Tuesday, March 31, 2015

"The Cornerstone of Christianity"

The season of remembering the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in the long ago is upon us once again. These great moments have been called, among other things, "the Cornerstone of Christianity,” and indeed they are! It is something that forever remains unparalleled in human history. Response to the results of these intertwined events back then always separate all men and women into one of two distinct spiritual camps – saved or lost.

What happened brought results that are literally eternal and beyond priceless. But some fail to recognize how intense the Savior’s suffering was on the cross. Of course, even the physical aspect is beyond our ability to grasp for the most part. But the greatest agony was unseen even on the bloody surface of His battered body. Instead, it came from somewhere far deeper and in a form that only God’s Son could sense. It was so beyond brutal that part of Him wanted to be relieved of having to face it even while knowing what was at stake – the salvation of the entire race! This was about having all the sin of humanity placed upon His sinless person. The truth of this terrible, but necessary, action is briefly described in 2 Corinthians 5:21. “For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”

In Mark 15, we read of the desperate cry of Christ as He literally felt His Father having to turn from Him as He hung between heaven and earth. The holy God could not, at that point in time, look upon what His beloved Son was forced to become on that wretched cross. The Lord’s spiritual agony peaked and was finally heard in verse 34. “And at the ninth hour Jesus cried out in a loud voice, 'Eloi, Eloi, lama sabachthani?' – which means, 'My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?'" But He stayed the course and paid the price for sin and confirmed it when He later cried out, "It is finished!" He had done exactly what was expected and predicted of Him in John 1:29. "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!"

None of us will even begin to grasp what Christ went through to save us. That is impossible. But He has certainly made clear what we must do to be saved though His supreme sacrifice. There are many verses that could be used to explain and confirm what is our part in the redemption process. But one of the single most familiar verses in Scripture does the job better than most. John 3:16 declares, "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

We trust that today you know that the heavenly Father loved you so much as to put His beloved, and only, Son through an ordeal that cannot be humanly comprehended. And while that is true, the salvation He purchased can be understood and attained by trusting in Him alone to save you from sin and judgement.

Yes, Christ came to forgive and removed the sins of the entire world, including yours and mine. But to have that be set into motion instantly and forever requires something. In child-like faith, do what is revealed in Romans 10:9 and know what it means to be fully forgiven and a part of God's family forever!

“That if you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.”

Make Easter truly meaningful this year if it not now is. If you have never personally accepted the Christ of the cross and the Savior of the resurrection, you can do so right this minute!

Bill Breckenridge

Christ not only suffered the agony of the cross, He also endured the indignity of an illegal trial. Click the following link to read our special article on "The Illegal Trial of Christ".

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

What Kind of Person Should Lead Us?

Before long the 2016 Presidential election will be upon us, and it will seem like nothing else in the world is going on. It gets that intense. But some are beginning to let their desires known even now concerning the highest office in the land.

One such man is Senator Ted Cruz who is the first major presidential candidate to officially declare. Cruz recently told the crowd of students at Liberty University in Lynchburg, Virginia what he sees for the future of the country. But before doing so he made crystal clear what his Christian roots were and did so by giving a brief history of his family's beginnings. He related how it was God who repaired and saved a family heading towards chaos.

He stated: "When my Dad came to America in 1957, he could not have imagined what lay in store for him.
Imagine a young married couple living together in the 1970s. Neither one of them has a personal
relationship with Jesus. They had a little boy and they're both drinking far too much. They're living a fast life. When I was 3, my father decided to leave my mother and me. We were living in Calgary at the time. He got on a plane and flew back to Texas. And he decided he didn't want to be married anymore and he didn't want to be a father to his 3-year-old son.

"And yet when he was in Houston, a friend, a colleague from the oil and gas business invited him to a Bible study; invited him to Clay Road Baptist Church - and there my father gave his life to Jesus Christ. And God transformed his heart - and he drove to the airport, he bought a plane ticket and he flew back to be with my mother and me. There are people who wonder if faith is real. I can tell you, in my family there is not a second of doubt - because were it not for the transformative love of Jesus Christ, I would have been saved and I would have been raised by a single mom without my father in the house."

Senator Cruz is but one of the men who will eventually throw their hats into the election ring and who have expressed a solid and unashamed relationship with Jesus Christ. This means that they share many of the biblical values that should be dear to the hearts of most Christians in the nation.

That is the good news. The bad news is what Cruz said much later in his speech. He stated, "Today, roughly half of born again Christians aren't voting. They're staying home. Imagine instead millions of people of faith all across American coming out to the polls and voting our values." Did you catch that number? Half!

