The Apple Of God's Eye

December 11, 2009

What Is True Masculinity?

Some rules below that define true masculine traits and attitudes:

The strength, life and health of the Church depends largely on how men fulfill their roles as spiritual leaders.

•  The success of homes and marriages depends greatly on the quality of spiritual lives.

•  God has assigned and delegated profound and sobering responsibility.

•  If Christians fail in their roles as spiritual leaders, families will suffer and so will the character of the Church.

As we shall prove, God created man first and made him to be the head.

•  Under God’s rule, he has been made responsible.

•  Whether or not he succeeds, depends on how well he discharges his calling and duty.

•  NOTE: When a marriage crumbles, first and foremost  God holds the man accountable.

How do we define the meaning of true masculinity?

•  To describe the role that God intended for man to play.

•  To outline the job, calling and duties of a “real masculine leader.”

•  To disclose the awesome responsibility God envisioned for man when He created Adam.

Let’s first look at our mixed-up world today.

•  Newspapers, magazines, TV & the movies picture men as henpecked dolts, dominated and ruled over by women.

•  They are weak in moral, mental and physical character.

•  By abdicating their roles, they have forced women into unnatural leadership positions, producing frustration, resentment and shame.

This sad state of affairs was prophesied centuries ago.

A. Isa. 3:1-3 — “For behold, the Lord…doth take away… the mighty man, and the man of war, the judge…the captain of fifty, and the honorable man….”

•  The marginal reference for “the honorable man” renders this phrase as a man eminent in countenance.

•  This phrase indicates that .there would be a lack of men commanding respect (Soncino).

•  This has occurred today.

B. Isa. 3:4-5,12 — “As for my people, children are their oppressors, and women rule over them.”

•  These verses again show men to be unqualified for true leadership or rule.

•  They are as unqualified as children to rule, and are effeminate like women. (JFB.)

•  The fact that children can exalt themselves illustrates the appalling lack of true masculine leadership.

C. Isa. 3:16-17 — “Moreover the Lord saith, Because the daughters of Zion are haughty, and walk with stretched forth necks and wanton eyes… Therefore the Lord will smite with a scab the crown of the head of the daughters of Zion.

•  These verses depict the state of mind of modern-day women.

•  Have they not become this way because men have relinquished their roles as leaders — a point so clearly emphasized throughout this chapter?

Clearly, in today’s world the majority of men have lost their spiritual fiber and courage and have taken on the soft, weak and effeminate characteristics of women.

A. I Cor. 6:9-10 — “Know ye not that the unrighteous… nor EFFEMINATE… shall inherit the Kingdom of God.”

B. How vital it is that men in God’s Church recapture the value and meaning of true masculinity.

Modern-day misconceptions of masculinity.

A. Before discussing the characteristics of a true masculine leader, let’s examine some false ideas and notions commonly held today.

B. What real masculinity is not:

•  A swaggering, super-confident macho type, like “The Fonz” on Happy Days.

•  A Schwarzenegger physique.

•  A strong and tough hero like Tarzan, Baretta, James Bond or Superman.

•  A suave, sophisticated playboy and modern-day swinger.

•  A crude and coarse pot-bellied drinker who swears and uses vulgar language.

•  The loud, boisterous, braggart who’s forever extolling his virtues and advertising himself.

•  One who is arrogant and fiercely competitive and feels that he must win at all costs.

•  The know-it-all who enjoys intimidating others.

•  The man who’s power hungry and who likes to control and order people around.

•  One who lays down the law and domineers, and rules his wife and children with an iron hand.

C. In general, the type who’s selfish, arrogant and vain and who likes to impress others with his knowledge, exploits and skills.

A profile of true masculinity.

A. True masculinity is playing the role that God intended.

Man was physically designed and created to be the head and leader.

•  He has broad shoulders, strong muscles, a sturdy build and is heavier.

•  He is generally taller than the woman so that she has to look up to him.

•  He is virile, rugged and robust, and was designed for action and hard work — to be the protector and provider.

•  He has a deeper voice.

•  He has coarse and hairy skin.

God gave him a masculine mentality to match his physical frame.

•  He likes a challenge.

•  He’s a planner with daring, aggressive and bold ambitions.

•  He’s a deep thinker who likes to tackle and conquer problems.

•  He enjoys rough and rugged activities that test his agility and strength.

•  In short, he is equipped both mentally and physically to be the dominate figure and to lead the woman.

By contrast, the woman was designed both physically  and mentally to assist the man.

•  She has a softer, more fragile and delicate body.

•  She is smaller in stature and in aptly described as the weaker vessel (I Peter 3:7).

•  Her natural interests (unless perverted) center around her home, family and general domestic duties.

•  She was created to be the man’s helpmeet and companion.

•  Since she was made from man, God instilled in her heart a desire to assist and please him.

Thus, the male was created, both physically and mentally, to lead the woman and be her head.

•  Gen. 2:18, 21-24 — “The woman was made for man.”

•  I Cor. 11:3, 8-9 — “Husband is head of the wife.”

The general characteristics of a masculine leader.

Is God-fearing and deeply converted.

•  His supreme desire is to walk with God and keep Him at the center of his life.

