In The World

Are you “in the world?” Or, are you “of the world?”

You may not have considered either of these questions recently but as we continue on our walk of faith these become very important questions.

Jesus referred to His disciples as “in the world” in John 17:11, yet in the same chapter and verse 6, Jesus also referred to them as “not of the world.” As a result of our proximity to planet earth, we can be fairly certain we are “in the world” but if we are Jesus’ followers we need to realize that we likewise are not “of the world.”

In references to God’s people in both Old and New Testaments we see them referred to as “called out.” You may wonder “called out” from what? The answer to that is “the world.” We, who have elected the Christian walk of life, have chosen to walk in a way described by Paul in Colossians 2:20-2. We “have died to the elemental things of this world” and of things that appear wise that are of no value.

In Colossians 3:1-3, Paul says “If then you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”

Now ask yourself this question. Are the things of this life the primary focus of your life? Is your primary concern for your future here or in the hereafter? Friends, the things we have here are temporary. Our possessions will be gone eventually, or we will be gone before them. One way or the other, they are temporary. What happens after we’re gone however is eternal. Doesn’t it make sense that we should be “in the world” but not “of the world?”

Copyright © 2002, Nolan P. Rutter

A Tale of Three Trials

While assembling their new water bed, my sister Betty and her husband, Everett, realized they would need a hose. Everett dashed to the hardware store and bought one. They attached it to the bed, ran it through the apartment to the kitchen tap and left to wait for the bed to fill. About an hour later they checked on its progress. That’s when they discovered Everett had bought a sprinkler hose.1

In our daily lives we encounter various trials and as we study the Gospel of John, chapters 18 & 19 we see the trials of the three primary players.  When we read this section of scripture we see the obvious trial of Jesus, but most overlook the trials of Peter and Pilate.  One meaning of a trial is a state of being tried or tested.  Using this definition we can easily see the “trial” each faced.  Jesus was an innocent man, accused of blasphemy by His own people, an offense that carried the penalty of death under Jewish Law.  Since the Jews didn’t have the authority to execute a sentence of death, they found themselves turning to their oppressors to rid themselves of Jesus.  Throughout His entire ordeal of questioning, beatings and abuse Jesus remained faithful to His purpose.  His test, we know, was passed. 

In the case of Peter we observe the test of his commitment.  Throughout Jesus’ ministry Peter was a solid supporter, one who would die by His side if necessary.  This attitude was a result of a misunderstanding of Jesus’ purpose.  In the courtyard during Jesus’ trial we see a confused Peter.  How could this be happening?  Of all the great things he had witnessed in Jesus, how could He allow this to go on?  While confused and in aguish he was challenged by these people that he was one of the disciples of Jesus and his response was one of denial.  Once would have been serious enough, but Peter denied his relationship with Jesus three times.  This was prophesied earlier by Jesus and when it occurred and Peter realized it, he responded by weeping bitterly.  This trial was not successful, but as we see Peter later in scripture we realize that he eventually returned to the one “who had the words of life.”  We can do the same when we falter!

As far as Pilate is concerned, his trial consisted of what to do with Jesus.  He had to make a choice.  In the course of Jesus’ trial he attempted no less than six times to release Him. 

However, in the end, he elected to be swayed by the multitude and send Jesus to an undeserving death.  We don’t know if he ever converted to Christianity, but we do know that he made a choice once.  We also have a choice to make, for or against Jesus.  Choose for Him!  Today!

1 Reader’s Digest, March, 1993 edition, p. 123

Copyright © 2002, Nolan P. Rutter


It really does take all kinds to make up the world.  Recently while driving through town I saw a race truck painted bright yellow with a dark green name painted on it as well.  In spite of the mud that covered the truck I could make out the name on the side door of the truck.  The name was “Hell Bound.”

I realize that part of the lore of motor sports is for drivers to identify themselves or their vehicles with a name that describes their skill or characteristic and to put that on their vehicle.  Immediately I began to ponder why anyone would put a name like that on something they would have representing them.  Obviously, their desire was to have a name or reputation that inspired fear into the competition.  While their idea of being “Hell Bound” is supposed to have an effect on their competition what does it say about the person it portrays?  Do you suppose they even realize the seriousness of this concept? 

The idea of our eternal destination is a serious issue and should not be taken lightly.  This is true regardless of whether we are talking about the name of a motor sport vehicle that is supposed to represent us or our daily walk in the world. 

