Hidden Treasures

The Bible is much more than a book of religion.

Wonderful

Seven hundred years before Jesus was born in Bethlehem, the Prophet Isaiah  in Isaiah 9:6-7 gave an amazing prophecy concerning Jesus’  birth, giving five names that would identify and describe Him.

1. Wonderful

2. Counselor

3. Mighty God

4. Everlasting Father

5. Prince of Peace.

In this Christmas series on the five names of Jesus, we will examine each of these names.

Before we discuss these names, I want to take you back to a prophecy of Jesus’ birth in Isaiah 7:14.  Years before this prophecy was given,  the ten northern tribes of Israel, sometimes identified collectively as Ephraim, which was one of those tribes; was warring against the two southern Tribes of Israel: Benjamin and Judah,  known collectively as Judah. 

The prophecy was given to King Ahaz of Judah who was fearful and discouraged because Israel was coming to war against him.  Follow along with me in your Bible  at Isaiah 7:1.  Ahaz was being attacked by a confederation of two kings:  Pekah of Israel and  Rezin, King of Syria. Note that in spite of their superior size and power, they were not able to prevail against Judah.

Verse 2 tells us that The King of Judah, the tribe of the house of David, was moved in fear as the branches of  trees are moved by a wind storm.

In verse 3-9  God commanded His prophet, Isaiah, to comfort and encourage the fearful king of Judah to not fear for in a few short years, Israel would be conquered and scattered and dispersed. That took place in 721 BC when Israel was scattered by the Assyrians throughout the world.  Today they are still scattered after 2700 years; although some since 1948 have returned to their Homeland of Palestine.   One day all of them will be regathered back to Palestine again, but that’s another exciting story you can read about in my series on PROPHECY on this web site.

A WONDERFUL PROPHECY

In Isaiah 7:10-14 God offers to give King Ahaz a sign that would comfort and encourage him that God was with him.  Basically, God was offering him any sign he wished in the heavens or on earth.  Ahaz refused to accept a sign from God. Perhaps he thought that would be presumptuous, but actually he was showing unbelief in God.  So God gave him and the people of Judah a special sign, whether they wanted it or not.  That sign was that in the fullness of time, God would cause a young virgin woman who had never known a man sexually to supernaturally conceive and bear a son, whose name would be IMMANUEL, which means GOD  WITH US.  For more on this amazing prophecy, I encourage you to go to the link JESUS on this web site and scroll to The Virgin Birth and read of the amazing fulfillment of this prophecy and the meaning of it.

Then in Isaiah 9:1-7 Isaiah tells us more about this coming Messiah, who would be identified by five names: Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father and Prince of Peace. 

Let’s consider now the first name, 

WONDERFUL.

This world and this universe is wonderful!  None but a fool can stand at the rim of The Grand Canyon and not be moved by our wonderful God.  None but a fool can peer into the universe from powerful telescopes or from a space capsule in outer space or from the peaks of the world’s highest mountains and be unmoved by our Almighty God and Creator of this earth and universe.

None but a fool can witness the birth of a baby and look into the eyes of that infant and not be moved to worship and adore God who brought that infant human being into this world.  Psalm 139 states that “we are fearfully and wonderfully made.”  Yes, we are fearfully and wonderfully made, but only God is Wonderful!

WE’RE HERO WORSHIPPERS

We are prone to focus on the wonders of men themselves.  We glory in their wonderful scientific discoveries and inventions. We think on the genius of man himself as  painter, musician, architect, builder, scientist, inventor, actor or outstanding statesman and stateswoman.  We dwell on the genius of their inventions and discoveries and on their works of art, but Samuel Morse who invented the telegraph had it right when he sent over the wires his first telegraph from Washington to Baltimore, “What hath God wrought!”

We think of some of the great spiritual giants of the past: Abraham, Moses, David,  Elijah and the Apostles, such as Peter, James John and Paul; or the men of the Reformation, such as Luther, Huss, and Wycliffe.   We glory in some of the missionary giants such as David Livingston, Hudson Taylor or William Carey.  Some of us glory in the church leaders of this generation who have built great churches and great radio and television ministries and we call them great.  Mankind is so prone to hero worship.  Even Christians fall into this trap.  

But no man or woman is worthy of that name WONDERFUL. All pale into insignificance when contrasted with our Wonderful Lord Jesus Christ. creator of the universe, the only begotten Son of God,  our Saviour and our God.

JESUS, AS THE WORLD SEES HIM

 

To the ungodly there is nothing wonderful about Jesus.   They see Him simply as an ancient misguided prophet/teacher who though He accumulated some followers, ended up making people angry and killing Him.

To the world the word wonderful is reserved for music super-stars, movie stars and sport’s heroes. We reserve the word for fun-filled, exciting experiences.  We are the center of our existence.  Anything that makes us feel good is wonderful.   We talk about having a wonderful time. For the average person, life is boring. You see it in the blankness and emptiness of the lost.  Only fun and  entertainment  and worldy success gives any meaning to life,  To the worlding life stripped of fun and entertainment is totally boring and  empty.  The average person lives for Fridays,  vacations and retirement.    What a sad, empty waste of a life!

TO THE CHRISTIAN, JESUS IS TRULY WONDERFUL!

 

His creation is wonderful!  As we stand on the rim of the Grand Canyon we are aware of His greatness and awesomeness and we think of Ephesians 3:17-21

At Old Faithful in Yellowstone Park we are made aware of God’s faithfulness to us and we think of Lamentations 3:21-23 and Hebrews 13:8.

At Niagara Falls we are made aware of His awesome power as spoken of in Ephesians 3:20-21

The Appalachian and Rocky Mountains remind us of Jesus’ eternality and majesty as spoken of in Psalm 90:1-2.

The oceans speak of His  might and sovereignty.  Psalm 104:5-9

Rivers, lakes, forests and fields speak of His abundant provision.

The rainbow speaks of His faithfulness and graciousness, God’s promise that He would never again send a worldwide flood.  Genesis 9:11-17, Lamentations 3:21-23

The Heaven’s speak of His infinite glory, Psalm 19

As we look into the face of a new born baby, we are reminded of God’s loving-kindness as we read of it in Psalm 139.

In Church we Christians sing of Jesus as our beloved Saviour and Friend.  “I am His and He is Mine”.  In the second stanza of that song we sing,

“Heaven above is softer blue,

Earth around is sweeter green,

Something lives in every hue,

Christless eyes have never seen.”

EVERYTHING ABOUT JESUS IS WONDERFUL!

 

His wonderful birth.  Luke 1:3-35

His wonderful life.  Matthew 21:14-15

His wonderful death for our sins. In Mathew 27:54 read the amazing words of the Roman Centurion who oversaw His execution on the cross.

His wonderful resurrection is recorded in John 20.

His wonderful return for His own is found in  I Thessalonians 4:13-18

His later return to this earth with His Church in great glory to reign.

II Thessalonians 1:7-10  and Revelation 1:7

SECRETS ABOUT OUR  WONDERFUL JESUS THAT OUGHT TO CAUSE US TO FALL DOWN IN WORSHIP BEFORE HIM.

 

1.  We share in His wonderful supernatural birth in our own supernatural new birth. John 1:12

2. We share in His wonderful death to our sinful self natures.  We die with Him. Romans 6:4-6

3. We share in His wonderful resurrection life that springs from our daily crucifixion with Him.  Galatians 2:20

4. And we will one day share in His bodily resurrection when Christ calls to catch us up to Heaven in what we call the rapture of the Church.

I Corinthians 15

May God thrill you with the wonder of knowing and being personally related to Jesus Christ now and forever through the new birth!

 

 

December 25, 2010 Posted by | Christmas Series | Comments Off on Wonderful

Counselor

This Christmas season we are considering the names of Jesus, prophesied in Isaiah 9:6.  The first was WONDERFUL, which you can read in the previous article.

In this message we see Jesus as our Wonderful, Wise Counselor.  He carries the government of our lives on His wise, powerful shoulders. Nothing is too hard for Him.  Christ is our wisdom as well as our salvation, according to I Corinthians 1:30.  Though anyone can dig knowledge out of a book, or through experience; only a Christian can discover true wisdom from Christ and His Word, the Bible, we learn in Proverbs 1:7  and 2:1-6.

If you’ve not yet read the first article in this series, entitled  WONDERFUL, read that first to gain an historical perspective to this series.  It deals with a confederacy of nations coming against Judah and how King Ahaz of Judah was encouraged.  Note further in Isaiah 8 some warnings God gives to Judah concerning her enemies, warning that we can take to heart when faced with spiritual warfare.

