As in the case of Isaiah, recorded in Isaiah 6, the death of a leader can certainly be used by God to cause those of us still living to stop, breathe deeply and consider our own lives.
Billy Graham has died. He lived 99 years on this earth. While none of us may fully agree on every point regarding his ministry, there is little disagreement with the fact that he was an international public figure that caused millions of people to consider their relationship with God. He was used by God to be a royal ambassador for God to this world.
As we read the news stories and see his biography played out in media in the coming days, may God use this to cause us to consider two main questions in our lives regarding the Gospel.
1. Have I Accepted the Gospel for Myself:
Are You Ready to Die When Your Time Comes?
First, do you have a real and vital relationship with God through Jesus Christ? Have you repented of your sin, come to God for forgiveness based on the death, burial and resurrection Jesus? Have you called on the Lord Jesus Christ and invited him to come into your life and change you for eternity? If you have been considering starting a relationship with God and want to learn more, we invite you to contact us here today. Just let us know you have questions about a relationship with God. If you aren’t ready for a conversation just yet, click here to watch some short videos that will help you understand the Gospel better. Stay in touch if we can help.
For those who have a real and consistent relationship with God, may the death of Billy Graham be used to inspire us to consider our personal responsibility to share the Gospel and make disciples of all nations. The news articles talk about how Billy Graham used all the new technology of the 20th century to spread God’s word. What are we doing with the powerful free tools of social media? How can we personally spread the Gospel more effectively and be a royal ambassador for Christ?
2. As a Christian, How Are You Doing With Your Responsibility As an Ambassador for Jesus and His Gospel Message?
How often do you think of yourself as a representative of King Jesus? How much of your life is spent on the mission that he has given to you?
Throughout the Bible we see many powerful metaphors to help us understand what it means to be the a Christian, and what it means to be a follower of Jesus. One of the best and most unsung metaphors is that the church (We are talking about the whole saved family of God here.) is the embassy of Christ and we, like Billy Graham are royal ambassadors.
Consider, an embassy is:
Where is this concept found in the Bible? In Philippians and Ephesians, Paul refers to himself as a “citizen” of heaven and an ambassador for Christ. And perhaps most clearly, in 2 Corinthians 5, Paul reminds the church that they too are ambassadors and that God is “making his appeal” to the world through the church.
God has called Christians to be his ambassadors, his authorized representatives; and he has called local churches to be embassies; groups of ambassadors that all have the same objective. Churches ought to be little localized outposts of the kingdom of God. Churches are supposed to look like, act like, and function in the same way that the kingdom of God does. Christians, as ambassadors, are likewise called to live the same kind of lives that we will when our citizenship in the future kingdom becomes complete. So, what exactly does that mean for us to be an ambassador of Christ and his Gospel?
Who and what do we represent? Where is our “homeland”? How long are we on this mission? How are we supposed to go about it?
1. We represent a King and a kingdom
As Christians, we no longer live for ourselves but for Christ and his kingdom. We should look different, act different, speak different, and live different than the culture in which we live. We should be representing Christ’s character, his love, his commands, and his purposes to the world around us. We have been sent to the foreign land of this world in order to represent our King and our kingdom’s interests. The problem is that most of us look just like everyone else. We spend our money the same way, we dress the same way, we talk the same way. But that isn’t the way it is supposed to be. Just like you can tell when someone isn’t a native to where you live, the world should be able to look at Christians and say, “That person clearly isn’t from here. Where are they from?” Would people say that of you?
2. We have the King’s authority
Jesus sent his disciples out with his own power and authority in Luke 9. He has given the church the keys to the kingdom (Matthew 16) and told us that the gates of hell will not prevail against us and that it is through us that the “manifold wisdom of God” becomes known (Ephesians 2). He has gifted us with his Spirit so that we might possess his power and authority. He has not sent us out on this mission empty handed, for he has given us his very own authority.
3. We have the King’s protection
We have been granted asylum as refugees. We fled from our former lives of slavery to sin and to the kingdom of God where we were granted access because of Jesus’ love and sacrifice on the cross. We have been given protection through our citizenship. Though we may be afflicted in every way, perplexed, persecuted, and struck down, we will never be crushed, driven to despair, forsaken, destroyed, or totally overcome. As citizens of heaven, no matter what happens in this life, we have been given the promise that God is with us and our citizenship is secure.
4. We are on temporary assignment
Like Billy Graham, we are resident representatives, but only for a while. This foreign land is not our home, for our true homeland is the city that God is preparing for us while we are away on the mission. We are always waiting and longing for the return of our King and our entry into the completed kingdom of God. Because this is true, we shouldn’t get too comfortable in this life because we won’t be here for long. If you were going on vacation, you would pack light. In the same way, we should “pack light” in this life and instead store up for ourselves treasure in heaven. This treasure is accumulated through obedience to Christ’s mission and message.
5. We are not to isolate from culture
While the people of Israel were in Babylonian captivity, they were not called to isolate from culture but to seek the good of their neighbors and captors. Though we are called to represent Christ’s kingdom and interests in this world, that does not mean that we are to totally isolate from culture. We cannot possibly be successful ambassadors for Christ if we are not involved in, familiar with, and connected to the culture around us. We should understand, contribute to, and strive to better the culture while we are here in this land. We have a different King, a different mission, a different drive in life – but in order to represent our King and his kingdom, we must be a visible part of our culture. We are living in the culture, but not of the culture. We should not allow the evil culture of the world to live in us as God’s ambassadors.
