Meditating on the Word
“In His law he meditates day and night” Psalm 1:2
“Meditating on the Word,” edited by Wayne Burger, is a work of the church of Christ, which meets at 11873 Springs Rd. Unit #250, Conifer, CO 80433. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org – Website: coniferchurchofchrist.com
Vol. 14 No. 10 August 24, 2014
Some biblical subjects are so common-place – so accepted by the religious world, and have been around so long that we have a hard time distinguishing what God teaches about that subject from what men teach about that subject. From time to time we need to go back to the Bible and refresh our understanding of that subject.
“The Church” is one of those subjects. Churches are everywhere; accepted by nearly everyone; practice all kinds of different doctrines, and yet all claim to belong to God. Unless we regularly go back to the Bible it is easy to begin to believe a mixture of what God says and what man says about the church. In this series of articles, I want to go back to the Bible and refresh our memory as to what God says about the church.
The theme of the book of Ephesians is “the church.” Paul said that the plans about the church were “in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ our Lord” Ephesians 3:11. The plan and purpose of the church was in the mind of God from before time on earth began. Unfortunately, some teach that the church was something God had to establish as a substitute for a physical kingdom because the Jews rejected Jesus as the Messiah. No, everything that happened to Christ and everything that happened to bring about the church, was in the mind of God before the world was created. On the day the church was established Peter said that the things that had happened to Christ which brought about the church was “by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God” Acts 2:23. Jesus never intended to establish a physical kingdom on earth. He did intend, and did establish, a spiritual kingdom on earth which is the church (John 18:36; Matthew 16:18-19).
Foretold by Prophets
About 800 years before the birth of Christ Joel foretold the outpouring of the Holy Spirit which was to initiate the beginning of the church (Joel 2:28-32). We know that Joel had this in mind because when the apostles were baptized in the Holy Spirit on the first Pentecost after Christ’s resurrection – the day the church was established, Peter said that this was in fulfillment of Joel’s prophecy (Acts 2:16-21).
About 700 years before the birth of Christ Isaiah said, “Now it will come about that in the last days the mountain of the house of the Lord will be established as the chief of the mountains, and will be raised above the hills; and all the nations will stream to it. And many peoples will come and say, ‘Come, let us go up to the mountain of the Lord, to the house of the God of Jacob; that he may teach us concerning His ways and that we may walk in His paths.’ For the law will go forth from Zion and the word of the Lord from Jerusalem” Isaiah 2:2-3. Here we learn: (1) The “Mountain of the house of the Lord” (another term for the church, I Timothy 3:15 KJV) was to be established; (2) It was to be established in “the last days,” (a phrase designating the Christian Age, Acts 2:16-17; Hebrews 1:1-2); (3) All nations (Jews and Gentiles) would enter this house of the Lord; (4) It would begin in Jerusalem.
About 600 years before the birth of Christ Daniel revealed through a dream that Nebuchadnezzar had, that the kingdom would be established during the time the Romans were ruling the world. Nebuchadnezzar’s dream was a large statue made of four kinds of metals, (gold, silver, bronze, and iron), which represented four world empires (Daniel 2:30). In other dreams recorded in Daniel which teach the same message, we learn which world empire each metal represents. They were: (1) Babylon, Daniel 2:38; (2) Medo-Persian, Daniel 8:20; (3) Greek, Daniel 8:21). Daniel doesn’t clearly say that the fourth was the Roman, but history shows us that the Roman Empire followed the Greek Empire.
In Nebuchadnezzar’s dream he also saw a little stone cut out of the mountain without hands (indicating that it was of divine origin – not human origin) and that it struck the image at the iron legs and feet. Daniel said, “In the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom which will never be destroyed” (Daniel 2:44). Thus, God’s kingdom was going to be established during the time the Romans were ruling the world.
He said that this little stone would become a great mountain and fill the whole earth as it consumed parts of all these other kingdoms (Daniel 2:35, 44-45). Notice that this kingdom is here called “a great mountain” (Daniel 2:35) which is the same language that is used by Isaiah, thus they are talking about the same institution – the church.
