Browsing: Inspiration

OUTRAGEOUS JOY

October 31st, 2014 | By admin

by Paul Holland

Psalm 126

    We are heading into the season of holidays. It begins with Halloween when you fill up with candy corn, my favorite vegetable. For our family, Jewell’s birthday is around this time as well as we fill up on birthday cake and ice cream. Then at the end of November, we have Thanksgiving and our family likes turkey. It seems like you barely get all that food digested when Christmas rolls around. A week later is New Year’s and more good food.

    This season is the season of thanksgiving, giving, and joy.

    Psalm 126 is a psalm of joy, based, as it is, in the return of the Jews from exile in Babylon where their families had been for 70 years. Let’s take a look at this psalm.

JOY COMES AFTER SORROW – 126:1-2:

    Verse 1 – “The captive ones” sets this psalm in the context of an exile, probably the Babylonian exile. Observe that the author recognizes that it is the Lord who brought them back from exile. The Jews knew they did not deserve to be returned to their land. They knew they had been guilty of sin, idolatry, ungodliness. But God, in His mercy, brought them back to their land.

    Verse 2a – This joy brought laughter to their mouths and joyful shouting to their tongue. Most of us like to laugh. Sorrow comes but joy can come afterward. Jesus endured the cross, despising the shame because of thejoy that was set before Him (Heb. 12:2).

JOY RESULTS FROM GOD’S BLESSINGS – 126:2b-3:

Verse 2b – When the Jews had returned to Palestine, the news was spread abroad that Israel’s God had brought them back. They gave glory to the God of heaven. What had been done among God’s people was talked about among those who were not God’s people.

Verse 3 – In this verse, the author agrees with the Gentiles, the nations, that God had done great things for them. For that, they were glad (cf. James 1:17).

    When we experience wonderful blessings in our lives, we need to let people know that we believe these blessings are from God. They are not due to our strength, our talent, our education, our skills. They are a blessing from God.

JOY COMES FROM PRAYER – 126:4-5:

    Verse 4 – In this verse, the author prays and asks God to bring them back from their captivity and restore them in a plentiful way, with bountiful blessings, as the “streams in the south.” The “streams in the south” would refer to the streams that receive all the rain and melted snow from the streams and mountains upstream. That is how we picture the blessings of God.

    Clearly, when we experience times of sorrow, we need to count our many blessings, listing them one by one. “Our God is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us” (Eph. 3:20).

    Verse 5 – Because of God’s plentiful blessings, you might sow in tears but you will reap with joyful shouting. God has a way of turning our negative experiences, our run of bad luck, into blessings that we could not have imagined (cf. Matthew 5:3-4).

    In the context of the psalm, this sowing in tears likely refers to the tears shed by the faithful Jews as they repented of the idolatry that took them into exile in the first place. Now, they are rejoicing, reaping the results of that repentance – a restored relationship with God.

JOY FOLLOWS THE HARVEST – 126:6:

    Verse 6 – This is an elaboration on verse 5 but ties back in to verse 2. If you weep while you sow, God will cause you to come again with a shout of joy, bringing your harvest with you. Good things come to those who wait on the Lord.

    As Christians, once we have died with Christ in baptism (Rom. 6:3-4), we will also reap the joyful harvest of an eternal life through His resurrection!

    Don’t give up when sorrow falls. Trust in God and His harvest of blessings will bring you joy.

SO, YOU WANT TO MOVE TO CANADA?

October 29th, 2014 | By admin

by Paul Holland 

    Many, many Christians are growing increasingly frustrated with the moral and financial direction of this country. There have been recent attacks against Christians for not actively supporting the homosexual agenda, “ministers” who will not perform wedding ceremonies for such couples, and preachers who preach against homosexuality. The fact is, when Americans in the 1920s, 30s, and 60s gave the federal government the right and power to dip into our finances, we also gave them the right to “control” other aspects of our lives.

