NEW BOOK REVIEW: A GOSPEL PRIMER FOR CHRISTIANS BY: Milton Vincent

Learning to see the glories of God’s love

I had recently been looking through my library and found this long forgotten gem of a writing by Milton Vincent. I quickly skimmed through this one and decided that it would be helpful for my son to go through as a part of his schooling.

I was correct thinking that way but incorrect in assuming that this little primer had nothing of value for myself.

I had some free time the other day and saw this book laying on the shelf so I picked it up and read through it. I was happy that I did.

All of 97 pages, this gospel primer was a great source of encouragement, reflection, and motivation for me, an older man, in my walk of faith.

Endorsed by godly men such as John MacArthur, C.J. Mahaney, and Jerry Bridges, who’s own estimates of the primer saw it as a ” small but meaty overview of the gospel,” and a ” practical tool with a powerful effect.” Which can be ” literally life changing.”

As I read through the forward at the beginning of the book I was happy to read that the author wanted his readers to take their time with it. ” This book was written slowly. It savors of a slow cooking.. . Let it’s truths drip down deep.” In other words this book and the truths contained within will be found to be a spiritually useful book!

With that exhortation in mind, I continued. The introduction lays out the main purpose of Milton’s effort: “This book is a handy guide to help Christians experience the gospel more fully by preaching it to themselves each day.”

What a much needed exhortation. We often think the gospel saves, but struggle with knowing what to do with it once we are saved! I appreciate Milton expressing that fact because it truly is meant to be more than a once embraced truth to be converted, it actually is “offered to us every day as a gift that keeps on giving to us everything we need for life and godliness.”

Briefly in the introduction and then with greater detail in part IV, the writer shares how he came to the conclusion that the gospel is a much needed focus in the daily walk of a believer.

The first part of this book contains reasons to rehearse the gospel daily. In fact, he gives thirty- one of them designed to remind the reader of some valuable blessings which the gospel can render in the life of the believer who rehearses the gospel in faith each day.

The second and third parts contain: A Gospel Narrative in both a prose and poetic format. Both formats are written in a way that facilitates memorization and smooth recital of the gospel.

I really enjoyed how Milton wrote everything in sections I -III in the first person (I, my, me), because it helped me relate these truths to myself on a deeper personal level. I think it was very wise of him to do so because the truths he is relating come off the pages then as not only relating to his own experience, but also to the daily heart experience of others who meditate on what God in Christ has done for them as well.

I am thankful that the writer mentions often that this book is only a tool to “get you launched in preaching the gospel to yourself and rehearsing it’s benefits.” It is not meant to be a substitute for the gospel.

In part one he gives the thirty -one reasons to rehearse the gospel daily. Here are just a few headings:

1. The New Testament model
2. My daily need
3. The power of God
4. My daily protection
5. Transformed by glory
6. A cure for distrust
8. Freedom from sins power
11 Loving my brother and sister
12. My inheritance in the Saints
15. Cultivating humility
18. Perspective in trials
26. Hope of heaven
27. Mortifying the flesh with fullness

With each one of these headings the writer opens up how the gospel is affective in our lives in these ways. I also must note that every page has all the scriptures cited in which the truths expressed are located!

Part two offers A Gospel Narrative in prose. I found the layout of this very helpful for my own comprehension and application. He begins with our sin against God than moves forward discussing God’s work on our behalf and the resulting salvation that comes from it.

I personally think this section would be helpful in our prayer time. We can use one or two of these truths to pray different things than we normally might. We can pray biblical thoughts by using the scripture citations on the bottom of the page.

Part three offers A Gospel Narrative in a poetic form. I truly appreciated this section. It read smoothly and was greatly appreciated and encouraging to my soul. This section, like the others, has all the scriptures used on the bottom of the page. Not only the reference, but the verse written out as well!

Part IV ends the book with the authors story behind this book. I appreciated his honesty and transparency in sharing his “backstory.”