•  As he grows in God’s likeness, the natural qualities of true masculinity will emerge.

•  As he prays and studies, he will become more cognizant of his role and God-given responsibilities.

•  The negative traits of fear, shyness and inferiority will disappear.

•  Daily he should take on the masculine attributes of his elder Brother, Jesus Christ.

•  II. Cor. 3:18 — “But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord.”

Has inner strength, character and stability.

•  He is unshakeable, unmoveable and deeply grounded in the truth.

•  He will not compromise his principles, yield to temptation, or break under pressure.

•  When trials beset him, he trusts God to the end.

•  This type of leader is respected by all and is known far and wide.

Is self-assured and confident.

•  This kind of confidence comes from faith in God and from a track record of experience and success.

•  It’s a distinct manly trait that carries with it an air of authority.

•  Such a man knows where he’s going and what he wants out of life.

•  The opposite sex feel’s secure in the presence of a man with this brand of confidence

Has purpose, drive and initiative.

•  He has mapped out his life and has established clear-cut goals — he knows where he’s headed.

•  With tenacity and vigor, he pushes himself to overcome all obstacles.

•  He does not allow himself to become discouraged, distracted or defeated — “can’t” and “impossible” are not a part of his normal vocabulary.

•  His total outlook is positive and upbeat and you sense that you’re in the presence of a “winner” — a man with a destiny.

Is decisive.

•  He has learned how to concentrate and use his mind to it’s fullest capacity.

•  He cuts through trivia and gets down to essentials — he doesn’t procrastinate.

•  This kind of leader tackles a problem head-on and doesn’t succumb to frustration and despair.

•  He is alert to opportunity and new doors God may open.

•  He’s not afraid to step out in faith and take a calculated risk.

•  The ability to stand up under pressure and make life and death decisions is a distinct masculine trait.

Practices self-control.

•  He disciplines his body, controls his time and dictates to circumstances.

•  He is tough on himself and has his life totally in hand.

•  Self-discipline is a hallmark.

•  “No” is one of his most powerful command words.

•  He has a clear set of priorities and puts first things first.

Is emotionally mature.

•  He controls his temper, disciplines his moods and monitors his overall attitude.

•  He can roll with the punches and bounce back from defeat.

•  This type of leader doesn’t need the constant reassurance, acceptance or recognition of people.

•  He can receive criticism without it destroying him.

•  He doesn’t whine, feel sorry for himself or seek the sympathy of others when his purposes have been thwarted.

•  You will rarely hear him complain about his aches and pains or general health.

Is law abiding, conscientious and responsible.

•  He doesn’t try to outsmart the IRS or rip off his neighbor in a business deal.

•  He is upright, sincere and always tells the truth.

•  He’s dependable — his word is his bond.

•  Being a responsible citizen, he promptly submits to the laws of the land and pays his bills on time.

•  In all areas of human relations, he fears God and reflects sterling character.

Uses common sense and good judgment.

•  He possesses an inner sense of knowing when to speak and how to act in almost every situation.

•  Has an ability to size up a problem and cut through to the answer.

•  He is big-minded, thinks long range and is able to grasp the best course of action when making decisions.

•  Has developed a sense of insight, wisdom and sound-mindedness.

•  This is particularly true in the area of human relations — tactful, diplomatic and understanding.

Takes charge when necessary.

•  This does not mean he’s to usurp another’s authority.

•  It does mean he’s to have presence of mind in a difficult situation when an appointed leader is not present.

•  He feels a sense of responsibility guided by God’s Spirit to uphold the proper standards.

•  He keeps his cool and doesn’t fold in a crisis situation.

•  In dating he always takes the lead and demonstrates by his confident manner that he’s a protector and a haven of trust.

Maintains vigor, vitality and good health.

•  Keeps physically fit.

•  He watches his diet — avoids overeating and resists junk foods.

•  He has a regular program of exercise and gets sufficient sleep.

•  Knowing that stress destroys good health and peace of mind, he strives to maintain a positive mental attitude.

•  Masculinity does not mean developing big muscles, but it does involve maintaining good health.

Demonstrates self-respect.

•  Godly self-esteem is a trademark of true masculinity.

•  A leader must have it if he’s to win the respect of others.

•  Self-respect is a product of living a clean and wholesome life.

•  It’s a mature and inner confidence that comes from integrity and a clear conscience.

•  He displays an air of control and authority over his life and will have little trouble mastering any situation he may encounter.

•  Thus, others will look up to him and will place credence in his character.

A woman’s view of true masculinity.

A. What makes a man “masculine” to a woman?

B. What is it that makes him a leader and a “real” man?

C .What does her nature cry out for from him?

D. Listed below are some of the qualities that women look for and desire in their male counterparts.

A woman was created to want and need a leader.

•  First and foremost she wants him to be deeply converted.

•  To put God first and remind her to do likewise.

•  She wants him to be the head — to know his role and accept it.

•  To take charge because he knows he’s innately responsible for her welfare.

•  The masculine leader then is one she can trust, respect and look up to.

•  When he relinquishes his position as head, he causes her to become independent and aggressive — a role that buries her femininity and makes her miserable.

