Posts categorized “Worship”

How to Know Who Jesus Is

October 6, 2010

Today, our series “The 3:16s of the New Testament” reaches its other bookend (the end if you’ve been reading along, the start if you’re looking at it once it’s done), as we look at Matthew 3:16, presented here in context with verse 17.

16After Jesus was baptized, He went up immediately from the water. The heavens suddenly opened for Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming down on Him. 17And there came a voice from heaven:

This is My beloved Son.

I take delight in Him!

Matthew 3:16-17 (HCSB)

This story is also covered in Luke 3:16, which we covered two weeks ago. This week, though, I’d like to focus on the One who was baptized - Jesus. After He was baptized, the sky opened up, and God the Father was heard confirming Jesus’ identity as His Son; He also expressed his pleasure with Him. This happened before Jesus was tempted (Matthew 4:1-11), and before the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7). By allowing Himself to be baptized by John, He confirmed that John had been doing the right thing; He did the same thing that John had been telling the people they needed to do. So how do we find out who Jesus is? One of the best ways is to simply look at what He said about Himself, and what others said about Him.

First, Jesus said why He was here.

17"Don’t assume that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets. I did not come to destroy but to fulfill. 18For I assure you: Until heaven and earth pass away, not the smallest letter or one stroke of a letter will pass from the law until all things are accomplished."

Matthew 5:17-18 (HCSB)

This was one of the first things Jesus said in the Sermon on the Mount, following the Beatitudes. This qualification was important for several reasons. First, Jesus said it - that’s a given, but it is a good reason nonetheless. Second, He was about to issue some pretty big clarifications to the law, and contradict some other teachings of the church of that day. He was letting His hearers know that what was about to come wasn’t meant to tear down the law, but to fulfill it. Third, this is early in His ministry. People may have only heard rumors about Him up to this point, and He wanted to make sure that these seekers and followers knew what He was about. Fourth, the current religious leaders were very strict legalists; they would react negatively to someone saying that the law was invalid. (They reacted negatively anyway, but that’s another story.) Finally, this lets us know, 2,000 years later, that everything we’ve read in our Bibles up to this point, the whole of the Old Testament through Matthew 4, is not null and void. Rather, He was the One who had been foretold. The law pointed to Him.

Jumping ahead, Jesus asked His disciples who they thought He was.

13When Jesus came to the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, “Who do people say that the Son of Man is?”

14And they said, “Some say John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”

15"But you," He asked them, “who do you say that I am?”

16Simon Peter answered, “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God!”

Matthew 16:13-16 (HCSB)

At this point, Jesus had been at His ministry for a good long time; and, although He was very popular, it’s almost like they weren’t really hearing what He was saying. John the Baptist had been jailed and beheaded; Elijah had been gone for thousands of years; Jeremiah had been gone for hundreds of years. Yet people seemed to think that Jesus was one of these men, other than the Messiah, as He claimed to be. Of course, we can’t be too hard on the casual observers - even Jesus’ own disciples didn’t believe Him when He said He was going to die. However, the disciples were sure of His identity. Simon Peter makes what is one of the most famous declarations of Jesus’ identity in response to His question. Peter had the right answer, and the term Messiah was key in his response. Jesus was the One who had been promised ever since man fell, just a few days after the creation of the earth. All of the sacrifices were simply pictures of the Sacrifice to come; and, God could have made the sacrifices last longer than they did, but He wanted them to be continually reminded of what was to come. It’s a shame that, by the time He did arrive, the Jewish religion had become more ritual than heartfelt. (Is our religion today any different? If it’s not, whose fault is it?)

We’ll finish this with one final statement from Jesus, which he said after arriving in Bethany and finding Lazarus had died.

25Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in Me, even if he dies, will live.”