In short, most of his life was lived by trying to maintain his justification status through his own works. Then one day, alone with his Bible turned to Romans five, the Lord “stirred my soul,” with the truth of my justified status before God, which led Him into a fuller, more meaningful walk of faith!

I highly recommend this book to anyone wanting, perhaps needing, a richer, fuller, more practical understanding of the gospel, that not only saves but satisfies our deepest longings each and everyday afterwards.

THE CALL TO SELF-DENIAL

Mark 9:38-50

BRIEF INTRO: We have just observed the disciples discussing who would be the greatest (9:34), their lack of understanding regarding the Lord’s death and resurrection (9:31), and their impotence regarding the ability to cast out the demon (9: 18), and their confusion over the transfiguration (9:5-6). And now we witness a weakness in their understanding regarding unity in ministry (9:38). They lacked humility, experience, and proper ministry perspective, and yet, time and time again, we see Jesus, the patient “teacher” (v. 38), instructing them.

I am so thankful for the patience of Jesus. Just like these men, I struggle at times with understanding His words. I am “slow” to grasp His will for me and walk in it. I require constant reminders and exhortations regarding His teachings to stay focused on what He would have me be and do. Perhaps you can relate to this as well.

38 John said to Him, “Teacher, we saw someone casting out demons in Your name, and we tried to prevent him because he was not following us.” 39 But Jesus said, “Do not hinder him, for there is no one who will perform a miracle in My name, and be able soon afterward to speak evil of Me. 40 For the one who is not against us is [a]for us. 41 For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink [b]because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.

FOCUS ONE: A snapshot of unity

John calls him teacher, and rightly so because that is one of the roles He is filling now. Jesus has spent and will spend much time teaching these men about the kingdom and their role in it. He has also shifted a bit in what He has been teaching because the time for His death, burial, and resurrection is approaching, and they need to be ready for it (8:27-31). Over and over again, we witnessed the disciple’s lack of understanding of the things Jesus taught them (the previous post catalogs them). Sadly, that reality holds as they move forward into Capernaum.

In Capernaum, in “the house” (probably the one belonging to Peter and Andrew 1:29), Jesus assumes the posture of a Jewish rabbi; he sits down and begins teaching them. You can find our study on the previous verses HERE 

During this private time with Jesus, John speaks about an incident that occurred during their travels. He tells Jesus of a man they encountered casting out demons in Jesus’ name, AND he wasn’t one of the twelve (v.38)!

This person WAS casting out demons successfully

In the name of Jesus 

The disciples (we) tried to stop him!

The disciples thought that anyone that wasn’t in their small group couldn’t be serving Christ in the right way (v. 38). It’s as if to say that if someone is not in our particular church, following our brand of theology, or even doing things just like us, then they must not be “of us.” 

Jesus’ viewed it differently than the disciples

He tells them not to hinder such a person. Do not stop him. It appears evident that by this person using Jesus’ name, he is acknowledging a relationship with Him. He is just not among the called-out 12! He manifested by seeking to serve the Lord that he was “with Jesus” or on the same team by faith, even if he was not in their group. The disciples were quick to dismiss anyone that wasn’t in their “click” or doing things in a way they felt proper.

Application: We should not be too quick to dismiss or rebuke others serving Christ simply because they do not do things the way we do or are not in our church, our ministry team, or our denomination!

But, like Christ, we should appreciate others seeking to live for Christ and save the lost! This is what unity is. The “church” is far more vast than our local congregations. It is worldwide, which means many other people are living for Christ and serving Him in different ways than us due to their geographical situation and different cultural or societal realities. If Jesus recognizes that “he who is not against us is for us,” why can’t we?

41 “For whoever gives you a cup of water to drink [a]because of your name as followers of Christ, truly I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”

FOCUS TWO: Rewards for service and condemnation for leading astray

In verse forty-one, we read about somebody exhibiting “kindness” to those who follow Christ and that they have a reward that will not be lost! This act of kindness seems small and insignificant compared to the previously mentioned exorcism. In our fallen minds giving a cup of water to our pastor who is parched from preaching is nothing compared to performing an exorcism. 