She finds certain physical qualities masculine.

•  She wants him to look like a man.

•  His hair should not be too long — a borderline haircut shows a borderline attitude.

•  His pants should not fit too tightly, nor his shirt be half unbuttoned.

•  He should have straight shoulders, a straight back, and be physically fit.

•  His voice should be lower and stronger.

•  His body movements should be distinctly masculine — not prissy, delicate or dainty.

•  He should be careful of hygiene, body odor and personal appearance.

She wants him to be tough and rugged.

•  A fragile, weak man is unappealing.

•  She is repulsed by tender hands, manicured fingernails and a frail body.

•  The kind of man she loves doesn’t mind getting grease on his hands or splinters in his fingers.

•  He can play the role of a mechanic, carpenter, handyman, etc.

•  He doesn’t shy away from hard work or difficult tasks — but tackles them head-on with confidence and gusto.

•  He’s not to be cruel and abusive, but to be master over his life and circumstances.

•  Strength — physical, mental and spiritual — should characterize his total personality.

She admires a man with confidence and inner strength.

•  A woman cannot respect a man who whines, moans and complains about his bad breaks in life.

•  He should carry himself as a man with pride — a confidence based on God, not on vanity or ego.

•  He’s a kind of man who walks with authority and purpose.

•  He’s aggressive and forceful, yet gentle and willing to listen.

•  In a woman’s eyes, inner strength is a major ingredient of masculinity.

She wants him to be responsible and protective of her.

•  To look after her safety and welfare.

•  To do little things to let her know he cares — opens the door for her, keeps her car in good repair, does the chores without being asked.

•  He gives counsel and guidance in helping her to make right decisions.

•  To take the lead in handling such problems as bill collectors, door-to-door salesman, and serious conflicts with the children.

•  This type of man is a real gentleman and shows his love and affection in a thousand little ways.

•  NOTE: In a dating situation, a God-fearing man will never try to seduce a woman or cause her to engage in a wrestling match to fight him off.  When he gets too physical, her respect for him plummets.

She wants him to lead her toward God’s Kingdom.

•  To be a tower of strength she can lean on and example she can follow.

•  She wants him to correct her in love and to encourage her to develop her full potential.

•  She needs his support in her role as wife and mother.

•  She wants him to keep her in line and not let her frustrations get out of control.

•  The kind of man she greatly respects is one who radiates the qualities of God’s Spirit, even though she may have no romantic interest in him whatsoever.

•  In the final analysis, God holds the husband responsible for the spiritual character of his home.

A brief description from a woman.

“To be a man is a role. It is a position given by God. ‘The head of every man is Christ; and the head of every woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God’ (I Cor. 11:3). This position is given by God for a purpose and a function. When a man fills this role, he becomes masculine. The more completely he fills this role, the more masculine qualities he’ll develop. If he allows a woman to dominate him (or if he is the type who would), he loses his masculinity.

“‘Your desire shall be to your husband, and he shall rule over you’ (Gen. 3:16). A woman looks for this leadership; it’s the key to what she finds masculine.

All the traits, qualities, and definitions of true masculinity create within her a desire to respond, to be led, to be the helpmeet God designed her to be.”

What, then, is true masculinity?

It is taking on the life, nature and character of God and Jesus Christ.

September 1, 2009

The Power Of Parental Example

“He’s the spitting image of his father.”  — “He’s a chip off the old block.”   — “Like mother, like daughter.”

Expressions like these reflect that we tend to follow the example set by our parents.  How good or how bad an example do you set as a parent?

Children are richly blessed in life if they have good examples to follow. This leaves you as a parent with a major question to answer: By following your parental example, where will your children end up?

To help answer that question, let’s look at some ways that your children learn from your example. Here are several traits you may occasionally exemplify, and what those examples will produce in your children.

Hostility

A child living with hostility will learn to fight. Have you ever been out somewhere and observed children who punch, scratch, pinch, push, bully, swear at and tattle on other children?

If this is their behavior in public, then what must the example they see at home be like?  Are your children guilty of such conduct? If so, from whom do they learn it?

Parents who stand on the sidelines of sporting events yelling and urging their children to win at all costs — and who get upset and angry when their children lose — are teaching a spirit of competitiveness. They are also teaching that winning is all that matters.

Do you know parents who will only play sports if they can win all of the time and who are extremely irritated at losing? They will not play with people they cannot beat. Ever wonder what attitude their children will adopt toward fair play and being able to lose gracefully?

Why not teach children by example, that winning, though important, is not the supreme goal? Playing the game in sportsmanlike fashion and showing concern for the other players is most important.

Children exposed to bad sporting examples quickly absorb the message that to solve a problem you argue and fight. What a pity they are not rather learning that peace comes from practicing the principles that make for peace (Jas. 3:18).

Criticism

A child who lives with constant criticism will learn to grumble and complain. Is the family dinner table a place for gossip, criticism and cynical remarks? If it is, then children are learning to be complainers.

Do you have gripe sessions in front of them? If you must air grievances, do it privately, away from young, impressionable minds. This may take restraint on your part when you have the urge to be critical. Better still, overcome such negative habits.

