“I am ready to accept that Jesus of Nazareth was a good moral teacher, but I cannot believe that he was the son of God.” How many times have Christians heard such a statement? So, just who is Jesus? It’s an important question. As we study, we find out what the Bible teaches about this very question, and even find that there is a fundamental problem with the idea Jesus being either a good moral teacher or the Son of God.
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.
There are a number of questions people ask when they find out you are a member of the church of Christ. The questions about music or weekly observance are almost always near the top of the list. Another charge I sometimes hear is that we do not believe in the Old Testament. While it is true that we do not believe that Old Covenant is still binding (Col 2:14), that does not mean we completely disregard the Old Testament. Here are just a few reasons why that is the case.
First, we believe that just like the New Testament, the Old Testament is inspired of God. Paul wrote that ALL Scripture is God-breathed in 2 Tim. 3:16, and Peter, speaking specifically of the prophecies of the Old Testament, says in 2 Peter 1:21 that “no prophecy of Scripture was every produced by the will of men, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.”
A second reason that we believe the Old Testament is still worth our study is because Jesus himself taught from it. In Luke 4, after reading from the book of Isaiah in the synagogue, Jesus took the opportunity in verse 21 to teach the people that “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” In a number of places he refers to the Old Testament in his teaching, such as making references to the “sign of Jonah” in predicting his resurrection from the dead (Mt. 12:38-42) and references to Daniel’s prophecy when standing trial before the Council (Mk. 14:62 cf. Dan. 7:13-14).
A third reason that we do not ignore the Old Testament is because the other New Testament writers taught from it as well. Paul quoted from and made references the Old Testament in his letters (Rom 3:10-18, 9:6-33; Gal. 3). One might say that the key to understanding the book of Hebrews lies in understanding the Old Testament, especially the books of Moses. Additionally, we could consider examples of Peter and other writers making reference to Old Testament passages (James 2:23-26; 1 Pet. 2:6-8)
Finally, the express words of Paul in Romans 15:4 give us a good reason to not neglect our study of the Old Testament. He wrote, “For whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction…” In my opinion, this was easily seen in our recent Wednesday night series covering the book of Ruth. There was much we could learn from what we usually thought of as simply a beautiful love story.
There is considerable benefit in studying God’s first 39 books of revelation in addition to continuing to deeply study the 27 books given specifically to the church in the New Testament. Let’s not neglect more than half of God’s inspired word just because we are no longer bound by it’s laws. Study the Old Testament. All of God’s people would be better for it.
The gospel is a wonderful thing, and in the gospel is the power of salvation. God has given us a charge to preach that blessed gospel. Can we, along with Paul, say that we are not ashamed?
The entertainment industry thrives on love, but to the Christian it is so much more than what the rest of the world sees. Love is a choice, a choice to put others above oneself. Love is the reason that God gave us His Son, and he also demands love of us. Jesus said that the two great commandments in the Law are to love God and to love one’s neighbor.
In our lesson from Sunday morning, we examine the humility of Jesus from Philippians 2:5-8, with an emphasis on crowns that are associated with our Lord’s work, including the crown he gave up by emptying himself to become a man We also consider the crowns he put on, such as the crown of thorns, and after his resurrection, the crown of glory and honor. Finally, we consider the crown which he has promised to those who are his.
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.