What is a man? It seems like a straightforward question, but many males find themselves searching for the definition for manliness today. I think the search has gotten harder now that society can’t even agree on what gender means anymore.
Webster’s dictionary defines man as: an adult male human being. Is that it?
Webster’s dictionary defines man as: an adult male human being. Is that it? Isn’t there more to it than that. Webster’s next definition for man states: a man or boy who shows the qualities (such as strength and courage) that men are traditionally supposed to have. O.K. now we are getting somewhere, but who decides what these manly qualities are? Strength and courage are desirable and admirable in men, right? The problem I see is that people have many different ideas about what strength and courage look like. One man may see an action as strong, another may see it as weak, example: being able to walk away from a fight. Women may find different traits desirable, one may like a physically strong man, while another may like a man with a strong mind and great intellect. Whatever our own personal definitions may be, or what society and cultures are, we are left deciding who is a true man and who is not.
We are than left wondering do I measure up to that, or do I even want to. Our standards have to be measured by the truth, if we are to ever have any true confidence in our identity. Many males exhibit manly qualities, but sometimes it is easy to see that they are in fact insecure boys trying to live up to a standard they feel they can never truly meet. This is where the beauty of God’s grace comes in. God created man in his image and gave him charge over his whole creation, telling them to take dominion over it. He commanded the first man, Adam, to be a leader and decision maker and he gave him work to do. These traits still sound familiar to us even all this time later. They are universal qualities of manhood recognized by every culture around the world. The world is broken and fallen though, and manhood has suffered as a result. Men struggle to lead their families, make decisions and work productively. The original commands of God are still written on our consciences, but nowadays I see many men trying to fulfil these God given duties in their own ways and in their own strength. That is why so much of what we see today seems to be a perversion on true manliness, and a fake attempt at the real deal. We see aggression, unkindness, and selfishness. We see strength used in the wrong way, by not bringing glory to God or to help others, but to oppress and belittle those weaker. We are in such a fallen state that society even says that the old traditional ideas about manhood are obsolete. We are even to the point now where we even question gender and what is means to be a male or female on the the most fundamental level.
“But for the grace of God go I” is one my favorite quotes. It was made by a true man named John Bradford who lived in 16th century England. He was martyred by being burned alive at the stake under Queen Mary I “Bloody Mary”. He said the above quote as he was being led to stake to be burned. When we as men rely on God’s grace, we are saying “I know I’m supposed to be strong and courageous, but I am weak and helpless”. When we are humble and realize that we cannot be a true man (we’ll either be a fake or a brute) we seek help from our God and redeemer. Jesus went to the cross, the greatest display of strength ever, and was crucified and rose again. Jesus won. Almighty God nailed to a cross by his own choosing to pay for the sins of rebels and mockers, but by doing so he defeated the greatest threat this planet has ever known, sin and death. Us men, that are now in Christ, are free to live a godly life, being proper leaders, and being filled with strength and courage, but not our own, it is that which is freely given to us. Let us admit together that we are weak and let us seek and pray for God’s grace that he has bought for us, so we can do all we are required to do. Let us diligently study the Bible together and find out what a godly man is supposed to do, then count on grace to do it.
As we take our next step out the door to start our day, let us say together “But for the grace of God go I”.
By Michael Conway
Shopping Cart Retrieval Specialist
And Not So Guru Show Host
He reads books.
1. STEP UP: Lead. Initiate. Be a man of action. Assume it is your job and your moment. Hate apathy. Reject passivity.
When David heard of it, he sent Joab and all the army, the mighty men…”Be strong, and let us show ourselves courageous for the sake of our people and for the cities of our God; and may the LORD do what is good in His sight.” -2 Samuel 10:7,12
“I searched for a man among them who would build up the wall and stand in the gap before Me for the land, so that I would not destroy it; but I found no one.” – Ezekiel 22:30
Psalm 101, Proverbs 14:23, Proverbs 20:6, Jeremiah 5:1, Ezekiel 22:23-31, John 10:11-13, James 1:23-25
