Do You Believe What Jesus Believed? #8

Do You Believe What Jesus Believed?

#8

The first time you discover this passage, it may seem out of place. If you are familiar with “red-letter edition” Bibles, the direct words Jesus spoke are printed in red. As you are reading through the book of Acts, there is this one sentence printed in red in those editions of the Scripture: “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” (Acts 20:35). Paul was speaking to the brethren in Ephesus, reminding them to work hard and help the weak AND to remember these words: “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

What Did Jesus Believe About Giving?

Our first response to that question is obvious. There has never been anyone to walk on the earth who illustrated giving more than Jesus. He “gave Himself a ransom for all,” (1 Tim. 2:6). He “gave Himself for our sins,” (Gal. 1:4). Paul said, He “gave himself up for her,” the church (Eph. 5:25). And, He “gave Himself up for us, a fragrant offering and sacrifice to God,” (Eph. 5:25). When Christians partake of the Lord’s Supper, we remember that He gave Himself for us (Lk. 22:19-20).

God’s grace (perfect mercy combined with generosity) is perfectly witnessed in the life and death of Jesus Christ. Jesus believed in giving.

He expects His people to imitate that spirit that freely gives. He instructed His disciples to give what they had received (Matt. 10:8); a genuine but quiet benevolence (Matt. 6:2-4). We are to give encouragement and spiritual help: “Bear one another’s burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ,” (Gal. 6:2). “And whoever gives one of these little ones even a cup of cold water because he is a disciple, truly, I say to you, he will by no means lose his reward,” (Matt. 10:42).

When it comes to “givers” and “receivers,” Jesus confers the greater blessing on the givers. That’s what He believed. What about us?

Do You Believe What Jesus Believed? #7

#7

The ancient world of the Roman Empire was not a child-friendly zone. There were laws, leaders and lazy people who accepted no responsibility toward children. To the contrary. There was an ancient practice called “exposure,” that is equivalent to the modern practice of abortion.

There is, first, the well-known case of Herod’s response to news of Jesus’ birth. “When king Herod heard this,” he was so troubled, he ordered that “all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under,” be “killed,” (see Matt. 2:1-18). Parents and friends were unable to protect those children, thus the prophecy of Jeremiah came to pass; the “weeping and great mourning” written by the prophet (Jer. 31:15). Jesus’ parents would flee to Egypt.

In the ancient, status-ordered world, children were at the bottom of the ladder. (Ortberg, John. Who Is This Man? (p. 24). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.)

What Did Jesus Believe About Children?

Jesus did not see people through the cruel lens of economic benefit, self-interests or cultural correct structure and language. There was a dignity He perceived as Creator (Heb. 1:2), knowing people were made in the image of God. He didn’t ignore or reject someone as useless or worthless because others imposed their hate on their fellows.

In Ortberg’s book (cited above), this is hard to read but boldly historical.

Many babies did not grow up at all. In the ancient world, unwanted children were often simply left to die, a practice called “exposure.” The head of the household had the legal right to decide the life or death of other members of the family. This decision was usually made during the first eight or so days of life. (Ortberg, John. Who Is This Man? (p. 28). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.)

What did Jesus believe? “Then children were brought to Him that He might lay His hands on them and pray. The disciples rebuked the people, but Jesus said, ‘Let the little children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.’ And He laid His hands on them and went away.” Matt. 18:13-15

Do You Believe What Jesus Believed? #6

#6

So many people express their love for and confidence in Jesus Christ. He is admired and some of His well-known statements have been quoted repeatedly through the years since His time. The question raised in this series is: Do you believe what Jesus believed?

What did Jesus believe about false teachers and false religion?

Here’s what He said: “Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing but inwardly are ravenous wolves. You will recognize them by their fruits. Are grapes gathered from thornbushes, or figs from thistles? So, every healthy tree bears good fruit, but the diseased tree bears bad fruit. A healthy tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a diseased tree bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Thus you will recognize them by their fruits.” (Matt. 7:15-20)

One expanding trend in our culture is blind diversity or celebrated plurality. This isn’t new. I remember in my childhood hearing people say, “Attend the church of your choice.” I was taught by my parents and teachers that this was not wise. Christ has His church. We should read what is written in the Bible and identify with a local group of people who follow what is written to the best of their ability. Denominational diversity became the artificial unity of that post war time.

Today, this importance placed on unity in diversity has been exaggerated a hundred times. Through the evolution of this agenda, the reality of false teachers and false religion has become almost laughable. The modern attitude is, “who cares.”

Jesus cared. He not only acknowledged the reality of false teachers, He said these two things about them: (1) they are false, and (2) they are deceptively disguised. Then He told the people: “Beware” of them. They are like bad fruit from a diseased tree.

Do you believe what Jesus believed about false teachers and false religion? Do you use the Bible to test what religious teachers say or write? Discernment is a necessary discipline for everyone who seeks to please God. “…test everything: hold fast what is good,” (1 Thess. 5:21).

Believing what Jesus believed, #5

Do You Believe What Jesus Believed?

