Episode 152

 

Disciple Up #152
|Paul’s Ministry (Pt. 2), Col. 2: 1-7
By Louie Marsh, 3-25-2020

Introduction:  Today we’ll look at more of Paul’s Ministry, and at a crucial turning point in the book.  The next two episodes are the heart and soul of Colossians, you won’t want to miss it.  In vs. 1 Paul gets personal as a way of getting our attention and letting us know something important is about to be said.

  1. I) PAUL’S PURPOSE

1  For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, 2  that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, 3  in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:1-3 (ESV)

  1. A) To Encourage Their Hearts

1, encourage = “to call someone to yourself, to ask (sometimes in prayer) to exhort, to strengthen.”

2, Paul continues to struggle so that both the Col. and the Laodiceans might be strong in heart.

3, Hearts = center of being, deepest part of us, soul = mind, will, emotions.

  1. B) United (knit together) in Love

1, This presupposes that there already was a measure of division among them due to false teachers.

2, How does unity come?

a, Eph. 4:2-3 – it takes work!  b, Eph. 4:15 – honesty!

2  with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, 3  eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Ephesians 4:2-3 (ESV)

15  Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, Ephesians 4:15 (ESV)

15  Instead, we will lovingly follow the truth at all times—speaking truly, dealing truly, living truly —and so become more and more in every way like Christ who is the Head of his body, the Church. Ephesians 4:15 (TLB)

c, Unity comes from an honest, open, loving dialogue, supported by loving actions.

  1. C) Complete Understanding of Christ

1, “full riches” used in LXX not only of material riches but spiritual too. – Isa. 33:6

6  and he will be the stability of your times, abundance of salvation, wisdom, and knowledge; the fear of the LORD is Zion’s treasure. Isaiah 33:6 (ESV)

2, “completely” = epignesgo

a, Gk = a full knowledge, more than just intellectual, but experience too.

3, Paul’s purpose is to bring us to a full knowledge of Christ – to make us complete disciples

4, “Christ has become to Christians all that the Wisdom of God was according to the Wisdom Lit. and more.” – Moule

a, He is the one and only source for fullness in this life!

  1. II) STAND FIRM!! (vs. 4-5)

4  I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. 5  For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ. Colossians 2:4-5 (ESV)

  1. A) Don’t Be Deceived!

1, By fine sounding arguments!  How not too – I Pet. 3: 15

15  But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, 1 Peter 3:15 (NIV)

  1. B) With Them in Spirit

1, Paul was struggling, right there along with them, in spirit

2, Christ does this for us, and we should do it for others.

  1. C) Delighted!

1, Paul doesn’t deny their problems in this book.

2, BUT he also doesn’t neglect to encourage them either!

3, We must always seek to be balanced between these two sides.

III) PIVOT POINT (vs. 6-7)

[These two verses are in a pivotal position in Col.  1) They set the ground work for the positive instruction that serves as the basis to refute the heresy.  2) They summarize what’s gone before]

6  Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7  rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. Colossians 2:6-7 (ESV)

  1. A) How Did We Receive Christ?

1, By Faith – AS LORD

a, You begin Christian life by submitting to Christ as LORD!

2, You are saved by faith – Rom. 1:17 –  Through grace

17  For in it the righteousness of God is revealed from faith for faith, as it is written, “The righteous shall live by faith.” Romans 1:17 (ESV)

8  For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9  not a result of works, so that no one may boast. Ephesians 2:8-9 (ESV)

3, You will only continue to follow Christ the same way

a, For Paul there is no hiatus between believing and behaving!

  1. B) Rooted!

1, All 3 Participles – rooted, built, & strengthened are passives.

a, These are things done to us – not things we do to ourselves

b, rooted is in perfect tense meaning Christians are in a settled state before God – fully accepted through faith.

2, Christ’s death & resurrection, and our faith in Him, allows God to root us in Him.

3, Now we must continue to allow the Lord to build us up and strengthen us in Him.

a, This continual life long process is done through teaching, prayer, etc.

  1. C) Thankfulness

1, Thanksgiving is referred to no fewer than SIX times in Col. four short chapters!  This should tell us something!

2, Without praise as a continual part of our lives are incomplete!

3, What should we praise Him for?

a, For starters how about salvation?

CT Article:

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2020/march/pentecostal-la-pastor-defies-covid19-coronavirus-order.html

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Episode 151

Disciple Up #151
C.S. Lewis VS the Corona Virus?
By Louie Marsh, 3-18-2020

Link to the book from which the article I’m reading and commenting upon, “On Living In An Atomic Age,” is taken from:

https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01EFM8O7E/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_d_asin_title_o00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

URL Of Last Weeks show: http://discipleup.org/episode-150/

A FEW VERSES ON FEAR:

21  And I commanded Joshua at that time, ‘Your eyes have seen all that the LORD your God has done to these two kings. So will the LORD do to all the kingdoms into which you are crossing. 22  You shall not fear them, for it is the LORD your God who fights for you.’ Deuteronomy 3:21-22 (ESV)

1  “When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the LORD your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. 2  And when you draw near to the battle, the priest shall come forward and speak to the people 3  and shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, today you are drawing near for battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint. Do not fear or panic or be in dread of them, 4  for the LORD your God is he who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.’ Deuteronomy 20:1-4 (ESV)

37  And the statutes and the rules and the law and the commandment that he wrote for you, you shall always be careful to do. You shall not fear other gods, 38  and you shall not forget the covenant that I have made with you. You shall not fear other gods, 39  but you shall fear the LORD your God, and he will deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.” 40  However, they would not listen, but they did according to their former manner. 2 Kings 17:37-40 (ESV)

10  fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand. Isaiah 41:10 (ESV)

35  While he was still speaking, there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” 36  But overhearing what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” Mark 5:35-36 (ESV)

15  For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” Romans 8:15 (NIV)

6  So we can confidently say, “The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” Hebrews 13:6 (ESV)

18  There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18 (ESV)

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Episode 150

Disciple Up #150
A Christian Response to the Coronavirus
By Louie Marsh, 3-11-2020