BEWARE OF SATAN AND HIS OWN!

Don’t associate and compromise with God’s enemies when attempting to serve God.  Isaiah 8:9, Psalm 1,  II Corinthians 6:14-18, For more on this warning go to category SEPARATION. 

Don’t give ear to the enemy of God and His Word. If you’re listening to preachers who never warn of sin and the need for trusting in the shed blood of Christ for salvation, they are false teachers. Don’t listen to them or you will absorb their poison and be led away from the Truth and ultimately destroyed. Isaiah 8:9

Don’t attempt to fight against God’s enemies, or you will be destroyed. Isaiah 8:9  God is well able to take care of His enemies.   Basically we should simply mark or recognize them and warn others of them and avoid them according to Romans 16:17.

Don’t waste your time listening to them and taking counsel with them.

Isaiah 8:10-11.

Don’t be impressed with nor fear their seeming majority. Isaiah 8:12. Remember, you and God make a majority in any situation. Romans 8:31

Separate yourself unto God.  Let Him be your fear; not the confederacy. Isaiah  8:13

Don’t listen to nor read those whose messages do not square with the Bible. Isaiah 8:19-20   Amos 7:7-8 speaks about God’s Word being our plumb line by which we judge whether what we’re hearing or reading is straight.

To ignore these warnings is to soon find ourselves in spiritual darkness.

Isaiah 8:22.

 

 

Beware of those who compromise the Word. They will also defile the true worship of Christ.

Beware of those who disobey Christ’s Great Commission by substituting social action and political correctness for preaching the Gospel. Caring for the physical needs of the sick and the needy is good if followed up with caring for the spiritual needs as well.

Concern yourself with being separated unto God. He will strengthen and uphold you. Revelation 18:4,  II Corinthians 6:14-18  

NEVERTHELESS

 

That word, nevertheless in Isaiah 9:1 contrasts the fear and confusion described in Isaiah 7-8 with the assurance of victory prophesied and promised in  chapter 9.   God’s eternal plan for Israel and then for His Church was carried out in His first coming when Jesus came into the world as a Suffering Servant to die and rise again for our sins  and will be concluded in His second coming when He returns as conquering King.

According to I Peter  1:10-11, the Old Testament  prophets who wrote these prophecies by inspiration of God did not always understand what they were writing; but they searched their writings diligently to try to understand them.

What was God’s plan for this world? According to Isaiah 9 Jesus came as the Light to this dark world.  Israel rejected that Light at His first coming, but they are going to welcome and receive that Light and freedom from the yoke of oppression  at His second coming.

Thank God that even in the noise and confusion  and insanity of our present political and economic world, we Christians enjoy that joy and light and freedom from the yoke of sins’ oppression now through knowing Jesus, the Light of the world.

That joy and peace and prosperity will extend worldwide when Jesus, our Wonderful Counsellor returns to reign over the world. Isaiah 11 and 35 describe that millennial reign of Christ in beautiful detail.  It’s the same Millennium described in Revelation 20 when Christ reigns for 1000 years on this earth. That glad day is coming. 

WHO IS THE COUNSELOR?

 

Christ is our wonderful counselor.  We as Biblically literate counselors have the privilege and responsibility to give wise counsel to those in need.

A wonderful counselor is first of all one who knows Christ and is constantly reading and meditating in the Bible. It is his meditation day and night. His mind is saturated with it.

A wonderful counselor is one who advises others Biblically, and helps them think through their problems and arrive at Christ centered decisions and actions.  

A wonderful counselor is one who directs others to discover Biblical solutions to their problems from God’s Word.

A wonderful counselor is one who warns others of  the dangers of seeking counsel from the ungodly and apart from God’s Word.  The very first Psalm warns of this.

QUALITIES OF A GOOD COUNSELOR

 

1. People seek counsel from those they know and trust.  Jesus is that perfect counselor. John 10:14

2. People turn for counsel to those who obviously know them and love them unconditionally enough to tell them the truth.  Perfect love casts out fear according to I John  4:18. Such counselors are not fearful of being vulnerable, open and honest. James 5:16 Jesus loved the people to whom He ministered and they knew it.  That’s why He was always invited into the lives of people. They knew He would accept them as they were.

3. But this vulnerability and open love sometimes backfires and those who should be appreciative are often the ones to backstab and attack the very ones who are trying to help them.  But this is no reason to quit serving God  and ministering to people.  Jesus experienced that and continued serving, even to offering up His life on the cross.

Paul served and suffered at the hands of those he served also, according to II Corinthians 12:14-15.

4. People turn for help to those whom they have grown to respect,

Parents, teachers and pastor cannot force respect. It must be earned over time as we live consistent lives before others.

Parents must require little ones to obey immediately without complaint or whining or crying.   If it is done in fairness and in love,  it will result in life-long respect of the children for their parents.

But if children grow up observing hypocrisy and duplicity and rebellion in their parents, they lose respect.  Then the parents have lost the battle.  They have forfeited the respect of their children.  The chances of children coming to such parents for counsel are nil.

Note also that Jesus had the respect of His enemies, the Pharisees and Sadducees though they hated Him, according to Matthew 22:16. Why was that?  Because Proverbs 16:7 teaches us that when a man’s ways please the Lord, God makes even his enemies to be at peace with him.

Pilate, though a coward and fearful of the people and losing his political position with Rome, nevertheless, had a profound respect and admiration  for Jesus.  That is obvious in his trial of Jesus. 

5. People turn for counsel to those who understand them and have walked in their shoes.  Jesus has walked in our shoes, according to  Hebrews 4:14-16.   Furthermore Jesus is meek and lowly. Matthew 11:28-30. Many otherwise, well trained counselors fail simply because they fail to be meek and lowly in their dealings with others.  My most effective teachers throughout my life were meek and lowly.

6. People turn for counsel to those they trust.  Proverbs 25:19   Can you keep confidences? Have you ever noticed in John 4 that Jesus kept the confidence of the Samaritan woman.  He did not discuss her sins with the disciples when they returned from Samaria.

7. People who desire God’s wisdom turn to those counselors who evidence God’s wisdom in their own lives.

8. People who seriously want to know God will turn to counselors who evidence a personal knowledge of God.

We must be ready and willing  and available  to help anyone in their time of need.

9. We must be approachable.

If you are seeking counsel for your own problems,  don’t waste your time and money on counselors who do not know God and whose counsel is not based on the Bible.  No matter what their education, they have little or nothing of value to share with you.

Don’t trust the counsel of this world. They are not to be trusted. Psalm 1:1

Isaiah 30:1-3   Rather, trust the Lord. Proverbs 3:5-6. Seek wisdom and counsel from His Word.  Psalm 119:24

At this Christmas season, remember Jesus, not only as the Babe in the Manger, but as your ever present, ever ready counselor to help you in your time of need. Hebrews 4:14-16.

December 24, 2010 Posted by | Christmas Series | Comments Off on Counselor

Mighty God

To think of Jesus only as a baby in a manger affects me sentimentally. To think of Him as a great teacher affects me intellectually. But to think of Him as the Mighty God affects me morally. To think of Him as any less than the Mighty God is to make Christmas simply a meaningless, secular holiday. 

Are you convinced that Jesus is truly the Mighty God who created the universe and holds it together by His power, or is He simply another ancient prophet who established just another religion?

You  had better settle that question once for all. If he is a mere man we need not take anything He said seriously. He is of no more value than an other ancient religious leaders.  If He is God, as He claims to be,  then His every word is vital to our eternal welfare.  We had  better take His claims and commands seriously.

THE PROPHECIES AND CLAIMS OF HIS DEITY

 

Not only is the Old Testament filled with prophesies and types of Jesus as God, the Gospels are written, especially the  Gospel of John, to convince us that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.  Note the claims of Jesus’ deity in the entire Gospel of John.

Further claims of Jesus’ deity are found in  Philippians 2:5-11, Colossians 1:13-20, 2:9-10,  Hebrews 1:1-3,  Revelation 1:8,18.

What a mystery!  God, in the person of a tiny baby,  needed the care of His mother. He needed to be fed, changed, bathed and cuddled. Imagine, God the creator of the universe, totally dependent on His mother.

