In Him was Life…

In Him was Life,
and the Life was the Light of men

(John 1.4)

When John uses the term life he usually means “spiritual life or eternal life,” but here he has a broader view in mind – Jesus is the source of all life – physical, moral, spiritual, and eternal.

He is keenly concerned with all those aspects of life. His ministry focused on transforming mere life into abundant life, to have a “surplus” life, a life of meaning and purpose now and a transcendent life that exceeds our ability to comprehend.

When He breathed life into the nostrils of that lump of clay, we became “living souls” (Genesis 2.7). He created us for life not death, and He came and walked among us to show us the way to true life.

In Scripture light is frequently used of things pertaining to God while darkness is just the opposite, as in 1 John 1.6: God is Light, and in Him there is no darkness at all.

The darkness Jesus came to dispel was caused by sin. We got ourselves into this mess through our own willfulness and we’re powerless to find our own way out. That’s where He comes in – He’s “Life and Light.”

I am the Light of the world;
he who follows Me will not walk in the darkness,
but will have the Light of life
(John 8.12).

 

Reflections on the Majesty of God

Night SkyThe prophet Daniel referred to Him as “the Ancient of days” (Daniel 7.13).

Isaiah asked, “Do you not know? Have you not heard? The Everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth. Does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable” (Isaiah 40.28).

Ezekiel saw the cherub and the glory of the Lord as the temple “was filled with the cloud and the court was filled with the brightness of the glory of the LORD (Ezekiel 10.4).

And Isaiah “saw the Lord sitting on a throne, lofty and exalted, with the train of His robe filling the temple. Seraphim stood above Him, each having six wings: with two he covered his face, and with two he covered his feet, and with two he flew.  And one called out to another and said, “Holy, Holy, Holy, is the Lord of hosts, the whole earth is full of His glory.”

And the foundations of the thresholds trembled at the voice of him who called out, while the temple was filling with smoke. Then I said, “Woe is me, for I am ruined! Because I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts” (Isaiah 6.1-5).

The reverberating anthem of the Apocalypse in chorus about the throne is, “Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations! “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; for all the nations will come and worship before You, for Your righteous acts have been revealed” (Revelation 15.3-4).

 

The Back Page 7-17-2016

In Our Prayers

Mildred Meyers and other friends and family members in the Manor.

For the Westside church, that we will “Ascribe to the LORD the glory due his name; worship the LORD in the splendor of holiness.” (Psalm 29:2).

On the Calendar

August 21 – September 24, 2016. Joe and Linda Thomas will visit area churches and prepare for the Doors of Opportunity workshop at Westside. We have sent out the first set of invitations to 42 churches in Nebraska, Kansas, and Colorado. We’ll send out the second set the first week of August.

 

We Are to Pray

Head-Bowed-in-PrayerWe have examples in the Scripture of praying for those in sickness that they may be healed. This involves too the continuance of life. We are to pray for our daily bread, to pray for wisdom, to pray for power to control our evil tempers and unholy passions, to pray that we may be kept from temptation, from the persecution of evil men, that our brethren may be delivered from evil and evil men, and we are to pray that our own sins and the sins of our brethren may be forgiven.

We are to pray that the Gospel may have free course and be glorified, that an opening may be given to those who preach the Gospel.

We are to pray for rulers and for all who are in authority, that Christians may be enabled to lead lives of godliness in peace and quiet. They are to pray to be kept back from sin. They are taught to pray that it shall rain when season of drought and blight fall upon the land.

We are to pray for the Spirit of God. We are to pray for wisdom. In old times they prayed that God would give neither riches nor poverty, but such things as would keep His servants from harassment or care, or want, or temptations of great riches.

We believe such prayers ought to be fervently and earnestly made now and our lives made to harmonize with the prayers. These occur to us as we write, and with more thought and Scripture examination it might be indefinitely extended.

We will venture the assertion, it is the right and duty of every Christian to pray for any and everything for which he can work. He ought to labor in no calling or object in which and for the attainment of which he cannot pray.

The true objects of prayer are many. The great difficulty in prayer is in praying with the true design or spirit and in praying in faith and in keeping ourselves in such condition that God will hear and answer our prayers.

All our prayers ought to be presented in the spirit of which the Savior prayed. Our petitions ought to be made in the spirit, that we desire them answered if according to the will of God. That is, our wishes ought to be held in strict subservience to the will of God.

God somethings fails to answer the prayers of his dearest children. This is no evidence that those prayers are not heard or are offensive to God.

–Adapted from David Lipscomb
Gospel Advocate, Oct. 19, 1871, p. 963f.