Links To Articles:

https://dashhouse.com/whether-one-may-flee-from-a-deadly-ministry/

https://www.christianitytoday.com/ct/2020/january-web-only/martin-luther-coronavirus-wuhan-chinese-new-year-christians.html

https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2020/march/craig-groeschel-lifechurch-quarantined-coronavirus.html

https://banneroftruth.org/us/resources/articles/2020/a-christian-response-to-the-corona-virus/

Things that Should (But Don’t) Go Without Saying:

  • We should be praying for those impacted by this disease
  • We should be doing what we can, either directly by helping, or indirectly by giving, to help those impacted by this disease.
  • We should use our brains and do what is reasonable to take care of ourselves and avoid getting this disease.
  • We should help others stay healthy, if any need that help, and help spread the truth about this disease.

The Real Issue – FEAR!

26  “So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. 27  What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. 28  And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. 29  Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. Matthew 10:26-29 (ESV)

14  For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15  For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16  The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17  and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. Romans 8:14-17 (ESV)

7  for God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control. 2 Timothy 1:7 (ESV)

5  For this is how the holy women who hoped in God used to adorn themselves, by submitting to their own husbands, 6  as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord. And you are her children, if you do good and do not fear anything that is frightening. 1 Peter 3:5-6 (ESV)

14  But even if you should suffer for righteousness’ sake, you will be blessed. Have no fear of them, nor be troubled, 1 Peter 3:14 (ESV)

18  There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love. 1 John 4:18 (ESV)

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Episode 149

Disciple Up # 149
The Most Terrible Psalm
By Louie Marsh, 3-4-2020

I’m reading from chapter 5 of my first book, Getting Real. This is the chapter on Psalm 22, a psalm that prophetically foretells the crucifixion of our Lord Jesus. It’s powerful and it’s terrible in how it shows us the agony that Jesus went through on the cross.

 

I’ll be departing from the book’s text to make comments as I go through. Any comments I think are worth noting will be written below.

 

Here’s the URL for the book: shorturl.at/koDMT

 

Most people approach this a problem from a selfish point of view.

 

How we react to suffering is a choice.

 

In the end, God will using suffering to make us more like Christ IF we let Him.

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Episode 148

148 Disciple Up
Hope Against Hope
By Louie Marsh, 2-26-2020

Recent events have caused this phrase to echo through my mind quite often lately.

I hope against hope that a few meager words spoken on a Sunday morning will heal a marriage, mend a troubled mind or motivate someone to respond to the Word of God.

I hope against hope that an hour’s counsel will help someone begin to overcome a life time of running and hiding from their inner monsters.

I hope against hope that this new class or that new program or this new book will finally cause the hearts of the people in my church to catch fire for Christ.

Hope against hope.

In a way I guess you could say this describes what we Ministers do for a living. We are called and paid to hope against hope – and to never stop doing so!

After hearing this echoing around in my mind, I checked and found out some interesting info on what this means and where it comes from on Dictionary.com.

hope against hope

Hope or wish for with little reason or justification, as in I’m hoping against hope that someone will return my wallet. This expression, based on the biblical “Who against hope believed in hope” (Romans 4:18), was first recorded in 1813.

 

Source: The American Heritage® Dictionary of Idioms by Christine Ammer.
Copyright © 1997 by The Christine Ammer 1992 Trust. Published by Houghton Mifflin Company.

Here’s verse in the NIV – Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be.” Romans 4:18 (NIV)

The story of Abraham and Sarah is one of the great examples of faith in the Bible, and is often presented that way as it should be. But I want to point out to you that It’s also a prime example of hope as well.

Hope against hope – hope that God will work in spite of most of the evidence pointing to the contrary. Hope that with God’s help tomorrow can be better, a marriage can grow and heal and thrive. Hope that a child can learn and turn from sin back to God.

Hope, hope, hope – and hope is almost always pitted against itself. We hope against hope. God calls us to, in the words of the late, great Mark Heard, “withstand the winds of time,” and the winds of culture, opinion and the devil as well!

And of course we have to hope against the evidence of our eyes as well. Just because things look hopeless doesn’t mean they are! Indeed God “…is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, Ephesians 3:20 (NIV)

I love how Peterson paraphrased this verse in the Message. Read it, and then read it again, letting it sink into your heart.

20  God can do anything, you know—far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Ephesians 3:20 (MSG)

When everything was hopeless, Abraham believed anyway, deciding to live not on the basis of what he saw he couldn’t do but on what God said he would do. And so he was made father of a multitude of peoples. God himself said to him, “You’re going to have a big family, Abraham!” Romans 4:18 (MSG)

That’s hope against hope all right!

It’s deciding not to live on the basis of what I quite correctly know I can’t do – and instead live life based on what God has said He will do!

Wow – what a liberating thought!

Or as we call it in Celebrate Recovery – Principles One & Two

Principle One: Realize I’m not God. I admit I’m powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and that my life is unmanageable.

Principle Two: Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him, and that He has the power to help me recover.

So, go ahead, hope against hope today!

May I live today on the basis of what God has said He’ll do – not on the basis of my helplessness!

During his time in a Nazi prison, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote to his friend Eberhard Bethge that he was neither a pessimist (expecting things to get worse) nor an optimist (expecting things to get better). He said that he was living by hope.

Hope! One of three foundational forces—faith, hope, and love—that St. Paul said “remains” when everything else goes belly-up.

 I find Bonhoeffer’s allusion to hope as an alternative to optimism or pessimism to be insightful and inspirational. He has identified a biblical idea that I think sometimes gets lost in the shuffle.

SESSION ONE:

Know the Power of Hope.

 3 Graces to  MOTIVATE ME.

 1) FAITH

We continually remember before our God and Father your work produced by faith… 1 Thes. 1:3a

Work = a job or task

  • Faith BRINGS US INTO SALVATION.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith— Eph. 2:8a

 Faith LOOKS BACK.

