Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

The Doctrine of Election

Misunderstanding of the Biblical doctrine of election has troubled  and brought needless division among Christians.   Is it possible that we who call ourselves Bible-believing Christians could ever  be united on this doctrine?  That is my prayer as I write on this topic. 

A blessed doctrine 

The Greek word, eklektos appears 23 times in the New Testament and can be translated  both  elect or chosen. Both the Apostle Peter and the Apostle Paul in I Peter 1:2  and II Thessalonians 2:13 shine the identical same light on this doctrine. Two witnesses come together to confirm the truth of election. Note three things both of these verses teach.  1. Election is according to the foreknowledge of God the Father and it took place from before the foundation of the earth.  2. Election is accomplished for the believer  through faith in the sacrifice of Christ’s shed blood for our sins.3. Election is assured through the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit leading to a life of obedience to God’s Word.  If you have questions concerning the sanctifying work of the Holy Spirit, study my previous article on this topic in this   SALVATION  series.   

God’s eternal plan 

Briefly, election is the doctrine of God’s eternal purpose and plan before this world was created, to personally know us and save us and conform us to the very image of His Son, Jesus Christ, by His grace and through faith in His provision for sin.  Read and meditate on these passages also as the Scriptural basis for this definition of election.  Ephesians 1:3-14  2:1-10  

God’s special people 

In  I Peter 2:9 we learn that Christians are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession; and that we have been chosen to show forth the praises of Him who called us out of darkness into His marvelous light.  That’s not only encouraging to me, but it is also challenging.  As a Christian it is my responsibility; not only to understand this doctrine, but in the light of what Christ has done for me, to shine for Him in this world of sin and darkness.  

A troubling doctrine 

Though election is clearly taught in God’s Word, it is also a troubling doctrine because of unbalanced teaching on this subject. The doctrine itself is not troubling.  In fact, it is a very comforting doctrine and a source of assurance for the believer.  

God’s wonderful chain of events 

In Romans 8:28-31 is listed  a chain of events God is working out for the believer which began before the foundation of the world. In that chain of events is Divine Election. Romans 8:33 asks,  “Who shall lay anything to the charge of God’s elect?  It is God that justifieth.”   

A comforting truth 

It is comforting to know that I am one of the  elect of God.   Because I have put my trust in Christ and love Him  and He has cleansed me from my sins and justified me and therefore no sin can ever be laid to my account now or in the future. They’ve all been laid on Jesus and He has taken the full penalty for my sins.  Because I am resting in Christ’s provision for my sins,  I am assured I am one of the elect of God.  

A slanderous assumption 

The troubling aspect of this doctrine of election is caused through the teaching of some that God chooses or elects some people to remain lost and go to Hell.  Such preachers, using their reasoning, deduct that if God chooses some to be saved and go to Heaven’ it’s only logical that He must choose others to remain lost and go to Hell.  That is a false assumption  and slanders the character of God and is contrary to Scripture.  

Does God really will anyone to go to hell? 

It’s true that all of us are born into Adam’s race and are cursed and deserving of hell apart from our faith in Christ as our Saviour. Romans 5:12-19  But the Bible teaches that God is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. II Peter 3:9  He also teaches the well known truth in John 3:16  That God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” 

Rejoice in the truth of election. 

So if you have been born again through faith in Christ, rejoice in the truth that God foreknew you, He loved you long before you were born,  He chose, elected and predestined  you to salvation. In John 6:44  Jesus teaches that His Father draws you to Christ. He does that by the convicting and wooing of the Holy Spirit.  Apart from His drawing,  we would have no desire to be saved.

Don’t meddle with God’s business. 

But someone says,  “Wait a minute.  Look at Romans 9:13 and 18  Jacob have I loved and Esau have I hated. Therefore hath He mercy on whom He will have mercy, and whom He will He hardens.”  Doesn’t that sound like God is capricious and that He chooses to save some and damn others?”  Romans 9 is not primarily talking about salvation. Instead it is teaching the sovereignty of God in regards to choosing the line through whom Christ will come. In verse 21 we are pictured as clay and God is the Potter.  He does with His clay what He chooses. If God saw fit to choose Jacob over his older twin brother, Esau, to be the chosen tribe through whom Jesus would come; that is  God’s business.  No one has a right to question Almighty God’s sovereignty.  

God uses evil tyrants for His glory. 

In II Peter 3:9 and Romans 9:17-22 we read about the long-suffering of God.  These passages are teaching that even though God endured evil men like Pharaoh to live and enslave Israel for a time, yet God who is long-suffering endured these vessels fitted for destruction and used them for His glory by using Moses to deliver Israel from Egyptian bondage and drowning Pharaoh and his army  in the Red Sea.  

Thank God for His Drawing Power. 

We are all sinners and undeserving of the least of God’s mercies.  Except for the fact that God has intervened and drawn us to Himself, all of us would be under His judgment. Romans 9:29

The Stumbling Stone 

Would you take time right now to read Romans 9:30-33?   What is this passage saying to us? Verse 30 –  We Gentiles who knew nothing about God and were not able to keep His commandments;  through faith in Christ have attained the righteousness of God and been made fit for Heaven. Verse 31 – Israel, who had God’s Law, but also  failed to keep it; have not attained God’s righteousness which only comes through faith in Christ. 

Are You stumbling on Jesus? 

Verse 32 Why has Israel, as a nation,  failed to attain God’s righteousness?  Because they stumbled at the Stumbling Stone. Who is pictured as a Stumbling Stone?  None other than Jesus the Messiah. He was prophesied in Psalm 118:22 and in Isaiah 8:14-15 as a Stumbling Stone..  Those who refuse Christ, fail to attain God’s righteousness.  Without that righteousness none can go to Heaven.  

Stumble no longer! 

Verse 33  The Jew or Gentile who puts his trust in that Stumbling Stone, is saved and will not be ashamed.   Then in Romans 10  Paul pours out his heart for his kinsmen, the Jews, who seek to establish their own righteousness and reject the gift of righteousness that comes through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Thank God for many Jews and Gentiles who have put their trust in Christ in this Church Age and are now one in Christ.  Read about it in Galatians 3:24-29 and rejoice in your Messiah and Saviour from sin.  

You Can’t Blame God If You Go To Hell. 

There may be some of you reading this who still refuse to humble yourself and admit you are a sinner in need of a Saviour.  You make excuses by blaming God for not electing you to salvation. Your problem is not election.  Your problem is your sin. and your pride.  You don’t want to admit that you are a helpless sinner in need of a Saviour.  You think you can save yourself through your own efforts.  You stumble; not on the doctrine of election, but on the Lord Jesus Christ Himself. He is your Stumbling Stone.  I pray that you will face this fact right now and cast yourself on Jesus and on His blood sacrifice for your sins. 

Election is not a doctrine to argue about. 

Election is a truth upon which you can rest as a believer.  Quit trying to fully grasp the doctrines that are so high that they are beyond our reach and ability to grasp.   

Worship God whose ways are far above ours. 

If you are trusting Christ, read Romans 11:33-36  and worship God whose ways are far beyond our ability to fully grasp and fully understand.  May God bless you and fill you with joy in the knowledge of Jesus Christ your Saviour.

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May 31, 2006 Posted by | Salvation | Comments Off on The Doctrine of Election

Family series: Introduction

When my wife and I, both in our early twenties, started  parenting in 1956, I was pastoring a small church in the Sandhills of  Nebraska.  Our parsonage was next door to the church, but about five miles from the nearest neighbor and thirty-five miles of graveled road from the closest town and fifty miles of paved road to a larger town in the other direction   We had no telephone and of course, no television in those first three years.  Our only contact with the outside world was our little AM radio. In those days  an FM radio was a luxury we could do without.  Our 48 Dodge was our lifeline for help.  When it was not working we were stranded at home for several days.

 

Dr. Spock and the Bible

 

It was there that our first son, Steve, was born.   At that time there were few books on child rearing.  We had two: Dr. Spock and the Bible.  We used Dr. Spock to help guide us through the health problems of our infant son  and we used the Bible to guide us in all the other matters we needed to know concerning raising children. Both my wife and I can testify that God is faithful to His promises.  He promised us that if we would raise our children by His Word, that He would bless our family  and He has blessed us beyond measure.

 

Raising our children together was a wonderful experience.   My wife looks back on those days when our children were small as some of the happiest days of her life. In these articles I’ll share some biblical principles for raising children that worked for us. We never had a problem with “the terrible twos”  nor  “teen age rebellion”.  

May 31, 2006 Posted by | Family Series | Comments Off on Family series: Introduction

Prophecy # 32 Scorn, Sobs, Secret

With this message we conclude our study of Luke chapter 13. It has not been a series of messages under one theme; but individual messages on various topics, all teachings of Jesus.  You will find earlier messages from this chapter  under several links:  “Capital Punishment” under that link, “Repentance” under SALVATION, “Spiritual Barrenness” under SERVICE, “Bound and Bowed Down” under HEALTH,  “The Kingdom and the Church” under those two links,  “Deluded Souls” under DECEPTION.  “This message, “Scorn, Sobs, and Secret” is taken from Luke 13:31-35 and is primarily prophetical.

SCORN   Luke 13:32-34 

The Pharisees, as a whole, hated Jesus.  That is obvious throughout the four Gospels. It was the Pharisees who stirred up the mobs to eventually crucify Christ. It was at this time that they attempted to frighten Jesus to leave their country by warning Him that Herod was out to get Him.  Of course Jesus feared no one, including the Pharisees and Herod. He scorned Herod as a weak-charactered, effeminate, sensual playboy fox or vixen.  So Jesus told the Pharisees to take the message back to Herod that no one, including Herod, was going to determine His agenda or time or manner of death.  He had told the same thing to the Pharisees in John 10:17-18. 

 Although we are out of place calling anyone names; Jesus, who is God in human flesh, could rightfully call people names that fit them perfectly.  Not only did He call Herod a fox, but on several occasions, He referred to the Pharisees as serpents.  Certainly He showed His utter contempt for Herod; not only here, but when He was brought before him just before His crucifixion. Read the story in Luke 23:6-12.  There Herod mocked Him, asking Jesus to show him some of His miracles.  Jesus stood in total silence before Him until Herod, finally in disgust sent Him back to Pilate. 

SOBS   Luke 13:34-35 

Here in this Luke passage and again in Matthew 23:29-33 Jesus charged Israel with rejecting and persecuting her prophets throughout their history.  As a mother hen tries to protect her chicks from danger by hiding them under her wings,  so Jesus, as a mother hen, had reached out to Israel to protect them; but they would not come under His protection. 

As a nation, they rejected Him. Read John 1:11-12 concerning this. This generation of Israelites were the most blessed generation in all of history.  They had God in person living among them as a man, and still they rejected Him. Now Jesus is about to return to Heaven and leave them desolate, trodden down by the gentile nations, without His presence and blessing. 

I can almost hear the sob in Jesus’ voice as He says, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets and stonest them that are sent to thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen  doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not!  Behold, your house is left unto you desolate: and verily I say unto you, ye shall not see Me until the time when ye shall say, Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord.”  

In AD 70  Rome would destroy  Jerusalem and the  temple, as Jesus had prophesied in Matthew 24:1-2. The nation Israel would be switched to a siding and the Church would begin it’s 2000 year journey down the main track of prophecy until the time of the gentiles be fulfilled, as we read in Luke 21:24.  

