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Jesus

The Only Cure

1  Peter 3:15-16, Pastor Eddie Arnold, Pathway Christian Church of Harlan…  

When we look at the current world situation, all appears to be spiraling wildly out of control. Over these past few months, we have all endured the effects of the COVID-19. From home quarantines, job losses, to the ongoing fear of the unknown, to now seeing our cities being torn apart by hate and violence that has spawned out of the peaceful protests over George Floyd’s senseless murder. Needless to say, our world is dark, hurting and filled with chaos that seems to have no end in sight. However, these conditions have caused many to look for a greater purpose in this life, a greater good; a place of refuge and peace; someone or something to make sense of all that is happening. Now more than ever, people are looking for real, lasting hope. They want to know that there is something more than what this world has to offer. You see, for those of us who know and walk with the Lord Jesus Christ, these current circumstances have created an open door for us to confidently share the Gospel with a lost and dying world. 

But in order for us to share the hope that we have been given, we must live and know the Gospel. In Peter’s first letter he writes: “but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, having a good conscience, so that, when you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ may be put to shame (1 Pet. 3:15, 16). 

The Apostle gives the church a command. He says honor Christ in your heart as Lord. In other words, live your life with Jesus at the center, your greatest treasure, your Lord, Master! Because when you are consumed with who He is, those who are around you are going to want to know why you have such a hope! They are going to want to know why you are different; why you have such a peace and joy in the midst of all the trials and tribulation. And when God opens the door for you to speak the truth, you need to be able and ready to give them the answer with gentleness and respect.

Beloved, if someone asked you to share the Gospel with them would you be able to do it? Could you open the Bible and walk them through what it is to have eternal life, to be a child of the King? You see, the great tragedy of our day is there are many who profess the name of Jesus but have little or no understanding of His Word. Yet, the Bible makes it clear that that faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of Christ (Rom. 10:17). As Christians, we were not only commanded to believe the Gospel and be saved, but then to be ready to stand in defense of the truth as a bold and fearless witnesses for Him. Understand, if you belong to Jesus, you have been commissioned as His ambassador to make Him known (2 Cor. 5:18-20).  

We are living in a time where people are searching for answers. And for those of us who belong to Jesus, we have been entrusted with the life-giving cure. However, before we can administer the cure, we must first address the cause of the sickness. There is no good news without first coming to terms with the bad news. We must understand our spiritual condition apart from Christ. All have been born into this world spiritually dead in our sins and separated from God (Eph. 2:1-3; Rom. 3:23). The Bible tells us that there are none righteous, no not one (Psalm 14:1-7). And in God’s courtroom we all stand guilty and deserve an eternal death sentence in hell (Rom. 6:23). But God in his kindness and mercy made a way for our sins to be forgiven and for us to be made right in His sight. 

While you and I were justly sitting on a spiritual death row, God demonstrated His love for us by sending His perfect Son to die in our place, taking all of our sin and all of our punishment for our rebellion on the cross of Calvary (Romans 5:8). On that cross, Jesus endured the agonies of hell as our substitute so that we could be forgiven (2 Cor. 5:21). And then after three days He rose from the grave, forever defeating death for all who would place their faith in Him. But to receive His forgiveness we must turn from our sin, confess our allegiance and trust in Him alone to save us from God’s judgement (Rom. 10:9). We must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31). This is the Gospel by which we are saved and there is no other (Acts 4:12). And as a believer, you need to know it; you have been empowered to live it and you have been commanded to share it (Matt. 28:18-20). For a world that is sick and hurting, God has given His church the cure. We need to know it well, hold it close to our hearts and be ready to share it with all who will listen!

