RSS Feed

Tag Archives: the gospel

Things Seen and Unseen

The expression “doubting Thomas” comes from an encounter between Jesus and one of his disciples following his resurrection. Despite having a conversation with Jesus, Thomas wanted more proof, John 20:27. Thomas wanted to see and feel the scars, the holes in Jesus’ hand where He was hung from a cross. In John 20:29, Jesus refers to future Christians who believe without seeing. These individuals will be blessed as each walk by faith, not by sight.

For in [this] hope we were saved. But hope [the object of] which is seen is not hope. For how can one hope for what he already sees? 25 But if we hope for what is still unseen by us, we wait for it with patience and composure. 26 So too the [Holy] Spirit comes to our aid and bears us up in our weakness; for we do not know what prayer to offer nor how to offer it worthily as we ought, but the Spirit Himself goes to meet our supplication and pleads in our behalf with unspeakable yearnings and groanings too deep for utterance, Romans 8:24-26.

The apostle Paul builds upon this concept in a letter to the Church at Rome. Instead of talking about doubt, Paul uses hope as an object of faith. Rather than have the opportunity to see and touch Jesus, future believers must rely on hope to trust first century eyewitnesses who heard the gospel message in person. Faith in what is unseen is made possible via the Holy Spirit which serves as a spiritual counselor, John 16:13.

For it was in Him that all things were created, in heaven and on earth, things seen and things unseen, whether thrones, dominions, rulers, or authorities; all things were created and exist through Him [by His service, intervention] and in and for Him, Colossians 1:16.

In a letter to the Church at Colosse, Paul reinforces this concept. Reflecting upon the Trinity, Paul highlights Jesus’ role in the creation of the heavens and the earth. Although a secular society continues to attack the Bible’s infallibility, this is where your faith is put to the test. During a message about the End Times, Jesus suggests that many people will abandon their faith, Matthew 24:10-13. The next time doubt creeps into your mind, remember that faith is the assurance of what is unseen, Hebrews 11:1.

by Jay Mankus

The Service and Intervention of Jesus

When most Americans hear the term service, entering the military after high school is a practical way to serve your country. In recent years, public schools have used MLK Day as a way to give back to their local community. If you attend a church or belong to a group, service projects are a popular way of serving the less fortunate and those in need after a major storm or natural disaster.

Let this same attitude and purpose and [humble] mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus: [Let Him be your example in humility:] Who, although being essentially one with God and in the form of God [possessing the fullness of the attributes which make God God], did not think this equality with God was a thing to be eagerly grasped or retained, But stripped Himself [of all privileges and rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being. And after He had appeared in human form, He abased and humbled Himself [still further] and carried His obedience to the extreme of death, even the death of the cross! – Philippians 2:5-8

While service tends to be an isolated activity for a day, weekend or entire week, an intervention is an immediate act taken to improve a dire situation. The apostle Paul does a great job of explaining mankind’s problem in Romans 5:8. Like a virus that doesn’t go away, sin slowly decays human beings via addictions, bad habits, and poor choices. Despite being undeserving, Jesus spent 3 years on earth serving God so that this spiritual intervention could be completed.

And God purposed that through (by the service, the intervention of) Him [the Son] all things should be completely reconciled back to Himself, whether on earth or in heaven, as through Him, [the Father] made peace by means of the blood of His cross, Colossians 1:20.

The entire book of Colossians is dedicated to the service and intervention of Jesus. This restoration project began in Genesis 3:14-15. In desperate need of a second Adam, Romans 5:12-21 explains how this plan was fulfilled through Jesus. Serving as a perfect Lamb of God, 2 Corinthians 5:21, Jesus became a sin offering for all who believe. When Jesus became obedient to death on a cross, the service and intervention of Jesus was completed on Easter Sunday. This is why the gospel refers to the good news about Jesus Christ, a servant who intervened on our behalf.

by Jay Mankus

The Gospel and Politics

Certain topics can create division, friction and tension if not communicated in a civil manner.  Yet, when words are accompanied by a loving spirit, the gospel and politics can be persuasive.  One of my friends ran for the House of Representatives in the state of Delaware.  Up against a heavily democratic district, Bryan needed to introduce himself to complete strangers, express his political views and convince several hundred voters to switch parties.  This task required a dedicated team of volunteers.  Initially, I told my wife that I would commit to being part of the ground team, going house to house to drop off pamphlets to potential voters each weekend.  Just as Christians experience lukewarm stages, at some point my heart wasn’t into surrendering my weekends.  I guess you can say, I wasn’t dedicated to due do what was necessary for victory.  While Bryan received one of the largest percentages of votes for a Republican, his campaign to represent the 5th district ended in defeat.