     If the “limited” government concept in the U. S. Constitution does not apply practically, then nothing else in the Constitution applies, not even the First Amendment. So, we are scared and frustrated. Shall we move to Canada?

In a recent issue of The Economist (Sept. 13th; pg. 42), the journalist compares the moral views of Canada, the U. S., and Great Britain. The statistics come from 2013. How many believe “sexual relations between unmarried people” is morally acceptable? 83% in Canada, 59% in the U. S., 82% in Britain. Divorce? The statistics are: 80% (Canada), 65% (U. S.), and 79% (Britain).

Out-of-wedlock childbirths? 78%, 53%, and 74% respectively. Stem-cell research? 65%, 52%, and 56%. Physician-assisted suicide? 65%, 35%, and 61%. How about homosexual relations? 64%, 40%, and 58%. Finally, abortion… 60%, 36%, and 54%. Was it Winston Churchill who said, “Democracy may be the worst government, except for all the rest?” It appears that we also have the worst morality except for all the rest.

     We get frustrated because we compare the United States of 2014 with the United States of 1954. That, indeed, is depressing – morally speaking. But, how about if we compare the U. S. in 2014 to the nation of Rome in the year 54 A. D.?

     The Romans in the first century were also openly practicing no-fault divorce, homosexuality, abortion, prostitution, etc. There are many more Christians in the U. S. with far greater resources in 2014 than there were in Rome in A. D. 54. Yet, within three centuries, Christianity had topped the paganism of the Roman Empire and led to an about-face in moral matters.

    While individuals are not reincarnated, history does run in cycles. We see that in the history of Israel, especially during the times of the judges. Yes, the U. S. is morally corrupt. Yes, it will likely get worse before it gets better. Yes, we will all be dead and gone within three centuries. But, yes, if the Lord delays His coming until then, the U. S. (should it still exist then) will see a spiritual turn-around. When man sees that selfishness is paganism and paganism does not answer the deepest questions of life, he’ll turn back to God.

     That’s when the Christian needs to be available, with his own faith in God intact, and the Word of Christ in his hands.

    “The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet” (Romans 16:20).

Paul Holland is the minister at Swartz Creek church of Christ, Swartz Creek, MI

WHY DO I WRITE?

October 27th, 2014 | By admin

by Katt Anderson

I’m an author and I’ve always wondered why I write. One reason is that I can’t stop writing. I write two blogs, this one and one on writing, and two books of mine have been published. History is one thing I love. Our memories should be written down for the next generation, but most of us fail miserably with that. When you look at a concordance of the Bible and read the scriptures on writing, we should all be writing something substantial.

God intended for His word to be written down. In Exodus 24:4, “…Moses wrote all the words of the Lord…” Then in verse 12 of the same chapter, “Then the Lord said to Moses, ‘Come up to Me on the mountain and be there; and I will give you tablets of stone, and the law and commandments which zI have written, that you may teach them.'” We learn through the written word.

Written words are legal. Years ago, people bought things with a handshake, but to make it legal, there had to be a written document. We have deeds from my great-grandfather soon after the Civil War. Through the years, they legally showed that the property he bought belonged to me. The Bible is God’s legal document. Like a codicil will be added to a Will or Deed, God added the codicil of the New Testament. The Old Testament is there for us to read and study the history of what God did, but it is not binding to us today. As a codicil is binding on a Deed or Will, the New Testament is our binding document today. We no longer sacrifice sheep or goats, but Christ was the ultimate sacrifice for us. He gave Himself that we might have a better way to gain salvation.

Everyone likes to hear their name and see their name written in print. The most thrilling thing for an author is to hold their book in their hands and to see their name on the front of the book. But there is one book I want my name written in. My name is in the Book of Life. That is a very important book because all of the saved names are written there. It will judge us in the end. Philippians 4:3 tells us, “ Indeed, true companion, I ask you also to help these women who have shared my struggle in the cause of the gospel, together with Clement also and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.” That’s the book I want my name in.