I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. Galatians 2:20

 Faith always PRODUCES ACTION.

As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead. James 2:26

2) LOVE

… your labor prompted by love… I Thess. 1:3b

labor = to cut, beat and used of working bread dough

 Love is my response TO GOD’S LOVE FOR ME!

We love because he first loved us. 1 John 4:19

 Love LOOKS AT THE NOW.

 If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 1 John 3:17

  • Love keeps me going THROUGH THE TOUGH TASKS.

 Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 1 John 3:18

3) HOPE

 and your endurance inspired by hope in our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Thes. 1:3c

 Hope keeps me from GIVING UP.

 For everything that was written in the past was written to teach us, so that through endurance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope. Romans 15:4

 Hope LOOKS AHEAD.

 For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what he already has? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently. Romans 8:24-25

  • Hope is JUST AS IMPORTANT as faith & Love.

 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. 1 Corinthians 13:13 (NIV)

But by faith we eagerly await through the Spirit the righteousness for which we hope. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love. Galatians 5:5-6 (NIV)

because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints– the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel  Colossians 1:4-5 (NIV)

let us draw near to God with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience and having our bodies washed with pure water. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Hebrews 10:22-24 (NIV)

But since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet.
1 Thessalonians 5:8 (NIV)

  • How To REMAIN HOPEFUL.

Renew your relationship with God daily

my God. My soul is downcast within me; therefore I will remember you from the land of the Jordan, the heights of Hermon–from Mount Mizar. Psalm 42:6 (NIV)

Why are you discouraged, my soul? Why are you so restless? Put your hope in God, because I will still praise him. He is my savior and my God. Psalm 42:5 (GW)

We encourage you, brothers and sisters, to instruct those who are not living right, cheer up those who are discouraged, help the weak, and be patient with everyone. 1 Thessalonians 5:14 (GW)

David also said to Solomon his son, “Be strong and courageous, and do the work. Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the LORD God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you or forsake you until all the work for the service of the temple of the LORD is finished. 1 Chronicles 28:20 (NIV)

Maintain Fellowship with Believers

But God, who comforts the downcast, comforted us by the coming of Titus, 2 Corinthians 7:6 (NIV)

for I know that through your prayers and the help given by the Spirit of Jesus Christ, what has happened to me will turn out for my deliverance. I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. Philippians 1:19-21 (NIV)

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Episode 147

147 Disciple Up
Let Freedom Ring!
By Louie Marsh, 2-19-2020

1  For freedom Christ has set us free; stand firm therefore, and do not submit again to a yoke of slavery. Galatians 5:1 (ESV)

It’s amazing to see how often a desire for freedom appears in history. You see it over and over again. Some times it’s a misunderstanding of what freedom is, but it’s there. From the recent Arab Spring (which certainly is not about freedom the way we in the West understand it) to the Tea Party to the young people and old hippies currently “occupying” places all over America.

In the words of that old song, “people just gotta be free.”  But why? Why is it that people almost everywhere seem to have a soul deep desire to be free?

To answer that question from a Biblical perspective we’ll have to begin at the beginning. In the book of Genesis we see that God created Adam and Eve and placed them in what can only be described as a paradise.

They were innocent in a way that no one today can lay claim too. But what about when our children are babies, aren’t they innocent? Compared to me they are! But not when they are compared to Adam and Eve. Because as fallen creatures being born into a fallen world, they carry the seeds of that fall within their very genes. This isn’t a philosophy or a theology of “original sin.” It’s a fact! A fact everyone knows even though we don’t like to admit it.

When God placed this innocent couple into their earthly paradise, He gave them freedom like none we’ve ever seen. In fact He only gave them one limitation. “The woman said to the serpent, “We may eat fruit from the trees in the garden, but God did say, ‘You must not eat fruit from the tree that is in the middle of the garden, and you must not touch it, or you will die.'” Genesis 3:2-3 (NIV)

Imagine that!  Adam and Eve had one and only one limitation on their freedom! The proof that we are fallen creatures can be found in the fact that this set up would never work today. No society, family or individual could possibly function with only one limitation on freedom. It’s just not possible for fallen creatures in a fallen world to live that way.

But it was possible for Adam and Eve. They lived quite well (for how long no one knows) until the fateful day Eve was tempted and both she and Adam used their freedom badly and violated the single limitation God had placed on them. This act plunged not just them, but the entire world into the prison of sin. A prison in whose dark and twisting labyrinth mankind has struggled to find true freedom in ever since.

There are a couple of things to note about our original parent’s experience that we need to note to understand God’s perspective on freedom.

1) God created them free – and men and women ever since have had a longing to return to that perfect kind of freedom. Of course we’ll never find it in this life, but our desire for it drives us to be as free as we can in this life.

2) God gave limits on freedom. Even in a finitely perfect environment God had to create boundaries for human beings. There is no such thing as absolute freedom. If that was true then it’s even truer for fallen people in a fallen world.

Without limits – there is no freedom – only anarchy. As we’ll see in this series the Bible often speaks of freedom as something to be devoutly sought after. But it condemns anarchy as destructive as it surely is.

3) When our First Parents turned away from God they lost their freedom and entered into slavery to fear.  Do I need to point out how true this has been of all of Western Civilization in the last 50 to 60 years?

4) When given freedom under the best possible of circumstances, Adam and Eve blew it and lost their freedom.  Our fallen nature always makes us want what we cannot have, and we cannot have absolute freedom. We can’t even keep the freedom we have without God’s grace, help and a lot of hard work to protect our freedoms.

Freedom is a most perishable fruit of the Spirit’s work in our lives.

A classic study of freedom in the Old Testament is Moses and the Children of Israel in Exodus. I’m sure we all know the story. Israel has spent about 430 years in slavery in Egypt and things are worse than ever. Trapped in a truly heathen culture, the people of God wonder if they will ever be delivered.

