Sunday, May 15, 2022

The Shroud of Turin And Other “Relics”

By Joe Slater

 

    Was Jesus’ body wrapped in a linen shroud before being placed in the tomb? If so, is the “Shroud of Turin,” housed in a Cathedral in Turin, Italy, that shroud? And if it is, should this shroud be venerated as a “holy relic”? The short answers are no, no, and no!

    John 19:40 informs us that Nicodemus and Joseph of Arimathea “took the body of Jesus and bound it in strips of linen, as the custom of the Jews is to bury.” Jews didn’t use shrouds. They wound the body with strips up to the shoulders, then tied a handkerchief around the face.

    Even if Jesus’ body had been wrapped in a shroud, it wouldn’t be the one atTurin. That cloth was first revealed in 1354 and denounced as a fake 35 years later by the local Catholic bishop. Carbon 14 testing says it dates to the Middle Ages (1260-1390), over 1200 years too late to have been used on Jesus’ body.

    But again, even if the “Shroud of Turin” could be shown to have been used to wrap Jesus’ body for burial, that would not mean we should venerate it as a “holy relic.” Sincere but misguided souls have long sought for some tangible object to help them connect with God. In the movie, Indiana Jones found the “holy grail,” the cup Jesus used at the last supper. Splinters from the cross, vials of blood from Jesus’ pierced side, and countless other “relics” are also viewed as having miraculous powers. None are genuine. Most border on idolatry.

    At God’s direction, Moses constructed a bronze serpent in the wilderness. Its legitimate use brought healing to sinful Israelites bitten by serpents. Centuries later their descendants began worshiping it. Good king Hezekiah destroyed it, calling it “Nehushtan” (a piece of bronze, 2 Kings 18:4). If ever there was a genuine “relic,” surely this was it. But, in reality, it was just a piece of bronze. Just so, the “Shroud of Turin” is a piece of linen, nothing more and nothing less.

- Joe Slater serves as minister of the Church of Christ in Justin, TX. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://justinchurchofchrist.com


We are Not Invisible

By Gerald Cowan

 

    Everything a Christian says and does must be designed to lead others to glorify God (1 Cor. 10:31-32). There is nothing about the Christian life that is neutral or unimportant. In everything a Christian does he is to be “the light of the world,” a light that is not hidden. He is told, “Let your light so shine before others that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven” (Mt. 5:14-16). Notice that Jesus does not beg his disciples to become lights in the world. He merely states a fact: you are lights in the world (compare also Phil. 2:15-16). We ought to understand these words to mean, “If you are truly my disciples (John 8:31) you are the light of the world.” There can be a great difference, you know, between Christians and professed Christians. God used the obedient examples, the piety and good works of the true disciples of Christ to enlighten the world. Christians are living examples of what God can do with a person’s life.

    Jesus does not mean that we should try to impress people with our own righteousness and good works. But he reminds us that no one is really invisible. If one lives for God, others will see it. If one lives without God, that will be apparent too. When a person becomes a Christian he is committed to a new way of life. Changes become obvious in his attitudes – especially toward other people, in his sense of values, and in his use of his time, energy, money and other resources. In many other ways he will be visibly and conspicuously different. Not because he is trying to attract attention to himself, but only because God calls Christians to be obedient to Him in ways that cannot easily be kept hidden from others. You cannot hide a city that is built on a hillside, and you cannot hide the kind of obedience that God requires of all followers of Jesus Christ. So do not try to hide. Just go on and shine!

    Others will be impressed by your life. When they know that it is obedience to God that makes the difference they will glorify God for your good example. They may not become Christians themselves, but they will give God credit for your improvement. And no doubt there will be some, encouraged by your faith in God and your trust in His promises, who will place their own lives in God’s hands too.

    You are the light of the world, the light the world needs to see, if you are a Christian, because when the world looks at you the world sees God.

- Gerald Cowan, a longtime preacher and missionary, is retired from full-time pulpit preaching. Gerald publishes an e-mail newsletter entitled GERALD COWAN’S PERSONAL PERIODICAL WRITINGS. He is available for Gospel Meetings and he may be contacted at Geraldcowan1931@aol.com


Assaulted Savior

By David A. Sargent

 

    Two San Diego, California firefighters responded to a 911 call reporting an intoxicated man who had become ill on the downtown trolley platform.  As the firefighters were trying to help the drunken man, a bystander attacked them with a knife, stabbing both of the rescuers multiple times.  Both firefighters were hospitalized.

    The suspect was arrested and is being held in county jail without bail and faces charges of attempted murder, assault with a deadly weapon and resisting arrest.

    Police are trying to determine a motive.  Chief Shelley Zimmerman told reporters that the suspect, who did not appear to be acquainted with the drunken man, began crowding the firefighters and telling them what to do as they tried to render aid.   “He was asked several times by the firefighters to move back,” she said. "He continued to interfere with the firefighters rendering the aid, and an altercation occurred."