What about you? Is your name in the Book of Life? Have you obeyed the Lord and continue to do what is written in the New Testament? Please do so. If I can help you, I’ll be glad to answer your comment. I want your name in that book with mine.

MORE CHRISTIANITY NEEDED

October 24th, 2014 | By admin

by Katt Anderson

I’ve recently returned from a writer’s conference for Christian fiction writers. You may be wondering what the difference is between Christian writers and writers in general. Let me explain.

We Christian writers use cleaner language and God is the center of each novel. Some Christian writers will try to teach their denomination’s beliefs, but I’d rather you know I’m a Christian by the way I write. You won’t find any sex in our books, nor any scenes that will embarrass you to read. There’s no four-letter words that will frighten you. We’re writer’s of clean fiction.

This year my publishing company, Mantle Rock Publishing, will publish seven books of Christian fiction. These range from suspense to children’s books. The best part is I’m not ashamed of any of the authors, or anything written in the books. I’m proud of my authors and want to see them succeed.

Now the other books, not Christian fiction, will have things in them that will make your face turn crimson. Sometimes I think these authors want to see how much they can shock you. Their language is horrible and the things they write are unbelievable. If they think that is literature, I’m sorry for them. It isn’t for me.

Recently an author friend of mine said, “Now is the time to write Christian fiction.” I know she’s right. With several books under her belt, she knows what she’s talking about. We do need authors who are willing to write good Christian fiction. It doesn’t have to be preachy, in fact I don’t like preachy. It needs to be a wholesome book about wholesome people. No curse words and no extreme sex. Something you’ll be happy for someone to read.

When I”m in an airport or hospital waiting room, I like to see what people are reading. If I know the author personally, I’ll usually stop and tell them they are reading a good book by a wonderful person. I’m beginning to see more Christian fiction in public. I’d much rather read a Christian book in public than one of these smutty books I see in bookstores.

I really didn’t mean for this to be a plug for Christian fiction, but I wanted to encourage people to buy and read clean fiction. There are some good, well-written books on the market today. You can tell pretty well by looking at the cover. If the people on the cover are clothed, it’s usually a clean book. If their scantily dressed, or in a position that makes you blush, it’s definitely not Christian. You won’t find many Christian books at Walmart anymore, but other bookstores and Amazon carry them.

With the things that are happening in the world today, we need God back in our lives. So many people don’t believe in God and this is a way for us as Christians to let them know there is a God and everything is not right. We are the light for some people. They can relax and read a good Christian book.

This is the way I look at what I do. I want to glorify God in all that I do. That makes me want to glorify God in my writing and my reading.

NOT LIKE HIS NAMESAKE

October 20th, 2014 | By admin

by Tim Hall

Burglaries happen all the time. In the small city where I live it’s common to see daily reports in the newspaper of break-ins and thefts. I often scan that part of the paper quickly, but rarely take time to read the reports. It’s hardly news (though for those who are victims it’s worthy of front page headlines!).

An arrest in Newport, Vermont caught my interest. The man arrested for breaking in to a jewelry store and making off with $110,000 worth of goods is – Perry Mason. His attorney claims the arrest was made using weak evidence. Still, Perry Mason has five burglary convictions on his record, along with a conviction for escaping prison!

Those young readers among us may not get the point. “Perry Mason” was the name of a famous TV attorney (he never lost a case!), a series which aired from 1957- 1966 and was hugely popular. His name was as well known as Marshall Dillon of “Gunsmoke” or Dr. Marcus Welby, even though all were fictional characters.

The Perry Mason arrested in Vermont is 46 years old; it’s likely his parents named him with the popular TV program in mind. But if they dreamed of having an attorney for a son, the dream took a wrong turn somewhere!

A group of people were given a new name, Luke reported, in Acts 11:26: “… And the disciples were first called Christians in Antioch.” Prior to this time, they were known simply as “disciples” (learners), or sometimes as “the way” (Acts 9:2). Some argue that the name “Christian” was first used as an insult – like referring to the disciples as “little imitations of Christ”. Even if that be true, the name seems to have caught on quickly, and Peter used it years later in an honorable way: “Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter” (1 Peter 4:16).

