Mining For Gold

Steve Arterburn

Everyone ever born has a human mother and father, right? Almost. There are three exceptions: Adam and Eve, our first parents, and Jesus Christ, who, as the Apostle’s Creed says, was conceived by the Holy Spirit and born of the virgin Mary.

 

The opening chapter of Matthew, the first book in the New Testament, consists of an extensive genealogy. You may consider genealogies dull, and maybe skipped right to chapter two. But, there’s gold here if you’ll mine for it.

 

Matthew’s goal is to show us that Jesus is the long-awaited Messiah, a direct descendent of both Abraham, Israel’s father, and David, it’s greatest king. Along the way, Matthew mentions forty-two fathers and five mothers.

 

You see, Matthew’s culture was certainly patriarchal, and because it was, the mention of these women takes on increased significance. They’re quite a colorful group. Tamar bore her father-in-law’s twins. Rahab was a prostitute. Ruth was a foreigner visiting Israel. And Bathsheba’well, we all know about her and David.

 

But women aren’t the only colorful characters here. Trace the men through Scripture and you’ll find most of their backgrounds quite checkered. And it shows that God chose and used not only ordinary people to create the linage of Jesus, but also, profoundly flawed people. My point: God uses men like you and me in mighty ways. Take heart!

Cost Of Discipleship, Part One

Steve Arterburn

Dietrich Bonhoeffer has been widely recognized as one of the great moral heroes of the twentieth century, and rightly so. He was a highly regarded Lutheran minister at a time when other highly regarded Christian leaders’were compromising and making sure they didn’t make any waves against Hitler’s aggressive, tyrammical power. Bonhoeffer was among the few who resisted. And you know, resistance usually has its costs’Bonhoeffer’s cost everything. He was arrested, imprisoned, and eventually hung on April 9, 1945’less than a month before the war’s end.

 

Yet Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s resistance was more than moral, it was Christian. It was grounded, shaped, and energized by the gospel, and by Bonhoeffer’s loving loyalty to the Lord of that gospel: Jesus Christ.

 

Amidst the tumultuous times of his day, Bonhoeffer wrote a book that has since become a Christian classic. It’s called The Cost of Discipleship. In it he contrasts what he calls ‘cheap and costly grace.’ Cheap grace, for Bonhoeffer, means grace without the cross. Costly grace, by way of contrast, is a grace that comes to us freely because it cost Christ his life’and that which is costly to God must never be seen as something that comes to us without a price.

 

Bonhoeffer’s point, men, is that the gospel makes a claim upon every aspect of our lives. It’s received freely, yet demands sacrificial discipleship as our response.

 

Is your understanding of the gospel comparable to Bonhoeffer’s? If it isn’t, give it some thought.

Vegas In The Middle East

Steve Arterburn

Take gambling-obsessed Las Vegas, drug-crazed Amsterdam, and the super-sexed red-light district of Bangkok. Now roll them together. That approximates the reputation of Sodom and Gomorrah.

 

God decided to take action against these cities. Abraham pleaded with God to halt His judgment so long as fifty righteous men could be found in them. At the end of Abraham’s pleas, the number was reduced to ten.

 

But Abraham was overly optimistic in hoping that ten righteous men could be found there. When God sent two angels to inspect Sodom, Abraham’s nephew Lot asked them to stay in his house for the night. What happened? In one of the Bible’s most grisly scenes, a rowdy gang of men gathered outside Lot’s house demanding that the guests be sent out so they could have their way with them. That’s where we get the term sodomy.

 

God’s patience was exhausted. He displayed His holiness and righteous judgment by destroying Sodom and Gomorrah. But in His mercy, God allowed Lot and his family to escape judgment by leaving this horrible place. Yet, they were reluctant to leave!–

 

Men, Lot had grown accustomed to his evil surroundings. He’d learned to feel at home there. Can you relate? You’re called to live in this world, and it’s an evil world. The solution isn’t to search for paradise on earth. Only the coming of God’s kingdom will bring this. But at the same time, beware: don’t let this world make it’s home in your heart.