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Sunday, February 17, 2013

(65) The Akedah Coincidence

What is faith?   Hebrews tell us it is the assurance of things hoped for, and convinced of things not seen.  Another way of looking at faith is instead of living by what we know, feel, and want, we live by trust, believing, and sometimes sacrifice.   Lesson 64 mentions it requires action.   God tells us to pray, worship, care for the sick, turn the other cheek, tithe, baptize, take communion and many other things.   We don’t do these things to gain salvation.   We do these things because our faith is made up of these things.   We do these things because our faith tells us they are the right thing to do.   And if we do anything outside of our faith, that is called living by the flesh.   When we live by the flesh; sin enters and the promises of God are put on hold.

But how do you get faith?  By hearing the word of God.   And you do that by listening to speakers of God, by reading the Word; getting interested in God’s word by sharing things together.
Have you ever heard the weird connections between Abraham Lincoln and John Kennedy?
  1. One was elected in 1860, the other in 1960.
  2. Both had a vice president named Johnson, one was born in 1809 the other in 1909.
  3. Both were assassinated.
  4. Both assassins had three names John Wilkes Booth and Lee Harvey Oswald, both have 15 letters in them.
  5. Lincoln was killed at Ford’s theater; Kennedy was in a Ford (Lincoln) when he was shot.
  6. Booth shot Lincoln in a theater and ran into a warehouse. Oswald shot Kennedy in a warehouse and ran to a theater.
As strange as that is there are more similarities between Isaac and Jesus than Lincoln and Kennedy.
  1. Both Isaac and Jesus were long awaited promised sons.  Isaac was promised to Abraham when he was 75 years old but the promise did not come true until he was 100.  Jesus had been promised to the Jewish nation since man had fallen in the Garden.
  2. Both births were questioned by their mother.  Sarah laughed when she heard she would become pregnant.  Mary did not understand how this could happen to her.  Why?  Read the next point.
  3. Both mothers were of weird ages.  Sarah was 90 when she had Isaac.  Mary, while unknown the exact age, was a virgin and since women married young in these days we can assume she was somewhere between 12 and 15.
  4. Both were made alive after their death.  Even though Isaac was not actually sacrificed in the flesh, to Abraham he was already dead.  God had told him to do it.  Abraham believed God would provide for him somehow to keep Isaac or get him back after the sacrifice.  Isaac was symbolically dead.  Jesus of course was physically raised from the dead after really being sacrificed.
  5. They both carried the wood they would be sacrificed on.  Isaac had the wood for the altar placed upon his back by Abraham.  Jesus carried his execution stake up and down the streets of Jerusalem.
  6. The mountain is the same mountain or at least the same area (Salem).  Abraham was led to the region of Moriah and was shown the mount to sacrifice Isaac.  This place was known at the time of Salem, later to be known as Jerusalem, the place Jesus would be sacrificed.
  7. Both births were at a given point in time by God alone.  God had told Abraham the time Isaac would be born.  There was an appointed time for his birth.  Jesus had been appointed since the fall of man.
  8. Both were the only begotten son of their father (spiritually speaking).  Although Abraham had two sons and Isaac was the second one born, he was the first one born of faith.  Ishmael who was Abraham's first son was born out of the flesh.  Abraham used his own means to get a son.  But God had a different plan and gave him Isaac out of faithfulness.  Jesus was Joseph's son but not from the flesh.  He was God's son and Joseph raised him.
  9. Jesus becomes the lamb that the bush had in it.  Isaac was saved by the hand of an angel.  God had provided another way out since Abraham was faithful.  Jesus is that other way out for us.
  10. On the third day they both were resurrected.  The time it took Abraham and Isaac to reach the place God had appointed for the sacrifice was three days.  All this time Isaac was symbolically dead.  Jesus was in the tomb for three days.  After three days both were no longer dead.
  11. They both have Jewish family but married gentiles.  This one is a little play on words but still works.  Abraham was considered the first Jew.  So Isaac and his immediate family and descendants were Jewish.  Isaac married his cousin, not a Jew.  Jesus was raised Jewish but married the church and since Judaism does not accept Jesus then the Church could be considered gentile.
  12. Both are given up by their father.  The most important point is this one.  Both were given up by their father to serve as a sacrifice.  Both were loved dearly by their fathers but knew this had to be done.  Both were innocent.  Isaac was young and perhaps had not yet reached the age of accountability that allows us to understand the difference between sin and righteousness.  Jesus never sinned.  Both were spotless and the father knew their blood would set things right.
When we read this we can start to know that God has a plan. We may not understand the plan like Abraham.  http://ideasoftimbible.blogspot.com/2010/03/34-abrahams-lie.html Sometimes we seem like we can’t find God like Jacob. http://ideasoftimbible.blogspot.com/2008/12/6-wrestling-with-god-genesis-25-34.html But in the end if we have faith God will provide the lamb a substitute lamb like he did for Isaac, and of course that is Jesus.
 