There is only one other occurrence of “Christian” in the New Testament – Acts 26:28. But for nearly the entire history of the Lord’s church, followers of Jesus have gladly chosen to wear the name of their Savior. In accepting the name “Christian”, we seek to honor the Son of God.

The story of this latter-day Perry Mason, however, reminds us that we must sincerely seek to honor the name of our Savior. That was clearly Peter’s point in the passage above – “… let him glorify God in this matter”. Do I honor the name I wear, or does my lifestyle, my words, my actions lead others to mock the holy faith?

I don’t wear a T-shirt identifying me as a follower of Jesus of Nazareth. But when I claim to be a “Christian”, I absolutely am pointing to the Lord as the One for whom I’ve been named. May I wear His life as genuinely as I wear His name!

Come to the light God offers! Study His word, the Bible. Worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24). Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss these ideas further.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
Copyright, 2013, Timothy D. Hall. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New King James Version (Copyright, 1990, Thomas Nelson, Inc.).

“LightGrams” is produced by the Central Church of Christ, 2722 Oakland Avenue, Johnson City, Tennessee, 37601, and is written by Tim Hall, minister. It is sent free of charge every Thursday to all who request it. To subscribe or to receive more information, write to “Tim@GraceMine.org” (our E-mail address), to the U.S. mail address above, or call (423) 282-1571.

Permission to reproduce and/or use the messages for noncommercial purposes is freely granted provided the messages are not altered.

Visit my web site — http://joycaster.com/

 

Timothy Hall, Minister
Central Church of Christ

DARWIN’S DOUBT

October 14th, 2014 | By admin

by Paul Holland 

    The “Cambrian” Period of earth history is defined as the period between 590-505 million years ago “during which sediments deposited include the first organisms with mineralized skeletons” (The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Zoology, edited by Michael Allaby). The Cambrian period is a tremendous headache for evolutionists today, even as it was for Charles Darwin.

    Darwin’s Doubt, written by Discovery Institute scientist Stephen Meyer, begins by discussing how a contemporary of Darwin, a Harvard paleontologist named Louis Agassiz, could not accept Darwin’s theory. The reason he could not accept his theory was, in part, because paleontology did not support the idea of gradualevolution. It was a conundrum that perplexed Darwin himself.

    The rest of Darwin’s Doubt is dedicated to recent efforts to explain, from an evolutionist’s perspective, how the Cambrian explosion happened. But, there is not reasonable, credible, logical explanation for the Cambrian explosion if we are limited to only naturalistic causes.

    Here’s the problem… In the Cambrian period of rocks, we have a sudden appearance of complex animals. These animals have no forms in the “pre-Cambrian” layer that could have evolved into the animals in the Cambrian layer. So, where did they come from? Vertebrate fish are present. Where are the missing links?

    Many land plants are present. Where did they come from? Major, complex animal forms show up, out of the blue – fish, reptiles, birds, mammals. It is also not just in the Cambrian layer that the enigma persists. Primates appear in the fossil record, out of “nowhere.” Mankind appears “out of nowhere.”

    Where did these complex fossils originate? Meyer documents a number of efforts of modern scientists to explain where these forms originated but the lab work always comes back, “no explanation.

    Meyer’s explanation, which is the only credible explanation there is, is that these animals were intelligently designed. They were created. Indeed, that is the only explanation for the incredible variety of animals we enjoy in our world today. Not only do scientists have to explain where the animals originated, but they also have to explain where the information came from that generated the first lungs, heart, kidneys, legs, arms, fingernails, etc. 

    “Yet we do know of a cause that has demonstrated the causal power to produce digital code. That cause is intelligent agency. Since intelligent agency is the only cause known to be capable of generating information (at least starting from nonliving chemicals), intelligent design offers the best explanation for the origin of the information necessary to produce the first organism” (pg. 359).