Certainly, you should teach your children to accept criticism — it’s a tool for growth — but criticism should always be constructive and be given in a spirit of love.

Disregard for law

It is surprising to see the extent to which some “Christians” flout vehicle speed laws and parking directions. Some apparently feel that traffic regulations are “only man’s laws anyway.”

What is of greater concern about such disregard, beyond that you could wind up hurt physically, is that you are nourishing a belief in your heart that you are above law. This teaches children double standards. Derogatory remarks about authority figures — whether police, teachers, government officials or ministers — also set a bad example.

Paul warns, “Obey those who rule over you” (Heb. 13:17) — even when you consider the rules inadequate or foolish. Your purpose is to learn to submit to authority. If you don’t set the example, how can you expect your children to submit to you? Disregard for law and order encourages rebellion.

Unequal love

Isaac grew up in a family atmosphere that reflected unequal love toward his half brother Ishmael (Gen. 21:8-11). Eventually Ishmael was forced out of the camp and separated from his father, Abraham, because of Sarah’s and Hagar’s feelings against each other.

In time, Isaac had his own family — twin sons — Esau and Jacob. But personality differences took root in the family because Isaac favored Esau while Rebekah gave more of her love to Jacob (Gen. 25:28). This led eventually to Jacob’s taking Esau’s birthright by deceptive means worked out by his mother. Not the best example of family togetherness. But where did Isaac learn to conduct his family this way?

Favoritism

If you practice favoritism, your children will learn to be partial. Continuing with the above story, we read that Jacob had many children from his two wives and their handmaids. But the child Jacob loved most was the youngest, Joseph.

The problem with this was in being so open about it before the others, culminating in the special gift of the coat of many colors (Gen. 37:3-4). This produced family jealousy and rivalry.

Of course, Joseph’s dreams and his approach in telling his brothers didn’t help matters either (verses 5-11). The end result of Jacob’s practicing partiality was that Joseph was sold into Egypt as a slave.

Joseph, himself, was partial years later in Egypt when he gave a banquet for all his brothers. Guess who got the biggest share of food? Benjamin, the youngest, was openly favored (Gen. 43:34).

This resurrected a family resentment that resurfaced at the death of Jacob. Joseph’s brothers became fearful, thinking that with the patriarch out of the way, Joseph would take revenge on them (Gen. 50:15).

Hypocrisy

Children see through hypocrisy, especially in the Christian example you set. Do you say one thing — or even tell your children to do one thing — while you yourself do something else?

Does your child know and see that you pray, study the Bible, fast, get anointed when you are sick and serve others? Or does he see a show at Church services each week and general disinterest the other six days? Whatever you practice, your children see and tend to copy, whether for the good or bad.

But what if you yourself have been the victim of bad parental influences and find yourself struggling to change?

God gives encouragement through the prophet Ezekiel. As long as you are willing to take heed to your ways, to consider right and wrong and seek to change faults, you can avoid being an injurious example to your own children (Ezek. 18:14-17, 27-28). You can, if you are willing to make the effort, teach them God’s way.

Joseph and Mary must have set a fine example for Jesus. God the Father must have been especially mindful that a right kind of family environment would be needed to nurture and admonish Jesus during His boyhood years.

With the help of this fine family example, Jesus grew up to be “in favor with God and men” (Luke 2:52).

Could there be a better goal in child training than this, that as a result of the godly family environment you create for your children, they grow up to be “in favor with God and men”? How richly blessed your children will be if this happens. And what a commendation for you as a parent!

If your family environment reflects criticism, hostility, ridicule and competitiveness, your child will learn to fight, to feel shy and guilty, to be spiteful and hateful and perhaps be destined to end up as an ineffective parent himself.

But if your family environment reflects tolerance, encouragement, praise, fairness, honesty, security and approval, your child will learn acceptance, patience, confidence, justice, faith and to find true and enduring friendships.

The parental example you set has great impact upon your children. Make your example a good one!

Source: The Good News, May 1983

August 19, 2009

Your Faith: It May Be The Death Of You!

MILLIONS of people already claim to believe in Jesus. Hundreds of thousands more in all parts of the world will “receive Christ” this year — or rather, they will think that they have received Christ.

They will, as they say, “give their hearts to the Lord,” and believe that they are at last saved. And they will be wrong!

It may come as a shock, but the gospel that is commonly preached today is not the same message that Jesus brought nearly 2,000 years ago. He was not then — and he is not now — trying to convert the world. Neither is he trying to get people to “accept him,” “believe in him” or “receive him” before it is too late.

This is a deceived world. Deceived people are sincere. They don’t know they are deceived. If they did know, they would not be deceived! It is because many are deceived that we read of those who have a “zeal of God, but not according to knowledge” (Rom. 10:2).

“Not According to Knowledge”

That statement is as true today as it was when the apostle Paul wrote it more than 1,900 years ago. You’ll see ample evidence of it just by looking at the religious book department of nearly any bookshop. Never before have so many Bible translations, Bible helps, Bible dictionaries, Bible atlases, concordances and commentaries been available. But the world is as confused as ever.

Many new translations of the Scriptures have been published. They have been painstakingly executed by scholars with a thorough knowledge of the ancient languages.

The faithful Authorized King James Version, with its “thees” and “thous” and “verilys,” has been somewhat cumbersome for many.  These modern versions are rendered in modern English, with contemporary grammar and punctuation. They have corrected, in general, the few translation errors that crept into the older versions, and overall, they are useful tools for Bible study.

But although they have solved certain translation problems, they have unfortunately created some new ones. You need to know about one of them in particular. It is not a case of the translators misunderstanding the original word, as sometimes happened in the Authorized Version. Rather, they seem to have misunderstood what was meant by what was written, or worse, eliminated references to some words, while inserting others to conform to wide held, though erroneous beliefs.

The Problem of Translation

You see, translation — any translation — is to some extent an interpretation. Language is not just words — it is also thoughts. Translation is not just a case of swapping words — the translator’s job is to convey the thoughts expressed by one language into another.

Bible translation is particularly complex. The structure of the ancient Hebrew and Greek languages is different from modern West European languages. It can therefore be difficult to render the exact thought and nuance of expression of the ancient Scriptures into modern languages. There are some places where modern theologians and scholars have made a significant error in their rendering into modern English some verses in the epistles of Paul.

“In” or “Of”?

When Paul discussed the subject of faith and its relationship to salvation, he frequently used the Greek expression “pistis Christou.” In the Authorized Version, this was translated “faith of Christ.” Most modern versions, however, change this to “faith in Christ.”

Grammatically, it is an arguable point, since the original Greek does not use either of the prepositions in or of. The grammatical sense is derived rather from the ending of the words themselves. However, in English, a preposition is needed. It should not surprise us that the translators of the modern versions preferred in to of. It seemed to them to make more sense, since the focus of modern Christian belief is a gospel about Christ, accepting him and believing in him.

From that point of view, it was presumably felt that “pistis Christou” could adequately be rendered “faith in Christ.” Consequently, the expression and thus the thought, “faith of Christ,” does not appear in these modern versions, as it did in the older Authorized Version.

What difference does it make? It makes all the difference in the world — the difference between being a real Christian, and thinking you are one.

Preposition Changes Meaning

Remember that old expression “For the want of a nail the battle was lost”? It could also be said of these new translations, “For the want of a preposition, a life could be lost.” Perhaps I can demonstrate the difference it makes by this analogy.

Suppose your wristwatch breaks. You take it to a reputable watchmaker, whom you know you can trust, and you ask him to repair it. You leave your watch with him, in complete confidence that he will return it to you in good working order.

You have, in other words, complete faith in that watchmaker. He has learned how to repair watches, and he will do it for you.

This, in effect, is how many people are taught to look to Jesus Christ. They trust in him, and believe that his love, his goodness, and his mercy and holiness will save them when the time comes. But that kind of faith — however sincere — is not enough to save you.

But supposing, when you took your broken watch to be repaired, this happened:

The watchmaker agrees that your watch is broken. But he says, “If I just repair this for you, you have learned nothing. I know how to repair watches, but it is important that you learn something about it, too. We will repair it together.

“I will do a part of the work, the part you cannot do by yourself, and I’ll show you how to do what you must learn to do.”

Now the situation is different. No longer do you just need faith in the watchmaker’s skill — you are going to need some of his skill as well.

It is the same with faith in and of Christ. Of course, we must have faith in Jesus Christ. The apostle Peter, speaking to the crowds in Jerusalem on the day of Pentecost, urged them to believe that Jesus, whom they had crucified, was the Lord and Messiah (Acts 2:36).

Many believed Peter, and asked, “What shall we do?” (verse 37, Authorized Version). “Repent, and be baptized … in the name of Jesus Christ,” replied Peter, “for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy [Spirit].”

So far so good. As a result of having faith in Christ, many today are told to be baptized for the remission of their sins. Then they think they are saved. But there is more to it than that.

After Baptism — What Then?

Many scriptures show what you do after you have placed your faith in Jesus Christ and his sacrifice will determine whether you will be ultimately saved.

Let’s now take a close look at some of these scriptures that have been mistranslated in the generally excellent new translations and see exactly what it was that the apostle Paul taught. Then you will understand why the phrase “faith of Christ” carries the right choice of preposition when rendering these verses into English.

First, Romans 3:22. This verse is breaking into the middle of a thought. We should go back two or three verses to pick up the thread of Paul’s discussion. The church at Rome in Paul’s day was a mixture of different ethnic groups, and there was a controversy among them.

The Jews thought that they were superior to others since they had had the law of God delivered to them. The non-Jews on their part were critical of the Jews for not keeping that law. Note that the discussion did not center around whether or not the law should be kept, but rather, how it could be kept.

Paul’s epistle put everything in perspective. He showed that a Christian must quit sinning. Breaking God’s law is sin (Rom. 3:20, and see also I John 3:4). Paul pointed out that all — Jews and gentiles — had broken the law. Nobody (except Jesus Christ) ever lived a life without sinning in some way. Therefore, no one could consider himself justified — guiltless and worthy of salvation — as a result of his conduct. Let’s pick up the story in verse 21.

