Monday, December 26, 2011

December 26, 2011 … Defending the Faith

Passage of the Day: Colossians 1: 15 – 19 … 15 He [Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, …

My Journal for Today: Okay, we move from Paul’s strong declaration of Christ’s humanity and deity in Philippians 2 to another passage, this time in Colossians, the first chapter, where the Apostle stood strong for the reality and truth of Jesus Christ being the God-Man.

Today, in our post-modern culture, Christians are often challenged by those who deny Christ’s deity, just as Paul was when Epaphrus, the evangelist/founder of the church at Colosse, apparently wrote to Paul about the same type of ill-informed heresy we see now in our post-modern world. Paul writes, from prison in Rome, to his Christian brothers/sisters in Colosse, his spirited defense of true Christian doctrine to help Epaphrus and other Colossian believers to understand that teachings or beliefs which de-emphasize the preeminence of Christ and emphasize human knowledge/understanding distorting the true gospel are nothing but heresy, concocted by man to elevate himself and to humanize God. As we read in today’s text, Paul stood strong for the truth of Christ’s deity and authority over all things. Actually, today’s passage is a powerful exposition of God’s truth concerning Christology, … i.e., Christ’s deity and preeminent authority as LORD of all.

When we, as assertive believers, witnessing our faith, are confronted by those who choose to ignore the evidence of history and reject the deity of Christ (as I did for many years, calling myself “agnostic”), those who know and believe the truth must stand as was exhorted by Peter in 1st Peter 3: 15 – 16, when he wrote, “But in your hearts set apart Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have [in Christ]. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.” And today in our highlight passage in Colossians 1, we have a role model presentation of such a defense of the faith.

For years I did all I could to discount the witness of Christians who tried to stand for their faith when I challenged them with my doubts and questions. I would not listen to their testimonies of how Christ had brought them to a place of faith in His deity or from their stories of His transforming grace. But finally, in 1983, one such testimony of a young quadriplegic man who found His strength in Christ’s grace brought me to a place where I could reach out and find the truth of Christ’s Lordship. But it took many Christians, standing for their faith over many years to break through my veneer of egoism. So, you may encounter those, as I was, who will discount the truth of Jesus being God in the flesh. But stand in your faith! Stand like Paul did for the Colossians, telling the truth of Christ and how He has shaped and changed your life.

There’s great power in a personal testimony. In fact, one might argue about biblical interpretations, claiming (though falsely) that the Bible is irrelevant. But no one can argue with a strongly stated testimony. My testimony is mine! And no one can tell me that my belief in Christ has not changed my life. At 39, I was a hardened and cynical agnostic [probably more accurately called an “atheist”], deeply entrenched in habitual sin for most of my adult life. My marriage was almost broken; and my career was near the breaking point as well because of my spiritual weakness. And then came Christ; and my surrender to follow Him as my Lord changed everything. And here I am today, writing this as an Ordained Minister of the Gospel and an Elder in my church with a wonderful, renewed marriage and fulfilling life of ministry. Only Christ, and His Lordship in my life, could have shaped the person that is Bill Berry today. As they say down here in the South, “It’s a God thing!”

A mocker or disbeliever can misinterpret Scripture or foolishly deny the deity of Christ to my face; but, no one could tell me that my story isn’t true! And I hope that you will take any opportunity you might have into this upcoming New Year to declare to those who challenge Christ in your life so that you can let your story tell the truth about Christ’s deity and how He is transforming you.

And with that in mind, we will be exploring more of Paul’s exposition of Christ’s Lordship in his letter to the Colossians; so, yes, … stay tuned!

My Prayer Today:
I will stand for You always, Lord. Amen


James Moffitt said...

Good morning Bill. Your blog post could not have been timed any better. I watched an interview between CNN and the Osteen couple last night before I went to sleep. The CNN host was actively trying to trap Joel Osteen into taking a stand on several hot topics such as abortion, capital punishment and homosexuality. Joel Osteen did not allow himself to get caught in the trap however he did not make any proclamations of faith nor did he defend the Christian faith either. Either the bible is the word of God and the guide to life or it is not. Our faith is under attack today more than ever and we must stand up for what we believe in.

Bill said...

James ... I emailed a response to you; but for others who might read here, I told you of my dismay when prominent people, who are seen by "the world" as representing Christianity, like Joel Osteen, wimp out when they have an opportunity to stand in the gap for matters of Biblical truth. But there are those - like Tim Tebow and others - who do shine out like lights of truth when they are given the chane to be bright stars for Christ in this dark world. I guess we should just say "PTL!" for the latter. ... <'BB><