That time of the gentiles was covered earlier in this prophetic series. This is the Church Age.  The Church,  composed of regenerated Jews and gentiles, is neither Jew nor gentile as Galatians 6:15 teaches.  It is made up of people unlike anyone on earth.  It is composed only of sinners from every tribe and nation around the world  who have come by faith to Christ and placed their trust in His cleansing blood alone for salvation.  We await the return of Christ when we, His spiritual Bride, are united with our Heavenly Bridegroom. 

As for the Jews who have not yet recognized and received Jesus as their Messiah, they continue to experience the pressures and persecution of “the times of the gentiles”.  At the end of The Tribulation Christ will return to reign over this earth. With His coming will come the end of the dominion or “times of the gentiles” and Christ will usher in His Millennial rule of peace and righteousness over all the earth.  With His coming will unfold His wonderful secret for Israel. 

SECRET  Luke 13:35

According to Luke 13:35 Israel, who has long rejected Jesus as their Messiah, will one day receive Him and say “Blessed is He that cometh in the name of the Lord!”  According to Romans 11:25-26 all Israel will be saved.  For more on this wonderful secret of Israel‘s conversion to Christ, review this series on PROPHECY, especially starting with the Dispersion and Restoration of Israel.  Exciting, wonderful days await the Jews.  But even greater blessing awaits those who in this Church Age, trust the Messiah prophesied in Isaiah 53 who suffered and died for our sins.  

CONCLUSION 

God has not one word of salvation or comfort or encouragement  for self-righteous Pharisees or sin-loving Herods who reject Christ and His wonderful salvation;  but to those who humbly receive Him, Christ offers salvation  John 6:37,   rest  Matthew 11:28-30,  Protection Psalm 91, Provision  Psalm 23,  prosperity and blessing,  Psalm 1. By God’s grace, Israel will share in that blessing when they return to Christ as their Saviour and Messiah and King and bless His name.  That’s actually going to happen one glorious day, perhaps not too far in the future!

May 30, 2006 Posted by | Prophecy Series | Comments Off on Prophecy # 32 Scorn, Sobs, Secret

Worship series #1: What is worship?

 

Many people think they are worshipping God, but are not worshipping Him at all.

They express their worship in everything from formalism to wild emotionalism. It is one thing to follow a formal order of service; it’s another thing to worship formalism.  It’s one thing to worship with deep emotion; it’s another thing to give ourselves to emotionalism. Formalism and emotionalism are not honoring to God.  They had false worship in  Jesus’ day and He was not pleased. Matthew 15:7-9  They had it in Old Testament times and God was not pleased.  Amos 5:21-27   

Worship has little to do with externals.

Church buildings, worship centers, altars, crosses, so-called worship music and sacraments have little to do with worship. Preachers and worship leaders cannot work up genuine worship by setting the atmosphere for emotional experiences. I have observed preachers orchestrate phony “worship experiences.”   I’ve seen them turn it on or turn it off on command. 

Worship can take place anywhere.  

You may truly worship God in a church service as you listen to God’s Word preached or as you participate or listen to the singing of Christ-honoring hymns  and spiritual songs.  You may worship God as you lie on your bed at night, unable to sleep, or as you are hiking in the woods or driving through rush-hour traffic.  

Worship can be expressed privately and quietly,

It may be expressed with great exuberance as when David danced before the Lord with all his might.  II Samuel 6:14 One thing is certain. Any outward expression of worship or service offered to God in pride or to show-off to others our “spirituality” offends God and it offends those who love the Lord. 

Worship is a response to the knowledge of God.

God seeks true worshippers to worship Him in spirit and in truth. One of the best explanations of worship is found in John 4. Here we read the story of Jesus and the Samaritan woman.  While Jesus was dealing with her about her sins and her need of salvation, she tried to divert the conversation to questions concerning where to worship. Jesus gently focused her attention on to the substance of genuine worship. He teaches her that worship is a spiritual matter; not a fleshly, emotional experience. 

True worship is based on the truth of the knowledge of God.  It is a response to hearing God’s truth.    Those who simply want to experience excitement and a pious feeling will be misled. Those who hunger to know God by listening to the preaching of His Word, will always respond in true worship and adoration of Christ. Such worship will always result in a changed life, a life in which Christ is the center.  

True worship is the most intimate experience a Christian has with God.

It ought to continue day and night without ceasing, even as we are commanded to “pray without ceasing.” 

True worship takes place wherever Christ is honored.

When hearts are humbled and overwhelmed with the grace of God,  only then does true worship takes place. We honor Christ as we eagerly listen to His Word and sing hymns and songs that glorify Him. 

Sin is the only thing that hinders worship.

It is my desire as a preacher; not to lead my congregation in “worship experiences”, but to faithfully preach God’s Word so that people can recognize sins that hinder their relationship with God, confess them and be cleansed and restored to a right relationship with God and begin living a life of worship. 

Steps to worship and service

As we hear God’s Word and are made aware of our sins; we confess them to Him and He forgives and cleanses us by the shed blood of Christ. 

When we are forgiven and cleansed; our hearts are filled with gratitude and praise to God. 

When our hearts are filled with gratitude and praise to God;  only then can we  worship Him. 

True worshippers of Christ alone are able to effectively serve Him. All other worship and service offered to God is insulting and an affront to Him. 

If you live in or are traveling through the greater Albuquerque area, we invite you to visit us at Alameda Bible Church and open your heart to God’s Word and allow Him to teach you and draw you into a life of ceaseless worship and faithful service to Him.

May 30, 2006 Posted by | Worship Series | Comments Off on Worship series #1: What is worship?

Deception series: Introduction

Repeatedly  the Bible warns us of dangers and deceptions. We are to beware of false prophets who come to us as wolves in sheep’s clothing.  We are to be on guard to self-deception and to the wiles of Satan. 

As shepherds  lead their flocks to  green pastures, and protect them from many dangers,  so pastors are to lovingly feed, warn and protect their flocks. The following posts give some pertinent warnings for you.  Please, do not take these warnings lightly and end up destroying your life.

 

May 30, 2006 Posted by | Deception Series | Comments Off on Deception series: Introduction

Separation series #1: Good and Evil

The Bible speaks of two kinds of separation. There is a godly separation and an ungodly separation.

 

The godly separation begins with God.  Through our faith in Christ,  He separates us to Himself.  This union with Christ is clearly taught in Romans 6 and Colossians 3. See my series on VICTORY for more on this union with Christ. 

 

Ephesians 2:11-12 tells us that before salvation we were aliens without God and were totally immersed in the world system which II Corinthians 4:4 teaches is under the control of Satan. The world’s philosophy and values were our life.  Our minds and our hearts were influenced and  controlled by Satan and his world system.

 

As Christians in union with Christ, we still live in this sinful world system surrounded by unsaved people. The common problem is that when people come to Christ and are saved, they tend to become so enthralled with their fellow Christians that they begin to lose contact with unbelievers and in so doing, forfeit opportunities to be a witness to them.   

 

Though we as Christians enjoy our fellowship with God’s people, we are not to disassociate ourselves from the lost.  As we go to school with them, work with them and enjoy sports and other activities with them, we have opportunities to show them Christ.  We are the only Christ they know.  We are the only Bible they will read.  As Jesus taught in Matthew 5:13-16  we are to reflect Christ and cause people to desire Him by the way we live our lives.

 

Paul encouraged the Philippians Christians and us in Philippians 2:14-16  to “Do all things without  murmurings and disputings that we may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom we shine as lights in the world; holding forth the Word of Life.”

 

The godly separation that the Bible teaches is the outcome of our union with Christ. Because we live and walk in fellowship with Christ and the unsaved live and walk in this Satan-dominated world system, we are not to pretend that no difference exists. We are commanded to not  yoke together with unbelievers in  attempting to do God’s work. That’s the godly separation.  At the same time,  obedient Christians are not to separate themselves from fellowship with other Christians over petty differences. That’s ungodly separation.

 

In this series, you will read of Liberals and Fundamentalists, so let’s start this series with definitions of these two terms.

 

May 30, 2006 Posted by | Separation Series | Comments Off on Separation series #1: Good and Evil

Jesus, Who Is He?

I submit to you that there are only  two answers.   Either He is who the Bible  declares Him  to be; Jehovah God, the eternal Son, Creator of the universe, Messiah  and Saviour who is the theme of the Bible and who was prophesied repeatedly throughout the Old Testament or else He is a charlatan and blasphemer, not worthy of our attention.   

JESUS IS GOD! 

In John 1:1-18 we have some of the clearest statements in all of the Bible of who Jesus is. 

1. He is called The Word.  As our words express us, so The Word expressed God.

2. The Word was with God from the beginning.  1:1-23.

3. In fact, The Word is declared to be God.  1:1 4.

4. The Word is Creator of all things.  1:3, 10 5.

5. In The Word is life, God’s eternal life. 1: 46.

6. The Word is the Light who  illumines those who come to Him.  1: 4-9.

7. The Word  is the Saviour to those who receive Him as God and Saviour. 1:11-128.

8.Though God is a spirit and no man has ever seen Him,  when people saw Jesus,The Word, they saw Almighty God in human flesh. 1:18  If you will read through the Gospel of John with an honest, hungry heart to know the truth about Jesus, you will be convinced, beyond anything I could ever say, that Jesus is the eternal Son of God. 

9. He is co-equal with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit. Though three separate persons, they are together one God.  

Note especially in John 8  the heart-touching story of a blind man healed by Jesus. Note in Jesus’ conversation with the Pharisees the amazing statement He makes about Himself as being the I AM who existed before Abraham and note the fury of those who heard Him. This is the same fury that unbelievers express towards Jesus today.  They hate Him with a vengeance.   

In Philippians 2:5-11 Paul confirms these truths about Jesus and gives us further information about Him.1. He is equal with God in majesty and  in every attribute.  Philippians 2:62. Jesus willingly submitted Himself as a Son  to His Father when He left the glories of Heaven to come down to this earth to die for our sins.   2:6-83. God the Father, raised His Son from the dead and has made Him Lord of all His creation. One day every knee will bow to Him. 

In Colossians 1 & 2  Paul gives us further information about Jesus. 1.  Paul says in  1:15 that if you want to know exactly what the invisible God is like, look at Jesus.  When you see Jesus,  you have seen the Father.  Jesus said the same thing in John 14:92. When Paul declares in Colossians 1:15 that Jesus is the  first born of every creature, he is not teaching us that Jesus had a beginning and was born in Bethlehem.  Yes, His human body was born in Bethlehem, but The Son of God,  the Second Person of the Trinity, was never born.  He has existed eternally with the Father and will continue to exist forever.   

In Old Testament times,  He existed as Jehovah.  The name Jehovah is used to speak of God as He deals with His own. Wherever you read about Jehovah in the Old Testament, you are reading about the pre-incarnate Son of God.   In the Greek, the word translated firstborn in verse 15 is the word prototokos.  The word does not mean that Jesus was the first to be born, for the eternal Son of God never was born.  Rather, it means that He is the beginning, the cause of all creation.   Verse 16 explains verse 15.  “For by Him were all things created, that are in Heaven and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions, or principalities or powers: all things were created by Him and for Him and by Him all things consist or hold together.  We, as well as everything in this world, are composed of atoms held together supernaturally by the Word of God. 

Colossians 2:9-10  boldly states that in Christ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead in a body.  In that passage we have the comforting statement that we are complete in Him.   If you have Jesus,  you have everything you need for life and for eternity. John says the same thing in I John 5:11-13.    

In Hebrews 1  the writer of Hebrews teaches some of the same truths of the eternal Son of God. In the first three verses Jesus is described as the brightness of God’s glory and the express image of His person who holds the universe together by the Word of His power.   Verse 3 also reminds us that this same eternal Son of God, as the man Jesus, cleansed us from our sins through His death on the cross and His resurrection and return back to Heaven where He sits today at the right hand of the Majesty on high where according to Hebrews 7:25, He intercedes for us.  