2. SPEAK OUT: Silence in the midst of sin is a sin. Be courageous. Fear God not man. Speak the truth in love.
Better is open rebuke than love that is concealed. Faithful are the wounds of a friend, But deceitful are the kisses of an enemy. – Proverbs 27:5-6
Open your mouth for the mute, for the rights of all the unfortunate. Open your mouth, judge righteously, and defend the rights of the afflicted and needy. – Proverbs 31:8-9
But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence. – 1 Peter 3:15
Proverbs 14:25, Proverbs 15:1-2, Proverbs 24:11-12, Isaiah 8:11-13, Jeremiah 1:17, Romans 1:16
3. STAND STRONG: Don’t give in when you are challenged, attacked or criticized.
“Now behold, I have made you today as a fortified city and as a pillar of iron and as walls of bronze against the whole land, to the kings of Judah, to its princes, to its priests and to the people of the land. They will fight against you, but they will not overcome you, for I am with you to deliver you,” declares the LORD. – Jeremiah 1:18-19
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. – I Corinthians 15:58
Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. But resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same experiences of suffering are being accomplished by your brethren who are in the world. – 1 Peter 5:8-9
2 Chron. 16:9, Prov. 24:10, Isaiah 41:10, Jeremiah 12:5, 1 Corinthians 10:13, Galatians 1:10, Philippians 1:27-28
4. STAY HUMBLE: Be vigilant against pride. Get the log out of your eye. Don’t think less of yourself, think of yourself less.
Let the righteous smite me in kindness and reprove me; It is oil upon the head; Do not let my head refuse it, for still my prayer is against their wicked deeds. – Psalm 141:5
You younger men, likewise, be subject to your elders; and all of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, for GOD IS OPPOSED TO THE PROUD, BUT GIVES GRACE TO THE HUMBLE. Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you at the proper time, casting all your anxiety on Him, because He cares for you. – 1 Peter 5:5-7
Proverbs 3:5-6, Proverbs 12:1, Isaiah 66:2, Micah 6:8, John 15:5, Philippians 2:3-5
5. SERVE THE KING: Seek first His Kingdom, His glory, His righteousness. Hope in the eternal. Live for a greater reward.
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” – Matthew 6:33 ”
For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” – Mark 10:45
Joshua 24:14-15, Psalm 16:11, Psalm 84:10-12,2 Corinthians 5:10, Hebrews 6:10, 1 Peter 2:21-23
How are you doing on these characteristics? Leave a comment below and let us know how we can pray for you!
Originally posted by http://www.watermark.org/
What Does It Mean That the Church is the Bride of Christ?
The imagery and symbolism of marriage is applied to Christ and the body of believers known as the church. The church is comprised of those who have trusted in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and have received eternal life. Christ, the Bridegroom, has sacrificially and lovingly chosen the church to be His bride (Ephesians 5:25–27). Just as there was a betrothal period in biblical times during which the bride and groom were separated until the wedding, so is the bride of Christ separate from her Bridegroom during the church age. Her responsibility during the betrothal period is to be faithful to Him (2 Corinthians 11:2; Ephesians 5:24). At the second coming of Christ, the church will be united with the Bridegroom and the official “wedding ceremony” will take place and, with it, the eternal union of Christ and His bride will be actualized (Revelation 19:7–9; 21:1-2).In the eternal state, believers will have access to the heavenly city known as New Jerusalem, also called “the holy city” in Revelation 21:2 and 10. The New Jerusalem is not the church, but it takes on some of the church’s characteristics. In his vision of the end of the age, the apostle John sees the city coming down from heaven adorned “as a bride,” meaning that the city will be gloriously radiant and the inhabitants of the city, the redeemed of the Lord, will be holy and pure, wearing white garments of holiness and righteousness. Some have misinterpreted verse 9 to mean the holy city is the bride of Christ, but that cannot be because Christ died for His people, not for a city. The city is called the bride because it encompasses all who are the bride, just as all the students of a school are sometimes called “the school.”
Believers in Jesus Christ are the bride of Christ, and we wait with great anticipation for the day when we will be united with our Bridegroom. Until then, we remain faithful to Him and say with all the redeemed of the Lord, “Come, Lord Jesus!” (Revelation 22:20).