From out of the desert their deliverer comes. Perhaps he’s not what they were expecting however. He’s around 80 years old, can’t speak well, and only has Aaron by his side. They confront Pharaoh with God’s demand to let His people go, and things only get worse!

Throughout this epic supernatural battle of good and evil the people waver. They are unsure what to make of all this because in spite of Moses’ claim to be God’s appointed deliverer, things just keep getting worse.

But after a final showdown, Pharaoh relents, and for a short time, things look good! Free at last, the Israelites plunder the Egyptians on their way to freedom. Marching towards Israel they find themselves boxed in, all at God’s command.

In this moment of crises, when their freedom is at greatest risk along with their lives, we can see just what value most of the Israelites put on their freedom – not much!  They said to Moses, “Was it because there were no graves in Egypt that you brought us to the desert to die? What have you done to us by bringing us out of Egypt? Didn’t we say to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone; let us serve the Egyptians’? It would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the desert!” Exodus 14:11-12 (NIV)

This becomes a familiar refrain through out the rest of Moses’ life. It seems that whenever things got tough, and freedom called upon them to pay a price, most of the Israelites were either afraid or unwilling to make that sacrifice. So we see them swinging back and forth between exclaiming their willingness to follow the commands of God, and whining that they want to go back to Egypt where it was safe and comfortable.

Their struggle with freedom came to a head when Joshua reported back on his intelligence gathering patrol into Canaan. He and Caleb said it was a wonderful land, flowing with milk and honey, and they ought attack and conquer it right now!

The other 12 spies said it was hopeless and all Israel would die if they dared attempt to enter this land of giants.  What did the people do? I’ll bet you know!

All the Israelites grumbled against Moses and Aaron, and the whole assembly said to them, “If only we had died in Egypt! Or in this desert! Why is the LORD bringing us to this land only to let us fall by the sword? Our wives and children will be taken as plunder. Wouldn’t it be better for us to go back to Egypt?” And they said to each other, “We should choose a leader and go back to Egypt.” Numbers 14:2-4 (NIV)

That’s right, even after all this time and everything they had gone through, they wanted to go back into slavery rather risk their lives for the freedom God held out before them. Their fear drove them to reject God’s man and God’s plan, so in turn God rejected them.

As the writer of Hebrews put it; For we also have had the gospel preached to us, just as they did; but the message they heard was of no value to them, because those who heard did not combine it with faith. Now we who have believed enter that rest, just as God has said, “So I declared on oath in my anger, ‘They shall never enter my rest.'” And yet his work has been finished since the creation of the world. Hebrews 4:2-3 (NIV)

If all of this sounds familiar it should! We are having much the same argument today as we struggle to fight a war on terror. How many times have you heard it said the price is too high, the pain to great, the risk too large to stay the course? Pull out of Iraq; come home where it’s safe and sound.

I believe that history will vindicate those who want to stand tall for freedom, as it almost always does. Those, like Senator Kennedy and many others, who want to run and hide and not pay the price for freedom, will be looked at much the same way we look at the generation of Israelites who died in the desert.

This episode from the Old Testament shows us a few new things about people and freedom.

1) While mankind has an inborn desire for freedom, it is often overridden by fear and selfishness. If the choice is sacrifice for freedom or live comfortably in bondage, our fallen nature will often drive us to choose the latter, which is after all the easier choice.

Limited freedom, or almost no freedom at all, in exchange for comfort and security has seduced millions and continue to lure us today. But as Jesus said, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it. Matthew 7:13-14 (NIV)

The path of least resistance is never the path God calls us to walk, fear and faith don’t mix and God always calls us to faithfully combat our fears and live in freedom!

2) The allure of the past will rob us of our future freedom if we let it. When faced with an unknown future, and the very uncertain idea of freedom, most of the Israelites rejected it.

And why not? They had never known freedom, nor had their parents, grandparents or great, great grandparents!  Remember they had spent 430 years as slaves! The only past they had was one of being cared for from cradle to grave by their masters.

Not much care being given by the Egyptians you say? I agree, but it was more certain and sure than a trip into a waterless desert and an attack on fortified towns by ex-slaves with no military training!

So they let their past pull them away from the freedom God had waiting for them.  For all of us, living in the past robs of us our future freedom.

In Samuel chapter 8 we find the greatest of all the Judges of Israel coming to the end of his life. It was to be a hard ending for old Samuel. First of all he appointed his sons to take his place. But unlike their father they were dishonest and not really following God. The people were unhappy about this and the Elders complained to Samuel. But they didn’t just want new Judges, what they wanted was something far different.

So all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. They said to him, “You are old, and your sons do not walk in your ways; now appoint a king to lead us, such as all the other nations have.” 1 Samuel 8:4-5 (NIV)

You can see right away what’s happening here can’t you? It’s so much like modern life that it’s scary! The Elders, and we assume their people as well, wanted a King. Why? Not because they thought it would be a better form of government, or a more efficient way to oversee the nation. Nope – they wanted to be just like everyone else!

Who says peer pressure is limited to teenagers? Here’s a group of grown men, leaders even, who are more concerned with pleasing people and “fitting in” than with doing the right thing before God!

Samuel’s response is classic! But when they said, “Give us a king to lead us,” this displeased Samuel; so he prayed to the LORD. And the LORD told him: “Listen to all that the people are saying to you; it is not you they have rejected, but they have rejected me as their king. 1 Samuel 8:6-7 (NIV)

Funny how we spiritual leaders can be so sensitive to rejection isn’t it? As a former Pastor (I was out of the ministry when I wrote this) let me tell you that I can completely understand his reaction here The Lord’s response informs us that Samuel was feeling hurt and rejected, even though he shouldn’t have felt that way because they were really rejecting God!