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Jesus

He Has Risen

Written by Pastor Eddie Arnold Pastor at Pathway Christian Church of Harlan  

Easter is almost here! For the Christian, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. We contemplate the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, and we celebrate the fact that He is not dead, but alive and seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty!  But what if there was no resurrection? What if Jesus who died for our sins and was buried in accordance with the Scriptures still remained in the grave to this day? Would we have anything to celebrate? Yes, it is true that we could attend the Good Friday service to remember his life and death; how He took the full wrath and anger of God by dying in our place. But ultimately, if there was no resurrection and His body was still in that tomb, would we have reason to hope? 

The Apostle Paul when writing to the Corinthian church put it this way. If there is no resurrection, your faith is futile – it accomplishes nothing, and thus man’s sin problem still needs a solution. There is no life after death, the Lords promise of a new heaven and a new earth are empty, and all who have fallen asleep in Christ have perished! Paul says, if this event did not happen, we who believe in Jesus should be pitied! (1 Cor. 15:19)

Now, it is true that there have been many who have tried to deny this well documented historical event. But the fact is, the evidence for the resurrection is overwhelming. First, we know that Jesus died on that cross, as verified by the Roman executioners who were in charge of his death (John 19:33-34). Second, He was buried in a tomb and which was personally observed by women (Luke 23:55). Third, the tomb was found empty on Sunday morning by Mary Magdalene and the rest of the women, and then by Peter and John (John 20:3-8). Finally, Jesus appeared to the rest of the twelve and then to over 500 believers at once (1 Cor. 15:3-8). The only reasonable explanation for these events is that Jesus did in fact rise from the dead.

When that giant stone rolled away from the tomb on Easter morning, it announced the greatest victory in the history of the world. First and foremost, the resurrection was God’s stamp of approval telling the world that His demands for perfect justice were fully satisfied through Christ’s cross. His sacrifice has been fully accepted, death has been crushed and Satan has forever been defeated! Death no longer has a hold on us, and we can shout out with the words of Paul: “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting (1 Cor. 15:55)”? 

But just as importantly, by His resurrection, He has forever ensured that all who have placed their faith in Him will not stay in the grave but be resurrected to the newness of life. Paul told us in his letter to the Corinthians; “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens (2 Cor. 5:1).” Because Jesus lives, we can have confidence that to be absent from our physical body is to be present with the Lord.  

You see, the resurrection is the truth in which everything hinges. It is an exclamation point of God’s joy and celebration of all that Christ did for us in his dying. Christ is alive today for this reason: to deliver to us personally and powerfully everything he died to obtain. Including the joy of knowing that death has no hold on those who belong to Him. Friends, Easter is coming and if you belong to Jesus, it is a time to celebrate! He has risen, He has risen indeed! If you don’t have a church family, we would love for you to come join us this Easter!

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Jesus

Revelation

By the end of the first century, Christianity had spread throughout the Roman empire and throughout Asia Minor. But becoming a follower of Jesus was not a decision that was made lightly, as it came with a hefty price tag. Christianity was hated and seen as an enemy of the state for several reasons. The Romans viewed Christians as disloyal citizens to the government because they would not acknowledge Caesar as the supreme authority over their lives. They were labelled atheists because they didn’t submit and worship the Roman pantheon of gods. They were accused of being cannibals because they partook of the Lord’s Supper which symbolically identifies with the body and blood of Jesus. And economically, Christians were seen as a threat to society because they no longer purchased the idols of wood and gold in the marketplace which in turn angered the local merchants. From the top of the government all the way to the man on the corner selling his merchandise, Christians were hated. Their faith was considered illegal and many were tortured and put to death.

No one was immune from the suffering, not even the apostles. And as the last living apostle, John had been banished to a small volcanic Island called Patmos because of his testimony of Jesus. Like the other Christians, John was in a bad spot. He was an old man, probably around 90 years old and forced to perform hard manual labor in the quarries under the scourge of a whip. Yet, John lived a life sold out life for Christ because he understood that following Jesus meant tribulation, and pressure, and trouble, and affliction. He knew full well that suffering was not something that only a few of Jesus’ followers were meant to endure; but rather, was part of the normal Christian life. Suffering was a family affair. 

