Monthly Archives: June 2013

The Shedding of Blood

Salvation in Jesus Christ

While God is pleased with human obedience, no amount of good deeds can overcome sin.  In order to forgive our sins, God requires a sacrifice.  No ordinary sacrifice will suffice.  Blood must be shed, and only the blood of Jesus forgives sins.

“For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,” says Paul in Romans 3:23.  We all are guilty of wrongdoing and our sins doom us to destruction.  The good news is God loves us and “desires [for] all men to be saved” (1 Timothy 2:4).  He “is not willing for any to perish” (2 Peter 3:9).  Instead of perishing, He commands all of us to repent (Acts 17:30).  Stop living in sin and come to the truth He pleads.  However, a change in behavior is not enough.  Good conduct certainly pleases God, but no amount of good deeds can erase past sins.  According to the writer of Hebrews, without the shedding of blood, there is no forgiveness of sins (9:22).  In other words, we can correct our conduct, but the forgiveness of sins demands the shedding of blood.

God established blood atonement from the moment Adam committed the first sin.  Adam awakened his conscience and the conscience of his wife when he ate from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (see Genesis 3).  They first recognized their nakedness.  This realization compelled them to hide when they heard God approach.  When God called out, “Where are you?”  Adam responded, “We’re hiding because we are naked.”  God immediately knew they had disobeyed His command.  God made clothes with animal skins to cover the nakedness of the first man and woman.  Or, to put it another way, blood had to be shed in order to cover humanity’s transgression.

Six chapters later in the book of Genesis, God authorizes Noah to eat freely of all animals.  “But,” the Lord qualifies in Genesis 9:4 , “you must not eat meat that has its lifeblood still in it.”  God commanded man to drain all blood from an animal prior to consumption.  Why could a person eat meat, but not eat the blood with the meat?  What is so special about blood?

The Lord answers these questions in the 17th chapter of Leviticus.  God restates in verse 10 the command He gave to Noah.  He reiterates the command again in verses 12 and 13, directing the Israelites and any foreigner who lives among them to drain the blood of all animals and birds killed for food.  Verse 11 tells us why God sanctified blood:  “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it for you on the altar to make atonement for your souls, for it is the blood that makes atonement by the life.”  Life is in the blood, and blood makes atonement.  According to His design, God requires life in order to defeat sin which brings about death.

Though God promised to forgive sins with the blood of animals, such sacrifices were insufficient.  The writer of Hebrews says these offerings “cannot perfect the conscience of the worshiper” (9:9).  Once worshippers offered the prescribed animal, they remained conscious of their sins.  The sacrifice was offered, but the guilt for sin remained.  Thus the Hebrew writer concludes “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (10:4).  If only the shedding of blood can forgive sins, and the blood of animals cannot fully cleanse us, then how can we find forgiveness?

Recognizing our desperate state, God devised a way to save all humanity.  He offers His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ, as the solution.  The book of Revelation calls Jesus, “the Lamb that was slain from the creation of the world” (13:8).  In other words, God appointed Jesus His offering for humanity’s sins before the creation of the world.  The blood He shed on the cross forgives our sins:

·        “In Him [Jesus] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins” (Ephesians 1:7). 

·        Jesus “loves us and has freed us from our sins by His blood” (Revelation 1:5).

His blood does more than forgive our sins; it rescues us from destruction.  Paul says in Romans 5:9, “Since we have now been justified by his blood, how much more shall we be saved from God’s wrath through him!”  By the offering of Jesus’ life, we escape death.

You can live a moral life but still have sin.  No matter how much good you may do, that amount of good cannot take away your wrongs.  Only blood forgives sins, and only the blood of Jesus will suffice.  You cannot escape your sins apart from Jesus Christ.  Jesus did for us what we could not do for ourselves.  If you are not a disciple of Jesus, I encourage you to read the Bible in order to find out how to become a disciple.  If you already believe in Jesus, I encourage you to examine yourself.  Maybe there is an item you have overlooked; maybe you’re missing something important.  Make your call and election sure: diligently investigate the word of God, get to know Jesus more intimately, and examine your life closely.  Salvation is found in no other name but in the name of Jesus. 

Wade Stanley
~ 11709 E. 77th Terr., Raytown, MO  64138

Many Called Few Chosen

“For many are called, but few are chosen” (Matthew 22:14). 
This statement by Christ should lead us to ask several clarifying questions.  Who is called?  Who is chosen?  Finally, what is the manner of their choosing?

Who is called? 

