Events

It’s National Children’s Day!

1-2011-09-03_13-54-029.jpgIntroduction

1456053183_thumb.pngThis is National Children’s Day here in Vanuatu. The Ministry of Justice and Community Services in collaboration with the Ministry of Education is focusing on the child’s development and learning at an early age. Today we want to underline the importance of children in a biblical worldview.

According to the 2009 census, Vanuatu had a population of some 235,000 people. Some forty percent were less than the age of 15. Vanuatu had about 95,000 children under the age of 15 in 2009. Today that number would be closer to 100,000. One hundred thousand children under the age of 15. That is a significant part of the population, and in a very short time, those children will be leading the nation.

How to we regard children today? How are we to treat them? How are we to prepare them to lead the world of tomorrow? What is our view of children? And what has been the view of children throughout history?

1.      The View of Children in History

Children have not always been valued in the history of mankind. Going back to the Old Testament, when God sent the Israelites into the Promised Land, the land of Canaan, the Ammonites were sacrificing their firstborn children to the god Molech. When God have the Israelites the Law, he said in…

Leviticus 18:21 (ESV) You shall not give any of your children to offer them to Molech, and so profane the name of your God: I am the LORD.

In Leviticus 20 and Deuteronomy 12, God clearly forbids the Israelites from offering their children to the false gods of the Canaanites.

Deuteronomy 12:31 (ESV) You shall not worship the LORD your God in that way, for every abominable thing that the LORD hates they have done for their gods, for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods.

And yet, that is exactly what the Israelites ended up doing. With time, they began to imitate the people and the cultures around them. God sent prophets to warn them, but finally, judgment came upon Judah and God sent them into exile in Babylon because of this horrible abuse of their children:

Jeremiah 7:30-31 (ESV) “For the sons of Judah have done evil in my sight, declares the LORD. They have set their detestable things in the house that is called by my name, to defile it. 31 And they have built the high places of Topheth, which is in the Valley of the Son of Hinnom, to burn their sons and their daughters in the fire, which I did not command, nor did it come into my mind.

Again in Jeremiah 19,

Jeremiah 19:4-5, 7 (ESV) Because the people have forsaken me and have profaned this place by making offerings in it to other gods whom neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah have known; and because they have filled this place with the blood of innocents, 5 and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or decree, nor did it come into my mind– 7 …in this place I will make void the plans of Judah and Jerusalem, and will cause their people to fall by the sword before their enemies, and by the hand of those who seek their life. I will give their dead bodies for food to the birds of the air and to the beasts of the earth.

God’s judgment eventually fell upon his own people, and one of the reasons was that they had sinned against their own children.

Historian O. M. Bakke tells us in his book When Children Became People, that “in ancient Greece and Rome, children were considered nonpersons.” The most highly valued people in ancient Greece and Rome were freeborn adult males and those who were most similar to them. In his article, “How Christianity Invented Children,” Pascal-Emmanuel Gobry says, “Various pagan authors describe children as being more like plants than human beings.” Wealthy parents left the care of their children to slaves, and in Rome, a father had the right to kill his child for any reason until he came of age.[1]

Unwanted children were often abandoned. In his commentary on 1 Timothy 5, William Barclay comments,

In an age when the marriage bond was very lax and men and women changed their partners with bewildering rapidity, children were regarded as a misfortune. This was the great age of child exposure. When a child was born, he was brought and laid before his father’s feet. If the father stooped and lifted him, that meant that he acknowledged him and was prepared to accept responsibility for his upbringing. If the father turned and walked away, the child was quite literally thrown out, like an unwanted piece of rubbish. It often happened that such unwanted children were collected by unscrupulous people and, if girls, brought up to stock the public brothels, and, if boys, trained to be slaves or gladiators for the public games.[2]

“Children were regarded as a misfortune.” Unfortunately, the world in which we live today, is sounding more an more like the ancient world of Greece and Rome. The marriage bond is becoming very lax. Men and women change their partners with bewildering rapidity. Many do not even bother with vows of faithfulness, and children are the ones to suffer most. Pregnancy and children are regarded as a misfortune.

Gobry also points out, “Another notorious practice in the ancient world was the sexual exploitation of children.” He goes on,

This is the world into which Christianity came, condemning abortion and infanticide as loudly and as early as it could.

This is the world into which Christianity came, calling attention to children and ascribing special worth to them. Church leaders meditated on Jesus’ instruction to imitate children and proposed ways that Christians should look up to and become more like them…

But really, Christianity’s invention of children — that is, its invention of the cultural idea of children as treasured human beings — was really an outgrowth of its most stupendous and revolutionary idea: the radical equality, and the infinite value, of every single human being as a beloved child of God. If the God who made heaven and Earth chose to reveal himself, not as an emperor, but as a slave punished on the cross, then no one could claim higher dignity than anyone else on the basis of earthly status.

That was indeed a revolutionary idea, and it changed our culture so much that we no longer even recognize it.[3]

The further we move away from the biblical foundations, the more children will suffer.

2.      The Biblical View of Children

2.1.     Children in the Old Testament

The first promise in the Bible was the promise of a child, a child that would become the Savior of the world. When Adam and Eve rebelled against God and decided that they knew best and that they would go their own way, God in his infinite mercy not only brought judgment upon them, expelling them from the Garden of Eden, he promised that the many times great grandson of Eve would crush the head of the serpent.

For centuries, young women in the godly line of Seth and Noah and Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob — godly young married women would hope that their child would be the promised Messiah, until the prophet Isaiah prophesied 700 years before Christ, that the Messiah would be born of a virgin. While the nations around Israel offered their little ones to false gods, the biblical view of children was that they were to be cherished, loved, protected, and cared for.

When God called Abraham it was so that Abraham would instruct his children to keep the way of the LORD by doing what is right and just:

Genesis 18:19 (ESV) For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”

There in Genesis, the first book of the Old Testament, God places great value on children. They are to carry the biblical values that God has revealed to his people.