Jesus told us that: “If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you” (John 15:18-19). But it is also important to know why we suffer. Peter puts it this way: “But let none of you suffer as a murderer or a thief or an evildoer or as a meddler. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in that name” (1 Peter 4:15, 16).

You see, as a Christian, there is privilege in our suffering. There is purpose in suffering for name of Jesus. Not only do we identify with Christ in His earthly trials, but our pain produces endurance, and endurance builds godly character! Like the old saying goes… “A Christian is like a teabag – not much good until it has gone through hot water.” Now, John could have thrown in the towel. He could have quitHe could have walked away from the faith when the heat was turned up. But he didn’t.  He fought the good fight and his painful circumstances only made him love his Lord that much more deeply. 

But the question must be asked. What carried John going through his daily trials and tribulations? What kept this 90-year-old man going day after day? After all, the world around him was getting darker by the day. And from an earthly perspective, there was not much hope. So where did John go? He went upward. Yes, he lived on the island of Patmos, but he also lived in heaven. You see, though his earthly circumstances were dire, he had a living hope! Instead of focusing on his present conditions, he set his eyes on the heavenly reality of who is ultimately in control. He dismisses the chaos and chooses to worship (Rev. 1:10)! This is a good lesson for all true believers. Worship requires us to put all of life’s distractions and hurts out of our mind and focus solely on the One who is worthy of all glory honor and praise. For John, his joy wasn’t tied to his present situation, but in the reality of who he served! He didn’t let his emotions control him but trusted in the truth of who God is.

Beloved, who carries us through our trials and suffering? Who enables us to persevere when life gets difficult and we feel like we cannot go on? It’s knowing that Jesus is with those who love Him; and knowing that He is walking with us through it all (Romans 8:28). Like John, we need a fresh vision of who Jesus is!

“Then I turned to see the voice that was speaking to me, and on turning I saw seven golden lampstands, and in the midst of the lampstands one like a son of man, clothed with a long robe and with a golden sash around his chest. The hairs of his head were white, like white wool, like snow. His eyes were like a flame of fire, his feet were like burnished bronze, refined in a furnace, and his voice was like the roar of many waters. In his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth came a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength” (Rev.1:12-16)

When we look at the growing hostility in this angry world, it’s easy to get discouraged. But John’s vision of the glorified Christ was given to us as the answer to the chaos. John was told to write these things down for us, not so we would have some head knowledge about who Jesus is, but that we would bask in awe of His glory and splendor and to confidently stand in His might in the midst of the storm (James 1:2-4). 

Understand, the Lord Jesus Christ is not this little pathetic man that we see hanging on crosses around people’s necks and in certain churches. Neither is Jesus presently buried in a tomb somewhere in a distant land (Rev.1:18). No! We serve a Jesus who is presently seated at the right hand of God the Father Almighty and He is ruling over His creation (Heb. 1:3). We serve a Jesus who empowers us through His Spirit to make it through the difficult times. A Jesus who has felt our pain and sorrows (Heb. 4:15, 16). A Jesus who is praying for us and interceding in our lives and sanctifying us, making us more into His image (Heb. 7:25). We serve a Jesus who purifies His church with the power of His Spoken Word. A Jesus who is omniscient, and judges with absolute Holiness and righteousness (Heb. 4:12). We serve a Jesus who controls His church with His mighty right hand and protects those He loves (Col. 1:17, 18). And absolutely nothing happens outside of His perfect sovereign will. Friend, this is the Jesus of the Bible. He is awesome! My question to you is simply this. How Big is your Jesus? John was given this vision so that when things seem hopeless, we would come back to these truths. And, like John, it should create in us a heart to fall at His feet and worship; to not give up, but to stand strong in His strength. Amen! If you do not have a church family, we would love for you to come join us on Sunday mornings at 10AM as we continue on our verse by verse journey through the book of Revelation!