Being “Hell Bound” means this is what there is to look forward to…

In teaching His disciples about the seriousness of being the stumbling block He warned about the consequences in Mark 9:43-44  “And if your hand causes you to stumble, cut it off; it is better for you to enter life crippled, than having your two hands, to go into hell, into the unquenchable fire, [where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.] (NAS)

 In the judgment scene depicted in Matt 25, Jesus said “Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;” Matt 25:41

In the recounting of the rich man and Lazarus, we see that the roles are reversed after their deaths.  Jesus tells us how the conversation went.   “Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. Luke 16:25

In the parable of the marriage feast many had come without the proper apparel and as a result a servant was instructed to “Bind him hand and foot, and cast him into the outer darkness; in that place there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.”  Matt 22:13

And finally, Paul gives us insight in 2 Thessalonians 1:8-9 concerning those who do not know God nor obey the Gospel of Jesus Christ.   They will “… pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power,”

No, we shouldn’t make light of something as serious as our eternal destiny.  It’s easy to think that it’s no big deal, to laugh it off as “just a joke.”  God isn’t laughing.  In fact we read in Gal 6:7-8  “Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.  For the one who sows to his own flesh shall from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit shall from the Spirit reap eternal life.”

Copyright © 2002, Nolan P. Rutter

What Must I Do to Be Lost?

“What must I do to be saved?” is a question often asked by the soul searching to fill the spiritual void in their lives.  But the question usually not asked, but in reality needs answered is, “What must I do to be lost?”  The answer to that is very simple.  If you are not “born-again”, nothing!  You are lost (spiritually) just as you are.  Those stories of a God who made all that we see certainly are fables.  Surely the scientists know what they are talking about.  Even though they weren’t here, the tests and procedures they use to prove their theories and ideas are foolproof.  I mean, they are too smart to be fooled, aren’t they?  Don’t investigate those stories about a life that exists beyond this one.  After all no one you know has been there and back to tell of it.  And certainly you can’t fall for the idea that we are guilty of something called sin or that there is a God who loves us tremendously.  And that someone called Jesus lived on this earth for the sole purpose of being punished by death for these sins?  If you fit the picture that has just been described you not only know what must be done to be lost, but are actively pursuing that condition. 

What about the Christian?  What must he or she do to be lost?  Not a question asked very often I’m sure.  But we did ask and this is what we came up with.  The greatest command spoken of by Jesus says that our love for God must be with all of our heart, our mind our strength and our souls.  Even when the Ethiopian eunuch asked Philip what hindered him from being baptized, the response was “if you believe with all your heart, you may.”  God isn’t pleased with half-hearted disciples.   If you love God with only part of your heart, mind, soul and strength, these are but a few things that will be affected.  Your study of God’s word will be affected.  Your desire to be with fellow Christians will be affected.  Your willingness to encourage your fellow Christians or even receive their encouragement will be affected.  Your willingness to give of yourself and your means will be affected.  The bottom line is that in our life we must make many choices, but the greatest choice we will make is how much we will love the God that loved us first and sent His Son as a sacrifice. 

Copyright © 2002, Nolan P. Rutter

Worship Too!

When we think of worship, what do we visualize?  Oftentimes I think our focus turns to those activities that we involve ourselves on Sunday.  When we are gathered together to worship God, we find ourselves following the pattern of the early disciples in the New Testament as they sang, as they prayed, as they remembered the Lord’s sacrifice during the memorial supper, as they gave of their means as they had been prospered and of course as they heard the word of God proclaimed.  This is what is probably considered when we think of worship.  Man’s attempt to define worship is “an expression of the relationship between believers and God.”  So, what is worship?

In Matt 5:16, Jesus said “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”  Paul wrote to Christians in Rome saying, “I urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship.”  Based on these two passages, it seems when we become Christ’s disciples, everything we do or say could become a form of worship.  Paul followed up by saying “be transformed by the renewing of your mind…”  If we are truly transformed and presenting our bodies as a living and holy sacrifice, then we will be doing that which expresses our relationship with God.

I submit to you other acts that could be considered as worship when done as an “expression of our relationship with God.”  When we are evangelistic (reaching out to those who are lost), benevolent (having good-will toward all men, especially those of the household of faith), or when we are edifying (building up) the body of Christ we are expressing our love for God by reaching out to one another in these ways.  Whenever we allow our love for God to express itself by these activities, I believe we are worshipping our God.  This in no way lessens the need for the assembly of Christians together, for these very things are done during our worship assemblies as well.

Keep in mind that there is a “proper” or “acceptable” way that this is done.  For those who do these things “to be seen of men,” have their reward already (Matt 6:5).  There are many who worship in vain (Matt15:9) in that their worship is “empty, of no real significance or worth.”  They are those whose hearts are far from God and prophesied by Isaiah.  Let us do as encouraged by James.  Draw near to God and He will draw near to you. (James 4:8)

Copyright © 2002, Nolan P. Rutter