    How awful!  Two men were attacked while trying to help someone else!

    But consider…

Jesus, the Son of God, came “to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).  He came to save US!  We desperately need a Savior because our sin separates us from God and puts us on the path to eternal destruction (Isaiah 59:1-2; Matthew 7:13-14).  God loves us so much that He gave His One and Only Son to come to our rescue (John 3:16).

    And how was the Rescuer received?  He was rejected, beaten, and crucified!  Sinners killed the only One who could save them!

    Yet, it was through His crucifixion that Jesus is able to save us from our sins.  Our sins demand punishment from a just God: “for the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23).  But because of His great love for us, God gave His Son to die on the cross for OUR sins so that we can be forgiven and receive the gift of eternal life (2 Corinthians 5:21; Ephesians 1:7).

    On Pentecost Day, The Apostle Peter preached to some of the very ones who had cried out for Jesus’ crucifixion:  “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly that God has made this Jesus, whom you crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36).

     Many of them realized that they had crucified the Promised Messiah – the Great Deliverer that had been promised by the prophets of old.  The murderers, convicted of their sins, cried out, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" (Acts 2:37).

     Peter answered, “Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:38).  The penitent believers “who gladly received his word were baptized” (Acts 2:41).  They were saved from their sins by the blood that was shed by Jesus on the cross – the blood that they spilt, but was also spilt for them, according to the eternal plan of God (Acts 2:23; 1 Peter 1:18-20).

    Jesus came to save YOU, too.  Don’t reject the Savior.  Accept His offer of salvation and eternal life in the same way that they did on that Pentecost day: place your faith and trust in Jesus (see Acts 16:30-31), confess Jesus before men (see Romans 10:9-10), “repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of sins” (Acts 2:38).  Then God will give you His Spirit, add you to His church, and prepare a place for you in Heaven.  And, if you will continue to walk in the light of His Word, the blood of Jesus will continue to cleanse you from sin (1 John 1:7) and prepare you for your heavenly home.

    Won’t YOU accept His offer on His terms?
- David A. Sargent, minister for the Church of Christ at Creekwood in Mobile, Alabama, is also the editor of an electronic devotional entitled "Living Water." To learn more about this excellent resource contact David via their website: http://www.creekwoodcc.org* Information gleaned from “Two San Diego firefighters stabbed while aiding ill man on trolley platform,” Published June 26, 2015 on FoxNews.com


Memorial Day and The Lord’s Warrior Spirit

By Ron Thomas

    1 Sam. 17:26-27 And David said to the men who stood by him, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine and takes away the reproach from Israel? For who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?”
     And the people answered him in the same way, “So shall it be done to the man who kills him.” ... 1 Sam. 17:32-36
    And David said to Saul, “Let no man's heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.”
    And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.”
    But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” .... 1 Sam. 17:45-47
    The Philistine said to David, “Come to me, and I will give your flesh to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the field.”
    Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the LORD will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the LORD saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the LORD's, and he will give you into our hand.”
    It’s not possible for us to remain standing as a country without the Lord on our side. 
- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website. http://sunrushchurchofchrist.com/


The Beauty of the Snow

By Bill Brandstatter

 

    The weather forecast for our area is calling for a winter storm. There are advisories and warnings issued for much of our area. Some of the area is going to get freezing rain and sleet to start with and then most of the area will get snow. I like to see snow at least once a year. Snowflakes are special and beautiful.

    Each one is different. No two snowflakes are exactly alike. I am reminded that everything God makes is special. Man is the crowning point of God's creative work. David wrote: “I will praise You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; marvelous are Your works” (Psa. 139:14). Every person is different. Each one has a unique personality and characteristics.

    Each one is special. As each snowflake falls, it forms a special bond with the other ones to produce the snow we shovel. It is the whole work we see not just the single snowflake. Likewise, each person is special. Jesus spoke about the special nature of man when He stated, “Look at the birds of the air, for they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they?” (Matt. 6:26)

    Each person is special to God. Each person is special in the church. Paul mentioned how each person playing a part causes the church to grow in Eph. 4:16. The church is made up of individuals (1 Cor. 12:20), but each one is important. Each Christians is special, although different. Paul wrote, “So we being many are one body in Christ and individually members of one another.” (Rom. 12:5)

    Each one is similar. Although different, each snowflake has a similarity with another one. They are the same color. They all fall from the sky. They all land on the ground. They all accumulate. Humans, although different, bear a striking similarity. We are all made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26). Every human has a body and a spirit. (1 Cor. 6:19, 20) Humans have the power and ability to choose. (Deut. 30:15-19) This makes humans different from animals. There is a special connection each man has with another. Paul told the idol worshipers in Athens, “And He has made from one blood every nation of men to dwell on all the face of the earth, and has determined their pre-appointed times and the boundaries of their dwellings.” (Acts 17:26)