    It is unscientific, irrational, illogical and blind faith to believe in evolution. Thursday, I’ll review a book by Jeff Miller, Science vs. Evolution.

STRIVING FOR PERFECTION

October 8th, 2014 | By admin

by Katt Anderson

Most of us try to be perfect in one way or another. Even thieves want to commit the “perfect” crime and not get caught. We all try to gain perfection in the eyes of our parents, teachers and peers. Everyone wants to be perfect.

Will everyone gain perfection? Probably not. No matter how hard we try, it’s almost impossible to be perfect. The only thing we can do is try, and it’s an ongoing thing. Each day brings us a new slate and we should try to improve ourselves from the day before. Christ made that perfection possible. When He died on the cross, He wiped away the sins of the Jews, but He also made it possible for us to have forgiveness of our sins. You might say through His death, He gave us perfection. Hebrews 10:14 says, “ For by one offering He has perfected forever those who are being sanctified.” If we obey what Jesus has instructed us, we can be perfect.

Today many people do not believe in the Bible. It’s taught in schools that God didn’t create the universe, but it was formed by something else. I’m not really up-to-date on what they are teaching today in schools, but I do know they don’t teach God’s creation. Many people do not believe what is taught in the Bible. The Bible is our rule book. We all have to have rules to live by, even the laws of the land have rules.

People will say the Bible is old and we don’t need it anymore, but I disagree. We love old things. We visit old places and are awed by the age of what we are seeing. The Bible is perfect. It has everything in it we need. 2 Timothy 3:16,17 tells us that, “16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.”

Many people today do not believe in Christ. They think Jesus was just a man, but that’s not so. Christ was God’s son and He was perfect. He did not sin, and He taught us how to live our lives through His word. I’m sure it was hard for people to understand all this when Christ was on earth. It’s hard for people to wrap their mind around Christ today. We are a people wanting proof. 1 Timothy 3:16 gives us that proof. “And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness. God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit (John 1:14, Matt 3>16), Seen by angels (Matt. 28:2), Preached among the Gentiles (Rom. 10:18), Believed on in the world (Col. 1:6, 23), Received up in glory (Luke 24:51). All of this shows the glory and perfection of Christ.

How am I going to be perfect today? It is possible because through Christ all things are possible. First, you have to hear the word. I’ve been in contact with someone that read the Bible and knew he was wrong in his beliefs. You can read and not actually hear someone speak. In Bible times, I’m sure more was heard than read. Read Romans 10:17. You have to believe that what you are reading is true, Acts 8:37. After that, you must repent of your sins, Luke 13:3. You must realize what you have believed in the past and how you have behaved in the past is wrong. The next step is to confess your sins, Matt 10:32, 33. That’s saying the words that you have sinned. There is no Sinner’s Prayer, but you can know you have sinned and either affirmed that or said, “I have sinned.” The next step is to be baptized or immersed in water. Another way to put it is to be buried in water and your sins are forgiven, Romans 6:9, Acts 2:38. After that you must live a faithful life, Revelations 2:10. Yes, we will falter on our life’s journey, but we have prayer to forgive us of our sins. The perfect love of Christ will forgive us and blot those sins from the Book of Life. That’s perfection!

 

 

CHANGE IN THE AIR

October 6th, 2014 | By admin

by Tim Hall

The one thing that doesn’t change is that things change – ponder that for a minute! It may not be absolutely true (God, for example, doesn’t change – Malachi 3:6), but as a general observation of life, few will argue with the proposition.

Fall is in the air. The past several months have been warm, sometimes even hot. In a couple of days, weather forecasters are telling us, cold temperatures will arrive in our area, even if only for a couple of days. The weather is one of the most changeable facts of our existence.

Today another change in my life was observed: The home place where my siblings and I were reared officially changed ownership. The community where I could once number dozens (literally) of aunts, uncles, cousins, grandparents, etc., is now almost entirely devoid of members of that family. Some have passed from this life; others have relocated. Change is now a stark reality for me when I visit Harlan County, Kentucky.

