A hallmark of the body of Christ is being one as the people of God. This oneness permeates all that we believe and all that we are in identity. Harmony among the children of God in Christ should be our desire and goal as we live in this broken world with its many disappointments and challenges. The church is our family, we are related through the blood of Jesus and remember that we are on equal footing when it comes to our salvation in Him (Galatians 3:27-28).
The church is precious to Jesus because He shed His blood for it (Acts 20:28). We must careful not to disrupt the unity that exists in this blood-purchased body among brothers and sisters in Christ. To be guilty of causing division is a most serious charge (Proverbs 6:19; 1 Corinthians 1:10-13).
"Division is clearly branded a sin in Galatians 5:19-21. Of the fifteen items listed "works of the flesh," eight have to do with those things that create disharmony or describe division among people: enmities, strife, jealousy, anger, quarrels, dissensions, factions, envy. People are following the flesh and not the Spirit if they allow nationality, color, social status, cultural mores, economic and political doctrines; educational attainments, or personality differences to keep them apart. Brotherhood is based on having the same divine Spirit" (1 Cor. 12:13) (Everett Ferguson, The Church of Christ (400-401).
What does this mean?
God did not design the world as a place of pain and misery, though He can use suffering for good. Suffering divulges that the world is broken and is sinful (Genesis 3). The Christian desires the future time when God will wipe away all tears (Revelation 21:4). While we sojourn here upon the earth; tears are an inescapable portion of our lives. Setting up the argument to trust God when going through pain and suffering, in his brilliant volume, titled, Our Loving God, Our Sun and Shield, Thomas B. Warren observed the depth of loss Job experienced and how he still maintained his trust in God:
When one loses his possessions, he can usually gain strength and assurance from his children, his wife, his friends. If he still has his good health and his sense of his place and worth as an individual, he can gain strength and comfort from them and launch out anew. If one also loses (in addition to his wealth), his health, and his children, he can still grasp the hand of his wife, and the two may give strength to one another. But when Job lost his wealth, his children, and his health, his wife also failed him. If, after his wife had failed him, he had retained his good health, he might have gone on alone. A healthy body gives one a vitality of outlook which is difficult to attain when one is in ill health. But even after Job had lost everything upon which many human beings depend, he retained his faith in the one true living God (National Christian Press, Inc., Colleyville, 2003), 96.
Job lost his family, wealth, health, and his social status. “And he said, Naked I came from my mother's womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.” In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong” (Job 1:21-22). “Then his wife said to him, “Do you still hold fast your integrity? Curse God and die.” But he said to her, “You speak as one of the foolish women would speak. Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?” In all this Job did not sin with his lips (Job 2:9-10). Through all of this, Job never received the knowledge of why all this had happened to him; causing him to conclude: “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” (Job 13:15 NKJV). Job's faith withstood, even though unsupported by: any reason from God, man, from within himself, or by any hope of reward for enduring the terrible pain and suffering. Job’s demonstration of his response concludes that when confronting the vast burden of actual loss, God should be praised rather than criticized for the suffering that is present in our lives. God never reveals the purposes behind Job’s sufferings and the Bible records that, “the Lord blessed the latter days of Job more than his beginning” (Job 42:12). Job’s endurance was rewarded by God.
Trusting God in times of suffering is the only avenue that will support our peace of mind and patient perseverance (Proverbs 3:5-6; Psalm 9:10; Jeremiah 17:7-8; Philippians 4:6-7).
2020 - MAR/APR Carolina Messenger
And when they came to the place that is called The Skull, there they crucified him, and the criminals, one on his right and one on his left” (Lk. 23:33). Luke records the beginning of the end in the life of Jesus upon the earth and documents the first two sayings of Christ from the cross.
The first three sayings focus on others, while the last four relate to Jesus himself and the Father. The depth and meaning of the last words of Jesus warrant our whole attention.
Rick Bauer wrote:
Last words are powerful words. Perhaps you’ve watched a loved one die, and heard his last words. Words of love, words of farewell, too often words of regret and remorse, all these describe the last words of parting before death. Jesus’ dying words are the most powerful words of parting ever spoken, and reveal his life, his concerns, and the true nature of his character in a way they are shown nowhere else in the scriptures. In these words, we truly find the meaning of the cross. Let us study with reverence the parting words of our Master … the message of the cross, the message of Jesus from Golgotha. We see Jesus for all that he is when we come to the cross, when we stand around it, when we listen to The Sermon on the Hill (Rick Bauer, The Anatomy of Calvary (Joplin: College Press, 1989), 121.
