FAITH TO FOLLOW
The Following Christ Study was developed by the Ministries of the Assembly of God and is on loan to Faith For Tomorrow from that fine Christ centered organization. Here is a live link to the AOG website. www.ag.org Please visit AOG and see what they have to offer for you. The actual creator and copyright holder for the Following Christ Study material is Randy Hurst. Copyright ©1997 Randy Hurst. Thank You AOG and Randy.
Below is a video depicting the seven days of creation while in the background a recording made by an unknown orchestra from the period of the Great Depression plays. The recording is clear and uplifting. Did this performance take place somewhere in flyover country? Or, perhaps in a large city? Listen to the music from way back then, played by wonderful musicians lost to history, while the visuals explain the true beginnings of the earth and all its creatures. You’ll be uplifted.
Do you have the Faith to Follow?
A common misconception of events that occurred in Judea, at the place the ancient Hebrews called, Golgotha, some two thousand years ago is that a harmless preacher was abused and led away to suffer a horrible death. I was engaged in conversation---small talk---with a coworker some years back; the subject was Christ and the Crucifixion. The coworker often mentioned that he attended church regularly so he should have known better than to say what he did. We were talking about faith and the power of faith. The coworker without hesitation said something like: “Faith certainly didn’t do much good for Jesus! Talk about having a bad day!” What struck me was his obvious confusion about the meaning of the crucifixion. How could a Christian man be so misled about the most important event in all of Christendom?
Thinking about that confusing conversation, it occurred to me that many people might not quite understand what really happened that day. Some may believe that a good man, a helpless preacher, was unjustly taken by powerful forces and crucified, thereby enduring a horrible death. If so, what is so unusual about a person dying a horrible death? Throughout history, without doubt, millions of human beings have died horrible deaths. Think about the Spanish Inquisition, thousands of innocents died in horrible ways. Early in the fifteenth century, in France, Joan of Arc was burned at the stake.
Concerning Golgotha the difference, of course, is that Jesus’ death was sacrificial, meant for the purpose of teaching men and women the meaning of sacrifice. To sacrifice the self for your fellow men is a Christian ideal. Think of Mother Theresa. But, there have been cases of purely sacrificial death endured successfully by men and women who came along long after the Passion.
Years ago I remember hearing about a woman whose car went over the embankment up in one of the mountain canyons above the San Gabriel Valley in Southern California. The woman’s car landed in a ravine, upside down, in a running mountain stream. She was pinned in the car, in the driver’s seat, and her infant was beside her. The infant was in danger of being drowned. While the woman was unable to free herself from the driver’s seat, she was able to brace her legs in such way as to lift her infant up on her knees above the surface of the water. And that’s how they found her. She had drowned, but was wedged in her seat in such a way as to save her child. The woman had endured drowning and had sacrificed herself in order to save her infant from drowning. Wow!
Jesus’ crucifixion, however, takes even that measure of self-sacrifice one step further. Jesus’ death was sacrificial in that he did not have to die on the cross. And he did not sacrifice himself for family members. Jesus allowed himself to be sacrificed for every man and every woman on the face of the planet, indeed for every man and every woman who ever lived or ever will live. That would have been enough, but the nature of his sacrifice goes even beyond that.
Jesus was the most powerful human being who ever lived. Here are just a few examples of his power:
- He commanded the wind at one point and even the wind obeyed him.
- A mob dragged him to the edge of a cliff, intending to push him over because they hadn’t liked what he had preached to them. One second Jesus was standing there, at the edge of the cliff, and the next second he was walking through the midst of them while the mob stood there looking about with their mouths open, wondering what they were all doing there.
- For forty days and forty nights Jesus was in the wilderness being tempted by the devil without food
Jesus Christ was the strongest man who ever walked over the face of the planet. If he had said the word, if he had uttered the phrase, armies of angels would have poured out of heaven to lift him off the cross, and at his word would have turned the planet into a burning cinder. No, Jesus did not have a bad day. The most powerful man ever, had a very good day, a very good day indeed.
"It is Finished!"
Shown above: a detail from an oil painting by the 16th Century Spanish Painter known as El Greco (the Greek). The original work hangs in the Del Prado Museum in Madrid, Spain.