“And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.” Luke 18.1

“Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer.” Romans 12.12

“…and take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints….” Ephesians 6.17,18

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.“ Philippians 4.6

“And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.” 1 John 5.14-15

 

The Back Page 7-10-2016

In Our Prayers

Mildred Meyers and other friends and family members in the Manor.

For the Westside church, that we will “look to the LORD and His strength; seek His face always” (1 Chronicles 16.11).

On the Calendar

Today, July 10. Potluck and men’s business meeting.

August 21 – September 24, 2016. Joe and Linda Thomas will visit area churches and prepare for the Doors of Opportunity workshop at Westside. We have sent out the first set of invitations to 42 churches in Nebraska, Kansas, and Colorado.

 

Bible Facts

BibleThe word “Bible” is from the Greek biblos, meaning “a book.” It was written by approximately 40 people over a span of 1,500 years. It is composed of two parts – the Old and New Testaments.

The Old Testament was written in Hebrew, though some portions were written in Aramaic. The New Testament was written in Greek.

The Bible has been translated in over 530 languages and over 2,800 languages have translated some portions of the Bible.

The Bible was divided into chapters by Hugo in 1240. The Old Testament was divided into verses by Mordecai Nathan in 1445 and the New Testament was divided into verses by Robert Steven in 1551.

Within this awful volume lies
The mystery of mysteries:
Happiest they of human race,
To whom their God has given grace
To read, to fear, to hope, to pray,
To lift the latch, to force the way;
But better had they ne’er been born,
Who read to doubt, or read to scorn.

[The inscription found in Sir Walter Scott’s Bible]

 

The Lord’s Supper: Why, When, Where

Therefore when you meet together, it is not to eat the Lord’s Supper… (1 Corinthians 11.20)

The Lord’s Supper is distinctly Christian. It’s distinctive for its simplicity and profound meaning.

It was initiated by Jesus Himself (Matthew 26.26-20; Mark 14.22-26; Luke 22.14-20) as He observed Passover with His apostles on the eve of His arrest and crucifixion.

Something New for the Kingdom

Jesus said,  I say to you, I will not drink of this fruit of the vine from now on until that day when I drink it new with you in My Father’s kingdom (Matthew 26.29).

  • It would be observed in a new kingdom. Christ’s death abolished the Old Testament law of Judaism (Ephesians 2.15) and established a new covenant for His new kingdom (Matthew 26.28; Hebrews 9.15-18).
  • It would commemorate a new deliverance. Christ’s death secured our deliverance from sin. Remembering His death in the Lord’s Supper is an expression of our faith that His death was a triumph, not a failure.
  • It would be observed on a new day, the “Lord’s Day,” or the first day of the week (Acts 20.7).

The Significance of the Lord’s Supper

It is a “communion” (1 Corinthians 10.15-21), from the Greek word koinonia, “having in common, partnership, fellowship, the share that one has in anything, a fellowship…of sharing in the realization of the effects of the body and blood of Christ as set forth in the emblems of the Lord’s Supper” (1 Corinthians 10.16) – Vine’s Expository Dictionary of the New Testament.

Its significance is three-fold:

  • It is a commemoration, a memorial (1 Corinthians 11.25-33) – “This do in remembrance of Me.”
  • It is a proclamation (1 Corinthians 11.26) – it is a communal declaration of the death of Christ on behalf of the sins of ruined humanity.
  • It is an examination (1 Corinthians 11.28-32), or more precisely a time for personal examination and introspection.

The Day and Frequency of Observing the Lord’s Supper

There was a regular coming together or assembly of the church to break bread (1 Corinthians 11.17-34). It was “often” (1 Corinthians 11.25-26).

  • On the first day of the week, when we were gathered together to break bread (Acts 20.7). The phrase “we were gathered together” is passive, indicating that the gathering was called by another – literally, “having been gathered together” by another is the idea. The same construction is found in Matthew 2.4 where those who came together did so because the king ordered it. Thus their gathering was not something the disciples arbitrarily decided upon, but one which had been ordered by another – the Lord.
  • This was the practice for all the churches (1 Corinthians 4.17). What was observed in Troas “on the first day of the week” was also being observed in all the churches. Since all the churches were instructed to practice the same thing, it was universal among the early first century churches to eat the Lord’s Supper as often as the first day of the week.

No Time Other Than the First Day of the Week

There is no biblical precedent nor authority to observe the Lord’s Supper on any day other than the first day of the week. We observe the Lord’s Supper on the first day of the week “by faith (Romans 10.17; 2 Corinthians 5.7) – we cannot commemorate the Lord’s death “by faith” on any other day of the week.

The Place Where the Lord’s Supper Is to be Observed

It is to be observed in the assembly of the saints (Acts 20.7; 1 Corinthians 11.17-34). God designed the assembly for the edification of the saints. The Lord’s Supper was a vital part of the worship of that assembly. It was one of the reasons for the church coming together on the first day of the week. Its frequency of observance gives each Christian the opportunity to commemorate the Lord’s death, to proclaim it as a victory over sin, and to examine him or herself on a weekly basis.