Jesus’ statement is made at the conclusion of the parable of the wedding feast.  In this parable two groups of people are called to the wedding feast. The first group rejected the call and killed the messengers of the king:

The kingdom of heaven may be compared to a king who gave a wedding feast for his son, and sent his servants to call those who were invited to the wedding feast, but they would not come.  Again he sent other servants, saying, “Tell those who are invited, ‘See, I have prepared my dinner, my oxen and my fat calves have been slaughtered, and everything is ready.  Come to the wedding feast.’”  But they paid no attention and went off, one to his farm, another to his business, while the rest seized his servants, treated them shamefully, and killed them (Matthew 22:2-6).

I believe this first group represents the Jews of Jesus’ day.  Messengers proclaiming the gospel were sent to the children of Israel.  But the Jews, for the most part, rejected the call of God.  Jesus said in Luke 13:34: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!”  Stephen said something very similar before the counsel in Jerusalem: “Which of the prophets have not your fathers persecuted? And they have slain them which shewed before of the coming of the Just One; of whom ye have been now the betrayers and murderers” (Acts 7:52).  After this Stephen too was killed.  The Jews were called first.

The Gentiles are the second group of people depicted in this parable:

Then he said to his servants, “The wedding feast is ready, but those invited were not worthy. Go therefore to the main roads and invite to the wedding feast as many as you find.”  And those servants went out into the roads and gathered all whom they found, both bad and good.  So the wedding hall was filled with guests (Matthew 22:8-10).

The Jews of Jesus’ day rejected the call, and the call was extended to the Gentiles.  In Acts 13:46 Paul declares this quite plainly, “Paul and Barnabas spake out boldly, and said, ‘It was necessary that the word of God should first be spoken to you.  Seeing ye thrust it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, lo, we turn to the Gentiles.’”

The scriptures emphatically declare that all are called, both Jew and Gentile.  Paul tells us in Acts 17: 30 that God “now commandeth all men everywhere to repent.” Again Paul tells us in I Timothy 2:3-4: “This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; who would have all men to be saved, and come to the knowledge of the truth.”  Who is called? All are called.

Who is chosen and what is the manner of their choosing?

As is depicted in the parable of the wedding feast, only those that respond to the call can be considered chosen.  This parable also instructs that simply responding to the call is not sufficient.  In verse 11 a scene is depicted where the King finds a man who is not properly attired for the wedding feast.  The king has the man bound hand and foot and cast into outer darkness “where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 22:13).  This event in the parable brings forth the implication that the call contained more information than a simple invitation to come to the feast.  The call must have also contained the additional requirement that the guest be attired in an acceptable manner.  The punishment for not abiding by the requirements is akin to punishment for not answering the call.  Simply showing up is not enough for the Lord.

The chosen are those who answer the call and comply with the requirements of the invitation.  The Lord calls us out of the world and asks that we follow him.  There are many in this world that believe they have answered the call and are among the chosen.  But Paul reveals that unless they are also following the commandments of the Lord they will not be saved:

Brethren, my heart’s desire and my supplication to God is for them, that they may be saved. For I bear them witness that they have a zeal for God, but not according to knowledge. For being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and seeking to establish their own, they did not subject themselves to the righteousness of God (Romans 10:1-3).

The guest without a wedding garment depicted in Jesus’ parable answered the call, but not in the manner required by the Lord. “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” (Matthew 7:21).

We are called by the Gospel out of the world into the service of the Lord: “But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).  It is through the gospel that we learn the Lord requires us to leave behind our fleshly habits and tendencies and follow him:

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.  And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God (Romans 12:1-2).

Simply put, the Lord chooses servants who choose to serve him according to his will.

Richard Garbi
~ 1105 SW 14th Terr., Blue Springs, MO  64015

They Do Not Know The Lord

After God sent ten terrible plagues on the land of Egypt and opened a path through the Red Sea so the people of Israel could escape the cruel bondage of Egypt; after He led them day after day with a pillar of cloud, and night after night with a pillar of fire; after He provided manna for them, and quail, and water from a rock, and did many mighty works among them; after all this, still they complained and rebelled against God until He was provoked to anger and destroyed that generation in the wilderness.  It was the next generation led by Joshua that entered into the Promised Land, crossing the Jordan on dry ground.  The walls of Jericho fell before them, and they defeated the heathen nations that occupied the land that God had promised to the heirs of Abraham.  They divided that land into tribal territories and settled in their designated areas.

In the last two chapters of the Book of Joshua, the elderly Joshua exhorts the people to cling to the things of the Lord.  He reminded them of the wondrous things that God had done for them.  He encouraged them to be courageous and to do the law of the Lord.  He warned them against the idolatry of the heathen people remaining in the land.  In Joshua 24:14 he exhorts them to “Fear the Lord, serve Him in sincerity and truth.”  The next verse records his memorable statement: “Choose for yourselves this day whom you will serve. . .but as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord.”  The latter part of the chapter tells of Joshua’s death and burial.  Judges 2:7 tells us “So the people served the Lord all the days of Joshua, and all the days of the elders who outlived Joshua, who had seen all the great works of the Lord which He had done for Israel.”  But verses 10 and 11 report that “another generation arose after them who did not know the Lord” and they “did evil in the sight of the Lord.”

