|Volume 21 Number 4 April 2019||
Brian R. Kenyon
When “opportunity knocks,” what is our reaction? Sometimes we are fearful. Sometimes we ignore it. Sometimes we do not even realize it is present. Unfortunately, opportunities do not always return when missed. Let us learn about opportunity from Paul’s statement to the Corinthians: “But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:8-9). The word “door” is often used as a metaphor for opportunity (Acts 14:27; 2 Corinthians 2:12; Colossians 4:3; Revelation 3:8).
First, when opportunities come, we must make plans accordingly. Paul was willing to continue in Ephesus where the opportunity presented itself. “Pentecost” no longer carried a religious connotation for Paul, but it was a good way of marking the time of year. He would continue working in Ephesus until late spring or early summer before visiting Corinth. The reason why some Christians miss spiritual opportunities and corresponding plans to take advantage of them is they are too focused on things of this world (Matthew 13:22; Romans 12:2). The best way, then, to recognize spiritual opportunities is to be spiritually minded (Colossians 3:1-2; Romans 8:5-8). When recognized, we can make plans with God in mind (James 4:13-15).
Second, opportunities to save or to edify souls, including our own, are worth every effort. The words “great” [“wide,” NAS] and “effective” [“effectual,” KJV] indicate that Paul’s opportunity in Ephesus was tremendous. In fact, the word translated “effective” means active and powerful. It is the same word from which the English word “energy” derives. Sometimes, Christians squander opportunities because they are not willing to make the sacrifices necessary to take advantage of them (Matthew 25:1-13). However, we must realize that no matter the temporary sacrifice, the eternal blessings are worth it (Romans 8:18)!
Third, opportunities often come with obstacles. Paul had “many adversaries.” These adversaries stood against Paul as he served the Lord. The opposition against Paul in Ephesus is well documented (Acts 19:21-40; 2 Corinthians 1:8-10), but by God’s grace, he was still very successful (Acts 19:1-20)! Christians today also face opposition when they take advantage of spiritual opportunities (Matthew 5:10-12; 2 Timothy 3:12; 1 Peter 4:12-16). In order to do our best for the Lord, we must neither fear the opposition (Philippians 1:28) nor give “opportunity to the adversary” (1 Timothy 5:14).
There is so much opportunity for Christians to grow in the Lord. Let us take advantage of each opportunity and give ourselves to His service!
You Must be Circumcised
Gary C. Hampton
The mention of circumcision instantly draws Bible students to the Old Testament. Circumcision was an important element of a covenant relationship with God.
God promised to multiply Abraham, make him father of many nations and give his descendants land (Genesis 17:1-8). The Almighty declared, “Every male child among you shall be circumcised; and you shall be circumcised in the flesh of your foreskins, and it shall be a sign of the covenant between Me and you” (Genesis 17:10-11).
God made it clear that the uncircumcised male would not remain in a covenant relationship with Him. “And the uncircumcised male child, who is not circumcised in the flesh of his foreskin, that person shall be cut off from his people; he has broken My covenant” (Genesis 17:14). Those who wandered in the wilderness did not circumcise their boys, and so God commanded they do so as they prepared to enter the promised land (Joshua 5:2).
Circumcision was only effective if one kept the Law perfectly. No Jew, outside of our Lord, ever did that. They were thus lawbreakers, and their circumcision was made ineffective.
Christians are now God’s circumcision (Philippians 3:3). Our circumcision is of the heart. “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God” (Romans 2:28-29).
Christians receive the cutting off of the sins of the flesh in baptism. “In Him you were also circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in which you also were raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead” (Colossians 2:11-12).
Anyone who would enjoy the blessings of Christ’s covenant must be circumcised in baptism. Failing to be baptized will result in being cut off from Heaven.