There’s a parallel here that we don’t want to miss. When we seek to needlessly conform to the culture we find around us, to “fit in” at any and all price, we not only reject God, but we start down a road that leads to a loss of our freedom. The Lord tries to warn Israel about this:

As they have done from the day I brought them up out of Egypt until this day, forsaking me and serving other gods, so they are doing to you. Now listen to them; but warn them solemnly and let them know what the king who will reign over them will do.” 1 Samuel 8:8-9 (NIV)

Notice how personal God makes this – He points out that this is another in a long line of bad decisions Israel is making, a huge dysfunctional and sinful behavior pattern the nation is continuing wallow in.

How good is the Lord! First of all He allows Israel to choose, even when He knows their choice is wrong! That’s freedom! God respects our freedom of choice, as He had in the garden and does all the way down to today. If we are intent on doing something wrong or stupid, God stands aside and allows us to go our way.

But not without a warning!

Samuel told all the words of the LORD to the people who were asking him for a king. He said, “This is what the king who will reign over you will do: He will take your sons and make them serve with his chariots and horses, and they will run in front of his chariots. Some he will assign to be commanders of thousands and commanders of fifties, and others to plow his ground and reap his harvest, and still others to make weapons of war and equipment for his chariots. He will take your daughters to be perfumers and cooks and bakers. He will take the best of your fields and vineyards and olive groves and give them to his attendants. He will take a tenth of your grain and of your vintage and give it to his officials and attendants. Your menservants and maidservants and the best of your cattle and donkeys he will take for his own use. He will take a tenth of your flocks, and you yourselves will become his slaves. When that day comes, you will cry out for relief from the king you have chosen, and the LORD will not answer you in that day.” 1 Samuel 8:10-18 (NIV)

What a stern warning, about the only thing left out is for them to look out for an income tax!! Seriously though, God clearly sets out the future for them, and at the end of His warning tells them He won’t enable their sinful behavior by bailing them out and rescuing them from the consequences of their choices.

How did they react to this chilling warning? But the people refused to listen to Samuel. “No!” they said. “We want a king over us. Then we will be like all the other nations, with a king to lead us and to go out before us and fight our battles.” When Samuel heard all that the people said, he repeated it before the LORD. The LORD answered, “Listen to them and give them a king.” Then Samuel said to the men of Israel, “Everyone go back to his town.” 1 Samuel 8:19-22 (NIV)

They ignored it and stubbornly demanded their own way. You can see what they really wanted, to be just like all the other nations, as if that meant anything! You can also see the power of our sinful nature to blind us to the facts when they say they want a King who can “fight our battles.” Soon they would find out that the King goes out in front alright, and then sends them and their sons into battle while he stayed safely behind if he wanted too.

As always in God’s economy once they had been warned and insisted on continuing anyway, He allows them to have what they want. With one of the results being a loss of freedom for everyone.

So there you have it, another example of our fears, insecurities and stupidity causing us to sell out our freedom, reject God, all in a vain attempt to look good and be just like everyone else!

The message is clear, if you want to be free in Christ, you aren’t going to be just like everyone else! That includes being just like whatever your church tradition considers “a good little Christian” to be too.

Real Spiritual Freedom sets us down the road less traveled and sets us apart from most of those around us. If you aren’t willing to pay that price, you can’t be free!

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Episode 146

146 Disciple Up

The Supremacy Of The Son, Col. 1: 15-23

By Louie Marsh, 2-12-2020

 

Intro. To help us understand vs. 15-20 underline the words ALL & EVERYTHING and then underline what they are connected to and you’ll find the following –

1) Firstborn of ALL creation (15)

2) He created ALL things (16)

3) He is before ALL things (17)

4) ALL things hold together in Him  17

5) He is supreme in ALL things (18)

6) ALL of the fulness is in Him (19)

7) He has reconciled ALL things to Him (20).

 

This passage is a hymn to the Son & shows us just how great He is.  Compare this to man-made gods like you find in the Iliad.  They are big men – Christ is the eternal God!

 

  1. I) WHO HE IS (vs. 15)

 

15  He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. Colossians 1:15 (ESV)

 

  1. A) The Image of God

1, What does God look like?  John 14:8-9

 

8  Philip said to him, “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9  Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you so long, and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? John 14:8-9 (ESV)

 

2, Christ will make us into this Image  Eph. 4:23-24

 

23  and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, 24  and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Ephesians 4:23-24 (ESV)

 

  1. B) Firstborn over all creation

1, What this does NOT mean!

a, that God first made Jesus & then Jesus made everything else

b, this is J.W. doctrine which they stole from Arianism.

 

2, What it DOES mean.

a, Firstborn (15) NOT first created

 

16  For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:16-17 (ESV)

 

b, Vs. 16 says He created ALL things therefore He can’t be a created being Himself.

c, Vs. 17 He is BEFORE ALL things, therefore He can’t be a thing.

1, A thing = a created object, living or otherwise.

 

3, Firstborn over all creation!

a, How can Paul write that since we KNOW Jesus wasn’t the first person ever raised from the dead?

b, because the term “firstborn” doesn’t always mean “first one born”

c, The term usually means “preeminent” and is used that way in ancient lit. This is because the firstborn son had right of succession (unless crippled then next son was called “firstborn”).

51  Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh. “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house.” 52  The name of the second he called Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.” Genesis 41:51-52 (ESV)

 

9  With weeping they shall come, and with pleas for mercy I will lead them back, I will make them walk by brooks of water, in a straight path in which they shall not stumble, for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn. Jeremiah 31:9 (ESV)

 

4, This passage is telling us that Jesus of Nazareth is the uncreated, eternal, self-sustaining God!

 

  1. II) WHAT HIS UNIVERSAL STANDING IS (vs. 16-20)
  2. Relating to Creation (vs. 16-17)

 

16  For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. Colossians 1:16-17 (ESV)

 

1, He created the EVERYTHING

a, the physical universe, the spiritual universe (angels, seraphim)

b, They were made for Him – He is their Lord by right of creation!

2, He sustains all things (17)

a, “hold together” is in the present tense

b, without His continuous sustaining activity everything would disintegrate.