HIS ATTRIBUTES REVEAL HIS DEITY

 

His eternality  John 1, Hebrews 1,  Revelation 1

His holiness  Luke 1:35

His omnipotence  Isaiah 40:1-11

His omniscience   John 1:45-49, 2:24-25

His omnipresence  Matthew 18:20, 28:20

His immutability  (His unchangeableness)  Hebrews 13:8

His love for us in dying for our sins.  John 3:16  Romans 5:8

HIS WORKS REVEAL HIS DEITY

 

 His creation. John 1:1-14

His preservation of all. Colossians 1:16

His redemption. Titus 2:13-14

His bodily resurrection Rom. 1:4

His power to raise the dead.  John 11

His judgment  John 5:22-23

THE ONLY RIGHT RESPONSE TO HIS DEITY

 

Receive Him as God and Saviour.  John 1:3,12,  Colossians 1:16

Worship Him now and forever.  Revelation 5:11-14,  Hebrews 1:6,

As the angels  Hebrews 1:6,

As Mary  Luke 1:47-48

As the shepherds  Luke 2:16-20

As the wise men  Matthew 2:11

As Simeon and Anna in the temple.  Lk. 2:25-29, 36-38

Live a life of surrender and obedience to Him.  Romans 12, John 20:26-29

Be involved in obedience to His Great Commission.  Matthew 29=8:19-20,

Acts 1:7-8,

Have you received Him as your God and Saviour? John 1:12

Have you unconditionally surrendered your life to Him?  Rom. 12:1-2

Are you growing in the knowledge of God through studying His Word and

attending a church where God’s Word is preached without compromise?

Is Christ your life, your purpose and your strength?  Philippians 1:21, 4:13

It’s only as you know Jesus as the Mighty God of creation that  you can know Him as your Saviour.

December 23, 2010 Posted by | Christmas Series | Comments Off on Mighty God

Everlasting Father

Is Jesus really the Everlasting Father, as Isaiah 9:6 announces He is?  Is He not the Son of God? Follow along and I will try to untangle this mystery. Again, I warn you to test everything you read or hear about God by the Bible.  Those who ignore this will be led into false doctrine.

We’ve noted in previous studies in this Christmas series that Jesus is named and described as WONDERFUL.  He’s wonderful beyond any man  or anything in this world.

We’ve also noted Him as COUNSELOR.  Nothing is too hard for Him. We receive wise counsel from Him as we read and listen to His Word, the Bible.  Any counsel that ignores the Bible could be of Satan. Beware of receiving counsel from anyone who denies, twists or  ignores the Bible.

In the previous message, we noted Jesus as The MIGHTY GOD.

He is the Elohim of the Bible. That Hebrew name used over 2500 times in the Bible speaks of His strength and preeminence.  

He is the Jehovah of the Bible.  That name speaks of His relationship with His people. 

He is the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end or all things.  

He is the I AM of both the Old and New Testament.  You find that name in Exodus 3:14  and again in John 8:58 where Jesus makes that claim.

He is the Lamb of God, announced by John the Baptist at the beginning of Jesus’ earthly ministry, but in God’s foreknowledge He  is  the Lamb slain from before the foundation of the world, as we learn in Revelation 13:8

We come now to a huge thought.  He is not only the Son of God, but He is the Everlasting Father, Isaiah 9:6 announces. How can that be?  That is the topic of study before us.

What we DO  know is that Jesus is the Son of God. God announces His coming Son in Psalm 2:4-7  In Daniel 3:25 Jesus is seen as the Son of God in the fiery furnace with the three Hebrew young men, Shadrack, Meschach and Abednego.   The angel Gabriel also announces the baby Jesus, whom the virgin Mary would bear, as The Son of God.  The Father announced Him publicly as His Son as His baptism by John the Baptist in Matthew 3:17  and again at His transfiguration in Matthew 17:5.

THE WORK OF THE SON

 

God the Father turned His whole idea of a  creation over to His eternal Son, Jesus.

1. The Son created this universe, including the earth.  That is clearly taught in John 1,  Colossians 1,  Hebrews 1 and Revelation 1 and 4.

2. When man sinned and brought God’s curse on himself,  God the Son, knowing it from before the foundation of the earth, planned and carried out redemption by the grace of God and through the shedding of blood and the death of Jesus and through His bodily resurrection.

3. The third work of the Son is to reign over the world during the Millennium as King of Kings and Lord or Lords.  That is described in Revelation 20 and it is prophesied in Isaiah 11, and 35  and in Zechariah, as well as other prophecies scattered throughout the Old Testament.

4. The fourth work of the Son is to judge Christians at the Bema Judgment Seat of Christ.  II Corinthians 5:9-10 

5. The fifth work of the Son at the end of the Millennium is to  condemn the lost Christ rejecters to The Lake of Fire.  Revelation 20:11-15

6. The sixth and final work of the Son is to take His Bride, His blood-bought Church to His Heavenly Home He has prepared for us.  John 14:1-6 and Revelation 21:9

THE AMAZING TRUTH WHICH FOLLOWS THE WORK OF CHRIST

 

Let me begin by reminding you that one of the names of Jesus in Isaiah 9:6 is  Everlasting Father.  How can the Son of God also be the Everlasting Father?    Never forget that Jesus IS GOD!   It was not that God was not wiling to suffer and die for us, so He sent His Son instead.  Not at all!  Rather the Everlasting Father came down in the person of His Son to suffer and die for our sins and then rise again the third day.

What did Jesus say in John10:30? “I and my Father are ONE.”

What did Jesus say in John 14:8-9 When Philip requested  ” Lord, show us the Father and we’ll be satisfied.”  Jesus answered, ” He that has seen me has seen the Father.”

When the work of Christ is completed: His creating, redeeming, reigning, judging the saints, condemning the lost, and taking His Bride to be with Himself forever: when that is accomplished; the Trinity will not necessarily cease to exist, but the Trinity will have accomplished God’s purpose.

Turn to I Corinthians 15:24-28 and learn what happens next.  After we are caught up to be with Christ,  “Then cometh the end, when He, Jesus, shall have delivered up the Kingdom of God, even the Father, when He shall put down all rule and all authority and power. For He must reign until He  has put all enemies under His feet.”  That is, He reigns to the end of the events in Revelation 20.  The last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

Now read carefully verse 28  “And when all things shall b subdued under Him, JESUS,  then shall the Son also be subject unto Him (the Father)  who put all things under Him ( The Son) that God may be all in all!

Is there a Trinity throughout eternity?  I believe so.  However, Christ has accomplished His purpose in creating, redeeming, and judging. The Holy Spirit’s work of convicting and teaching and helping to conform us to Christ is complete.  The Son continues to have His eternal Bride, His Church; but now  He is totally submitted and one with The Everlasting Father, that as far as we are concerned, God is all in all to us. Christ is our Heavenly Bridegroom and He is our everlasting Father throughout eternity.

I am not dogmatic about this. It’s just that until I have fresh light on the matter, I am satisfied to rest in this truth that in Heaven  Jesus will not only be our Heavenly Bridegroom.  He will be one with the Everlasting Father that God may be all in all.

December 21, 2010 Posted by | Christmas Series | Comments Off on Everlasting Father

Prince of Peace

In this message, we conclude our study of the names or titles of Christ as prophesied in Isaiah 9:6-7 by considering His final title in this passage, Prince of Peace.

 

WHY IS THERE WAR AND HATRED TODAY?

 

Why does peace evade mankind? Why is he in constant turmoil and filled with hatred?  The answer to those questions is sin.  When Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden by listening to Satan and disobeying God, they brought the consequences of sin upon themselves and the entire human race.  Recorded in Genesis 3:15,  God declared war on Satan and on those who follow him. 

 

This sad, sin-sick, Satan-dominated world in rebellion to God  has cried out for peace ever since the Fall of man into sin in the Garden of Eden.

 

Cain killed His brother Abel.  Human history is a record of  wars and blood shed.  Much of religion is a history of so-called “holy wars.”   The persecution and murder of Christians worldwide is perhaps as great today as it has been throughout history. The ultimate cause of hatred and war is unregenerate man’s hatred towards God.

 

Isaiah 57:20-21 states clearly and dogmatically that there is no peace to the wicked.  Those who refuse the salvation Christ offers us through His blood sacrifice, forfeit peace. They will never have true peaceful hearts, no matter how much they spend on going to  the world’s counselors.

 

Into this dark, sinful world of  hatred and strife came Jesus, the Prince of Peace.  Jesus holds out His nail-pierced hands to sinful man and as Colossians 1:20 describes it,  offers him peace through the blood of His cross.  That peace with God only comes to those who receive Christ and are justified  by faith, according to Romans 5:1.   As a result of justification, we not only have peace with God,  but we also have the peace of God.  Philippians 4:7 promises us that we have the peace of God which passeth all understanding, keeping or guarding our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus. 