We find the same esteem for children in the last book of the Old Testament, the book of Malachi. There God addresses the sin of divorce and its effect on children. God says that he will not accept the offering or prayers of the people, though they weep and groan. The prophet Malachi continues in chapter 2 verse 14,

Malachi 2:14-16 (ESV) But you say, “Why does he not?” Because the LORD was witness between you and the wife of your youth, to whom you have been faithless, though she is your companion and your wife by covenant. 15 Did he not make them one, with a portion of the Spirit in their union? And what was the one God seeking? Godly offspring. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and let none of you be faithless to the wife of your youth. 16 “For the man who does not love his wife but divorces her, says the LORD, the God of Israel, covers his garment with violence, says the LORD of hosts. So guard yourselves in your spirit, and do not be faithless.”

Verse 15 says that God has made the married couple one. This is in reference to the one flesh sexual union between a husband and wife. The prophet asks the question, “Want what was the one God seeking?” And he gives the answer, “Godly offspring.”

God wants godly offspring. He wants children to be born in the context of the lifelong commitment of marriage. When a husband and wife divorce, there is a violence to the soul, a tearing apart of what God has put together. And while the husband and wife suffer, the children suffer even more and God’s goal of having godly children is often destroyed. God hates divorce.

The Old Testament is full of references to the value of children:

Psalm 127:3-5 (ESV) Behold, children are a heritage from the LORD, the fruit of the womb a reward. 4 Like arrows in the hand of a warrior are the children of one’s youth. 5 Blessed is the man who fills his quiver with them! He shall not be put to shame when he speaks with his enemies in the gate.

All six verses of Psalm 128 refer to children as the blessing of the LORD:

Psalm 128:1-6 (CSB) A song of ascents. How happy is everyone who fears the LORD, who walks in His ways! 2 You will surely eat what your hands have worked for. You will be happy, and it will go well for you. 3 Your wife will be like a fruitful vine within your house, your sons, like young olive trees around your table. 4 In this very way the man who fears the LORD will be blessed. 5 May the LORD bless you from Zion, so that you will see the prosperity of Jerusalem all the days of your life 6 and will see your children’s children! Peace be with Israel.

God has a special concern for children. In fact, for those who have no father, God says that he will be the Father of the fatherless (Psalm 68:5). *** He upholds the fatherless (Psalm 146:9).

2.2.     Children in the New Testament

When we come to the New Testament, we see in several places how Jesus cherished the little children.

Mark 10:13-16 (ESV) And they were bringing children to him that he might touch them, and the disciples rebuked them. 14 But when Jesus saw it, he was indignant and said to them, “Let the children come to me; do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of God. 15 Truly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God like a child shall not enter it.” 16 And he took them in his arms and blessed them, laying his hands on them.

The Apostle Paul modeled his ministry toward new believers after the care of parents for their children. First he compares himself to a nursing mother who nurtures her own children:

1 Thessalonians 2:7-8 (CSB) Although we could have been a burden as Christ’s apostles, instead we were gentle among you, as a nursing mother nurtures her own children. 8 We cared so much for you that we were pleased to share with you not only the gospel of God but also our own lives, because you had become dear to us.

Then he compares himself to a caring father:

1 Thessalonians 2:11-12 (CSB) As you know, like a father with his own children, 12 we encouraged, comforted, and implored each one of you to walk worthy of God, who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.

Later, Paul speaks directly to fathers, telling them to be wise in instructing their children:

Ephesians 6:4 (ESV) Fathers, do not provoke your children to anger, but bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.

2.3.     Children in the Womb

How ironic and shameful that we would celebrate Children’s Day and celebrate a woman’s so-called right to an abortion. No one has the right to take another person’s life. No one has the right to stop a beating heart. This is the destruction of the next generation. It is the killing of the future of the nation. It is a shame for any nation to permit the killing of pre-born children.

It has been said that a mother’s womb is perhaps the most dangerous place in the world for a baby.[4] And yet, God was placed in a womb. The Word which was God was born of the virgin Mary. “The Son of God, Jesus, is the most precious thing to God in the whole universe. And where did God place his most precious possession? In a womb.”[5]

The womb is the place where God puts us together.

Jeremiah 1:5 (ESV) “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

It is in the womb where God forms us. It is in the womb that we are created in the image of God. From the moment of conception, from the time the sperm cell fertilizes the egg cell, you have life. And what kind of life is it? It is not animal life; it is human life. The life in the womb is a human life, created in the image of God. The psalmist David says,

Psalm 139:13-16 (NLT) You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. 14 Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. 15 You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. 16 You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed.

Job 10:8, 11 (ESV) Your hands fashioned and made me… You clothed me with skin and flesh, and knit me together with bones and sinews.

The infinite value of children begins from the moment of conception. Today, through ultrasound, we can see the baby in the womb. We see his shape, his hands, his feet, his head. We can even determine his sex. That is why the younger generation is becoming more and more pro-life. It is very clear that a child is growing in the womb.

How do we treat our children? Nelson Mandela, former President of South Africa said: ”There can be no keener revelation of a society’s soul than the way in which it treats its children.”

Ravi Zacharias: “A nation has reached its lowest ebb when our children are victimized.”

Mother Theresa: “It’s the greatest poverty to decide that a child must die so that you may live as you wish.”

 

3.      The Education of Children

National Theme for this year is that “Everyone should support children’s learning by enrolling all our children in to class 1 at age 6.” Let’s talk about education.

3.1.     The First Four Grades

The first years are the parrot years. These are the years that children collect facts and can parrot them back to you. This is the time when children are to absorb as much information as they can about the world around them. This is the time to gather facts, learn songs, and memorize poems and Bible verses.

Too often, we put the emphasis upon self-expression. Learning to express oneself is good and necessary, but the accumulation of knowledge must be primary at this stage from age 6 to 9. Children are like sponges; they soak up knowledge. But if you squeeze the sponge dry, nothing comes out. So the sponge must first be filled. Give you children the chance to learn. Supply them with knowledge and skills that will allow them to become creative in later years as their minds develop. Fill their minds and imagination with as many pictures and stories and facts as you can.

Tell your children the stories of people, your family, your history, the history of your island, the history of Vanuatu, the history of the Pacific. Tell them about the explorers such as Captain Cook. Tell them the stories of the missionaries that brought the gospel.