But we see in this verse that Jesus broadens His previous words (vv.39-40) to include activity beside exorcism. Even I would add other acts that we might consider more significant, excellent, and valuable. “Even one who performs the smallest act of hospitality in Jesus’ name, such as giving a cup of water to someone because he belongs to Christ will certainly not lose his reward. He will ultimately be recompensed by participation in God’s kingdom (v.47; Matthew 25:34-40), not on the basis of merit but because of God’s gracious promise to people of faith” (Luke 12:31-32).

42 “Whoever causes one of these [a]little ones who believe in Me to [b]sin, it is better for him if a heavy millstone is hung around his neck and he [c]is thrown into the sea.”

I place this verse in this focus point because it seems to contextually fit here better than it would with what follows. It appears to coincide or go along with the previous verses that spoke of the disciple’s attempt to stop an unknown man from removing a demon in Jesus’ name (v. 38). 

“Little ones” in this context does not appear to be speaking of small children; rather, it bodes well with followers of Jesus. As we read this statement, it quickly becomes evident that this offense is serious in the Lord’s eyes. So severe that “it would be better for one to be drowned than to commit it.” The verb “cause to sin” (skandalise) refers to enticing or provoking a follower of Jesus Christ to turn away from Him resulting in spiritual damage. 

To sum this up, scripture is saying to us: “1.The undeveloped faith of the exorcist (v.38) or anyone else who acts in Jesus’ name (v.41) should be encouraged rather than ruined by harsh criticism or sectarian  bias.” 

43 “And if your hand causes you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life maimed, than, having your two hands, to go into [a]hell, into the unquenchable fire.[b45 And if your foot is causing you to sin, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life without a foot, than, having your two feet, to be thrown into [c]hell.[d47 And if your eye is causing you to sin, throw it away; it is better for you to enter the kingdom of God with one eye, than, having two eyes, to be thrown into [e]hell, 48 where their worm does not die, and the fire is not extinguished. 49 For everyone will be salted with fire. 50 Salt is good; but if the salt becomes unsalty, with what will you [f]make it salty again? Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with one another.”

FOCUS THREE: Self-denial for the sake of the gospel 

These verses teach that followers of Christ should be diligentvigilant, and radical in their fight against the sinful flesh, denying it all its wickedness instead of continuing to practice sin, satisfying the flesh, and going to hell.

That’s why we take notice of the language of mortification. If your hand—cut it off; if your foot—cut it off; if your eye—cast it out.

Why such harsh, violent language? Because our pathway to eternal life is riddled with our constant battle against our unredeemed flesh. Temptations abound. Our flesh is always hungry and wants to be satisfied, so we need to deny the flesh, which requires radical steps.

These divine words are telling us that self-denial and the “mortification” of our flesh with its enmity against God are worth the temporal cost or perceived and actual loss we suffer in this life for the glories of the next! 

“Self-denial expressed in the mortification of the flesh is evidence of a regenerated heart and such people enter into heaven. The opposite is true of those who do not bear such fruit worthy of or exhibiting a regenerative work within.”

How are we supposed to understand these words in verse fifty?: “salted with fire.”

“1Viewed in three different ways: (1) It could refer to every unbeliever who enters hell. They will be salted with fire in the sense that as salt preserves food, so they will be preserved throughout an eternity of fiery judgment. (2) “Everyone” could refer to every disciple living in this hostile world. They will be salted with fire in the sense that Old Testament sacrifices were seasoned with salt (Leviticus 2:13; Ezekiel 43:24). Disciples, living sacrifices (Romans 12:1), will be seasoned with purifying trials (1 peter 1:7; 4:12). The trials will purge out what is contrary to God’s will and preserve what is consistent with it. (3) Everyone” could refer to every person in general. All will be “salted with fire” in a time and manner appropriate to their relationship with Jesus— for nonbelievers, the preserving fire of judgment; for disciples, the refining fire of present trials and suffering. This last view seems preferable.”

