Gospel Gazette Online
Volume 20 Number 6 June 2018
Page 2


The Family Tree that Matters Most

Louis RushmoreYears ago and for several years on and off, my late wife Bonnie and I researched our respective family trees. We relied on a number of resources, including extended family records and interviews of family members as well as electronic databases. Subsequently, we even visited some sites where our forefathers had lived decades previously. We amassed a mountain of information, copies of records and antique photographs. Everything was neatly tied together in a comprehensive computer software program or mounted on all of the available wall space in one room of our home.

Bonnie and I traced our respective families back several generations. I was able to follow my ancestry hundreds of years backward and even discover distant family members of yesteryear in Europe. We uncovered marriages, births, religious faiths, occupations, travels across the United States, government service, deaths, achievements and criminal records.

Some of it was very interesting while other bits of information were disappointing. There were some proverbial skeletons, too. The missteps of some of our ancestors and the misadventures of some of our more contemporary kinfolk diminished our formerly keen interest in our research. Today, the walls of a spare bedroom and boxes on shelves in the laundry room comprise the residue of researching our respective family trees.

However, there is another family tree of which I am a member that is more important and of greater interest to me these days. Though I was the oldest of four brothers in my immediate family growing up, now, I have a big brother, and His name is Jesus Christ. Because I am a practicing disciple of Jesus Christ, by His admission, the Lord and I are family; “And He looked around in a circle at those who sat about Him, and said, ‘Here are My mother and My brothers! For whoever does the will of God is My brother and My sister and mother’” (Mark 3:34-35 NKJV). Anyone who Jesus Christ has sanctified through His Gospel is a brother or sister to the Son of God; “For both He who sanctifies and those who are being sanctified are all of one, for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren” (Hebrews 2:11). Consequently, Christians “…are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ…” (Romans 8:16-17). Christians are the “many brethren” of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29).

Furthermore, God is my Father (Matthew 5:16; 6:8-9; Philippians 4:20; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 2 Thessalonians 1:1). Jesus Christ and I, along with every other Christian, have the same Father. “Jesus said to her, ‘Do not cling to Me, for I have not yet ascended to My Father; but go to My brethren and say to them, I am ascending to My Father and your Father, and to My God and your God’” (John 20:17). “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! …” (1 John 3:1).

There are no proverbial skeletons in the closet of my elder brother or our Father, either. Instead, the noblest of sacrifices for our and my wellbeing were made by our Heavenly Father who sent His Son into the world to save us (John 3:16; Matthew 1:21). Fortunately for us, our Brother, Jesus Christ, willingly came into the world to redeem us (Luke 19:10; Ephesians 5:25; 1 Timothy 2:6; Titus 2:14). Christians comprise the “family” of God (Ephesians 3:14-15). Christians are “members of the household of God” (Ephesians 2:19).

Earthly relationships will not endure beyond the terrestrial existence (Matthew 22:23-33). Achievements as well as disappointments regarding our earthly families will pale compared to our enduring, spiritual family relationship when this life is over—only if we are “baptized into Christ” (Romans 6:3; Galatians 3:27) and remain “faithful until death” (Revelation 2:10).

Jesus Christ Himself summarized how one obtains the forgiveness of past sins and becomes a child of God; “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16). This was the message of the first recorded Gospel sermon on the birthday of the church; “Then Peter said to them, ‘Repent, and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins…’” (Acts 2:38). Later, the apostles Peter and John conveyed how a child of God attains forgiveness of sins that creep into the lives of Christians. “Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you” (Acts 8:22). “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).

Is Jesus Christ your Big Brother, yet? The Heavenly Father desires your salvation (1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9). Jesus Christ died a terrible death on Calvary’s cross as the perfect sacrifice to make your salvation possible (Hebrews 9:26; 12:2). I repeat, “Is Jesus Christ your Big Brother, yet?” If not, why not?


It Is All about Him!

Rodney Nulph, Associate Editor

We live during an age known as the “entitlement age.” In other words, mankind feels as though he is entitled to certain blessings regardless of whether he works for them or not. For example, many believe they are entitled to have food, whether they work for it or not. These same ones often feel as though they are entitled to someone giving them shelter, even if they are lazy and unwilling to fulfill certain requirements. In fact, “I deserve that” is a phrase that is often heard or at least portrayed by some.

This mentality has entered into the arena of worship as well. Sadly, many believe that worship is about them and what they like or do not like. Ironically, even some leaders in the church have become more concerned with offending someone than offending God. This is clearly seen in leaders catering to the whims of people instead of appealing to the Word of God. While it should never be our intent to purposefully offend others, we must first be concerned with what God desires. Worship is not about us, it is all about God! Worship is not about my personal comfort or what I prefer or do not prefer. The question we must answer is, "Why should we worship?" Why do we worship the Creator and Sustainer of Heaven and Earth? Why is it all about Him and not about me?

Firstly, it is about God because God is consecrated! The idea of “consecration” from the biblical perspective refers to holiness and purity. God is holy; it is one of His fundamental characteristics. The Psalmist knew full well as he penned, “Exalt ye the Lord our God, and worship at his footstool; for he is holy” (Psalm 99:5). Just a few verses later, the Psalmist emphasized this point again (Psalm 99:9). We worship God because He is worthy of our soul’s adoration, for He alone is holy, consecrated and pure! Because God is infinitely holy, He deserves our adoration. Notice carefully, He does not need our adoration, but He rightfully deserves it! God is still God whether or not I recognize Him as such! “Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed anything, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things” (Acts 17:25). Worship is all about Him because God is consecrated!

Secondly, it is about God because God is caring! God’s care, kindness and benevolent nature ought to cause each of us to fall before His throne and praise His great name! I can relate to the Psalmist’s query, “What is man that thou art mindful of him? And the son of man, that thou visit him?" (Psalm 8:4). Part of what makes worship real is to recognize our nothingness and God’s greatness! “You visit the earth and cause it to overflow; You greatly enrich it; The stream of God is full of water; You prepare their grain, for thus You prepare the earth” (Psalm 65:9). How could anyone read such a verse and then come away feeling that worship is about them? Worship flows from a thankful heart. When one truly considers all that God has done, is doing and will do, heartfelt praise must be the result! Worship is all about Him because God is caring!

Thirdly, it is about God because God is capable! God’s love wants to bless us; His wisdom knows how to bless us, and His power enables Him to bless us. God is capable! Paul reminded brothers and sisters in Philippi, “But my God shall supply all your need according to riches in glory by Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:19; cf., Ephesians 3:20). When we fail to recognize God’s omnipotent nature, we fail to worship properly. Sadly, far too many pews are filled with sleeping saints who have no idea how powerful God is! The “Great I Am” is present, and yet, our worship is often merely ritual and less than spiritually stimulating. Those in Malachi’s day forgot God’s capability to the point that regarding worship, “Ye said also, Behold, what a weariness is it…” (Malachi 1:13a). Worship had become drudgery for them. What a picture of many congregations today. Worship is all about Him because God is capable!

God will not accept the “entitlement” mentality in worship. God is not concerned with what I like or prefer. He is the audience, and as such, we worship Him and Him alone (Matthew 4:10). When we worship, we ought to tremble because we are treading on Holy ground. The next time you approach God Almighty in worship, keep in mind, “The LORD is in his holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before him” (Habakkuk 2:20). Remember, it is not about you or me, but it’s all about Him!

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