Hebrews 1 continues  to teach us in verse 5  that all the angels are commanded to worship the Son, the baby Jesus whose tiny body was born in a stable.  In that sense He was begotten of the Father and born of the virgin Mary.   But Hebrews 1:8 goes on to teach us that this baby who had a beginning in Bethlehem, is the eternal Son of God.  In verse 10 of that chapter,  He confirms that this same Jesus is the creator of the world. 

In Revelation 1 we are given John’s vision of Jesus as the Alpha and Omega, the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet. Jesus is our salvation and He is our life from A-Z.  Verses 7-8 tell us that this Jesus who was pierced and crucified on a cross for our sins, has always existed, He came to this earth, and He is returning again one day to reign as King of Kings and Lord of Lords.  Continue reading through this first chapter of Revelation and see the majesty of Jesus Christ. In verse 18  Jesus states that He LIVES, WAS DEAD, and IS ALIVE FOR EVERMORE.  He has the keys to life and death, Heaven and Hell.  To trust Him is to be saved and Heaven-bound.  To reject Him is to be lost and Hell-bound.  

WHY DO SINNERS HAVE TO GO TO HELL?

God is preparing a Lake of Fire and Brimstone into which one day Satan and his demons will be cast to burn forever. Revelation 20:10 Those who reject Christ’s salvation will also spend eternity in that awful place. Revelation 20:11-15  People go to hell; not only for their sins; but for rejecting God’s salvation offered in Jesus.  Jesus died that horrible death on the cross because He was taking the death that we should have endured in Hell forever because of our sins.  Hebrews 10 shows why Jesus had to come and die for our sins. In that chapter, the writer reminds us that  the Old Testament sacrifice of animals did not change hearts; they only covered sins temporarily from year to year.  It took the death of One, no less than God Himself in a human body, to cleanse us from sin and make us fit for Heaven. 

JESUS’  EXECUTION vs EXECUTIONS TODAY

Today in America when a murderer is executed for his crime,  his death occurs in a quiet, peaceful death chamber.  He is given a sedative and  experiences death quite painlessly and peacefully.  When Jesus died, He who had never sinned but only loved others, experienced  the worst that evil men  could give Him. Not only did they crucify Him, but they relished every minute of it, mocking Him, bashing Him in the face with their fists and spitting at Him,  mercilessly  flogging Him to the point of death and then nailing Him to a cross and watching Him slowly die of asphyxiation as He strained on His nailed feet to lift His body  for another gulp of air. 

Not only did He suffer physical torment, but He suffered the loss of  fellowship with His Heavenly Father as God turned His back on Him and forsook Him  as He took the banishment that we should have endured in Hell.  He cried out,  “My God, My God,  Why has Thou forsaken Me.?”  He took that punishment that we who trust Him might never know that awful experience of being forsaken by God. 

 IT WAS FOR YOU!

Thank God, because He loved us and was willing to experience death in our place,  we who trust Jesus as Saviour can immediately and eternally be delivered from God’s wrath and judgement for sin.  II Corinthians 5:21 make is so simple.  “He  (Jesus) who knew no sin was made sin for us ( on the cross ) (that through trusting Him)  we might be made the righteousness of God in Him.”  What wonderful, good news!  This is the Gospel!   Christ died and rose again for my sins and your sins. I Corinthians 15:1-4   I have received that Gift.  Have you?  I challenge you to receive Him now and confess Him openly to others.  He died publicly, bearing the shame of your sins.  Will you right now publicly confess Him as your Saviour before others?  Romans 10:9-13 If you live in the Albuquerque area, I invite you to come and let us know you are trusting Christ.  If you live elsewhere, seek out a church where the Bible is clearly preached and  take a public stand for Christ this week. 

YOU CAN’T BE NEUTRAL

You had better get serious about Jesus.  You cannot be neutral about Him.  You either receive Him as your Saviour and Lord,  or you reject Him and face the eternal consequences.   One day Jesus, who experienced the worst travesty of human justice  will sit on His throne to judge those who have rejected Him.   Read again about that coming Judgment day in Revelation 6:12-17 and 20:11-15. Why does Jesus death matter to you?  Because you must either receive Him now in this Day of Grace  as Paul warned in II Corinthians 6:2   or you must face His wrath and judgment at a later date that has already been set. Acts 17:31  That date is already circled on God’s calendar. It is inescapable. Romans 2:1-16  It matters eternally what you do with Jesus now. 

May 30, 2006 Posted by | Jesus | Comments Off on Jesus, Who Is He?

Resting in Christ

To the sinner, sick of his sins and tired of trying to run from God; to the Christian weary, worn out and burned out, trying hard to live for Jesus and serve Him- and failing; Jesus invites, “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden; and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me, for I am meek and lowly of heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”  Matthew 11:28-30.

The key to salvation is resting in Jesus.

The key to living the Christian life is resting in Jesus.

The key to serving the Lord is resting in Jesus.

 

BAD NEWS!

Sin is pleasurable. Sin is attractive. Sin is exciting.  Sin is fun.  No one, but God,  is going to convince us otherwise.  But we must understand that the Bible teaches that our sins infuriate God.  He must punish us with eternal damnation in Hell.   “The soul that sinneth, it shall die!” Ezekiel 18:4   “The wages of sin is death.”  Romans 6:23   “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable,(perverts) and  murderers and whoremongers, (those guilty of illicit sex), and sorcerers,(fortune tellers) and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake of fire which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death.  Revelation 21:8

 

The fact is that YOU are a sinner.   I am a sinner.  Everyone born into the human race is a sinner and we all deserve to die and go to hell.   This is the teaching of God’s Word, the Bible. What can you and I do to make ourselves  presentable to God?  NOTHING!  We are helpless and hopeless to save ourselves.   That’s the teaching of Ephesians 2:11-12

 

GOOD NEWS!!!

But thank God,  there is good news for sinners and only for sinners.  God can do nothing to help the self-righteous. But if God is speaking to you through His Word and has convinced you that you are a helpless, hopeless sinner headed for eternal damnation,  then God can intervene and save you. The Good News is that God Himself came down to earth in the person of His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, and  paid the penalty for your sins on the cross 2000 years ago.  Three days later He rose from the dead.  His death and resurrection provide His gracious Gift of Eternal Life for anyone who will receive Jesus and REST in His complete, final sacrifice for our sins.   Yes, salvation is as simple as RESTING in Jesus.  Will you quit struggling and  trying to impress God with your self righteousness?  He describes it as filthy, smelly rags..  Isaiah 64:6

 

Perhaps you had taken the step of salvation earlier and you have been struggling to try to live the Christian life­ and all your efforts have failed. Though Christ has saved you,  you still struggle with sin and are constantly defeated.  I have a word for you also.  Give up the struggle and REST in Jesus. His invitation to come to Him and rest is addressed to defeated Christians as well as to the lost. “Come unto Me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me;  for I am meek and lowly of heart: and ye shall find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30.

 

Throughout the Bible we are taught to rest in God.  Read and meditate and rest  in some of God’s promises to you.

 

“Tomorrow is the rest of the holy Sabbath unto the Lord.”  Exodus 16:23  The seventh day of the week was given to God’s people, Israel.  For further teaching on the Sabbath, go to my article on the SABBATH on this web site.

 

“My presence shall go with thee and I will give thee rest.”  Exodus 33:14

 

In Deuteronomy 3:18-20  God challenges Israel to conquer the Land of Canaan which He has given them and possess it until He has given them rest.

 

Numbers 13-14  tells the story of how the older generation failed to trust God to conquer Canaan.

All the old generation  wandered for forty years and died in the wilderness except for two men, Caleb and Joshua.  These two men had the opportunity to conquer Canaan with the younger generation.

 

Joshua 21:43-45 tells of how God gave them victory and rest in Canaan.

 

In Hebrews 3-4  the Christian is instructed to learn from Israel the importance of resting in Christ.  I encourage you to read these two chapters carefully and prayerfully and ask God to help you to learn of this rest in your own life. Note that our rest as Christians is the theme of these two chapters.

 

Going back to our text in Matthew 11:28-30,  note that rest comes as we accept the yoke of Jesus.  Think of  the yoke on two oxen or two horses.  Jesus is the strong one.  You and I are the weak ones. But when we accept His yoke on our necks and bow to His will in our lives and allow Him to direct us, the load that was once heavy, becomes light.  The neck that is yielded to Christ is not rubbed sore trying to fight the yoke. His yoke becomes easy.

 

In John 15  Jesus likens us to branches in His grape vine.  He is the vine.  We are the branches. How do we bear fruit?  How do we live for Christ and serve Him effectively?  It’s easy.  Just abide in the vine and allow His life-giving sap to flow through us.  Only then can we bear His fruit and He alone gets the glory.  That’s how we serve Him without growing weary and experiencing “burn-out”. 

 

Read, meditate and rejoice in this wonderful truth from Isaiah 40:28-31 “Hast thou not known? Hast thou not heard that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth fainteth not, neither is weary?  There is no searching of His understanding. He giveth power to the faint, and to them that have no might He increaseth strength.  Even the youths shall faint and be weary and the young men shall utterly fall.  But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength, they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run and not be weary; they shall walk and not faint.”

 

I encourage you to read and mediate on Psalm 37.  Like the cow lying down in the pasture and ruminating on its cud,  read and ponder this comforting Psalm. 

May 30, 2006 Posted by | Salvation | Comments Off on Resting in Christ

Christmas series #1: The Gift

I love to look at our manger scene and contemplate it. My focus is continually drawn to it.  To think, that God would choose a stable surrounded by sheep and cattle in which to bring His beloved Son into the world!  To think, that God would choose Mary, a young virgin, to be the mother of Jesus!

 

Listen to the words of the angel Gabriel as he explains Mary’s pregnancy and as  he comforts  Joseph, the man whose heart has been broken because it appears that Mary  the young lady he has been looking forward to marrying,  has been unfaithful to him. “Fear not to take unto thee Mary, thy wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Ghost. And she shall bring forth a Son and thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.”  Matthew 1:18-25

 

Listen again to the words of Gabriel as he explains the meaning and purpose of Christmas. “Thou shalt call His name Jesus, for He shall save His people from their sins.”

 

Christmas is not about decorations, Christmas carols, Christmas trees,  Santa Claus, gifts and feasting.  There is nothing wrong in any of these trappings of Christmas.  I’m not Scrooge trying to make you feel guilty and miserable about Christmas.  I only want to turn your attention to the true meaning of Christmas. What good are the Christmas table decorations without the dinner?  What good are the decorations and wrappings without THE GIFT?

 

Because we are all sinners before our Holy God and because we cannot save ourselves by our works of righteousness  or by religious observances;  God  at the right time and place in human history sent Jesus, His only begotten Son, into the world to go to the cross and die, shedding His blood as the perfect and final sacrifice for our sins.

 

In Old Testament times  God directed the Levitical priesthood to offer animal sacrifices for Israel‘s sins, in anticipation of the Lamb of God whom He would send in the fullness of time.  Now that Christ’s blood has been sacrificed,  there is no long any need of any sacrifice for sin.  Read Hebrews 10 and ask God to help you understand this marvelous truth.

