A 70 year old man said, “I have seen in my lifetime the development of man’s inability to get alone with one another, person to person, group to group and even country to country.”
A 30 year old man, took the countryside and then the world by storm with His view on how this would be overcome.
He emphasized the importance of relationships both with God and man- Matt. 22:32-34.He placed the spiritual above the physical, giving heavenly treasure higher marks than earthly treasure. He told His followers they needed to turn their system on its head, and actually forgave and welcomed sinners to come to Him, the Savior. We see:
WE SEE THAT WITH JESUS IT IS ALL ABOUT PEOPLE- Matthew 5:21,22. 6 times He will say “...You have it said, But I Say unto You...” Matt. 5:21,22; 27,28; 31,32, 33-34, 38,39, 43,44. Each time it is about relationships not rules, and each time it corrects or protects people. In Matthew 5:21,22-, “You can kill a person in many ways”. Jesus says “Don’t be angry with your brother!” We need to know that anger, as used here, is from orge, a long-lived, nursed, consuming anger. The kind of anger that can cause stomach ulcers and death. There is another word which might be thought of as a fire in a hay stack, hot and furious but soon gone. Jesus is condemning this awful attitude of nursed anger against a brother or sister, and probably, against anyone who is one of God’s children.
Jesus warns against calling him or her by degrading names, like Raca= fool or More=empty headed. From the latter word we get our word moron!
This is DEATH BY WORDS! Words that race out our mouths reflecting an awful attitude that kills.
Do you ever practice this through unkind words, ulterior motives or gossiping with any of the members of this body? Just try to picture the ruination of the otherwise good reputation of those for whom Jesus died
NOW SEE THIS SERIOUSNESS OF THIS ACTION ACCENTED- “Therefore if you are presenting your offering at the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you leave your offering there before the altar and go; first be reconciled to your brother, and then come and present your offering.”- 23,24. Jesus knows this is the man’s God-worship. This sacrifice if a specially prepared offering that is dedicated to God. Yet, one more thing must precede that sacred sacrifice. The worshipper must go and find the brother who “has something against him,” make it right, then come and offer the gift.
The late William Barclay, says it like this:
If any sacrifice was to be valid, confession and restoration were involved. The picture which Jesus is painting is very vivid. The worshipper, of course, did not make his own sacrifice; he brought it to the priest who offered it on his behalf. The worshipper has entered the Temple; he has passed through its series of courts, the Court of the Gentiles, the Court of the Women, the Court of the Men. Beyond that lay the Court of the Priests into which the layman could not go. The worshipper is standing at the rail read to hand over his victim to the priest; his hands are on it to confess; and then he remembers is breach with his brother, the wrong done to his brother, if his sacrifice is to be valid, he must go back and mend that breach and undo that wrong, or nothing can happen.
Relationships come before religion!!!
In my own experience, I knew a brother in Christ who would refuse to take the emblems of the Lord’s Supper on certain occasions. He told me that during the week he had been unkind to one or more of his employees and just now, sitting in the presence of godly brothers and sisters, it struck him- he needs to make that right of his worship is vain.
My words, at first, were, “Everyone sins,” but that was too general a statement. In his heart this godly man felt like relationships must be maintained in order for him to faithfully worship his God.
FOR SOME THIS IS STARTLING NEWS. God is the God of peace and is not in need of anything we have to give him. He is interested in, no He demands peace among his children. See these verses: “Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.”- Hebrews 12:14
“Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always strive to do what is good for each other and for everyone else”- I Thessalonians 5:15
“If possible, so far as it depends on you, be at peace with all men.”-Romans 12:18.
We cannot come together hating one another and worship God effectively. That would be simply going through the motions motions!!! This would be an emphasis on religion and not on relationships that are vital.
Further to this point, it matters not if one is sitting in the seat of the one to be blamed or the on who is blaming. First fix the relationship, then proceed to the altar.
With regard to the worship part of this, there are several things we need to know about worship:
Worship involves sacrifice and sacrifice means giving one’s best and “with such sacrifices God is well pleased.”- Hebrews 13:15,16
Notice the upward and outward emphasis within the worship experience as seen in Ephesians 5:18-21. “Do not be drunk with wine which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody with your heart to the Lord; always giving thanks for all things in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God, even the Father; and be subject to one another in the fear of Christ.
