Jesus Is Eternal Life To Us

1 John 1:1-3  “What was from the beginning, what we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes, what we beheld and our hands handled, concerning the Word of Life—

2  and the life was manifested, and we have seen and bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was manifested to us—

3  what we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ.”

The ultimate spiritual hope for mankind is eternal life with God. God offers this to us through the person and work of Jesus Christ. This is so connected to Jesus that John stated, we “bear witness and proclaim to you the eternal life.” Then he tells what they saw and heard and touched of Jesus, and then calls Him the Word of Life. 

Why is Jesus eternal life and the word of life? The gospel say that Jesus is the one that we can ask about eternal life (Matt. 19:16), and He is the one who teaches us about eternal life (Matt. 19:29; 6:47). That believing in Him brings us eternal life (Jn. 3:15,16,36; 5:24; 6:40,47) and that He gives eternal life to His followers (Jn. 10:28; 17:2)

Later New Testament writers tell us that eternal life is a free gift (Rom. 6:23), by His mercy (Jude 21).

Eternal life is so fully connected to Jesus and only Jesus that John speaks of His as “the eternal life” (1 Jn. 1:2 and 3:2) and concludes that: “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son” (1 Jn. 5:11).

The God Of All Comfort

Socially, culturally and politically our nation is going through some difficult times. At the same time, many people are quietly waging their own battles with personal, spiritual, financial, and emotional problems. Then add troubles with relationships and health issues. It’s as the the apostle Paul said, “For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now.” This effects believers also, “And not only this, but also we ourselves, having the first fruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting eagerly for our adoption as sons, the redemption of our body.” (Rom. 8:22,23)

Difficulties come to everyone sometimes, and more often to some. Troubles can be of own making, or through circumstances beyond our control. No matter how or why they come, most of us can find ways to make them worse or last longer. We can we try to ignore them, living as blissfully as possible in denial — then they grow like compounding interest. 

Or, being worn down or in distress, we want strike out in anger and in destructive ways that make us feel better for the moment, but in the end only make things worse. So most of us just deal it as best we can until the irritation and wear become too much to bear.

All the while, Satan does his best to make things worse and to obscure from us the truth that God is working through Christ Jesus to save us and comfort us, calling us to share His comforts in a lost and dying, and hurting and alienated world. As the apostle Paul told the Corinthians (2 Cor. 1:3,4):

God Did First

When people can’t get along with one another, they often say that if the other person would just do this or that, then all could be forgiven and they could move along in harmony. Of course, many die of old age stubbornly waiting out some relative or former friend who is equally stubborn or no longer caring enough to make the effort to reconcile. 

Imagine how the terrible the world would be if God waited for His sinful creation to move back to Him first, instead of Him reaching out to reconcile with them. So God moved first. 

As John reminded the disciples, “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.” (1 Jn. 4:10,11)

His mercy and grace moved towards us while we were in sin. He lovingly sent His son to die for us while we were in sin and covered in shame. He worked to save us through Jesus long before we moved in any way towards Him. So now we are called to do the same. 

Jesus, in the sermon on the mount, taught His disciples, saying, “Love your enemies and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return, and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High, for his is kind to the ungrateful and the evil. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:35,36)

We’re to be kind and good even to those who don’t deserve it because that’s what God did for us. When people are unkind and ungrateful that’s when they most need us to kind and gracious to them, just as God was to us.

Getting To Jesus

Mark 2:2-5“And many were gathered together, so that there was no more room, not even at the door. And he was preaching the word to them.  And they came, bringing to him a paralytic carried by four men.  And when they could not get near him because of the crowd, they removed the roof above him, and when they had made an opening, they let down the bed on which the paralytic lay. And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.”  (ESV)

Sometimes, like the paralyzed man, we’re in need of healing and can’t help ourselves. We’re paralyzed and made helpless by doubts, ignorance, fear, uncertainty, and sin. Like the paralyzed, we need someone to help us. This man’s friends helped by taking him to Jesus.

Sometimes in life, we are the friends who have to go around, over, under and even through obstacles, carrying our friends, enlisting others to help as well and doing all we can to get the ones we love the help they need. There are all kinds of ways to help those sick and lost and helpless in this world. But like in this story, the truest friends are the ones who can take their friend to Jesus.

When they got to Jesus, He healed the man’s soul first, giving him what He most needed. We should make that our priority too and go to Jesus for the help we all most need. realizing that in a world of sin and hurt, we need to take care of souls first — and Jesus is only one who can help.