James Stalker likewise opined:
These are like windows through which we can see what was passing in His mind. They are mere fragments, of course; yet they are charged with eternal significance. Words are always photographs, more or less true, of the mind which utters them; these were the truest words ever uttered, and He who uttered them stamped on them the image of Him-self (James Stalker, The Trial and Death of Jesus Christ (New York: A.C. Armstrong, 1894), 187.
Forgiveness. “And Jesus said, ‘Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.’ And they cast lots to divide his garments” (Lk. 23:34; Isa. 53:12). Jesus desires and prays for the forgiveness of his enemies, but this would only be possible by men being willing to repent and obey Christ to receive remission of sins.
Jesus calls upon us, His disciples, to extend love and kindness to those against us (Lk. 6:35).
Salvation. “And he said to him, ‘Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in paradise’” (Lk. 23:43). The two thieves represent two distinct attitudes toward Christ. The context before the verse reads: “One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, ‘Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!’ But the other rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong’” (Lk. 23:39-41).
The key to remember is that Jesus gives salvation: “But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins” (Lk. 5:24).
Responsibility. “When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple whom he loved standing nearby, he said to his mother, ‘Woman, behold, your son!’” (Jn. 19:26). John is understood to be the disciple being referred to here (Jn. 2:4; 13:23; 21:7, 20) and he is the only one who records it.
In this saying, we witness the love and care that Jesus exhibited toward his loved ones. He was providing for His mother, even at the time of His death (1 Tim. 5:8).
Loneliness. “And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, ‘Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?’ that is, ‘My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?’” (Matt. 27:46). The quotation is from Psalm 22:1. There is much here on which to study, meditate, and pray in order to begin to understand anything about it. It is a statement of loneliness based upon separation.
G. Campbell Morgan wrote:
Alone in the supreme hour in the history of the race, Christ uttered these words, and in them light breaks out, and yet merges, not into darkness, into light so blinding that no eye can bear to gaze. The words are recorded, not to finally reveal, but to reveal so much as it is possible for men to know, and to set a limit at the point where men may never know. The words were uttered that men may know, and that men may know how much there is that may not be known. In that strange cry that broke from the lips of the Master there are at least three things perfectly clear. Let them be named and considered. It is the cry of One Who has reached the final issue of sin. It is the cry of One Who has fathomed the deepest depth of sorrow. It is the cry of One Himself o’erwhelmed in the mystery of silence. Sin, sorrow, silence (G. Campbell Morgan, The Crises of the Christ (New York: Fleming H. Revell Co.), 297.
The Hebrew writer wrote, “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence” (Heb. 5:7). Our Lord was paying the ransom price for the sins of the whole world (Ac. 20:28; Heb. 9:22).
Humanity. “After this, Jesus, knowing that all was now finished, said (to fulfill the Scripture), ‘I thirst’” (Jn. 19:28). This is mentioned in Psalm 69:21.
The humanity of Jesus is shown here. Jesus relates to our physical nature. This is the only recorded statement of a physical need while on the cross.
Victory. “When Jesus had received the sour wine, he said, ‘It is finished,’ and he bowed his head and gave up his spirit” (Jn. 19:30). The goal of Jesus was to finish the task given by the Father (Jn. 4:34). The victory over sin was being accomplished. The fact that “Jesus Saves” comes ringing loud and clear because He came to “seek and save the lost” (Lk. 19:10).
Guy N. Woods wrote:
The words “It is finished,” sum up all that he came to do; the redemption of mankind was now being achieved and the course which had been laid out for him from the beginning, had been completed. His life and work, his suffering and death, the shame and agony of the cross, are all viewed as behind him and in triumph he shouts, It is finished! (Guy N. Woods, The Gospel According to John (Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1981), 408.
Commendation. “Then Jesus, calling out with a loud voice, said, ‘Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!’ And having said this he breathed his last” (Lk. 23:46). The final recorded statement of Jesus fulfilled Psalm 31:5.
