A few weeks ago we began talking about Jesus speaking the Parable of the Wheat and the Tares. This was one of the few parables he actually interpreted for his followers, and in that interpretation he revealed it was a prophecy about the difficult future of Christianity. He spoke of false Christians and an entire age when the true and false would grow together – outwardly indistinguishable from one another - until the "harvest" time. We traced some of the corrupting influences through the long history of the church and began to see how the gospel was treated (and mistreated) along the way. Jesus, after speaking the Wheat and the Tares Parable, spoke two other parables. We believe they further described the corrupted condition of Christianity. So, what do these other parables tell us? Are we in danger of being deceived? Is the gospel even intact here and now in our present world?
So much of what Jesus taught was about the practical parts of living – learning to love, forgive and encourage one another - and these are the parts of his teachings that seem to garner the most attention. Jesus did, however, spend significant time imparting prophetic teaching as well. He came to earth as a man to ransom the human race, and in so doing, to call out "a people for his name." Much of his prophetic teaching was focused on how that calling would work and what that calling would face by way of challenges and pitfalls. Jesus was specific about what to expect regarding that calling regarding Christianity in terms of corruption and deceit. It sounds odd to think about Jesus calling out some future failures of what would come to be thought of as the Christian world, but he did. How did he do it? What did he say? What did he mean? What should we be paying attention to?
Vengeance, indignation, burning anger and jealousy. These are some of the words the Bible uses to describe God’s reactions to this present evil world. To put it mildly, God is not happy. Can you blame Him? Look at us – look at what this world does, what it stands for and how we treat one another! God will not allow such sin and corruption to continue. He will act and when He does, there will be no mistaking His response. The Bible emphatically describes what look like world ending events – these events are called “The Day of Vengeance,” “Armageddon,” “The Time of Trouble,” “The Day of Wrath”… So wait! We are always talking about God being a God of love – how could this vengeance of God possibly be interpreted as an act of love? Is God so vengeful and angry that He is going to squash us like bugs or is there another way to understand what His vengeance is, how it works and what it accomplishes?
Resurrection. It is synonymous with the most basic tenets of Christian belief, no matter what denomination, sect or group one may come from. For most of us, we think about Jesus and the fact of his resurrection and we think about the prospect of our own resurrection. On the surface it sounds pretty simple – be faithful, die and then go to heaven – but – what if the doctrine of resurrection entailed more than that? What if what we normally envision with our “resurrection eyes” was only the beginning of something much bigger and even more amazing? Stay with us!
As Christians we believe that we have been given the answer for the major dilemma of life – sin and ultimately death. We believe that the life, death and resurrection of Jesus put back in balance what Adam’s sin originally put out of balance. The problem is this: We as Christians cannot agree as to whom to apply that sacrifice. Is it for all - every man and woman who ever lived, or is it for only the few who have ever followed after Jesus? Stay with us as we take an honest and scriptural look at the question!
We as Christians all hold the life, death and resurrection of Jesus as the centerpiece of our faith. Without Jesus, we are nothing. One of the key factors about this sacred truth that actually divides Christianity is the application of the sacrifice of Jesus. Just who did he die for and who, if any, are excluded from the benefit of his death? Stay with us as we look into a variety of perspectives and try to find the biblical principles that seal the answer to this question.
Everyone hurts someone at some point in their lives, whether it is intentional or not. Many of us carry the scars of past disappointments, broken trust, or just plain tragedy with us for our entire lives. Even though we know what forgiveness is, sometimes it seems too hard to truly exercise it because it seems that if we forgive, then we are somehow letting the other party off the hook. Is this true? Stay with us as we look into what forgiveness is and what it is not and try and get our arms around one of the greatest earthly powers that God ever gave us!
As a Christian, we look at Jesus not only as our Lord and Savior, not only as the Ransom given for the sins of the world, but as a great teacher as well. One can spend a lifetime learning from him. One of the unique aspects of Jesus’ teaching is the fact that he taught in parables – stories – lots of stories. Stay with us as we will look at one of those stories and see some remarkably clear lessons about life and the challenges of following Christ.
Salvation – it is at the very core of Christian faith. Salvation is something we all want and something that we as Christians all claim. That’s good...for us. Now the harder part. What about unbelievers? Where do they fit? Do all unbelievers have the same opportunity as we do? What about those who never heard of Jesus and died in that ignorance? Does the Bible give us concrete answers to these questions? Stay with us as we open and discuss an incredibly difficult question – can one who dies an unbeliever still be saved?
It was over 2,000 years ago that the world changed. As we look back, we can trace the events of Jesus' last week to the fulfilling of many prophecies. The events of what we now call Palm Sunday were a striking beginning to a series of circumstances that showed the value of Jesus and his sacrifice in an unmistakable and inspiring way. This is the story that we tell. Stay with us as we look at Jesus, prophecy and the Jewish Passover and their remarkable correlations.