Monthly Archives: May 2006

Jesus Would Have Us Obey the Apostles’ Commands & Examples

by Randy Baker

Many people have a desire to be saved, and some of these same religious souls have chosen to rely on only a select few Scriptures for the basis for all their beliefs. I am sure you have heard it said that Jesus’ words are the only important passages – in other words, you only have to be concerned with the red-letter portions of your Bible to serve God. We are indeed blessed to have Jesus’ words for guidance so we can rightly serve God, but it is important that we ask “what would Jesus say” about the importance of the Scriptures written by the apostles. Would Jesus agree that only the red-letter portions of our Bibles are of critical importance?

When discussing the coming of His church, Jesus told his apostles, “and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it. I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven; and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” (Matthew 16:18). This passage sure makes it sound like Jesus is placing critical importance on the things that the apostles would be saying and doing during the age of the church, the kingdom of Jesus. Here, Jesus says that the apostles’ teachings and examples were already authorized or “bound” in heaven.

Knowing that He would leave the apostles to return to heaven, Jesus did not leave their teachings and examples to chance. “These things have I spoken unto you, while yet abiding with you. 26But the Comforter, even the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said unto you” (John 14:25-26). This was Jesus’ plan all along! He told the apostles all He could at that time knowing that much of it would be misunderstood and forgotten. But after His ascension back to heaven, Jesus would send the Comforter, the Holy Spirit, to guide the apostles, teach them, and remind them of the things Jesus wanted done. The words of the apostles are certainly beginning to look very important.

“But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall bear witness of me: 27and ye also bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:26-27). Jesus again shows that the apostles would have the Spirit of truth, the Holy Spirit, the Comforter guiding them. This Spirit was coming to the apostles from the Father Himself.

“Howbeit when he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he shall guide you into all the truth: for he shall not speak from himself; but what things soever he shall hear, these shall he speak: and he shall declare unto you the things that are to come. 14He shall glorify me: for he shall take of mine, and shall declare it unto you” (John 16:13-14). Jesus’ own words here tell that the apostles would declare to us the very things of Jesus! Jesus makes it clear that to heed only the red-letter portions of the Bible is to ignore Jesus Himself! We must heed what the apostles say, and we must follow the examples that they set for us. Their words and examples are Jesus’ message every bit as much as Jesus’ own words.

What would Jesus say about listening to the apostles’ commands and following their examples? What would Jesus say about the importance of those Scriptures written by apostles? Jesus has plainly told us that the apostles’ messages were not their own. They were proclaiming Jesus and God’s truths to the world. To obey the apostles’ instructions, and to follow their examples, is to follow Jesus’ own will. We dare not ignore their words.

Jesus Would Study the Bible

Jesus Would Study the Bible
By Jeff Himmel

Do you own a Bible? If so, what do you do with it – not just the book itself, but its message? What would Jesus do?

The Bible of Jesus’ day was what we call the Old Testament. These Hebrew Scriptures include the Law of Moses (Genesis through Deuteronomy), the history of ancient Israel (Joshua through Esther), inspired books of wisdom and poetry (Job through Song of Solomon), and the writings of God’s prophets (Isaiah through Malachi). How did Jesus treat the message of Scripture? If we approach the Bible the same way He did, we can be confident that we’re on sure footing.

When tempted by Satan, challenged by His enemies, or questioned by truth-seekers, Jesus’ response came from the word of God (see Matthew 4:1-10; 22:23-46). He truly believed the passage that He quoted in response to the Devil: “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God” (Matthew 4:4; cf. Deuteronomy 8:3).

Many people insist that we can’t understand the Bible, much less understand it alike. What would Jesus say? He often responded to spiritual questions by asking, “Have you not read…?” or “What is written…?” (For examples, see Matthew 12:3,5; 19:4; 22:31; Luke 10:26.) He believed that people could understand the Scriptures, and that they must. Jesus never dismissed religious differences as the harmless result of “differing interpretations.” He did say that some people were “mistaken, not understanding the Scriptures” (Matthew 22:29) and that others were “slow of heart to believe” what was written (Luke 24:25). And He tried to correct people’s misunderstandings about God’s word. In Matthew 5, for example, Jesus dealt with several subjects by contrasting what the people had been taught by their leaders (“You have heard that it was said…”) with what God actually required of them (“But I say to you…”). Jesus expected people to base their beliefs and actions on a correct understanding of what God had revealed in His word.