For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many, Mark 10:45.

During the first century, an obscure carpenter from Nazareth, a shady town overrun by crime began a three year campaign.  While lacking the finances to make a big political splash, Jesus turned to mainly blue collar individuals, fishermen from the Sea of Galilee.  After John the Baptist’s death, Jesus began to travel from town to town, visiting local synagogues.  Before long, crowds of people started following this motley crew as rumors of faith, healings and miracles spread.  Oddly, anyone who experienced these supernatural events were told to keep quiet, unheard of in any type of political campaign.  As followers increased, curious spectators began to see that Jesus was the real deal, a person who practiced what he preached.  This fact only endeared the masses to this uneducated man.  When Jesus began to be embraced like a rock star, jealousy spread among political and spiritual leaders.  This threat resulted in false accusations, gossip and slander to squash Jesus’ popularity.  Yet, after three years of serving, teaching and visiting strangers, Jesus became a man of the people, king of the Jews.

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace, 1 Peter 4:10.

The only way for the gospel and politics can work together is if genuine faith unites with statesmanship.  Modern debates has turned to identity politics, putting one class, occupation or race against the other.  If there is a disagreement, the non-conformist is immediately labeled as a bigot, homophobe or racist.  If an opponent can convince potential voters that a candidate is extreme, embellishments, half truths and lies will continue to bombard citizens every election season.  Some where along the way, good news has been watered down by endless smear ads.  The word gospel comes from and old English phrase godspel, meaning good news or tidings.  It’s hard to be positive in a negative environment, especially when shrewd politicians use raw emotions to stir up their base.  Yet, why does the negative make national headlines daily while good stories are avoided, disregarded or go unnoticed?  Perhaps, its time for modern politicians to follow the Jesus model.  Serve one another, help the poor, feed the needy and extend a loving hand to the unwelcomed.  If future leaders begin here, you won’t need a campaign advertisement to get you elected.  Rather, the people who see the love of Jesus displayed by you will form loyal supporters to stand by your side through thick and thin.  This is the possibility of the gospel and politics.

by Jay Mankus

A Thought That Moved Jesus

The gospel according Luke was written by a first century doctor.  In the book of Acts, also penned by Luke, he becomes a close friend to the apostle Paul.  This relationship gives Luke more credibility as if a physician really needed anymore.  Nonetheless, Luke is the only author who refers to an unnamed group of 72 disciples.  Either Luke was one of these selected servants or he observed their ministry, feeling compelled to detail the role these men played in relation to Jesus’ earthly ministry.  Like the 12 disciples, Jesus divided each into teams of two, preparing cities, towns and villages for future visits by him.  This strategy was adopted by Billy Graham, working with local churches nearby upcoming crusades so that new converts would have a place to develop, grow and mature as Christians.

Nevertheless do not rejoice at this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven,” Luke 10:20.

After delegating special authority to these 72 disciples, Jesus shares one final thought in the passage above.  To a certain extent, Jesus was concerned that some of these men might begin to think quietly, “look what I did.”  This reminder is spoken to help these individuals see the big picture in life.  It’s not about casting out demons or healing the sick.  The most important thing is whether your names are written in the book of life.  As Jesus verbalizes this message, this thought moved him as the words below suggest that Jesus becomes emotional and exuberant.  Perhaps, Jesus  is reminded that one of this own disciples, Judas Iscariot, is not a member of this book.  When something like this hits home, souls discard the meaningless aspects in life and develop a spiritual hunger to wins souls for eternity.

In that very hour He was overjoyed and rejoiced greatly in the Holy Spirit, and He said, “I praise You, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things [relating to salvation] from the wise and intelligent, and have revealed them to infants [the childlike and untaught]. Yes, Father, for this way was [Your gracious will and choice, and was] well-pleasing in Your sight, Luke 10:21.