The New International Version explains it rather well. “But now a righteousness from God, apart from law [apart from human “righteousness”], has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify” (Rom. 3:21, New International Version throughout, except where noted).

In other words, there is a way to come up to God’s standard of righteousness (the Ten Commandments) apart from the impossible task of trying to keep the law perfectly through your own strength or your own faith. How can you do it?

“This righteousness from God comes through faith in [should be translated of] Christ to all who believe” (verse 22).

Do you see what a difference the preposition makes?

Having repented of your past sins, you can’t continue to sin. Paul makes that very clear in Romans 6:1-2, in any version or translation. You are to live a new life free of sin (Rom. 6:4). But how, if you can’t keep the law by your own strength or your own faith? The answer is you have to have an added faith. But from whom, and what kind of faith?

Since you can never be justified by your own unaided attempt to keep God’s law or attain his righteousness, if you have believed in Jesus Christ you have a new way to become righteous. Instead of relying on your own strength, you can ask God for the help to become righteous (i.e., to obey the law). God has promised to develop in you the same faith that Jesus had — the faith of Jesus Christ!

This is an important point. If you look up the word faith in a dictionary, you will find it says something like this: “confidence, trust or belief in the promises or statements of another.”

Everyone has some faith — although it varies from individual to individual. Some find it easy to believe — others, perhaps because of previous letdowns and betrayal, find it hard to put “confidence, trust or belief” in anyone or anything.

But even the most faithful are not faith-full enough by their own strength or their own faith to save themselves from sinning in the future. Look at Ephesians 2:8. “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith — and this not from yourselves …. ” How then?

Continuing in Ephesians 2:8, … it is the gift of God.”

Here is then a level of faith that goes far beyond the “confidence, trust or belief” that your human mind must first exercise in having faith in Christ to forgive your guilty past.

This new, higher level of faith is the gift that God gives, through the Holy Spirit, which one receives through the laying on of hands after baptism.

Jesus had that kind of faith. And because he did he had total trust, confidence and belief in God. Thus he was able to live a life that was blameless. Jesus never sinned. He was often tempted, but he always resisted. He knew how to get the strength he needed to reinforce his own inadequate human strength.

“During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with loud cries and tears to the one who could save him from death …” (Heb. 5:7).

Jesus prayed to his Father in heaven for the strength to resist sin. And such was the relationship of trust, love and confidence between Jesus and his Father, that he always received that help.

Jesus Christ and the Father had lived in harmony for an eternity before Jesus came to earth as the Son of God. He had no doubts that what his Father promised, he was able also to perform (see Romans 4:21).

That is the kind of faith that we must have if we are to receive our eternal reward. God expects us, if we are his sons and daughters, to live as Jesus did.

Jesus set the example. His life is the standard by which we must measure performance — not in some dreamy, sanctimonious way, but in the practical down-to-earth circumstances of daily life. A true Christian should ask, Is this the way Christ would react? Is this what he would have done? Am I following his example?

If not, your behavior must be changed to conform with Jesus’ example as recorded in the Scriptures. You will need to ask God for the faith to do this — the same faith that he gave Jesus Christ to face and conquer problems.

With that faith, when temptation comes, you will have the strength to put aside your natural human impulses and make the same kind of decision that Jesus did in similar circumstances.

That’s why Paul, in his epistle to the Galatians, wrote: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in [you guessed it — it should be of] the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2:20, Revised Authorized Version). Once the right preposition is put in, these modern versions become clear.

Think back to the analogy of the watchmaker. Christ wants you to learn to do the things he did. He wants you to share in his skills. He wants you to know the same confidence and trust in God that he had.

He doesn’t want you just to be grateful to him for doing it. He wants you to have the experience of overcoming sin, looking to God for the spiritual strength, just like he did. Why?

Why You Need the Faith of Christ

Look at Philippians 3:8-11. Here we find Paul explaining to the Philippians how grateful he is to be called as a part of God’s Church.

He had to give up many things, including a position of power and prestige, in order to be an apostle. “… I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which is through faith in [read of] Christ — the righteousness that comes from God and is by faith. I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.”

So Paul knew that his resurrection from the dead would be preceded by God building in him the same kind of faith that Christ had. He knew that only then would he know the “power of resurrection,” as Jesus Christ has known it.

Paul was not saying that he was trying to earn his salvation by his own faith. That is what those who are deceived by a false gospel do when they rely only on their faith in Jesus. It is plainly evident throughout his writings that Paul knew he could never do that.

A Christian cannot gain salvation by his works through his own faith any more than he can by simply having faith in Christ. This is a vital point that so many who claim to be Christians do not understand.

Salvation is God’s free gift, but he will not give it to those who cannot handle it properly (any more than you would give a bicycle to a child who refuses to obey the traffic signals).

Ministers today concentrate on getting people to “accept Christ,” while they neglect to teach the need for receiving Jesus Christ’s faith as a free gift to enable us to obey God.

Putting Faith to Work

When Jesus Christ returns to this earth to enforce peace, the world is going to be in a terrible condition. But thankfully, the worst will be over. Jesus Christ will begin the task of guiding and teaching all mankind God’s way of life and the way to eternal life.