Jesus emphasized that all of God’s revealed message was important. He acknowledged that some commandments were “weightier” (Matthew 23:23), i.e., more basic and fundamental. But in the same breath He said that even the details should not be neglected (“these you ought to have done, without leaving the others undone”). He warned against breaking even the “least” of God’s commands (Matthew 5:19).

Speaking of details, Jesus did not hesitate to discuss the specifics of God’s law. Some of His arguments with the Jewish leadership hinged on a particular word or phrase in a passage of Scripture (consider John 10:34-36; Mark 12:26-27; Matthew 22:41-46). To Jesus, every word of God was important.

Jesus drew important lessons from Bible history, too. He treated the historical accounts of Scripture as real events, not myths or fables. (A lot of modern believers give those historical accounts far less credit than Jesus did.) And Jesus cited historical events to prove spiritual principles (see Matthew 11:23-24; 12:41). He believed that inspired history has much to teach about God’s dealings with man.

Jesus also taught that there were certain inescapable conclusions that must be drawn from what the Scriptures said. For instance, He showed that God’s statements about marriage at the beginning of creation (Genesis 1:27 and 2:24) necessarily implied that it is a permanent relationship; thus divorce is sinful (Mark 10:2-12). He taught that the command to honor one’s parents (Exodus 20:12) necessarily implied caring for them in old age (Mark 7:10-13). Jesus expected people to examine Scripture, understand it, and draw the right conclusions.

The Bible is God’s revelation to mankind – a priceless gift. Yet it is often neglected even by those who claim to believe it. Many people have sincere religious convictions, but couldn’t begin to show from the Scriptures why they hold those convictions. Many claim to know Jesus, but know next to nothing of the Scriptures that testify of Him. Let’s follow Jesus’ example of respect for God’s written revelation.

“Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God.”

Jesus Would Give Bible Answers For Religious Questions

by Randy Baker
Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Jesus, through the Word of God, provided us a high standard to follow. He says “If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me” (Matthew 16:24). Peter points out that Christ provided an example for us to follow (1 Peter 2:21). We may ask “what would Jesus do” when we’re facing some challenge in our lives? One of the challenges we have is knowing how to answer religious questions. When watching Jesus’ activities, what pattern can we observe that would provide us guidance on how to appropriately handle spiritual questions?

Jesus had to answer questions from a lot of different types of personalities. For example, we see Jesus answering a question from a sincere scribe in Mark 12:28, “’What commandment is the first of all?’ Jesus answered, ‘The first is, Hear, O Israel; The Lord our God, the Lord is one: and thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind, and with all thy strength. The second is this, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. There is none other commandment greater than these.’” What do we see? Jesus answered a religious question with scripture (Deut. 6:4-5; Lev. 19:18).

Jesus also had to answer hard questions from those who were not friendly toward Him. In Mark 12:18 we see an occasion when a group of Sadducees attempt to trap Jesus in a difficult question. “And there come unto him Sadducees, who say that there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying, ‘Teacher, Moses wrote unto us, If a man’s brother die, and leave a wife behind him, and leave no child, that his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed unto his brother. There were seven brethren: and the first took a wife, and dying left no seed; and the second took her, and died, leaving no seed behind him; and the third likewise: and the seven left no seed. Last of all the woman also died. In the resurrection whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife.’ Jesus said unto them, ‘Is it not for this cause that ye err, that ye know not the scriptures, nor the power of God? For when they shall rise from the dead, they neither marry, nor are given in marriage; but are as angels in heaven. But as touching the dead, that they are raised; have ye not read in the book of Moses, in the place concerning the Bush, how God spake unto him, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? He is not the God of the dead, but of the living: ye do greatly err.’” Jesus scolds the questioners for reaching erroneous conclusions. He quickly refers to scripture that answers their question (Exodus 3:6). The Sadducees had apparently reached a bad conclusion from handed-down tradition, or some writing that was not part of God’s Word, but Jesus showed they needed to rely on scripture.

