The Encourager

The Encourager

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Greater Voice - by Andy Diestelkamp

Saturday, December 24, 2022

Greater Voice

by Andy Diestelkamp

The technology of social media has given greater voice to the masses while simultaneously insulating us from face-to-face realties. This has emboldened many to “come out” with their various identity crises with the support of and under the protection of a mob of virtual friends who will not only validate their choices but defensively rail against those who dare to question their choices and/or challenge their reasoning.

However, greater voice is a good thing only if it has ears to hear. Contrary to the biblical admonition, many are swift to speak, swift to wrath, and slow to hear (cf. James 1:19). This is not just a problem on the part of those who are “coming out” but also on the part of those who oppose them. While the worldly-wise nonsensically oppose opposition as unloving hate speech, those opposed to such worldly wisdom too often foolishly resort to worldly methods of opposition, forgetting that the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (2 Cor. 10:3-5). Paul’s reminder is not just a condemnation of resorting to the extreme of physical violence but includes how we engage those in error with our words. While the reasoning of those who reject God and His Word can be frustrating and infuriating, our replies need to be characterized by

patient, long-suffering grace as exemplified by Jesus rather than in the manner of political leftists or rightists.

One of the advantages of the greater voice given to the common man is an exposure to a multitude of perspectives. Looking at things through different lenses or walking a mile in another man’s shoes are positive metaphors suggesting that we all still have more to learn from which we can benefit. Interaction with cultures other than the one of our own nativity can greatly affect our perspective on things. One of the dangers of “American exceptionalism” is the lack of objectivity that often comes with such pride. Indeed, for the Christian, any national or ethnic culture must ultimately submit to the culture of Christ and not vice versa (cf. 1 Cor. 9:19-23).

Yet, one of the disadvantages of the greater voice for so many is the confusion that often results when a multitude of diverse perspectives clash. The cacophony of voices can be overwhelming to the point of two extreme reactions: we stop listening to opposing views altogether, or we become so open-minded that our brains fall out. There’s a better place between the alleged bliss of ignorance and the alleged freedom of irrationality; and it is not found in worldly media, regardless of how fair and balanced it claims to be. It is only found in Jesus Christ.

Jesus is the Word that became flesh (John 1:14) and is thus the divine voice to which our ears ought to be bent and tuned. Jesus said, “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (10:27). “I am the way, the truth, and the life” (14:6). “Everyone who is of the truth listens to My voice” (18:37). “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come to him and eat with him, and he with Me” (Rev. 3:20). So let us filter the competing and confusing voices of this world through Jesus Christ and the words of His apostles and prophets. Let us find our identity in Christ alone and “come out” from the world “lest you share in her sins, and lest you receive of her plagues” (18:4). Let us have ears to hear the greater and greatest voice, Jesus Christ.

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The Christian's Mission - by Jeff Curtis

Saturday, December 17, 2022

The Christian’s Mission

By Jeff Curtis

When we consider Jesus’ final instructions to His apostles in Mark 16:14-16 (Matt. 28:18-20), we are struck by both the completeness and the incompleteness of the Lord’s ministry. Jesus came into the world to fulfill the purpose that His Father had given Him. On the Thursday night before His death, His fulfillment of that purpose was so near completion that He could say to His Father in prayer, “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do” (John 17:4). He had been perfectly obedient to His Father. At the same time, we see a glaring incompleteness that demands attention. Jesus began His ministry by preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matt.4:17). This message was His continual proclamation for roughly 3 ½ years. When He approached the end of His ministry, He was still forecasting the coming of the kingdom (Mark 9:1). He told His apostles, as He led them to Mount Olivet, where He would ascend to the Father, that in a few days the Holy Spirit would come upon them and they would receive power (Acts 1:4-5). When Jesus blessed His apostles and ascended through the clouds, ending for all time His own earthly ministry, the kingdom still had not arrived. It was due to arrive soon, but it had not yet come.

What was Jesus’ ministry meant to accomplish? He didn’t come to end something, but to begin something. His ministry set in place the greatest of all missions. The greatest event of all times was Jesus’ ministry. The Old Testament looked forward to it. It is the heart of the Bible, expressed in what we call the “Great Commission.”

 

 

 

When Jesus gave His final message to His disciples before His ascension, He told them that He had all authority and identified Himself as the designated head of the Christian Era that was beginning. He then commanded them to “make disciples of all the nations” (Matt. 28:19). He went on to indicate that, as the masses accepted the gospel message, the disciples were to baptize believers in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit (Matt.28:19). Those being commissioned were then to teach the ones who had been baptized everything that Jesus had taught them (Matt. 28:20). In His final word of encouragement, Jesus told them that, as they carried out His commission, He would be with them and all the others who would come after them until “the end of the age” (Matt. 29:20).

Jesus had come to start a mission that He would hand over to His disciples and apostles, and then they would live it out as their mission. Upon His return to the Father, Jesus would enter into His work as our mediator at the Father’s right hand, interceding for His people as their High Priest. His plan all along was to leave in the hands of His apostles and disciples – at the appropriate time – this mission that His ministry had begun. He gave his gospel, which He had created by His death and confirmed by His resurrection, to all who followed Him. These followers were to wear His name and become his church. Surely, in this announcement of His mission, we are seeing the supreme goal that Jesus calls upon His church to fulfill daily.

Displaying 77 - 78 of 319

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