Wednesday, May 20, 2015

I with You Am

"And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age" (Matt. 28:20).

Many Christians are more than familiar with these words of Jesus in the final line of the Gospel of Matthew.  It ranks among the greatest promises of God and gives much comfort and assurance to Christians.

While in English it reads, "I am with you," the word order in the original Greek is this:

"I with you am."

It is a kind of word picture in which believers are protected in Christ.  And it gives new meaning to Paul's statement that we "have been baptized into Christ Jesus" (Rom. 6:3).  It helps visualize Philippians 3:8-9: "...in order that I may gain Christ and be found in Him."  Or Psalm 139:5: "You hem me in, behind and before."

God introduced Himself as I AM all the way back in Exodus 3:14.  But the name reaches its final form in Matthew 28:20: I with you AM.  For in Christ, incarnate, crucified, and risen, God opened Himself up and has taken us in!

He is with you today, tomorrow, and all the days.  Better still, you are safely within Him.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Away Game

"And this is the victory that has overcome the world - our faith" (1 John 5:4).

As the Church, we simply can't expect the world to approve what we believe or to cheer us on.  When we believe in sin and see it first and foremost in ourselves, don't expect the world to cheer.  When we believe that Jesus Christ alone is the way, don't expect the world to cheer.  When we believe in the sanctity of marriage and the preciousness of every human life, don't expect the world to cheer.  When we believe that He is coming soon and so devote ourselves to lives of repentance and faith, don't expect the world to cheer.

Football coach Lou Holtz explained why it's so hard for a team to play on the road: "Because there'll come a critical time during the course of a game where if you aren't confident, if you aren't competitive, then you're intimidated and you need the crowd to encourage you.  But if you're winners and competitors, you don't care about it.  You'll say, 'The louder the crowd gets, the greater our resolve will become today!'"

Without knowing it, Coach Holtz has captured perfectly what it's like to be the Church in the world.  As Christians living here for a time, we are playing a road game.  This is true because our home is in heaven.  We can't look to the crowd to encourage us.  They will not be cheering for us but against us, and sometimes even jeering at us.

But the victory of Christ over sin and death makes us winners who compete confidently by our Christian conduct and love.  We say, "The louder the crowd gets, the greater our faith will become today!"

Coach always says, "Take heart, I have overcome the world!" (John 16:33).

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Finishing the Sentence

"And He said, 'Say this to the people of Israel, "I am has sent me to you"'" (Exod. 3:14).

What if I told you that a certain Biblical statement took 1500 years to complete?

In Exodus 3 the Lord instructs Moses to refer to Him as "I am."  Now technically "I am" is a complete sentence, having both a subject and a verb.  On the other hand, it sounds rather unfinished.

Finishing the sentence would have to wait until the Incarnation and the teaching of Jesus.  The Gospel of John records seven "I am" statements of Jesus, listed below.  The number seven in the Bible denotes completeness.  The Lord Jesus completes the sentence He began back in Exodus 3.

"I am...
the bread of life
the light of the world
the door of the sheep
the good shepherd
the resurrection and the life
the way, and the truth, and the life
the true vine."
 
So when Jesus says from the cross, "It is finished" (John 19:30), He could have been talking about the sentence.
 
"I am," by itself, is difficult to understand.  It is a lofty idea.  But Jesus brings it down to earth and makes it, and all of God, perfectly understandable.
 
See if you can memorize the seven I am's from John.  No other words were ever worth such a long wait.
 
Where to find the I am's in John: 6:35, 8:12, 10:7, 10:11, 11:25, 14:6, 15:1.