 

THE ONLY ANSWER TO THE  WORLD’S MESS

 

One day Christ will return to this world as a conquering king and destroy Satan and all those who follow him and bring in the truly Great Society which the world’s politicians vainly seek.  That final victory over Satan and sin is described in Revelation 21:1-4. The events of this chapter take place at the end of Christ’s Millennium.

 

But first, comes the Millennium itself which I have dealt with in our series under the category, PROPHECY on this HIDDEN TREASURES web site.   This thousand year reign of  Jesus on this earth is described throughout much of the Bible.  Three outstanding passages that describe it in detail are Micah 4 and Isaiah 11 and  35. Revelation 20 shows where the Millennium fits into human history. It follows the Great Tribulation described in Revelations 6-19 and it precedes the eternal state described in Revelation 21-22.  During this times, Jesus will return from Heaven to reign over this earth from Jerusalem.  Faithful Christians who have suffered for their identification with Christ in this present age, will reign with Him under His direction, according to II Timothy 2:12. 

 

THE CHRISTIAN’S RESPONSIBILITY TODAY

 

The Church has only one great responsibility, and that is the fulfillment of Christ’s Great Commission to go into all the world and preach the Gospel, disciple converts and establish  churches.

 

The Christian’s responsibility is NOT

 

1.  To alter the Gospel to try to create a false peace with the world by giving them an inoffensive, guilt-free message that appears to make Christianity more palatable and attractive to them.

 

2. The Church is not  to judge this evil world by making resolutions and pronouncements against the world to try to Christianize a world that hates Christ and His godly standards of righteousness.  It is not our primary responsibility to try to abolish social evils, such as slavery and abortion.   The Apostle Paul, who is the model for every preacher,  did not get actively involved in fighting social evils.  Read the short, one chapter epistle addressed to Philemon.  There Paul won a run-a-way slave, Onesimus, to the Lord and then taught him to return to his master and  be a good faithful servant.  Then he wrote the epistle to Philemon, the Christian slave master and taught him how to treat his slave, now saved,  as a brother in Christ.

 

Is slavery evil?  Of course it is!

 

But the Christian solution to this evil is not to fight the system in place, but to win people to Christ. When Christians understand that they are brothers in Christ, God deals with regenerated hearts and the slavery issue disappears peacefully as Christians start treating one another as brothers and sisters in Christ. 

 

The same goes for employer/employee issues.  Labor unions are not the answer.  They only cause more friction, antagonism and hatred as employers and employees each try to get the best of each other. This results in forcing employers to continually pay higher and higher wages, raising the cost of goods and services and ultimately driving business from our nation to those nations who hire slave labor to do the same job.   On the other hand, when employers and employees become Christians, employers become kind and considerate and treat their employees as family  and employees have a desire to  give of their best to their employers, as they would to Christ Himself.

 

When Jesus Himself  dealt with the adulteress Samaritan woman in John 4,

He did not condemn her for her adultery; rather He dealt with her respectfully and kindly about the men in her life, but concentrated on her need for the living water of salvation.  She identified with that thirst and eagerly listened to Jesus as He presented her with the living water of salvation.  She immediately went to the city of Samaria that day and told her friends about Jesus.  As a result of her changed life and her testimony concrning Jesus,  many Samaritans came to faith in Christ.  

 

3. The Great Commission is not for the Church to concentrate their resources and effort on feeding and clothing the poor of this world.  Rather, the concentration of our effort must be on preaching the Gospel.  That Great Commission was given by Jesus just before He returned to Heaven after His bodily resurrection. It is found in  Matthew 29:18-20, Mark 16:15-16,  Luke  24:46-49 and Act 1:7-8.  It clearly deals with a heart need to be right with God.

 

Of course, as missionaries see medical,  material and physical needs first hand, we should do what we can financially to help them meet those needs for medical care,  for fresh, clean water,  for educating people to read and better themselves.  But these are all secondary needs.  The primary need is for people to hear the Gospel and come to Christ for salvation and then teach them how to reach their own people with the Gospel. 

 

So the concentration of our financial support to foreign missions must be on helping missionaries reach the lost with the Gospel, as well as disciple those who come to Christ and teach them how to win others to Christ.

 

IS THE GOVERNMENT OF YOUR LIFE ON JESUS’ SHOULDERS?

 

As Isaiah 9:6 promises, one day the government of world will be on Jesus’ shoulders. That is, Jesus will bear the full responsibility of  godly government and world peace.

 

In the meantime, we who claim to know and love Christ as Christians must  surrender ourselves to Christ our Lord and King and allow Him to bear the government of our lives on His shoulders. You’ve asked Jesus to be your Saviour. Have you surrendered to Him as your Lord?  Only then will you truly know the Prince of Peace in your life.

December 20, 2010 Posted by | Christmas Series | Comments Off on Prince of Peace

Merry or Miserable Christmas

Christmas is that wonderful time of the year filled with warm traditions, special foods, excited children and pleasant memories. It all merges into something we call the “Christmas spirit”.

If Christmas is a happy time, why is it that so many people are depressed and miserable at  this time of the year?  Why do so many experience discouragement, fatigue, anxiety and unhappiness?  Why do suicide rates jump sharply during this season?  Why do so many need psychiatric care?

Even Christians who know the real meaning of Christmas are not immune to problems during the Christmas season.  They fall into two categories:

1. Stress and 2. Loneliness

Note, those same two problems in the Christmas story.

STRESS

 

Nearly all of us are familiar with pressures and the stress it brings during this season of the year:  shopping deadlines, intense traffic, letters and cards to write, homes to decorate, extra church activities.

Added to that, the frustrations of pressures at work, political unrest and a depressed economy.

JOSEPH AND MARY EXPERIENCED STRESS

 

In that first century, the Jews experienced the stress of Roman oppression with their heavy taxation.

Mary, no doubt, was  in her late teens when she was confronted with an angelic announcement that totally changed her life. A virgin, espoused to Joseph, she was looking forward to the consummation of her marriage to him. Suddenly the angel Gabriel appeared to her and made an astounding announcement that would change her life. You can read it in Luke 1:26-38.

He explained to her that  God wanted to use her to become the mother of Jesus.  God’s Holy Spirit would supernaturally inseminate her, enabling her to bear  God’s Son in a totally human body.  The whole idea was mind-boggling!  She would bear Jesus, the God of creation, in a totally human, yet sinless body.

In total  submission to God, she answered, “Be it unto me according to thy Word.”  You can read more about this in my article Virgin Birth, which you will find under the category JESUS. Can you imagine her stress?  How was she going to explain this to her beloved Joseph and to all her family and friends?

Several months later as her  pregnancy became obvious, Joseph’s heart was broken.  His beloved Mary was pregnant. Can you imagine his stress?  What should he do about this? Have her stoned?  No, he loved her too much for that.  He would as privately as possible dissolve the marriage and try to remove her from his life.

While he was considering these options, the same angel Gabriel who had appeared to Mary a few months earlier now appeared to him. with an explanation of what had happened.  You can read about that in Matthew 1:18-25  This was, no doubt, stressful to him at first.  But he, as Mary, surrendered to God’s amazing plan for their lives.

Eight months passed and in the ninth month, Mary and Joseph began their  sixty mile journey from Nazereth to Bethlehem on foot or perhaps riding a donkey.   Either way it would probably be over a week’s journey and very difficult for Mary, heavy with child.

Upon arriving in Bethlehem, Mary went into labor. You remember in Micah 5:2 the prophet declared by inspiration of God that the Saviour would be born in Bethlehem. God would not allow Mary to go into labor until she was in the right town at the right time.  

Crowded with people coming to register for the Roman taxation, Joseph could find no room for his beloved Mary, to deliver her baby.  Finally he found a place in a cave where cattle and sheep were bedded down for the night.   There, in the straw, Mary had her little Lamb, the Lamb of God who would about thirty years later, willingly go to the cross and shed His life’s blood for the sins of the world.  There she made a bed for the baby in a manger where animals come to feed.

Note that the stress placed on Mary and Joseph was not of their own making. Much of the stress we face is not of our making. It just comes upon us as a part of life.

Sometimes, though, through our own ignorance, foolishness and  selfishness we bring unnecessary stress on ourselves by procrastinating  concerning our responsibilities, such as students failing to do their homework,  or wives failing to do their housework or failing to pay our bills on time, or getting in debt over our heads.