According to Luke’s words, the Holy Spirit spoke through Jesus.  In the passage above, Jesus eludes to a child like faith, the importance of maintaining your innocence.  Young children rely on their parents for their basic needs in life.  However, when kids grow up, some pursue education and wisdom rather than God.  Just as liberal college professors can challenge and overturn the values you were raised with, the Holy Spirit is the only source you need to alter your course.  This invisible counselor enables faith driven souls to understand the real meaning and purpose for being born.  During this interaction with 72 disciples, the thought of eternity moved Jesus to open up about this spiritual matter.

by Jay Mankus

Your Next is Greater Than Your Now

Financial planners seek to guide individuals toward fulfilling their dreams in life.  Depending upon how soon families begin to set aside funds for retirement, this process requirements discipline, focus and numerous sacrifices.  Yet, all these preparations don’t ensure a happy ending.  Thus, its essential that people begin to trust God, believing that your next is greater than your now.

For I want you to know, believers, that the gospel which was preached by me is not man’s gospel [it is not a human invention, patterned after any human concept]. 12 For indeed I did not receive it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a [direct] revelation of Jesus Christ.  You have heard of my career and former manner of life in Judaism, how I used to hunt down and persecute the church of God extensively and [with fanatical zeal] tried [my best] to destroy it, Galatians 1:11-13.

During a letter to the church in Galatia, the apostle Paul gives a brief summary of his past, present and desire to follow God’s will in the future.  Paul doesn’t shy away from his ignorant past, blinded by a religious zeal for Judaism.  This obsession led Paul to conspire against the founding of the first century church.  Perhaps, the words of Stephen prior to his persecution and death broke through Saul’s calloused heart.

But when God, who had chosen me and set me apart before I was born, and called me through His grace, was pleased 16 to reveal His Son in me so that I might preach Him among the Gentiles [as the good news—the way of salvation], I did not immediately consult with anyone [for guidance regarding God’s call and His revelation to me]. 17 Nor did I [even] go up to Jerusalem to those who were apostles before me; but I went to Arabia and stayed awhile, and afterward returned once more to Damascus, Galatians 1:15-17.

After being blinded on the road to Damascus, this set forward a chain of events resulting in Paul’s salvation.  The first thing Paul did following his conversion was going home to tell family and friends what God had done for him.  The Bible is silent on how Paul’s Jewish parents responded to and received this news.  Nonetheless, Paul quickly came to the conclusion that your next is greater than your now with Jesus.  Although, this doesn’t ensure a story book ending on earth, but a personal relationship with Jesus Christ does secure an eternal reservation in heaven, 1 John 5:13.

by Jay Mankus

Finger Pointing Doesn’t Solve the Problem

When someone is caught doing something they are not suppose to do, there are three common defenses.  The first excuse usually sounds something like, “I didn’t know.”  If you can’t claim plausible deniability, the blame game is often the next response.  Finally, if this doesn’t work, there’s always one final trump card to play, “the Devil made me do it.”

The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it,” Genesis 3:12.

This pattern of denial was demonstrated by Adam and Eve after breaking the only rule in the Garden of Eden, “do not eat from the tree of knowledge, Genesis 2:17.  As soon as this line was crossed, the finger pointing began.  Trying to deflect who was ultimately responsible, the consequence of sin began to influence human behavior.  Instead of learning from this mistake to avoid future errors, energy was wasted on finger pointing.

Then the LORD God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate,” Genesis 3:13.

Jesus spent his last three years on earth introducing a new way of living.  This teaching involved a new covenant based upon the element of truth.  Within the gospel of John, Jesus urges listeners to seek the truth which will ultimately set you free.  When hearts and minds become renewed by the power of the Holy Spirit, finger pointing is replaced by acts of contrition.  May a spirit of revival reverse social media’s blame game with a movement based upon solutions.

by Jay Mankus

 

Take It or Leave It

In recent years, those who live according to a secular worldview are claiming the Bible no longer applies to modern life.  Meanwhile, any law, principle or rule within the written Word of God is labeled as bigoted, discriminating and sexists.  Yet, if these skeptics actually took the time to read the Bible, individuals would begin to see the lofty expectations that exist.  Free will does not force anyone to adhere to these standards.  Rather, its up to you, take it or leave it.

If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that?  And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that?  Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect, Matthew 5:46-48.

