Category Archives: New Testament

An ‘Election’ Worth Staying Up For!

Last night, someone joined a very small club, those who hold the highest office in the land. It is a small brotherhood, with awesome responsibility. Of course, I mean a lost soul who became one of the “elect” of God. Why? What did you think I meant?

What does it mean to be one of the “elect” (2 John 1:1, ‘chosen’) of God? It means those who accept the foreknown and predestined salvation plan of God (Ephesians 1:4). Believing in His Son places one in a small, but important, category of people who hold the highest office available – a great high priesthood (1 Peter 2:9) who receive “every spiritual blessing” in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3).

Oh yeah, I know…there was a different election last night. And I don’t mean to belittle the importance of elections. God places leaders in office who will accomplish His will (Romans 13:1). That can be hard to accept some times. Even tougher, those who resist such authority have opposed God and will receive condemnation (13:2). So it is important to follow “election” outcomes, even when we don’t fully understand His methods for accomplishing His will.

But was the election for President really worthy of all the attention, time, money, and division it caused? How many of us have ever stayed up past midnight wondering if somewhere, someone was joining the “elect?” I pray that someone put on Christ, and was adopted as a son (Ephesians 1:5), redeemed by His blood (7), and richly lavished with gifts (7-8). For God is not willing that any should perish, but that all would come to knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3) and repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

And if that person, a baptized believer (Mark 16:16), will suffer through kings and governments in the name, “Christian,” there is no greater way to endure the trials of this world (1 Peter 4:14). We must submit ourselves, for the Lord’s sake, to every human institution (1 Peter 2:13-18) because God is glorified in Christ-like behavior. Those who are the “elect” have far more riches, power, and responsibility in this world and the next.

Perhaps we should test ourselves to see if our hope is in an election or in being an “elect” people.

A sermon that went too long?

So I have preached a long sermon or two in my day. I try to be respectful of time, but I also want to develop and explain my points appropriately; sometimes that takes more than 25-30 minutes we set aside. I once had someone joke with me that I had just preached the best two sermons they had ever heard on that particular topic! Well, we can laugh about that kind of thing because no one got injured, but what if someone were to get hurt from a sermon that went too long???

Fortunately no one has ever been injured because of my sermons (to my knowledge), but that is exactly what happened in scripture to a young man named Eutychus. Eutychus, meaning “happy” or “fortunate” was the young man of Troas who fell asleep during Paul’s long sermon. (Here’s what happens to people who fall asleep during sermons, kids!) He fell off his window seat, broke his neck, and was taken up as dead.

Wow! Seriously? I suppose I am not shy about preaching a few minutes into the “lunch hour,” but I hope no one ever falls to their death because of my sermon! I’m not sure what I would do, but I imagine it would be devastating to learn someone had died from my sermon. Paul, however, endowed with the a miraculous gift from the Holy Spirit, simply revived him (Acts 20:7-12).

I say it would be devastating for someone to die during my sermon, but looking at it another way, isn’t that what we are after? In fact, wouldn’t it be great if someone died every time? Of course, I don’t mean physical death like Eutychus, but rather the death, burial, and resurrection of baptism. What a blessing it would be to cause someone’s old self to die and a new birth/reviving every Sunday!

If you know of anyone who wants to study these things further, please put us in touch –  the life you help die today in the waters of baptism might just be your next brother or sister in Christ!

The Road Not Taken

I was recently reminded of the Robert Frost poem, The Road Not Taken, which begins, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, and sorry I could not travel both…” and ends with the famous line, “I took the one less traveled by, and that has made all the difference.” In his poem, Frost lays out the argument that he can take only one of the two paths laid out before him. He imagines the possibility of taking the other path another day, but realizes that it is unlikely he will ever be back this way again. The choice he makes today, and the path he chooses, will make all the difference in his life.

Is it any different for us today? Do we realize that every day we make choices that lead us down one path or another? Have you stopped recently to look around and see where the path you are on is headed? Will you, like Frost’s character, get to the end of your life and be glad for the choices you have made and the paths you have taken? Or will you realize that the path you are on has led to destruction?

In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus reminded his disciples that there are really only two paths in life. Every day we choose a broad or a small gate. The broad gate is wide and its path is well-traveled, but it leads to destruction. The small gate is narrow and the way is more difficult; few go in by it. As it turns out, it is the narrow path that leads to life. Those who would be God’s children will choose the small gate – a road less traveled, a narrow path. It doesn’t mean they will be perfect, and it certainly doesn’t mean they never stray from the path. Nevertheless, choices must be made. Will you decide to follow Jesus’ path? It is a narrow road, a difficult path with a small gate. But for those who choose it, it will make all the difference.

What’s in a name?

In one of those “real life is stranger than fiction” moments this week, Mark Zuckerberg, founder of Facebook, is facing lawsuits by his own company for violating the terms of service for the social networking giant. The only problem?  “Zuckerberg” isn’t who he says he is; he is Rotem Guez. Guez is an Israeli citizen who changed his name to “Mark Zuckerberg” to avoid Facebook’s policies and to really annoy them beyond comprehension. Why? Guez is, what some might call, a “troll.” A “troll” is someone who posts inflammatory messages on the internet because anonymity allows them to say anything with impunity. Normally, so-called “trolls” are satisfied to annoy in anonymity. Guez/Zuckerberg has taken trolling to extremes. Despite lawsuits, he continues to defy Facebook’s threats by maintaining a page with the title “I’m Mark Zuckerberg,” pictures of himself, his personal documents, and newspaper articles.

So? What’s in a name? Everything! Jesus told His disciples that no one comes to the Father except through Him (John 14:6). How important is it to know the name of Christ? Peter reminded the religious leaders in Acts 4:12 “there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” Jesus said that prayers “in His name,” would be heard (JN 16:23-24). Doing anything “in the name” of another is a phrase that implies, “by the authority” of an individual. It is as if that person were there doing it themselves. Sometimes our name is all we have – the things we say, the way we live, and who we are.

Jesus warned that there would be false prophets (Matthew 7:15-23; 24:11-28). There will be many who claim the name or authority of Jesus, but only Jesus had the authority to die for our sins. I don’t know how Zuckerberg’s case will end, but there is only one Jesus. Only those who call upon His name will be saved. Does that include you? Is your trust in something other than His word? If I can help, get in touch and let’s study what scripture says together.