|Volume 18 Number 12 December 2016||
The title is the simple statement Jesus provided to the Gadarene man. As Christians, we are charged with a similar order. “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations” (Matthew 28:19). This does not sound like the same sentiment, but when you consider that disciple making requires one to “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15), and that preaching the Gospel means telling others the good news, which you have also heeded, then all Christians, to the best of their abilities, should “Tell what great things God has done.” If it is such a simple statement, why is it so hard to follow? Perhaps when we see why the man in Luke 8 was so motivated that “he went his way and proclaimed throughout the whole city what great things Jesus had done for him” (39), we will be moved to act similarly.
As we put the account together, we see that long before Jesus came to this region, this man was possessed with demons (27). In fact, there were thousands of those spirits in his body. What had this done to his life? He really had no life so to speak. The demons had “seized” it and had “driven” him to do what they wanted (29). This kept him homeless. He lived in tombs and wore no clothes. When he was captured, the demons caused him to break his bonds with inhuman strength and go into the wilderness. We know he had a reputation for this in the region by the reaction the people had when they saw him “sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind.” “They were afraid” (35).
It was Jesus’ gift – a new life – that drove this man to proclaim God’s marvelous works. As Christians, we have been given a new life from worse circumstances. You may ask, “How was I worse than helpless, naked, homeless and demon possessed?” Without Christ in our lives, we are “wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked” (Revelation 3:17). Before someone puts Jesus on in baptism, he is as good as dead, possessed by sin and with no hope for an eternal home (Romans 6; Ephesians 2:1-13).
If all Christians have been blessed with such gifts from God, why is it that we have such a hard time telling others about the great salvation that awaits them? Perhaps it is because, unlike the demoniac, we “met Jesus” and we do not seem different. Maybe we have forgotten the immense debt we owe our Lord for His sacrifice to heal us (Isaiah 53). If you want to grow in your passion to teach the Gospel to a lost world, meditate on what great things God has done for you. Take this challenge: Read and reflect on 2 Peter 1:1-11. Reread it until you begin to understand how your personal growth in faith and knowledge affects your appreciation for your salvation through Christ. Also, look at how such growth will move you to “tell what great things God has done.”
James M. Barnette
Mankind has always fundamentally relied on the same three questions: who are we, why are we here, and where are we going? Individuals of every generation explore these questions, examine for themselves and pass on what they have learned to their children. Each generation scrutinizes the old traditions and considers new innovations, attempting to find a balanced harmony for the future. Yet, what if you were told that these questions could be answered by a book written over hundreds and thousands of years ago?
As war wages on in the Middle East, most of the 21st century wonders why it is happening, what it is all about and if it will ever end. Many have forgotten that this conflict, and many like it, began long ago as tribes, city-states, empires and nations fought for identity. There is an ancient book that tells the origins – historical, cultural, and religious – of one such nation, which began as a single family through whom all other nations have been blessed.
Curious men still wonder what purpose mankind serves. Some suggest man is an accident of atoms. The complexity of existence is said to have started simple and grown into its present form. Having no way to observe and verify these speculations, it seems pointless to debate; however, there is an account of the universe’s beginnings. There is an ancient record of the beginnings of time, the world and mankind, whose existence and purpose on this earth is nowhere near accidental. The unfolding account of humanity’s purpose reveals a loving Creator who has made mankind to care for the creation and to care for one another.
Philosophers and philanthropists still debate what is best in life. To exhibit self-control to the exclusion of all pleasure and desire or to immerse oneself in desires to the fullest represent the extremes. Between these two lies a balance of selfless sacrifice and communal codependence. An ancient teacher said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive,” and He taught men to “do unto others as you would have done unto you.” Further, He promised truth, love and rest to those who would follow Him.
Handed down through the generations, the Bible began 1450 B.C., but its story begins with Creation itself. From the fall of man to the calling of Abraham, the Bible recounts the ancient story of a Chaldean man who refused to worship pagan idols and went out searching for a heavenly city. His descendants still inhabit the Middle East, and the old conflicts that began in the time of his sons and grandsons still influence world events.
It is also through him that the Messiah came, teaching men what it means to be human, what it means to be free and what it means to be children of God. He showed mankind a better way, loudly proclaiming the equality of all men and women in the sight of God, the sanctity of human life and freedom from sin (the evil that so constantly corrupts the good in life). He offered Himself to live as an example, die in place of the condemned (i.e., you and me) and rose from the dead as evidence that all He had taught was true.
The questions of life can be answered in Jesus Christ. His desire is that all mankind should be saved from the evils of sin. He offers us the definition of “Christian.” He warned us that life here on earth is temporary and fleeting; we have only a short time to decide, and He urged us to teach others of His message also that all may be saved. He wants to take us with Him to heaven when we pass from this life so that we can share in the blessings of eternal life.
There is a book that holds all of these answers. Though it was written long ago, it remains more relevant today than any other piece of literature. It speaks to man’s soul, pleads for man’s heart and begs man to turn from his destruction before it is too late. Have you considered the ancient relevance of the Holy Bible?