R.C. Foster wrote:
He died a thousand million deaths on the cross as He died for all of us. We cannot comprehend how great was His suffering for us. If we could multiply the agony of death by as many millions of people as have lived in this world, we might approach the sum-total of His suffering: He bore the sins of all mankind as He died. As His life was absolutely unique, so was His death. His death was actual and real, but His suffering was so much greater than any of us can ever know that we can scarcely comprehend it. Jesus did not say: “I am finished.” This saying (or words to the same effect) is so often heard from mortal man in the hour of death. He has done all he can to fend off the fatal hour, but he cannot fight on any longer and so he cries: “I am finished.” Not so with the Son of God. The voluntary character of Jesus’ death is everywhere seen in the record of these hours on the cross. He says: “It is finished.” His thought is of the supreme work of God which He left heaven to accomplish (R.C. Foster, Studies in the Life of Christ (Joplin: College Press, 1995), 1284-85.
What Jesus said on the cross gives us a window to peer through to see into the greatest sacrifice ever given in the history of mankind.
Steve Miller serves on the board of directors for the Carolina Messenger and is one of the ministers at the Gold Hill Road congregation in Fort Mill, SC.
What is your worldview? If you are not sure, we may need to ask: What is a worldview?
“A worldview is a commitment, a fundamental orientation of the heart, that can be expressed as a story or in a set of presuppositions (assumptions which may be true, partially true or entirely false) which we hold (consciously or subconsciously, consistently or inconsistently) about the basic constitution of reality, and that provides the foundation on which we live and move and have our being” (The Universe Next Door. A Basic Worldview Catalog by James W. Sire. Fourth Edition. [Downers Grove, IL; IVP Academic. 2004], 17-18.)
Many influences are involved in an individual’s worldview. David A. Noebel gets to the heart of the meaning when he writes: “Every individual bases his thoughts, decisions and actions on a worldview. A person may not be able to identify his worldview, and it may lack consistency, but his most basic assumptions about the origin of life, purpose, and the future guarantee adherence to some system of thought” (Understanding the Times [Eugene, OR: Harvest House Publishers, 1994], 1.)
Philipps and Brown simplify the idea by saying: “A worldview is, first of all, an explanation and interpretation of the world and second, an application of this view to life. In simpler terms, our worldview is a view of the world and a view for the world” (W. Gary Phillips and William E. Brown, Making Sense of Your World [Chicago: Moody Press, 1991], 29.) Applying what we believe to our everyday lives is living our own worldview.
One of the most influential studies on worldview by James Sire has seven questions to consider when examining our worldview:
Sire surveys the landscape of people’s ideas on the questions he raises. It is important to note: “The fact is that we cannot avoid assuming some answers to such questions. We will adopt either one stance or another. Refusing to adopt an explicit worldview will turn out to be itself a worldview, or at least a philosophical position” (Sire, 21).
Questions That Need Answers
When we narrow down the field to the three most common questions, we begin to see our worldview more clearly: Where did I come from? Why am I here? Where am I going when I die? It is generally conceded that these three questions relating to our existence cover our curiosity and drive us to dig deeper in many cases to discover real, consistent, coherent answers that align with a worldview that makes sense to us. We may not be able to articulate our worldview, but we have one none the less.
Examples abound in books and materials with varying lists of questions that center around the same, basic inquiries as listed above. The biblical worldview answers each of the questions consistently as they are considered in reality and join together the overall plan of God for man:
Where did I come from? Mankind was the crowning glory of God’s creation. “So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Gen. 1:27).
Why am I here? “The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Eccl. 12:13).
Where am I going when I die? Our eternal destiny depends on obedience to His commandments. “Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned” (Mk. 16:16).
The Big Issue
One’s view of God is the starting point for all worldviews. God is present in the foundation of our worldview if we have a biblical one. If we fail to include God in our worldview (Rom. 1:21), then we operate on an atheistic platform that will fail us eternally.
A biblical worldview is a perspective that sees everything through the “glasses” of Scripture. Rather than allowing culture or experience to determine a worldview, it allows the Bible to make that determination. “The Christian belief system, which the Christian knows to be grounded in divine revelation, is relevant to all of life” (Carl F.H. Henry, Toward a Recovery of Christian Belief [Westchester, IL: Crossway, 1990], 113.).
The following are only a beginning sampling of biblical reminders of living our lives after the pattern of Him who died for us. A biblical worldview will be lived out by our unwavering allegiance to God and His Word in every category of life. We are not being true to God if we compartmentalize our faith and fail to consistently apply the gospel to our whole existence.
“Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2).
“For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse” (Rom. 1:20).
“See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ” (Col. 2:8).
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world” (1 John 4:1).