The legal world uses an interesting term, plausible deniability.  This means that an individual can be excused from guilt, like a disclaimer or waiver.  The Bible uses a similar word to plausible deniability, amoral.  Moral refers to knowing what is right and doing it.  Immoral is the opposite, knowing what is right, but failing to obey.  Amoral comes into play when someone is held to a standard that they were never taught.  Subsequently, if you have never attended church, heard the gospel or read the Bible, you are only held accountable for that which you have been introduced.

For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord, Romans 6:23.

The purpose of this blog is to simplify the message of the Bible, take it or leave it.  The consequence of sin results in a guilty verdict from the jury.  The punishment for this crime is death, eternal separation from God.  However, the judge steps in to offer a special plea deal.  Actually, God is willing to pardon all offenders with one simple gift.  Jesus paid your bail in full, but the choice is yours, take it or leave it.  You can receive this as your own, taking ownership of faith.  You can reject it and so by live according to the world’s standards.  Or you can wait for a while, but either way, the clock is ticking.

by Jay Mankus

Engulfed by Darkness

Living on the East Coast for most of my life, I’ve lived through my share of hurricanes.  Most skirt along the shoreline, often drifting off to sea.  Yet, the eye wall of Hurricane Floyd went right over my state, engulfing Delaware in darkness.  Floodwaters remained in my backyard for nearly a month.  After any storm, people are forced to pick up the pieces, making the best of what remains of their earthly possessions.

To give light to those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace, Luke 1:79.

The purpose of the Bible is to shine light on the darkness that exists in this world.  In fact, the gospel provides light to those currently stuck in darkness.  Sometimes darkness is self-inflicted due to poor choices or decisions made in life.  However, there are times when innocent children or gullible adults are deceived, led into darkness and can not escape its grips.  To those lost in the dark, God has given human beings a conscience and the Holy Spirit to break free from the chains of sin.

But if anyone walks in the night, he stumbles, because the light is not in him, John 11:10.

Meanwhile, Jesus isn’t afraid to point out imposters.  Those who embrace darkness or walk in its ways does not possess the light.  According to a piece from the Sermon on the Mount, Matthew 6:19-24 refers to eyes being the lamp of the body.  Jesus ponders, “if the eyes are bad, how great in the darkness within?”  Everyone is going to sin and fall short of God’s glory, but careless glances of the eye can corrupt the soul.  Therefore, be careful not to participate in the second glance or you too may become engulfed by darkness.

by Jay Mankus

Not Right Now

The expression “timing is everything” often applies to failures and victories.  When you force the issue, the results may not be what you want.  However, as you wait for the ideal opportunity, success is a likely destination.

Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia, Acts 16:6.

Whether you are searching for a job, exploring a business venture or starting a ministry, there will always be unforeseen obstacles and road blocks.  One day the apostle Paul assumed taking the gospel into Asia was a prudent decision.   However, as he tried to cross the border into Bithynia, the Holy Spirit denied their entry.

When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to, Acts 16:7.

Whenever the Lord says not right now by failing to answer a prayer request, rejection is a hard pill to swallow.  Trying to comprehend the mysteries of God can be frustrating, especially if you have been a faithful servant.  Nonetheless, there will be head scratching moments in the future when you will receive a silent whisper, “not right now!”

by Jay Mankus

 

Earning Your Way on Board

Every day provides a golden opportunity to meet, interact with and make an impact on strangers.  Unfortunately, less and less people view life in this manner.  Thus, as many are simply trying to survive, most stay in their little comfort zone, coasting through life.

Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked, Acts 8:30.

The apostle Philip was called to extend the gospel beyond the Jewish community, into Samaria, Judea and into the ends of the earth.  Fueled by an angelic encounter, Philip is steered toward a man from Ethiopia.  However, Philip recognized he needed to find some sort of common ground before trust could be formed.  When the opportunity arose, Philip earned his way on board.

“How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him, Acts 8:31.

Seizing the moment, Philip fulfilled the great commission left behind by Jesus for his disciples.  According to this event, the Ethiopian Eunuch returns home as a new believer.  Although its unclear whether this man founded churches in Africa, Philip earned his way on board a chariot, planting a seed of faith which transformed this man’s life.  While this isn’t easy, God is waiting for his children to earn their way on board to revive dying souls.

by Jay Mankus

%d bloggers like this: