Q/A Friday: Why Was It Advantageous for Jesus to Leave Earth?

Nevertheless, I tell you the truth: it is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you” (John 16:7).

First, the Son’s departure came via the cross which was necessary for salvation. For the work of salvation to be complete, Christ had to leave this world. If He didn’t, His words on the cross, “It is finished” (John 19:30) would be a lie; nothing would be finished. His work would be incomplete and therefore salvation would not be attained for any of us. Read carefully how Paul states this truth in Galatians 4:4-6, “…God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons” (Galatians 4:4-5) Now watch this – after Christ’s adoption was complete. “And because you are sons, God has sent for the Spirit of His Son in to your hearts…” (Galatians 4:6). This sending of the Holy Spirit could only be done once the Son left the world after the work on the cross.

Second, the Holy Spirit can be in all places at all times; the Son – in human form – could only be in one place at one time. This is significant because the disciples would be scattered all over the world. They would not all be able to be with the Son for personal encouragement and guidance. However, the Holy Spirit can be everywhere, because He would be indwelling them.

Third, because of the Holy Spirit’s arrival, the disciples could now do greater works than Jesus (John 14:12). The word “greater” doesn’t mean “better”; it means “more extensive.” The ministry was to be “greater” in its extent or the number of people reached. For example, the ministry of the Son would go outside of Palestine which hadn’t taken place during Jesus’ life; that would not be the case with the disciples spreading the Gospel throughout the known world unto all nations (Acts 1:8). Their works would be greater in the number of conversions, further miracles and the recording of the N.T.

Fourth, if Son remained on earth in bodily form, there would have been no room for the exercise of the disciples’ faith. By the Son’s absence, the disciples would become twice the men they were called to become. In summary: they would grow in their faith by trusting what He said was true. In this time of waiting, their faith would increase.

If you have a question you would like to submit to our blog to be answered in the future, please email it to charlesheck@cox.net or post your question in the comments section.

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“You Don’t Need Me” – A Common Lie

“If the foot should say, ‘Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. 1And if the ear should say, ‘Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,’ that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.”

To conclude that you are not needed in the body of Christ is a destructive thought – to you personally and to the church corporately. It can, and often does, discourage people from serving at all. If everyone in a church bought into this lie, their gifts would atrophy, ministries would die, the church’s impact would lessen and disappear, and soon you’re selling your building and closing church bank accounts.

Paul says that a “foot” should never say that because he is not a “hand” he is not needed or that he doesn’t “belong.” Just because he has 5 toes and not 5 fingers does not mean he is to be thought of any less or should think of himself as any less.

To illustrate another way – a teacher shouldn’t think he is useless because he isn’t strong in mercy and isn’t very compassionate to those he teaches. A gifted giver should never think he is useless because he isn’t gifted in evangelism and can’t easily transition a conversation from earthly to spiritual matters. Someone gifted in administration should never think he is useless because he can’t easily minister to someone on their death bed.

We can’t all be evangelists or teachers or administrators or helpers or givers. We all have our role as separate members of the “body.” No part of the body should ever conclude they are unnecessary to the rest of the “body.”

The lie that the “church doesn’t need me” comes from a skewed view of what makes a healthy church. Some think if you have a great Sunday morning with a tremendous sermon, stirring music, and good welcoming committee, then you have enough for a church. The church is much more than that, and if that’s all God wanted, there wouldn’t be the diversity we see represented in heaven. Each of us have to realize how important they are to the life and blood of the church.

We need the toes, the ears, the arms and the feet. All of them!

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3 Thoughts About Discipleship

Discipleship is about imitation. There are 4 words in the N.T. for “disciple” or “discipleship”:

  1. Mathatays (“disciple”). It refers to one who attaches themselves to another for the purpose of learning and committing themselves to what that person says.
  2. Akoloutheo (“to follow after”). The basic understanding of this word refers to someone who has answered the call of Jesus and has redirected his or her life in obedience to Him.
  3. Opiso (“to come after”). While the previous Greek word refers to the practice of a disciple; this word is more the position. They “come after”, which means they are in subordination to their mentor. They are under his wisdom and authority. It means that they totally break from the past life and they place themselves under the leadership of the one discipling them.
  4. Mimieomai (“to imitate”). This is the same word we get out English word “mimic.” A mimic is someone who copies or imitates someone else in actions, speech, etc. A disciple mimics his earthly mentor; he is a spiritual copycat. He watches someone’s character, someone’s work ethic, someone’s ministry, someone’s attitudes and he tries to reduplicate those things in his life.