By insisting on having our own way or making foolish decisions, God usually allows us to experience the painful, stressful consequences of those decisions in order to teach us life’s important lessons.

How did Joseph and Mary handle their pressures?  Mary submitted herself to God and Joseph trusted God.

The question is, how should we handle our stressful situations?  Read Isaiah 54:11-17,  Romans 8:28  and I Peter 5:7  to learn of the humble, submissive attitude we must have to face anything the Lord allows us to experience.

LONLINESS

Another source of stress and anxiety is LONLINESS.  It has been a problem through human history.

A century ago most American lived  in rural areas and small towns. Though people lived a mile or two from each other,  there was community closeness.  Everyone knew and helped their neighbors when in need.

As people moved from rural areas into the big cities and metropolitan areas, they lost that neighborliness and closeness.   Walled up in their crowded apartments and row houses, people became detached and lonely.

In this modern technological age surrounded by our cell phones and lap tops, we’re more lonely than ever, as we reach out to one another in an impersonal way with emails and  Face Book  and My Space, etc.  In this age our cyberspace friends come and go with the click of a mouse and we remain lonely.

CHURCH, A LONELY PLACE TO BE

 

For many, going to church is one of the loneliest experiences of life. Why is that?

In most churches, regardless of size,  there is an In-group, made up mostly of middle class married couples and families.  They attend most of the services and do most of the work. They are, for the most part, emotionally and financially stable.

But scattered through these congregations are many lonely people.  Some have physical and emotional problems.  These are often misunderstood people.  We often feel uncomfortable in their presence and seldom go out of our way to get to know them.  Perhaps we would just as soon they leave and go and  bless some other church.

Some of these new people are newcomers to town with no family or friends.  Some are single, widowed or divorced.  Some are from foreign countries and difficult to understand.  Some are young college students or service men and women, looking for friendship and acceptance.

Some are independent thinkers and do not fit our molds for “normal”. Some wear rings in the weirdest of places, some come with purple or green hair. Some are dressed outlandishly and immodestly.   What do we do? Give them the cold shoulder and hope they never return? 

I would hope not.  These are people for whom Jesus died.  We are called to love and accept and befriend them as they are and share our lives with them as well as the Gospel of Christ.

Certainly we preachers are called to give them the truth of God’s Word, but our love for them makes the truth more palatable.

TO YOU WHO FEEL LONELY AND UNACCEPTED

 

Remember, Jesus, who lived in a human body and was as human as you are, but sinless,  totally understands your  pressures, your loneliness and your grief.  He’s been where you are.  Read  Luke 9:58 and Hebrews 4:14-16.

If you lack salvation read John 5:24 and receive Jesus by faith

If you are a wayward Christian. burdened down with unconfessed sin which is destroying you; confess it to God alone and receive His forgiveness today and discover the joy of a clean heart and a clean conscience. Forgiveness and cleansing are  promised in I John 1:9.

If you have few or no friends, open yourself up to the overtures of friendship from the church family.  We want to love and accept you, but you cause us to step back when you rebuff that friendship.

If you are feeling sorry for yourself, look to Jesus.  Let me read to you a picture of Jesus  in Isaiah 53:1-3 from The Message, a modern paraphrase of the Bible in modern English by Eugene H. Peterson.

“Who believes what we’ve heard and seen? Who would have thought God’s saving power would look like this?

The servant grew up before God- a scrawny seedling, a scrubby plant in a parched field.

There was nothing attractive about him, nothing to cause us to take a second look.

He was looked down on and passed over, a man who suffered and knew pain firsthand.  

One look at him and people turned away. We looked down on him, thought he was scum.

But the fact is, it was our pains he carried-

Our disfigurements, all the things wrong with us.

We thought he brought it on himself,

That God was punishing him for his own failures.

But it was our sins that did that to him.

That ripped and tore and crushed him— our sins!”

December 19, 2009 Posted by | Christmas Series | Comments Off on Merry or Miserable Christmas

God With Us

In Matthew 1:15-23  God’s angel spoke to Joseph concerning Mary, his espoused wife, concerning the conception of the baby in  Mary’s womb.  The virgin   birth of Jesus, as well as His name  had been prophesied 700 years earlier by the prophet in Isaiah 7:14.  There we read that the baby’s name would be Immanuel. 

In the Matthew 1 account that virgin birth of Jesus was explained to Joseph, who would naturally be concerned about it.  In that account the name Immanuel is confirmed, but this time the spelling is with a capital E.  The main thing about this baby’s name is that it means  “God with us.”  In verse 25 of Matthew 1 we learn that Joseph called  the baby’s name, Jesus.   To see the connection of the name Jesus with that of Emmanuel,  read the message, under this CHRISTMAS category, “Who is the Christmas Child?”

Truly Jesus is “God with us”.  Those of us who have received Him as Saviour and Lord, know  His presence in our lives very intimately.   We have no question as to who Jesus is.  He is not only our Saviour and Lord,  but He is our very life.  He is more real and precious  to us than anyone or anything on this earth.

JESUS IS GOD OUR CREATOR.

God was with us human beings long before He was born as the baby Jesus in Bethlehem over 2000 years ago.  This same Jesus who was born in a manger and who died on a cross for our sins, is God the Creator of the heavens and the earth.   This creation, a mass of atoms, is held together by Christ Himself, according to Colossians 1:13-17.

Preaching Christ in Athens as recorded in  Acts 17:28-31, The Apostle Paul announces that “in Him we live and move and have our being.”  The natural man now, as then, blindly seeks after his own idea of God, but ignores and rebels  vociferously against the God of the Bible, “though He is not far from any of us.”

Even as Jesus ministered to the people, performing miracles in their presence;  they blindly rejected Him as God incarnate. It’s true that in a personal way, Jesus is not with the unbeliever; although He keeps unbelievers alive by His power.

SIN SEPARATES US FROM GOD.

Note in Isaiah 59:1-2 that our sins have separated God from us.  Isaiah 53:1-6 teaches us that our sins have separated us from God. Though the atoms of the unbeliever’s body are held together by the power of God,  the unbeliever has no sense of God’s presence.   He is a stranger and outcast to God.  The only way a sinner and God can be in fellowship is for the sin problem to be settled first.   God has settled the sin problem by coming to this earth as the man Jesus and dying on a cross, paying the full penalty that we deserved to pay for our sins.

Those who receive Christ as Saviour are instantly brought into fellowship with God.  Those who reject the Saviour are banished from His presence now and through eternity.  The unbeliever’s problem is not an intellectual one; it is a moral problem.

The natural man rejects Jesus and wants nothing to do with Him. The hatred is emotional and irrational.   I’ve never seen nor heard a rational man  get angry and upset about Santa Claus or the Easter bunny, which they know is pure fiction.   Yet even in the natural man’s denial of Christ, he is consumed with irrational hatred towards Him and towards those who preach the need to receive and trust Him as Saviour.

Ultimately it took the shedding of Jesus’ blood on Calvary’s cross and His bodily resurrection from the tomb to save us.  We must admit our need of Him as sinners and trust His sacrifice for our sins. John 1:11-13 explains it as receiving Christ as Saviour.

The repentant thief on the cross did so and was with Christ in Heaven that day.   The Roman centurion who directed the crucifixion of Christ, also received Jesus as God.  and I believe, Saviour.

What sent the shepherds back to their sheep in the field that first Christmas night? They recognized that baby in the manger as the Son of God, their Creator and Saviour.

GOD CREATED US TO BE WITH HIM AND ENJOY HIM FOREVER.

 

When God created the universe and mankind,  He did it for His pleasure. Read Revelation 4:11,  Psalm 147:10-11,  Psalm 149:4

God gets no pleasure In the death and the punishment of the wicked in Hell.  Read the question in Ezekiel 18:23   The implied answer is “Of course not!”  Rather, it is God’s pleasure to give us the Kingdom. Luke 12:29-32.  God saved us for His pleasure, according  to Ephesians 1.

FELLOWSHIP WITH GOD

 

Adam and Eve were created to walk daily with God in the Garden of Eden. Sin broke that fellowship and Adam and Eve tried to hide themselves from God.  God found them and provided a blood sacrifice to cover their sins temporarily.  Eventually, Jesus the Lamb of God, was the perfect and final sacrifice for sin.  Thos who receive Him are saved.  Those who reject Him are lost.

