Probing Questions

Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you. —1 Peter 3:15

While riding on a train a few years after the American Civil War, General Lew Wallace of the Union Army encountered a fellow officer, Colonel Robert Ingersoll. Ingersoll was one of the 19th century’s leading agnostics, and Wallace was a man of faith. As their conversation turned to their spiritual differences, Wallace realized that he wasn’t able to answer the questions and doubts raised by Ingersoll. Embarrassed by his lack of understanding about his own faith, Wallace began searching the Scriptures for answers. The result was his confident declaration of the person of the Savior in his classic historical novel Ben-Hur: A Tale of the Christ.

Probing questions from skeptics don’t have to be a threat to our faith. Instead, they can motivate us to seek a deeper understanding and equip us to respond wisely and lovingly to those who might question our faith. The apostle Peter encouraged us to pursue the wisdom of God in the Scriptures when he wrote, “Always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear” (1 Peter 3:15).

We don’t have to have an answer for every question, but we need the courage, confidence, and conviction to share our love for Christ and the hope that is in us.

Christ is the ultimate answer to life’s greatest questions. By Bill Crowder

Baptized into New Life

Romans 6:1-7

The self-help section of the bookstore wouldn’t be so crowded if more people accepted God’s solution for their well-being. His provision for man’s redemption isn’t self-improvement but rather a complete replacement of the old “flesh” nature.

From God’s perspective, those who receive Jesus as Savior and accept His sacrifice for their sin are crucified right alongside Him. Their old self, puffed up with pride and riddled with sin, is put to death, and a new spotless Spirit takes up residence within. Baptism is a symbolic act representing that transition from death to life. Not only does it symbolize Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection; it also reflects our own experience of being buried with the crucified Christ and raised to walk in newness of life.

In our new life, we are free from bondage to sinful habits, harmful attitudes, and hurtful speech; the power of sin is cancelled. But daily life doesn’t always reflect spiritual reality, and we’re left wondering why. When we can’t seem to meet godly expectations, we try harder to do right. At times we return to the self-help section when what we should do is turn to the Deliverer. In redeeming us, Christ became our life. He lives in us through His indwelling Spirit, and He will live through us if we allow Him to do so.

People can’t fix themselves. Jesus calls believers into a relationship wherein they are remade. When He’s the center of our life—when we eagerly read Scripture, pray that His will be done, and seek to follow in His way—we change for the better. That is “walking in newness of life.”

The Abounding Life

“And God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” (2 Corinthians 9:8)

Jesus said: “I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly” (John 10:10). This well-known promise is sometimes misapplied, being interpreted to mean that the Christian life would normally be a life of material prosperity, popularity, and happiness. The words “abundantly,” “abounding,” and similar terms are all based on the same Greek word, which does, indeed, mean “abundant.” But it can apply to sorrow as well as happiness.

The Christian life, as our text indicates, should be abundant in good works for the simple reason that God’s saving and keeping grace has been manifested abundantly toward us. Having been “stablished in the faith,” we are to be “abounding therein” (Colossians 2:7). Christians, of course, should also “abound in love.” “And the Lord make you to increase and abound in love one toward another, and toward all men, even as we do toward you” (1 Thessalonians 3:12).

But the Christian may also experience much sorrow and difficulty in his life. Paul was a classic example: “. . . in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft” (2 Corinthians 11:23). One may also abound in poverty. For the Christians at Philippi, for example, “in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality” (2 Corinthians 8:2). An abundance of suffering for the believer can always be overbalanced by God’s abounding grace. “For as the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ” (2 Corinthians 1:5). Our God of all grace “is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us” (Ephesians 3:20). HMM

Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called

Jesus stood still, and commanded him to be called.—Mark 10:49.

AS we meet and touch, each day,
The many travelers on our way,
Let every such brief contact be
A glorious, helpful ministry;
The contact of the soil and seed,
Each giving to the other’s need,
Each helping on the other’s best,
And blessing, each, as well as blest.
SUSAN COOLIDGE.

DO we not sometimes feel, in trial or perplexity, that others might help us if they would only stop and listen? But they will not, and in their constant hurry we know it is little use to speak. Let us note the lesson for ourselves, and give what we ask,—leisure to hear, attentive, concentrated, not divided,—calm, patient consideration. It may be our busy work, as we think, for the Master, which so overcrowds our lives that we have not time for this “standing still.” Sad eyes meet ours, but we cannot stay to read their story. Some look to us for help in battles which we fought long ago, but we cannot turn aside to see how it fares with them in the strife, or to whisper the secret of victory. But He would have said, even though some plans of our own for His service were put aside, “Ye have done it unto Me.” H. BOWMAN.

I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more

I will hope continually, and will yet praise thee more and more. Psalm 71:14

Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect. —Leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God. — The path of the just is as the shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day.

I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live. — I will bless the LORD all times: his praise shall continually be in my mouth.

Praise waiteth for thee, O God, in Sion. — They rest not day and night, saying, Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty. — Whoso offereth praise glorifieth me. — Rejoice evermore. Pray without ceasing. In everything give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you. — Rejoice in the Lord, always; and again I say, Rejoice.

Philippians 3:12. Hebrews 6:1. Proverbs 4:18. Psalm 116:1,2. Psalm 34:1. Psalm 65:1. Revelation 4:8. Psalm 50:23. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18. Philippians 4:4.

Behold the Lamb of God

Behold the Lamb of God. John 1:29

It is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins. Wherefore when he cometh into the world, he saith, Sacrifice and offering thou wouldest not, but a body hast thou prepared me: in burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin thou hast had no pleasure. Then said I, Lo, I come (in the volume of the book it is written of me) to do thy will, O God. — He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth; he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, … but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot: … manifest in these last times for you who by him do believe in God … that your faith and hope might be in God.

Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing.

Hebrews 10:4-7. Isaiah 53:7. 1 Peter 1:18-21. Revelation 5:12.