Tell them the history of the world. Tell them how God created the world is six days, how he created the first man, Adam, and the first woman, Eve. Tell them how that God made everything good, but that man disobeyed God and we have lived with the consequences ever since. Show them that disobedience has consequences. Tell them that God in his grace, promised that a Savior would be born in due time to save us from our sins.

Teach them about Cain and Abel, about Noah and the worldwide flood that left fossils all over the world. Tell them about the Tower of Babel and how God confused the languages of the world so that people would be scattered all over to fill the earth. Tell them how God called Abraham and promised that that his many times great grandson would be the Savior of the world.

Tell them the stories of Joseph being sold into slavery in Egypt but that God was with him so that he became the Prime Minister of Egypt and saved his family from destruction. Tell them how the nation of Israel grew during their 400 years in Egypt. Tell them that a new king, Pharaoh, tried to kill all the baby boys, but that there were brave midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, who defied the evil king’s orders and spared the baby boys. Tell them about the faith of Moses’ parents who hid him from the king so that he might live and deliver his people from Egypt.

Tell them the stories of Gideon and Samson and Samuel. Tell them the stories of David and Goliath, of the three Hebrew children who were cast into the fiery furnace, and of Daniel and the lions’ den. Most of all tell them the stories of Jesus, his miracles, his death and resurrection, and the birth of the church.

This is our heritage for we all are the children of Adam and of Noah. We are all related!

God has given you children and with the children he has given you the responsibility to teach them and train them to walk in his ways.

So how do we do this? One important way is to spend time reading to your children and talking to them. Teach them to read. Show them how you love to read by reading children’s books to them.

3.2.     Teaching: Transfer Your Faith

Billy Graham: “The greatest legacy one can pass on to one’s children and grandchildren is not money or other material things accumulated in one’s life, but rather a legacy of character and faith.”[6]

That is what God instructs us to do. We are to teach our children:

Deuteronomy 6:6-7 (ESV) And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart. 7 You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.

Your investment in your children is an investment in the nation.

Charles R. Swindoll said, “Each day of our lives we make deposits in the memory banks of our children.”[7]

One hundred seventy years ago, at the time of the American Civil War, Frederick Douglass was a black abolitionist and statesman. This is what he said about educating our children: “It is easier to build strong children than to repair broken men.”

Psalm 78:1-7 (NLT) A psalm of Asaph. O my people, listen to my instructions. Open your ears to what I am saying, 2 for I will speak to you in a parable. I will teach you hidden lessons from our past– 3 stories we have heard and known, stories our ancestors handed down to us. 4 We will not hide these truths from our children; we will tell the next generation about the glorious deeds of the LORD, about his power and his mighty wonders. 5 For he issued his laws to Jacob; he gave his instructions to Israel. He commanded our ancestors to teach them to their children, 6 so the next generation might know them—even the children not yet born—and they in turn will teach their own children. 7 So each generation should set its hope anew on God, not forgetting his glorious miracles and obeying his commands.

The great evangelist Dwight L. Moody said, ”If I could relive my life, I would devote my entire ministry to reaching children for God!”

Louis Pasteur, the French chemist and microbiologist said this about children, “When I approach a child, he inspires in me two sentiments — tenderness for what he is and respect for what he may become.”

On this Children’s Day, let’s remember that what our children become, depends to a large extent on the direction that we give them.

Proverbs 22:6 (ESV) Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

The education of our children cannot wait. Today is the day to teach them and prepare them for tomorrow. And today is especially the day to bring them “bring them up in the training and instruction of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4).


[1] http://theweek.com/articles/551027/how-christianity-invented-children, April 23, 2015

[2] Barclay, William – The Letters to Timothy, Titus, and Philemon

[3] http://theweek.com/articles/551027/how-christianity-invented-children, April 23, 2015

[4] http://www.jesus-is-savior.com/Evils%20in%20America/Abortion%20is%20Murder/most_dangerous_place.htm

[5] http://www.desiringgod.org/articles/god-was-placed-in-a-womb

[6] http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/children.html, 2016-07-23

[7] http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/keywords/children.html, 2016-07-23

Also: Susan Wise Bauer, The Well-Trainied Mind: A Guide to Classical Education at Home, 2004.

 

Mother’s Day: The Influence of a Faithful Mother

Young woman reading bible

Introduction

1456053183_thumb.pngWe wish a very Happy Mother’s Day to all mothers. God has given you great responsibilities, and a position of great influence and honor. Today I want to talk to you about the influence of a faithful mother. And yet, we recognize that Mother’s Day is a difficult day for many.

  • It is difficult for those women who have wanted to become mothers but have not been able to have children.
  • Mother’s Day is difficult for those who had lost their mother.
  • And it is especially difficult for mothers who have lost children.

Our heart goes out to you. May the God of all comfort be with you.

We live in an age when motherhood is not always honored, and yet from heaven’s point of view, mothers are to be honored. In fact, parenting is singled out for special mention and special honor in the Ten Commandments:

Exodus 20:12 ESV “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long in the land that the LORD your God is giving you.

Jesus especially rebuked the religious leaders of Israel for their failure to honor parents. Society wants to push motherhood aside, but motherhood was God’s idea, and he determined that mothers are to be honored. In fact, that fifth commandment is the first commandment with a promise:

Exodus 20:12 ESV “Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long…

Someone asked some questions about mothers to some seven year old children, and here is what they said:

Why did God make mothers?

  1. That was the best way to get more people.

Why did God give you your mother instead of some other mother?

  1. Because we are related!
  2. Because God knew that my mother would love me more than the mothers of other children would love me.

What ingredients did God use to make mothers?

  1. God makes mothers out of clouds and angel hair and everything nice in the world and one dab of mean.
  2. They had to get their start from men’s bones. Then they mostly use string, I think.

What kind of little girl was your mom?

  1. My mom has always been my mom and none of that other stuff.
  2. I don’t know because I wasn’t there, but my guess would be pretty bossy.
  3. They say she used to be nice.

What is just perfect about your mother?

  1. Her teeth are perfect, but she bought them from the dentist!
  2. Only her children!

What a lucky mother! If only all mothers had perfect children!