 

Note that it is ONE sacrifice forever!  It is NEVER TO BE REPEATED!  To attempt to do so would be blasphemous!  We simply trust Christ and rest in His finished work on Calvary‘s cross as the full and final penalty for our sins..  That’s the difference between Christianity and  dead, false religion.  The true Christian rests and rejoices in Christ’s finished work of salvation and he rejoices in the assurance of his eternal Home in Heaven.   False religion, which has its source in Satan himself,  keeps worshippers living in fear and bondage all their lives, hoping and praying that all their good works, prayers and religious efforts will merit them  eternal life.  Hebrews 2:14-15

 

How about you?  Do you have absolute assurance that your sins are totally forgiven and that you have been given the very righteousness of Christ?   Have you been given a new heart that loves Jesus and hates sin?  Can you boldly testify, “Thank God,  I have received Jesus as my Saviour from sin!   I am bound for Heaven!  I am resting and rejoicing in His blood sacrifice for my sins. I am rejoicing in Jesus’  bodily resurrection from the tomb. Because He lives, I shall live with Him forever.  I Corinthians 15

 

We do not go to Heaven because we are living perfect lives.  None of us are, and if we think we are, we are deceiving ourselves.  I John 1:5-10   But we whose trust is in Jesus alone are counted as perfect as Jesus Himself through God’s work of justification. Read about it in Romans 3, 4 and 5. and ask God to help you understand it. Read II Corinthians 5:21 and keep reading it until God’s Spirit opens your heart to rejoice in this life-changing  truth.

 

My prayer for you is that if you have never done so, you may right now receive God’s Gift of salvation in His Son and that this may be the most wonderful Christmas of your life!  Then find a church where Bible preaching is central and where salvation through trusting in the shed blood of Christ is preached. I encourage you to feed on God’s Word.  A good place to start is by reading and  studying with your Bible  the articles on this web site.

 

I hate to close this article on a negative note, but I have to be honest with you. There is a good chance that some of you reading this today are choosing to go on in your self-righteousness.   You reject your need of a saviour. You turn your back on God’s Gift of Salvation and continue on in your sins.  For you the future is very bleak and it is only going to continue to grow darker for you.  When life is over for you on this earth, you will be in Hell for eternity. Read your future in Revelation 6:12-17  and   20:10-15   I urge you right now to reject the attraction of sin and Satan and open wide your heart to God and invite Christ to be your Saviour.

 

How do you get that faith to believe?  Romans 10:17  says that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God.” Lay aside everything else and get this matter settled TODAY! 

May 30, 2006 Posted by | Christmas Series | Comments Off on Christmas series #1: The Gift

Covenant series: Introduction

The Bible is composed of the Old and the New Testament. A testament is a covenant or a will. A will is bequeathed to heirs only after the testator or maker of the will has died. In the following studies of this mini-series we are going to examine both the Old and the New Covenant. May God bless you as you understand and rejoice in the New Covenant God has made with you through the shed blood of Christ.

May 30, 2006 Posted by | Covenant Series | Comments Off on Covenant series: Introduction

Family series #1: Battlements for the Home

We are all aware of the fact that when we put a swimming pool on our property we have the responsibility of fencing it to protect children.  Failing to do so could result in the injury  or even death of children. In Bible times God gave the responsibility to parents to build walls or battlements around the flat rooftops which were used as porches or family rooms. Deuteronomy 22:8

 

Fathers and mothers cannot shrug off the responsibility  of taking measures to protect their children from harm. We make sure our children are fastened safely in their car seats or seat belts.  We use child proof fasteners or locks on cupboards and cabinets containing items that could physically harm our children.

 

Our children’s friends

 

So it is with the spiritual protection of our children. We cannot ignore  our responsibilities or blame others for our failures.  So often parents blame their failures with their children on their children’s friends.  It’s our responsibility to protect our young impressionable children from the wrong friends and the wrong influences of  degrading music and television. The education and raising of children is the parent’s responsibility; not the State’s.  Certainly, the State steps in when parents neglect that responsibility.

 

Television

 

As young parents back in the 50’s,  60’s and 70’s,  we controlled the television programs and music our children watched and listened to  in our home.  We were very much aware of the friends with whom our children played. We took the responsibility for the education of our children.  My wife and I ruled our home with a gentle, loving, but firm hand.

 

Preacher’s Kids

 

I Timothy 3 and Titus 1 give clear instruction to pastors, elders and deacons as to how they are to raise their children.  They are to be examples to all the church family. Those who cannot manage their families are not to attempt to lead churches. God holds a husband and  father responsible for his family. A godly wife and mother works in harmony with her husband.  Proverbs 14:1 teaches that a  foolish woman who refuses to accept her responsibility  under God  destroys  her family just as surely as a woman on the roof tears apart her house with a crow bar and axe.

 

We were not the perfect parents. As we grow older most of us  become aware of our failures and in retrospect see how we could have been better parents. We thank God that in spite of our failures, our three children grew up  without major problems and today each of them are raising  their children to know the Lord and live for Him.

May 30, 2006 Posted by | Family Series | Comments Off on Family series #1: Battlements for the Home

Settle Out of Court

 

“Too many hypocrites in the church!” 

One of the chief arguments people make for rejecting Christ is that there are too many hypocrites in the church. I’m not saying that there are no hypocrites in the church; for if we are trying to appear more spiritual in church than we are at home, we are hypocritical. But in the full sense of the word,  a Christian is not a hypocrite.  He may be weak and carnal, but he’s not a hypocrite.  A genuine Christian has confessed he is a sinner, lost and unable to save himself.  He has put his trust in Christ alone for salvation.  He may be a pathetic Christian who brings shame to the cause of Christ and be chastened in this life by His loving Heavenly Father;  but by the grace of God he will one day be in Heaven, sanctified, glorified and sinless. 

A hypocrite, on the other hand, is not a Christian.  His “Christianity” is simply an act.  He has learned the language of a Christian, but underneath his disguise is a proud, self-righteous, wicked heart.  

Saul of Tarsus was such a man.  Though he did not claim to be a Christian; he claimed to be a good Jew, despising Christ and  hating and persecuting Christians.  In  Philippians 3 Paul shares his testimony. In verses 4-6  he tells us of his proud, self-righteous, hypocritical life before he met Christ.  Then in verses 7-14 he glories in Christ and in the wonderful salvation Christ has given to him.   Prior to Saul’s conversion,  he was a Jewish Pharisee and Jesus had labeled them all as hypocrites in Matthew 23.  

Unbeliever, you are the hypocrite! 

If you will compare Matthew 24:51 with Luke 12:46 you will find that in God’s eyes, unbelievers are hypocrites.   If you are an unbeliever, quit looking at the weak, stumbling Christians within the church and look at your own wicked, unbelieving heart.  Your whole life is a sham.  You are the hypocrite.   Jesus’ message of Luke 12:54-59 is addressed to you. This is basically what He is saying to you in this passage. 

You are able to look at weather conditions,  predict a storm and take precautions before the storm, but you do nothing to prepare to face the coming storm of God’s wrath when He judges you for your sins.    When you have done damage to someone or to their property, you are wise enough to see you are going to face a law suit and an expensive trial. So you take steps in advance by attempting to settle out of court.    

So you should be wise enough and honest enough to admit you are a guilty sinner who will one day face God and be condemned to hell.  That’s the condition of all of us  for all have sinned and come short of God’s glory and His holy standards.  Romans 3:23.  

Judgment Day is coming! 

If you continue through life rejecting the salvation God offers you through the shed blood of His Son, Jesus,  you will ultimately face His fury and be condemned to eternal hell.  Read the terrifying account of God’s Judgment that awaits every unbeliever. Revelation 20:11-15.  

Warnings of God’s Judgment abound throughout the New Testament. 

The Bible is clear that we are all sinners and that sinners are going to face God’s judgment.   

John the Baptist warned of it in Matthew 3:7-12   

Peter warned of it whenever he preached.  Acts 2:22-41  3:13-21  II Peter 2:4-6  3:3-12 

Stephen warned of it in Acts 7:51-52.  For such preaching he was stoned to death. 

James warned of judgment.  James 5:7-9 

The writer of Hebrews warned of it in Hebrews 9:27 

Jude wrote about the Old Testament prophet Enoch and his message in Jude 14-15 

The Apostle John gives us the most solemn warning in Revelation 20:11-15 

Jesus, who took our judgment and condemnation  on  the cross, warned us to trust Him and thus escape that Great White Throne Judgment, over which He will one day preside. See John 3:16-18, 36  5:24 

The Apostle Paul had the most to say about the judgment. In Acts 17:30-31 Paul preached to the Athenians about the certainty of a coming judgment in which The Lord Jesus Christ would be the Judge.  

In Romans Paul writes much about the coming judgment. In Romans 2 he teaches that this judgment will be according to four principles. 

1. It will be according to TRUTH. Romans 2:2  Today human courts often fail to discover the truth because of the lack of full knowledge of the case, or because of prejudice.  Jesus’ judgment will be according to truth because He knows each heart and he knows the secret things that men  fail to grasp. 

2. Jesus’ judgment will be according to the deeds of the body.  Romans 2:6 and 3:23  We’re all guilty.  Our deeds are recorded in God’s Books.  See Revelation 20:11-15 again. 

3. Jesus  judges the secret things, including our motives and our thoughts. See Romans 2:16   According to Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7  one who has  lustful thoughts is an adulterer. One who hates his brother is a murderer. 

4. Finally, Jesus’ judgment will be absolutely impartial. Romans 2:11  He is not impressed with those who are rich and famous and powerful.  All men, great and small, will one day stand before Him to give an account of their lives;  Jews as well as Gentiles. Romans 2:9,12. 

In the light of that judgment, the sinner stands inexcusable and inescapable. 

First, you will stand inexcusable.  According to Romans 1:20  2:1 and  3:19 you will be silenced.  On that Judgment Day, your mouth will be silenced. You will be  guilty as charged before God. 

Secondly, you cannot escape this judgment.  Romans 2:3   In this world today, guilty criminals  often escape conviction and sentencing through lies, crooked lawyers and money.  Today people plead the 5th Amendment, they post bail, they have connections.Law abiding citizens as well as the victims of their crimes are sickened and disillusioned by mis-trials and crooked juries and judges who allow criminals to go free.  

Judgment Day is circled on God’s calendar. See Acts 17:31.  No one will escape that day when they stand before Christ whom they despised and rejected.  Years ago when I pastored  among the ranchers in the Sand Hills of Nebraska, I sometimes visited with the ranchers when they were corralling cattle to walk up the chute into trucks to go to market. Often the cattle would run back and forth trying to escape being herded into the truck, but the sovereign rancher who directed the whole thing was persistent until every last steer he had chosen for market was forced into the truck.  So it will be for sinners on Judgment Day. No one will escape.    

Why not settle out of court now? 

If you are a wise person, you will humble yourself before God NOW and admit you are a guilty sinner.  You will cast yourself on His mercy, receiving His gracious salvation through Jesus.  In so doing, you have settled out of court.  You will never face that White Throne Judgment.  Read God’s repeated promises concerning this.  John 3:16-18, 36 John 5:24  Romans 8:1  

If you continue to reject Christ,  your heart will only grow harder and your judgment will only grow more severe.  Romans 2:5 

Don’t wait to face Christ at The Great White Throne Judgment described in Revelation 20:11-15.  In this age of grace,  trust Christ now who died to pay the full penalty for your sins. Read II Corinthians 5:20-21 and ask Christ to save you right now and discover the peace and joy of sins forgiven and the assurance of eternal life.  Read John 5:24   and Romans 8:1.  As Jesus pleaded with the hypocrites in Luke 12:58-59, settle out of court right now by admitting your guilt before a holy God and trusting the provision of His beloved Son, Jesus.   If you do not trust Him now, you WILL face Him one day and be condemned to eternity in Hell.  You cannot be neutral about Jesus.  You must  either receive Him now as your Saviour and begin learning how to be His disciple (follower); or else  you have rejected Him and will one day face Him as your Judge. 

