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Christian Life and Doctrine


  April 2004, No4

Hello [first name], here is this months newsletter with items selected especially for you.

THE BIBLE


The Humor of Christ

"The widespread failure to recognize and to appreciate the humor of Christ is one of the most amazing aspects of the era named for Him. Anyone who reads the Synoptic Gospels with a relative freedom from presuppositions might be expected to see that Christ laughed, and that He expected others to laugh, but our capacity to miss this aspect of His life is phenomenal. We are so sure that He was always deadly serious that we often twist His words in order to try to make them conform to our preconceived mold...

"The consequences of Christ's rejection of the dismal are great, not only for common life, but also for theology. If Christ laughed a great deal, as the evidence shows, and if He is what He claimed to be, we cannot avoid the logical conclusion that there is laughter and gaiety in the heart of God.... I we take this seriously we conclude that God cannot be cruel, or self-centered or vindictive, or even lacking in humor."

THIS MONTH'S INTERESTING AND SOMETIMES AMUSING SMALL STORY


Once a rider was riding his horse through a forest. When suddenly a torrential downpour broke out. The rider became soaking wet and started to complain to God for allowing such a misfortune. While riding on a bandit jumps out of the bushes holding a gun. The bandit pulls the trigger but the gun fails to fire as a result of the powder becoming wet. The rider kicked the horse and escaped to safety. Further down he started to thank God for bringing the downpour otherwise he would have been dead.

We must thank God for whatever trials he allows in our lives. Don't become angry for any hardships that you might be going through. It is for your eventual good. He sent his son to die for you, and allowed his suffering, do you think he will abandon you? Leave yourself in his capable hands. He will help you. Have faith.

Courage to Risk All


Key Verse: "So will I go in unto the king, which is not according to the law: and if I perish, I perish." ---Esther 4:16

Selected Scripture: Esther 3 and 4
When Babylonian captivity came to an end for the Jews with the overthrow of the Babylonian empire by the Medes and Persians, many Jews did not return to their homeland but remained in Persia. The Persian empire was vast with 127 provinces from India to Ethiopia. In the third year of the reign of King Ahasueras, he celebrated the splendor of his empire with a huge banquet lasting 180 days. Wine flowed freely and towards the end of it, he asked that Queen Vashti be brought before the princes and rulers of his empire so that he could show off her beauty, but she refused. In his anger the king consulted with his wise men, and they advised him to depose Vashti as queen.

After the king had taken this action, he reflected upon the events, and his servants suggested that fair young virgins be sought to replace Vashti. Many were brought to the palace at Shushan, and among them was Esther, a ward of a Jew named Mordecai, who had a position of responsibility at the king's gate. It was while he was in this position that Mordecai revealed a plot against the king's life, and the mater was recorded in the king's book of chronicles. Meanwhile, the king loved Esther above all the women and made her queen in Vashti's place.

The king promoted Haman, an Agatite, above all the princes. He also commanded his servants to bow before Haman, and give him reverence. Mordecai refused to do this, and it was called to Haman's attention. This angered him so that he sought to have Mordecai, and all Jews in the nation, killed. He told the king about these people, that they kept themselves separate. They had their own customs and did not obey the king's laws. He suggested that a day be set aside when all the nation's people could slaughter the Jews abd take their possessions. He offered a large sum of money for doing this.

The king gave Haman full authority to do this, but refused the money. He made a decree and sent it out through all the provinces of Persia. When Mordecai saw the decree, he donned sackcloth and ashes and went about the city crying bitterly, and the Jews in the nation did likewise. When Esther heard of it she sent a messenger to Mordecai to learn what had happened. Mordecai sent her all the information about the matter and a copy of the decree. He also sent word to her that she should seek mercy and plead for her people. She returned word to Mordecai that the king was in the inner court, and unless he called for someone to come to him, anyone coming would be put to death unless he held out the golden scepter. The king had not called for her for thirty days.

Mordecai replied that this decree would not spare her. She was a Jewess and if she failed to do anything, God would send a deliverance some other way, but she would perish. He also suggested it was providential that she was made queen. Esther sent back instructions to have all the Jews fast for three days for her, and that she and her maidens would do likewise. Although the account doesn't mention prayer, it is most likely that they prayed as they fasted. Then she would risk all and go unto the king saying, 'If I perish, I perish.' Esther not only was beautiful outwardly, but also inwardly. She had courage and character, and in this respect, pictures the church class being selected by God today.

THE BIBLE

QUESTIONS & ANSWERS

QUESTION: Could you explain to me the differences between conversion, justification and sanctification?

ANSWER: These three terms are closely related, yet distinct in meaning. Conversion is the event of the sinner's turning from the way of sin to the way of God. The apostle Peter described conversion in the sermon he gave after he healed the crippled beggar. He said: 'Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out' (Acts 3:19).

The event of justification occurs at conversion as an act of God's grace. He pardons our sins and imputes to us the righteousness of Jesus.

No one can be justified through obedience to the law, for, as the apostle Paul wrote: 'A man is not justified by observing the law, but by faith in Jesus Christ' (Galatians 2:16).

In his letter to the Romans, Paul explained that everyone needs justification. 'All have sinned,' he wrote, 'and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus' (Romans 3:23-24).

Justification is dependent upon the belief that Jesus is both Saviour and Lord.

Sanctification occurs after justification. It is the state of holiness given to Christians through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Of the three terms discussed here, sanctification is considered a process, not an event. The state of holiness that comes through sanctification grows throughout the Christian's life through the work of the Holy Spirit, through personal faith and through personal faith and through submission to the will of God.

The apostle John described our daily life in Christ when he wrote: 'No-one who lives in him keeps on sinning' (1 John 3:6). Though we all sin, the Holy Spirit leads us to a life of repentance and obedience.

The Handbook of Basic Bible Texts states: 'In justification, sin is pardoned; in sanctification it is subdued.'

Conversion, justification and sanctification are the works of the Holy Spirit to begin in the Christina a new life in Christ.



GEOGRAPHY

The Mount of Olives

Overlooking Jerusalem from across the Kidron Valley is the mount of Olives, where Christ uttered the Olivet prophecy (Matthew 24:3) and where he spent his last night in prayer before his arrest and crucifixion ( Matthew 26:30). This important hill is part of a 2-mile-long ridge that includes Mount Scopus to the north and the and the Mount of Offense, or Mount of Corruption, to the south.

Mount Scopus is probably the place where Titus' troops camped before attacking Jerusalem in A.D. 70. The Mount of Corruption is the probable site of King Solomon's shrines to the pagan gods Chemosh, Molech and Ashtoreth (2 Kings 23:13).

The Mount of Olives, pictured above, gets its name from the abundance of olive trees. It is a "Sabbath day's walk from the city" (Acts 1:12), the distance a pious Jew was allowed to travel on the Sabbath.



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