Saturday, December 15, 2012

The Christian Life

An audio overview of the lesson by Raul Diaz.

Click here for Stream or Download

Subscribe to this Feed

Below is the Audio Script:

The Christian Life

“By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren” (1 John 3:16, NKJV).

The title of this week’s lesson is The Christian life.  The picture on Sabbath’s entry is portraying what seems to be the Parable of the Good Samaritan.  Is there a relationship between these two?  Studying this parable, albeit briefly, may give us answer.  If we recall Jesus was answering a question about, “who is my neighbor?”  A man is lying on the ground by the side of a road beaten badly.  A Priest on his way to serve in the temple crosses the street, away from this man, and continues on His way.  After this a Levite also passes by and does the same as the Priest.  Remember, working in the Temple was considered God’s work.  And, caring for the beaten man would have made them not only late but ceremoniously unclean, therefore unfit for serving.  A Samaritan – considered a sinner of the worst kind - who passed by, stopped to help the man, took him to a safe place cared for him, and made sure the man was cared for after the Samaritan left.  We do not know how much of a sacrifice this effort was for the Samaritan.  So, Christ asked the question, “who was a true neighbor,” in other words, “who truly did God’s work:  Those who worked in the temple or the one who stopped to help?”  Pharisees and Priests answered, “He who helped the needy.”  They would not say, “The Samaritan.”  The Priest and the Levite did the temple’s work, but not God’s work. 

Our lesson calls this social responsibility.  The point they try to make is that it is not enough to know and believe the right doctrine; you must also help others in need.  What this implies is that somehow there is a conscious choice to help others.  To make their point they used Jesus’ parable of the Sheep and the Goat in Matthew 25.  This parable, however, seems to contradict what they are saying.  Let us take a close look.  We start reading on verse 34,

Mat 25:34 Then shall the King say unto them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
Mat 25:35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
Mat 25:36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me.

The sheep seem not to know what Jesus is talking about.  They reply,

Mat 25:37 …Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink?
Mat 25:38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee?
Mat 25:39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee?  To which the Lord replied,
Mat 25:40 …, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

So, several things come out of this narrative.  1. There is no mention in the story of whether the sheep knew or did not know correct and enough doctrine.  2. What the sheep did was not a result of a conscious choice.  If that were the case they would have remembered.  3. Jesus is pleased with them.  4. The fact that doing unto others is as doing unto Jesus.  The sheep were sensitive, albeit unknowingly, about how Jesus felt, and they proceeded to relieve some of His pain and suffering. 

As we move on in the story, the goat’s reward was the lake of fire prepared for the devil and his angels.  They did not know about helping others is helping Jesus.  It seems as if they were expecting something different.  Many tie in this group with the group in Matthew 7, Let us read the passage,

Mat 7:21 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.
Mat 7:22 Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works?
Mat 7:23 And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.

The fact that Jesus says on both references, “Depart from me…” seems to make them, if not the same, in the same condition.  Notice, that the account in Matthew 7 Jesus call them, “ye workers of iniquity,” and on Matthew 25 he calls them “ye cursed.”  Are not the workers of iniquity cursed of God?  Remember, these were church going people, who performed miracles and prophesied in Jesus name.  Jesus was not pleased with them.

With who, then, is Jesus pleased?  He is pleased with those who have faith (Hebrew 11:6).  We know that faith comes through hearing and hearing through the Word of God (Romans 10: 17).  They heard the word and believed it and it was counted to them as righteousness (Romans 4: 3; Galatians 3: 6; James 2: 23); this means they were righteous.  Righteous is another word for just.  Just are the doers of the law (Romans 2: 13).  The law is summarized into to commandments: love God above all else, and your neighbor above yourself (Matthew 22: 40).  No surprise then that love is the fulfilling of the law (Romans 13: 8, 10; Galatians 5: 14).  But, love is also manifested in laying down your life (1 John 3: 16).  This is not just dying, it is living for Jesus and others (2 Corinthians 5: 14 - 16).  What the sheep did was an outgrowth of love. 

What the goat did was sin.  Yes, they may have tithed and go to church faithfully, participate in church programs, sing praises, preach and teach, give Bible studies, etc.  But the fact that Christ was not pleased with them, shows that all they did was out of faith, for anything outside of faith is Sin (Romans 14:23).  And, sin is the transgression of the law (1 John 3: 4).  Which means that there was no faith in what they did, they did not lay down there lives for others, they lived for themselves, in the guise of living for Christ.  (So, for those who tithe not in faith, they are sinning.)

This then gives a different understanding to stewardship and marriage.  The steward does not live for himself, but for his Master.  He takes care of whatever the Master has given the steward to care for.  So, having “dominion” over something means you are its caretaker.  In marriage you learn to live for the other person.  It teaches us to become one, as Christ and the Father are one, and Jesus and we are one.  The reason for so many divorces is truly a lack of Godly, unconditional, self denying, other centered love.  A love we do not have naturally.  But we can acquire from God, if only we accept it.