 

May 29, 2006 Posted by | Salvation | Comments Off on Settle Out of Court

Worship series #2: Doxology

In the Matthew 6 account of the Lord’s Prayer, we conclude with a doxology to God, “For Thine is the Kingdom and the Power and the Glory forever, Amen.”  We  pray to God who alone has wisdom and power and authority to answer our prayers in such a way that our needs are met and He is glorified.

Having laid our requests before God, we cease focusing on our needs and concerns and turn our attention to God Himself.   Let us not deceive ourselves. As long as we are concentrating on our needs and our concerns, it is impossible to truly worship Christ. It’s only when we have laid our burdens on Christ that  we are free to praise and worship Him. We cast our burdens on Jesus and He gives us rest. There is no further need for worry or fretting.

In this prayer we learn that worship and praising God are always fitting when making requests of Him.  We see this truth  as we study the prayers of Old Testament saints.  The Psalms are filled with prayers of praise to God.  In the New Testament   Paul’s  prayers  echo this praise to God. A good example is his prayer for Christians found in Ephesians 3:14-21. Read this prayer and note how he bursts forth into a doxology of praise to God.  Jude concludes his brief epistle with a doxology to Christ.  “Now unto Him that is able to keep you from falling and to present you faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen.”

Worship is essentially our praise and gratitude to God, our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.  We exalt Him for who He is and for what He has done for us.  Worship involves more than praising Him with our lips.  It involves the surrender of ourselves to Him and it results in the enjoyment of intimacy with Him.

Dr Harry Ironside, a well known Bible teacher I heard as a child, tells this story, “My wife and I stood one day looking down on Niagara Falls. How our hearts were stirred as we watched that mighty cataract pouring its tremendous volume of water over the great cliff unceasingly. Soon we noticed that from below a mist rose up that actually reached the point where we stood on the ledge above the Falls. 

I said to my wife, ‘This is like worship- God’s mighty love and grace pouring down upon us; then our love and praise rising up and ascending back to Him, the source of all our blessings.”As we receive God’s spiritual and material blessings from day to day, it is as natural as the mist rising from the Falls for our worship, adoration, thanksgiving and praise to rise to Him.

We bless God by surrendering our lives to Christ, who is our Lord and King and submitting to His authority, “for Thine is the Kingdom.”

We bless God by coming to Him in our weakness and confidently depending on His strength. “for Thine is the power.”

We bless God by coming to Him in humility as we live our lives for His glory and by ascribing to Him all the glory for what He is doing in our lives.  “for Thine is the glory.”

In Heaven we will worship God perfectly, even as we desire to worship Him perfectly now on earth.  Revelation 4:11 and 5:12 describe that Heavenly worship of the saints.

Only as  we  magnify Christ and give Him the preeminence in our lives do  we truly worship Christ.  All else is empty emotionalism and vanity.  Revelation 22:13 teaches us that Jesus is the Alpha and Omega   (the A to Z ) of our lives. 

Any experience we have is less than worship if it does not result in our total surrender to Him. He is our Saviour through faith in the sacrifice of His shed blood.

He is our life, our purpose in living. Colossians 3:3-4 Life is mere existence and has no purpose apart from our relationship with Christ.

He is our King and we bow before Him.The more we read and study His Word, the more we to come to know Him.The better we know God, the   more effective our prayer life and the more genuine our worship and the more we are blessed.

True worship is  grounded on knowing God through His Word. The more genuine our praise and worship, the more He blesses us.  

When are we blessed?  Psalm 67:5-7 answers that question.  When people praise and worship God THEN God blesses.  When God’s people are blessed,  then we impact the world for Christ.Because He is Almighty, He has the power and the ability to do whatever He pleases. 

There is nothing too hard for Him.  We recognize and bow to His power and authority to do whatever He pleases through us. What encouragement for us to pray!

As our Heavenly Father, He loves us and cares for us.

As our Almighty King He is able to do “exceeding abundantly above all we could ever ask or think, according the power that works in us.”

In contrast to the earthly kingdoms that have risen and fallen throughout time; consider the perpetuity of Christ’s Kingdom which  goes on forever.  Psalm 89:2  Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today and forever.  Hebrews 13:8

Amen indicates our faith in God and our fervent desire for the fulfillment of these requests.  May God take the things we have learned from the Lord’s Prayer and make them so precious to us that we pray this prayer with joy and understanding. May we never again mumble the Lord’s Prayer as a thoughtless, meaningless ritual.

-Taken from my series of messages on The Lord’s Prayer. You can find the entire series under PRAYER on this site.

May 29, 2006 Posted by | Worship Series | Comments Off on Worship series #2: Doxology

Deception series #1: False Prophets

At the conclusion of His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 7,  Jesus gave the warning to beware of false prophets. As genuine currency is studied in order to recognize counterfeit bills, so in the spiritual realm we need to identify a true prophet in order to recognize a false prophet.

The Terrifying Voice of God

When  Moses went up into Mount Sinai to receive  the Ten Commandments from God,  it was an awesome, fearful occasion. Exodus 19:10-25 records the warning God gave to Moses for the people.  It was a terrifying time in Israel’s life.  Exodus 20:18-19 describes their fear. “And all the people saw the thunderings and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed and stood far away.  And they said unto Moses, “Speak thou with us and we will hear; but let not God speak with us  lest we die.”

Prophets speak to men for God

In Deuteronomy 18:15-22 we have God’s response to fearful Israel.  In this passage God assures the people that He understands their fear and he announces that He will raise up prophets and put His words in their mouths and expect the people to listen and obey just as if He were speaking to them directly.  He also warns of false prophets who would presume to speak for God.  He warns that He will hold them accountable for their  presumption.  God also explains to the people how they can recognize the true prophet.  Everything he says will come to pass just as he prophesied.  Listen to him and fear God.  As for the false prophet, ignore and have no fear of him.

True Prophets

Some of the true prophets include Moses, Samuel,  Elijah, Elisha, Michaiah, as well as the major prophets: Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel and Daniel  and the  12 minor prophets listed at the end of the Old Testament. God spoke to them in dreams and visions.  However, in Numbers 12:1-8  we have an account in the life of Moses that shows us that God spoke to him directly mouth to mouth.  Moses was in a separate category from the rest of the prophets.

False Prophets

Balaam was an unusual false prophet.  He spoke the truth, but he used his influence to lead Israel astray by encouraging them to fellowship with and eventually intermarry the heathen.  His story is told in Numbers 23, 24,  25:1-3  and 31:16.  God’s judgment on Balaam is found in. II Peter 2:14-15, Jude 11, and Revelation 2:14. Balaam is a sober warning to  evangelists and pastors today who  preach the truth; but in their  efforts to reach the lost, invite unbelievers to join them in sponsoring  crusades and being involved in the follow up of new converts..  Paul warns against this in  II Corinthians 6:14-18.  See Unequal Yoke article in SEPARATION series

There were other false prophets in Old Testament times, including the prophets of Baal  whom the Prophet Elijah defeated in  a great contest.  Read the exciting story in I Kings 18. 

Jeremiah exposed  Hananiah, a false prophet in Judah.  Jeremiah  faced a lonely, dangerous life because of his faithfulness to God in preaching the truth and exposing false prophets.

Why False Prophets are so Popular

False prophets are popular because people in their spiritual blindness love to hear their inoffensive preaching.  In Jeremiah 5:30-31 we read that  people follow them because they  love to  hear them. Protestant churches that are now led by liberal preachers were once solid, Bible teaching churches. There came a time in the history of the church when people rebelled against the faithful preachers and replaced  them with the preachers who gave them what they wanted to hear. Isaiah 30:8-10 speaks about people who refuse to listen to God’s prophets.  They say to them, “Prophecy not unto us right things, speak unto us smooth things, prophecy deceits.”   Can you imagine people asking their preachers to give them what they want to hear?  That’s as foolish as telling your doctor who has just examined you to avoid telling you any bad news and telling him to give you only good news,  even if it is a lie.

False Prophets Increasing

Matthew 23:13-15,   24:3-5 and  II Timothy 3:1-7 warn that in the last days, false prophets will increase in number and in their ability to deceive people.  They will creep into homes through radio and  television and by boldly coming to your front door with their false literature. They also infiltrate churches, Christian colleges and seminaries,. influencing  a new generation  to adopt  their false doctrine.  They are more prolific and dangerous today than at any time in human history.  They not only destroy themselves, but they destroy those who listen to them, keeping them from the “the narrow way.”  They are destined for destruction. Galations 1:8-9,  II Peter 2 and  Jude 1

God’s Rules for Prophets in the early Church.

I Corinthians 14  lists rules for the exercise of  the prophet’s gifts in the time of the early church.. 

1. Only two or three were to speak publicly and in order in a church service. 14:29

2. They spoke freshly, revealed truths and they also taught what other prophets had revealed. 14:30

3. The other prophets were to judge and discern if truth had been spoken. 14:29

4. The prophets were subject to one another.  They were in unity and did not contradict one another. 14:32

Why There Are No True Prophets Today

There were some true prophets who ministered to the Church in the beginning of the church age 2000 years ago.  These were men who had the gift of prophecy who spoke God’s Word before the Bible was completed. Ephesians 2:20 tells us the Apostles and Prophets were foundational to the church.  Once the canon of Scripture was complete, the office of  Prophet ceased.  With the Scriptures complete, there was no further need for this office. I Corinthians 13:8-10 There are now no true prophets today who have visions and hear from God apart from studying  His Word.

The Role of Pastor/Teachers Today- Feed the Flock

The pastor and teacher has replaced the office of prophet.  He no longer hears from God through visions and  dreams..  Rather he studies the Bible and brings God’s message directly from God’s Word. God’s Word teaches that women are not to teach in the public church service.  This does not belittle women. They can be just as godly as any man.  Godly women, including single women, have had the most influence on me through my childhood and teen years.  I can think of at least a dozen women who have helped shape me into the preacher I am today.  I thank God for faithful, Godly women. Though Godly women can teach  children,  young people and other women and thus influence the next generation for God; women should not be pastoring churches. That’s not my opinion, nor is it politically correct.   It’s God’s clear instruction..  See I Corinthians 14:34-35.  I Timothy 3:1-13  Titus 1:5-9

Protect the Flock

In II Timothy 4:1-4  Paul charges Pastor Timothy to  “preach the Word; be instant in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.”  In Acts 20:28-35  Paul warns the pastors in Ephesus to beware of false prophets and others who would attempt to infiltrate the church and divide it.  A true pastor is a shepherd who leads his flock to the green pastures of Scripture.  He is also on guard continually for wolves in sheep’s clothing who would come and destroy the flock.

Isaiah 56:10-11 also describes a faithful prophet/pastor as a barking dog who alerts his congregation to false teachers. A barking dog is noisy and awakens sleepers.  If there is no danger, then the barking is irritating.  If there is danger, the barking is comforting

What Should You Do?

Christian friend,  I encourage you to make sure you are in a church pastored by one who faithfully gives you the Word of God.  I trust that, like the Berean Christians in Acts 17:11,  you will check what you hear by the Scriptures and make sure you are hearing the truth.  I Thessalonians 5:1  charges you to “Prove all things and hold fast to that which is good.”   May God help you to stay in the Word and test everything you hear by God’s Word and may you be faithful to Him in rejecting false teachers and supporting God’s faithful servants. 

