Unity in the body by the cross

The unity of the Spirit is a critical aspect of God’s will for the church (Ephesians 4:1-3) but another critical aspect of God’s will for the church, when it comes to unity, is the cross of Jesus:

For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.” (Ephesians 2:14-16 NKJV)

The divisions of humanity are apparent … we look different physically, we live in different cultures, we speak different languages, we live under different governments, we fulfill different forms of employment, and we follow different forms of religion. I have no doubt that you can think of different examples of how humanity is divided through our differences.

Here’s what the gospel does to all those differences – it says we may be divided but we all have one common need and that’s our past and our present need for the cross of Christ when it comes to our future!

The cross of Jesus is a cornerstone of unity within the body of Christ because it’s by the cross that we can let go of our differences in order to lay hold of a heavenly unity that has the ability to erase all of our earthly divisions.

There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” (Ephesians 4:4-6 NKJV)

#unity #cross-of-Christ #division

Making sure our purpose is more about Jesus than self

Based on Paul’s closing comments in Galatians 6:11-18, a question on p. 154 of the Gospel Advocate’s Foundations Adult Bible study book for Galatians (Summer 2018, Lesson 13, Paul’s Farewell) asks, “What steps can we take to ensure our focus remains on Jesus rather than on our accomplishments?”

Here are three simple answers that can aid anyone who wants to make sure what we do is to the glory of God and his wisdom displayed through the cross and not our own self-serving purposes (1 Corinthians 1:18):

  1. Examine our self in the faith that we are called to live by, not our own opinions and feelings (2 Corinthians 13:5).
  2. Do much good (if possible) in secret (Matthew 6:3-4).
  3. Remember Jesus’ sobering words about humility and the relationship between Lord and servant (Luke 17:7-10).

Following the above principals can help us make sure that we are following and serving Jesus in the shadow of his cross instead making our own front and center.

Then he said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me.” (Luke 9:23 NKJV)

#cross-of-christ, #gospel-advocate, #serving-god

The Cross From Seven Viewpoints

Perspective is everything. Where one person sees a half-empty glass of water, another sees it half-full. When I think of the crucifixion of Christ, I tend to think of it in one way predominantly (i.e., as if I was standing nearby watching it all transpire). But, there were many people involved in Jesus’ crucifixion; there were many different perspectives or viewpoints. In this series, I would like for us to consider their perspectives and also make some applications for us today.

Let’s begin with the first character who helped make the cross a reality:

1. JUDAS ISCARIOT: The Perspective of Silver
Matthew 26:14-16 reads – “Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, ‘What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?’ And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver. So from that time he sought opportunity to betray Him.”

Can you imagine working closely with someone for over three years as Judas and the other apostles did with Jesus? They ate together, traveled together, and experienced life together as His followers. Judas heard Jesus’ great teachings and witnessed His amazing miracles, but he still betrayed Him! Judas cared more about money than he did doing what was right. That was his perspective on things.

Sadly, there are many people like that today. They, like Judas, have the perspective of silver. Money is more important to them than Jesus. Their financial goals are more important to them than serving the Lord with their utmost. Their desire for more things drives them away from righteousness and the church. They will betray our Lord for mammon if the opportunity presents itself (cf. Matt. 6:24). What about you, friends?

2. PONTIUS PILATE: The Perspective of Self-Preservation
Luke 23:4 records – “So Pilate said to the chief priests and the crowd, ‘I find no fault in this Man.'” Pilate had spoken to Jesus quite a bit. He knew Jesus was innocent and that He had been turned over to him because of envy. Yet Pilate first allowed Jesus to be scourged; it seemed to be his effort at appeasing the crowd without having to kill Jesus. This was wrong, and it didn’t work. Jesus was beaten to a bloody pulp. He didn’t deserve the beating any more than the cross they would soon hang Him on since He was innocent. The crowd kept clamoring for Jesus to be crucified and Pilate eventually permitted it and gave in to them. But why? Because Pilate was a coward! Continue reading

#cross-of-christ, #perspective


3-6-2017 A Calendar Or The Cross

“And I, brethren, when I came to you, did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Corinthians 2:1-2 NKJV).  It is this fact of the Gospel of Jesus Christ that the Apostle Paul was determined to preach.  By following a man-made religious calendar, people have been turned away from that Cross. “Christmas” diverts attention to Jesus’ birth; “Lent” places the emphasis upon human denial; “Easter” skips the cross to Jesus’ resurrection; and “the thief on the cross” makes salvation from a thief rather than Jesus! Bible faith says: “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world” (Galatians 6:14 NKJV).