There will be a lot of work ahead for those whom God has called in this present life to understand his purpose. They will be resurrected and made immortal when God intervenes in world affairs to reestablish his government over the whole earth. They will be working with Jesus Christ, doing what he does. They will be teaching, helping and encouraging others to overcome human weaknesses, that they also may be given eternal life.

Such teachers must be experienced — there will be no place for enthusiastic amateurs. The time to build that experience through the faith of Jesus imparted by the Holy Spirit is now.

That is why a Christian, whose hope is the resurrection from the dead, needs more than just his faith in Jesus. He must share in the life of Christ, living as he did, learning as he did. To do that successfully, he needs the faith of Jesus Christ.

The Plain Truth, 1984

August 9, 2009

Jesus Christ: A Biblical Vision Of True Masculinity

What is a true man? A cowboy? A bodybuilder? Real masculinity is…  Source: ArtToday, Inc.

What is a true man? A cowboy? A bodybuilder? Real masculinity is… Source: ArtToday, Inc.

WHAT kind of God was it that died for you? Was He a ninety-seven-pound weakling? Is He the Little Lord Jesus away in the manger? Was He short and squat — a bare five feet, three?

What about the paintings of Christ — the sickly effeminate ones — are they representative of the real Jesus Christ? How about Mary’s little lamb? Does this nursery rhyme have any connection with Jesus Christ?

A Wrong Concept Image

For many of us a wrong concept of Christ began way back in kindergarten. The false concept, the wrong picture is partially the result of an “innocent” nursery rhyme, “Mary had a little lamb, his fleece was white as snow and everywhere that Mary went, that lamb was sure to go …” Why Mary’s little lamb — why not Betty’s or Johnny’s little lamb?

That “harmless” nursery rhyme was inspired by “the god of this world” (II Cor. 4:4). It subconsciously conditioned our young, pliable minds to think in terms of a little weak lamb (Christ).

In the rhyme the lamb caricature depends on, looks to, leans on its protector “Mary.” It’s just another way of presenting an image picture of the Madonna and child. Mary’s motherly, domineering image penetrates our subconscious mind without our realizing. A sissified mama’s boy, weak Christ is the result!

As children, many of us were taught to kneel and pray a memorized prayer to a make-believe, imaginative, nursery-rhyme god! “Now I lay me down to sleep … my soul to keep …” The deception, the perversion does not stop in kindergarten. As adults, we are given a ninety-seven-pound weakling god. One that is so sickly and effeminate as to be stripped of all power! Jesus Christ may be a Negro, Oriental, Latin, or if you are an Anglo-Saxon, He’s probably a blond, blue-eyed, white-skinned Christ. Whatever the nationality, He is always the tired, washed-out one — a disgrace to humanity!

What Is Jesus Christ Really Like?

What are the facts? Surely this is not the picture of the true God we are to worship! What is Jesus Christ really like? What kind of a man was this God when He walked this earth as flesh almost two thousand years ago?

We don’t have to guess about the answers — they are sure, they are plain! They are found in the Bible! The true Jesus Christ is all powerful, He lives! He is the Almighty, ever-powerful, omnipotent God who speaks with a voice so strong that mountains literally quake in His presence. His voice is as a sound of many waters, thunderous waters of a GIANT, ROARING WATERFALL (Rev. 1:15).

God speaks to us today in great power! His voice is in the lightning, the thunder and tornadoes (Ps. 29:1-11). He shakes this earth in giant earthquakes, just as a child would shake a rag doll. That God — the real Jesus Christ, came to this earth A man’s man!! The Jesus Christ of your Bible was no weakling, no mama’s boy.

Jesus Christ was born of His Father, the one who said, “Let us make man in our image …” (Gen. 1:26). A vibrant, Holy, merciful, compassionate, kind and loving Father gave His son the power of the universe, the power to tell the future before it happens (Isa. 41:22). The Father is an all-powerful, pulsating, omnipotent force of energy that is the absolute of masculinity; He bequeathed those same masculine characteristics to His Son.

Jesus Christ was perfect, the very image of His Father in Heaven. He grew up to be as strong as the land He created. As a child, He traveled by foot all the way from Egypt to Palestine, camping out under the stars — stars that He created in the beginning with His Father (John 1:1-3).

At night, on the trip from Egypt to Palestine, the boy, Jesus, scurried around hunting firewood to cook the evening meal. When Dad said, “Son, it is time for bed” — Jesus Christ rolled up in a sheepskin beside the campfire and slept the sleep of peace, the sleep of a youthful, energetic boy who was to grow to be the greatest man ever to walk this earth!

The Carpenter’s Son

The carpenter in Christ’s time was no ordinary person. There were no power saws, no precut timber. All work was accomplished by muscle and brawn, by men who were REAL MEN! Joseph taught his son the trade of carpentry. In this trade, Jesus Christ developed a physique that would have made most athletes a little jealous. He grew tall, evenly muscled, tanned by the sun and wind!