Christians are saved to enjoy constant fellowship with God.  However, sin hinders that fellowship.  Only as we confess our sins to God, does He forgive us and restore us to fellowship.  That’s the messages of I John 1.

In our perfect, sinless state in Heaven. we will live in constant fellowship with God.  Satan will be in hell and unable to tempt us.   We will have glorified bodies, incapable of sin.  We will enjoy total intimacy with God. That was the Psalmist’s desire in Psalm 42:1-2.   That was Paul’s and is our desire as Christians.  Philippians 3:10.  That will be our experience throughout eternity. Revelation 21:3.

IMAGINE!  FOREVER IN HIS PRESENCE!  WHAT WILL THAT MEAN?

 

In Heaven we shall see Him.

We can’t see Him now in these physical bodies.  John 1:18,  I Peter 1:8

At best, we see Him darkly now through His Word.  I Corinthians 13:12

He is presently unapproachable now in His glory.  I Timothy 6:16

Moses saw a glimpse of His glory.  Exodus 33:12-13

The pure in heart will one day see Him. Matthew 5:8

One day we shall be like Him.  We are presently being made ready to live in His sight through the process of sanctification.  I John 3:1-3,  Psalm 17:1,15  Even now, through the process of sanctification we are being gradually changed from one degree of glory to another as we spend time in His presence in His Word and in prayer.  II Corinthians 3:18

In Heaven we shall adore and worship Him perfectly.  That adoration and worship ought to be going on now constantly  24/7/365,

December 10, 2009 Posted by | Christmas Series | Comments Off on God With Us

Behold, The Lamb

At this Christmas season I invite you to join me in taking a closer look at Jesus who is the heart and soul of Christmas as we

Behold the Lamb –  John 1:29,

Behold the Man – John 19:5,

Behold My Servant – Isaiah 42:1-4,

Behold, Your King – John 19:13-15,  and finally

Behold Your God – Isaiah 40:9

 

We begin our study of Jesus with John the Baptist’s introduction of Jesus to the Jews and to the world  as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.”

 

Why did John refer to Jesus using this term, “Lamb of God”? 

 

The Lamb of God, whose blood is offered as a sacrifice for sin, is the theme of the whole Bible from Genesis through Revelation.  The Blood atonement is the scarlet thread that run through the entire Bible from eternity past to eternity future. Remove the blood atonement from the Bible as the Liberals have done, and you have cut the heart and soul out of the Bible.

 

Much of modern Evangelicalism, though they  teach and preach about Jesus, have swallowed the liberal’s message of preaching an emasculated gospel of the life and teachings of Jesus; but leaving out the central truth of the Gospel, the blood atonement of Christ as the propitiation for our sins. The truth is that God hates sin so much that He poured out His wrath on Jesus as He hung on the cross, so that those who trust Him can be saved from that wrath.  They consider that truth  too gory and too negative and too humiliating to preach. They cannot grasp that a holy God is infuriated by their sins.

 

That’s why every Gospel preacher must be tested by his attitude and attention given to the Blood of Christ. Those who ignore it must be recognized as under God’s curse, Paul warned in Galatians 1:7-9.

 

If you have never seen yourself as a wicked, guilty lost sinner facing and deserving the wrath of God in eternal Hell and if you have never seen the importance of Christ’s death on the cross to pay the penalty for your sins, then you have never been saved. You may have had a spiritual experience, but you’ve never been born again.  If God is convicting you of your lost condition; if you will trust Christ as your sin-bearer, who died to save you from your sins,  He will save you this moment.

 

How essential is the Blood of Christ for salvation?

 

Listen to God’s Word.  “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that makes an atonement for the soul.”  Leviticus 17:11

 

“And almost all things are by the law purged with blood: and without the shedding of blood there is no remission.”  Hebrews 9:22

 

“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by traditions from your fathers; but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”  I Peter 1:18-19

 

Listen to the song of the redeemed in Heaven as you read Revelation 5:9-14. They magnify and glory in the shed blood of Christ. Will you be able to join the angelic host of the redeemed in Heaven as they glory in the shed blood of Christ?  You won’t if you are not glorying in His shed blood as the atonement for your sins now.

 

Learn the following lessons concerning Christ, our Lamb.

 

I. THE SHEDDING OF INNOCENT BLOOD IS THE ONLY ATONEMENT FOR SIN. 

 

Adam and Eve were created perfect and placed in the perfect garden of Eden; but with a freedom to obey or disobey God. He further warned them that they would die if they disobeyed Him in the matter of eating fruit from a forbidden tree in the Garden. Daily He walked and talked with them in perfect fellowship.  God was not surprised nor caught off guard when they listened to the serpent, Satan, and chose to disobey God.  God knew their choice and had provided a solution to the sin problem long before He created them and placed them in the Garden.

 

That solution was the shedding of innocent blood.  After they sinned, they died spiritually and tried to hide from God; but God found them and confronted them about their sins. God saved them by slaying animals in their place, shedding the animal’s blood as an atonement for their souls.

 

Furthermore, God covered their nakedness with the skins of the animals He had slain. Prior to that time, they were not even aware of their nakedness.

 

At the same time, God declared war on Satan.  That declaration of war is found in Genesis 3:15.  It is the heart and seed bed of the Bible.  It is the story of the whole Bible summarized in 28 words.

 

No sooner were they driven from the Garden of Eden when they began to have children.  The first two sons were Cain and Abel.  The parents taught the truths about a blood sacrifice to their sons.  Abel recognized he was a sinner and he made the right blood sacrifice for his sins.  Cain, filled with self-righteousness, attempted to show God that his sacrifice of part of the harvest from his fields was a much nicer sacrifice than Abel’s bloody sacrifice.

 

God accepted Abel’s blood sacrifice, but rejected Cain’s sacrifice of produce. As a result, Cain became angry and killed his brother Abel, the first martyr for his faith in God.  Unbelievers have been hating and persecuting God’s people ever since.  Where do you stand?  Are you among the persecuted or the persecutors?

 

II. THE LAMB OF GOD PROPHESIED

 

Move forward to Genesis 22.   There we read  of faithful Abraham taking his son up to Mount Moriah to sacrifice his beloved son, Isaac, as a sacrifice in obedience to God. As they journeyed up the mountain, Isaac noted that Abraham had the wood, the fire and the knife, but asked, “Where is the sacrifice?”   Abraham answered prophetically,  ” God will provide HIMSELF a sacrifice.  Two thousand years later God did just that by providing His only begotten Son, Jesus as the perfect, complete and final sacrifice for sin.

 

 Now a young man, Isaac could have easily overpowered his father and gotten down from the altar, but he chose to stay there in obedience to the will of God.  In this, he is a type of Christ who willingly hung on the cross to die for our sins.

 

As Abraham lifted the knife to plunge it into the heart of his son,  God stopped him in his tracks.  He had proven his faith in God and his willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice in obedience to God. God let him know he did not need to kill his son. Instead, God provided a ram caught in a thicket near by.  Abraham sacrificed the animal instead of His son, Isaac.

 

Isaac was a type of Christ in that He was willing to be sacrificed by His Father.   The ram is also a type of Christ in that it was a substitute sacrifice in place of Isaac.

 

III. THE LAMB OF GOD DESCRIBED

 

As we continue through the Bible in  our study of a blood sacrifices, we come to Exodus 12 and the story of the first Passover.   Israel is now in slavery in Egypt.  They had been there for four hundred years.  God calls Moses to deliver His people from the Egyptian slavery.  That deliverance begins with the first Passover. In  Exodus 12:5 we read the qualification for a passover sacrificial lamb. They perfectly describe The Lord Jesus, the perfect sacrifice for our sins.

 

The Lamb had to be without blemish. See I Peter 1:18-19

 

It had to be a lamb in its prime of life.

 

It was sacrificed, that is, it was slaughtered. See Psalm 22, Isaiah 53  and the four Gospel accounts of the crucifixion of Christ.

 

This took place according to Exodus 12:2 &6 on the 14 day of first month of the Jewish year. That was the very day Jesus was crucified.

 

IV. THE BLOOD OF THE LAMB OF GOD APPLIED

 

As we continue reading in Exodus 12:3-13 we learn how the blood was applied. 

 

First, the lamb was eaten by the household.  Though we do not eat the flesh of Jesus in the communion service (the Eucharist) we do personally appropriate Christ through faith. In John 6:48-58 it would seem that we are to literally eat the flesh and drink the blood of Christ;  but Jesus clarifies what He means when in verse 57 and 63 we learn that we appropriate Christ in a spiritual sense, not a literal, physical, sense.