Today we do not want to talk about perfect children for there are none. Nor do we want to talk about perfect mothers, for there are no perfect mothers either. But we do want to consider…

The Influence of a Faithful Mother

As you can imagine, the Bible gives a lot of attention to mothers. The word “mother” is mentioned 330 times beginning with Eve whose name means “life” “because she was the mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20).

Many of the mothers of the Bible, we know by name:

  • There were unlikely mothers, women like Sarah, and Rebekah, and Rachel, and Hannah. These women were sterile until God intervened and gave them children.
  • There were brave mothers like the mother of Moses who was not afraid of Pharaoh’s edict, but hid baby Moses to preserve his life (Hebrews 11:23).
  • There was Deborah, who led the Israelites in battle against the Canaanites.
  • There was Mary, the mother of Jesus, unique in that she was the only virgin to ever become a mother. Matthew tells us that Joseph had no intimate relations with her “until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus” (Matthew 1:25). She and Joseph were chosen by God to raise Jesus, the Son of God.

We find a lot of mothers mentioned in the records of the kings of Israel and of Judah. As we read the record of the kings of Israel and of Judah, we find a strong emphasis on the mothers of the kings. Some 25 times we read the name of a king and the name of his mother, and then an evaluation of his reign, either “He did what was right in the sight of the Lord,” or “He did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.” The implication is that mothers have a very great influence on their children, on future kings and nations, whether for good or for evil.

For example,

2 Chronicles 22:2-4 ESV Ahaziah was twenty-two years old when he began to reign, and he reigned one year in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Athaliah, the granddaughter of Omri. 3 He also walked in the ways of the house of Ahab, for his mother was his counselor in doing wickedly. 4 He did what was evil in the sight of the LORD, as the house of Ahab had done. For after the death of his father they were his counselors, to his undoing.

There were also godly mothers, who influenced their children and the entire nation of Israel for the good:

1 Kings 22:42-43 ESV Jehoshaphat was thirty-five years old when he began to reign, and he reigned twenty-five years in Jerusalem. His mother’s name was Azubah the daughter of Shilhi. 43 He walked in all the way of Asa his father. He did not turn aside from it, doing what was right in the sight of the LORD…

The Mother of Timothy

When we turn to the pages of the New Testament, we find a wonderful example of a faithful mother who influenced her son for God, and through her son, Timothy, touched many people for Christ.

We first meet up with Timothy during the Apostle Paul’s second missionary journey. In Acts 16, Paul arrives in the town of Lystra where he had planted a church during his first missionary journey, about three years before.

Acts 16:1-3 ESV …A disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer, but his father was a Greek. 2 He was well spoken of by the brothers at Lystra and Iconium. 3 Paul wanted Timothy to accompany him, and he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in those places, for they all knew that his father was a Greek.

This is the first time that we meet Timothy, and we are told that he is a disciple. He has a good reputation among the believers in two towns where Paul had planted churches.

We learn that Timothy is from a mixed marriage. His mother was a Jew, but his father was a Greek. While we know little to nothing about his parents’ marriage, or whether they were even still together, it seems clear that this pagan father had some reservations about Timothy’s full induction into Judaism. Timothy’s father had not allowed him to be circumcised according to Jewish custom.

Paul wanted Timothy to join his missionary team, to become a partner with him and Barnabas. Yet, Paul does not want Timothy’s situation as an uncircumcised Greek to be a hindrance to them trying to reach the Jews for Christ, since everyone knew that Timothy’s father was a Greek, so Paul circumcised Timothy.

So it appears that Timothy’s father was not a believer, yet in this very first sentence introducing Timothy, we read that he was “the son of a Jewish woman who was a believer.” Immediately, Luke tells us about the influence of Timothy’s faithful mother. It appears that the dominant influence on Timothy’s life was not that of his father, but the influence of his mother.

Since Timothy already well spoken of by the believers, we wonder when he became a Christian. It is quite possible that Timothy and his mother came to a knowledge of the truth in Jesus Christ during Paul’s first visit to Lystra a couple of years earlier. During that first missionary journey, Paul was stoned, dragged out of the city, and left for dead. A group of those first disciples gathered around him, and he got up and went back into the city before continuing his journey with Barnabas the next day. Very possibly during that first trip, Timothy and his mother were part of that group of disciples that gathered around Paul and cared for him after he had been stoned by the people of the town.

Now when Paul visits the disciples of Lystra three years later, young Timothy already has a good reputation among the disciples and that good reputation is tied to the influence of his faithful mother. Yet, we will see, that this mother’s influence is traced back to Timothy’s earliest childhood.

We learn more about Timothy’s family in Paul’s second letter to Timothy. Paul writes the letter some fifteen years later from the Mamertine Prison in Rome. This is the end of Paul’s ministry. The moment of his execution is getting closer. Paul writes his “beloved child” in the faith, this young man of 30 to 35 years of age who has walked long roads with the Apostle Paul. Paul urgently wants to see Timothy one last time. He writes…

2 Timothy 1:4-5 ESV As I remember your tears, I long to see you, that I may be filled with joy. 5 I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.

Here we learn more about Timothy’s family. Paul knew Timothy’s family. Perhaps he had stayed in their home. Paul knows Timothy’ mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois, two mothers who had a great influence on Timothy’s life. Paul says,

2 Timothy 1:5 NLT I remember your genuine faith, for you share the faith that first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice. And I know that same faith continues strong in you.

Your faith is genuine and strong, Timothy, and I know where you got it. Your faith first filled your grandmother Lois and your mother, Eunice.

Eunice and Lois

Imagine with me, the background of Timothy’s mother Eunice. She was married to a pagan. This young man had made promises, and Lois and Eunice had believed him. He was going to convert to Judaism. He was coming regularly to the synagogue. He gave all the indications that his intention was sincere. He was sincere, as far as he knew himself. Perhaps he came from a high ranking family, was well educated, and had a good paying job. The future looked bright for young Eunice. Eunice, the young Jewess, and this handsome young Greek, loved each other. Lois gave them her blessing and approval to marry.

But after the marriage, Eunice’s husband no longer could find the time to go to synagogue as he had before. He had many responsibilities and no longer had as much free time. And he had come to the decision that he did not want to be circumcised.