Jesus even faced direct challenges from Satan himself. “And the tempter came and said unto him, ‘If thou art the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.’ 4But he answered and said, ’It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.’ Then the devil taketh him into the holy city; and he set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and saith unto him, ‘If thou art the Son of God, cast thyself down: for it is written, He shall give his angels charge concerning thee: and, On their hands they shall bear thee up, Lest haply thou dash thy foot against a stone.’ Jesus said unto him, ’Again it is written, Thou shalt not make trial of the Lord thy God.’ 8Again, the devil taketh him unto an exceeding high mountain, and showeth him all the kingdoms of the world, and the glory of them; and he said unto him, ‘All these things will I give thee, if thou wilt fall down and worship me.’ Then saith Jesus unto him, ’Get thee hence, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve’” (Matthew 4:3-10). Jesus’ approach is clear – He repeatedly says “It is written” to remind Satan of the truth (Deut. 8:3; 6:13,16; 10:20). Notice that Satan also used scripture (Psalm 91:11-12). Using scripture incorrectly is no better than ignoring it altogether. Understanding His word correctly is critical.

What did Jesus do when asked a religious question? He answered with correctly applied scripture!

What Would Jesus Do? (Series Introduction)

What Would Jesus Do?
By Jeff Himmel
Wednesday, May 10, 2006

A few years ago I started noticing bracelets, t-shirts, and bumper stickers that simply read, “WWJD.” Today they’re everywhere. The letters stand for a question: “What would Jesus do?”

It’s a noble question. Christians, by definition, are to be like Jesus (see Romans 8:29). If the Son of God has first place in our hearts and actions, we’ll frequently find ourselves asking, “What would Jesus do?” What would Jesus do if He faced this temptation? What would Jesus do with this opportunity? What would Jesus do in response to this challenge? What would Jesus do if He were in my shoes?

God calls on us to imitate Jesus’ perfect example (see 1 Peter 2:21; 1 Corinthians 11:1). So whenever we ask, “What would Jesus do?” we’re also asking, “What would Jesus want me to do?” If we don’t truthfully answer the first question, we won’t have a clue about the second. This, I think, is where we often mess up: we don’t think seriously about what Jesus would do, because deep down we fear that it’s not what we would do. I think about that when I see a WWJD bumper sticker on a car, then notice that the driver is screaming obscenities at someone who cut him off in traffic.

What would Jesus do? How we arrive at the answer to that question is just as important as asking it. It’s pretty easy to let “What would Jesus do?” change into “What would I like to imagine Jesus doing?” or even “What do I wish I could get Jesus to do?” I can form an inaccurate picture of Christ that’s based on my own preferences and prejudices. Again, it does no good to ask the question if I won’t answer it truthfully.

So how can I know what Jesus would do? How can anyone know? The answer is to look at what He actually did. And what He said. And what His chosen apostles did and said by His authority. Those things are recorded for us in the New Testament. If the question is “What would Jesus do?” we must look for the answer in that divinely revealed record. Anything else is just guesswork. “For who has known the mind of the Lord, that he should instruct Him” (1 Corinthians 2:16)? When we learn what Christ and His apostles did and said, we then must apply their teachings and examples to our own lives.

A word of caution: What Jesus did made Him unpopular. His actions and words sometimes shocked, offended, and angered people. As He said, “the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil” (John 3:19). It follows that people who imitate Jesus will often seem out of step and out of touch. As in Jesus’ day, those who are comfortable in sin will resent those who, by word and example, beckon them to leave it.

Watch for future essays that will ask, “What would Jesus do?” in various areas of life. If you’re a follower of Christ, we hope you’ll be challenged and encouraged to be more like Him every day. If you’re not a follower of Christ, or if you don’t know where you stand, we hope you’ll be challenged to think seriously about how very different Jesus was and is, about how different He calls us to be, and about the difference He will make in your life.

What Would Jesus Do?

What Would Jesus Do is a series of newspaper articles written by members of the Spring Warrior church of Christ in Perry, Florida and published by the church in the Perry News-Herald beginning on May 10, 2006, and ending on November 29, 2006.

Each article can be read by clicking a link to its title below:

  1. Sin No More (Repentance, Unscriptural Marriages & Homosexuality)
  2. Cleanse the Temple (of Modern & Liberal forms of Worship & Outreach)

See also Spring Warrior’s previous articles under the series entitled, “Prove All Things.”