 

  1. B) Relating to Redemption (vs. 18-20)

 

18  And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19  For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20  and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. Colossians 1:18-20 (ESV)

 

1, He is Lord of the church.

a, it’s head – director – as our head directs our body

b, it’s beginning – the source of the body’s life

c, it’s pathfinder – the 1st one to be raised to an incorruptible state, He shows us the way to our eternal state in heaven.

2, He contains the Fulness (19)

a, the word “God” or “Father” in vs. 19 isn’t in the Gk. text, it’s placed there by translators to help us understand what Paul is saying.

b, Lit. Trans. = “in Him all the fulness was pleased to dwell”

c, What?  OT help.  24  Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the LORD. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the LORD. Jeremiah 23:24 (ESV) OT teaches that God fills the universe, the word “pleased” is used of God’s pleasure.

d, SO Christ was the place or the one in Whom God, in all His fulness was pleased to dwell.  And ALL His attributes are perfectly displayed in Him.  This is permanent –

 

9  For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, Colossians 2:9 (ESV)

3, He has reconciled ALL things to Himself (vs. 20)

a, How? By dying a bloody violent death on the Cross

b, Who was reconciled?  US – if we accept the free gift that He bought with His life.

c, Not just people – ALL things!

19  For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21  that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22  For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. Romans 8:19-22 (ESV)

d, Romans 8:19-22, teaches that Christ has drawn all of creation back to God.  When He returns all creation will be restored.

e, So now all things are obligated twice over.  Once by right of Creation and twice by Redemption.

 

III) WHAT ALL THIS MEANS TO US  (vs. 21-23)

 

20  If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21  “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22  (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23  These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh. Colossians 2:20-23 (ESV)

 

Avoid the appearance that lacks reality.

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Episode 145

Disciple Up # 145
Two Kinds of People
By Louie Marsh, 2-5-2020

I’ve read a lot of articles, jokes, etc that start with the line, “There are two kinds of people…” Today I’m adding my own ideas to this mix, whether it’s wanted, needed and helpful or not!

 

Based on my 52 years of experience, I think that there are two kinds of people in the world, those who are introspective and those who aren’t.

 

These two kinds of people aren’t easy to tell apart at first, and they get along well most of the time. But they look at the world, and especially themselves, in very different ways.

 

The non-introspective person tends to slide through life dealing with whatever comes his or her way without wondering too much about what it all means, and why they do what they do. You rarely find them wondering about their motives, and when they do they tend to quickly come up with an answer – often humorous – that pushes those thoughts away so they don’t have to bother with them anymore.

 

When you talk to people like this you often hear them say that they go through life as smoothly as possible, and they don’t like being put in a position of trying to figure out why they do what they do or think or feel they way they do. They tend to dodge as much of that as they can, and if asked why often reply, “All that stuff’s just a waste of time!”

 

They want to move on, get the job done, or just enjoy the moment, laugh and have fun, or just watch TV. What you see is what you get could be their life slogan or goal. They don’t want to sweat what they see as “the small stuff” of their personal motives, feelings, doubts, etc. In fact, these kinds of people will often tell you they never doubt – or at least do so very rarely.

 

Strong, solid and reliable, they are usually great people to work with and can be a lot of fun. They are not the kind of people who are going to give you a long, detailed conversation or debate about philosophical or theological or – God Forbid! – psychological issues!

 

This of course frustrates the second kind of person to no end – which is why I suppose introspectives tend to marry non-introspectives.

 

The second kind of person is the Introspective. This kind of person approaches life and self from the polar opposite position of the non-introspective. He or she is constantly asking a lot of questions, and their interior dialogue tends to be filled with a lot of questions like:

 

Why did I do that?

 

What does that mean?

 

How do I know that’s true or false?

 

Am I really fulfilling God’s plan for my life – and what the heck is it anyway?

 

I could go on but you get the idea.

 

This kind of person not only wants to deal all these personal issues and more besides, they need too! You could even say they have too. To not pursue these questions would ultimately result in total, screaming insanity!

 

Introspectives face the temptation of thinking they are deeper than non introspectives, though whether or not they are is actually an open question. They certainly spend more time thinking about things, but that opens them up to becoming overly introspective, and far too subjective.

 

Let me close this post with a question and some hints at where I might be going with it.

 

I’d like to know which one of these you think you are – let me know in the comments! I’ll tell you where I see myself in all this – although if you know me you already know this I’m sure – in my next post.

 

Some of the questions I want to explore in later posts on this topic include but are not limited to:

 

Why the difference?

 

How does this affect our spirituality? Is it easer for one type to grow spiritually than another?

 

Do these differences make any difference in the end?

 

Is it better to be introspective or non introspective?

 

Is there anything you can do about it?

 

To start with let me set the record straight and say that I am definitely in the Introspective category, as if you couldn’t tell. If you know me you probably know that, and if you don’t you probably guessed that anyway. After all if I was an introspective I wouldn’t be asking these kinds of questions in the first place!

 

I’ve been this way as long as I can remember. Early on I was an odd mixture of skeptical and naïve. I would tend to believe what I was told if the person doing the telling seemed nice and sincere. On the other hand I also found myself asking questions that other kids didn’t seem to be asking. I got into a lot of trouble that way!

 

By the time I was in High School two things happened. One – I became a Christian. Two – my faith clashed head on with what I had been taught about the world, and the culture at large which was in the throes of rapid change.

 

As a result I plagued the Minister of my church, and my poor long suffering Youth Group Sponsors with tons of questions, doubts, arguments, etc. I was a very sincere and usually polite, teenaged pain in the neck!

 

The main battlefields for me at that time were evolution and the war in Vietnam. I was a believer in the former and an opponent of the latter. I fought this two front war for pretty much my entire High School career.

 

In spite of all that, and a bad recommendation from a leader in my church, I went off to Bible College because I had “dedicated my life to full time Christian Service,” as we said back then.

 

It was sometime in college or shortly thereafter that I found this passage of Scripture that finally let me know that I wasn’t alone and I wasn’t a bad Christian for constantly feeling the need to question things.