This is Johnny Polk, with “Words of Wisdom” brought to you by the Oneida church of Christ.

#christmas, #cross-of-christ, #easter, #lent, #thief-on-the-cross


3-7-2017 Cross-caused Division

“Do you suppose that I came to give peace on earth? I tell you, not at all, but rather division. For from now on five in one house will be divided: three against two, and two against three. Father will be divided against son and son against father, mother against daughter and daughter against mother, mother-in-law against her daughter-in-law and daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law” (Luke 12:51-53 NKJV).  Jesus had just referred to His crucifixion as His “baptism” (Luke 12:50 NKJV), which can cause dysfunctional family relationships when not everyone in the family believes in His cross.  Today, some call for racial, bloody riots, and deaths, which divides families, instead of appealing to everyone to come to Jesus’ Cross for the love of God. “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death?” (Romans 6:3 NKJV)

This is Johnny Polk, with “Words of Wisdom” brought to you by the Oneida church of Christ.

#cross-of-christ, #dysfunctional-family


3-8-2017 Misunderstood Cross

“And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, ‘You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.’ Likewise the chief priests also, mocking with the scribes and elders, said, ‘He saved others; Himself He cannot save. If He is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him’” (Matthew 27:39-42 NKJV). Jesus had said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up” (John 2:19 NKJV), and John explained, “But He was speaking of the temple of His body” (John 2:21 NKJV).  To His dying day on the cross, Jews misunderstood, and misrepresented, His actual words.  Since “as many of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death” (Romans 6:3 NKJV), don’t misunderstand this!

This is Johnny Polk, with “Words of Wisdom” brought to you by the Oneida church of Christ.

#baptism, #cross-of-christ, #temple


3-9-2017 No Baptism, No Cross Of Christ

In Corinth, Paul “testified to the Jews that Jesus is the Christ” (Acts 18:5). “Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized” (Acts 18:8 NKJV). Jesus had said to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. He who believes and is baptized will be saved” (Mark 16:15-16 NKJV). Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name” (1 Corinthians 1:14-15 NKJV).  A sinner’s baptism is “in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins” (Acts 2:38 NKJV), not Paul’s name. Paul made no change in the Gospel, “lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect” (1 Corinthians 1:17 NKJV).

This is Johnny Polk, with “Words of Wisdom” brought to you by the Oneida church of Christ.

#baptism, #cross-of-christ


1-23-2017 Wisdom Of Words

“For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of no effect” (1 Corinthians 1:17 NKJV). Paul did not personally baptize all who obeyed the Gospel. Why? As he said: “I thank God that I baptized none of you except Crispus and Gaius, lest anyone should say that I had baptized in my own name” (1 Corinthians 1:14-15 NKJV). The importance was not who did the baptizing, but into whom they were baptized. In Corinth, Paul had preached the Gospel, “Then Crispus, the ruler of the synagogue, believed on the Lord with all his household. And many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed and were baptized” (Acts 18:8 NKJV). To tell people not to be baptized into Jesus’ death, uses “wisdom of words” to make “the cross of Christ” “of no effect!”

This is Johnny Polk, with “Words of Wisdom” brought to you by the Oneida church of Christ.

#baptism, #cross-of-christ, #gospel-of-christ

The cross of Christ produces humility

It’s hard to look down on others when we’re looking up at the cross of Christ.

That thought isn’t cliché – it’s rock solid truth. If Jesus died for us as an individual (and he did) and we didn’t deserve it (because we didn’t) then that means Jesus died for everyone else who deserves it no less than we did. And because of that we should want other people to find the same grace that we have found at the foot of the cross of Christ. A thought like that is what Paul was trying impress upon the mind of Titus and then unto the individuals whom Titus would be teaching (Titus 3:1-7).

Furthermore, this mentality isn’t a new expectation by God because of the cross of Christ; the mentality was consummated at the cross, but it didn’t originate there (Isaiah 57:15). God has always had the right to create his own standard of forgiveness, and his conditions are non-negotiable: 1) admit we’re wrong and take his offer to be made right, or 2) stay stubbornly wicked or self-righteous and earn what’s coming (Romans 3:23-27, Romans 6:23).

Humility is a must to follow Jesus. Humility is a must to be right with the Father. Humility is a must to allow the Spirit of God to work on us in a good way. And humility is a must when it comes to dealing with other people.

None of this means there’s no such thing as a righteous judgment (John 7:24), but what it does mean is that if we can’t see what humility is trying to teach us while looking up at the cross then we must be too busy looking down on other people.

I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted.” (Luke 18:14 – NKJV)

#cross-of-christ, #humility, #judging-others, #salvation

Jesus shows the way

This is part of a chapter out of a book I’m writing, “Total Transformation.” You might find it to be of use.