 

The communion bread and fruit of the vine are simply symbols of Jesus broken body and poured out blood. Taking communion does not save us, but as we trust in Jesus sacrifice for our sins on Calvary‘s cross, we are given the gift of eternal life. Taking communion is simply a memorial feast of the sacrifice Jesus made for us on the cross. We do it in memory of Him.

 

Then the blood was splattered on the two side posts and on the upper post over the door. When the angel of death came through Egypt to kill all the first born in each household,  the angel passed over the doors splattered with blood.  When we trust Christ for salvation, His blood is applied to our lives, delivering us from death and hell.

 

Note, how the value of the blood sacrifices increase in value.

 

In the story of Abel’s sacrifice in Genesis 4, the blood of that lamb saved one person,  Abel. 

 

In the passover story in Exodus 12,  the blood of the lamb saved a household.

 

In Leviticus 16,  describing the Day of Atonement for Israel,  the blood of the goat was sacrificed for the nation of Israel.

 

In John 1:29 we learn that the blood of Jesus is valuable enough to save all those who trust Him throughout the whole world and throughout human history.

 

V. THE LAMB OF GOD PERSONIFIED

 

In Isaiah 53:3-7 we learn that the Saviour of the world will be a man.

 

VI. THE LAMB OF GOD IDENTIFIED

 

As John the Baptist is preaching repentance and baptizing converts,  Jesus approaches and in John 1:29  John points to Him and declares Him to be the Lamb of God come down to die for the whole world.

 

In Acts 8 the Evangelist Philip also identifies the person spoken of in Isaiah 53  as Jesus Himself.  How can anyone reading Isaiah 53 miss Jesus?

 

The Book of Hebrews also identifies Jesus as our sacrifice for sin. Note especially chapter 7, 9 and 10.

 

VII. THE LAMB CRUCIFIED AND RAISED FROM THE DEAD

 

As you read the last chapters in each of the Gospels, you read of the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus.  Revelation 13:8 refers to Jesus as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. It was God’s eternal plan to slay His Son as an atonement for our sins.

 

VIII THE LAMB GLORIFIED

 

We redeemed ones who have put our trust in Christ, glorify Him with our lives and in our worship here on earth.  We do not glory in religion.  We do not glory in our denomination. We do not glory in our church.  We do not glory in our righteousness.  Paul writes in Galatians 6:14  “God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  Jesus is everything to us and Revelation 5:9-13, 21:22, and 22:1-3 reminds us that Jesus will be our glory throughout eternity.

 

A FINAL WARNING AND INVITATION

 

Each of us either receives Jesus as our blood sacrifice and Saviour from sin now, or else one day we will face the wrath of the Lamb at the great White Throne Judgment. Revelation 6:12-17  and  20:11-15. If you’ve never received Christ as your Saviour from sin,  may this be the moment that you cast yourself on God’s mercy and receive Jesus as your Lamb, slaughtered on the cross for your sins, and raised from the dead for your justification.

December 4, 2008 Posted by | Christmas Series | Comments Off on Behold, The Lamb

Behold, the Man

As we Behold the Man, Christ Jesus, let’s begin our study by reading the account of Jesus’ trial before Pilate as found in John 18:26 through 19:5. As you behold the Man, Jesus, it is my prayer that you will be overcome with adoration and love for  this Man,  God in human flesh.

 

It’s true that this truth of Jesus being fully man and fully God is a mystery that is difficult to comprehend; nevertheless, it is true. Paul writes about this mystery in I Timothy 3:16  He admits “And without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”

 

II Corinthians 3:18 teaches us that as we read and meditate on these truths concerning Jesus, we will increasingly reflect His glory.

 

THE FACTS OF JESUS’ MANHOOD QUESTIONED

 

After Jesus had ascended back to Heaven, heresies appeared  that denied both His humanity and His deity. Either of these heresies are an attack on the Doctrine of Christ. Jesus was both fully human and fully God.

 

II John 7-11 warns that if someone is wrong on the doctrine of Christ,  they cannot be trusted as Bible teachers.  We are warned not to attempt to have Christian fellowship with them.  We are not to be involved with them in Christian ministry of any kind.  We are not to ask God’s blessing on their work.  Of course, we can still love them and seek their salvation.

 

This is a Biblical command that has been totally ignored by some Christian leaders over the last half century and they have caused irreparable harm to the cause of Christ.  Like Balaam in the Book of Numbers, they preached the Gospel, but used their influence to break down barriers of separation between Biblical truth and error.  As a result, it continues to have  a damaging effect on the state of Evangelicalism today.  See the series on SEPARATION for more on this.

 

THE FACTS OF HIS MANHOOD DECLARED

 

The fact is that in Jesus,  God the Creator (without ceasing to be God) came down to this world in a human body, through the womb of the virgin Mary. Read the account of that miraculous event in Luke 1 and Matthew 1. 

 

Because the baby was not conceived by a human father,  He did not inherit the curse of a sinful nature, though his human nature was as human as any man. He felt every temptation and every weakness of a man; yet without a taint of sin in thought or action. Read of His humanity in Philippians 2:5-8. Read about it all through the four Gospels and in Hebrews 4:14-16 as He grew weary and troubled and felt every human emotion that we experience.

 

His hands, described in Isaiah 40:12 became the infant  hands waving uncontrollably in His crib.   His powerful voice that spoke the universe into existence became the tiny voice of a baby crying for milk, or because of the discomfort of a wet diaper,  or because He was sleepy and didn’t know what His problem was.

 

He, who is the source of all true wisdom, became a little baby boy who grew up as other little boys, learning how to talk, increasing in wisdom, stature, socially and spiritually as Luke 2:51-52 tells us.  He had to be taught by His mother and step-father, Joseph to walk and talk and learn skills for living.

 

The omnipotent Creator who never tires nor grows weary, became the man Jesus, who was often  tired and thirsty and had to ask for a drink of water. He often had to retire from the crowds who  continually surrounded Him and seek a little peace and rest in the mountains or on the Sea of Galilee.

 

He who established human government and who raises up and puts down political leaders, had to submit Himself to human government and pay His taxes.  Ultimately, He had submit to the mob who eventually had Him crucified as a criminal.

 

He understood what it was to be homesick, lonely and misunderstood.

 

He felt the agony of dying on a cross, but that agony was multiplied to infinity because He was God in human flesh. Go to the link, JESUS, for a heart-rending account by a medical doctor of His physical agony as He died.

 

THE TRUTH OF HIS MANHOOD CONFIRMED

 

Going back to that description of His trial before Pilate, as recorded in John 18:28 through 19:22,  read that account again and note how desperately Pilate tried to free him from the mob. Pilate was convinced Jesus was a righteous man and totally innocent of the charges made against Him. Pilate’s wife felt the same way about Jesus.  He desperately wanted to allow Jesus to walk free,  but the political pressure mounted on him to let the mob have their way and he finally turned Him over to the Roman executioners for crucifixion. 

 

He finally led Jesus out to the people and with anger towards the crowds who were forcing him to convict an innocent man  and with conviction in his heart,  proclaimed, “BEHOLD the MAN!  He was saying,  if I have ever seen a true man,  it’s JESUS.    

 

Later he had a sign written and placed at the top of Jesus cross,  JESUS, KING OF THE JEWS.   When the Jewish crowd read it, they cried out to Pilate to correct the sign and state that He only claimed to be King of the Jews.  With his patience run out in anger and with steel-like determination and with his teeth gritted, He shouted,  WHAT I HAVE WRITTEN, I HAVE WRITTEN!!! 

 

Not only was his sinless manhood confirmed by Pilate, but also by the repentant thief on the cross.  Read his testimony in Luke 23:39-43.

 

Read also in Luke 23:47 the testimony of the Roman Centurion who was in charge of Jesus’ crucifixion. I wouldn’t be surprised to meet this man in Heaven one day.

 

WHY DID JESUS COME DOWN TO THIS EARTH AS A MAN?

 

He came down to live perfectly the life we never could live.

 

He came down as a man to shed His human, holy, sinless blood as the perfect sacrifice for our sins.

 

He came down to be a sympathetic, understanding High Priest for us, as Hebrews  2:17-18 reminds us. 

 

He came down to destroy the power of Satan.  Hebrews 2:14

 

I Timothy 2:5 declares to us that He came down to be the perfect Mediator between God and man. This was a problem that perplexed Job that  you can read about in Job 9:32-33.