Here is the difference between the two scenarios:  the link between Lincoln and Kennedy is a coincidence, the link between Isaac and Jesus is what a great pastor from southwest Ohio calls a God-incident.  The connection between Lincoln and Kennedy can basically be found many times through out history and perhaps really have nothing to do with each other. http://www.snopes.com/history/american/lincoln-kennedy.asp  But no one can break the connection between Jesus and Isaac.  This is prophecy.  This is fact.  This is from God.  This allows faith to become stronger because we can see the works of God.
 
We live in a world that is losing its faith. We live in a world that has no idea what faith is or who God is. True story:  A teacher got a complaint from the administrator that said a parent did not like the military attitude and "forgery of swords" quote that was in the email to him.  What the person did not know is that the line he did not appreciate was part of the signature the teacher uses in all of his emails.  And the line actually says "as iron sharpens iron, so man should sharpen man".  The person had no idea that the line was an encouragement for people to help each other, yet he misunderstood it as though his flesh was being challenged by a sword.  What a pathetic world we live in.
You have to hold on to faith. You have to follow your faith.  Don’t let anything replace your faith, don’t let your head replace your faith, don’t let the world tell you to get rid of your faith. Faith is what gives us the promise of eternal life. Faith gives us hope. Faith gives us reason to keep living when all else seems useless. Without faith we are nothing.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

(64) Baptism

Two years ago this lesson was posted:  http://ideasoftimbible.blogspot.com/search/label/Baptism

Some who had read that had and others may have questions about those who say faith only is what you need to be saved.  Some have said that saying baptism is needed is legalism at its core because they think it means someone's works can earn them salvation.  Some have said that to teach baptism as being needed is borderline cultish.  But what is baptism?  And why is it in the scripture?

Baptism-  as with most translations this word comes from the Greek word baptismo.  Those who teach baptism would stress that it means "immersion"and would add that with Acts 2:38, for the forgiveness of sins.  Read the lesson posted above and you will see that baptism in and of itself is more than just these two terms and verses.  But this lesson is not about what it is.  It is about is it needed or not.

Faith is where it all starts.  Believing in Jesus Christ is the first step towards salvation.  But faith is more than just belief.  Faith is action.  Faith will cause us to do things.  Being a Christian means you are Christ-like.  This means that you take on the qualities of Jesus Christ.  "Taking" is a verb.  Verbs are action.  It is not about earning salvation.  It is about following the life of Christ and emulating what He did.  We are called to repent.  Without repentance are we saved?  No.  But some will ask about the thief on the cross since he wasn't baptised.  Well what they fail to consider is did the thief have a chance?  Who knows how long he was in prison as a thief?  He may have been there for all three years of Jesus' ministry and just heard about him right before he was hung on the cross.  Maybe nobody brought water to him.  In certain cases it would like God to allow circumstances to offer other options.  Or maybe he was baptized before he was thrown into jail.  The Bible does not say it either way.  In any case, the thief on the cross repented.  He may not have said the "sinner's prayer", whatever that is.  But nevertheless he told Jesus he wasn't worthy and wanted Jesus to save him.  That is repentance.  But, it is also an action.

Jesus also told us to worship, pray, take communion, teach.   Will these save someone?  More than likely no.  But are they commanded to do?  Yes.  If Christians do not do these things will they still make it to heaven?  That is up to God and God alone to decide.  But if we do not follow a command, then we are sinning.   These actions are commanded.  Saying no to a command is a sin.  You make the call.
 
Is baptism commanded?  If it was not important as a command then why would Jesus tell his followers to baptize people when He said goodbye to them?  Why did He do it Himself?
 
Hebrews tells us all about faith.  Once the book describes what it is it gives examples.  Abel brought a gift.  Noah built an ark.  Abraham left his home and traveled.  It says they were living by faith.  Living is an action.
 
Baptism may not be the thing that saves you.  But having faith only is not an excuse not to do things.  Faith takes action.  Baptism is part of your faith.  So in this case faith only means you do all that is commanded.  If that is the case then yes, having faith only will save you.

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