The term “saved” is used many ways in the Bible. It’s easy to understand terms as one-dimensional. When we read that someone “believed” in Jesus… it is easiest to think of an “initial faith experience”, but that’s not always the case.
For many of the people in the gospels… their “faith” in Jesus was not when they began “believing” in God.
In the first chapter of John there is a quick succession of “first encounters” with Jesus. It begins in John 1:35 and continues through verse 51. Let’s take a quick look at these people and see if the text gives us any clue as to whether any of these people could have been justified “believers in God” prior to meeting Jesus.
The setting is “the wilderness”… the desert. John the Baptist is dressing very oddly, eating weird stuff, and saying some very strange things… all in a very remote and desolate place. John was either crazy… or he was a prophet sent from God. Many would conclude the former. No matter what people thought of him, the Baptist was saying things that piqued the interest of everyone in Israel.
John 1:35 (NASB95)
Again the next day John was standing with two of his disciples…
The first two people we will look at are these two disciples of John the Baptist. First, let’s acknowledge something; these two were not just on a day trip to check out the freak show that John had become. The text says they were “disciples” of John the Baptist. What does that mean?
Following up on my last post… I’d like to take a look at some more examples of justified, Old Testament saints, being used by God to welcome The Messiah to the earth. In Luke 1 we are introduced to the parents of John the Baptist. Again… it is important to pay attention to the way people are described in the text. I believe it gives a clue to the content of their souls.
Luke 1:5–7 (NASB95)
5 In the days of Herod, king of Judea, there was a priest named Zacharias, of the division of Abijah; and he had a wife from the daughters of Aaron, and her name was Elizabeth. 6 They were both righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord. 7 But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren, and they were both advanced in years.
When God chose a couple to bring John the Baptist into the world… he chose two people who were “righteous in the sight of God, walking blamelessly in all the commandments and requirements of the Lord.” These two people were people of faith… true believers in God… prior to their call to be the parents of John the Baptist.
I know this might be obvious… but I’m not sure people always pay attention to this context. Continue reading →
I’ve been contemplating some words Jesus said right before he died.
Before I get to those thoughts… I need to give a little background information. I grew up in a good Bible-believing evangelical church… and I took communion on a regular basis. The symbolism of “taking communion” was always a really hard thing to understand. (I come from a tradition that views communion as a symbolic act. I acknowledge that other traditions within the church apply different understandings.)
Regarding communion, Jesus said that we are supposed to “do this in remembrance” of Him (1 Corinthians 11:23 and following). So, in my adolescence, I would sit, in the pew, with the small plastic cup in my hand (trying not to spill)… and hold the even smaller square of mass-produced “bread” between my two fingers (trying not to drop)… and I would try my hand at “remembrance“.
It went something like this…
“Jesus died… Thank you, Jesus…. His body was broken… His blood was spilled… He died… Jesus died… remember that Jesus died… Thank you… Died.”
Then when everyone else had received their same small cup and bead of bread… the pastor would allow us to eat and drink. I’d lick out the bottom of the cup with my tongue… and put it in the round rubber cup holder in front of me.
I did a lot of “remembering”… but never got much past that. Every time communion was served… I remembered… but it seemed really repetitive. I mean… I never really forgot about Jesus’ death between times. Continue reading →