Salt is a good thing. Who doesn’t enjoy dumping it over corn on the cob, potatoes, and cucumbers? It seasons and preserves. “The main source of salt in Palestine was from the area southwest of the Dead (salt) Sea. The coarse, impure salt from the saline deposits of this area was susceptible to deterioration, leaving savor less, salt like crystals as residue. If it loses its saltiness (savory quality), it cannot be refined so such salt is worthless.”

These scriptures warn the disciples and all who will follow Christ because of them to maintain their allegiance to Jesus at all costs and purge out destructive influences.

Verse 50, “have salt in yourselves.” “2Jesus is warning His disciples not to lose that characteristic in them that brings life to the world and prevents its decay. But what is that characteristic that, if lost, will make the disciples of Jesus worthless? It is the disciples spirit of devotion and self-sacrifice (v. 49) to Jesus Christ and His gospel. It will only be possible for disciples to be at peace with one another where that kind of devotion instead of self-interest prevails (v. 34).”

So, in concluding this part of our study together, I want to point out three warnings that the Lord has given throughout His teaching, while in Capernaum First, there is a warning to humility in verse 35. Then an admonition to good fellowship within the body in verse 39. Lastly, a warning to maintain faithful allegiance to Christ at all costs in verses 43-49. 

How are we doing in these three areas? What can we take away from this teaching to aid us in our prayers in these three areas?

1 The Bible Knowledge Commentary, pages 147-148

2. The Expositors Bible Commentary, pg. 709

HUSBANDS AND WIVES need EACH OTHER!

Extended reading: Job 2

Devotional reading: Job 2:9-10

There are many things in this life that can place us in a time of desperation. It is one thing to lose some comforts that this life affords; a job, convenience, or health, but quite another to lose the support of a spouse. In times of our greatest struggles we need our spouses, we need their support, counsel, and presence. We need their “vote of confidence” when everyone else has none. We need their hugs of assurance when everyone else may be cold toward us. We need to feel their presence when no one else is there.

We do not know much about Job’s wife, but what we read in these verses is very telling and extremely heartbreaking. She appears to be a very bitter woman and unable to share in his pain. She seems to have turned away from faith, and the result: a cold callous heart. They needed each other, perhaps now more than ever, but we read that they are separated, isolated in their emotional anguish and Job’s physical pain.

“In all fairness to Job’s wife, her agony was unfathomable, and she undoubtedly spoke out of sheer pain and frustration. After all, she had suffered the same losses as Job. All of her children died in what seemed like a freak accident, and the wealth that Job and his family enjoyed vanished in an instant.” Even so, her agony doesn’t excuse her harsh words.

I wish that scripture recorded Job’s wife relenting and coming by his side, but it doesn’t. The mutual love and encouragement shared would have helped them both during this time of great loss. 

We need to be present for our spouses. Physically, emotionally, and mentally there for them, especially when things get rough. Our tendency is to isolate ourselves when we need to open our hearts with our loved ones. Our tendency is to “act” like we’re ok when we are falling apart. Let’s learn from Job and his wife and resolve to love one another and care for one another while praying with each other as we face the storms of this life together.

Adapted from Every mans Bible

THE DOWNWARD SPIRAL OF SELF-RELIANCE

Extended reading: 1 Chronicles 10:1-10

Devotional reading: v. 4

“Saul groaned to his armor bearer, “take your sword and run me through before these pagan Philistines come and humiliate me.” But his armor bearer was afraid and would not do it. So Saul took his own sword and fell on it.”

