"Christian" H.C. Question 32

Why are you called a Christian?

1 Corinthians 12:12-27 – Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it.

Acts 2:17 – “‘In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.

Joel 2:28 – “And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people.  Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.

1 John 2:27 – As for you, the anointing you received from him remains in you, and you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things and as that anointing is real, not counterfeit—just as it has taught you, remain in him.

Matthew 10:32 – “Whoever acknowledges me before others, I will also acknowledge before my Father in heaven.

Romans 10:9-10 – If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For it is with your heart that you believe and are justified, and it is with your mouth that you profess your faith and are saved.

Hebrews 13:15 – Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise—the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.

Romans 12:1 – Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship.

1 Peter 2:5 – you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.

1 Peter 2:9 – But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, God’s special possession, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

Galatians 5:16-17 – So I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want.

Ephesians 6:11 – Put on the full armor of God, so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes.

1 Timothy 1:18-19 – Timothy, my son, I am giving you this command in keeping with the prophecies once made about you, so that by recalling them you may fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck with regard to the faith.

Matthew 25:34 – “Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father; take your inheritance, the kingdom prepared for you since the creation of the world.

2 Timothy 2:12 – if we endure, we will also reign with him.  If we disown him, he will also disown us;



Acts 12 – Escape!

Read Acts 12

In that day, when there was a movement that was springing up, rulers often became concerned that it would lead to rebellion against them and were quick to move against them.

So when Peter was arrested as part of Herod’s attempt at putting down the Christian “rebellion,” it meant certain death for Peter.  All the leaders of a movement like this would be hunted down.  Interestingly, this is exactly what the religious leaders were meaning to do all the way back in Acts 5.

Peter’s escape from prison will not be his last, and it is nothing short of a miracle.  Placed in the care of “4 squads” of soldiers, approximately 100 men, Herod was taking no chances that Peter would somehow get sprung from his custody.  Yet it only takes one angel to make this happen.

I find it humorous how this all took place.  Peter is asleep despite the angelic light pouring into his prison cell.  Imagine the angel sighing and whacking him on the side to wake him up.  Even though Peter has just recently experienced a vision from the Lord in Acts 10, he isn’t quite aware of what is going on now, nor does it seem that he believes it.

Eventually he comes to, and then has to deal with the same bewilderment of others whilst standing outside waiting for someone to open the door for him; it was quite a night.

Unlike many of the other movements of that day that were actually against the government, and failed when their leaders were killed, the movement of the Gospel would not be put down.  It could not and cannot be stopped by human effort, nor can its leader be killed.  They already tried that… and it was actually the catalyst that led to where we are now.



Day 355: James 1-5; Authentic Faith

There isn’t a lot that is really known about the writer of the book of James or the approximate time of its writing.  Some people hold to the idea that James was written by the half-brother of Jesus who didn’t believe in Jesus at first but was later converted and worked in the Church during the first century.  However, this is not known for sure and neither is the time frame in which it was written.  Honestly, it could have been written anywhere in the second half of the first century.

This epistle has not always been very well received.  Unlike most of the epistle writings that we have encountered thus far, James is one of the more practical writings, talking the authentic living out of our faith in Christ Jesus.  Martin Luther called this epistle the “epistle of straw” because he thought that it went against all of Paul’s teachings on justification by grace through faith alone.  On the surface, I could totally understand why he may have thought this.  Any discussion about how to live as Christians, what is appropriate and inappropriate, what we can do and can’t do walks the line of a “works-based righteousness” model of salvation.  Dealing with this thought about salvation has often been a struggle in the Christian Church, having to put down a number of heresies surrounding it.

However, if we take a few moments to read deeper into James (and if you’re feeling like James is all about works-based righteousness, I would encourage you to read it through again) we see that James isn’t at all talking about earning salvation through works, but rather the appropriate way of living which sees the marriage of faith and works together.  In fact, James’ audience is likely dealing with these issues at the time of his writing.  One of the many struggles that the church encountered in the first century, really up until the conversion of Constantine, was those Christians who said that they had faith, but didn’t show it by how they lived.  One of the main reasons that this was a struggle was because those that showed that they were Christians outwardly, through the way that they lived and through their interactions with others were often subject to persecution, arrest, torture and even death because of their faith.  This is the very reason that the writer of James starts out his letter with encouragement in the face of persecution.