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge; fools despise wisdom and instruction” (Prov. 1:7).
Take time to examine what you believe and why you believe it. Make sure your foundation is built upon God and His Word and seek to live your life in a consistent manner daily, all the while keeping your eyes focused upon Jesus Christ and His example. A biblical worldview is the way of life for the Christian and must be maintained in order to please God our Creator.
The baptism of Christ (Matt. 3:13-17; cf. Mk. 1:9-11; Lk. 3:21-22) raises several questions. R.C. Foster, in his monumental work, Studies in The Life of Christ, highlights some of them: “The New Testament offers exactly ten verses as the historical record of the baptism of Jesus. Luke tells the story in two verses, Mark in three, and Matthew in five verses. John does not describe it, but alludes to it by presenting the impressions of John the Baptist concerning it. How can we reconcile the personality of Jesus with this act of humiliation? How do we harmonize the virgin birth with the baptism? How could Jesus be begotten of the Holy Spirit and yet need here the descent of the Spirit? Why should He, who was and is God, submit to John’s baptism? How can we relate this humble action with His claims of absolute pre-eminence? How reconcile the great mission of Jesus as Savior with this acceptance of baptism at the hands of another religious figure as if He Himself needed salvation? How do we reconcile the claims of Jesus and the New Testament writers that He lived a sinless life with His deliberate acceptance of this baptism of John which was ‘of repentance unto the remission of sins’?”
All things indicate that Jesus came to John because God told him to come. The baptism of John was prior to the baptism that would be under the new covenant of Christ. John’s baptism was from heaven (Matt. 21:23-27). It was according to God’s Word (Lk. 3:1-4), designed to manifest Jesus to Israel (John 1:29-34). It was part of preparing Christ’s way (Lk. 3:1-6).
Purpose. The baptism of Jesus was not for remission of sins. Jesus had no sin to take away (2 Cor. 5:21). As H. Leo Boles reasons: “We know that Jesus did not come to be baptized from a feeling of personal sinfulness, neither because of his personal connection with an impure people, nor for the purpose of showing that there was no incompatibility between his life and the life of others, nor merely to elicit the divine declaration that he was the Son of God, nor to confirm the faith of others in him, neither was it to sanction the baptism of John as having been authorized of God. It was the will of God for him to be baptized, and he came to do the will of God (Heb.10:7).”
The purpose of Jesus’ baptism was “to fulfill all righteousness.” “Righteousness” means doing what is right, obeying the Father’s will. Jesus was baptized in submission to His Father’s will. All of God’s commands are righteousness: “My tongue shall speak of Your word, For all Your commandments are righteousness” (Ps. 119:172, NKJV). In studying the phrase “fulfill all righteousness,” we understand Jesus simply complied because it was the right thing to do.
In addition to fulfilling all righteousness, the text reveals that the heavens were opened and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him (Matt. 3:16). A voice came from heaven, which was when God first called Jesus His Son and said, “In whom I am well pleased” (Matt. 3:17). Luke mentions that Jesus was praying (Lk. 3:21-22). God the Father, Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit were manifested. These are unique happenings that introduced Christ into His earthly ministry.
There are many aspects of the baptism of Jesus that show its uniqueness and its importance. The distance Jesus traveled to be baptized of John is significant. It was possibly 60-80 miles, depending on the exact location. The beginning of His earthly ministry is marked by His baptism at the hands of John (Lk. 3:23). It marked His first public identification with those whose sins He would bear (Is. 53:11; 1 Pet. 3:18). It publicly affirmed His being the Lamb of God by testimony straight from heaven (Matt. 3:17; Ps. 2:7; Is. 42:1). The miraculous power of the Godhead was evident in the baptism of Christ.
Lessons. The baptism of Christ foreshadowed the importance of Christian baptism. He was baptized in order to identify with us. He gave us an example of how to obey God: “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him” (Heb. 5:8-9). He gave us the example to walk in His steps: “For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps. He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth” (1 Pet. 2:21-22). He was baptized to teach and remind us about His death, burial, and resurrection. His being baptized of John the Immerser also helped to sanction John’s baptism and ministry.