The Parable Of The Lavish Father

Have you heard of Jesus’ parable of the lavish Father? No? This father is the hero of one of Jesus’ most beloved parables, sharing the stage with several other unforgettable characters. 

This father shares the story with his ungrateful and wasteful son, to whom he had given a massive fortune as his inheritance. This son then led an immoral life that caused him near total moral and physical ruin before he came to his senses and returned home. At one point, his son had to work for a heartless pig farmer who didn’t even feed this hired hands properly. 

Later, he shares the stage with his other son who proved to be petulant, rude, resentful and accusing. You may know this father and his two boys from the Parable of the Prodigal Son.

But the real hero of the story is the father — the generous, giving and forgiving father. After providing a good upbringing for his boys, he willingly gives them their large inheritance early—which one of them promptly uses to wreck himself. Then, he expectantly waits for that same wayward son to come home. When he does come home, the father generously gives his broke and broken boy clothes, gifts, and a great welcome with a huge reception worthy of a visiting dignitary. Then he leaves this happy, happy gathering to console and invite back in his other son who is angry at his father for receiving back his brother with such ease and graciousness. 

Behold the Father, Our Heavenly Father — generously providing, expectantly waiting, fully receiving and graciously entreating. 

There’s No Substitute For Forgiveness

The apostle Paul, by the will of God, tells us the state and fate of everyone, saying, “we’ve all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God” (Rom. 3:23). However many people act like we don’t really want, or even need, forgiveness. 

We substitute pride for faith and humility, so we deny our sins. We try to forget our sins by keeping ourselves too busy for thinking and soul-searching contemplation. We try to avoid thoughts of our sins by drowning them in drink or trying to smoke them away. We attempt to self-atone for our sins by good works. We console ourselves with all the sins we haven’t done, and thinking about the “worse” wrongs of others. Or, to the great annoyance of those around us) we go into holier-than-thou mode pretending that our sins aren’t as numerous or as bad as others.  

But all of these human devised and often tried strategies fail, and leave us in our sins. 

The great gift of God in Christ Jesus is to fully forgive us; to cleanse us of sins and to no deal with us as sinners, but to give us a new start, a rebirth, in Jesus and adopt us into His family as His own children. 

Long ago, King David sang of the blessing of forgiveness in the 103rd Psalm. 

Bless the Lord, O my soul,

    and all that is within me,

    bless his holy name!

Bless the Lord, O my soul,

    and forget not all his benefits,

who forgives all your iniquity,

    who heals all your diseases,

He does not deal with us according to our sins,                                                                

    nor repay us according to our iniquities

For as high as the heavens are above the earth,

    so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him;

    as far as the east is from the west,

    so far does he remove our transgressions from us.

As a father shows compassion to his children,

    so the LORD shows compassion to those who fear him. (ESV)

Jesus, Our Door To The Things That Matter

John 10:7-9“Jesus therefore said to them again, “Truly, truly, I say to you, I am the door of the sheep. All who came before Me are thieves and robbers, but the sheep did not hear them.  I am the door; if anyone enters through Me, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”

Doors give access. As the scriptures do, we often speak of doors being open or shut in a figurative sense. (Ref. 1 Cor. 16:9; 2 Cor. 2:12; Col 4:3)

Open doors imply welcome and entry while closed doors imply rejection and alienation. So Jesus is portrayed as O ne who opens the door, stands at the door and knocks, and closes the door on evil. Rev. 3:7 says, “He who is holy, who is true, who has the key of David, who opens and no one will shut, and who shuts and no one opens, says this.”

In the teaching and parable recorded in John 10, Jesus isn’t just the One who opens the door for us, but He says He is the very door for us. He’s our access to the Father. Through Him we can become His sheep and part of the flock of God and have the shelter of the fold. 

Every good thing that our soul needs in this life — reconciliation with God, forgiveness of and freedom from sin, a new life, and new hope, a real purpose and direction under His direction, and ultimately the free gift of eternal life — is through Jesus, the door. 

We don’t get to God except by Him. “Jesus said, ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through Me.’” (Jn. 14:6) He is one and only way—the door—to the Father. So, as He said using a door in a slightly different figure: “Strive to enter by the narrow door; for many, I tell you, will seek to enter and will not be able.” (Luke 13:24)

Judge Not

Matthew 7, verses 1-12, can be summed up as living with a generous spirit, just as God does for us. The teaching about this kind of life concludes with the “Golden Rule.” The golden rule can never be followed, can never really be applied to our lives, with us giving off a judgmental attitude to those around us. 