 

“It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for him who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:22-24 (NIV)

 

I felt then, and still do, the man’s response to Jesus perfectly captures how I often feel. I believe alright – but at the same time I’m skeptical!  This is actually a beautiful description of a word that’s mostly misunderstood these days. Thanks largely to so called “faith teachers” who don’t understand what faith actually is!

 

That word is doubt.

 

You hear these TV preachers constantly railing against, “doubt and unbelief.” By tying these two things together they accomplish a couple of things. They bind people to them and their teaching as the only way to escape doubt and unbelief. They also guarantee that their coffers will be replenished by the faithful seeking a stronger faith.

 

Finally – they completely misrepresent what the word doubt actually means!  The word doubt in Greek and English for that matter – means to be suspended between two things. It is NOT the opposite of faith – unbelief is! Doubt is not being sure either way.

 

For example faith is sure God exists, unbelief is sure He doesn’t, doubt isn’t sure either way.

 

Introspective people have a lot of doubt. Which sounds really bad I know. But actually it doesn’t have to be a negative force in your life at all. In my life it has impelled me to investigate the issue at hand. It’s driven me to find answers and not quit until I’m really satisfied deep down inside.

 

This then illustrates the advantages and disadvantages of being introspective. On the one hand you suffer a lot of uncertainty, on the other hand you face things others don’t and often go a lot deeper into things than a non-introspective person would.

 

But to have that outcome you have to handle your doubt and introspective tendencies correctly. If you don’t respond appropriately to your doubts you can end up feeling condemned and defeated by all your questions.

 

And if you don’t strike a careful balance with your introspective tendencies you’ll end up completely self-absorbed – and that is a spiritual disaster!

 

The way you have to react is to realize a doubt or question is an opportunity to grow and find new answers for yourself. It’s not an attack on God or His Word, it’s a question for my Father. But now I have to get out of myself – into His Word, history, and whatever else is necessary to find the answers I need.

 

Finding the answers, I fortify my faith, and then move forward in service to God and others. I do not sit around and stare at my navel all day long!

 

So I believe being an introspective person can be a real benefit to your spiritual growth and life, it sure has been for me!

 

So far I’ve looked at some of the advantages and disadvantages of being introspective. Of course you’d expect me to major on the advantages of being introspective since that’s the type of person I am right?

 

Okay, so let’s look at a disadvantage (or “challenge” for the PC crowd! 😉 ). Jesus laid down a bedrock condition for discipleship, one that is tough for everyone.

 

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. Matthew 16:24 (NIV)

 

Self denial is an absolute condition for following Christ. But it didn’t start with Him. If you look in the Old Testament you’ll find Yahweh calling upon the Israelites to deny themselves and obey His Law too.  Look at this fascinating passage.

 

The LORD said to Moses, “The tenth day of this seventh month is the Day of Atonement. Hold a sacred assembly and deny yourselves, and present an offering made to the LORD by fire. Do no work on that day, because it is the Day of Atonement, when atonement is made for you before the LORD your God. Anyone who does not deny himself on that day must be cut off from his people. I will destroy from among his people anyone who does any work on that day. You shall do no work at all. This is to be a lasting ordinance for the generations to come, wherever you live. It is a sabbath of rest for you, and you must deny yourselves. From the evening of the ninth day of the month until the following evening you are to observe your sabbath.” Leviticus 23:26-32 (NIV)

 

Surprised? I was when I found it in good old WORDsearch!  Here what Keil & Delitzsch have to say about it.

 

On the tenth day of the seventh month the day of atonement was to be observed by a holy meeting, by fasting from the evening of the ninth till the evening of the tenth, by resting from all work on pain of death, and with sacrifices, of which the great expiatory sacrifice peculiar to this day had already been appointed in ch. 16, and the general festal sacrifices are described in Num 29:8-11. (For fuller particulars, see at ch. 16.) By the restrictive ‏אַךְ‎, the observance of the day of atonement is represented a priori as a peculiar one. The ‏אַךְ‎ refers less to “the tenth day,” than to the leading directions respecting this feast: “only on the tenth of this seventh month…there shall be a holy meeting to you, and ye shall afflict your souls,” etc.—Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament

 

So God is calling upon all of Israel to deny themselves by fasting and not working as they celebrate Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement.  Fasting is an obvious sacrifice to all us junk food eating Americans – but not working?

 

I know a lot of people who love not working! Love it that is until they discover they aren’t going to be paid!  Sorry to tell you but God isn’t offering any paid leave of absence to worship Him! It’s a sacrifice you make to please Him! In those days of subsistence farming, you can imagine that it really was quite a sacrifice.

 

One of the problems here for us Introspectives is that it’s very, very, very – and I mean very! – hard for us to stop thinking about ourselves long enough to deny ourselves. Why sometimes we positively fall in love with how complicated, devious, and complex we are! Christian Introspectives give thanks to God alright – and then plunge right back into themselves!

 

Even when I’m trying to be denying I find myself pondering the mysteries of how much this self denial is costing me, or how it’s making me feel, etc.  It’s as easy as sweating on a hot June day in Parker for me to stop thinking about God and starting thinking about my favorite subject – that’s right – ME!!

 

Now do you see the problem?

 

If only Christ had called me to analyze myself as I follow Him, then I’d be smack dab in the center of the Divine Will! Sadly such is not the case!

 

So I’m stuck with trying to deny myself and not obsess about it as I do it! It’s like trying to write when that little Editor in your mind keeps yelling at you. Often you have to shut him up and turn him off to get anything done. Same here really.

 

This is a huge problem for us Introspectives, and it doesn’t stop here either. Since worship is essentially forgetting about myself and expressing love for God, I face huge temptation here as well. All the way from analyzing the quality of the music or sermon, to losing focus on what’s happening in the service to think about how this makes ME feel, to wishing they’d hurry up because my rear end is sore, it’s a struggle.

 

Score one for the Non-Introspectives?