Soon Eunice and her Greek husband had a child, a boy, and they named him Timothy. Eunice wanted to have Timothy circumcised the eighth days as the Law prescribed, but her husband was no longer sympathetic to the idea. It seems that he had forbidden it (Acts 16:3).

How many times had Eunice regretted marrying her husband? How many times had she regretted it for herself? How many times had she regretted her marriage for her son, Timothy? How many times had Lois regretted giving her permission for the couple to marry?

Other women would have given up. They would have thrown in the towel. They would have simply followed their unbelieving husbands down the wrong road. But Eunice and her mother Lois were not other women. One mistake was enough.

But what could they do so that young Timothy not grow up like a pagan? What could they do to instill in him godly values? What could they do to influence him to serve the Lord? They had a mighty tool available to them: they had the Scriptures, the Word of God.

How can we influence our children for God?

1.        To influence our children for God, we must make use of the Word of God, the Scriptures.

In 2 Timothy 3, Paul is encouraging Timothy to stand firm in a difficult situation. Paul had left Timothy in Ephesus to correct a church where the pastors themselves had gone astray. Paul encourages Timothy to stand strong:

2 Timothy 3:14-15 NIV But as for you, continue in what you have learned and have become convinced of, because you know those from whom you learned it, 15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.

Paul takes Timothy back to his roots, back to his infancy. He reminds Timothy that he has known the Holy Scriptures since he was a baby!

15 and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures…

He also reminds Timothy “because you know those from whom you learned it.” Paul reminds Timothy that his mother Eunice and his grandmother Lois had determined that this child Timothy would know the Holy Scriptures “which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.”

1.1.     The Scriptures give us good models to imitate.

A boy needs a model to follow. Timothy’s father was apparently not a good model. How could Timothy’s mother Eunice fill in the void? The Scriptures could make Timothy wise, so Eunice determined that she would teach her young son the Word of God.

We can imagine Eunice selecting a passage. There were so many examples to choose from:

  • The faith of Abraham who left everything to obey God.
  • The story of Jacob wrestling with God
  • The story of Joseph maintaining his faith in God when sold into slavery, when tempted to commit adultery, when thrown into prison when falsely accused, and yet he remained faithful and God finally exalted him to become the prime minister of Egypt.
  • The story of Moses, leading the children of Israel out of Egypt
  • Joshua leading the Israelites across the Jordan, marching around Jericho for seven days until the walls fell down flat.
  • Gideon defeating the army of the Midianites with just 300 Israelites.
  • David killing the giant
  • Daniel in the lions’ den
  • So many others!

Eunice selects a biblical passage. She reads it over and over to make sure she understands it. She selects a verse to memorize. This faithful mother is a woman of influence.

1.2.     The Scriptures help us walk in purity.

Psalm 119:9-11 ESV How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word. 10 With my whole heart I seek you; let me not wander from your commandments! 11 I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.

Eunice and Lois fill young Timothy with the Word of God. His whole worldview is shaped and molded by God’s Word. He meditates on God’s Word and thinks God’s thoughts after Him.

1.3.     The Scriptures make us wise.

The Apostle Paul had said that the Holy Scriptures are able to make us wise unto salvation.

Psalm 119:98-101 ESV Your commandment makes me wiser than my enemies, for it is ever with me. 99 I have more understanding than all my teachers, for your testimonies are my meditation. 100 I understand more than the aged, for I keep your precepts. 101 I hold back my feet from every evil way, in order to keep your word.

Eunice made sure that her son Timothy knew the Word of God that would make him wise. As Paul said,

2 Timothy 3:15 NLT You have been taught the holy Scriptures from childhood, and they have given you the wisdom to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.

This mother faced a difficult situation, a situation that she could have and should have avoided according to the Word of God, but she was determined in her heart to do her best in the midst of trying circumstances.

1.4.     The Temptation of Reverse Delegation

Books about business management talk about the problem of reverse delegation. That’s when your boss gives you a job, but you end up asking him to do it for you.

We are like that with God. We want to entrust our children to God and we want him to do whatever is necessary to save them. But that is why God has given us children. God said of Abraham,

Genesis 18:19 ESV For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the LORD by doing righteousness and justice, so that the LORD may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.”

God has entrusted us with the responsibility of leading them to the Lord. We must pray for our children, but prayer is not enough. We must use the means that God has given us.

Deuteronomy 6:6-9 NLT And you must commit yourselves wholeheartedly to these commands that I am giving you today. 7 Repeat them again and again to your children. Talk about them when you are at home and when you are on the road, when you are going to bed and when you are getting up. 8 Tie them to your hands and wear them on your forehead as reminders. 9 Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates.

When my sister and I were growing up, people would tell my parents that we were exceptional, that our behavior and our commitment to the Lord were exceptional. But that is not quite. We were not exceptional; our parents were exceptional.

Every morning before we would leave the house, our mother would have us read three chapters in the Bible, followed by prayer for the Lord’s blessing, protection, and guidance throughout the day. My mother believed that the Scriptures could make us wise “to receive the salvation that comes by trusting in Christ Jesus.” I know that my mother prayed for us, but what is much more important is what she did with us: she read the Bible with us and prayed with us.

2.        To influence our children for God, we must be faithful.

One translation of Acts 16:1 says that Timothy was the son of a faithful Jewish woman.

2 Timothy 1:5 ESV I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice and now, I am sure, dwells in you as well.

Lois and Eunice were probably saved during Paul’s first visit to Lystra. Sincere faith first filled the heart of Timothy’s grandmother Lois and then his mother. By the time Paul returned three years later, Timothy was himself a disciple. Paul will call him his true son in the faith, not because Timothy was saved under Paul’s ministry, but because Paul had trained Timothy for ministry. Timothy was saved because he saw the faithfulness of his mother and his grandmother.

When we talk about faithfulness, we can also talk about sincere faith. If our faith is sincere, we will be faithful. Our faithfulness is an expression of our sincere faith. We show our faith by our faithfulness. That is what James said in his letter: it is one thing to say that we have faith; it is another thing to show our faith by our works.

