What Does the World See?

By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another. John 13:35

If you see men in long black coats, white shirts, black hats, and beards, you are probably seeing Orthodox Jews. If you see someone bowing before a large statue of a man with his legs crossed and hands resting in his lap, this person is probably an adherent of Buddhism. This is not to place stereotypes on these or any other religions, but to recognize that religious groups are often identified by their behavior and appearance. But how does the world identify a Christian?

There is one sign by which Jesus said the world should be able to know they are looking at a group of Christians—their love for one another. In fact, the apostle John said our love for others can be a sign not just to the public but to ourselves. Love is how we know “we have passed from death to life” (1 John 3:14). The question is, What does the world see when it looks at the Church? Does it see love and caring—or the opposite? As an individual member of the Church, what are you contributing to that picture?

The new commandment that Jesus left with all who would follow Him is that we would love each other the way He has loved us (John 13:34).

Ceasing to be “in love” need not mean ceasing to love. C. S. Lewis

The Rich Young Ruler

Luke 18:18-23

Three of the four gospels contain an account of the young man who asked Jesus a very important question: “What shall I do to inherit eternal life?” (Luke 18:18). A ruler with great wealth, he considered himself a moral man because he had kept the Lord’s commandments.

However, he was operating under the false assumption that good works bring salvation. He seemed to be asking Jesus what else he had to do to secure his place in heaven—besides all the good things that he had already accomplished.

This is what I refer to as the “great deception”—the false belief that eternal life can be earned through our own efforts. If we give credence to this lie, then we do not understand the problem of our sin and how it separates us from God. Scripture tells us that we have inherited a sinful nature from the first man (Rom. 5:12). Ever since that time, humanity has been in rebellion against the Lord and under His judgment. There is nothing we can do to pay for our sins.

If this were the end of the story, we would be a people without hope for today or the future. But the good news is that the heavenly Father recognized our plight and mercifully provided the way to heaven (John 14:6).

When God made us in His image, He created us to live forever. So, though our earthly bodies will perish, our spirits will never die. The question about eternal life is important, as we’ll spend eternity either with God in heaven or in an insufferable state, separated permanently from Him (Matt. 25:34, 41).

Our Natural and Spiritual Bodies

“It is sown in dishonour; it is raised in glory: it is sown in weakness; it is raised in power: It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.” (1 Corinthians 15:43-44)

In this portion of this great chapter on the resurrection—first that of Christ, then the future resurrection of the redeemed—death and resurrection are compared to seed-sowing and harvest. When a seed is planted in the ground, it is as though it had died and is buried. For a long time after its “death,” the seed cannot be seen, but finally it rises again as a beautiful flowering plant, or sheaf of grain, or even a lovely tree.

Jesus made this same analogy. “Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit” (John 12:24; note also Mark 4:26-29). Our human bodies, because of sin and the Curse, eventually die and are buried; but one day (like the planted seed) they will appear again, but now immortal and glorified, far greater than they were before—that is, of course, if their real inhabitants (their eternal created spirits) have been born again through faith in their already-resurrected Savior.

Our new spiritual bodies rising from the grave will be real physical bodies (like that of Jesus after He was raised) but will no longer be under bondage to gravitational and electromagnetic forces as at present, but only to spiritual forces of which we have as yet very little knowledge.

We do know, however, that our spiritual bodies will be “fashioned like unto his glorious body” (Philippians 3:21). Although “it doth not yet appear what we shall be. . . . when he shall appear, we shall be like him” (1 John 3:2). Then in our glorious, powerful, spiritual bodies, we as “his servants shall serve him” in love and joy forever (Revelation 22:3). HMM

True Spiritual Power

Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth. —Matthew 28:18

True spiritual power does not reside in the ancient cross but in the victory of the mighty, resurrected Lord of Glory who could pronounce after spoiling death: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18). Of this we need to be thoroughly convinced. Our power as Christians does not lie in the manger at Bethlehem or in the relics of Golgotha’s cross. Our power lies in the Eternal Christ who triumphed over death.

When Jesus died on the cross, He died in weakness. When Jesus arose from the grave, He arose in power. If we forget or deny the truth and glory of Jesus’ resurrection and His present place at God’s right hand, we lose all the significance of Christianity!…

Jesus died for us—true—but ever since the hour of resurrection, He has been the mighty Jesus, the mighty Christ, the mighty Lord! Authority does not lie with a Babe in a manger. Authority does not lie with a Man nailed helplessly to a cross. Authority lies with the resurrected Man who was once in that manger, who hung on that cross but who, after He gave His life, arose on the third day, later ascending to the right hand of the Father. In Him lies all authority.

Thank You, Lord, that my power for living and serving today lies not in the events of history but in the resurrected and ascended Christ. Amen.

Your Line Busy?

I heard the voice of the Lord saying, Whom shall I send…. Then said I, Here am I; send me. (Isaiah 6:8)

The gospel invitation is offered freely to one and all, but many are too preoccupied to hear or heed. They never allow God’s call to become a reason for decision. As a result, they live out their entire lives insisting that they never heard any call from God!

The answer to that is plain. God has been trying to get through to them, but engrossed in a host of worldly pursuits, their line is always busy.

The world around us wants to put us in the same straitjacket that would have kept Abraham in Ur of the Chaldees.

“We will talk to you about religion” is the seemingly kindly offer people give us today. But then they add the disclaimer: “Just do not make religion personal.” Most people seem to have come to terms with an acceptance of religion if it does not have the Cross of Christ within it!

But when God calls men and women to the belief that Christ has given us the only way to God through His death and atonement, their faith will be an offense to the world. It was so in Abraham’s day, and it is so in our day!

Occasions when God’s servants shrink from duty

There are occasions when God’s servants shrink from duty. But what is the consequence? They lose the presence and comfortable enjoyment of God’s love. When we obey our Lord Jesus as believers should, our God is with us; and though we have the whole world against us, if we have God with us, what does it matter? But the moment we start back, and seek our own inventions, we are at sea without a pilot. Then may we bitterly lament and groan out, “O my God, where hast thou gone? How could I have been so foolish as to lose all the bright shinings of thy face? This is a price too high. Let me return to my allegiance, that I may rejoice in thy presence.”