Fulfillment Recorded in Acts 2
It is interesting that the prophecies in Joel 2, Isaiah 2, and Daniel 2 are all fulfilled in Acts 2. This is the record of the establishment of the God’s kingdom (the church) in 30 AD. Note the details of the fulfillment: (1) It was during the time the Romans were ruling the world, (2) It was the last days (Acts 2:16-17), (3) It was in the city of Jerusalem (Acts 2:5ff), (3) The Holy Spirit was poured out, and (4) Both Jews and Gentiles would become part of it (Acts 2:39 – “far off” are Gentiles). (Continued next week)
To the church in Conifer, CO, you know that Corey presented an outstanding lesson last week in which he dealt with “bitterness.” Recently, Neal Pollard also had an excellent article about “bitterness.” I have shared it with you below. Wayne Burger
“Where was God when my child was killed by a drunk driver?” “I’ll never forgive brother Jones for that time he… He’s a big hypocrite!” “It’s not fair what they did to me. I hope they get theirs!” Persons raising clenched fists or pointed fingers and growling through gritting teeth epitomize that common, though unattractive, display of bitterness. Sadly, bitterness is not a disease confined to the alien sinner. Christians in crisis, dejected elders and preachers, and offended brethren are not immune to that sourness of spirit.
What, exactly, is BITTERNESS? Eadie says, It is a figurative term denoting that fretted and irritable state of mind that keeps a man in perpetual animosity – that inclines him to harsh and uncharitable opinions of men and things – that makes him sour, crabby and repulsive in his general demeanor – that brings a scowl over his face and infuses venom into the words of his tongue (Rienecker, 534).
In motion, bitterness is a deadly snake. In result, it stings both predator and prey. In fruit, it is destructive. In category, it is sin! Ephesians 4:31, in part, reads, “Let all bitterness … be put away from you…” One source says of bitterness in this verse, “Bitterness is the opposite not only of sweetness but of kindness. It is the spite that harbors resentment and keeps a score of wrongs. Aristotle defined those who display it as ‘hard to be reconciled'” (The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, 11:65).
Paul says such an attitude must be destroyed. It is to be replaced by the sweet, savory, Christian characteristics like kindness, tenderheartedness and forgiveness (Eph. 4:32). If ever one had cause to be bitter, surely the crucified Lord did. But he offered a prayer asking for the Father to forgive the spike-driving and ridicule-hurling sinners who placed him in such an agonizing position (Luke 23:34).
How can we overcome bitterness? First, by obeying God’s Word. Explicitly, New Testament writers warn Christians against bitter thoughts and behavior (Col. 3:19; Heb. 12:15; Rom. 3:14). Second, by imitating the forgiving attitude of Jesus (Eph. 1:7). Third, by crowding out angry and festering thoughts, replacing them with praiseworthy and virtuous thoughts (cf. Phi. 4:8). Fourth, by praying for those against whom you feel bitter (cf. Mat. 5:44).
Christians must not willfully harbor feelings of anger and resentment. Such produces hearts easily offended and easily provoked (cf. 1 Cor. 13:5). Bitterness is defeated by a perpetually cheerful and thankful heart. Everyone has problems. Yet, as John Henry Miller once said, “Circumstances and situations do color life, but you have been given the mind to choose what the color shall be.” As Paul wrote, “Let all bitterness be put away from you.”
A Fresh Start
Do you ever wake up and start your morning with yesterday’s troubles? I know I do. I know that I shouldn’t. There is nothing I can do today to change yesterday. Don’t start your day with broken pieces of yesterday. Every day is a fresh start. Each day is a new beginning. Every morning we wake up is the first day of our new life. Always strive to be better than you were yesterday and worse today than you will be tomorrow. Remember, no matter what is going on in your life you have a God that loves you and cares for you. He tells you not to worry in Matthew 6:25. “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life….” If you are in the mountains today, take a look outside at the large amounts of snow and thank God for the beauty of the day. No matter where you are this morning go outside, take a breath, look up, and let your worries go to God!! Have a great day!