The’s Top 100+2 –

Countdown Verses #21 - #15

John 14:5-14; 27-31, Countdown # 21, #72: John 14:6, 14:27
Romans 3:21-31, Countdown # 20: Romans 3:23
1 John 1:1 – 2:2, Countdown # 19: 1 John 1:9
Galatians 2:17 – 3:9, Countdown # 18: Galatians 2:20
Acts 18:5-11, Countdown # 15, 16, 17: Acts 18:10, 18:9, 18:11

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John 14:5-14; 27-31, Countdown # 21, #72: John 14:6, 14:27 (6/13/12)

One thing that convinces me of the integrity of the scripture is that the writers of the Gospels make no secret of how completely clueless they used to be. Let’s think about this. You are an apostle, revered in the Christian community, who is now writing the story of Jesus’ ministry. Are you going to say, “Man! We asked such dumb questions, because we just didn’t get what he was saying!” Or are you going to say, “Yes, harrumph, of course we knew the secret all along, but Jesus didn’t want us to tell anyone, so we respected his wishes. Yes indeed. Ahem.” Personally, I would at least try to gloss over my ignorance, but the New Testament writers just laid it out there: “We don’t know what you’re talking about!” “Could you show us?” they asked him. And to each other they said, “Do you have any idea what he’s talking about?” (John 16:17-18).

Jesus patiently explained again – because you just know he didn’t save this as a surprise for his last night on earth – who he is and what he’s doing here in our Countdown Verses #21 and 72:
Romans 3:21-31, Countdown # 20: Romans 3:23 (6/18/12)

One of Satan’s more successful efforts in modern times, in my opinion, is to convince a whole lot of people that sin is no big deal. In the first place, his argument goes, sin is relative. What is a sin for one person isn’t a sin for another person*, so when you think about it, nothing is a sin for anybody**. In the second place, he says, some sins are so little that they don’t even count. Finally, he assures us, God’s just a softy, so just go ahead and commit the sin, you won’t really be in trouble because you can always get forgiveness. (This last argument is one he made up especially for Jews and Christians.)

Well folks, I’m here to tell you that sin is real, God hates every sin, large and small, and sin will get us into trouble all the way up to dead, because God is not a softy. This is a serious problem, because, as our Countdown Verse #20 points out, “All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” The good news is that we can be saved through faith in Jesus Christ, who died for our sins.

* Which may actually be true, see for example 1 Corinthians 6:12.
** Which is absolutely false.

1 John 1:1 – 2:2, Countdown # 19: 1 John 1:9 (6/19/12)

The (undoubtedly correct) Jewish idea about people is that the soul and body is all one thing. As Christianity moved out into the Gentile world, it ran into the Greek idea that soul and body are two things, because spirit (the soul) is good and matter (the body) is bad. This Greek idea gave rise to two theologically incorrect conclusions very early on. One was that Jesus wasn’t a physical person, because Jesus was good and therefore couldn’t have had a material body. The other was that what you did with your body didn’t matter much, because it was going to be bad no matter what.

What John is saying at the beginning is therefore much more important than, “I was a witness.” He is saying, “I heard Jesus – he was really there. I saw Jesus – he was a real person. I touched Jesus – he had a real body. What you do with your body can lead you into sin!” But in our Countdown Verse #19, John sets forth the good news: “But if we confess our sins to God, he can always be trusted to forgive us and take our sins away.”

Galatians 2:17 – 3:9, Countdown # 18: Galatians 2:20 (6/20/12)

A couple of months ago in the class on world religions taught by fellow-readers Jack and Carol N., one of the surprising observations the class made was that all major religions except Christianity are works-based. This desire to earn our own reward appears to be a normal part of human nature. One of the most difficult lessons for Christians to learn, therefore, is that you can’t earn your way into Heaven, and you don’t have to! Having said that, all New Testament writers, not to mention Jesus himself, require you to do good works. This tension between the necessity for fulfilling the moral and ethical requirements of the Law, on the one hand, and the inability of the Law to save us, on the other hand, is one of the great stumbling blocks on the road to Christian maturity.

The Galatians had been led astray into thinking that “Christ is not enough.” Other teachers coming through town (after Paul had left) told them that to be really saved, they also had to convert to Judaism. Paul asks them, “What is wrong with you people? Are you crazy??” In the middle of his rant, he summarizes the Gospel in our Countdown Verse #18, “I have died, but Christ lives in me. And I now live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me.” (CEV)

Acts 18:5-11, Countdown # 15, 16, 17: Acts 18:10, 18:9, 18:11 (6/21/12)

What do you think of as the most degenerate, sinful city in the world? Have you got it mind yet?

Okay, now read our Countdown Verses #16, 15, and 17, and substitute the name of that city that you just thought of for “Corinth,” which was the most degenerate, sinful city in the western world:

“One night, Paul had a vision, and in it the Lord said, ‘Don't be afraid to keep on preaching. Don't stop! I am with you, and you won't be harmed. Many people in this city belong to me.’ Paul stayed on in Corinth for a year and a half, teaching God's message to the people.”

Many people in the cities we just thought of belong to God. We need to bear that in mind the next time we are feeling all righteous and judgmental.

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