Men are imperfect templates, but they are still templates. No one – Paul included – would say, “Copy everything I do, even my sins!” No one has arrived or will ever arrive this side of heaven. However, the examples in Scripture or in church history for more than education but for instruction. We are reminded in I Corinthians 10:11, “Now these things happened to them as an example, but they were written down for our instruction, …” The righteous fascination with character studies is that there is a sense of relatability to them as men and woman that encourage us in their victories and defeats. We are, and should be, creatures of imitation; it is examples that draw us.

The ultimate copy is still Christ. Right after the “Hall of Faith” chapter in Hebrews 11, we read, “ Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:1-2). Those imperfect templates, if they are worthy of our admiration, will be pointing us to Christ. At best, they are pointers or reflectors of Jesus Himself. Paul is not calling us to do anything he hasn’t been pursuing himself.

Who disciples you? Who are you discipling?

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Racism and the Imago Dei

The main reason God loathes racism comes from the early chapters of the Bible.

On the 6th day of creation. “Then God said, ‘Let us make man in Our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.’ So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them” (Genesis 1:26-27).

Theologians have wrestled with the imago dei (“our image”) for centuries and I am certainly not going to answer all of your questions in this blog post, but let me, instead, give you a brief understanding.

The word for “image” means “to carve or to cut off.” Genesis 1:26 means man was carved from God. He was shaped and formed – in a way – like God. That means that we are created from a heavenly pattern. That means we are created on a heavenly pattern which is not true of anything else that was created, nothing else in the time-space universe. No animal was made in God’s image. No mountain was made in God’s image. No star or black hole was made in God’s image.

Man was created in a special way. He is the only one or thing made after God in some fashion. He bears the stamp of God’s likeness. You might say the pattern for personhood was God. Like God, man has reason, intellect, will and emotion.

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To “be racist” is to behave in such a way that supposes that you are made in the image of God in a way that others are not. It is a selfish distortion of the imago dei. You could say that to “be racist” is to seek to undermine the stamp of God’s image that is upon all of us.

This is also, by the way, the reason that murder is forbidden in the Scripture – “Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed; for God made man in his own image” (Genesis 9:6).

John Calvin tell us, “Now if we do not wish to violate the image of God, we ought to hold our neighbors sacred. And if we do not wish to renounce all humanity, we ought to cherish him as our flesh.”

Love your neighbor as your self – as your own flesh. Love the one of different heritage and different language and different color from you, for you were BOTH made in God’s image.

Alex Montoya, On the Reason for the Decline in Evangelism

See the source image“The greatest single reason why the church is declining is that it has ceased to go out to the lost. For some reason, evangelism has become something to do in church – within the walls of the church building. The church today expects unbelievers to come to it, when in fact the church should go out to them. Effective outreach will take place when Christians realize that the starting point of the Great Commission is to move out from the comfort zones of ecclesiastical structures into the lives of the lost around them. From the pulpit to the pew – from the pastor to the parishioner – the perspective of evangelism must be that of a proactive, aggressive endeavor.” (“Outreaching,” Rediscovering Pastoral Ministry)

Just In Case You Missed It – January 7-13, 2018

  1. Announcing Ask Ligonier: A Place for Answers” by Nathan W. Bingham (Ligonier). Resourceful idea from a sound ministry.
  2. Deciphering the Covers of Christian Books” by Tim Challies. What is the meaning of terms like “and” or “with” on the covers of books? This article is a helpful explanation.
  3. How to Discourage Your Minister in the New Year” by Paul Levy (Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals). If someone asked me to answer the question, “What discourages you the most?”, the first 5 things this blogger mentions would be my list.
  4. Six Ways Ministry Spouses Get Hurt” by Thom S. Rainer (Lifeway).
  5. What Do We Do with Dreams?” by Erik Raymond (The Gospel Coalition). A wise and balanced answer to an often-asked question.