We know that there is righteous judgment. (In civil settings, 2 Pet. 2:13,14; in resolving personal conflicts, 1 Cor. 6:1-6; in examining religious teaching and conduct, 1 Jn. 4:1; Tit. 3:9-11, etc.).  While good judgment is a positive and necessary virtue, a judgmental attitude exudes self-righteousness and slightest whiff of it can drive many away. Yes, some people are easily offended, but recognizing their fault is not license for us to be less concerned about being offensive. This should cause us to realize of the careful, caring work we are called to do. 

“Righteous judgment” NEVER includes judgmental attitude, otherwise it ceases to be “righteous.” This is one of the easiest ways for us to turn people off of Christianity and the cause which we wish to honor and promote. People are often more forgiving of wrongs and harms done to their things and their interests than they are of being held in contempt since one involves their property and the other involves their pride, which many hold most dearly of all. 

Sometimes our call to follow Jesus causes the world to hate us (Jn. 15:18,19). But let us never act in such a way that people hate Jesus because of us as they think our poor conduct and attitudes towards them result from our devotion to Him.  True devotion to Jesus includes the love of neighbor that He teaches and the patient and tender manner with which he dealt with those in sin and taught them to come to God.

“Thy Will Be Done”

The phrase, “Thy Will Be Done” likely calls to our minds either the Lord’s prayer or Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane. “Thy Will Be Done” sums up Jesus’ attitude and action towards the way of God. And “Thy Will Be Done” is the high calling He asks us to pursue. 

Although we are familiar with “Thy Will Be Done” as a New Testament passage, it first appears in a prophetic psalm. In Psalm 40, David said, “You do not delight in sacrifice and offering; you open my ears to listen.You do not ask for a whole burnt offering or a sin offering. Then I said, “See, I have come; in the scroll it is written about me. I delight to do your will, my God, and your instruction is deep within me.” (Ps. 40:7,8)  

Hebrews 10:7-9 quotes this psalm as if Christ said these words. since Christ Himself both inspired this prophecy and acted in accordance with it. Knowing that God did not want more Old Testament type sacrifices, He came to do God’s will—to the uttermost. This is directly connected to His sacrificial death. 

So in the garden of Gethsemane, when facing the immediate prospect of the crucifixion and death for our sins, Jesus’ repeated prayer was for the will of God to be carried out: “He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, ‘My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Thy will be done.’” (Matt. 26:42). And thus for us, and for the Father’s will, He went. 

So when he asks us to submit, fully submit, to the will of the Father, Jesus is asking us for the same devotion that He Himself has already fully shown. 

And so He taught us to pray, saying, “Pray, then, in this way: ‘Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, On earth as it is in heaven.” (Matt. 7:9,10) Let us not only learn to say, “Thy will be done,” — let us do it.

“It Is Written”

“It Is Written” is one of the most famous and familiar phrases in the Bible, occurring nearly eighty times throughout the Old and New Testaments alike. It always refers the audience back to God’s prior instructions. 

Sometimes it refers to prophesy, as when Jesus quoted Isa. 54:13 in John 6:45, “It is written in the prophets, ‘AND THEY SHALL ALL BE TAUGHT OF GOD.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father, comes to Me.’’” or in Luke 19:46 as Jesus cast out those selling in the temple, “saying to them, ‘It is written, “AND MY HOUSE SHALL BE A HOUSE OF PRAYER,” but you have made it a ROBBERS’ DEN,’“ referring back to Isaiah 56:7 and Jeremiah 7:11.

Sometimes it refers to instructions of the Law of Moses, as when the apostle Paul said, “for it is written, ‘YOU SHALL NOT SPEAK EVIL OF A RULER OF YOUR PEOPLE.’” (Acts 23:5) quoting Exodus 22:28.

The most famous use of “It Is Written” might be when Jesus used it three times to meet the devil’s temptations and his twisting of God’s teaching by referring back to what God really meant. 

 Let us always follow Jesus and use this powerful tool to meet our needs today: 

“It Is Written” takes the focus off of our ourselves and to the words of God. 

“It Is Written” strengthens us in moments of uncertainty and doubt giving us the clarity and certainty of God’s will and unchanging revelation. 

“It Is Written” gives us power and wisdom beyond ourselves when our own strength and knowledge falters and fails. 