When we want to be transformed, Jesus shows the way. That way is not easy, but it is simple. It is the way of discipleship.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone wants to become my follower, he must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” Mt 16.24.

It might seem strange to us that Jesus makes this affirmation to his followers so late in his ministry. His declaration, however, comes at a critical point, after the confession of his identity and the Lord’s subsequent revelation of his death. Now his group can begin to understand the nature of discipleship. Continue reading

#cross-of-christ, #discipleship, #self-denial


6-2-2016 Roots Of Prejudice

“Those who are sinning rebuke in the presence of all, that the rest also may fear. I charge you before God and the Lord Jesus Christ and the elect angels that you observe these things without prejudice, doing nothing with partiality” (1 Timothy 5:20-21 NKJV).  “Prejudice” means “judging beforehand,” and “partiality” means “leaning towards.”  Paul told Timothy to not make up his mind about sinners before hearing what they did.  But identifying sins was clear from the Word of God (1 Timothy 1:5-11 NKJV).  “Hate” comes in all skin colors.  White people who hate black people, black people who hate white people, Jews hate Germans, Muslims who hate Catholics, are all “prejudiced” and treat others with “partiality.”   All need Jesus, Who “might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity” (Ephesians 2:16 NKJV).

This is Johnny Polk, with “Words of Wisdom” brought to you by the Oneida church of Christ.

#cross-of-christ, #hate, #partiality, #prejudice, #reconcile

Rages on the Spiritual Battle

By J. Randal Matheny © 2016

There are places in our mind where we don’t want to go,
There is evil in the world we’d do better not to know;
From the devil’s deadly sin I would flee to Earth’s far end,
Let me never to temptation of the flesh give in or bend. Continue reading

#cross-of-christ, #holy-spirit, #poetry, #spiritual-warfare

December 2015 Issue of Christian Worker (The Messiah in Prophecy II)

Here’s a link to the latest PDF issue of the Christian Worker.

Here are the topics that you will find:

  • Deuteronomy 18:15-19—A Prophet Like Moses (Bryan Hodge)
  • Genesis 49:10—Until Shiloh Come (Cody Westbrook)
  • Jeremiah 23:5-6—A Righteous Branch (Steven Lloyd)
  • Psalm 40:6-10—I Delight to do Thy Will (Bill Burk)
  • Psalm 22—The Cross (Troy Spradlin)
  • Psalm 16—The Resurrected Christ (Tom Moore)
  • Zechariah 13:1—The Fountain for Sin and Uncleanness (Rob Whitacre)

Christian Worker is an edification effort of the Southwest church of Christ in Austin, Texas.

You can subscribe to the email version of the Christian Worker paper by clicking on the publications link on their website and then following the given instructions…or by clicking on the link provided here in The Fellowship Room under the “Friends” category to your right.

Copyright © 2015 Southwest church of Christ, All rights reserved.

#christian-worker, #cross-of-christ, #forgiveness-of-sins, #jesus, #jesus-as-king, #jesus-relationship-with-the-old-testament, #messianic-prophecy, #moses, #resurrection-of-christ, #types-and-shadows

The first word from the Cross

by Ron Bartanen The Sower April 6 www.arthurchurchofchrist.com

The last words spoken by a loved one are probably the words most indelibly impressed in your mind. There is special significance to words spoken by one who realizes that life is ebbing away. There is no time for frivolous talk, and words are carefully chosen.

Such also are the words of Jesus, all of which are precious to the believer, but the final words, as uttered upon the cross by the suffering Savior, serve as a unique window to His soul. They have frequently been referred to as “The Seven Words From Calvary.”

History records that there were thousands of Jews that had been hung upon Roman crosses for villainous deeds, but the words they spoke would not in any way resemble the words that mocking crowd would hear from Jesus’ lips the day He was crucified. I wish, in these few lines, to think on Jesus’ first utterance: “Father, forgive them: for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34).

What a contrast that must have been to the curses and hate-filled speech customarily heard on similar occasions! In that one sentence we find an invocation, a petition and an argument. Continue reading

#cross-of-christ, #forgiveness, #words-of-christ


Psalm 118

Vs. 1-4 give a burst of praise to be offered throughout all the people;

Vs. 5-14 indicate the deliverance from distress God gave that prompted praise;

Vs. 15-18 give appreciation for the “near miss;”

Vs. 19-29 show rejoicing when one rejected by men is accepted by God.

