Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Basic Presentation of the Gospel

  • Introduction:
         -The following Scripture quotation was taken from the New International Version (N.I.V.) and  provides us with a concise definition of what the gospel is. In a nutshell, we are saved by believing in the death, burial, and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ.

  • The Resurrection of Christ:
         -"1 Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, that he was buried,that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, and that he appeared to Cephas, and then to the Twelve. After that, he appeared to more than five hundred of the brothers and sisters at the same time, most of whom are still living, though some have fallen asleep. Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles, and last of all he appeared to me also, as to one abnormally born." (1 Corinthians 15:1-8)

What Is Love?

The purpose of this brief reflection paper is to address the question of what constitutes true love. On what basis or by what standard can one claim to have authentic love? Why is Love even significant? Love is what enables us to have a dedicated, compassionate, attraction to another person. It is the foundation upon which all relationships stand. This innate desire is completely different from a mere instinct or physiological obsession because it is formulated by our reason and free will. Love is therefore a pillar which keeps the gears of this world turning in a peaceful manner.

Just imagine what the world would be like if the concept of love was purely a product of our vain imaginations. It is not possible to care about anything without love, for it is the innate desire of the human heart to self-sacrifice for the sake of other people. Love is kind. Love is caring. Love is gentle. Love is compassionate. All these concepts are interrelated, which means that they function together in perfect harmony. In fact, the existence of love presupposes the existence of care, and all other forms of virtue. In contrast, the worldview of malice hinders the development of personal opinions, the demonstration of kindness, and demolishes our ability to evaluate things without showing partiality.  

The entire idea of an ultimate fulfillment in life would also become non-existent because compromise itself would be impossible. If people are unable to tolerate each other simply because of hatred, then life on earth would come to an unnecessary, abrupt termination because it would not be able to make any further progress. Love and hatred cannot co-exist because they are contrary notions. Furthermore, hatred brews other abominable states of heart such as being prideful and jealous. Without love, life would collapse like a line of dominoes. We cannot operate without love any more than a tree can survive without water or a vehicle can run without a motor.
                Hatred presents us with a rather hopeless, monotonous, and untenable perspective of the general aspects of life. On the basis of divine revelation and plain reason we can claim to know what love is. "Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud" (1 Corinthians 13:4).

The Lord's Day--Saturday or Sunday?

  • Introduction:

          -Although God instituted Saturday as the Sabbath during the Old Testament so that His people could relax from their physical labor and concentrate on worshiping Him (mandatory observance was required by the Jewish Law--Exodus 20:8-11), we see a shift in the New Testament to Sunday because Jesus Christ resurrected on that day (Mark 15:42-46; 16:9; Luke 23:54-24:3; John 19:42). Scripture passages indicating a transition of Saturday to Sunday as the Lord's day of worship would include Acts 20:7-12; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2; and Revelation 1:10.
  • An Interesting Observation:
          -The New Testament restates only nine of the Ten Commandments (Matthew 19:18; Romans 13:9)---worshiping God according to His Will covers the first three commandments (for the original listing, see Exodus 20:1-17). The Sabbath is the missing one. Why? Because Jesus Christ is the Lord of the Sabbath (Matthew 12:8), and He is our rest (Hebrews 4)!
  • Is it wrong to observe the Jewish Sabbath? Are we as Christians still obligated to observe Saturday?:
          -There is absolutely nothing wrong with Christians observing Saturday, the Jewish Sabbath. In fact, we have been given the special privilege of choosing which days that we wish to celebrate (Romans 14:1-12; Colossians 2:13-17). But we should be glorifying the Creator daily. We also need to avoid becoming a stumbling block to others who uphold different views (1 Corinthians 8:9). Therefore, it is wrong for professing Christian groups such as the Seventh-Day Adventists (who demand Saturday observance) and the Churches of Christ (who demand Sunday observance) to cast judgment on others.
  • What is the purpose of Sunday worship?:
           -The purpose of Sunday worship is to celebrate the Lord's finished work on the cross and His resurrection (1 Corinthians 11:26). Furthermore, Jesus instructed us to us bread and wine (communion "meal") as symbols to remember His broken body and shed  blood (Matthew 26:26-28; Luke 22:18-20; 1 Corinthians 11:23-25). It is not as if we observe a "Christian Sabbath", but rather, we set aside a day to especially worship Christ.
  • How often should we celebrate communion?:
          -The New Testament does not identify a specific number of times (or when) in which Christians are to partake of the communion meal (bread and wine/juice). However, notice how the Apostle Paul recorded a statement of Jesus in 1 Corinthians 11:25, which is as follows," Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of Me." We can infer from this Scripture text that we have been given some flexibility. Think about it! The frequency of participating in the communion meal is nowhere near as important as our intention or state of heart when we do this. We should observe the Lord's Supper often enough to make it a vital part of our ongoing worship services. To partake of the meal too frequently would be to reduce it to merely a ritual and to partake of it in too seldom of a manner would cause people to gradually forget the significance of Jesus' work.