“It Is Written” takes us above ourselves and our prideful and selfish thoughts and concerns, reminding us of the mind and way of God. 

“It Is Written” gives us the wisdom of God in a world sorely lacking in wisdom, and clarity in a world where nothing seems clear anymore.

 

A Gift Of Quantity And Quality

Those who live by faith in Jesus Christ do so trusting in (to use the words the apostle Peter), “precious and magnificent promises.” (2 Pet. 1:4) Chief among God’s wonderful promises are, “The hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago” (Titus 1:4). 

Three times the apostle Paul calls this promised salvation a “free gift,” saying, “For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Rom. 6:23), contrasting the woeful effects of sin with the great gift of God.

Though this is a free gift, it’s not at all a cheap, temporary or low-quality one. 

In quantity or duration, this gift is without end, so we call it “everlasting” (as in the King James and NKJV translations) or “eternal” in the most other translations. So John 6:40 says, “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him, may have eternal [or everlasting] life; and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” 

This gift is also of surpassing quality. Jesus said, “…I came that they might have life, and might have it abundantly.” (John 10:10) So John spoke of Christ bringing and giving this eternal life, and the blessings leading to it, saying, “For of His fulness we have all received, and grace upon grace.” (John 1:16)

So we live by this hope, as John the Apostle simply stated: “This is the promise which He Himself made to us: eternal life.” (1 Jn 2:25)

I Sing Because...

The refrain of the hymn “His Eye Is On The Sparrow” contains this wonderful lyric, “I sing because I’m happy, I sing because I’m free, for His eye is on the sparrow, and He watches over me.” This strong statement of faith tells exactly how the world is ordered for the faithful: we are blessed by Him, who is the Protector and Source of the blessings, and the only proper response for us is to sing! 

God’s people have always been singers. In the Old Testament, David appointed Levites to sing and “raise sounds of joy” to the Lord. (1 Chron. 15:16), and in the psalms people were implored to sing scores of times. In Ps. 104:33,34, this same spirit of faith is expressed: “I will sing to the LORD as long as I live; I will sing praise to my God while I have my being. Let my meditation be pleasing to Him; As for me, I shall be glad in the LORD.”

Today, the people of God sing knowing that our Savior sings with us. As Jesus sang with His disciples before going to prepare for His crucifixion on our behalf, “And after singing a hymn, they went out to the Mount of Olives.” (Matt. 26:30), and the prophecy of Ps. 22:22, quoted in Heb. 2:12, says “He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, ‘I WILL PROCLAIM THY NAME TO MY BRETHREN, IN THE MIDST OF THE CONGREGATION I WILL SING THY PRAISE.’”

So we sing our “psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with [our] heart to the Lord” (Eph. 5:19), as we are “singing with the spirit and the mind” (1 Cor. 14:15), remembering this instruction: “Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praises.” (Jas. 5:13)

Thus we follow the easiest instruction that God ever gave to a grateful and faithful people — we sing! As the prophet Zechariah said so long ago, “Sing for joy and be glad, O daughter of Zion; for behold I am coming and I will dwell in your midst,” declares the Lord.”

The Promise Of A New Heart And Spirit

God promised to give Israel what they most needed after they had long practiced idolatry and adultery — both spiritual and physical — and became stubbornly unrepentant. God promised to renew them, heart and spirit, saying through the prophet Ezekiel, “Moreover, I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit within you; and I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezek. 36:26) 

When their nation had begun, they had answered God’s charge to be faithful — God had said: “I am the LORD your God; walk in My statutes, and keep My ordinances, and observe them.” (Ex. 20:19) and they had answered: "All that the LORD has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient!” (Ex. 24:7). But as time went by, they fell shorter and shorter of the goal, and then seemed to cease even trying, and went on wearily and drearily in sin ignoring the prophets’ calls to return. 

They needed a renewal, a rebirth, a new spirit. This is exactly what the great and gracious work of Christ gives His disciples, “a new and living way which He inaugurated for us” (Heb. 10:20).

And having received this, we then ay, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Pet. 1:3). Only in this renewal can we hope to have the tender heart of purity and compassion that being a committed disciple of Jesus demands — just like God had promised through Ezekiel so long ago.

Who Shall Guide Out Lives?

There are many ways people seek to guide their lives and made sense of it all. Nonconformists like do their own thing, while traditionalists look to the way grandpa did it. 

But most folks don’t have a thought-out philosophy, so they make choices that seem best at the time while great chorus of contradictory voices tell them what we should and shouldn’t do.