Here is a horrifying account of personal defeat. Saul had started out well. He had so much going for him. He was born into a wealthy family (1 Samuel 9:1). He was tall and handsome (9:2). He was chosen by God to be Israels’ king (9:16), and he had a heart that was changed by God (10:9)! At first, he was humble; he was willing to follow the leadership of the prophet Samuel. But then he began to take matters into his own hands. And that is when the name of Saul was turned into a synonym for “bad king.” 

Once he started on the downward spiral, he added rebellion to rebellion. But what led to his fall from glory? “His fall from glory can be traced to a single problem that many men face even today: fear of what others think.” First, Saul let his fear of a dangerous enemy lead him to disobey a clear instruction from God (1 Samuel 13:8-10). Second, he let his fear of his own people’s disapproval nudge him to disobey yet another clear command from God. He spared the life of a man God commanded him to kill (1 Samuel 15:9).

Fear of others led directly to Saul’s ruin and to this sad Old Testament judgement: “Now the Spirit of the Lord had left Saul” (16:14). The final outcome was the defeat described in these verses. We need to be careful! The fear of men can be a powerful driving influence in our lives. We are capable of starting down this same pathway toward complete disaster. We must seek God daily. And no matter how we may go astray, He can redirect our courseback to His ways and redeem us.

Adapted from Every man’s Bible NLT

WHAT ARE YOU LISTENING TO?

27 “My sheep listen to My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give them eternal life, and they will never perish; and no one will snatch them out of My hand” (John 10:27-28).

Have you ever thought about how what we hear affects us? So many things these days gain our ear’s attention. From radios blaring music to anything and e-v-e-r-y-t-h-i-n-g on our phones. Listening is an activity that we are actively engaged in daily. So, what are you listening to?

According to one article, I found in my studies; sound affects us in four ways:

  1. 1. Physiologically (It affects our bodies)

For example, Our hearing is an immediate warning sense; sudden sounds start the warning process.

  1. 2. Psychologically (It changes our emotions and moods)

For example, the sounds of music, nature, and heavy equipment affect our emotional state, sometimes very intensely.

  1. 3. Cognitively (It affects our thought processes)

For example, when we try to listen to loud music or television while doing homework). 

  1. 4. Behaviorally (Sound causes stress and make us behave differently, positively or negatively).

For example, those gentle, soothing sounds contrasted with loud, piercing ones.

We know these things are true. It makes sense to consider the types of things we give our ears to.

Sometimes hearing God gets complicated with the plethora of other things that fill our ears. These things affect us and often move us away from opportunities to listen to Him.

Listening to the “right” things will affect us in all those ways previously mentioned-But in a much healthier way! How often do we listen to sound, biblical preaching? God-honoring music? Other godly people, and especially the Word of the living God? I expect our answers to these questions will determine how affected we are by His truth.

4 ways sound affects you, Julian Treasure (web)

QUESTIONS

Mark 9:9-13

BRIEF INTRO: Peter, James, and John were taken up to a high mountain with Jesus, where He was transfigured before them. These three men, out of the twelve that Christ called unto Himself, were the closest to Him, the “inner circle” that witnessed many things that the others did not. This was one of those times. 

To these three disciples, Jesus gave a special privilege of previewing His kingdom. But in this case, it wasn’t a repeat of the view presented in Matthew thirteen (“the kingdom of heaven is like). Rather, “it was a glimpse of the kingdom as it will be when it has been completely established, and Jesus is revealed to all as its King.”

These men were the key disciples that Jesus would use to motivate and encourage others. To these men, all twelve, the gospel would be entrusted. The gospel was to move forward and be proclaimed throughout the world. I think this goal, at least in part, was to encourage and motivate these three men. We have witnessed their doubts along the way, so something as grand as this would increase their faith and understanding of who Jesus is and why He came, lived among them, and would ultimately die and rise again!

As they were coming down from the mountain, He gave them orders not to relate to anyone what they had seen, [a]until the Son of Man rose from the dead.”

FOCUS ONE: What happens on the mountain. . .

