“Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations…teaching them to observe all that I commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age” (Matthew 28:19-20, NASB).
1) Jesus and Isaac: God is For Us (Doy Moyer)
2) What’s the Use? Why Bother? (Greg Gwin)
Jesus and Isaac: God is For Us
The story of Abraham sacrificing Isaac (Genesis 22), the son of the promise, has long been seen as a prefiguring of God sacrificing Jesus, His unique Son. There are similarities often enumerated: the uniqueness of the son, the seed of Abraham, the submission of the son to the father, the willingness to sacrifice, the belief in resurrection, the son carrying the wood on which he would be sacrificed, etc. While some comparisons are legitimate, others may be a bit forced if not careful. Some are natural lessons found in many events. There are obvious limitations in the comparisons. For example, whereas Isaac did not know he was supposed to be the sacrifice, Jesus knew exactly why He came in the flesh, what was going to happen, and why it would happen (cf. Matt 16:21).
In counting up the similarities between Isaac and Jesus, we can miss another significant point of the story. Recall what happened when Isaac asked his father where the lamb for sacrifice was: “Abraham said, ‘God will provide for himself the lamb for a burnt offering, my son’” (vv. 7-8). … Abraham’s faith was full on display here, and God did provide an initial answer for him: “And Abraham lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, behind him was a ram, caught in a thicket by his horns. And Abraham went and took the ram and offered it up as a burnt offering instead of his son. So Abraham called the name of that place, ‘The Lord will provide’; as it is said to this day, ‘On the mount of the Lord it shall be provided’” (vv. 13-14). It’s about God providing.
If we are to make sense out of the comparisons, then we also need to see this one: in this story there is a sense in which we are Isaac under the knife of death, and Jesus is the lamb prefigured by the ram. God would indeed provide a sacrifice for us. “Behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world!” (John 1:29)
Of course, analogies should not be taken further than intended and I am in no way trying to come up with a one-to-one comparison of events. However, we do know that Jesus is the lamb of God, provided by our Creator in order to bring about forgiveness and reconciliation. We do know that Abraham’s faith drove his actions, and that he was fully convinced that God would raise Isaac from the dead if indeed he were put to death (Heb 11:17-18). That kind of faith is what God calls on us to imitate. By following in the footsteps of Abraham, we are trusting in the promise of God, which rests on His grace, to bring us the hope of future resurrection (see Romans 4).
There is another contrast to be made. In the great passage of Romans 8, Christians are given the promise of God that He will help them to the end. No matter what obstacles may be in the way, no matter what the world may do, no matter how much adversity is there, God’s love has forever been demonstrated in the cross. Notice, in particular, this amazing passage: “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?” (vv. 31-32)
Think again about the Isaac account. “He who did not spare his own Son” contrasts with the fact that Isaac was spared. Even more, we are spared. The faith demonstrated by Abraham, knowing that God would provide the lamb for sacrifice, is finally fulfilled in the Son of God, who was not spared for the sake of all humanity. Without the sacrifice of Jesus, we would be forever without the hope of life. Were Jesus spared, we could not be.
If God is willing to go to this length (even extreme) to save us, why would we ever doubt His desire and ability to help us achieve the purpose for which He first made us, then remade us in Christ after sin had devastated us? Remember that He did this, not after we became good (which could not just happen), but even while we were ungodly sinners and enemies who were hostile to Him (Rom 5:6-11).
It may well be, then, that one of the greatest lessons to learn from comparing Isaac with Jesus is not so much in the similarities of the events, but in the great contrast: “He who did not spare His own Son…”
“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed. For you were straying like sheep, but have now returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls” (1 Pet 2:24-25).
If God did all of this for us, why would we ever doubt His desire to help us through the process to achieve the end goal of glorification? Be comforted by the fact that God is for us.
— Via bulletin articles of the Vestavia church of Christ, October 21, 2018
What’s The Use? Why Bother?
Do you ever feel like the things that you do don’t amount to much? Do you think that you aren’t making much difference in this world? Do you get discouraged and wonder, “What’s the use?”
A familiar incident from the life of Christ might help. John records the account of Jesus cleansing the temple of the moneychangers in John chapter 2. This was, obviously, very early in the “public ministry” of Jesus. Matthew, Mark and Luke all tell about Jesus cleansing the temple in the last chapters of their gospels — just before Jesus was crucified. Is there a contradiction here? No, it seems clear that Jesus did this twice.
Armed with this understanding, we might ask, “What’s the use?” He cleansed the temple once, and the moneychangers just came right back. We might be tempted to think, “Why bother?”
The first answer to this question is: you do what’s right because it IS right! No matter how little the result you might see from your effort, you must keep on doing what is right. Jesus understood this, and so must we.
Also, we notice that this work of cleansing the temple did have a positive influence — if not on the moneychangers, at least on the disciples of Jesus. “…his disciples remembered that it was written, “the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up” (Jn 2:17). They were there. They saw this and were impressed by it. When we stand up for what it right, others will see it, and our example will have a positive effect on some.
Finally, we challenge the whole notion that doing right “doesn’t do any good.” In the case of Jesus cleansing the temple, it did good in the near term. The temple was free, at least for a time, of the corrupt moneychangers. Yes, it had to be done again later. But for that moment it helped. When we do good, it helps. And we should never “be weary in well doing” (Gal. 6:9), but rather be “steadfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58).
— Via The Beacon, September 23, 2018
The Steps That Lead to Eternal Salvation
1) Hear the gospel, for that is how faith comes (Rom. 10:17; John 20:30-31).
2) Believe in the deity of Christ (John 8:24; John 3:18).
3) Repent of sins (Luke 13:5; Acts 17:30).
4) Confess faith in Christ (Rom. 10:9-10; Acts 8:36-38).
5) Be baptized in water for the remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27; 1 Pet. 3:21).
6) Continue in the faith, living for the Lord; for, if not, salvation can be lost (Heb. 10:36-39; Rev. 2:10; 2 Pet. 2:20-22).
CHURCH OF CHRIST
1402 Tebeau Street, Waycross, GA 31501
Sunday services: 9:00 a.m. (Bible class); 10 a.m. & 5 p.m. (worship)
Wednesday: 7 p.m. (Bible class)
evangelist/editor: Tom Edwards (912) 281-9917
http://thomastedwards.com/go (Older version of Gospel Observer website without pictures, but back to March 1990)
http://ThomasTEdwards.com/audioser.html (audio sermons)