Roger Lanse is providing the material for this column, which will be posted on an irregular basis. Roger Lanse moved to Grant County with his wife, Ellen, in 1979. They now live in Arenas Valley and attend Bible Baptist Church of Silver City.
About 700 years before the birth of Christ, Isaiah prophesied that a virgin would give birth to a Son and call His name Immanuel, which referred more to a title or description, than a proper name. Matthew translates this name as ‘God with us.’ What an amazing statement. What an awesome declaration. What a name. God with us.
That the words of the prophet might be fulfilled, God sent His Son, Jesus, the Son of God and Son of Man, fully God and fully man, to earth to be the Savior of mankind. Jesus would leave the splendor and glory and peace of heaven to come to this planet, to be spit upon and beaten and crucified, so that you and I would have a way to enter heaven.
The same way we do, by faith; faith in God the Creator who lives, faith in His ability to bless the righteous and punish evildoers, and faith that Messiah would come.
They had faith if they kept the Law, as handed down by God to Moses, with a pure heart, they would be acceptable to God. Those Old Testament believers were assured they would be welcomed into heaven, for King David wrote in Psalms, “For the Lord loves justice and does not forsake His saints, they are preserved forever.
Let me tell you a parable.
Imagine you have been convicted of a serious felony and are now in a courtroom awaiting sentencing. The judge reviews your case and hands down the sentence – a $3 million fine or 30 years in jail. Well, you say, “Judge, since I don’t have $3 million, nor anything close to that, I guess I’ll take the 30 years.”
Just then a person you don’t know, have never met before, stands up in the rear of the gallery and declares, “I will pay the defendant’s $3 million fine, Judge.” So, you have a choice. Do you reject this offer and go to jail, or do you accept the offer and walk out of the courtroom free?
We’ve all disobeyed God and hurt other people. What, then, can we do with our guilt? God’s Holy Spirit directed David to write in the Book of Psalms (32:3-5) that keeping our sin inside saps our strength, but if we confess our sin we will receive mercy.
This confessing should be to God, but I don’t think it stops there. We must also acknowledge our sin privately to those we may have hurt. Jesus tells us in Matthew that if anyone has something against us we are to drop everything and make it right with them. Our confession may be rejected by that person, but we will have fulfilled what God requires of us. If it is not possible to connect with the offended person, please remember that David’s promise in Psalms still applies.
It works for me. I was going to open with “All I can say is, it works for me,” but then nothing else could be said. Fat chance!
How often has ‘it’ worked for me? Over and over and over again. Some may call it coincidence, or wishful thinking, or imagination. Beg to disagree. It’s happened too many times to be portrayed as chance or fancy.
Whether it was a late payment for a job worth tens of thousands of dollars, or a small rusty automotive part lost on a dirt road, or finding my hearing aids this morning, God graciously answered to shore up my struggling faith. Not to say God always answers my prayer my way. Faith that He sees what I can’t helps, when He says ‘No’ or ‘Wait.’
God’s Law, given to the Israelites through Moses, directed them to tithe to the Levites, the tribe assigned to take care of the tabernacle, because they weren’t included in the land distribution when the Jews entered Canaan. The Levites were then instructed to tithe to Aaron the priest the tithes they received from the children of Israel.
The Lord, through the prophet Malachi, accused the Israelites of robbing Him. When they asked, “How?” they were told “in tithes and offerings.”
Yet, Paul tells us in Romans we are no longer under the Law. So, that means we don’t have to tithe, right? Hang on.
Although many people maintain baptism is necessary for salvation, it’s a claim the Bible doesn’t support.
When the Philippian jailer asked Paul and Silas what they must do to be saved, the two missionaries answered, “believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” No baptism involved.
You know, if you remove the ‘m’ from the middle of ‘cremate,’ you wind up with ‘create.’
Which reminds me -- God is Creator. He created the heavens and the earth -- from nothing. He created Adam from the dust. He created Eve from Adam’s rib. In fact, Paul tells us in the Book of Colossians that God (Jesus) created “all things.”