The central theme of this vision is Jesus, the king! He is the whole point. These men have just been given a glimpse of the divine nature of Jesus. Some of His glory radiated externally (that was within shined through) for them to see who He truly was and in such a powerful and memorable way so that they would understand more wholly why He would have to suffer and die. 

Can you imagine yourself witnessing such an event and then being told to keep it to yourself? Would you be able to? Jesus instructs them “not to relate to anyone what they had seen.” But this instruction or exhortation was limited in time. It was not to be kept a secret forever, only until “the Son of Man should rise from the dead” (v. 9). 

“Only from the perspective of the resurrection would they understand the transfiguration and thus be able to proclaim its meaning correctly.” It appears that they believed in a future resurrection (John 11:24), but their misunderstanding of His messianic kingdom’s nature was evident. And so…

10 “They [a]seized upon [b]that statement, discussing with one another [c]what rising from the dead meant.”

FOCUS TWO: Healthy dialogue 

They “seized upon” or kept those words to themselves. This “keeping” is similar to what Mary did (Luke 2:19) after she heard so many good things about her baby boy. One exception would be that while Mary kept those things to herself (pondered them in her heart), they kept discussing what Christ’s words meant with one another. Especially His statement regarding rising from the dead. What does rising from the dead mean? 

Again, it is clear that they were perplexed by Jesus’ words. What is instructive for us is that they wanted to understand what He was saying to them! They kept on discussing His words together. The dialogue and possibly debates about what He meant continued for some time, most likely even up to the events at Gethsemane, the trials, and then the cross.

I love their zeal to understand! I love the discussion, dialogue, and debates that ensued over His words. I am excited that they wanted to know truth, understand theology (although they may not have viewed it that way at the time), and even their willingness to engage in thoughtful debate over the issue. We can learn much from this observation. We are witnessing the demise of such things in our society. Rather than polite, thoughtful discussion to know the truth, we resort to yelling, canceling, and even violence. God help us.

What does rising from the dead mean? One commentator points out: “The disciples did not understand the distinction between “the second coming” (8:38) and “the resurrection” (9:9). The Jews of Jesus’ day expected only one coming of the Messiah into history and this coming was related to the military victory and supremacy of national Israel on a global scale.” 

11 And they asked Him, saying, “Why is it that the scribes say that Elijah must come first?” 12 And He said to them, “Elijah does come first and he restores all things. And yet how is it written of the Son of Man that He will suffer many things and be treated with contempt? 13 But I say to you that Elijah has [a]indeed come, and they did to him whatever they wanted, just as it is written of him.”

FOCUS THREE: The authority of scripture

It is not odd for the scribes to come into the conversation. However, it is a bit unusual that the Pharisees are not mentioned with them. But it is rather insightful, especially when we notice Jesus’ response to the question. The Scribes and the Pharisees sat in “Moses’ seat. That is equivalent to a university’s “chair of philosophy. “The expression here may be translated as “[they] have seated themselves in Moses’ seat”-stressing the fact that this was an imaginary authority they claimed for themselves. There was a legitimate sense in which the priest and Levites had authority to decide matters of law (Deuteronomy 17:9), but the scribes and Pharisees had gone beyond any legitimate authority and were adding human tradition to the word of God (Matthew 15:3-9). For that Jesus condemned them (Matthew 23:8-36).”

Jesus, in this case, does not invalidate their teaching regarding Elijah. He clarifies it! The word “must” is a verb (dei) that in Greek speaks of the absolute necessity that this must occur. So this is a logical question being asked of Jesus in light of Malachi four and their recent experience on the mountain.

The question seems to be, how does the appearance of Elijah on the mountain relate to the scribe’s teaching? Let me sum up Jesus’ answer in this way:

“The sequence of thought is as follows: (1) Elijah is coming as the restorer (Malachi 4:5); (2) he came, unrecognized, in the person of John the Baptist, and was killed; (3) the Son of Man faces a like fate. The disciples seem to grasp only the first two points.”