#5

Perhaps I should have started this series with this question. A kind and honest inquiry was brought to me, “did Jesus have faith? Was He a believer?”

Was Jesus A Believer?

On one level, it can be said that He believed what He said was the truth. In that use of the term Jesus was a believer.

The question goes to the humanity of Jesus. All inquiries must take into account that He was both God and man. His dual nature is affirmed in Scripture (notably in John 1:1-14, in particular verse 14; likewise Heb. 2:14-18).

Now look further into that reference in Hebrews. And note how these words are attributed to Him: “I will put my trust in Him,” (Heb. 2:13). Jesus put His trust in God, believing every word of His plan. Later in Hebrews, Jesus is called “the founder and perfecter of our faith,” (Heb. 12:2).

The robust trust Jesus had in the Father is part of the whole example of living given for our imitation. And here is another Hebrews reference that implies that Jesus had faith: “…without faith it is impossible to please” God (Heb. 11:6). If Jesus pleased God (no question that He did), the activity of that way of life was founded on trust in the Father. Therefore I will answer in the affirmative. If faith is trust or dependence on God and taking Him at His word, thus producing obedience, Jesus had faith.

I’ll continue to ask us: Do we believe what Jesus believed? Watch for the next installment in this series.

Do You Believe What Jesus Believed #5

Do You Believe What Jesus Believed?

#5

Perhaps I should have started this series with this question. A kind and honest inquiry was brought to me, “did Jesus have faith? Was He a believer?”

Was Jesus A Believer?

On one level, it can be said that He believed what He said was the truth. In that use of the term Jesus was a believer.

The question goes to the humanity of Jesus. All inquiries must take into account that He was both God and man. His dual nature is affirmed in Scripture (notably in John 1:1-14, in particular verse 14; likewise Heb. 2:14-18).

Now look further into that reference in Hebrews. And note how these words are attributed to Him: “I will put my trust in Him,” (Heb. 2:13). Jesus put His trust in God, believing every word of His plan. Later in Hebrews, Jesus is called “the founder and perfecter of our faith,” (Heb. 12:2).

The robust trust Jesus had in the Father is part of the whole example of living given for our imitation. And here is another Hebrews reference that implies that Jesus had faith: “…without faith it is impossible to please” God (Heb. 11:6). If Jesus pleased God (no question that He did), the activity of that way of life was founded on trust in the Father. Therefore I will answer in the affirmative. If faith is trust or dependence on God and taking Him at His word, thus producing obedience, Jesus had faith.

I’ll continue to ask us: Do we believe what Jesus believed? Watch for the next installment in this series.

Do You Believe What Jesus Believed, #4

Do You Believe What Jesus Believed?

#4

To express confidence in Jesus Christ must go deeper than ordinary admiration. To say, “I like Jesus,” or “I’m confident He was a good man,” may be one’s first impression. But genuine trust in Jesus Christ must move beyond these initial feelings. To truly be a disciple of Christ means abiding in His Word, and “whoever says he abides in Him ought to walk in the same way in which He walked” and “keep His commandments,” (Jno. 8:31-38; 2 Jno. 2:1-6).

Do you believe what Jesus believed about marriage?

When modern acceptance of divorce is common and when, even in most religious communities, there is dispute about marriage and divorce, you might think that New Testament teaching must be really difficult. Just New Testament teaching is very simple. The lack of clarity and confusion enters when men begin to “re-write” or spin what Jesus said.

He said: “It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.” (Matt. 5:32).

He said: “Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh?’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate. They said to Him, ‘Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce and to send her away?’ He said to them, ‘Because of your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so. And I say to you: whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery.” (Matt. 19:4-9).

Do you believe what Jesus said?

Do You Believe What Jesus Believed, #3

Do You Believe What Jesus Believed?

#3

To express one’s favor toward Jesus Christ is not uncommon. The real test of belief in Jesus Christ is accepting all He said and translating that truth into your life consistently.

In this series I’ve noted cases where belief in Christ might be claimed, but without full confidence in what He said. Not just what He said (in the red letters) recorded in Matthew, Mark, Luke and John. He also spoke through his chosen apostles (see John 14:25,26).  The question is important: Do you believe what Jesus believed and revealed? It is all written in the New Testament.

What Did Jesus Believe About Divine Authority?

Sadly, the concept of divine authority doesn’t have much of a place in common religious thought or in popular religious institutions. More typically, the idea is “it doesn’t really matter what you do in religion,” so long as it is directed to God and Christ is named.

There is this pragmatic, outcome-centered approach to religion, that says about worship and the work of the church: Whatever! It’s all good.

The question that struggles to be heard is – What is good in the sight of God? Let’s acknowledge divine authority and let God tell us what is good in His sight. What does He want us to do? Belief in Christ always means obedience.

Jesus was very clear about obedience to God. “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness’.” (Matt. 7:21-23)

Jesus is called “Lord,” by many who downplay what He believed and said. He once said, “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46) Do you believe what Jesus believed and said? Is He your Lord in the daily reality of your response to Him?