Know Your Bible

VOL. 10                           July 10, 2011                           NO. 27

 "Friend, Why Have You Come?"
     Jesus asked this question of one who came to Him, though He certainly knew the answer. I believe Jesus still knows why some come to Him today, but I think it would be beneficial for us to consider the question as if Jesus was asking us today. We hear preachers of the gospel message inviting people to come to Jesus and many do respond. Maybe you are one of those who has come to Jesus. May I ask the same question Jesus asked then? "Friend, why have you come?"
Curiosity? Maybe you have heard something about this One called Jesus and your interest was piqued. Maybe you went to church when you were a child and heard some stories about Him, but haven't been back since. Maybe you started thinking about what you once studied and you want to find out more. That is certainly a good thing to do! I encourage you to investigate the word of God and see what it says about this One.
     In the Bible, you will find that Jesus came to this earth after having left heaven (John 3:13), taking on the body of flesh (John 1:1, 14). You are probably familiar with the story of His lowly birth - born in a stable in Bethlehem (Luke 2:7). You may also know that He was raised in Nazareth as a child (Luke 2:39,40) and that He was the son of a carpenter (Matt. 13:55). You will find that, though He was God, He humbled Himself and lived as every man lives. He was made like us in every way (Heb. 2:17), and He faced every temptation we face - except He answered every temptation and did not sin (Heb. 4:15).
     But maybe this is not enough. There is much more to know about Jesus to really understand who He is and why we should believe that He is the Christ. Maybe you have come to Jesus to know who 'the Christ' is. That's good! Study the book of Mark to see the words and works of Jesus and let them tell you who Jesus is. Investigate the record that you may know Him.
     If you have come to Jesus out of curiosity, I encourage you to go to the Bible to find the answers to your questions. But don't stop there. Curiosity about Jesus is not what will save you from your sins. Will you believe?
Tradition? Maybe you are one who comes to Jesus because it is simply what you have been doing all of your life, and nothing more than that. It is a tradition. Maybe you just come once or twice a year to special worship services because that is what your family has always done. Once a year, you hear about the birth of Jesus, and once a year you hear about His death. But what about in between? Do you know anything about His life in between His birth and death? Do you know anything about how Jesus lived and what He did?
     If the only reason you come to Jesus is tradition, you may not even know why you come at all. It may be that you don't even know Jesus at all! If you come to Jesus out of tradition, it is likely that you come more out of habit than desire. It may be that you simply come to Him because it is what you have always done.
     I won't tell you to quit coming if you come only out of tradition. I won't tell you to quit because maybe you will learn about Jesus and see that He is worthy of much more than your presence. Maybe you will see that He is worthy of your love (1 John 4:19), your heart (Matt. 22:37), and your life (Rom. 12:1). Maybe you will recognize Him as your Lord (Phil. 2:11).
     But I must also tell you that if tradition is the only reason you come, you must do more than that. Tradition may be done in the right way but, more often, it is in conflict with the express will of God (Matt. 15:1-9). Many churches across this country do things out of tradition, but those teachings and practices are not found within the word of God, the Bible. If you come to Jesus out of tradition, maybe you are not really coming to Jesus at all, but to your own perception of who you think Jesus should be. It could be that the church of which you are a part is telling you that by following their traditions you are coming to Jesus when, in fact, He is nowhere to be found. Tradition will not guarantee you will find your way to Jesus; the only sure way is by following the revealed word of God, the Bible.
Because Of Someone Else? It may very well be that you really are not coming for your own benefit, but just to satisfy someone else. It could be that the only reason you come to Jesus is to keep your parents from bugging you about 'going to church,' because your husband or wife does, or because you think your kids need to have some religious instruction. Maybe you are coming to Jesus for them. It could be that you don't really want to come to Jesus at all.
     I won't tell you to quit coming if this is why you come because maybe - just maybe - you will actually get to know Jesus and see that He is worthy of knowing. Maybe you will eventually see Jesus as the Christ, the Son of God (Matt. 16:16) and as the sacrifice that was made for your sins (Heb. 10:12). It may be that one day, when you have forced yourself to go because someone else wanted you to go, you will hear of the great love God had for us (Rom. 5:6-8) and your heart will be touched.
     If you are coming because of someone else, please understand that they want you to come to Jesus because they care deeply for your soul. Understand that, to them, Jesus is much more than a baby in a manger - He is the Son of God and King of Kings! Understand that they know Him and love Him because He first loved us and gave Himself for us (Eph. 5:2), and they want you to know of that great love, too. They are hoping [and praying diligently] that you will hear those words that speak of that great salvation that has been offered and you will see that even if you gained the whole world and lost your soul, you will have profited nothing (Matt. 16:26).
To Destroy Him? I must tell you now that the man whom Jesus asked this question was none other than Judas, the man who came to betray Him. He had just left the assembly of the chief priests and elders of the people (Matt. 26:47) and he brought with him men with swords and clubs, like a bunch of vigilantes looking to have a lynching party. They came in the dark of night and away from the crowds who adored Him because the accusers of Jesus were a bunch of cowards. But Judas,  when He  came to Jesus,  came  under  the  pretension of being His friend and dared to give Him a kiss. (v. 49) Such audacity and hypocrisy! This man whom Jesus had chosen just a few short years earlier to walk with Him and to hear His words of truth was not coming to Him as a friend but, in truth, as a traitor. Judas was not really a friend of Jesus at all, and Jesus knew that, but He still called him 'friend.'
     Friend, why have you come? Out of curiosity? If so, I encourage you to seek out the written word that you may know Him. But do it honestly and be willing to accept what you find - even if He is not the Jesus you thought He would be. Have you come out of tradition? If so, please understand that you may be misled and it is not Jesus you are following at all, but teachings of mere men. Look to the pure word of God, the Bible, to find Him. Are you coming because of someone else? If so, think about why they are trying to get you to follow Him, too. They care for your soul! And if you have come to destroy Him, know that the one who sought to do so ended up destroying Himself (Matt. 27:3-5), while Jesus still lives today (Rom. 6:9)!

---Steven Harper
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"We Just Don't Go To Church!"
     A young couple who had not been to church services for a number of years asked, "What have we done wrong besides not going to church?"
     They had robbed God of thousands of dollars (1 Cor. 16:1,2); they had forsaken the Lord's own memorial supper (1 Cor. 11:23-26); for years their voices were unheard in the praises of the saints, their petitions and thanksgivings absent from the prayers of the saints, and their knowledge of God's word stifled and fading, while their spiritual growth was completely neglected - to say nothing of the bad example set and the wrong influence exerted upon others around them!  Indeed, their souls had become dead to God, and yet they ask: "What have we done wrong besides not going to church?"  May God help us to see ourselves as He sees us!

---Bill Crews

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