We will witness these very words of Jesus coming true as we continue moving forward in our study of Mark. 

One last observation for our consideration. Did you notice the statement “just as it is written of him” in verse thirteen regarding John the Baptist, and again in verse twelve “how is it written” concerning the Son of man? Those statements should encourage our study of scripture and equip us in our daily walk and ministries because they reveal Jesus’ high view of scripture! He believes it to be authoritative, and so should we!

The Bible Knowledge Commentary, pg. 143

Preceptaustin commentaries, online

Macarthur Study Bible, pg. 1436

A SUBSTITUTE

Several years ago I needed to find a coffee “substitute.” Caffeine was causing me various issues and I needed to reduce my intake of it. So, I started looking for something that could “take it’s place.”

I found Postum! I enjoyed that drink sooo much, well, that is until it disappeared off the shelves. In every way Postum made me feel like I was having a good cup of coffee. Its texture, taste, and aroma all made me feel like I wasn’t missing anything by not actually drinking coffee. It was great while it lasted!

Part of the salvific work of Jesus in being our sin-bearer, was that of being our substitute. A SUBSTITUTE is one that takes the place of another. That is what Jesus became for us!

Unlike Postum which only satisfies temporarily, The substitutionary work of Jesus Christ brings results that satisfy eternally.

Because of Jesus believer’s have “become dead to sin and alive to righteousness” (1Peter 2:24). God is NOW for us and not against us (Romans 8:31). These are only two of many benefits believers receive when they trust Him as their substitute!

No one else can be such a substitute for us. God had placed that work on Christ alone. Jesus, in all ways, met and settled, for all time, the charges God had against sinners. Because Of Jesus we can have peace with God!

Friend, you don’t have to pay the debt you owe for your sins. Jesus paid it for you! Turn to Him in repentant faith and you will find His forgiveness.

THE MOST IMPORTANT QUESTION

Matthew 16:13–16 :”Now when* Jesus came to the region of Caesarea ⌊Philippi⌋, he began asking* his disciples, saying, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?” 14 And they said, ⌊Some⌋ say John the Baptist, but others Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.” 15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”

As we read through these verses we notice that there are two questions that Jesus asks the disciples. First, who do the people say I am? And second, who do you say that I am? Both are serious questions, but ONLY one truly matters!

It can be helpful to “guage” the crowd or take a survey to find out what the most popular opinion is at any given time, but that’s just it: times change and so do our opinions. The “survey says,” (that’s a popular line from the old Family Feud show) that Jesus was everything other than who He was!

“There was a wide range of opinions on who Jesus was. Some of them were very clearly ill-informed. Which one of these answers is obviously false? Why? Jesus clearly could not have been John the Baptist since their lives overlapped and they were born just a few months apart and had actually seen each other face to face on at least one occasion. But all of the opinions had one thing in common. Everyone believed Jesus was somebody special and not just an ordinary man.”

That may seem to be an encouraging answer, “He’s special, certainly not ordinary,” but it really isn’t. Many people believe Jesus was a great man, good teacher, and wonderful example, but such beliefs will not find them enjoying peace with God and life everlasting!

The answer to Jesus’second question is the one that counts. “Who do YOU say That I am?  This question is personal and direct. Opinion polls do not matter. Surveys have no place here.  Who do you say Jesus is dear friend?

Matthew 16:16–18 :”16 And Simon Peter answered and* said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God!” 17 And Jesus answered and* said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon son of Jonah, because flesh and blood did not reveal this* to you, but my Father who is in heaven. “

Simon got it right! Do you notice how different his answer is compared to the majority opinion? Simon understood Jesus to be the Messiah: the rescuer; the redeemer! BUT, Simon could never of came to that truth claim without the help of God the Father.

Neither can we. Neither can YOU! Friends, you will be truly blessed when God reveals who Christ is to you. When you finally come to that place where you know absolutely who Jesus is (as Peter did), and receive Him by faith, your life, your destiny will be forever changed!