And so we go through life pulling together advice from experts, or friends, or tv, or websites,  or you-tube, or relatives (whether we asked for their advice or not), or maybe we just go with a gut feeling since there’s no time (or we didn’t take the time) to deeply think about things before acting. 

The failures of this “make-it-up-as-you-go-along” life demonstrates the truth that God revealed to the prophet Jeremiah — “it is not in man to direct his own steps.” (Jer. 10:23)

By far, the better alternative is to live a life of faith, following the directions of the Creator who made us and who knows the right way to direct us. As Samuel the prophet told Israel, “I will instruct you in the good and right way. Only fear the LORD and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.” (1 Sam. 12:23,24)

Hope: “Slowly Abandoning” Or “An Anchor For The Soul”

We live in the hope that a great promise will come true, the promised of salvation. 

Rom. 8:24“For in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for why does one also hope for what he sees?”

Paul points out that this promised salvation has not yet materialized, but we are completely sure of it. Our great confidence is based on the One who made the promise. As Paul told Titus:

Titus 1:2,3a“in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago, but at the proper time manifested”

Think about those don’t have strong faith in God, who don’t know Him and don’t fully trust that He won’t lie or disappoint. Like those in the ship with the apostle Paul, in the midst of a storm, tossed to and fro for days, with no relief in site and no concept of how this could turn out well:

Acts 27:20“And since neither sun nor stars appeared for many days, and no small storm was assailing us, from then on all hope of our being saved was gradually abandoned.”

This is the world: no light, constantly being assailed and slowly abandoning all hope. 

Contrast this hope given Christians:

Heb. 6:17-19 “In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, in order that by two unchangeable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we may have strong encouragement, we who have fled for refuge in laying hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul…”

For those of faith: A trustworthy God, strong encouragement, refuge, an anchor for the soul based on hope.

“Equipped For Every Good Thing And Work”

As Christians we have been given great work to do in the service of God and each other. As the Hebrew desired:  “Now the God of peace, who brought up from the dead the great Shepherd of the sheep through the blood of the eternal covenant, even Jesus our Lord, equip you in every good thing to do His will,  working in us that which is pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ…” (Heb. 13:20,21)

And Paul directed Timothy towards the inspired scriptures since they give the man of God everything he needs to be “equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:17)  

In the physical world, no toolbox could possibly have the right tool to do every kind of good work. Yet the scriptures have all the tools necessary for the whole of our spiritual lives towards God and our relationships with others. This instruction is multifaceted, from things of the highest realms down to the most inner and personal. Through the scriptures we have all the equipment necessary for what to know and what to do and how to do it. Yes, the scriptures’ instruction set is a very practical spiritual equipping. 

Do you know folks who like to have tools and equipment for their own sake? They just like tools. Likewise, do you know “Christians” who just like the things taught in the Bible, but don’t put that information to the work of service and the good things of God? The equipping we get in the gospel is not for the the sake of the tools themselves — beautiful though the truth and instructions of the scripture may be. The equipping of the saints is forthe practical work doing God’s will is.

“A Friend Of Tax-Gatherers And Sinners”

The enemies of Jesus called Him a “friend of tax-gatherers and sinners” (Luke 7:34). Interestingly, He neither confirmed nor denied their charge, only pointed out their error in using this charge as a reason to reject Him and His teaching when they rejected John the Baptist and state the exact opposite reason. 

In this instance, we usually accept the opponents’ characterization of Jesus because, we know He was a friend of tax-gatherers. He made one of them one of the 12 and invited Himself to Zaccheus’ house. Clearly He was calling them to discipleship and away from the exploitations of the people that their position lent itself to. But His opponents still saw them just as vile traitors. 

In the case of sinners, we know He was likewise calling them from their dark deeds to one’s worthy of the fruit of light — but think of how His opponents viewed those people even after they were redeemed in Christ. In Luke 7:39, a Pharisee said, “If this man were a prophet He would know who and what sort of person this woman is who is touching Him, that she is a sinner.” This is Jesus being a friend to a “sinner” — just ask the Pharisee. But from Jesus; perspective, He was being a friend to the forgiven and fulfilling His purpose of seeking and saving that which was lost. But that made no difference in the self-righteousness view of the Pharisee. 