“Time is filled with swift transition” go the opening words of an old hymn I’ve often sung. “Naught of earth unmoved can stand,” it goes on. The older I get, the more sincerely I say “Amen” to those words.

The Bible affirms this fact which is so obvious to the honest: “For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away” (James 4:14). Just a page or two beyond that in your Bible is this statement: “All flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of the grass. The grass withers, and its flower falls away” (1 Peter 1:24). Lovely flowers in the garden will be but a memory in a few weeks. That’s the essence of life – change. For many, that thought causes great despair.

But read on in Peter’s message: “But the word of the Lord endures forever” (1 Peter 1:25). Just as we noted earlier in this essay, God does not change. And would this be a good place to remind ourselves that we are made in God’s image (Genesis 1:27)?

The good news of Jesus Christ includes the promise that a wonderful change awaits those who commit their lives to God. Hear what Paul wrote on this topic: “Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed … For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality” (1 Corinthians 15:51,53). Yes, you read that right: We who are mortal will one day be immortal!

Do you enjoy your present station of life? Brace yourself: you’ll someday have to move on to another station that may not be as enjoyable. Change is a constant – in this life. That’s one more reason to cast your lot with Christ. The changes He offers are nothing but wonderful!

Come to the light God offers! Study His word, the Bible. Worship Him in spirit and truth (John 4:24). Get in touch with us if you’d like to discuss these ideas further.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ 
Copyright, 2013, Timothy D. Hall. All scripture quotations, unless otherwise noted, are from the New King James Version (Copyright, 1990, Thomas Nelson, Inc.).

THE DISTINCTIVENESS OF CHRISTIANS

October 1st, 2014 | By admin

by Paul Holland

    The distinctiveness of Christians in a world that tries to mold us into its pattern of conformity is that we walk by a different rule. We do not walk by the rule that might makes right.” We do not walk by the rule Me first.” We do not walk by the ruleDog eat dog.” We walk by the rule of the Spirit (Gal. 5:25). 

     When a Christian is baptized into Christ, Paul writes in Romans 6:6, our old self is crucified with Christ, our body of sin is done away with. Using that same imagery, in Galatians 5:24, Paul says those who belong to Christ have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. We belong to the chosenof God, the church of Jesus Christ. We are holy.” We aresaints” (61x in NT). We are now, Paul writes in Philippians 1:10, blameless.” Not by our own works but by our union with Christ.

     The NT writers use a variety of expressions from the OT to illustrate our holy standing in the world today: Romans 15:16 – offering, sanctified by the Holy Spirit; 1 Peter 2:5, 9 – holy priesthood” and holy nation; Hebrews 12:10 – we share His holiness.

     All this means that we look at the world differently. When we were still in the world, in our trespasses and sins, walking according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2), the god of this age (2 Cor. 4:4), we served sin. Sin was our master. Sin called and we answered. But now that we are sanctified in Christ, holy relative to the God of heaven, we have a new Master, Jesus Christ. We now serve righteousness. Jesus calls and we answer (Rom. 6:12-23). Jesus calls us to be holy” (1 Peter 1:15-16) and we answer. Jesus calls us to maintain a moral, spiritual distance from the world (Heb. 12:14) and we answer. To the degree that we, ourselves, choose to follow Jesus on a daily basis, to that degree, we cleanse ourselves (2 Tim. 2:21; 2 Cor. 7:1).

     Thus, our whole view of the world is different. We live a life of daily sacrifice to God, offering our bodies as holy, acceptable to God – an offering that is our reasonable act of service (Rom. 12:1). We conduct ourselves in holiness (2 Cor. 1:12). When we were immersed into Christ, we put on a new creature, created in the holiness of the truth (Eph. 4:24) and this new man looks different. He talks differently. He behaves differently. This is a daily walk, an hourly walk, a minute-by-minute walk with God. So, sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, alwaysbeing ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15).