You will become a “new creation in Christ Jesus.” His just condemnation will be removed from you. And you will become an heir of the grace of God in Christ!

And, you will truly understand just how “special” He really is! Please, look unto Him and llive.GOSPEL

TODAY is the day of your salvation

As I was sitting in my school bus waiting to begin my route, I was scrolling through my news feed and came across this article that I want to share with you.

There is nothing new or unusual about this article (link to it below). Sadly, such a thing has become more normal to us as this world and it’s technology allow us immediate information on what is happening around our world.

https://share.newsbreak.com/15q55bin

Below is just a sample of the article that I hope might open our eyes once again to the sad reality that our Bible teaches. “ And inasmuch as it is [a]appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). And this reality happens to the very young as well.

“15-year-old dies at high school track and field practice, Indiana district says (A 15-year-old) freshman died at his high school’s evening track and field practice, according to an Indiana school district.”

“The Metropolitan School District of Lawrence Township and Lawrence North High School are extremely saddened by the (sudden) and unexpected death of a 15-year old freshman student … at Track & Field practice,” a district spokesperson said. “Our deepest sympathies go out to his family, friends, teachers, and classmates.”

Notice that this was a teenager not an elderly person who lived a full life. No one knows when his/her life will be required of them. No one knows how it will happen. I am sure that this young boy, so full of life, never in his wildest dreams thought that that day would be his last.

His last to participate in track and field. His last to hug his parents and tell them he loved them. His last day to joke around with his peers. His last day to look to Jesus for the forgiveness of his sins.

Admittedly, I don’t know this young man or his family. I don’t know if he was part of a loving functioning family or not. I don’t know if he professed faith in Christ. What I do know however, is that EVERYBODY NEEDS THAT FORGIVENESS!

Our youth is a time when we think we are invincible; a time when getting old and dying are the last things on our minds. In some ways this is normal, even right. But take notice to the counsel we receive from scripture.

“Rejoice, O young man, in your youth, and let your heart cheer you in the days of your youth. Walk in the ways of your heart and the sight of your eyes. But know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment” (Ecclesiastes 11:9).

“Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near of which you will say, “I have no pleasure in them”; (Ecclesiastes 12:1).

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” (Proverbs 3:5-6).

Our children desperately need us to teach them about Jesus and His Word. They need godly examples to follow in a culture that is one of perversion and death. A culture that’s primary purpose seems to be to entertain us right into hell!

It’s challenging enough for us older folk. Imagine what it must be like for our children.

Today it’s a new day. You feel great, even blessed, but you are not guaranteed to make it through. Neither are our children! Have you been instructing them in the things of God, their creator? Have you shared the gospel with them?

Today just might be the last chance you have.

My reading suggestions

I thought it might be helpful to give you some reading ideas for the new year that may help expand your bible knowledge and foster a greater application of the truths taught. So, here are some of my recommendations:

Relating to the Doctrine of God:

  1. J.I. Packer; knowing God (A classic)
  2. Arthur W. Pink; The Attributes of God (one of my favorites, very helpful).

Relating to the Inspiration of the Scriptures:

  1. Edward J. Young; Thy Word is truth (very readable)
  2. Theodore Engelder; Scripture cannot be broken

Relating to Divine Providence:

  1. Calvin’s Calvinism: Treatises on the Eternal predestination of God and the secret providence of God. Translated by Henry Cole

Relating to the incarnation:

  1. Calvin’s Institutes are a great go-to for an overview of theology. In this case Book 2 chapters 12-14.

Relating to Justification:

  1. Charles Hodge; Justification by faith alone
  2. R.C. Sproul; Faith Alone: The evangelical doctrine of justification.

Relating to the Gospels:

  1. Tom Weaver; The Gospel Dilemma (helps to explain the transitional nature of the NT).

Hopefully, you find these suggestions helpful. Happy reading!