May 29, 2006 Posted by | Deception Series | Comments Off on Deception series #1: False Prophets

Separation series #2: Liberalism

 
 
 

The great divide in America is not red states vs blue states.  It is not between Democrats and Republicans. Basically it is a conflict between liberal philosophy and conservative philosophy

 

The conflict between Liberals and Conservatives is more of a spiritual issue than a political issue, although it certainly has political repercussions.  Liberals and Conservatives are found in both major political parties. The word  liberal is a good word.  The word means generous and broadminded.  Proverbs 11:25 states, “The liberal soul shall be made fat: and he that watereth shall be watered himself.”  However, the name liberal has been applied in the religious arena to those who deny the  inspiration and infallibility of the Bible and  the doctrine of Christ. A more accurate name for such would be heretic.

 

Liberals Worship Their Minds

 

Liberals consider themselves intellectually superior to Conservatives and they look down on those who believe the Bible to be the inspired, infallible Word  of God  as ignorant, simplistic and inferior. Instead of allowing God’s Word to judge their minds,  they judge the Bible by their own minds.  They determine their own moral standards which are directly opposite from the moral standards of the Bible.   That’s why when it comes to moral issues,  Liberals and Conservatives are diametrically opposed to one another. 

 

 What Do Liberals Believe?

 

Liberals believe  that the Old Testament writers had a warped  understanding of God. They believe these ancient writers saw God as a capricious, vengeful, cruel despot.  Liberals  deny that the writers of both the Old and New Testaments were inspired of God.  They believe that the erroneous thinking of the writers flawed their documents which became part of the Bible.  

Liberals reject the deity of Christ,  but they see Jesus as  a good man who had a more enlightened view of God then the Old Testament writers.  Liberals declare  that because of His teachings, Jesus  was rightfully  called the Son of God.   They deny that Jesus is  the virgin born Son of God who lived a sinless life in a human body, then shed His blood on the cross as the final and complete sacrifice for our sins. Instead, they affirm that Jesus died as a martyr for the things He believed and taught.

 

 

The Liberal sees God as being so kind and loving that He  overlooks sin.  Liberals reject that God would ever consign anyone to eternal hell.  They teach that everyone is a child of God  and that eventually everyone will be in Heaven.   They say  that it does not matter what you believe;  all roads lead to Heaven.

 

The religious Liberal picks and chooses what he wants to accept in the Bible.  If something speaks to him it becomes the Word of God to him.  If it seems contrary to human reasoning and science, then he rejects it as myth.  Most Liberals would reject a  universal flood in Noah’s day.  They would reject the miracles of the Bible, including the virgin birth of Christ and His bodily resurrection; concluding that His corpse lies as dust in some tomb.

 

When Liberals speak of believing in the resurrection of Christ they mean only that Jesus’ spirit rose in the lives of His followers. It’s true that every Christian is indwelt by the Spirit of Christ. The Bible teaches that the slain body of Jesus literally rose again from the dead three days later in a glorified state and is in Heaven today. Jesus is returning in that body to raise us from the dead, to judge His enemies and  bring in His  everlasting Kingdom of righteousness and peace.  All of this is rejected by Liberals.

 

Liberals reject the creation of man and choose to accept  the evolutionary theory.  They see man as an animal that has evolved to a higher level.  As an animal, they reject the idea of a  human being having a conscience that enables him  to recognize God’s moral standards and know when he has done right or wrong. 

 

Because  Liberals declare there are no absolute moral standards,  but every man has freedom to do whatever he desires;  they welcome the theory of evolution as reason to ignore Almighty God, The Creator;  and reject the moral standards of the Bible.  They reject the fact that all of Adam’s race is born with a sinful nature. They teach that if we just fan the spark  of divine goodness in every man and woman, mankind will continue to evolve and become God-like.  Because of this false premise, it colors their thinking about everything in life.

 

Whereas the Christian’s view of tolerance is to accept others without agreeing with or sharing their beliefs or lifestyle choices; the liberal’s view of tolerance is to accept the beliefs, values, lifestyles and the truth claims of all as of equal value.

 

Whereas the Christian’ source of truth, Christ and His Word, the Bible,  are accepted as absolute and final; the liberal’s view of truth is relative. They tell us that truth is “whatever is right for you.”

 

Whereas the  Christian’s understanding of  right and wrong are determined by the Bible;  the liberal claims that no one has the right to judge another’s views or behaviour as being right or wrong.  Many Christians today have swallowed the liberal’s philosophy that Christians who so judge others are “judgmental”.

C.S. Lewis has this to say about such rubbish,  “A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a good moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic-on a level with the man who says he is a poached egg-or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great moral teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to.”

 

How Their Liberal Beliefs Affect Their Positions

 

Because  Liberals consider the Old Testament  too harsh,  they are generally opposed to the death penalty for capital  offenses.  They are also basically in favor of showing leniency for those who commit crimes.  They are  for lighter sentences.   They argue that the criminal is not at fault alone.  Rather, they blame society for the criminal’s behavior. To Liberals, criminals are not the problem; guns are the problem. They declare that if we remove guns from the people, that crime will decrease.

 

Because  Liberals are convinced  that man is basically good,  they see no need for a strong military defense.  Instead, they conclude man can bring about world peace through diplomacy alone.

 

Though most Conservatives care about the environment,  Liberals are more incensed by environmental pollution than by  moral pollution.  Interestingly, the same Liberal who is opposed to the death penalty for murderers is usually for killing unwanted babies by abortion.

 

How do Liberals Operate?

 

The Liberal Intelligentsia  promote class warfare. They try to convince the poor and middle class that they are victims of the rich. They see their calling in life to be Robin Hoods; stealing from the rich through excessive taxation to provide government programs for the poor. Instead of solving economic problems, they create  more dependence on government. Many dependants  see themselves as victims of societies inequities and gladly choose those political saviours who offer them the most money and the most security, even it if means less freedom.

 

Liberals  promote their agenda and increase their power by teaching their religion of humanism and socialism in the public schools and secular universities where they are welcomed with open arms. Through their so called “progressive education” they have brought about the dumbing down of America in the past fifty years. Liberals desperately need  to operate among naive, dependant people who will look to them as saviours. 

 

Basically the difference in strategy between  Conservatives and  Liberals is that  Conservatives use facts and appeal to the intellect, while Liberals appeal to emotions to make their points.

 

The Fairness Doctrine

 

The extreme Liberals are Socialists at heart, they are rabid in their desire and efforts to silence all opposition to their views.  When popular conservative talk shows spring up, they are enraged  and attack them furiously with what they call a “Fairness Doctrine”  which is actually an attempt to stifle and control free speech.

 

By this so-called “Fairness Doctrine” for every hour of Conservative talk on the radio and television, they want equal time to let Liberals give their side.   The foolishness about this is that they already have the freedom and opportunity to use the media as much as they wish.  Who is stopping them from presenting their own side?  Their problem is that few Americans want to listen to their drivel and few businesses want to support them. 

 

Whose talking about fairness?  The Liberals already have control of the public educational system from PreSchool through college. They already control the major new media.  What more can they want but the silencing of Conservatism?  

 

How did they gain that power and control? Through the spiritual blindness of Christians who allowed theological liberalism to take control of  their churches over the past two centuries.  Again, I assert that theological liberalism leads to political liberalism.

 

What is the Answer to Liberalism?

 

The only answer to the malaise of Liberalism is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. When one finds salvation in Christ, and starts growing in his Christian faith, he is filled with hope and self-confidence as he learns to put his confidence in God.   He no longer sees himself a victim, but as a victor over his circumstances. He develops a work ethic. He loves the Bible and  rejoices in God’s holy standards and in his freedom in Christ.  Because he has found new life and God’s solution to his problems,  he desires to share the Good News with others.

 

If anyone ever had reason to be a liberal, I did.  I was born into a poor missionary family.  My father died when I was four.  My mother could have taught me how poor we were and how dependent we were on others.   If there had been government relief when I was a child, my mother could have opted for that relief.  Instead of thinking myself a victim and looking for relief from others,  I was taught the value of work and free-enterprise from childhood.

 

Come to think of it, I never even knew I was poor as a child.  I knew nothing of scholarships or government grants. I worked my way through a Christian high school and Christian college, earning my tuition, room and board.  I say all of this; not to boast, but to encourage you who have had it difficult in life.  By the grace of God,  I came to know Jesus from  early childhood. He has given me the confidence and the enthusiasm to tackle the difficulties of life. 

 

I thank God that Jesus is my Saviour,  my Shepherd, my Provider,  my Lord and my God.  I thank God for the Bible, God’s Word  that shows me how to live.  I thank God for the high privilege of being an American citizen and for the freedom I  have enjoyed all my life.  I thank God for our police officers,  fire fighters, and servicemen and women who are defending and protecting  America with their lives. May God bless and protect them.  May God continue to bless America with the freedom that comes from Him alone  and may we Christians in America see our responsibility to take the Gospel of Christ to those around us and to those in other lands who are bound by  Satan and his lies.

May 29, 2006 Posted by | Separation Series | Comments Off on Separation series #2: Liberalism

Crucifixion of Jesus

Years ago I came across the following vivid account by a medical doctor of Christ’s crucifixion. I still cannot read this without shedding tears for what Jesus went through for me. 

CRUCIFIXION OF CHRIST 

by C. Truman David, M.D., M.S.

In this paper, I shall discuss some of the physical aspects of the Passion, or suffering of Jesus Christ.  We shall follow Him from
Gethsemane, through His trial, His scourging, His journey to the cross,  to His last dying hours on the cross. 

I  became interested in this about a year ago when I read an account of the Crucifixion in Jim Bishop’s book, The Day Christ Died. I suddenly realized that I had taken the Crucifixion more or less for granted all these years; that I had grown callous to its horror by a too easy familiarity with the grim details and that, as a physician, I didn’t even know the actual cause of death.  The Gospel writers don’t help us very much on this point because crucifixion and scourging were so common during their lifetime and that they undoubtedly considered a detailed description totally superfluous.  So we have the concise words of the Evangelists, “Pilate, having scourged Jesus, delivered Him to them to be crucified; and they crucified Him.” 

I am indebted to many who have studied this subject in the past, and especially to a contemporary colleague, Dr. Pierre Barbet, a French surgeon who has done exhaustive historical and experimental research and has written extensively on the subject. 

The infinite psychic and spiritual suffering of the incarnate God in  atonement for the sins of fallen man I have no competence to discuss.  However, the physical and anatomical aspects of our Lord’s Passion we can examine in some detail.  What did the body of Jesus of Nazareth actually endure during those hours of torture? 

This led me first to a study of the practice of crucifixion itself.  Crucifixion is a torture and execution of a person by fixation to a cross.  Apparently the first known practice of crucifixion was by the Persians.  Alexander and his generals brought it back to the Mediterranean world; to
Egypt and to
Carthage. The Romans learned the practice from the Carthagenians and (as with most everything the Romans did) rapidly developed a very high degree of efficiency and skill to carry it out.  A number of Roman authors (Liby, Cicero, Tacitus) comment on it.  Several innovations and modifications are described in the ancient literature.  I’ll only mention a few which may have some bearing here. 

The upright portion of the cross could have the cross-arm two or three feet below its top.  This si what we commonly think of today as the classical form of the cross (The one which we have later named the Latin cross.)  However, the common form used in our Lord’s day was the Tau cross (shaped like the Greek letter Tau or like our  “T”). In this cross, the cross-arm was placed in a notch at the top of the upright.  There is fairly overwhelming archeological evidence that it was on this type of cross that Jesus was crucified. 