About 237 years ago, families of European immigrants founded a new nation here in America based on godly principles.  They diligently sought to form a government recognizing God as the Supreme Authority.  With this atmosphere, just a few decades later, the great restoration movement with efforts to return to New Testament Christianity flourished.  The gospel was preached to the city dwellers and to the frontiersmen.  Congregations of the Lord’s church were planted throughout the nation.

But with the passing of time, the thinking of many people became more carnal.  Great schools of learning that were originally founded on religious principles now influence students to turn from God and accept theories such as evolution.  The Bible that was once the primary book and main teaching in schools is no longer to be taught in the classrooms of public schools.  Nor is it read and studied in the homes of America as it was in years past when it was common for the family to gather for Bible reading and prayer and perhaps a hymn or two before retiring for the night.  Same sex marriage and other such perversions were unthinkable just a few decades ago, but alas, a new generation has arisen, many of whom do not know the Lord.

They may even think that they know Him.  They may celebrate Christmas and Easter, not knowing that these are not really Biblical holidays, but merely holidays that men have originated to commemorate Biblical events.  They may be sincere religious people and belong to some denomination or they may be among those who just claim a personal relationship with the Lord without commitment in any organized group.  But unless they have obeyed the gospel and are living in obedience to the Lord, they don’t really know the Lord.

Immorality, sin, and even false religious doctrines have corrupted our society.  Does that change the standard by which Christians live?  Only in as much as it may increase our workload.  Have we failed to be the influence that we should be, that there have been so many departures from the truth infiltrating the society around us without the opposition we ought to have exerted?   Should we not, like Isaiah, Jeremiah, the Lord Himself, and the early Christians cry out against corruption, immorality, and false doctrines?     It certainly will not win us any popularity contests.  It seems that most people don’t want to be corrected or told that they are in error.  Many will have the same attitude as the man whom Moses questioned who was striking his companion:  “Who made you a prince and judge over us?”  It certainly is not our intention to offend people, but neither do we want them to continue in sin and burn in hell because we were too cowardly to attempt to correct them.

Admittedly, a strong voice against sin and apostasy may result in our persecution.  John the Baptist spoke against the sinful marriage of the king.  He was imprisoned and later beheaded.  Stephen spoke of the Jews resisting God and murdering the Son of God, and they stoned him to death.  However, have we forgotten our assignment to preach the word and let our light shine?  Or shall we cover the light with indifference and bury our talent with fear?

It is time for God’s people to speak out and be heard — not by leading demonstrations and parades or grabbing signboards.  We need to tell people lovingly about Jesus and His love, His plan of salvation and of the judgment.  We are surrounded by people who do not really know the Lord and who are headed for hell.  If we have any concern for their souls, let us earnestly appeal to their sense of reasoning.  Talk to them about Jesus, His plan of redemption, the one church for which He died, and the need for their obedience.  Whether they are your next door neighbors, or total strangers you meet while on a vacation trip, they need to know about Jesus.  Church members have reasoned for too long that living a good clean life and setting a Christian example is enough.  It is not.  “Faith comes by hearing” not just by seeing (Romans 10:17).  It is true that people may see that you are a good honest person, kind and neighborly, and respect you for it, but they need to be warned about the consequences of sin and the rejection of the Lord.  They need to be told about how to be saved by believing in Jesus Christ, repenting of their sins, confessing their faith and being baptized and then living faithfully to the end.

Oh, that the spirit that motivated the early saints to go everywhere preaching the gospel might be revived in the heart of every believer today (Acts 8:4).  We should thank God that here in this nation we enjoy the freedom of speech.  If in time, this freedom is taken from us and we are deprived of this blessing, I can only imagine how we will regret not using this freedom when it was available, and we will then have to secretly tell people about the gospel.  Souls are perishing all around us.  Many will not heed our pleas and warnings, but let us do whatever we can to rescue the perishing while there is time and opportunity.

We will continue to teach and preach to those who assemble with us.  However, we need to reach out to people who do not attend the meetings of the church.  Talk to people about Jesus, His plan for our salvation, the worship required of men today and the importance of our obedience.  May God help us to realize the seriousness of this matter and give us wisdom in what to say and do to be more effective in our efforts to lead others to truth and salvation.

Thomas D. Dennis
~ 207 W. Hunter Dr., Nixa, MO 65714