If you count the sins of redeemed disciples against them, even after their repentance and redemption (like the Pharisee did), then I personally, at various times have been, or currently are, the friend of thieves, drug users, criminals of various sorts (including felons), as well as racists, fornicators, lesbians, porn addicts, those who aborted multiple children, the wayward, apostates, false religionists of every description, and of course, the run of mill foul-mouthed, drunk rodeo cowboys (I did grow up in Texas). That is not what my brethren are now, but it is what they were. (See 1 Cor. 6:9-11 for a description of the menagerie of former sinners that it is possible to gather in a single congregation.)

Praise be to God that He make all the redeemed to be a new creature in Christ, even if the opponents still just see sinners.

Do Not Lose Heart

The admonition to “not lose heart” is found a number of times in the New Testament, beginning with Jesus teaching about prayer and trusting God to give and bless. “He was telling them a parable to show that at all times they ought to pray and not to lose heart.” (Luke 18:1)

Likewise, the apostle Paul told the Galatians, “And let us not lose heart in doing good, for in due time we shall reap if we do not grow weary.” (Gal. 6:9). And he encouraged the Ephesians, saying, “I ask you not to lose heart at my tribulations on your behalf, for they are your glory” (Eph. 3:13).

Twice in the 4th chapter of second Corinthians, Paul would say why he and his companions did not lose heart, and give the reasons for it: “since we have this ministry, as we received mercy, we do not lose heart” (4:1), and “Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison” (4:16,17).

All of these admonitions to “not lose heart” to different disciples in different circumstances strongly imply that the walk of faith will at times be difficult and strong reasons are needed to keep going. This is true—and so with the admonitions we are reminded of the great rewards of faithfulness.

Then the Hebrew writer goes even farther in this type of exhortation, calling on the example of Jesus to encourage us when things have gotten tough, and appear as though they might be soon be getting even tougher: “For consider Him who has endured such hostility by sinners against Himself, so that you may not grow weary and lose heart. You have not yet resisted to the point of shedding blood in your striving against sin” (Heb. 12:3,4)

Yes, the walk of faith can be difficult, but the scriptures present it as a profoundly worthwhile endeavor based on the current and continual provisions of God, the reward of glory that will come to the faithful, and the great example of Jesus, our Savior.. So DON’T LOSE HEART.

What Is The Church To You?

What is church to you? Is church a consumer experience — like attending a movie or play, a largely passive thing? Some might even be informed consumers. Is it like being a comic book movie fan, knowing the story of the heroes and villains, and their back stories?

Or maybe we’re a bit more involved at church, even enough to have a rooting interest. Like the interactive fans at a sporting event where we care about the outcome? We know some of the players and we support the home team. We identify enough with Christians to hope they win, right ? Maybe we’re even a superfan, well past the basics of knowing to root for the sheep, not the goats, and can even discriminate between the Arminians and the Calvinists. Like the fantasy football guys who know the player’s stats, we can cite some verses to back up our favorite doctrines. 

But the gospel calls us to be so much more than consumers or fans — even informed ones. Church can’t be just what we do on Sundays, no matter where we fall on the active-to-passive scale when there. Living out our faith in daily devotion to Christ must be the center of our lives. It’s not what we sometimes, even often, do, it is to grow to be who we are. Christ and His church are to fully shape who and what we are by the lessons we learn it, with the relationships with other in it who are also so dedicated, and through the worship to God contained in it.

There are no other institutions in our world do this. The apostle John said, “We know that we are of God, and the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” (1John 5:19) But the Apostle Paul reminded us the that “household of God, which is the church of the living God, is the pillar and support of the truth.” (1 Tim. 3:15)

So Very Close To Christ

Recently we studied how we, as the church, as married to Christ. 

Rom. 7:4“Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, that you might be joined to another, to Him [Christ] who was raised from the dead, that we might bear fruit for God.”

Once joined to Christ, we do all spiritual things in Him. So the New Testament repeatedly speaks—over 85 times—of us being “in Christ.”   

This is where redemption is (Rom. 3:23), when we are made alive to God (Rom. 6:11;23), are freed from condemnation (Rom. 8:1); where the love of God is (Rom. 8:29), where sanctification is found (1 Cor. 1:2), where grace is given (1 Cor. 1:4); where we live, died and hope (1 Cor. 4:17, 15:18,19), where we love (1 Cor. 16:24) and triumph (2 Cor. 2:14)

We do all of this and so much more because “now in Christ Jesus you who formerly were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.” (Eph. 2:13)  The blessings of “being brought near to Christ” are ours here and for eternity.

Eom. 8:38,39…Eph. 2:7“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord…in order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.”