February 24, 2018

Today you should read: Luke 17:22-37

Already/Not Yet

When we discuss salvation, especially from a theological perspective, the phrase “Already/Not Yet” gets thrown around quite a bit. What does it mean? Basically, when a person is “saved” (i.e. justified) two things happen immediately. First, they are no longer held guilty for their sin. “Justified” is a legal term and it’s used in the sense of someone who is on trial; however, the charges against them are dropped. This is not to say that the person is not guilty, it’s just that they are not going to be charged.

The second aspect of justification is that, not only are we acquitted of all charges, we are credited with the righteousness of Christ. Our acquittal does not leave us morally neutral, instead we are looked on with favor by the Judge—and not just any favor, as adopted sons and daughters.

Our acquittal didn’t just happen. Au contraire! It came through the substitutionary atonement of Jesus. What that means is Jesus took our place (i.e. substitution), receiving the punishment we deserved to bring reconciliation (i.e. atonement).

This salvation process, and all the big words that go with it, becomes effective the very moment we place our faith in Christ (Romans 10:9–10)—when we accept Jesus we are “already” saved. However, in a discussion of how salvation works, much of it is future oriented, it has “not yet” taken place. This idea is abundantly clear as we look at Luke 17. Jesus told the Pharisee’s that, “the kingdom of God is in your midst” (21). While our passage, verses 22–37, speak of a future event, as Jesus is describing the kingdom of God, it is “already,” but “not yet.”

Our passage describes the “the day that the Son of Man is revealed” (30). Although many people will make many claims about this day, “look here, look there” (23), rest assured that when it comes to pass, “ain’t nobody gonna miss it” (24). Like in the days of Noah and Lot, judgment will happen suddenly and many people will be unprepared. And, like Lot’s wife, those who love the world and the things of the world will find themselves in a bad way.

People can “already” be saved, right now in the present. However, God’s Messiah, Jesus, has “not yet” come to judge the world. Our salvation is likened to an adoption in which a child is with his or her new parents—and in every way the child is theirs. Yet, our legal system often takes a while before a judge sits in his robe and the gavel falls declaring, “this child is theirs and no other’s.” When we are saved, we are immediately adopted into God’s family, and when the day of judgement comes, the gavel will fall and everything will be official. However, on that day, there will be many who have rejected Christ in this life, either through omission or commission, and their pending judgment will become official as well. “Where the body is, there also the vultures will be gathered.”

Question: In what ways have you witness the kingdom of God already? What promises are you most looking forward to that have not yet come to pass?

By: Tyler Short — Connections Ministry Associate

February 23, 2018

Today you should read: Luke 17:1-21

Sin and forgiveness are things talked about often in church. However, it isn’t always talked about in the same way that it is talked about in this passage. The temptation to sin is a guaranteed burden that will be in this world as a result of the fall. We as followers of Jesus hear all the time that we should flee from temptation and avoid temptation, and fight it. This is something that we are familiar with hearing.

If we are all really honest we have probably at some point fallen to sin and felt guilty but came to the conclusion that it isn’t that bad because it only hurts us and I can’t always win the fight. This passage is telling us that just because temptation is inevitable does not give us the excuse to be a temptation to others. Let me clarify. When we sin it always affects for than just ourselves. There is always a ripple that impacts everything around us in some way. Why? Because sin separates us from God, it is wrong and against Him. This is why the passage continues to say that if you are the source of temptation it would be better for you to drowned with a millstone around your neck.

This seems like such harsh language, but here is why. Drowning with the millstone around my neck has less serious consequences than if I am the source of temptation for someone else. This is true because sin has eternal consequences.  We have to realize the gravity and the weight of temptation and sin, instead of seeing it as not that big of a deal. God sees it as a huge deal!

At this point you may feel like this is the most morbid Jumpstart you have read. Verses 3-7 will help a lot with that.  There is a description of repentance and grace upon grace upon grace. This is the model of grace that Jesus was ready to pour out to us. For us to overcome temptation even when it feels as though it is impossible we have to have faith. It is only the power of the Holy Spirit within us that will allow us to overcome time and time again. With Faith, the impossible is made possible.

By: Dakota Gragg — Student Ministry Associate

February 22, 2018

Today you should read: Luke 16:19-31

Our passage today comes in a series of teachings of Jesus. We have a super interesting passage to dig into today! It is the account of Lazarus and the rich man.

As you know from reading the passage, Lazarus was a poor man who was a beggar at the gate of the rich man. Now that both are dead, Lazarus is with Abraham and the rich man is in Hades. There are a few things that stand out:

  1. Hell is real and is a torturous place. We see that the rich man is suffering in hell. Verse 24 says, “And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’” The rich man wants to receive mercy now that he is in anguish while he was unwilling to show mercy while he was alive (v. 20-21).
  2. We must decide our eternal destiny right now. The rich man tries to persuade Abraham to relieve him of pain. Abraham makes clear that there is no way that anything can change with their eternal destinies. For us, we must understand this truth and live in light of eternity!
  3. We have all we need to receive eternal life. The rich man wants Abraham to go and warn his family about the judgment that was to come. Surely, if there was someone who rose from the dead, his family would listen and change their ways! Abraham, again, makes clear that all that is needed to know our need for God is the Law and the Prophets. Verse 31 says, “‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” This should encourage us, that the Gospel is all we need to bring people to Jesus.

What stood out to you from the passage today?

By: Graham Withers — Pastoral Ministry Apprentice

February 21, 2018

Today you should read: Luke 16:1-18

I love the parables of Jesus. These short stories give us a big-picture view of God’s Kingdom in simple ways. Here’s my shakedown of the Parable of the Dishonest Manager, and how sin often works:

Phase 1: “Have I been caught red-handed?”

Phase 2: “I have a chance to make it right.”

Phase 3: “Nah. I’ll cover my tracks.”

Phase 4: “If I’m going down, I’m taking others down with me.”

A mentor of mine put it this way: “Sin takes you farther than you want to go, keeps you longer than you want to stay, and costs you more than you want to pay.” That’s what the dishonest manager shows us, to a T. Here’s how Jesus broke down the parable in verses 8-16 (by they way, it’s really nice when Jesus gives us the commentary):

  • The manager represents the world.
  • Real integrity is rare.
  • God has a better way for you.
  • Christians are called to a different ethic.
  • Who resides on the throne of your life?

I’d love some interaction with the story today, so here’s a list of questions for us to process together in the comments:

  1. What point do you think Jesus was trying to get across to his audience (Pharisees & His disciples)?
  2. Why do you think real integrity is so rare?
  3. In what ways can you identify with the manager?
  4. Is there anything in your life that is causing God to hold back on trusting you with more (v.10-12)?
  5. How have you found verse 13 to be true? (No one can serve two masters.)
  6. How can you apply this simple parable to your life this week?

 

By: Todd Thomas — Worship & College Pastor