What is the church?
Many people today understand the church as a building. This is not a biblical understanding of the church. The word “church” comes from the Greek word ekklesia which is defined as “an assembly” or “called-out ones.” The root meaning of “church” is not that of a building, but of people. It is ironic that when you ask people what church they attend, they usually identify a building. Romans 16:5 says “… greet the church that is in their house.” Paul refers to the church in their house—not a church building, but a body of believers.
The church is the body of Christ, of which He is the head. Ephesians 1:22-23 says, “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills everything in every way.” The body of Christ is made up of all believers in Jesus Christ from the day of Pentecost (Acts chapter 2) until Christ’s return. The body of Christ is comprised of two aspects:
1) The universal church consists of all those who have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. “For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body—whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink” (1 Corinthians 12:13). This verse says that anyone who believes is part of the body of Christ and has received the Spirit of Christ as evidence. The universal church of God is all those who have received salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.
2) The local church is described in Galatians 1:1-2: “Paul, an apostle … and all the brothers with me, to the churches in Galatia.” Here we see that in the province of Galatia there were many churches—what we call local churches. A Baptist church, Lutheran church, Catholic church, etc., is not the church, as in the universal church—but rather is a local church, a local body of believers. The universal church is comprised of those who belong to Christ and who have trusted Him for salvation. These members of the universal church should seek fellowship and edification in a local church.
In summary, the church is not a building or a denomination. According to the Bible, the church is the body of Christ—all those who have placed their faith in Jesus Christ for salvation (John 3:16; 1 Corinthians 12:13). Local churches are gatherings of members of the universal church. The local church is where the members of the universal church can fully apply the “body” principles of 1 Corinthians chapter 12: encouraging, teaching, and building one another up in the knowledge and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ.
What Kind of Church Should I Look For?
In order to know what to look for in a local church, we must first understand God’s purpose for the church—the body of Christ—in general. There are two outstanding truths about the church. First, “the church of the living God [is] the pillar and foundation of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). Second, Christ alone is the head of the church (Ephesians1:22; 4:15; Colossians 1:18).
In regard to the truth, the local church is a place where the Bible (God’s only Truth) has complete authority. The Bible is the only infallible rule of faith and practice (2 Timothy 3:15-17). Therefore, when seeking a church to attend, we should find one where, according to biblical standards, the gospel is preached, sin is condemned, worship is from the heart, the teaching is biblical, and opportunities to minister to others exist. Consider the model of the early church found in Acts 2:42-47, “They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer.” They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.”
In regard to the second truth about the church, Christians should attend a local fellowship that declares Christ’s headship in all matters of doctrine and practice. No man, whether pastor, priest, or pope, is the head of the church. All men die. How can the living church of the living God have a dead head? It cannot. Christ is the church’s one supreme authority, and all church leadership, gifts, order, discipline, and worship are appointed through His sovereignty, as found in the Scriptures.
Once these two fundamental truths are set, the rest of the factors (buildings, worship styles, activities, programs, location, etc.) are merely a matter of personal preference. Before attending a church, some research is necessary. Doctrinal statements, purpose statements, mission statements, or anything that will give insight into what a church believes should be carefully examined. Many churches have websites where one can determine what they believe regarding the Bible, God, the Trinity, Jesus Christ, sin, and salvation.
Next should be visits to the churches that seem to have the fundamentals in place. Attendance at two or three services at each church will be helpful. Any literature they have for visitors should be scrutinized, paying close attention to belief statements. Church evaluation should be based on the principles outlined above. Is the Bible held as the only authority? Is Christ exalted as head of the church? Does the church focus on discipleship? Were you led to worship God? What types of ministries does the church involve itself in? Was the message biblical and evangelical? How was the fellowship? You also need to feel comfortable. Were you made to feel welcome? Is the congregation comprised of true worshippers?
Finally, remember that no church is perfect. At best, it is still filled with saved sinners whose flesh and spirits are continually at war. Also, do not forget the importance of prayer. Praying about the church God would have you attend is crucial throughout the decision-making process.