The upright post was generally permanently fixed in the ground at the site of execution and the condemned man was forced to carry the cross-arm, apparently weighing about 100 pounds, from the prison to the place of execution.  Without any historical or Biblical proof, Medieval and Renaissance painters have given us our picture of Christ carrying the entire cross.   Many of these painters and most of the sculptors of the crucifixion today show the nails through the palms.  Roman historical accounts and experimental work have shown that the nails were driven through the wrists and not the palms.  Nails driven through the palms will strip out between the fingers when they support the weight of a human body.  The misconception may have come through a misunderstanding of Jesus’ words to Thomas, “Observe my hands.”  Anatomists, both modern and ancient, have always considered the wrists as part of the hand. 

A titulus, or small sign, stating the victim’s crime was usually carried at the front of the procession and later nailed to the cross above his head.  This sign with its staff nailed to the top of the cross would have given it somewhat the characteristic form of the Latin cross. 

The physical passion of Christ begins at
Gethsemane.  Of the many aspects of this initial suffering, I shall discuss only one of  physiological interest; the bloody sweat.  It is interesting that the physician of the group, Luke, is the only one to mention this.  He says, “And being in agony He prayed the longer. And His sweat became as drops of blood, trickling down upon the ground.”  Luke 22:42 

Every attempt imaginable has been used by modern scholars to explain away this phrase, apparently under the mistaken impression that it just doesn’t happen.  A great deal of effort could be saved by consulting medical literature.  Though very rare, the phenomenon of hematidrosis, or bloody sweat, is well documented. Under great emotional strain tiny capillaries in the sweat glands can break, thus mixing blood with sweat.  This process alone could have produced marked weakness and shock. (The problem here is not with the physical possibility, but with the textual evidence in Luke.) 

We shall move rapidly through the betrayal and arrest.  I must stress again that important portions of the Passion study are missing from this account.   This may be frustrating to you, but, in order to adhere to our purpose of discussing only the purely physical aspects of the Passion, this is necessary. 

After the arrest in the middle of the night Jesus was brought before the Sanhedrin and Caiphas. The palace guard then blindfolded Him and mockingly taunted Him to identify them as they were passing by to spit on Him and strike Him in the face. 

In the early morning Jesus, battered and bruised, dehydrated and exhausted from a sleepless night, is taken to
Jerusalem to the Praetorium of the fortress Antonia, the seat of the government of the Procurator of Judea, Pontius Pilate. You are, of course, familiar with Pilate’s attempt to pass the responsibility to Herod Antipas, the Tetrarch of Judea.  Jesus apparently suffered no physical mistreatment at the hands of Herod and was returned to Pilate.  It was then, in response to the cries of the mob, that Pilate ordered Barabbas released and condemned Jesus to scourging and crucifixion.  There is much disagreement among authorities about scourging as a prelude to crucifixion. Most Roman writers from this period do not associate the two. Many scholars believe that Pilate originally ordered Jesus scourged as His full punishment and that the death sentence by crucifixion came only in response to the taunt by the mob that the Procurator was not properly defending Caesar against this pretender who claimed to be King of the Jews. 

Preparation for the scourging are carried out.  The prisoner is stripped of His clothing and His hands tied above His head to a post. It is doubtful whether the Romans made any attempt to follow the Jewish law in this matter of scourging.  The Jews had an ancient law prohibiting more than forty lashes.  The Pharisees, always making sure that the Law was strictly kept, insisted that only thirty-nine be given. ( In the case of a miscount they were sure of remaining in the Law.) The Roman legionnaire steps forward with the flagrum in his hand.  This is a whip consisting of several heavy leather thongs with two small balls of lead attached near the end.  The heavy whip is brought down with full force again and again across Jesus’ shoulders, back and legs.  At first the heavy thongs cut through the skin only.  Then as the blows continue, they cut deeper into the underlying tissues producing first an oozing of blood from the capillaries and veins of the skin, and finally arterial bleeding from the vessels in the underlying muscles.  The small balls of lead first produce large, deep bruises which are broken open by subsequent blows.  Finally the skin of the back is hanging in long ribbons and the entire area is an unrecognizable mass of torn, bleeding tissue.   When it is determined by the centurion in charge that the prisoner is near death the beating is finally stopped. 

The half-fainting Jesus is then untied and allowed to slump to the stone pavement, wet in His own blood.  The Roman soldiers see a great joke in this provincial Jew claiming to be king.  They throw a robe across His shoulders and place  a stick in His hand for a scepter.  They still need a crown to make their travesty complete.  A small bundle of flexible branches covered with long thorns are shaped into a cross and this is pressed into His scalp.  Again there is large amounts of bleeding. (The scalp is one of the most vascular areas of the body.) After mocking Him and striking Him across the face the soldiers take the stick from His hand and strike Him across the head driving the thorns deeper into His scalp.  Finally they tire of their sadistic sport and the robe is torn from His back  This had already become adherent to the clots of blood and serum in the wounds and its removal, just as a careless removal of a surgical bandage, causes excruciating pain- almost as though He were again being whipped- and the wounds again begin to bleed. 

In deference to Jewish custom, the Romans return His garments.  The heavy cross-arm of the cross is tied to His shoulders and the procession of the condemned Christ, two thieves and execution detail of Roman soldiers, headed by the centurion, begins its slow journey to
Calvary. In spite of His efforts to walk erect, the weight of the heavy wooden beam together with the shock produced by the copious blood loss is too much.  He stumbles and falls.  The rough wooden beam gouges into the lacerated skin and muscles of the shoulder.  He tries to rise, but human muscles have been pushed beyond their endurance.  The centurion, anxious to get on with the crucifixion, selects a stalwart North African onlooker, Simon of Cyrene, to carry the cross.  Jesus follows, still bleeding and sweating the cold, clammy sweat of shock.  The 650 yard journey from the Fortress Antonia to
Golgotha is finally completed.  The prisoner is stripped of His clothing except for a loin cloth which is allowed the Jews. 

The crucifixion begins.  Jesus is offered wine mixed with myrrh, a mild analgesic mixture.  He refuses to drink.  Simon is ordered to place the cross-arm on the ground and Jesus is quickly thrown backward with His shoulders against the wood.  The legionnaire feels for the depression at the front of the wrists.  He drives a heavy square wrought iron nail through the wrist and deep into the wood.  Quickly, he moves to the other side and repeats the action being careful not to pull the arm too tightly, to allow for some flexation and movement. The cross-arm is then lifted to its place at the top of the upright and the titulus reading, “Jesus of Nazareth, King of the Jews” is nailed into place. 

The left foot is then placed backwards against the right foot and with both feet extended  toes down, a nail is driven through His feet into the cross. Excruciating  fiery pain shoots down along the fingers and up the arms to explode in the brain. The nails in the wrists are putting pressure on the middle nerve. As He pushes Himself upward to avoid the torment, He places His full weight on the nail through His feet. 

At this point another phenomenon occurs.  As the arms fatigue, great waves of cramps sweep over the muscles knotting them in deep, relentless, throbbing pain.  With these cramps comes the inability to push Himself upward.  Hanging by His arms the chest (pectoral) muscles are paralyzed and the intercostal muscles are unable to act (these help expiration). Air can be drawn into the lungs but cannot be exhaled.  Jesus fights to raise Himself in order to get even one short breath.  Finally, carbon dioxide builds up in the lungs and in the blood stream and the cramps partially subside.  Spasmodically He is able to push Himself upward to exhale and bring in life giving oxygen.   It was undoubtedly during these periods that He uttered the seven short sayings which are recorded. 

At first, looking down at the Roman soldiers throwing dice for His seamless garment, “Father, forgive them for they know not what they do.”  Luke 23:34 

Second, to the penitent thief, “Today thou shalt be with Me in
Paradise.”  Luke 23:43 

The third, looking down at the terrified, grief stricken, adolescent John (the beloved apostle), He said, “Behold thy mother.”  And looking to Mary, His mother, “Woman, behold thy son.”  John 19:26-27 

The fourth cry is from Psalm 22,  “My God, My God, Why hast Thou forsaken me?  Mark 15:34 

Hours of limitless pain pass, cycles of twisting, joint-rending cramps, intermittent partial asphyxiation (suffocation), searing pain as torn from His lacerated back as He moves up and down against the rough timber. Then another agony begins: a deep, crushing pain in the chest as the pericardium (the sac around the heart) slowly fills with serum and begins to compress the heart. Let us again remember the 22nd Psalm, verse 14, “I am poured out like water and all my bones are out of joint: my heart is like wax; it is melted  in the midst of my bowels.” 

It is almost over now.  The loss of tissue fluid has reached a critical level and the compressed heart is struggling to pump heavy, thick sluggish blood into tissues. The tortured lungs are making a frantic effort to gasp small gulps of air.  The markedly dehydrated tissue send their flood of stimuli to the brain.  Jesus gasps His fifth cry,  “I thirst”  John 19:28   A sponge soaked in Posca, a cheap sour wine which is a staple drink of the Roman legionnaires, is lifted to His lips.  He apparently doesn’t take any of the liquid.  

 The body of Jesus is now in extremis and He can feel the chill of death creeping through His tissues.  This realization brings out the sixth word, possibly little more than a tortured whisper, “It is finished!” John 19:30  His mission of atonement has been completed. Finally He can allow His body to die.  With one last surge of strength He once again presses His  torn feet against the nail, straightens His legs, takes a deeper breath, and utters His last cry, “Father, into Thy hands I commit my Spirit.”  Luke 23:45 

The rest you know.  In order that the Sabbath not be profaned, the Jews asked that the condemned men be dispatched and removed from the crosses.  The common method of ending crucifixion was by  curifracture, the breaking of the bones of the legs.  This prevented the victim from pushing upward, the tension could not be relieved from the muscles of the chest and rapid suffocation occurred.  The legs of the two thieves were broken but when they came to Jesus they saw this was unnecessary. 

Apparently to make doubly sure of death the legionnaire drove the lance through the fifth interspace between the ribs, upward, through the pericardium and into the heart. John 19:34   “And immediately there came out blood and water.”  Thus there was an escape of the watery fluid from the sac surrounding the heart.   We, therefore, have rather conclusive postmortem evidence that our Lord died; not from the crucifixion  death by suffocation,  but of heart failure due to shock and constriction of the heart by fluids in the pericardium. 

Thus we have seen the epitome of evil which man can exhibit toward man and toward God.  This is not a pretty sight and is apt to leave us despondent and depressed.  How grateful  we can be that we have a sequel: a glimpse of the infinite mercy of God towards man, the miracle of the atonement and the expectation of Easter morning.

May 29, 2006 Posted by | Jesus | Comments Off on Crucifixion of Jesus

Christmas series #2: Who is the Christmas Child?

Who is the Christmas child?  Doesn’t everyone know? Isn’t He the Son of God born in Bethlehem?  Isn’t His name “Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The Everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace,” as prophesied in Isaiah 9:6?

 

Isn’t His name “Emmanuel, meaning God with us,” as explained to Joseph by the angel Gabriel in Matthew 1:23?  Yes! Yes! Yes! to all those questions.

 

God named Him Jesus.  That was God’s instruction to Mary by the angel Gabriel.  Luke 1:26:33   The same instruction was given to Joseph in Matthew 1:18-21. There was no question or argument as to what His name would be.  The names means “for He shall save His people from their sins.

 

Who Is Jesus?

The full form of that name was translated from  the Old Testament name, Je-hoshua  or Joshua, meaning Jehovah will save.  Wow!  Did you hear that?   JEHOVAH will save!   The JEHOVAH of the Old Testament has come as a man  to dwell with men on this earth in order to be their Saviour.