It was the faithfulness of my parents to the house of God, the sincerity of their faith that showed me the reality of the Gospel that they were teaching me from the Word of God. My father was a very busy businessman, but every time there was a service at church, we were there. When we had special meetings that would sometimes last every night for three weeks, we were there each evening. Since my sister and I were students, we had to finish our homework as soon as we got home so that we would be ready to go to church. We were convinced of the reality of the Gospel by the faithfulness of our parents. If we are not faithful as parents, how can we expect our children to be faithful?

Sincerity of Faith

Let’s underline the sincerity of faith. Our sincerity or its lack is manifested in all that we do. Are living up to the Word of God? Literally, this sincere faith is faith without hypocrisy. We are not acting. Paul says that this sincere faith was first in Timothy’s grandmother, then in his mother before Timothy made it his own. The children are watching. They are waiting. They want to see if the faith is authentic, genuine, sincere.

We will transfer to our children what is in us, whether it be hypocrisy or sincerity and faithfulness.

Proverbs 22:6 ESV Train up a child in the way he should go; even when he is old he will not depart from it.

Conclusion: You have a great influence.

Ladies, you must never underestimate your influence as a mother or as a grandmother. In spite of great difficulties, Lois and Eunice instructed young Timothy in the Word of God. They watered him like a plant with the Word. They shaped him. They were faithful to their task, and with time, they saw the fruit of their work.

I would like to say to all mothers and grandmothers today, that God has given you a great responsibility. In your children are all the possibilities that God has put within them. Who would have ever thought that from this unfortunate marriage between Eunice and the unbelieving Greek, God would call a pastor and preacher of the Gospel?

What are your hopes for your children? Open your eyes to the possibilities. Open your eyes to your responsibilities. Be sincere and faithful.

  1. Make a commitment today to read at least one chapter from the Bible each day with your children.
  2. Choose some verses to memorize together.
  3. Pray with your children every morning and evening.

Cyclone Pam and the Cross, Reflections on the Aftermath of Cyclone Pam

cylcone PAM color

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Vanuatu was on all the major news channels as the world watched the approach of category five Tropical Cyclone Pam. Photos and videos were soon on the Internet. The news channels covered the story as it developed. People everywhere were talking about Vanuatu. Many were praying. And many have given to help in the relief efforts here.

Many have noted the resolve of the ni-Vanuatu to work. Immediately after the cyclone, you began cleaning up and rebuilding as you have been able. You have had a mind to work and to rebuild. You have been courageous in the face of adversity. Most if not all have suffered the loss of property, and some have even lost loved ones. Our heart goes out to you. We have wept with those who weep. On the Joy Bible Institute campus, five of our buildings suffered serious damage. We lost roofs, furniture, and library books to the cyclone. Many of our churches have been damaged and some have been destroyed. Cyclone Pam was the strongest cyclone of the Southern Hemisphere on record, and the financial loss to the country is beyond calculation.

But you have responded with courage, strength, and determination. I need not tell you that there remains much to do or that rebuilding will take time and perseverance. I simply want to encourage you and tell you that many have noted and admired your strength of character. Well done!

1.      Question: Where was God?

Natural disasters sometimes provoke us to ask the question, “Where was God?” Cyclones, tsunamis, earthquakes, famines and other natural disasters sometimes strengthen faith; sometimes they weaken faith. Many of you thanked God that your lives were spared. The strength of the winds was beyond anything that we could have imagined. We are all amazed at the tremendous damage that was wrought. Some say, “Thank God we were spared!” Others ask, “Where was God in all this?”

The question is often put like this: How could an all-good, all-powerful God permit this to happen? How could a loving all-powerful God allow a cyclone to wreak such destruction? If God is a God of love, he must not be all-powerful. Or if he is all-powerful, he must not be a loving God.

That sounds simple enough. If there is a God, then he is either powerless to stop such events, or he is not loving enough to care. And some conclude that events like Cyclone Pam prove that God does not exist.

While the reasoning seems simple enough, it is really simplistic. It is a simple-minded reasoning that assumes to understand and know exactly how an all-wise and all-loving God must act. It is a type of reasoning that fails to understand what God has said about his way of thinking in Isaiah 55:8-9.

Isaiah 55:8-9 NLT “My thoughts are nothing like your thoughts,” says the LORD. “And my ways are far beyond anything you could imagine. 9 For just as the heavens are higher than the earth, so my ways are higher than your ways and my thoughts higher than your thoughts.

The type of reasoning that rejects the idea of God because He does not conform to our way of thinking is a pride that elevates itself against God and assumes itself to be omniscient (all-knowing) and all-wise.

2.      Well, what about prayer?

Why didn’t prayer stop the storm? Last week while we were still in the United States, an elderly American pastor called me. “Gary,” he said, “when you told us that there was the danger of a cyclone, I began to pray that God would spare Vanuatu. I guess I didn’t pray hard enough.”

Really? Is that the problem? Did we suffer the ravages of Cyclone Pam because people did not pray hard enough? Not at all!

The Bible is utterly realistic. There is nothing in the Bible that indicates that we can be spared the storms of life. Sometimes the gospel is presented in such a way that people get the impression that there will be no problems in the Christian life. I am afraid that is a false gospel.

Prayer is an acknowledgement that we are absolutely dependent on God. We are to pray at all times, the Bible tells us. And when we are threatened by the elements, we should certainly call out to God. But we must not imagine that we can control God or the elements of nature by prayer. There is no promise that we will be spared difficulty in life. God never promised us a storm-free life. Quite the contrary!

Time and again, in every book of the Bible, whether by illustration or by teaching, we are told that we will all pass through storms in life.

Jesus told the parable in Matthew 7 about the wise man and the foolish man. The wise man built his house on the rock while the foolish man built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on the house of the wise man and on the house of the foolish man alike. Both the wise man and the foolish man went through violent storms. But the house of the wise man did not fall because it was built on the rock, while the house of the foolish man “fell and great was the fall of it” because it was built on sand instead of on the rock. Jesus said that everyone who hears his words and does them is like the man who built his house on the rock. But everyone who hears his words and does not do them, is like the foolish man who built his house on the sand.

Both the wise and the foolish will face violent storms in life. How we survive depends on the foundation. If our lives are founded on the Word of God, we will survive the storms of life.

