If God was not the author, and Jesus Christ not the subject, then it is NOT the Gospel
Tuesday, September 25
by Mark Clements
The Witness of the Woman of Samaria
“The woman then left her waterpot, and went her way into the city, and saith to the men, come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ? Then they went out of the city, and came unto him,” John 4:28-30.
On His way from Judaea to Galilee, Jesus needed to pass through Samaria. This was true geographically though many devout Jews would go around Samaria so as not to defile their ceremonial purity. Jesus, however, was compelled to go through Samaria mainly because there were people there who needed to experience God’s love. At Jacob’s well, He met a Samaritan woman who, as it turned out, probably had a tainted reputation. Jesus engaged in dialogue with her, and their conversation led her to see Him as the Messiah. (Read John 4:1-26.) In her excitement upon realizing she was talking to God in the flesh, she left the well, entered the city and proclaimed that she had found someone amazing. Many people in the city responded to her invitation to come and learn from Jesus.
Notice a few key ingredients in the woman’s effective testimony of Jesus. It is amazing that she had such a powerful witness even though she knew very little about Jesus Himself. Effectively engaging others in evangelism does not require the witness to know everything. What the woman did have was genuine enthusiasm about following Jesus which compelled her to unashamedly invite others to follow Him with her. God wants us to be witnesses of Jesus, and effective witnesses are authentically excited about what God is doing in their lives. This excitement leads us to an unashamed testimony and invitation to others to follow Christ with us.
JUST A THOUGHT: Who are we taking with us to Heaven?
Off to Jail!
Last time we talked about God as a judge. What if we tried some of the things in an earthly courtroom we try with God?
“Judge, it wasn’t really a big robbery. I didn’t even use a gun! And I only got a little bit of money anyway.”
The law says the penalty for armed robbery is imprisonment, no exceptions. “Off to jail!” says the judge. God likewise does not care about the size of our sin. God is perfect and Holy, remember? A small sin makes us just as guilty as a big one in the eyes of a perfect God. James 2:10 teaches us that a man can keep the whole law and yet offends in one point is still guilty of a violation of the entire law.
“Judge, I may have committed that robbery, but I never killed anybody!”
The law says the penalty for armed robbery is imprisonment, no exceptions. “Off to jail!” says the judge. God is not going to look at all the things we could have done but did not do. Once again, a violation of the law is a violation of the law.
“Judge, I may have committed that robbery, but did you know I have been working down at the food kitchen helping the homeless for years? What about all the money I gave to charity?”
The law says the penalty for armed robbery is imprisonment, no exceptions. “Off to jail!” says the judge. No matter how many good things we may do, they do not make up for our violation of God’s law. We cannot cover our penalty due by doing anything good.
“Judge, look what THAT guy has done!”
The law says the penalty for armed robbery is imprisonment, no exceptions. “Off to jail!” says the judge. God is not comparing us to each other to decide our innocence or guilt. He only compares us to the standard of His perfection and Holiness. It only matters what we have done, not what anyone else has done.
“Judge, I’m really, really sorry for committing the armed robbery.”
The law says the penalty for armed robbery is imprisonment, no exceptions. “Off to jail!” says the judge. The idea that we could tell a judge we are sorry and expect to be released is really absurd. The law says what the penalty is, and the penalty must be paid. Why would God be any different?
Coming up…..part 4 (the conclusion)
What an assurance that our Savior has the full power of God because He IS God in the flesh. Thanks Michael for this.
Jesus invites me to know Him. Who is Jesus? The Apostle John tells me Jesus is the Word of God. And Jesus came to live among us.
When I see Jesus, I see God the Father. Now that is VERY good news. That is in fact … stunning!
The phrase “word of God” appears often in the Bible and can have a slightly different meaning depending on context and the Hebrew or Greek word used. John 1:1 says, “In the beginning was the Word. And the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.” Here, Word is a title of the Master Jesus.
The term translated “Word” is logos, which basically means “the expression of a thought.” Logos can be thought of as the total message of God to man (Acts 11:1; 1 Thessalonians 2:13). Jesus embodied that…
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Why do we live our lives for God so casually? He certainly wasn’t casual about giving us His Son.