That statistic, if even close, is simply staggering as much as it is tragic! In the light of the nation's ongoing problems, and the blatant moral collapse of her biblical principles, how could any Christian not take a few moments to vote for a leader who would attempt to promote and regain the ideals that are closest to what a holy God clearly demands? If there were none to elect in this category, then it could almost be understood why some might fail to show at the polls. But when anyone arises that professes a sincere biblical faith and who proclaims those values that America was founded upon, to ignore supporting such a candidate is simply hard to fathom on any level.

In 1 Timothy 2:1-2 we read, "Therefore I exhort first of all that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men,  for kings and all who are in authority, that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and reverence." That is God's will for His redeemed people - all of them. But this divine task would be far better served, and bring far better results, if believers would do their part to first place into authority those men and women who already stand for Godly principles knowing these will be making critical decisions that deeply impact our nation, families and churches for years to come!

Bill Breckenridge

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Israel, America and Peace

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his party have won a stunning election. Pre-election polls predicted a loss or, at best, a narrow win. Many are still scratching their heads at how the polls could have been so wrong. Netanyahu will serve a record-setting fourth consecutive term as Prime Minister.

Netanyahu’s recent speech before a joint session of the United States Congress reflected his deep appreciation for America, excelled only by his devotion to Israel and the Jewish people. He was educated in the United States, which accounts for his flawless English. He spent his high school years here when his father was a history teacher in the States. Later, he studied at MIT and Harvard.

He understands the sacrifices made for freedom and how fragile freedom can be in today’s world. Most Americans don't know that July 4th also holds special meaning for Netanyahu. On July 4, 1976, the day America celebrated its Bicentennial, he lost his brother in the famed emergency rescue of hijacked airline passengers in Entebbe, Uganda.

Idi Amin held wretched dictatorial sway in Uganda and sought to further terrorize the world by taking Jewish and other passengers off an Air France flight at the airport in Entebbe. In a courageous and dangerous move, Israeli commandos swooped in by air, rescued almost all the captives and flew them to safety, deeply embarrassing Amin and his military. There was a single Israeli casualty: Jonathan “Yoni” Netanyahu.

In a long ago freedom celebration, Israel left Egypt after sprinkling the shed blood of the lamb on the door posts and lintels and eating the slain lamb whose body was roasted over a fire on a spit. According to some scholars, the spit was a stick lengthwise and crosswise through the shoulders—a lamb on a cross. Paul said, “Christ, our Passover, was sacrificed for us,” (1 Corinthians 5:7).

Israel’s liberation and American freedom must always have a stated kinship. Netanyahu surely understands the sacrifice of his own brother to rescue the innocent passengers in Entebbe, and he must certainly know of Numbers 12 and the slain lamb of his Old Testament.

America’s stability and blessing is inevitably linked to recognition and support of God’s ethnic Israeli remnant as Genesis 12:3 declares. The term “Judeo-Christian ethic” is more than a well-worn phrase. It is an expression of a vital link between Israel and America and between freedom there and freedom here. America has likely been blessed because of our country’s position as Israel’s ally. God told Abraham, “I will bless those who bless you, and I will curse those who curse you….” Pray for wisdom for our government’s leaders that they not abandon that view and our blessing be lost.

Netanyahu and the new Israeli coalition government face incredible pressure from all political sides regarding issues including a Palestinian State and Iran’s nuclear program. Our biblical responsibility is to pray for peace. Psalm 122:6-8 enjoins, “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem; May they prosper who love you. Peace be within your walls, Prosperity within your palaces. For the sake of my brethren and companions, I will now say, Peace be within you. Because of the house of the Lord our God, I will seek your good.”

Admittedly, many are frustrated trying to reconcile the exhortation to pray for Jerusalem’s peace with the obvious absence of peace in the Middle East. Real peace in Israel will come only through her Messiah—our Savior, Jesus Christ. Rejecting the Messiah meant a missed peace for the people of Israel.

Until our prayer for the peace of Jerusalem is fully answered in the Millennial rule of Christ, personal peace is available to any individual by receiving Him as Savior. Trusting Christ gives us “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). When people respond to Christ inwardly, they can promote peace outwardly. “For He Himself is our peace, who…has broken down the middle wall of separation…that He might reconcile…both to God in one body through the cross….” (Ephesians 2:14, 16)

This post includes excerpts from a previous post by Dave Virkler and his commentary “Israel: What You Need to Know”.