     Be ready in season and out of season to give a response to those who ask about your different lifestyle. Always conduct yourself in a holy manner, reflecting the nature of your heavenly Father (2 Peter 3:11).

     How can we make holy decisions then? We look at the world through the lens of the word of God. What has He said? What is important to Him? How does He view affairs on this earth? We trust what His word says because He is trustworthy and we obey with a complete heart, fully expecting God to keep His promises.

     How can I be holy in an unholy world? By living washed by the blood of Christ, walking in step with the Spirit.

 

THE NATION OF ISRAEL TODAY

September 26th, 2014 | By admin

by Paul Holland 

    Many people believe the Jews will one day convert in mass to Jesus Christ and such will be a sign of the second coming of Christ. So, let’s take a look at what the Scriptures teach about Israel, especially on this side of the cross.

     Matthew wrote his gospel for a Jewish audience. Consider these passages: 3:7-10; 8:5-13; 21:18-22; and 21:33-44. What each of these passages show is that since Israel would not repent in their behavior toward God and believe in Jesus Christ, Whom He sent, they would be cast out of the vineyard of God’s people and that vineyard would be given to a nation producing fruit. There is no hope held out in Matthew – short of repentance toward God and faith in Jesus Christ – for the nation of Israel to be saved.

     The letter of Romans shows clearly that Israel, in mass, refused to accept Jesus and His righteousness as the goal of the Law. Yet, in writing to Christians who were (partly) Jewish, Paul uses their own Scriptures (the Old Testament) to show them that Christ/the Gospel/Christianity/ the Church were the fulfillment of the Old Testament Law of Moses.

     In 2:28-29, Paul writes that it is not physical circumcision (anymore) that matters to God. It is spiritualcircumcision (which happens when we are baptized into Christ for the forgiveness of sins – Colossians 2:11-12) that matters to God, now.

     In 4:10-12, 16 (really, all of chapter 4), Paul shows that Abraham was justified (forgiven of his sins) based on his faithful response to God (recorded in Genesis 15) before (and without) circumcision (which happened in Genesis 17). Thus, we will be saved as Abraham was saved, if we respond to God faithfully (and without physical circumcision).

     So what does this mean for JewsIsraelites?Descendants of Abraham? Romans 9-11 is a trilogy on the relationship of Israel (on this side of the cross) with the God of heaven. Chapter 9 is focused on how God worked through Israel, through His sovereignty, to bring Jesus into the world.

    Chapter 10 is focused on the historical fact that Israel rejected God.  The stubbornness and unrepentant heart of Israel was predicted in the OT. All Israel heard God’s message (10:18, quoting Psa. 19:4). All Israel knewGod’s message (10:19, quoting Deut. 32:21 and 10:20, quoting Isa. 65:1). But what was lacking in Israel but prevalent among the Gentiles was a response of faithful obedience (10:16-17).

    So, chapter 11 is about the fact that everyone must submit to God. God has not universally saved the Israelite nation nor has He universally condemned the Israelite nation. Just because one is an Israelite or Jew does not mean he is automatically condemned. It also means that the Gentiles ought not to be proud and boastful over against the Jew because the Gentile Christian can be cut off just like the Jewish nation was cut off.

    Finally, there are a number of passages which teach that the church of Jesus Christ is the “Israel of God” today: Romans 2:28-29; 1 Corinthians 1:2; 2 Corinthians 3; Galatians 3:28-29; 6:16; Ephesians 2:14; Philippians 3:3; Colossians 2:9-12; James 1:1, 2:2, 5:14; 1 Peter 2:9.

    The nation of Israel living in Palestine today is notGod’s chosen people anymore. Israel served its purpose when it brought Jesus into the world. I seriously question if any “Jew” today can even prove that he/she is a descendant of Abraham!

    As God’s elect in Christ, let us continue in our faith and share His news with the lost.


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