Joseph and his son arose very early in the morning while it was still dark. They prayed and studied. Then at the crack of dawn, they were off to the forest to fell the trees needed for building. Jesus Christ swung an axe day after day. His muscles rippled under His tunic as He labored in the great out-of-doors.

The timber, once felled, was worked by an adz until it became a beam. At evening, Christ hoisted the work of His hands to His shoulders and trudged the long walk home, often arriving after dark. Foundations were dug in the rocky hillside of Palestine. They picked and shoveled out the earth, removing great boulders from their obstructive position.

There were no trucks carrying premixed concrete to roll up and pour the foundation. That was the work of a stonemason, the carpenter Joseph and his son. Boards too had to be sawed from the rough beams. From forest to foundation, from rock quarry to roof, the house became a reality.

The Great Storm

One evening, after a long, hard, tiresome day, Jesus turned to Peter and the other disciples and said, “Let’s go over to the other side of the sea where we can find a little peace and quiet away from the crowd.” The idea was as a command. It appealed to the rugged adventurous men at his side.

Immediately they boarded a good-sized boat anchored nearby intending to leave the crowd behind. The pressing crowd had other ideas. They had no intentions of losing sight of this outstanding, dynamic leader, who told them of the good news of a future Kingdom under God. Quite a number rushed to board other small boats intending to follow Him to the other side.

Casting off, they went only a short distance before the sky began to darken. Thunder and lightning flashed and roared through the sky. The crowds became fearful. The small boats turned back. The wind lifted. Peter, James, John and the other men, glanced nervously overhead at the ominous, threatening sky as they hurriedly battened down the boat.
The storm continued to build. Great waves churned, threatening to capsize them. The storm had all the power of a typhoon. Waves soon spilled over, filling the boat with water until it was ready to sink.

Frightened half out of their wits, the experienced fishermen, Peter, James and John labored furiously with the other disciples to keep the boat afloat. It was hopeless! They were sinking! Where was Jesus Christ? James answered, “He’s asleep, He found a few boat cushions and curled up to sleep in the back of the boat.”

Disturbed, angered, and frightened, Peter rushed back followed by the other disciples to find Christ. Sure enough, there He lay, protected from the storm, sound asleep! Peter shouted to be heard above the thunderous roar of the wind and waves. “Master, don’t you care if we all drown, this ship is about to sink and you aren’t even concerned enough to help save the boat.”

Jesus Christ opened His eyes, looked up at the wet, distraught, disheveled fishermen. What a sight they were. He couldn’t help but smile. Shedding the oilskin covering, He stood up and commanded the sea, “Be quiet you wind, waves be still.”

Instantly the sea was transformed from a raging, turbulent, fierce storm into a mill pond. The moon and the stars broke through the fast dissipating dark clouds and He said, “Why are you so fearful? Why is it that you have no confidence, no faith in me?” (Mark 4:35-40 — Phillips, RSV, Moffatt).

A Masculine Man

The Jesus Christ of your Bible enjoyed being around good friends like Peter, James and John. He and His disciples were hard-driving, dedicated men with a purpose, a goal in life. There were both serious moments and times of laughter around the campfire at night. A real man’s fellowship existed between these robust men of great strength.

Jesus Christ was a man of character, of stamina, of great determination. He fasted as few men are capable of fasting. Forty days and forty nights without food or water. That’s more than a full month! There was a reason. Deep within burned a singleness of purpose — your salvation and mine BY DEATH!!

A Thundering, Dynamic Personality

Near Passover time, Jesus walked over to Jerusalem. He passed by the Temple. What He saw stopped Him short in His tracks. He couldn’t believe His eyes! There in His Father’s Temple were merchants selling cattle, sheep and doves for sacrifices. The place was in an uproar, confusion, shouting men dickering for a better price in the very Temple of God!
Angered, He carefully fashioned a scourge of small cords. The next day He strode into the temple brushing aside those who were milling around. Grasping the first table He came to, He flipped it into the air. Money flew everywhere! The money changers were stunned.

Taking the scourge, He whipped it through the air, it snapped with a crack of a pistol. Animals scattered! Men fell over one another as they retreated to the nearest exit. A thundering voice called out after them, “Get these things out of here! You who make my Father’s House a house of merchandise.” Every last one meekly obeyed!

Imagine the headlines in the Jerusalem news the next day — that is if there had been a newspaper. Bold-faced headlines would have read, “Man from Nazareth turns temple upside down! — throws out money changers — drives out beasts — men shrink in fear!!”

There were no streetcars, no trains, no horses or carriages in 30 A.D. Jesus Christ walked from village to village. The highways were dirt and gravel. They were treacherous. Thieves abounded. Only a real man dared travel the dusty roads between Jerusalem and Jericho.

Remember the man who fell among thieves on the road to Jericho? They stripped him of his clothing, beat him senseless and left him for dead (Luke 10:30).

What Did it Take to Die?

Jesus Christ died on a stake for you! What did it take to die? What kind of day was it that Christ spent — His last day before His crucifixion? It began Tuesday morning, April 24, 31 A.D., very early in the morning. It ended in the most brutal murder ever suffered by a human being — agonizing hours of suffering climaxed by a slow, torturous death on a bloodied stake!
Source: The Good News, March 1968

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