    Each one has a designer. Snowflakes don't just happen. They were designed by God. When we look at the weather, do we see the evidence of God? David tells us that God is seen in nature. He stated, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork.” (Psa. 19:1) We read in the book of Job that “He says to the snow, 'Fall on the earth'” (Job. 37:6). When we see the snow, we should see one of the many works of God. (See verses on next page, right column)

    Each one is white. It is the bright white nature of the snow that attracts our attention. The Bible compares the purity of snow to the purity a man can have when God forgives him of sin. When a person is obedient to God, Isaiah writes, “Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be white as snow” (Isa. 1:18). Let us think of God when we see the snow. Let us think of how special we are and how special we can become when we obey God and become one of His children (Gal. 3:26,27).

Bill Brandstatter preaches for the Marion Church of Christ in Marion, IL. He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://marionchurchofchrist.com/


Sunday, May 8, 2022

Are You One with the Lord?

By David R. Ferguson

 

    This past Sunday around the globe many people celebrated what is commonly referred to as Easter, the anniversary of that great and glorious day in which our Lord and Savior defeated Death and rose triumphantly from the grave.

    His tomb had been sealed and a huge stone had been placed in front of it in the hopes of holding His dead body inside it, but there was absolutely nothing devised by the mind of man, no stratagem clever enough, that would prevent Jesus from rising from the dead, just as He Himself had prophesied.

    In 1 Corinthians 15, the Apostle Paul describes the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus as being the defining, foundational principles of our faith. These are the gospel itself (1 Corinthians 15:1-4). Without the fact of the risen Savior “our faith also is in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:14 [NAS]) because “if Christ has not been raised, your faith is worthless; you are still in your sins” (1 Corinthians 15:17 [NAS]). If Christ didn’t rise from the grave and leave that tomb empty, there would be no hope of salvation for anyone. As Paul states it, “If we have hoped in Christ only in this life, we are of all people most to be pitied” (1 Corinthians 15:19 [NAS]).

    Have you, in obedient, saving faith, identified yourself with Jesus and His death, burial and resurrection, visually proclaiming the very gospel itself? In the words of Paul, “Or do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus have been baptized into His death? Therefore we have been buried with Him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, so we too may walk in newness of life. For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection” (Romans 6:3-5). By allowing ourselves to be immersed in that watery grave of baptism, when we rise up out of those waters, we are considered a “new creation” (2 Corinthians 5:17 [NAS]), one who is no longer God’s enemy, but an adopted child of His (Ephesians 1:5). As a child of God, we are “heirs also, heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ” (Romans 8:17 [NAS]). We become “fellow partakers of the promise in Christ” (Ephesians 3:6 [NAS]) which means that since Jesus lives, then we no longer need to fear death, either. We, too, will be resurrected and Death will not keep us from our reward of living with Him in Heaven forever!
- David R. Ferguson preaches for the Mentor Church of Christ in Mentor, OH.  He may be contacted through the congregation's website: http://mentorchurchofchrist.com/ or davidferguson61@yahoo.com


Jesus and Him Crucified (Acts 2)

By Ron Thomas

 

    Those chosen by the Lord were to wait in Jerusalem for the special day the Lord Jesus told them about.

    They therefore, when they were come together, asked him, saying, Lord, dost thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel? And he said unto them, It is not for you to know times or seasons, which the Father hath set within His own authority. But ye shall receive power, when the Holy Spirit is come upon you: and ye shall be my witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea and Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth (Acts 1:6-8).

    So, they did. The Lord’s chosen (the twelve apostles) gathered together in one place. Suddenly, from heaven the Lord’s gift, His promise mentioned above came to them. These men spoke in languages (called “tongues”) that perplexed all those who were there and heard. They did not know what to think about this, so they falsely accused them of being drunk. When people do not know, it’s not possible for them to understand how to interpret what they see. Just as it was then, so it is the same today. Without evidence, without understanding, they assert they do know what is going on by accusing them of something not true. Peter and the others dismissed this and explained what was going on.

    Making reference to the words of the prophet Joel, Peter said that what was occurring before their eyes was a fulfillment of what Joel said (2:16). Since the people in the crowd had no counter to what Peter said, they listened. Peter continued by preaching that what the people of Jerusalem and the surrounding areas experienced the last 3 years, what they were seeing now was a culmination of the life lived and a resurrected body going to the glories of heaven. With Him now gone, the words of the prophet are fulfilled. Hearing “the words of the prophet are now being fulfilled” would not have escaped their attention. Coupled with what they knew of Jesus in this midst (as He once was), they would have started to put “two and two together”, coming to a reasonable conclusion on the matter.

- Ron Thomas preacher for the Sunrush Church of Christ, Chillicothe, OH. He may be contacted through the congregation's website. www.sunrushchurchofchrist.org