A fable is told about a fox going out one day to console a sick lion on his illness. When the fox came to the mouth of the cave, he heard the lion inviting him in. But the fox, having first examined the entrance, answered, "Not today, for I see the footsteps of all creatures of the woods leading into the cave, but I see the footsteps of none leading out."
That cave represents to many death and the grave. The way of the whole earth leads into it. But are there any footsteps leading out?
Christianity answers with a firm, unfaltering, "Yes, all that are in the graves shall come forth." Why, because Jesus Christ died and is risen from the grave.
1 Cor. 15:20, affirms this, “But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead,”
The resurrection of Jesus changed history! And it changes the spiritual direction of all who would believe in it today! To learn more contact me.
I am Mark T. Tonkery with a minute of meditation from the Camden Ave. church of Christ where you are always welcome.
On a dangerous seacoast where shipwrecks often occur there was once a crude little lifesaving station. The building was just a hut, and there was only one boat, but the few devoted members kept a constant watch over the sea, and with no thought for themselves, they went out day or night tirelessly searching for the lost. Many lives were saved by this wonderful little station, so that it became famous. Some of those who were saved, and various others in the surrounding areas, wanted to become associated with the station and give of their time and money and effort for the support of its work. New boats were bought and new crews were trained. The little lifesaving station grew.
Some of the new members of the lifesaving station were unhappy that the building was so crude and so poorly equipped. They felt that a more comfortable place should be provided as the first refuge of those saved from the sea. They replaced the emergency cots with beds and put better furniture in an enlarged building. Now the lifesaving station became a popular gathering place for its members, and they redecorated it beautifully and furnished it as a sort of club. Less of the members were now interested in going to sea on lifesaving missions, so they hired life boat crews to do this work. The mission of lifesaving was still given lip-service but most were too busy or lacked the necessary commitment to take part in the lifesaving activities personally.
About this time a large ship was wrecked off the coast, and the hired crews brought in boat loads of cold, wet and half-drowned people. They were dirty and sick, some had skin of a different color, some spoke a strange language, and the beautiful new club was considerably messed up. So, the property committee immediately had a shower house built outside the club where victims of shipwreck could be cleaned up before coming inside.
At the next meeting, there was a split in the club membership. Most of the members wanted to stop the club's lifesaving activities as being unpleasant and a hindrance to the normal pattern of the club. But some members insisted that lifesaving was their primary purpose and pointed out that they were still called a lifesaving station. But they were finally voted down and told that if they wanted to save the life of all various kinds of people who were shipwrecked in those waters, they could begin their own lifesaving station down the coast. They did.
As the years went by, the new station experienced the same changes that had occurred in the old. They evolved into a club and yet another lifesaving station was founded. If you visit the seacoast today you will find a number of exclusive clubs along that shore. Shipwrecks are still frequent in those waters, but now most of the people drown!
Many of us often make it a habit of reading the obituaries to see which one of our classmates, co-workers, friends, and family have gone on to meet their reward. Obituaries tell us about where a person was born, lived, one’s immediate family history, one’s occupation, hobbies, and many other things, as well as times of the funeral and burial location. These notices of death are a daily reminder that our life on earth is not permanent. Obituaries have a finality to them, they become a permanent record and reminder that a loved one is not present with us in this life any more.
Now as one reads the Bible it becomes very clear that Jesus never had an obituary. We read about His birth in Bethlehem (Mt. 1:18 – 2:6). We can learn about His family (Mt. 1:1-17). We can learn about much of His life and ministry in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. We can also learn about the events leading up to His death and His actual death upon the cross in these same passages of the Bible. But the one thing no one can find in the Bible is Jesus’ obituary.
1 Corinthians 15:1-4, explains it this way, “Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the Gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you--unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures…”.
1 Corinthians 15:20-23 continues to teach, “But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since by man came death, by Man also came the resurrection of the dead. For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ all shall be made alive. But each one in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward those who are Christ's at His coming.”
Because Jesus, by the power of God, was raised from the dead, His death was not the end. The Bible also makes it clear that not only did Jesus raise from the dead but all people will be raised at Jesus’ second coming, some to a resurrection of life; others to the resurrection of condemnation (John 5:28-29). Those who obey Jesus’ doctrine which "reenacts" the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ through faith, repentance and baptism (Romans 6:1-4, 17) are cleansed from their sins, and continue to be faithful to Christ, have the hope of being raised at His second coming to be with Christ forever in heaven (1 Corinthians 15:23; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17).
Jesus’ death was not permanent; His grave was not final; the tomb was not Jesus’ final resting place. Jesus does not have an obituary because Jesus did not remain in the grave. Jesus death, burial, and resurrection is the “good news” of the Bible. Jesus does not have an obituary. He came not to have an ending but bring a new beginning.
What will your obituary say? Will it tell how you lived because you followed the One who arose from the grave and never had an obituary? Have you been saved? You can be, if you’ll respond to Jesus on His terms. Think about it! Mark T. Tonkery
Years ago, I used to listen to the daily program of a news commentator on the radio. During the day, the program was promoted by the catch line "if you miss a day – you miss a lot." If that is true of a radio program, it is certainly true of every opportunity that we have to be in the services of the church!