Monday, September 24
by Mark Clements
Why Jesus Was in Samaria
“He left Judaea, and departed again into Galilee. And he must needs go through Samaria. Then cometh he to a city of Samaria, which is called Sychar, near to the parcel of ground that Jacob gave to his son Joseph,” John 4:3-5.
When the fame of Jesus began to grow, He decided to leave Judaea and go to Galilee. Between Judaea and Galilee was the region of Samaria, and the shortest route to Galilee would send Jesus through Samaria. Geographically, Jesus needed to travel through Samaria. However, there was a cultural tradition among the religiously devout Jews that they would not travel into the land of Samaria due to fear of becoming ceremonially unclean. The Samaritans were an ethnically mixed tribe of people, made up of Jewish and Gentile ancestry, which strict Jews detested so much that they would cross the Jordan River and travel north on the eastern side in order to avoid the region completely. If Jesus had been concerned about the opinion of the Jewish elites, He would have traveled around Samaria completely. Jesus, however, was more concerned about having an eternal impact on the people of Samaria than He was concerned about maintaining a spotless reputation among religious hypocrites.
Remember that Jesus went against the culturally expected norms to show mercy and compassion on people who were detested by the religious elites. It makes no difference what ethnicity you may be, how rich or how poor your family is, what language you speak or what others may think about you. God’s love for you is so extravagant that it transcends every human emotion however detestable or dignified it might be. There are no borders when it comes to God’s love. May our love for Him and others have no borders.
JUST A THOUGHT: God’s love is near because of Jesus.
God Hates What?
Let’s start with something basic. God hates sin. That is an uncomfortable truth, but a truth nonetheless.
Why does God hate sin? There are many reasons, and we will cover a few of them.
First and foremost, God hates sin because He is Holy and sin is unholy. Sin, simply put, is outside the character of God and it offends Him. Like we said before, the Bible teaches that God cannot lie and that God is love. It flows from His character naturally then, that He would hate liars and those who do not love. God hates our sin because it separates us from Him. Before they rebelled and ate the forbidden fruit, Adam and Eve walked in the Garden of Eden daily with God, as we learn in Genesis 3:8. After The Fall, they were physically expelled from the Garden of Eden and the presence of God. The Prophet Isaiah was inspired to write the following:
Isaiah 59:2 But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.
Our sin separates us from God, yet He created us to commune with and worship Him; therefore He hates anything which separates us from Him.
God hates sin because we will love our sin more than we love Him. God is love, loves us and wants our love. He hates anything which diminishes that love. James covered this in his epistle:
James 4:4 Ye adulterers and adulteresses, know ye not that the friendship of the world is enmity with God? whosoever therefore will be a friend of the world is the enemy of God.
God hates sin because sin is a sign of our rebellion toward Him. In the Garden of Eden, God only made one rule for Adam and Eve, and that was that they not eat of the fruit of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. Eve succumbed to the temptations presented to her by Satan, and she and Adam ate the fruit anyway. God’s plan was for Adam and Eve to live forever in harmony, in communion and in the worship of Him. They chose, however, the things that appealed to them rather than the things that mattered to God. That is what our sin represents to God today. When we sin, we are simply saying to God that we think our way is better than His way.
So, God is the Creator of the Universe and the supreme lawgiver. He is entitled, by virtue of that position, to make the guidelines by which we live; falling short or refusing to comply with those guidelines offends God’s character and He hates it. Obviously, it seems, any violation of His law makes us guilty of being lawbreakers. Nonetheless, many come up with various defenses of their actions in attempts to say they really are not guilty. We are going to look at some of those defenses, and we are going to compare what God might think with what any judge in any courtroom in the world would say if these defenses were presented to him or her. That seems fair; we would understand a human judge responding in accordance with the law. It seems we would expect no less of the Supreme Judge of the Universe! For this scenario, just envision being before a human judge, say for the crime of armed robbery and that the penalty for that is imprisonment.
This is the law, no exceptions.
Coming up…Part 3 What God thinks of our excuses.