Sound Words, September 23, 2018

Sound Words, September 23, 2018

Life’s Little Lessons XXIV

Three Crosses

“Then one of the criminals who were hanged blasphemed Him, saying, If You are the Christ, save Yourself and us.’ But the other, answering, rebuked him, saying, ‘Do you not even fear God, seeing you are under the same condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we receive the due reward of our deeds; but this Man has done nothing wrong.’ Then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’ And Jesus said to him, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise.’ Now it was about the sixth hour, and there was darkness over all the earth until the ninth hour. Then the sun was darkened, and the veil of the temple was torn in two. And when Jesus had cried out with a loud voice, He said, ‘Father, into Your hands I commit My spirit.’ Having said this, He breathed His last” (Luke 23:39-46).

This is a scene that displays three crosses. One cross pictures a thief dying IN sin, and the other a thief dying TO sin. The center cross portrays the Redeemer dying FOR sin. The center cross divides all humanity into one of two categories. Those who reject Christ and die IN sin, and those who receive Christ and die TO sin. Which category are you in?

“Then he said to Jesus, ‘Lord, remember me when You come into Your kingdom.’ And Jesus said to him, “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise’” (Luke 23:42-43). In order to justify their rejection of “baptism for the remission of sins,” many assert, “The thief was saved and he wasn’t baptized!” Their argument is built on at least three bold assumptions: (1) The thief was never baptized. The thief could have been baptized under John (Matt. 3:5), or under Jesus (John 4:1). We don’t know if he was baptized; they assume that he wasn’t (2) They can be saved in the same manner as the thief. The only way one could be saved as was the thief is having Jesus say to him, “Today you will be with Me in Paradise.” Of course, since Jesus has gone back to heaven, this could never happen. (3) They are under the same law as the thief. Christ’s law did not go into effect until after His death (Heb. 9:16-17); hence, the thief lived and died under a different law than ours. Will you not be baptized “for the remission of sins” as commanded in God’s holy law?

The Right to be Saved

“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God” (John 1:10-13). Notice that those who receive Jesus have a right to become children of God. In the state of Tennessee, as in most states, when a person turns sixteen, the state grants them the right to become licensed automobile drivers. Just because they are sixteen does not automatically confer the privilege of driving upon them. There are certain conditions that must be met to take advantage of their right. They must pass the state’s written exam. They must pass the state’s driving exam. They must pay a certain fee to obtain their driver’s license.

Just as a person who turns sixteen has the right to become a licensed driver, the person who receives Jesus, has a right to become a child of God. Just as the one who wishes to become a licensed driver must meet certain conditions, the one who receives the Lord must meet certain conditions to become a child of God. Those conditions are: receiving Jesus (believing in Him; this condition is already met in John 1:12), repenting of one’s sins (Acts 2:38), confessing the Lord (Rom. 10:9-10), and being baptized into Christ (Gal. 3:26-27).

“But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name” (John 1:12). From the above verse we learn that people are not made sons of God at the point of faith, but had the right or privilege to become sons. Men are invited to accept the call. They are never forced to come (Matt. 11:28-30; Psalm 110:3). God calls and invites through the gospel, and it is the same in every nation (2 Thess. 2:14; Acts 10:33-34). It is not something one receives (he is not to wait, hoping to hear, see, or feel something), but it is something he does. He accepts the call of God by hearing, believing, and obeying the gospel (1 Pet. 1:22; Rom. 6:17-18). You have the power, yes, the privilege, to accept the call. Why not do it today?

“And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in His name to all nations, beginning at Jerusalem” (Luke 24:47). Because of the intense competition in the automobile industry, car makers try to keep their design breakthroughs secret. A company that can offer a new and desirable feature on its cars gains a coveted selling edge in a tough market. That’s why it was surprising when a Mercedes-Benz ad showed one of their cars being crashed into a brick wall during a safety test. The way it withstood the impact revealed that its energy-absorbing construction could save lives. Even though Mercedes-Benz holds the patent on the safety design, competitors were free to use it because the company does not enforce its claim. When asked why, the automaker’s spokesman replied, “Because some things in life are too important not to share.” Likewise, the good news of forgiveness through Christ is too important not to share.

Everyone will be Resurrected

“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth; those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:28-29). “I have hope in God, which they themselves also accept, that there will be a resurrection of the dead, both of the just and the unjust” (Acts 24:15). In a cemetery in Hanover, Germany, is a grave on which were placed huge slabs of granite and marble cemented together and fastened with heavy steel clasps. It belongs to a woman who did not believe in the resurrection of the dead. Yet, strangely, she directed in her will that her grave be made so secure that if there were a resurrection, it could not reach her. On the marker were inscribed these words: “This burial place must never be opened.”

In time, a seed, covered over by the stones, began to grow into a tree. Slowly, it pushed its way through the soil and up through one of the cracks between the marble slabs. As the trunk enlarged, the great slabs were gradually shifted so that the steel clasps were wrenched from their sockets. A tiny seed had become a tree that had pushed aside the stones. If God could put such force in the world He created, surely, He will have no problem raising all the dead, whether buried at sea, cremated, or decayed into dust.

From Dinner on the Grounds to a Brewery in the Foyer

“Jesus answered them and said, ‘Most assuredly, I say to you, you seek Me, not because you saw the signs, but because you ate of the loaves and were filled. Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you, because God the Father has set His seal on Him’” (John 6:26-27). “The early church prayed in the upper room; the twentieth century church cooks in the supper room. Today, the supper room has taken place of the upper room, play has taken the place of prayer, and feasting the place of fasting. There are more full stomachs than there are bended knees and broken hearts. There is more fire in the range in the kitchen than there is in the pulpit. When you build a fire in the church kitchen, it often puts out the fire in the pulpit. Ice cream chills the fever of spiritual life.” (From Gospel Advocate, May 30, 1935)

Someone has rightly said, “When people are offered ice cream, tea, and fried chicken as enticement to attend worship services, you will find that those people are as cold as the ice cream, weak as the tea, and as dead as the chicken!”

And now, the latest development: a micro-brewery in the church building. “A California church sold their church building and relocated to a new space where beer is served and plans are underway to build a brewery were church services can occur. The progressive Disciples of Christ congregation explains that they “will embrace you regardless of your faith, personal life choices, race, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, political preferences, social status, or economic standing.” “If people come for church, a couple of beers improves the sermon,” joked the pastor. (


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