Jesus’ baptism gives us applications to our understanding of baptism and its essentiality in becoming a Christian. “Christ‘s baptism is the foundation of Christian baptism” (Ferguson). We gain insight into the mode of baptism in the immersion of Christ. We observe that Jesus went to the water (Matt. 3:13), went down “into” the water and came up out of the water (Mk. 3:16). Our receiving of the Spirit, and becoming a son or daughter in Christ is connected to our baptism: “Explicit in the text is the association of Jesus’ baptism with sonship and the gift of the Holy Spirit. At the baptism of Jesus, the Spirit came upon him and God acknowledged him as his Son (Matt. 3:16-17; Mark 1:10-11; Luke 3:21-23). Then he was empowered to begin his ministry. Only when the Spirit came in Acts 2 did the disciples begin preaching the gospel. For Christians, at baptism they are acknowledged as children of God (Gal. 3:26-27) and receive the Spirit (Gal. 4:5-7) and then begin a life of service” (Ferguson). Temptations will follow those who are immersed (Matt. 4:1-11; 1 Cor. 10:13) as we begin to work and serve the Master. “Even as Jesus identified himself with humanity at his baptism, so at baptism his followers identify themselves with him, his ministry, and his cross” (Ferguson).
The baptism of our Savior provides an antecedent for the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus. “For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures” (I Cor. 15:3-4; cf. Rom. 6:1-4). We are baptized into His death, buried with Him in water, and raised to be a Christian, added to the church by the Lord (Acts 2:47).
The baptism of Christ provides an example of how Jesus always fulfilled the Father’s will. The implication is powerful that Jesus led the way through His example (being baptized) to show us the way which corresponds to New Testament teaching (Acts 2:38; 22:16; 1 Pet. 3:21), that those lost in sin (all – Rom. 3:23) must be immersed in water for the remission of sins in order to contact the precious blood of Jesus.
Steve Miller is on the board of directors for the Carolina Messenger.
H. Leo Boles, Matthew (Nashville: Gospel Advocate, 1952), 89.
Everett Ferguson, The Church of Christ (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996), 180.
Life is unfair! Stop the world; I want to get off. How can I ever be happy, when my life has been this bad? My parents made me what I am today! The problems in my family have influenced who I am and what I will be; there is nothing I can do to change that. It's not my fault I am who I am; there is no changing me.
Have you ever thought, said, or heard someone else say something similar to these statements? Attributing our problems, failures, mistakes, sins, and any other deficiency we may have to someone or something else is a mark of immaturity, selfishness and a disregard for the reality that God made us to be responsible people!
How bad is the problem?
“We live in a culture that has elevated pride to the status of a virtue. Self-esteem, positive feelings, and personal dignity are what our society encourages people to seek. At the same time, moral responsibility is being replaced by victimism, which teaches people to blame someone else for their personal failures and iniquities” (John MacArthur, Jr. The Vanishing Conscience, p. 11)
We must accept responsibilities for our own actions (Ezekiel 18:4, 20; Deuteronomy 30:15-20; Joshua 24:15; 1 Kings 18:21; Matthew 7:13-14; 24-27). God’s record gives us illustrations of wrong choices: Eve (Genesis 3:6-7); Cain (Genesis 4:3,5); People in Noah’s day (Genesis 6:23); and numerous instances of disobedience throughout history. God’s Word also gives us plenty of illustrations of right choices: Noah (Genesis 6:8); Joseph (Genesis 39:7-10); the man born blind (John 9:7);Paul (Acts 9 & 22); the jailer (Acts 16:33); and many other examples of making the right decision.
Man has obligations that are Divinely given: “Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). See also: Hebrews 12:28; 1 Samuel 15:22; Matthew 7:21; 4:10. Notice three areas where God especially highlights our individual personal responsibility:
Responsible For Personal Influence: “You yourselves are our letter of recommendation, written on our hearts, to be known and read by all” (2 Corinthians 3:2). Your lifestyle choices will either produce positive or negative influence to the people around you.
Responsible For Our Words: “I tell you, on the day of judgment people will give account for every careless word they speak, for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37). Are we mindful of how our speech can influence others? Do we remember that our speech can condemn us?
Responsible For Our Soul: So then each of us will give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12). “He will render to each one according to his works: to those who by patience in well-doing seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; but for those who are self-seeking and do not obey the truth, but obey unrighteousness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be tribulation and distress for every human being who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality” (Romans 2:6-11).
In every choice there is no such thing as indecision! Whenever we are faced with the choice of good or evil, there is never a middle ground/neutral position! The choice is OURS to make and we must not blame birth, society, environment, peer pressure, or anything else! There is reward or punishment depending on the choices we make!