 

Well yes, kind of. Of course there is another side to this issue (you just knew that was coming didn’t you? Come on – admit it!).

 

To deny myself, to carry my cross and die to myself, bespeaks a certain level knowledge of myself doesn’t it? After all I can’t deny or give up something that I don’t know I have or am. So even here which ever kind of person you are brings with it challenges.

 

And that I suppose is the real point to all this. Like being outgoing or shy, being self aware and focused or not isn’t a matter of better or worse, it’s just the way you are!

 

Either one can and will be used by God to bless you, those around you and bring glory to His Name. And either one can be used by the devil or by yourself to trip you up!

 

It’s all a part of being a fallen human being in a fallen world!

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Episode 144

Disciple Up #144
Death with Dignity?
By Louie Marsh, 1-29-2020

Over the course of my ministry I’ve seen more than a few people die. I remember years ago watching a friend of mine pass and that’s when I first began to ponder the phrase, “Death with Dignity.” I want to make clear that the hospice workers were great! The place was clean, very nice and had everything someone whose terminal could need.

I’ve had several people in my church who do hospice work, and I admire them very much. They do something that most people, including myself, don’t want to do and probably wouldn’t be very good at. And hospice was invaluable to my family during my Father’s and Mother’s passing as well.

God bless them for providing this wonderful and loving service to the community and to those who have such a great need for it.

Years ago I visited a friend who was in a hospice facility in the Phoenix area and would die soon. What struck me as I watched my friend lying there, obviously in the last stages of life, was a phrase that I’ve heard a lot of in the last several years. It’s a phrase that sounds good, but in that moment I felt as though I seeing through it.

The phrase is, “death with dignity.”

I didn’t see any dignity in that room, or the other rooms I passed by that day. I saw someone who was emaciated, alone, and very sad looking, slowly passing his final hours on this earth. Someone who probably wasn’t even aware he was there, much less aware of me.

In spite of that I talked to him and touched him and read Scripture to him and prayed for him. But in all of that I saw no dignity.

I thought about that all weekend and have continued to ponder it. You hear that term used a lot from people who approach life from what I believe is a non-biblical perspective. They tell us that death is just a part of life, it’s a natural close to the cycle of life that we are all part of, and therefore is beautiful when it can be done peacefully and without much pain or discomfort.

Many Christians buy into that, I mean it sounds good and noble and can be comforting if you accept the premise of the statement – that death is a natural part of life.

I don’t accept that premise – and neither does the Bible.

For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in his own turn: Christ, the first fruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 1 Corinthians 15:22-26 (NIV)

Paul tells us here that while death became the order of the day after Adam and Eve fell – it wasn’t intended to be that way from the beginning. That’s why I believe all human cultures have rebelled against death. They either fear it or try and deny it and all have some form of belief in an afterlife because human beings were not made to die, but to live forever with their Maker.

He also shows us that death is an enemy! It’s not a friend; it’s not a natural end of the life cycle and therefore a wonderful, beautiful thing. Its evil, it’s destructive and painful and was not in God’s plan for the ages. Which is why in the end, death will be destroyed. It’s such a great enemy of God that it will be the last one to fall before Him, but fall it will!

But when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting? The sting of death is sin; and the power of sin is the law: but thanks be to God, who giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians 15:54-57 (ASV)

You see sin and death both came into the world at the same time, as part of God’s curse upon mankind and the universe we live in after the fall. As Paul writes, You know the story of how Adam landed us in the dilemma we’re in—first sin, then death, and no one exempt from either sin or death. Romans 5:12 (MSG)

So sin and death are partners in this fallen world we live in as we see in Romans. For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 6:23 (NIV)

But God has overcome both of these evil twins through the death, burial and resurrection of Christ from the grave! It is in Him and through Him that we find the victory we need over these two things.

So then the Christian approach to physical death is that we are only temporarily submitting to a remnant of the fall. For we shall rise again and live again just as our Lord Jesus has already done.

Jesus goes even further than that in John’s gospel when He tells us that in a real sense believers in Him cannot die at all!

But here is the bread that comes down from heaven, which a man may eat and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” John 6:50-51 (NIV)

To eat the living bread means to accept Christ into our lives and become united with him. We are united with Christ in two ways: (1) by believing in his death (the sacrifice of his flesh) and resurrection and (2) by devoting ourselves each day to living as he requires, depending on his teaching for guidance, and trusting in the Holy Spirit for power. Just as the Jews depended on bread for daily strength and relished it as a main part of their diet, so we should depend on and desire the living Christ in our daily lives.—Life Application Concise New Testament Commentary

Since the word death’s basic meaning in Greek is separation you can begin to understand that we actually cannot die in Christ because death cannot separate us from Him, and in Him we are spiritually linked to all believers, living and dead!

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written: “For your sake we face death all day long; we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Romans 8:35-39 (NIV)

So in Christ death is conquered once and for all, and even though our bodies will die short of the Lord’s return, we do not and cannot die because of Christ’s life in us! Though His life and the Holy Spirit, we are linked together as one Body of Christ!

Thoughts on Death with Dignity.

  • Believers aren’t as concerned with dignity as we are with serving God and others
  • Dignity comes from within not without
  • To die well is the ultimate way to die with dignity
  • You have to live well to die well, and you have to live right up to the last second for Jesus. If you do then you’ve died well, and you’ve died with dignity.

Please Get In Touch!

Email – louie@discipleup.org

 


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Episode 143

Disciple Up # 143
The Most Oppressive Countries for Christians
By Louie Marsh, 1-22-2020

Christianity Today Article: https://www.christianitytoday.com/news/2020/january/top-christian-persecution-open-doors-2020-world-watch-list.html

Disciple Up YouTube Page where the video is available: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCpLH-5-lQzRDF2RtGe89W6A

Direct Link to the YouTube Video – https://youtu.be/3q89dTMp9iw

Please Get In Touch!

Email – louie@discipleup.org

 


Check out the Disciple Up Facebook page:

My books –