The Cross as a Symbol

Cross and sunset

It is common to see the image of a cross being used as a symbol – a symbol of “Christianity,” an image in art and jewelry, and so on. However, that is not what we will be discussing here. A Christian does not need a cross around his neck, nor does a church need a cross on its building. Instead, we will be talking about “the word of the cross” (1 Corinthians 1:18) – the message of the gospel.

In the gospel, the cross is shown as a symbol representing some fundamental concepts. In following Christ, we are to take up our cross (Luke 9:23), making the same traits which are symbolized by the cross manifested in our lives.

So what does the cross symbolize?Continue Reading

Take Courage in the Face of Tribulation

Jesus with His Disciples

Behold, an hour is coming, and has already come, for you to be scattered, each to his own home, and to leave Me alone; and yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me. These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:32-33).

On this occasion, Jesus was talking with His apostles shortly before His death. He warned them that they would be scattered, which would happen when He was arrested (Matthew 26:56). However, despite the fact that these men would leave Him, Jesus knew that the Father would not leave Him so that He was “not alone.

Jesus encouraged them with the fact that He had “overcome the world.” It is important to note that this was said prior to the crucifixion and resurrection. Yet these events were so certain, Jesus could speak of them as though they had already happened. They were still in the future, yet they were facts. He told them this to give them the courage to endure the trials they would face (cf. John 16:2).

The Lord’s disciples continue to face tribulation even today. Paul encouraged the brethren on his first preaching tour “to continue in the faith, and saying, ‘Through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God’” (Acts 14:22). We suffer in this life on account of persecution, sin, hardship, sickness, and more. Yet we can “take courage” just as the apostles were told to do.

So how can we “take courage” in the face of tribulation? Jesus made three points in our text – reasons why His disciples can take courage.Continue Reading

What If Jesus Was Not Raised from the Dead?

Empty Tomb

Photo by Ferrell Jenkins

The “Christian” world uses the Easter holiday to remember the resurrection of Jesus from the dead. It is certainly good to remember the resurrection. After all, it is part of the foundation of the gospel (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Even so, the observance of “Easter” as a religious holy day is nowhere authorized in the Bible.

However, while people’s minds are turned to the resurrection during this time of year, we often find opportunities to discuss this important event. So in this article, I want us to consider the following question: What if Jesus was not raised from the dead? Paul gave an answer to this in his first letter to Corinth:

And if Christ has not been raised, then our preaching is vain, your faith also is vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14).

Without Jesus’ resurrection, our faith would be in vain. But why? Let us notice six reasons for this.Continue Reading

Why Would Anyone Be a Christian?

Sitting and Looking at SunsetIn the previous article, we discussed the demands of discipleship. We saw that in order to be one of Jesus’ disciples, we must be willing to surrender earthly homes and family relationships and make a lifelong commitment to Him. Many are unwilling to do this. Others are not only unwilling, but they also do not understand why anyone would do this.

The fact that people would question the reasonableness of being a Christian is understandable. In fact, the apostle Paul wrote, “If we have hoped in Christ in this life only, we are of all men most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19). For one who is only looking at things as they pertain to life here on the earth, it does not make sense for anyone to be a disciple of Christ.

Yet there certainly are reasons for being a disciple despite the demanding nature of that life. In this article, we are going to consider four reasons why we are Christians and why we believe others should be as well.Continue Reading

The Demands of Discipleship

Plowing

We have been called to be disciples of Jesus, yet this is not an easy life. Discipleship is demanding. There are certain things required of us and not everyone will be willing to do what is necessary to be a disciple. In the following passage, Jesus encountered three prospective disciples:

As they were going along the road, someone said to Him, ‘I will follow You wherever You go.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘The foxes have holes and the birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head.

And He said to another, ‘Follow Me.’ But he said, ‘Lord, permit me first to go and bury my father.’ But He said to him, ‘Allow the dead to bury their own dead; but as for you, go and proclaim everywhere the kingdom of God.’

Another also said, ‘I will follow You, Lord; but first permit me to say good-bye to those at home.’ But Jesus said to him, ‘No one, after putting his hand to the plow and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God’” (Luke 9:57-62).

In Jesus’ responses to these individuals, He showed just how demanding it is to be one of His disciples. Let us consider what He said and how it applies to us today.Continue Reading

Remembering Jesus’ Words

Pointing at Bible

On the first day of the week following Jesus’ crucifixion, a group of women came to the tomb and discovered it to be empty (Luke 23:55-24:3). Instead of finding the body of Jesus, they saw two angels who explained why Jesus was not there:

Why do you seek the living One among the dead? He is not here, but He has risen. Remember how He spoke to you while He was still in Galilee, saying that the Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men, and be crucified, and the third day rise again” (Luke 24:5-7).

At this point, Luke indicated that they “remembered His words” (Luke 24:8). After that, they went and told others (Luke 24:9). In other words, remembering what Jesus had said led them to action.

In this article, we are going to discuss why we are to remember Jesus’ words, how to do this, and what we should do with His words once we get to the point of remembering them.Continue Reading

Obedient to That Form of Teaching

Romans 6:17

Romans 6 is a critical chapter in the New Testament. It discusses the difference between a Christian and a non-Christian. It concisely explains why this difference exists and what happened in the life of a Christian to bring about this difference. This chapter can be summarized in the following two verses:

But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness” (Romans 6:17-18).

Paul was writing to Christians in Rome. Previously, they were “slaves of sin.” But at this time, they were “slaves of righteousness.” How did this change occur? They “became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which [they] were committed.

To better understand what Paul was discussing, let us do a brief overview of this chapter.Continue Reading