When asked "Why a Christian should faithfully attend the worship services of the church?" the best answer that many can give is "because it is commanded." Well, it is true that God expects us to be faithful to the assembly of the saints. "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much more as you see the Day approaching." (Hebrews 10:25) But, is the fact that it is commanded our highest motivation?
Asking if "Christians have to attend all of the services of the church?" is sort of kin to asking "do I have to go home and have dinner with my family each night?" If one has a loving family at home, where else would they want to be? Yes, God has said not to forsake the assembly, but for the conscientious Christian, who loves the Lord and his brothers and sisters in Christ, where else would they want to be? I have been asked, "Where does it say that I have to attend on Sunday night or on Wednesday night?" I like to look at the example of the early church (Acts 2:46-47) and ask "Where does it say that we should no longer be together daily?"
When we miss any service of the church, Sunday morning, Sunday night, Midweek Bible study, Gospel Meetings, etc., - we really do miss a lot! Consider the following things you miss when you fail to assemble with your Christian family:
When you miss the Lord’s Day, you miss being with the Lord and your brethren as they surround the Lord’s table. Jesus told us when He instituted the supper that He would take it with us in the kingdom. (Matthew 26:29)
When you miss any service, you miss the opportunity to be with the Lord in a unique and special way. He also said "Where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them." (Matthew 18:20)
You can sing by yourself (although it is doubtful that you do), but you miss the opportunity to join your voice with others being taught and admonished by the words that you sing. (Ephesians 5:19)
You miss the opportunity for an organized and prepared study of the scriptures.
When you don’t attend, you fail to receive the encouragement of other Christians as they admonish one another and "stir one another up to love and good works." (Hebrews 10:24)
When you forsake the assembling of the saints, can it be truly said that you are "seeking first the kingdom of God and His righteousness?" (Matthew 6:33)
How can you "let your light shine before men" (Matthew 5:16) and "be an example to the believers" (I Timothy 4:12) if the church isn’t more important than the things of the world that keep many away.
When you, without any true cause, forsake the assembling of the saints, you are actually guilty of committing a "willful sin." (Hebrews 10:28) Consider your choices in light of James 4:17 "Therefore to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin."
When you miss a service – You miss a lot!
If one of your friends is trying to convince you, or if you are trying to convince yourself that alcohol or even social drinking is not dangerous, read what the Bible says about this menace to life:
· Rom 14:21, “It is good not to eat meat or drink wine or do anything that causes your brother to stumble.”
· Pr. 20:1 “Wine is a mocker, strong drink a brawler, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”
· Pr. 21:17 “Whoever loves pleasure will be a poor man; he who loves wine and oil will not be rich.”
· Pr. 23:20-21, “Be not among drunkards or among gluttonous eaters of meat, for the drunkard and the glutton will come to poverty, and slumber will clothe them with rags.”
· Pr. 23:29-35, uses sarcasm to show the harmfulness of alcohol.
· Pr. 31:4-7, “It is not for kings, O Lemuel, it is not for kings to drink wine, or for rulers to take strong drink, lest they drink and forget what has been decreed and pervert the rights of all the afflicted. Give strong drink to the one who is perishing, and wine to those in bitter distress; let them drink and forget their poverty and remember their misery no more.”
· Isaiah warns against strong drink and harshly condemns those who use it in Isaiah 5:11-16; 22.
· Then the Rechabites are example for every Christian to abstain from all alcohol in Jeremiah 35.
Then if this list is not enough Pro. 1:20 reminds us that, “wisdom cries aloud in the street…” Notice the wisdom that these people share about alcohol even though many were not Christians.
· Shakespeare: “Alcohol is a poison men take into the mouth to steal away the brain.”
· Gladstone: “Drink is more destructive than way, pestilence and famine.”
· Manning: “It is a public, permanent agency of degradation.”
· Lincoln: “Drinking is a cancer in human society, eating out its vitals and threatening its destruction.”
· Robert Hall: “It is distilled damnation.”
· Lord Chesterfield called it “An artist in human slaughter.”
· General Pershing: “Drunkenness has killed more men than all of history’s wars.”
· General Robert E. Lee: “My experience through life has convinced me that abstinence from spirituous liquors is the best safe guard to morals and health.”
· President Taft: “He who drinks is deliberately disqualifying himself for advancement.”
· President Theo. Roosevelt: “—business tends to lawlessness on the part of those who conduct it and to criminality on the part of those who patronize it.”
· President Wm. McKinley: “the most ruinous and degrading of all human pursuits.”
Then there is more “wisdom from the streets”:
· 55% of all auto accidents are alcohol-related.
· 125,000 people were killed in alcohol-related auto accidents in one 5-year span (that is more deaths than we suffered in Korea and Vietnam combined).
· There are 100,000,000 drinkers in the United States and 9,000,000 of them are alcoholics.
· 57% of boys and 43% of girls ages 15 to 20 are drinkers.
· 62% of all major crimes are committed by those under the influence of alcohol at the time of the crime.
In view of such information, it would seem that Christ-like people should avoid the use of alcoholic beverages in any amount! Clear Bible teaching and the “wisdom from the streets” shows us that alcohol is inconsistent with the Christian lifestyle. Think about it! Mark T. Tonkery