Our worship is not exclusively Godward. The worshipper must be conscious of others in our midst when corporate worship is in the picture.
The Jesus Touch is truly seen in the relationship emphasis. Please read this old poem carefully:
The Touch Of The Master’s Hand
Twas battered, scarred and the auctioneer thought it hardly worth his while to waste his time on the old violin, but he held it up with a smile.
"What am I bid, good people", he cried, "Who starts the bidding for me?"
"One dollar, one dollar, Do I hear two?" "Two dollars, who makes it three?"
"Three dollars once, three dollars twice, going for three,"
But, No, From the room far back a gray bearded man came forward and picked up the bow, then wiping the dust from the old violin and tightening up the strings, He played a melody, pure and sweet as sweet as the angel sings.
The music ceased and the auctioneer with a voice that was quiet and low,
Said "What now am I bid for this old violin?" As he held it aloft with its' bow.
"One thousand, one thousand, Do I hear two?" “Two thousand, Who makes it three?" "Three thousand once, three thousand twice, Going and gone", said he.
The audience cheered, but some of them cried, "We just don't understand." "What changed its' worth?" Swift came the reply. "The Touch of the Master’s Hand."
And many a man with life out of tune all battered and bruised with hardship Is auctioned cheap to a thoughtless crowd much like that old violin.
A mess of pottage, a glass of wine, a game and he travels on. He is going once, he is going twice,
He is going and almost gone.
But the Master comes, And the foolish crowd never can quite understand, the worth of a soul and the change that is wrought By the Touch of the Masters' Hand.
- Myra Brooks Welch
Prelude. As you read this article I would like to think you will be moved by the openness of Jesus Christ, His willingness to be in the midst of sinners and saints alike, His love for all, His matter-of-fact rebuttal to these religious leaders, showing Himself to be heaven sent with a mission- to seek and save the lost!
The Calling of Levi (5:27-32)
Again, Jesus' attention turns to a social outcast, in this case Levi the tax collector. Luke has already discussed tax collectors when he described the ministry of John the Baptist (see 3:10-14). Jesus initiates relationships with outcasts, even though pious people in Israel challenge such associations (7:36-50; 15:1-2; 19:1-10). As the earlier account with Peter showed (5:1-11), Jesus calls sinners to righteousness and to share in mission with him. Jesus does not merely forgive sinners, he openly associates with them.
But why? Why does Jesus associate with sinners when so many righteous people do not want to have anything to do with them? Many people think one must choose absolute separation if one is to remain pure, but for Jesus this is a false choice. Jesus views people in terms of what God could make them into, rather than pigeonholing them into who they currently are. There is no compromise with holiness in his relationships with sinners, because one of the very characteristics of God's holiness is the way he reaches out in mercy to those in need (1:46-53). God graciously takes the sinner who is responsive to him and begins the work of transformation.
The story in this passage proceeds simply. Jesus observes the tax collector Levi at work and calls him to follow (9:23, 59; 18:22). Levi's response is total—he got up, left everything and followed him. The instantaneous and comprehensive nature of the decision to join Jesus shows both the reputation Jesus has and the quality of an exemplary response to Jesus. Levi has put Jesus first. To follow him is a priority.
In fact, Levi wishes to celebrate by introducing Jesus to his friends. Such is often the case with recent converts to Jesus. Unchurched friends are often the first to hear about the new discovery. So it should be. The tragedy is that after people have been in the church for a time, they find it hard to relate to outsiders. Jesus does not suffer from this problem; he consciously tries to associate with those outside his community. He does not run or hide from the world in need, but engages with it realistically so it’s real needs can be addressed. Often what wins an outsider to God is a genuine friendship. Despite Levi's low social status, he feels free to associate with Jesus. Jesus' invitation has made that clear.
