Gary Carpenter Ministries
Monthly Partner Letter

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Dear Partner,

Have you ever given much thought to the fact that Lazarus, the friend of Jesus, died physically twice? Most of us are familiar with the events surrounding his death the first time. The shortest verse in the bible describes Jesus as he approached the tomb of Lazarus "Jesus wept." [John 11:35] Yet this sadness is turned to joy as we read what happens next. Jesus commands them to "take away the stone" from the gravesite. Martha protested saying "by now he stinketh" because Lazarus had been dead four days.

John 11:40-44   Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee, that, if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God? 41 Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me. 42 And I knew that thou hearest me always: but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that thou hast sent me. 43 And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth. 44 And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

This mighty miracle was seen by multitudes of people. News of it was carried back to the religious leaders who opposed Jesus in Jerusalem. It was this very miracle that caused the high priest and the Pharisees to make the decision they would kill Jesus:

John 11:53-57   Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. 54 Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples. 55 And the Jews' passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves. 56 Then sought they for Jesus, and spake among themselves, as they stood in the temple, What think ye, that he will not come to the feast? 57 Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should shew it, that they might take him.

Six days before the Passover Jesus returned to Bethany where Lazarus and his sisters lived. The news that Jesus had raised Lazarus from the dead had spread far and wide. This event was drawing more and more people to Jesus where they would hear Him preach the good tidings of the kingdom of God. This made the religious leaders even more jealous to the point they not only wanted to kill Jesus, but Lazarus also:

John 12:9-11   Much people of the Jews therefore knew that he was there: and they came not for Jesus' sake only, but that they might see Lazarus also, whom he had raised from the dead. 10 But the chief priests consulted that they might put Lazarus also to death; 11 Because that by reason of him many of the Jews went away, and believed on Jesus.

Isn't that amazing? The religious mind thinks the best thing to do is to kill Lazarus as if Jesus could not raise him from the dead again! Lazarus was an innocent man, guilty of no crime. Yet the religious leaders would rather kill an innocent man than to believe that Jesus is the Messiah. When people are determined not to believe the gospel, there are no limits to what their wicked hearts will devise.

History reveals they never actually murdered Lazarus. By all accounts, Lazarus eventually died of natural causes the second time. For many years I thought this biblical story was very interesting, but I saw little practical application of it for my life. But I had often wondered how Lazarus' resurrection by Jesus affected the remainder of his life. "I was dead, but Jesus raised me again to new life. Whatever time remains, I will give my life to Him because without Him I would have no life." Did you know the bible says every believer "died in Christ" the moment they believed the gospel?

Rom 6:3-4   Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? 4 Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.

Lazarus died physically and was raised from physical death. At the moment of salvation, every man "dies in Christ" positionally. Water baptism is symbolic of us being "buried with Him." When you become a believer you die to who you were before. You are no longer a descendent from the first man Adam. You are spawned from the spiritual loins of the last Adam, Jesus Christ. You are literally raised to new life. You are born again. You are a "new creature" that did not exist before. [2 Cor 5:17]

We should all have the same mindset as risen Lazarus. "I was dead in trespasses in sins. Jesus raised me again to new life. Whatever time remains, I will give me life to Him because without Him I would have no life." Our lives are about loving and serving Him who bought us, Who sits at the right hand of God.

Col 3:1-3   If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth. 3 For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

Sue and I love you and appreciate you.   We thank God for your generous and giving heart.   God bless you!


Your friend and co-laborer,

 

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