Thursday, March 27, 2014

The Wrong Question, Part Two.

Our Ladies' Mid-week Bible Study is working through a book by Mindy Ferguson, entitled "Eyewitness to Majesty: Abandoning Self for Christ".  Yesterday, during the study, I expressed my disagreement with the question Mindy asked:

How do the actions of this loyal group of women challenge you to a deeper commitment to Jesus Christ?

In Part One, I explained that asking this question was the wrong question.  I outlined why these women, loyal as they were to the Lord Jesus Christ, were not at that particular time women I want to emulate.

The women at the foot of the cross had a measure of faith, but until they were indwelt by the Holy Spirit, they did not have the same understanding that we do.  They didn't understand that "Christ's death and resurrection are inseparable in effecting salvation."  ~Thomas Schreiner  They did not comprehend the darkness, the earthquakes, the temple veil that was torn in two from top to bottom, and they certainly didn't understand the Resurrection.

Apart from the resurrection of Christ, those women had no hope.  They were on their way to the tomb, bringing spices for the dead body of Jesus.  They fully expected to find His body there.  They were in mourning.

However, that very day, on the evening of the very day that the women were planning to cover the Lord's body with spices and wrap His body with fine linens, He appeared to them.  He spoke peace to them, and He breathed on them and said "Receive the Holy Spirit."

This is what compels me.  This is what challenges me to a deeper commitment to Jesus Christ!

It's all about JESUS.

It is Jesus Who speaks peace to me, no matter what storms I face.

It is Jesus who leads me to tread the path of life, rather than the path of death.  Those women were stepping heavily on the way to the tomb, not in joy and in faith, but in doubt and in sorrow, in grief and in pain.

Do you see the contrast between the path of death and the path of life that they were given?  Jesus breathed life into them, and they were now "in Christ."  If any man be in Christ, he is a new creature.  The old things have passed away, and the new have come.

 How does the Life, Death and Resurrection of Jesus Christ challenge you to a deeper commitment to Jesus Christ?  What change took effect on that first Easter Sunday?  How did the lives of those women and those disciples change?

What a change was wrought by the work of the cross and the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.  He has moved us from condemnation to eternal life, and brought us into a living and personal relationship with Himself.

Even as mature Christians, we need to remind ourselves continually of the basis of our acceptance-it is entirely because of what Christ has done for us. Thus, faith in Christ is not a onetime event; we must live by faith each day. ~Derek W.H. Thomas. How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home (Kindle Locations 183-184). Kindle Edition. 
 It is the love of Christ that compels me.  We love Him because He first loved us.  The entire story of the Bible is HIS story.  It`s not about Samson or Rahab or Job or Matthew or Mary.  It`s about what God was doing in the lives of all of the people.  Oh, I know that Hebrews 11 outlines the lives of people of faith.  However, notice what the Bible says at the beginning of Hebrews 12:

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. ~Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV

It's all about Jesus.

The question should always be,

 "What does this event, this passage, this Bible story, this man, this woman teach us about Jesus?"

The resurrection of Jesus Christ took a doubting Thomas from confusion to faith.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ took mourning women from sadness to peace.  The resurrection of Jesus Christ changed Peter from a fearful Denier to a bold and fearless Preacher.

The resurrection of Jesus Christ makes ordinary sinners into saints whose lips drip with grateful praise.

There can be only one proper response to grace: a life of grateful holiness. Christ's atoning death was "in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit" (Rom. 8:4).. . .Christians, whose sins are forgiven, now live in holy, obedient gratitude for the grace they have received. Grateful law-keeping is the saved sinner's response to received grace.
 The rest of our lives are a way of saying, "Thank you."
Derek W.H. Thomas. How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home (Kindle Locations 184-190). Kindle Edition. 
We love Him, because He first loved us.  When we experience forgiveness and reconciliation, we are compelled to live a life of gratitude.

If we love Him, we keep His commandments.
 Law-keeping out of love is the true path of holiness.
Derek W.H. Thomas. How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home (Kindle Locations 195-196). Kindle Edition. 

One day, I hope to sit with the group of women who stood at the foot of the cross.  I hope to hear them tell of the sorrow they endured as they witnessed the death of their beloved Lord.  But more than that, so much more than that, I know that they will speak of the wonders of the gospel, and the joy of being forgiven.  They will testify with gladness and gratefulness of the exceeding abundance of the Lord's provision for their sin.

Here's one more quote for you to ponder from the book I am currently reading:

For everyone "in Christ," there is no condemnation. What a beautiful statement that is. Repeat it to yourself: "I have placed my trust entirely in Jesus Christ and what He has accomplished for me in His life, death, and resurrection. I am in Jesus Christ, and there is no condemnation." What a sweet thing that is, what a glorious thing. A million questions arise, not the least of which is this: "How can God possibly love me so much?" But the truth of the matter is greater still: the blood of Jesus Christ has atoned for our past sins, present sins, and even future sins. Whatever sin you may commit tomorrow, there is no condemnation if you are in Jesus Christ. They are blotted out. ~Derek W.H. Thomas. How the Gospel Brings Us All the Way Home (Kindle Locations 196-200). Kindle Edition. 

Here's a question for you:

What compels you to a greater commitment to Jesus Christ?

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