A contrasting attitude emerges in the grumbling among Jewish leaders. Their commitment to purity, their sense of what God requires of them and their fear of risking exposure to the world cause them to shun outsiders and criticize those who try to relate in a healthy and engaging way to sinners. Table fellowship in the ancient world meant mutual acceptance. So at stake in the Pharisees and scribes' response is a world-view question. Should we really get close to the socially objectionable, to people like tax collectors and sinners? The Greek word used for their complaint, egongyzon, is significant because it is the term Numbers 14:26-35 uses to describe the nation's grumbling to God in the wilderness. This word sounds like its meaning; we can almost hear the harsh tone of voice as we read the words (7:34 repeats the complaint).
Jesus' reply makes it clear that recovery, not quarantine, is the message of his ministry. Jesus pictures himself as a doctor who treats the sick, not the strong. The remark takes the Pharisees' perspective, though it does not endorse their righteousness. Jesus' point is that those who know they need help will respond to the Physician. Often the unrighteous are aware of their need, whereas the unrighteous "righteous" are not. The unrighteous need a breath of potential acceptance and a whiff of God's grace to open up to his work. The appeal to physician imagery is common in Judaism (Is 3:7; Jer 8:22)
Jesus' second point is a mission statement that explains why he seeks the outsider. This is one of several such mission statements in Luke (7:34; 12:49, 51; 18:8; 19:10). Jesus has come to minister to those who DO, in fact have need of repentance. He calls to them to repent. Repentance is a major theme in Luke’s writings, and only Luke mentions it in this scene (3:3, 8; 13:1-5; 15:7-10; 16:30; 17:3-4; 24:47). Here Jesus offers a picture of true repentance: it is like going to a doctor for help. The "cure," if it is to come, must come from outside of oneself. A repentant heart is open to God and to his administering the necessary medicine for life. God graciously gives this medicine to those who seek forgiveness through him. Jesus sees opportunity for restoration for sinners and works to achieve relationship with them so they can experience the healing they need. When tax collectors and sinners come to the table in the clinic, Jesus, the Great Physician, is not about to turn them away. As in the other events chronicled in Luke 4:31—5:32, Jesus reaches out to all types of needy people. All can benefit from the power of his healing presence.
Some are still uncomfortable with such an open ministry, but this is evangelism in its most authentic form. Jesus' ministry is about compassion and grace. When Jesus proclaims God's love, the outsider knows Jesus means it. Both his words and his actions show it. In his openness Jesus risks criticism and ridicule. But given that Jesus pursues such contacts with gusto, can his disciples do otherwise?
The gospel was preached in Acts 2:22-24. The conclusion in verse 36, the agonizing question in v. 37 and then the graphic answer, showing the tie between the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and the necessary response by the inquirers. The commands and promises in Acts 2:38 do not stand in isolation. Jesus is the centre and circumference of our obedience to the gospel. The sacrifice of Jesus, and that alone, gives meaning and satisfaction to the sermon and promises of Peter.
Occasionally we hear someone saying, “I don’t go to church ‘cause the building would fall down,” meaning, “ I never go, would not fit in and would not be welcome.” If the “not welcome” part has any truth to it, than the person had not tried visiting here. We have come to the understanding expressed by John Newton, who many years ago saw a drunk man wobbling along and said, “There, but for the grace of God, go I”
In our earthly state, we still understand that there is no one, not a single person, member of this or another church or just a visitor, who has any right to thing differently. At worst we are lost sinners, whom Jesus came to seek and save, and, at best, we are saved sinners, those who have recognized their low, lost estate and have called upon Jesus to save them.
This church is made of people just like you. We different in specific interests, hobbies, priorities and life’s employment, but we are all sinners—Romans 3:23, and that makes puts a burden on us to make sure we do not reap the consequences of those sins. They should be our responsibility but our Gracious God has seen fit to supply a suitable substitute. His name is Jesus and He was born so that “He will save his people from their sins.”-Matthew 1:21. You can find a place right. Why? Read Roman 6:23 and rejoice.
A sharp contrast is observed between Ephesians 4:16 and v.17. The exhortation to act like light and not the darkness they had come from begins. The verse shown here is in this section and continues the thought why not read, right now, Ephesians 4:17 through all of chapter 5?