John 11:25 (HCSB)

Fulfilling the law is good, and being the Messiah is great, but this is the awesome result of that! I’ve written in depth on this wonderful news when we looked at John 3:16 and Romans 3:16, so I won’t write a whole lot here. I will point out, though, the center of the verse, where Jesus very succinctly says who may obtain this eternal life - anyone who believes in Him! That’s it - it’s no more complicated than that. If you have not accepted this free gift of His, and would like to know more details about how you can accept this gift, please read God’s Simple Plan of Salvation - it explains, in detail, our need for a savior, and how Jesus fills that. If you have accepted Christ, rejoice in Who has claimed you for His own. He gave His life so that we could live with Him forever - praise God!

How to Have Church

November 14, 2007

This week, our journey takes us to Colossians 3:16.

16Let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs, with gratitude in your hearts to God.

Colossians 3:16 (HCSB)

This verse shows us how to really have church - how to join together with others in worship. The Bible is clear that we’re not supposed to be “Lone Ranger” Christians, but we are to connect with other believers. Hebrews 10:24-25 says…

24And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, 25not staying away from our meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near.

Hebrews 10:24-25 (HCSB)

Let’s break this verse down phrase and phrase. What does it mean to “let the message about the Messiah dwell richly among you”? The Gospel (the message about the Messiah) is a treasure, the depths of which we will not understand while we are here on this earth. However, the more we do learn about it, the fuller our hearts and lives will be. It should completely fill our hearts, to the point where we can see every thing that happens in our lives in the context of the freedom we have because of what Jesus has done for us.

How do we do that? That’s what the rest of this verse tells us. The first aspect is “teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom…” As we study the Bible for ourselves, there are two aspects that come together. First, we associate what we’re learning with what we already know, and the experiences that we have been through - this is our perspective. Second, we understand as God gives us discernment - a “Word from God” directly for us. When taken together, the perspective and discernment of each person is somewhat unique.

When we get together with other believers, who are also studying the Bible, we can learn from their perspective and discernment, and they can learn from our perspective and discernment. Listening to a traditional sermon from a man of God who has studied the Scripture regularly over the course of several years can be very enlightening. Sitting down together with a small group of believers and discussing a passage of Scripture can also be enlightening - God will use others’ viewpoints to help the entire group gain a deeper understanding of His Word.

The next way is “singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs…” Music has been a part of worship as long as worship has existed. The Bible says that the angels sing in heaven, and both the Old and New Testaments are replete with examples of music being used in worship. The book of Psalms is, in word form, the hymnbook of the Israelite church. Paul sang hymns regularly, whether he was in jail or in an established church. And Jesus even sang hymns! Notice what happened after He instituted the Lord’s Supper…

26As they were eating, Jesus took bread, blessed and broke it, gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take and eat it; this is My body.” 27Then He took a cup, and after giving thanks, He gave it to them and said, “Drink from it, all of you. 28For this is My blood [that establishes] the covenant; it is shed for many for the forgiveness of sins. 29But I tell you, from this moment I will not drink of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it in a new way in My Father’s kingdom with you.” 30After singing psalms, they went out to the Mount of Olives.

Matthew 26:26-30 (HCSB)

The way to do all of this is “with gratitude in your hearts to God.” As we learn more about Jesus, and begin to live an abundant Christian life, this gratitude should flow naturally from our hearts. But, even if we’re not “feeling it,” we should still express gratitude to God for all that He has done for us. Our continued existence on this planet is a testament to His protection, grace, and mercy; how much more should we be grateful for the blessings we have been given on top of that?

Some people think that they don’t need church - besides, it’s just full of a bunch of sinners anyway. Well, they’re partially right - Christians are nothing but saved sinners, and from time to time, they still sin. That Christians can know what sin is, believe one shouldn’t do it, but still do it anyway yet remain Christians, may be one of the most misunderstood parts of the Christian life. While some see it as hypocrisy, we know that it is the spiritual warfare, that struggle between the old man and the new man for cont`rol of our lives. However, just as one would not go into battle alone, we as Christians should not try to wage this spiritual battle without the company of our fellow warriors.

When group worship follows the guidelines given in Colossians 3:16, it becomes so valuable to us that we wouldn’t think of trying to make it on our own. I pray that, for each of us, our church experience will grow to approach the description Paul gave to the believers in Corinth.