 – Bill

 

The Back Page 7-3-2016

In Our Prayers

Mildred Meyers and other friends and family members in the Manor….The Grams and Bartletts are traveling this weekend.

For the Westside church, that we will continue to honor the Bible as God’s Word and God’s Will. “For the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (Hebrews 4.12).

On the Calendar

Next Sunday, July 10. Potluck, with men’s business meeting to follow.

August 21 – September 24, 2016. Joe and Linda Thomas will be with us to visit area churches to encourage them to attend the Doors of Opportunity seminar on September 24 at Westside.

 

 

Why Baptism?

“Why is baptism (immersion in water) essential for salvation?”

The short answer is, “Because God said so.” And, following whatever further discussion ensues, that is still the essence of any longer answer as well.

Why was it necessary for Naaman to dip seven times in the Jordan River to be healed of his leprosy (2 Kings 5.1-14)? Because God, through His prophet’s messenger, told him to do this.

Why was it necessary for the Israelites to march around the walls of Jericho for seven days, blow trumpets and shout (Joshua 6.1-27), even though from man’s standpoint that is an absurd way to capture a walled city? Because that’s what God said to do. “By faith the walls of Jericho fell down after they were encircled for seven days” (Hebrews 11.30).

Faith is the key.

Naaman didn’t deserve his healing because of his dipping in the Jordan River, but his dipping showed his faith and God saw his faith and healed him by grace.

The Israelites didn’t earn the city of Jericho by marching and shouting. “The LORD said to Joshua: ‘See! I have given Jericho into your hand, it king, and its mighty men of valor. You shall march around the city…’” (Joshua 6.2-3).

God gave them the city. They marched, as God told them to, and by marching they showed their faith. The city fell by grace through faith, but only after they marched as God told them to do.

Jesus has said, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved. He who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16.16). When one hears the gospel, believes and is baptized, that does not earn salvation. Salvation is a gift of God. Being baptized shows that the person believes what God says, “He who believes and is baptized will be saved.” Refusing to be baptized shows disbelief, “and he who does not believe will be condemned.”

Salvation is not by works of merit, not by works that would enable us to boast (Ephesians 2.8-9). Baptism is distinguished from that kind of work. God saves us, but “not by works of righteousness which we have done,” but “through the washing of regeneration” (Titus 3.4-6).

Baptism shows our faith (James 2.18), completes our faith (James 2.22), and makes our faith a living, active, effective faith instead of a dead, vain faith (James 2.20).

So we have come full circle. The answer is, “Because God said so.” He promises; we believe. He commands; we show our faith by obedience. When we have obeyed, God gives what He promised.

It is necessary to be immersed in water to be saved because that’s what God, who has salvation in His hand, says to do in order to receive it.

“Baptize” means immerse.

The word used in the original language means that. The English Bible also clearly shows that baptism is a burial (Romans 6.1-5; Colossians 2.12), and that in being baptized one goes down into and comes up out of the water (Acts 8.38).

Baptism is the point at which the believer comes into Christ (Galatians 3.27); has sins washed away (Acts 22.16); dies to sin and begins to walk in newness of life (Romans 6.1-4); receives remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit (Acts 2.38); is saved (Mark 16.16; 1 Peter 3.21). We are commanded to be baptized with that in view:

“Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2.38).

“And now why do you wait? Rise and be baptized and wash away your sins, calling on His name” (Acts 22.16).

To be baptized believing one is already in Christ, has sins already washed away, is already dead to sin and walking in newness of life, has already received remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit, and therefore, is already saved, is to deny every biblical purpose for baptism.

It’s important to note that baptism is not “a work done by us in righteousness” (Titus 3.5); it’s not a deed which merits anything from God. Baptism is in water, but the power is neither in the act nor in the water, but “through the resurrection of Jesus Christ” (1 Peter 3.21).

 – Cecil May, Bible Questions and Answers, 17-20

 

The Back Page 6-26-2016

In Our Prayers

Kim and Lois Silvester; Mildred Meyers and other friends and family members in the Manor.

For the Westside church, that our faith “might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God” (1 Corinthians 2:5).

On the Calendar

August 21 – September 24, 2016. Joe and Linda Thomas will visit area churches to encourage them to attend the Doors of Opportunity seminar on September 24 at Westside.

We will be responsible for three mailings to area churches, providing refreshments on the day of the workshop, and possible overnight housing for some of the presenters. Please let Bill or Cheryl know if you can help with either the mailings or housing.

 

Westside Church of Christ Imperial, Nebraska

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