6. We have the King’s mission and message
In Matthew 28 and Mark 16 Jesus commissioned his disciples and believers everywhere of all time for a specific task – to go, baptize, teach, and declare the message of reconciliation to the world. Our mission is to declare the gospel message to the foreign land around us so that they too might become citizens of the kingdom. God has entrusted to us, as stewards, the treasure of the gospel that we are to share with the world. We are to be a city on a hill, a light in the darkness, drawing people toward Christ.
So, as you watch the news and consider Billy Graham’s life, perhaps you will ponder your own short time on this earth. Do you have a real relationship with God yourself? Where will you go when your death day comes? If you do have a relationship with God through Jesus Christ, what does it mean to you to be an ambassador for Christ? How often do you embrace your role as an ambassador? Do you think you and your church do a good job of representing Christ and his kingdom to the world?
Here is more from our church you may be interested in...
Often during times of heart-rending events that involve mass casualties and national grief, our leaders will say that “our thoughts and prayers are with those who were touched by the tragedy.” Perhaps you are wondering how to pray. You can pray for the people touched by this terrible school shooting in Florida based on the following ideas presented in Psalms 25 and Lamentations 3
If you are wondering how God could let something like this happen, click the link at the bottom to see our article that was posted after the church shooting in Texas.
In the meantime, when thinking of the families and friends of those dear people in Florida, pray:
Take some time to read through Psalms 25 and Lamentations 3 and let these passages help guide you as you seek to pray for those who are suffering and hurting in unimaginable ways. Pray for America as a nation as well. Tragedies such as this raise many deep and difficult questions about God, his love, his control and his goodness. While no human can answer all these questions, we believe the Bible has answers for the problems of evil and suffering. We would be glad to talk further with you or have you join us for a service soon. We all wrestle with these issues and we would be happy to point you to the truths we have learned in years of studying God’s word the Bible. In the meantime, take some time today to pray for these hurting people and our nation.
Biblical love is often thought of in isolation from romantic love. Biblical love may seem stoic or shallow compared to the romantic love of husband and wife. Is this an accurate picture of the Biblical love God intends for husband and wife? Dictonary.com defines romantic as passionate, fervent and ardent – fierce and vehement.
Certainly there are various types of love described in the Bible with the Greek word Agapedescribing God’s love and the ultimate of what we should strive for in our relationships with others. However, Biblical love seems to go even further especially when describing the type of love husbands and wives should have for one another by the will of God and in the power of the Holy Spirit. Here are four reasons biblical love is truly romantic love.
1. Biblical love between husband and wife is romantic because it encompasses all three words the ancient Greeks commonly used for love and then adds a fourth not so common word to describe the ultimate love of God. The New Testament was originally written in Greek. They commonly used these three words to depict several elements of what we include in our one word love. The Bible mentions or alludes to all three of those elements in talking about true Biblical love between husband and wife, then adds the foundation of Biblical love “agape” which is the most powerful of the four words for love and describes God’s own love for us.
From “phileo” to “eros” to “storage” these words depict a love that includes friendship and the mutual enjoyment of sharing life together then add a physical intimate sexual component along with an intense family bond. Far from demeaning women to simply an object of physical desire or leaving love as a one dimensional friendship in the marriage bond, Biblical love crowns the love relationship between husband and wife with high respect and regard as well as deep sacrificial ramifications on many levels. Adding the fourth word for Biblical love, “agape,” elevates love to more than feelings, physical elements and family relationships to a decisive bond empowered by God’s Spirit that is as strong as death. It incorporates traits such as unending patience, unbelievable forgiveness, long suffering and even eternity itself. (See 1 Corinthians 13)
Note: the word “eros” is not actually used in Scripture to describe love probably because it was derived from the name of a Greek god. However intimate physical love is referred to many times in the Bible between husband and wife. (Song 1:13, 4:5-6, 7:7-9, 8:10; 1Co 7:25; Eph 5:31; and Heb 13:4).
2. Biblical love between husband and wife is romantic because it exposes common cultural substitutes for what may seem romantic and exciting as actually selfish and sinful. The Bible clearly defines the difference between true romantic love that does whatever is best for the cherished object and its sinful impostor, lust. So many of today’s popular music hits, movies and media portray romance as what the Bible actually describes as lust. The Bible warns of the long term devastation of lust thus spotlighting true love and guiding people to that instead. The Bible goes on to promise God's blessing on love that flows from His Spirit.
3. Biblical love between husband and wife is romantic because there are pages of sacred Scripture dedicated to its example. Read the PG rated book of Song of Solomon or the story of Ruth and Boaz. (Both by the way are also pictures of Christ's intense and sacrificial love for his church.)
4. Biblical love between husband and wife is romantic because the greatest love story of all time is that of Jesus, God's son, sacrificing all for the love of his people. In a captivating way the Bible presents Christ's love for his people as the love of a bridegroom for his bride. The Bible presents true love by showing Jesus Christ’s willingness to leave his throne, come to Earth, live without shelter and then be beaten and murdered to forgive and save his bride, the church. Isn’t this the stuff epic love stories of all time are patterned from?
More could be said about fervent fierce romantic Biblical love that includes forgiveness, mercy, and sacrifice. More could be written on how the Bible depicts God singing and rejoicing over his bride, the church, but for now during this season of Valentine’s, understand that the Bible is applicable to today’s culture. Romantic love is not the invention of man, but the gift and example of a loving gracious God. Look to the Bible for your examples of what true romantic love between husband and wife is really all about.
More from our church you may find helpful...
Author & Editor
Articles are written or selected by our Pastor Keith Carnahan