 

Two Names of God:  Elohim and Jehovah

Elohim is the name of God that speak of His power and His preeminence.

Jehovah is the name of God that speaks of His relationship with His own;   with Israel in the Old Testament and with His Church in the New Testament.

 

YHWH (Yah-weh)

Jehovah is the English rendering of the Hebrew tetragram,  YHWH.  It’s original pronunciation was unknown.  The Jews took seriously the third commandment to avoid taking God’s name in vain.  So to keep from speaking that holy name carelessly,  in the 3rd century BC,  they started using the name Adonai, or Lord,  to refer to God.  In the King James Version, Lord is used instead of Jehovah, whereas in the American Standard Version,  Jehovah is used.

 

I AM

The sacred name Jehovah is derived from  the verb  to be, implying that God is eternal.  Jesus claimed in John 8:58  that He is I AM.  When He made that claim the Pharisees were furious with Him and tried to stone Him.  Jesus was claiming that He has always existed and always will exist.  He was never created.

 

Ten names are linked with Jehovah in the O.T.

These linked names teach us more about Jehovah.

Jehovah-rophe  Jehovah heals.  Exodus 15:26

Jehovah-meqeddesh  Jehovah sanctifies. Exodus 31:13

Jehovah-tsabaoth   Lord of Hosts   I Samuel 1:3

Jehovah-elyon  Jehovah Most High  Psalm 7:17

(Here’s one you will recognize!)

Jehovah-rohi  The Lord is my Shepherd   Psalm 23:1

Jehovah-jireh  The Lord will provide Genesis 22:14

Jehovah-Shalom  The Lord my Peace  Judges 6:24

Jehovah-Shammah  The Lord is there  Ezekiel 48:35

Jehovah-Tsidkenu  The Lord our righteousness.  Jeremiah 33:6

 

Who is our Shepherd, Provider, Righteousness and all the things above?  JESUS.  Jehovah was the pre-incarnate name of Jesus.  Jesus is the Jehovah of the Old Testament.

 

John made a blanket statement in John 1:18 when he declared that “No man has seen God as any time.  The only begotten Son has revealed Him.”  Jesus revealed the Father.  Do you want to know what God the Father is like?  Look at Jesus and you will see a perfect reflection of the Father.

 

So whenever Jehovah appeared or spoke to anyone in the Old Testament, it was the pre-incarnate Jesus.  This is the WONDER of Christmas.   That baby in the manger was Jehovah of the Old Testament now a tiny, human helpless baby boy, dependent on His mother to feed Him and change His diapers.  Isn’t that amazing!  

 

Many years ago, Dr. James Grey, one of the early presidents of Moody Bible Institute was sitting in Lincoln Park in Chicago reading his Bible.  As he read it suddenly dawned on Him that Jesus was the Jehovah of the Old Testament.  He stood to his feet in silent, reverent worship. He was not aware of the time he stood there  until suddenly he noticed that people were staring at him.

 

Are you sitting there at your computer in silent worship?  Has this glorious truth dawned on you.  The Christmas baby is the Jehovah of the Old Testament.  He is the Creator God who has no beginning or ending.  He is the great I AM.  If you have put your trust in Him,  He is your Saviour, your Lord and your God, as Thomas exclaimed at Jesus’ resurrection, as recorded in John 20:28

May 29, 2006 Posted by | Christmas Series | Comments Off on Christmas series #2: Who is the Christmas Child?

Covenant series #1: Old Covenant

 The Abrahamic Covenant

Four thousand years ago God reached into Ur of the Chaldees, now known as Iraq, and in His wisdom, sovereignty and grace chose Abram (later called Abraham) for a very special purpose. He called him to leave his country and go to a place He would show him. Separated from the culture of his birthplace, God established a new nation and a new culture totally separate from the rest of the world. God led him to and gave him the land of Palestine. He promised to bless him and make his progeny a blessing to the world. The promise God gave to Abraham is called the Abrahamic Covenant and it is found in Genesis chapters 12 and 17.

Abrahamic Covenant continues through Isaac, Jacob and Judah

Time passed and Abraham and his wife Sarah grew old. Though promised descendents as vast as the stars in number, they still had no children. His wife was well past the age of bearing children. In their impatience with God, Abraham, at the suggestion of Sarah, had a son, Ishmael, by Sarah’s handmaid, Hagar. Ishmael became father of the Arabs. Finally when Abraham was 100 years old it is recorded in Genesis 22 that God gave Abraham and Sarah their promised son, Isaac, through whom the Abrahamic Covenant continued. Later, Isaac was married to Rebecca and they had twin sons, Esau and Jacob. In Genesis 28 it is recorded that God in His sovereignty continued His Covenant through Jacob, whose name was changed to Israel. Jacob had twelve sons, and from those sons, Genesis 49 records that God chose Judah through whom the Abrahamic Covenant should continue and through whom the Messiah would come.

The rest of the Old Testament story is the record of how God directed and protected the Tribe of Judah through whom came our Saviour, the Lord Jesus Christ. Through Christ we who have trusted Him have been blessed, and through Him one day the whole world will be blessed.

Joseph protects his brothers, including Judah, in famine

Later because of famine in Israel, the twelve sons of Jacob went down to Egypt to find food. Interestingly, years earlier eleven of these sons, had grown jealous of their brother Joseph and sold him to some traders going down to Egypt. God was with Joseph and eventually he became the prime minister of Egypt under Pharaoh. God used the wisdom of Joseph to prepare for famine and the twelve sons were reunited in Egypt and settled there in a special place called Goshen. There the twelve tribes of Israel prospered and grew until a new Pharaoh came along who did not know or appreciate Joseph. For the next four hundred years, Israel suffered in slavery in Egypt.

Moses leads the Exodus of Israel from Egypt to their Promised Land

At the end of the four hundred years of slavery in Egypt, God raised up a new leader from the tribe of Levi, whose name was Moses. You can read the exciting story in the early chapters of Exodus. God prepared and used Moses to lead Israel, now millions strong, to go back to the land God had promised them in the Abrahamic Covenant. In their journey back to Canaan, they traveled through the Sinai desert. There in the Sinai desert God gave to Moses to give to the people, His Laws: including His moral law, His civil law and His ceremonial law.

The moral law, summed up in the Ten Commandments, showed Israel God’s moral standards for them. The people promised to keep His law, but like all of us as sinners, they failed miserably.

The ceremonial law provided a way for sinful people to approach a holy God. It was a system of intricate details concerning the building of a tabernacle. It included a system of approaching God through the sacrifice of animals. All of these animal sacrifices were a picture and a type of the Lord Jesus Christ who as the Lamb of God, would one day be the complete and final sacrifice for sin. If Jesus had not come and died for sin, then all of the ceremonial system of worship with its sacrifices, feasts, Sabbaths and holy days would have been in vain.

The Abrahamic Covenant continues through King David and King Solomon

Later David of the Tribe of Judah was born and eventually became king of Israel. While king God gave him what is known as the Davidic Covenant. You can read it in II Samuel 7:8-17. In that covenant he refers to David’s son, Solomon, who would follow him on the throne. God also promised David that his throne would be eternal. Jesus, the Messiah and Saviour was promised who would reign forever on David’s throne over the whole earth. Read more about that reign in Isaiah 11 and 35 and in the Minor Prophet, Zechariah 11-13. Read also the prophetic fulfillment that is yet to come as it is described in Revelation 19:11-16 and Revelation 20:4.

The New Covenant Prophesied

Several hundred years later the Prophet Jeremiah appeared on the scene and in Jeremiah 31:31-37 he announced a New Covenant that would one day replace the Old Covenant. In a later article I will say more about this New Covenant.

The Old Covenant Ceases

When the Lord Jesus Christ came and died on a cross for the sins of the world the ceremonial system came to an abrupt end. The moment Jesus died, Matthew 27:50-51 tells us that the heavy veil in the temple was torn supernaturally from top to bottom, thus showing that the way to approach God through the Old Covenant had come to an end forever. At that moment salvation would come to sinful man through the New Covenant.

May 29, 2006 Posted by | Covenant Series | Comments Off on Covenant series #1: Old Covenant

Family series #2: Dedication

We continue our comments  from Deuteronomy 22:8 about our responsibility of building  battlements or walls of protection around  our homes to protect our children.  This spiritual, as well as physical  responsibility, starts with the father; but a wise mother works in harmony with her husband to protect her family. Let’s consider those  walls of protection.

 

Foundation

 

Before we consider those walls, we need to make sure our home has a firm, solid foundation. In I Corinthians  3:9-15  Paul speaks of Christ as that foundation.  To have a Christian home, both husband and wife need to make sure they are both trusting in Christ alone for salvation and that both are submitted to the Lordship of Christ. . A Christian home must be built on Christian  principles.

 

The first wall of protection is dedication.

 

Dedicate yourself

 

If ours is to be a Christian home, both husband and wife must each have dedicated their lives to Christ. Paul writes to every Christians in Romans 12:1-2 ” I beseech you therefore brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”  Success as parents starts with both parents yielded fully to God, ready to do whatever His Word says. Whether you are a young couple anticipating marriage or whether you have been married for several years, I urge you to get involved in a church where Christ is magnified and where the Bible is clearly taught and applied to life.  Some of the preaching may go against your grain and irritate you, but if you are wise you will honestly face God’s Word and test everything you hear by what the Bible says.  Dedicate yourself to God to read His Word together daily and spend time talking to Him together.  Unless you are both dedicated to God, one of the important walls of protection is lacking in your home and your children will suffer for it.

 

Dedicate your children

 

As dedicated Christian parents I would urge you to publicly dedicate your children to God in a church service.  It can be a blessing to you, to your children and to the rest of the congregation.  In a dedication service you are publicly acknowledging that your child is a gift of God and that you recognize He has entrusted your child  to you for about 18 years to train for His glory.  You recognize your lack of wisdom to take on this sobering responsibility and your total dependence on God and His Word for that wisdom. Your trust is in God for success.  Your  desire for your children is that they each come to know Christ as Saviour and Lord and that they surrender their wills to Him.

 

Two examples of infant dedication are given in Scripture. 

 

Hannah brought her infant son, Samuel, to the temple and presented him to the Lord. She said,  “For this child I prayed and the Lord hath given me my petition which I asked of Him: therefore also have I lent him to the Lord, as long as he lives he shall be lent to the Lord. And she worshipped the Lord there.”  I Samuel 1:27-28

 

In the New Testament we read of Mary and Joseph bringing the infant Jesus to the temple to present Him to the Lord. You can read the story in Luke 2:21-22.  We must not mistake infant dedication with baptism.  Jesus was dedicated to the Lord as an infant  and He was baptized in the Jordan River when He was about 30 years old.   Luke 3:21-23

 

There are other walls that we will be discussing, but there can be no success in any other area of parenting until this wall of dedication has been built.

 

May 29, 2006 Posted by | Family Series | Comments Off on Family series #2: Dedication

Stumbling through life blindfolded

“As it would be cruel to an Amazonian tribesman to fly him into London. put him down without explanation in Trafalgar Square and leave him, as one who knew nothing of English or England, to fend for himself, so we are cruel to ourselves if we try to live in this world without knowing about the God whose world it is and who runs it. The world becomes a strange, mad, painful place, and life in it a disappointing and unpleasant business for those who do not know about God. Disregard the study of God, and you sentence yourself to stumble and blunder through life blindfolded, as it were, with no sense of direction and no understanding of what surrounds you. This way you can waste your life and lose your soul.” Knowing God by J.I. Packer

May 28, 2006 Posted by | Gems | Comments Off on Stumbling through life blindfolded