Friday, February 3, 2012

Whom Do Ye Say That I Am?



Matthew 16:13-16
13 When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, “Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?”
14 So they said, “Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets.”
15 He said to them, “But who do you say that I am?”
16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
Why did Jesus ask this question? Was it a test to his disciples? What do you think some of their reactions were? Did they say, "Master we have been with thee all this time, why do you ask such a question? Don't you know who you are?" Lately these types of questions have been moving from "staged whispers" to out right "rumble" even a buzzzzz..... The question asked of certain politicos is "Are you a Christian?". But really, that is the polite version, because it seems that a question was not asked at all, but more of an accusation: "You're not a Christian!!!", and now it seems to be a "point" of debate. Yesterday the President of the United States spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast:
WASHINGTON (CNN) - President Barack Obama spoke of his personal faith Thursday as he delivered remarks for the third year in a row at the National Prayer Breakfast.
In addition, Obama used the platform in front of religious dignitaries and politicians to express his vision of how faith and government intersect and can work together.
Obama, who, as one administration official said, identifies as a "committed Christian who spends a lot of time working on his Christian walk," noted in the speech that he prays daily.
"I wake up each morning and I say a brief prayer, and I spend a little time in scripture and devotion," he said.
The president also spoke of praying with Billy Graham, and said, "I have fallen on my knees with great regularity since that moment."
In his speech Obama made specific mention of his calls, visits and prayers with Joel Hunter, a mega church pastor from Florida, and with T.D. Jakes, a mega church pastor from Texas.
I was really surprised by his testimony and found it touching. It seems that the President has been "accused" of not being "Christian"ever since he was elected. My question is this, "Who is a Christian? and who can  determine if you are or not? Lately I have been asked various questions concerning my faith and I find myself praying to give the correct answer that will hopefully enlighten the person who is asking. When I told my brother that I had joined the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, he wrote me a letter expressing his disappointment at my choice of a "non traditional" Christian type of church and he added "What did Mom say?" Non traditional, I didn't know there was a certain "tradition"in serving God. My brother recently received his ordination as a Pastor in the Evangelical church.
So I wrote back and said, "See, the very name of the church proclaims that we are Christ's and we believe and worship Him and I can prove it in the Book of Mormon." Such is my zeal.
Alma 46:14-15
14 For thus were all the true believers of Christ, who belonged to the church of God, called by those who did not belong to the church.
15 And those who did belong to the church were faithful; yea, all those who were true believers in Christ took upon them, gladly, the name of Christ, or Christians as they were called, because of their belief in Christ who should come
So who is a "true" Christian? One who takes on the name of Christ? How do you do that? Do you just say "I am a Christian" and then you are?
Look at verse 16-17 in Matthew 16, this is what Peter said..
16 Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”
17 Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven.
Peter knew this by revelation. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit would enlighten our understanding. Peter remembered his first meeting with Jesus, and listening to his words and sermons,and  traveling with him, enduring trials with him. Peter witnessed many "signs, miracles and wonders" at the hand of Jesus. And when he told them that he was the "Son of God", Peter obviously pondered this and believed with full purpose of heart. So when Jesus said: Whom do ye say that I am , Peter knew that he knew, and the Holy Spirit bore witness that Jesus is the Son of God.
3 Nephi 26:20-21
20 And so it came to pass that they did do all things even as Jesus had commanded them.
21 And they who were baptized in the name of Jesus were called the church of Christ
Jesus Christ was asked a question concerning this, by a man named Nicodemus
John 3:1-7
1 There was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews:
2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him.
3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.
Nicodemus is called a "ruler of the Jews", it implies that he may have been a "ruler of the synagogue"
*ruler of the synagogue The ‘leader of the synagogue’ was an official appointed by the elders to look after the building, its contents, and its arrangements for worship.
He was a follower of Jesus in "secret",so he visited him at night.  In verse 2 he seems to challenge the validity of of Jesus's ministry. Suggesting almost in jest that the miracles that he has done come from God, and God was only with a few chosen, such as himself and his group.
2 The same came to Jesus by night, and said unto him, Rabbi, we know that thou art a teacher come from God: for no man can do these miracles that thou doest, except God be with him
So Jesus hits him right between the eyeballs:
3Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
There's no small talk on this matter. It must have taken Nicodemus's breath away for a minute, because you can almost hear him stammer: But, but..
3 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
Now, Jesus knew that Nicodemus was well aware of the teachings of John the Baptist concerning baptism by immersion in water. So He said:
5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
He concluded the conversation with this:
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.
7 Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again
This is non negotiable according to the scriptures, according to Heavenly Father. It is not enough to say I believe, or my family believes,but can you take that belief one step more? Could you point out a true Christian in a crowd? 
Matthew 7:16
16 Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles?
17 Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth devil fruit.
18 A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.
19 Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire.
20 Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.
21 ¶Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.
So can we say that he that does the will of the Father, which to come unto Christ, by faith, by baptism, by receiving the Holy Spirit, by love, by service, by love, is a true Christian? I believe so. Can you spot this person in a crowd.?  I love it when people ask me about my faith, because then I can "boast of my God" and stand as a witness for Jesus Christ in any situation, no matter what.
HAPPY FRIDAY  
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