Therefore do not become partners with them; for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light
When we go to the dictionary to find out the meaning of baptism, it soon becomes clear that the lexicographer got his information from traditions of the churches. We find there that any one of three “modes” of baptism will suffice. However, when we turn the Bible, the scene changes. It is an immersion, plain and simple. Here is how we know:
Word Meaning: Baptism was not translated into English. It has been transliterated– brought into our language with minor changes while remaining the same. The Bible word for baptism is baptisma. This word literally means “to dip, plunge or immerse.” It was the common word used for dying a piece of cloth. Only immersion got the job done.
Bible Use: We read in John 3:23 that “ much” water was required. Philip met the request of the man from Ethiopia by having them both “go down into the water,” and he baptized (immersed) him, and they “came up out of the water.” Baptism is called a “burial” in the Bible. Romans 6:1-4 allows us to see that Christians are those who have been buried and raised to a new life.
BIBLE BAPTISM IS IMMERSION, PLAIN AND SIMPLE
One of the most impressive lessons that Jesus ever delivered is that of the Parable of the Sower. A parable is story that has a higher meaning. In this case Jesus explained to his followers what that meaning is. You are encouraged to read this in Luke 8:4-15. Jesus said a farmer went about sowing his seed for a crop, but as he used the broadcast method, the seed went in all directions, falling on different kinds of soil. The results showed up as extending from 0 to 100 percent. But Jesus was talking about a higher calling than simply putting little seeds in the soil. He explains, “The seed is the Word of God.” (verse 11). That’s that! The different kinds of seed reception and crop production are seen in verses 12 to 15. Some people are robbed by the devil and they never get to believe. Others are quick and happy to receive the Word but do not mature, being rootless. Still others find themselves chocked by worries and the riches and pleasures of this life. They too cannot reach maturity. Now hear this cogent statement from the lips of our Lord. He said that the seed (the Word of God) when planted in good soil (honest and good hearts) will produce followers faithful to the end.
Now…. When we are trying to reach the goal (below) who are we looking for? Any? All? Perhaps. But don’t be fooled by outward appearance or what it appears they have to offer. LOOK FOR GOOD AND HONEST HEARTS
This tire s called “directional.” It is so named because it only can go on the car one way and is designed to use the arrows to help the car go forward in the snow. This is true of water baptism. It is not just something to be done without reason (or direction), instead it gets us going toward many good blessings, as seen in the Bible. We find:
We are baptised in order to be saved. Being saved is future until one is scripturally immersed. Jesus says this plainly in Mark 16:16. Peter says so in Acts 2:38 and writes it in I Peter 3:21
Baptism places one “in Christ.” Incidentally, this is said to be where we find “all spiritual blessings,” like salvation, redemption and reconciliation. See this in the Bible Galatians 3:26,27. Only in baptism is one in Christ. At least that’s what the Bible says.
Only at baptism do we receive the “gift of the Holy Spirit” This is also found in Acts 2:38. This is the gift that keeps on giving, the person who lives within Christians. So, what we reporting from the Bible is that baptism has purpose and direction. In the Acts 2:38 passage, “for” the remission of sins, is from a word which mean unto or into. In the Bible it describes a person walking into the water.
So, what we reporting from the Bible is that baptism has purpose and direction. In the Acts 2:38 passage, “for” the remission of sins, is from a word which mean unto or into. In the Bible it describes a person walking into the water. We hear today, when asked why he or she was baptised, “Well, don’t ask me, ask my parents.” That won’t do. This is a personal decision, not that of another individual. Others say, “ I was baptised because Jesus was.” That falls short too, because Jesus was sinless. That is not a Bible reason. The most prevalent answer to the question is, “I was baptised because all good Christians do that as soon as they are saved.” Definitely wrong. We have no Bible passage that says a saved person is baptized.
It is amazing in, an unfortunate way, that human beings will search in their own repertoire for a reason when the Bible, God’s Word, says it plainly. One is baptised to receive something: remission of sins, gift of the Holy Spirit, salvation, peace with God and made part of the family of God.