The “praise the LORD” (hallelujah) occurs in verse 19, and this Psalm completes the “set” used in Israelite services. It is intensely personal (“I, me, my” occurring over 30 times), speaks with the authority of a king (verses 10-12), and fits the entrance of David to Jerusalem following the battle and death of Saul (2 Samuel 5:1-13). Though not parallel in every detail, there is a section that is prophetic of Jesus Christ entering Jerusalem for the last week of His life (verses 19-26). Chapter and verse numbers and divisions were added to the Bible text by uninspired men as an aid for finding statements within the Bible. It seems to be guided by Providence that the middle verse of the entire Bible is Psalm 118:8!

Verses 1-4: (Verse 1) It begins and ends (verse 29) with the same gratitude toward God. (Verses 2-4) First the Israelites, then their priests (Aaron), then all others who “fear the LORD” (extends to Gentiles?) should say, “His mercy endures forever.”

Verses 5-14: (Verse 5) God heard and responded to a cry in “distress,” proving (verse 6) “the LORD is on my side,” concluding “I will not fear” men. This is echoed for Christians in Matthew 10:28 and Romans 8:31, then quoted in Hebrews 13:6. (Verse 7) God will be “for” the obedient and against those who oppose them. (Verse 8) States the main premise of the entire Bible: “It is better to trust in the LORD than to put confidence in men.” The history of mankind and God’s dealings with them proves this simple truth! People fail, God—never! (Verse 9) States the same thing, applying it even to government personnel! (Verse 10) “All nations” indicates total rejection, both Jew and Gentile, and surely describes the reason Jesus died on the cross (Acts 2:22-24; 13:26-33). (Verses 10-12) David had been “surrounded,” with the ferocity of “bees,” but “in the name of the LORD” would be “destroyed;” “quenched” as if a flash fire of “thorns.” (Verses 13-14) Though “pushed” “violently,” God assisted with “strength,” reason for “song,” and is his “salvation.”

Verses 15-18: (Verses 15-16) There is “rejoicing” “in the tents of the righteous;” because they have seen “the right hand of the LORD” in action on their behalf. Since “God is spirit” (John 4:24), and Jesus added, “a spirit does not have flesh and bones as you see I have” (Luke 24:39), then obviously we are dealing with a figure of speech in Psalm 118:15-16! (Verses 17-18) This refers to David, because Jesus did see death in His experience (Hebrews 2:9).

Verses 19-29: (Verses 19-20) Jesus was obeying the Father when He entered Jerusalem to face the cross (Hebrews 5:5-11), thus passed through “the gates of righteousness,” “through which the righteous shall enter.” The “hallelujah” is given here. No one is more “righteous” than Jesus (1 John 2:1)! (Verse 21) God is to be praised “for” responding to the righteous with salvation. (Verses 22-24) Prophesy Jesus Christ as “the stone” rejected by men in the crucifixion, but exalted to “chief cornerstone” by God (Jesus claimed it, Matthew 21:33-45; Mark 12:1-12; Luke 20:9-19; Peter preached it, Acts 4:8-12; 1 Peter 2:1-8). Jesus Christ is “the stone” so rejected by those charged with building, but “the LORD’s doing” raised Jesus from the dead to be on David’s throne in heaven (Acts 2:29-32). This began the new Law with Jesus as King over His kingdom, and “the day the LORD has made” for rejoicing being “the first day of the week” (John 20:1, 19, 26; Acts 2:1, 38-41, 42-47; 20:7; 1 Corinthians 16:1-2). (Verse 25) The “prosperity” God gives is salvation in Jesus Christ (John 10:10), and not the “Gospel of Greed” as some have twisted this verse to mean! Money-grubbers try to take this spiritual meaning from this passage and force it to refer to money. (Verse 26) The very words of the people welcoming Jesus entrance to Jerusalem for His final week are from this verse (Matthew 21:9; Mark 11:9; Luke 19:38; John 12:12-13)! (Verse 27) The idea of tying “the sacrifice with cords to the horns of the altar” simply expresses how continual the need for approaching the altar for forgiveness of sins. With David, certainly he did this (2 Samuel 6:17-19), and Jesus Christ “was offered once” (Hebrews 9:23-29; 10:12-14) but continually intercedes for the saints (Hebrews 7:24-27). (Verse 28) People who profanely use “OMG” have not obeyed God and fully appreciated who He is and what He does. (Verse 29) After all is said and done, God is to be “thanked” because “His mercy endures forever.”

All Scriptures and comments are based upon the New King James Version, unless otherwise noted.

#bible-study, #book-of-psalms, #cross-of-christ, #daily-bible-reading, #faith, #god, #gospel, #jesus-christ, #kingdom-of-christ, #right-hand-of-the-lord, #throne-of-david