In Acts 11 we read about a man named Agabus who predicted that there would be a famine:

Acts 11:27-30 ESV Now in these days prophets came down from Jerusalem to Antioch. 28 And one of them named Agabus stood up and foretold by the Spirit that there would be a great famine over all the world (this took place in the days of Claudius). 29 So the disciples determined, every one according to his ability, to send relief to the brothers living in Judea. 30 And they did so, sending it to the elders by the hand of Barnabas and Saul.

It is helpful to notice what the Christians did and what they did not do. The Holy Spirit spoke by one of the Christian prophets and told the church at Antioch that there was going to be a famine, a natural disaster. We know what this means. A famine is a time when the crops do not grow well and food is very scarce. When food is scarce, it becomes very expensive.

Notice what the church did not do. The church did not pray against the famine. They did not pray that the harvest would be greater than ever. They did not pray that the famine would not come. They did not pray that the famine would not affect the Christians. They did not pray that the church would somehow be spared the disaster brought on by the famine.

Nor did they simply assume that the famine would not come or that the church would somehow not be touched by the famine.

What did the church do? Luke, the author of the Book of Acts, tells us,

Acts 11:29 NLT So the believers in Antioch decided to send relief to the brothers and sisters in Judea, everyone giving as much as they could.

True Christianity is practical. The believers responded to the need by sending relief to the Christians in Judea.

We must not think that somehow we are exempt from suffering, or that the storms of life will pass by on the other side. God never promised us that. Notice what the LORD says through the prophet Isaiah:

Isaiah 43:1-2 ESV But now thus says the LORD, he who created you, O Jacob, he who formed you, O Israel: “Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. 2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you.

The LORD tells us that there will be times when we pass through the waters. It will seem that we are about to be carried away by the rivers. There will be times when we will walk through fire. But the word to the Christian believer is that we must not fear. Why not? Because the LORD has redeemed us. He knows us by name. He has called us and we belong to him. When we pass through the waters, he will be with us. When we pass through the rivers of difficulty, they will not overwhelm us. When we walk through the fires of oppression, we will not be burned up. The flames will not consume us.

Psalm 46:1-11 ESV God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. 2 Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way, though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea, 3 though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling. Selah

God makes no promise of a trouble-free life. On the contrary, Psalm 46 tells us that we will have troubles. There will be times when it seems that the earth beneath us is giving way, that the mountains are sliding into the depths of the ocean. The tsunamis will come and the waves will roar! But, the psalmist says, we will not fear! Why? Because God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. We take refuge in God himself. Verse 4 continues,

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God, the holy habitation of the Most High. 5 God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved; God will help her when morning dawns. 6 The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; he utters his voice, the earth melts. 7 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah 8 Come, behold the works of the LORD, how he has brought desolations on the earth. 9 He makes wars cease to the end of the earth; he breaks the bow and shatters the spear; he burns the chariots with fire. 10 “Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!” 11 The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. Selah

Once again, notice that the Bible is utterly realistic. In Acts 27, the Apostle Paul is a prisoner of Rome. He has appealed to Caesar in order to get a fair trial. He is under Roman guard and is traveling by ship across the Mediterranean Sea from Israel to Rome. With great difficulty they make it to the island of Crete. Now the Apostle Paul is a well-seasoned traveler. He knows the weather conditions of the Mediterranean Sea and advises that they pass the winter on the island of Crete rather than trying to travel any farther. Luke describes the situation:

Acts 27:9-10 NLT We had lost a lot of time. The weather was becoming dangerous for sea travel because it was so late in the fall, and Paul spoke to the ship’s officers about it. 10 “Men,” he said, “I believe there is trouble ahead if we go on– shipwreck, loss of cargo, and danger to our lives as well.”

Notice that Paul is an utterly practical and realistic man. He knows the weather conditions. He knows that there is danger ahead. There are several things that Paul does not do:

         He does not say, “No worries, mate! I’m the Apostle Paul. You will always have smooth sailing with me!” No, Paul has already gone through three shipwrecks before. He has also spent a night and a day adrift at sea (2 Corinthians 11:25). He knows the reality and the dangers of the sea. He is realistic.

What happens next?

Acts 27:11 NLTBut the officer in charge of the prisoners listened more to the ship’s captain and the owner than to Paul.

They set out to sea and are caught in a terrible typhoon. What does Paul do?

         Paul does not pray against the typhoon.

         He does not rebuke it in the name of Jesus.

Luke tells us that for 14 days and nights, they were driven by the storm. They threw over all their cargo, but “at last all hope was gone” (Acts 27:20).

We read that the winds and the waves obey the Lord Jesus Christ, but they do not obey us. Neither the New Testament Christians nor even the apostles that the Lord had personally appointed — none of them presumed to be able to control the elements. Nor did they believe that they would be protected from all such danger.

But in this case, the Lord sent an angel to the Apostle Paul who told him not to fear for God had determined that Paul would appear before Caesar. Furthermore, God in his goodness granted safety to all of Paul’s traveling companions (Acts 27:21-26).

But it does not always turn out that way. This was Paul’s fourth shipwreck. Stephen was stoned to death. James was beheaded. Paul himself would eventually be beheaded. Twenty-one Coptic Christians were beheaded in Libya last month. 147 people were killed by Islamic radicals at a university in Nairobi, Kenya this past week and many of them were Christians who had met together for an early morning prayer meeting. The night before his crucifixion, Jesus told his disciples,

John 16:33 NLT … Here on earth you will have many trials and sorrows. But take heart, because I have overcome the world.”

We so want to understand that sometimes we invent reasons that are not true. But it is only when we do not understand that we can exercise trust. Trust means believing when you do not understand. To trust in God is to hold on to him when you do not understand what he is doing or why you are going through trials and sorrows.

3.      Why do these things happen?

We can see from reality and from Scripture that bad things happen in this world in which we live. But why? If God is all-good and all-powerful, then why do bad things happen? Is it because some people deserve bad things more than others?

