, the founder and perfected of our faith…” (Heb. 12:1-2a). If we are going to run this race, we must keep our eyes on the one who goes before us, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ
Clearer vision in 2020 will requires us to have a heavenly focus. Paul wrote to the church in Colossae to “set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” While there are things on earth that require our attention (work, school, family, health, etc.), our ultimate focus must be on those things which have an eternal purpose, rather than a temporal one.
If we hope to have clearer vision in 2020, then it will require us to have adequate light in our lives. You can’t see properly when in the dark, but shed some light on the situation, and all things will become much clearer. The Psalmist wrote that the Word of God is “a lamp to my feet and a light to my path” (Psalm 119:105). There is simply no substitute for regular Bible reading and study. It is God’s light for our lives in a world that is full of darkness. If we take it and use it, we will have light for our path, and we will be able to see more clearly in the year ahead.
May we all strive to have clearer vision in 2020 through fixing our eyes on Jesus, focusing on heavenly things, and letting the light of God’s word illuminate our path.
Enoch was commended as having pleased God because of his faith. In fact, the Hebrew writer says that without faith it is impossible to please God. So, it would be good for us to consider what is involved in a God pleasing faith.
In order to stand, a building must have a proper foundation. The church, God’s building (1 Cor. 3) is founded upon the solid rock of Jesus Christ. As members of that body, we are working on the building through teaching, faith, and obedience.
Why even bother asking as question like this? Don’t we know that Jesus rose from the dead? Our faith is based on Christ rising from the dead, and yet, there are some who do not believe that Christ really was resurrected, but simply that the disciples believed it to be so. In this lesson, we examine some evidence that should shows us that Christ did in fact rise from the dead.
As we continue how we ought to be prepared to give an answer to those who ask why we believe, we are looking at another argument for evidence of God’s existence. In this case we are considered the Teleological, or Design, Argument, making the case that because this universe maintains all the characteristics of being fine-tuned, there must be a designer.
We live in a world that has changed a lot. Scores of people decide every year that they do not believe in God or the Bible. These people need the gospel just as much as any of us, so how do we reach them? This is where the study of apologetics can be a helpful tool. If we can show them evidence for the truth, and they accept that evidence, we will be one step closer to teaching them the gospel.
Recently I preached a sermon on the relationship between faith, works, and salvation. And as we study that topic, we should be able to understand from James Chapter 2 that faith without works is dead, that one is only justified when, because of his or her faith, they obey God. In fact, James says, quite clearly, that we cannot be saved by faith alone. This same principle is echoed throughout Scripture, in a number of places where the faith and obedience are brought together.
Take for example John 3:36. John writes:
Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him. (John 3:36) (all quotations from ESV unless otherwise noted)
First of all, understand that some older translations like the KJV have the word “believe” in place of “obey” in the latter part of the verse, but the better manuscripts support the use of the word “obey.” Notice how John brings the two ideas together. If belief equals eternal life, then unbelief equals no eternal life. On the other side, if disobedience equals no eternal life, then obedience must equal eternal life. If belief equals eternal life, and obedience equals eternal life, then belief equals obedience. Faith is not just saying “I believe in Christ,” but faith involves everything that is involved in obeying him as well.
Consider another place where these two ideas are brought together.
In 1 Peter 2:7-8 we read:
So the honor is for you who believe, but for those who do not believe, “The stone that the builders rejected has become the cornerstone,” and “A stone of stumbling, and a rock of offense.” They stumble because they disobey the word, as they were destined to do. (1 Pet. 2:7-8, emphasis added)
Peter marries the idea of belief and obedience together in much the same way that John did. Look at another example in Hebrews 3:
And to whom did he swear that they would not enter his rest, but to those who were disobedient? So we see that they were unable to enter because of unbelief. (Heb. 3:18-19)
In fact, if we were to look later in Hebrews, in that great chapter on faith, Hebrews 11, we would find that those who are commended for their faith, are commended because of action that the took (works) that were based in their faith.
We cannot ignore plain Bible teaching. Faith and obedience cannot be separated from one another. Without obedience, faith is empty, even dead, according to James. Without faith, obedience is meaningless, as there is no basis for the obedience. The two must come together.