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing… Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

From my perspective, the rest of this letter is really about the exposition of these two major claims in the opening of His letter.  James’ major thrust here is that our faith needs to be shown in our actions, lived out in our lives everyday.  He says this through a whole bunch of different methods, all of which have to do with lifestyle and response to the call of God.  We need to be doers of the Word of God, not just hearers.  People will see our faith in our actions, not simply hear them in our words.

To be honest, this book is something that the contemporary church needs to read again and again; it is a call to missional living.  Especially in North America, believers have learned to live segmented lives in which we are very quick to acknowledge our faith in church, or even with our church friends, but if we are outside of those spheres, no one would ever know that there is anything different about us.  How is it that we expect to spread the love of Christ to people in our lives if we live as though our faith means nothing to us?  This is really what James is getting at.  We need to be careful of what we say, taming our tongues.  We need to not be segregating and dishonoring people, judging them for their racial, social, and/or economic status.  We need to not boast about tomorrow and not live as the world lives.

I know… this all sounds like legalistic Christianity speak… one person saying that if you want to be a Christian you have to do all these things… but honestly that is not it at all.  James never says that you have to do these things to earn salvation.  Nothing he says is at all in contrast with any other part of Scripture.  In fact, he references the Shema (or part of the greatest commandment) in his writing!  We aren’t talking about earning our salvation here, we are talking about the Romans 12 aspect of salvation, offering our bodies as living sacrifices, being renewed by the Holy Spirit, and then living it out day in and day out no matter what the cost.  In this we are called to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, and strength and to love our neighbor as ourselves because as we saw in the book of Hebrews, all of faith comes from seeing what God has done for us and believing.  James simply takes it one step further to tell us that, in view of all this, we need to live our our faith in a way that can be seen by all, for the glory of the Father, in the Son, and through the Holy Spirit.



Day 221: Jeremiah 9-11; Learn Not the Way of the Nations…

Apart from Jeremiah‘s continuing lament about the coming judgment on Judah and Jerusalem, today’s Scripture reading is largely about the idols that the people of Israel turned to when they should have been worshiping God.  Much of chapter 10 and 11 talk about this.  The people of God had turned from the worship of God to the idols and gods of other nations.  They had taken up witchcraft, sorcery, astrology, consulted with mediums and other oracles rather than looking to God in their times of plenty and times of want.  God, through Jeremiah, talks about the people being concerned about the “signs of the heavens” or the images that come from trees cut down in the woods.  They have no power, they cannot speak, they do not listen.  Yet it seems that the people have been and are bound and determined to have their idols no matter what.

This kind of timely actually, for a couple of reasons.  You may laugh a little bit at me for this, but lately I have been hearing more about conspiracy theories and signs of bad things to come than I remember in recent years.  Sadly, I have been hearing these things despite my being purposeful about ignoring things such as this.  But it seems as though there are many people that are either really paranoid or really board and are looking for coincidences… everywhere.  I won’t lie to you and say that I give all news a fair shake; I tend towards a more conservative view point which beings it own color to the mix.  However, across the board there are people claiming the very things that God is telling His people through Jeremiah to avoid.

The thing that I have found most laughable, and sadly, the most followed by some revolved around the recent birth of the new royal prince and all the things that come along with it.  If you are interested in, or unsure of what I am talking about, you may refer to this article, though I can’t really say that it entirely worth the read… unless you like a good comedy.  From a the radio host of a program called “Ground Zero” named Clyde Lewis, this is an article called “Babylon Done.”

Now apart from the many ridiculous things that he draws together, things that are clearly not linked at all, he also draws from a great deal of what one could consider “the signs of the heavens.”  He even makes references to the star of David, that which the wise men followed to see Jesus.  Clyde also speaks about the different astrological formations that are on the rise in the sky during this time and how the Royal Couple has done this or that to make sure that they are able to have a baby during this time.

True or not, I think there is a very specific response that we as Christians should take to things like this.  What is true in this article is that there are those out there who believe in these things and are willing to talk about it and spread that message.  Yet we know that there is nothing to it, that indeed star formations and constellation alignments do not give anyone power.  As we have read and will read many more times, the only power that anyone has if given to them by God Himself.  He alone holds the world in His hands and grants nations to rise and fall.  There is only one Savior, one who was able to affect the ultimate change in the world, and that is Jesus Christ.  We know too that in this time, as Satan is roaming to and fro on the earth, there will be those that would seek to sway us with idols and signs of the heavens, and we need to resist them, proclaiming the truth of the Gospel to all.  Things like this article may present an opposing worldview, but it also presents us with the opportunity to once again renew our faith and remind ourselves and all those around us where our hope truly lies: in Jesus Christ alone.