Not at all. It is so tempting to put on our self-righteousness and look at those less fortunate and think that we are better or more righteous. Terrible things happened to Job. He lost everything. His family, his possessions. Only his wife remained and she told him to curse God and die. And then there were his three miserable friends — “comforters” — who said that there must be a secret sin in his life for these bad things to happen to him. But by the end of the Book of Job, God has vindicated his faithful servant Job and proven his comforters to be wrong in condemning him.

The tendency to point the finger to others is found even among the disciples in the New Testament. One day, Jesus came up on a man who had been born blind.

John 9:2-3 NLT “Rabbi,” his disciples asked him, “why was this man born blind? Was it because of his own sins or his parents’ sins?” 3 “It was not because of his sins or his parents’ sins,” Jesus answered. “This happened so the power of God could be seen in him.

3.1.   We live in a Genesis 3 world

Bad things happen because we live in a Genesis 3 world. There are 1,189 chapters in the Bible. Only four of those chapters describe a perfect world. The world is a perfect place in the first two chapters of the Bible before man sins, and in the last two chapters of the Bible in the new heavens and the new earth, but in between the beginning and the end, the Bible describes a fallen world. In Genesis 1 and 2, the world was perfect. Man had everything that he needed and he walked with God in the Garden of Eden in the cool of the day.

But in Genesis 3, we read that sin entered into the world, and that by one man Adam. Adam disobeyed God’s command not to eat of the one tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Adam fell and all of creation was brought under the consequences of Adam’s sin.

In the original creation there were neither thorns nor storms. There were no cyclones or tsunamis or or earthquakes or sickness or death. But Paul tells us in Romans 8,

Romans 8:20-21 NLT Against its will, all creation was subjected to God’s curse. But with eager hope, 21 the creation looks forward to the day when it will join God’s children in glorious freedom from death and decay.

Yes, the last chapter of the Bible describes the new heavens and the new earth, the restored creation.

3.2.   Bad things happen in this Genesis 3 world.

That does not mean that the world is out of control. It does not mean that God is powerless to stop bad things from happening.

But God is so wise and so powerful that he often uses bad things to bring about good. The first book of the Bible, the book of Genesis, tells us that Jacob had 12 sons. Ten of these sons were jealous of their young brother Joseph. The twelfth son, Benjamin, was too young to be involved in their jealousy, but the ten sons plotted together to get rid of Joseph. They sold him into slavery in Egypt and lied to their father, telling Jacob that Joseph had been killed by a wild animal.

Joseph was sold as a slave in Egypt, but God was with him. Falsely accused, he ended up in prison through no fault of his own, but God was with him. But 13 years later, he is brought before Pharaoh to interpret his dream, and Joseph is made the Prime Minister of Egypt. Yes, God had been with Joseph all the time. God had sent him to Egypt in order to oversee the food supplies of Egypt and that region of the world so that the children of Israel would be saved. When the brothers of Joseph found out that the brother that they had sold into slavery was the master of Egypt, they feared for their lives, but Joseph told them,

Genesis 50:20 NLT You intended to harm me, but God intended it all for good. He brought me to this position so I could save the lives of many people.

The Bible assures us

Romans 8:28-29 NIV And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters.

The Bible does not say that all things are good, or that God works all things together for the good of everyone. It only says that he works all things together for the good of those who love him, those who have been called according to his purpose. And his purpose is that we would be changed into the likeness of his Son. God takes the bad things and uses them to make his children be more like Christ his Son.

3.3.   Bad things happen to warn us about things that are worse than bad.

The people told Jesus about some bad things that had happened to some Jews who were offering sacrifices to God:

Luke 13:1-5 NLT About this time Jesus was informed that Pilate had murdered some people from Galilee as they were offering sacrifices at the Temple. 2 “Do you think those Galileans were worse sinners than all the other people from Galilee?” Jesus asked. “Is that why they suffered? 3 Not at all! And you will perish, too, unless you repent of your sins and turn to God. 4 And what about the eighteen people who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them? Were they the worst sinners in Jerusalem? 5 No, and I tell you again that unless you repent, you will perish, too.”

Bad things happen in this world. Many Christian students holding a prayer meeting at a Kenyan university were killed this past week. Were they worse sinners than those who escaped? Not at all. But if we do not repent and turn away from our sins, Jesus says that we will also perish.

This nation has suffered terrible devastation. Many have lost their homes and some have lost their lives. Were they worse sinners than those who were spared? Not at all. But there are things that are worse than losing our homes, our possessions, and even our lives.

Matthew 16:24-26 NLT Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If any of you wants to be my follower, you must turn from your selfish ways, take up your cross, and follow me. 25 If you try to hang on to your life, you will lose it. But if you give up your life for my sake, you will save it. 26 And what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul? Is anything worth more than your soul?

4.      The Cross

Bad things happen. The cross of Christ was the worst and the best thing that ever happened. The greatest outrage of justice that ever took place, took place on the cross. Unlike the rest of us, Jesus was “holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners” (Heb 7:26 ESV). The governor Pilate pronounced him innocent: “I find no guilt in him” (John 18:38). One criminal on the cross said to the other criminal,

Luke 23:41 NLT We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man [Jesus] hasn’t done anything wrong.”

Redemption’s Song
© J. Gary Ellison, April 4, 2012

See Him there upon the cross
As He dies in shame
We are the ones who nailed Him there,
We are the ones to blame.

It was for crimes He had not done,
Our sins that caused His pain.
He knew no sin, the Righteous One,
For sinners He was slain.

O Lamb of God on sacred tree
Twas there You died for me
To take away my sin and shame
That righteous I might be.

That Holy One did bear our sin
No other one could do.
He is the Lamb, the spotless One,
Who died for me and you.

Holy, innocent, undefiled,
On Him our sins were laid,
To cleanse us from our awful deeds
The penalty He paid.

O Righteous One, I hear you now,
“It’s finished! It is done!” —
The work on Calvary’s bloody cross —
The victory’s been won!

They laid Him in a borrowed grave
He would not use it long.
God raised Him up that He might save,
This is Redemption’s song.

Yes, the cross of Christ was the worst and the best thing that ever happened. On the cross Christ bore our sins. By the cross we have been reconciled to God. And just as sentence of death was overturned by Christ’s literal physical resurrection from the dead, for the Christian, all wrongs will be righted. Death will give way to life.