 

A little girl became fearful in her bedroom as a thunder crashed in a storm. As she cried out, her mother came into the room and reminded her that God was there with her.

 

She continued to sob in fear, “but I want  God with skin on”.

 

And that’s who Jesus is.  God with skin on to comfort us in our fears and to be understanding of our weaknesses.   Because He has sat where we sat and experienced our trials and fears, He is our perfect Saviour.

 

Are you trusting in Him?   Do you love Him?

December 3, 2008 Posted by | Christmas Series | Comments Off on Behold, the Man

Behold Your King

The world sees Jesus as a man, a good man, but just another sinful, imperfect man, as the rest of us.   Christians see Him, not only as a sinless God/man, but also as the prophesied Lamb of God, sent from Heaven to die for our sins. Not only do we see  Him as the  Lamb of God, we must also see Him and bow before Him as our Lord and King. Let’s consider that thought now.

 

Pilate recognized Jesus as King of the Jews, according to John 19:14; however, the Jewish masses were fickle.  Though they were ready to make Him king a week earlier as He arrived in Jerusalem riding on a donkey; within the week, they had been swayed by the Jewish religious leaders who claimed that Jesus was a blasphemer and now they were shouting, as blind sheep following their false shepherds, for His crucifixion.

 

As Pilate met with Jesus in the Judgment Hall and conversed with Him, he became convinced that Jesus was indeed an innocent man who did not deserve to be executed.   But more than that; he became aware that Jesus was, no doubt, the rightful king of the Jews. 

 

We who have seen ourselves as guilty sinners, helpless to save ourselves; have turned in faith to Christ, recognizing Him as the God/man come down from Heaven.  We have recognized Him as the Lamb of God sent to earth to take away our sins through the shedding of His blood on the cross.  But more than that, we have also beheld Him as our rightful Lord and King of our lives.   As Isaiah prophesied in Isaiah 33:14-17 by God’s grace, we have “seen the King in His beauty”.

 

How do we know that Jesus is the rightful King of the Jews? 

 

First, from the Seed Plot of the Bible in Genesis 3:15 we have recognized Jesus as the promised Seed of the Woman who would ultimately destroy Satan after Satan had attempted to destroy the Seed, Jesus.  

 

As we study the Abrahamic Covenant in Genesis 12-17, and compare it with Romans 4  and Galatians 3;  we are convinced that Jesus is the promised Seed of  Abraham.  Genesis 17:15-16 first announces that kings will come from his seed.

 

The Abrahamic Covenant is passed on to Abraham’s son, Isaac in Genesis 26 and then to Isaac’s son, Jacob in Genesis 27and 28.  Then in Gen. 49:10 the promise is made to Judah, one of Jacob’s twelve sons, that the royal scepter will not depart from Judah‘s line.

 

Why the ten generation break in Judah‘s line?

 

From that promise of a royal line from Judah to King David, there are no kings for ten generations.  Why is that?  It’s a sordid story, but here are the facts. Judah had illegitimate twin sons, Pharez and Zerah,  by his daughter-in-law. Genesis 38 gives the details.

 

God’s law in Deuteronomy 23:2 concerning illegitimate sons was severe. They were to be shut out of the participation and blessings of Israel for ten generations. Yes, the illegitimate sons and daughters were innocent.  They had nothing to do with the sin.  Nevertheless, they were shut out as strangers.  Regardless of what you or I think about that law, it does give us a warning that God is displeased with us when we are involved in pre-marital or extra-marital sex and visits the consequences on our children for several generations.

 

That does not mean that children born out of wedlock are cursed and hopeless.  God, in His grace, can bring blessings out of the worst of circumstances.  I have known of such children who were saved and became useful servants of God.

 

But in Judah‘s case, there were no kings in his line for ten generations. Turn to Ruth 4:18-22 and count down the line of Judah. Starting with Judah and his eldest son, Pharez,  down to Jesse, the father of David; you will see the ten generations of Judah  who were not permitted to reign over Israel because of Judah‘s sin.

 

David was the first son in that line who was qualified to reign.  However, Israel had already insisted on a king so that they could be as other nations. In their self-will they chose Saul, of the tribe of Benjamin to be their king. God, in His long-suffering, allowed them to have Saul from the tribe of Benjamin, even though the tribe of Judah was the royal line.  Saul was their “dream ticket”,  tall, handsome and charismatic.  But he turned out to be a dismal failure.  In the meantime, young David was waiting in the wings, anointed as king by the Prophet Samuel. 

 

King Saul became insanely jealous of David and constantly hounded him as his enemy, even though David always treated King Saul respectfully and kind. You can read the exciting story in I Samuel.  Eventually Saul died and David became the first qualified king in the royal line of Judah. David could reign as  king from the tribe of Judah because the ten generations under the curse had been fulfilled.

 

When you turn to the New Testament, you will find two lists of kings from David to Joseph and Mary, who were both from the Tribe of Judah.

 

In Matthew 1 you can read the genealogy of David through his son, Solomon all the way to Joseph, the adoptive father of Jesus.  In that list you will read of King Jechonias who was cursed and carried away into Babylonian Captivity with the Nation of Judah. Read in Jeremiah 22:28-30 of a curse on Coniah (another name for Jechonias) No one in his line could ever reign over Judah.  That would rule out Joseph, the step father of Jesus  and any blood son of Joseph.

 

Now turn in Luke 3 to the genealogy of Mary, the virgin mother who conceived and bore Jesus without the aid of a human father. Here again we see the line of David, the King of Judah, and we see that line traced down from Nathan, another son of David. The first name mentioned in Luke 3:23  is Joseph, who is referred to as the son of Heli.  Heli was actually the father of Mary, so Joseph was his son-in-law.  You will note in this line that there is no Coniah with his curse.  Therefore Jesus, the supernaturally conceived Son of the virgin Mary, who was also of the tribe of Judah, had a legal right to sit on the throne of David.

 

The Jews reject Jesus as their King

 

Though throughout Jesus’ earthly ministry the crowds would gladly have made Jesus their king because of His ability to perform miracles of healing and feed crowds with little or nothing; yet when whipped up into a frenzy by the religious leaders,  they turned on Him and shouted for His crucifixion.  The cried out, “We will not have this man reign over us!  His blood be upon us and on our children!  We have no king but Caesar!” 

 

This rejection of Jesus by the Jews had been prophesied in Psalm 22,  69,   and a number of other Psalms, as well as Isaiah 53.

 

God is not through with Israel.  He has glorious plans for them.

 

The Apostle Paul writes in Romans 11 of the temporary rejection of  Christ by the nation, Israel and also of their glorious restoration.  The Old Testament refers several times to their future acceptance of Christ as their Messiah and King.  Most notably you can find these references in Ezekiel 36 through 39 and In Zechariah 12 through 14.  I encourage you to go systematically through my Prophecy series for more details on all of this.

 

When The Lamb is ultimately The King

 

If you’ve not yet read The Lamb in this Christmas series, I encourage you to do that now. It contains the most vital information one needs to be saved.  There is coming a day when Jesus, The Lamb of God, who was crucified and slaughtered for our sins; will be seen by all Christians as the glorious Lamb on His throne in Heaven.  We will never cease to praise Him for His blood shed for our sins.  That’s our only grounds for being in Heaven with Him. Read of that occasion in Revelation chapters 4 and 5.

 

How about You?

 

Do you continue to reject Him as your Saviour from sin,  or have you received by faith His shed blood as the atonement for your sins and have you bowed to Him as your Lord and King? Some day, Romans 14:10-12 tells us, every knee will bow and proclaim Him Lord. 

 

If you continue to reject Him as your Saviour now, one day you will have the horrifying experience described in Revelation 6:12-17 of crying for the rocks and mountains to fall on you and crush you in a vain attempt to avoid the wrath of the Lamb.  I beg you to cry out to Christ, the Lamb of God, and ask Him to save you and cleanse you from your sins and bow before Him now as your Saviour and King.  Then one day you will join the multitudes who stand before His throne in Heaven, described in Revelation 4 and 5 beholding your Lamb and King, the Lord Jesus Christ, and giving Him ceaseless praise.

December 2, 2008 Posted by | Christmas Series | Comments Off on Behold Your King

Behold My Servant

In Isaiah 42:1-4  we find a prophecy concerning God’s faithful Servant.  Comparing Matthew 12:14-21 with the Isaiah 42 passage we note how the Lord Jesus perfectly fulfills this prophecy. From these passages we as Christ’s servants can learn lessons in service from observing Him.

 

A Chosen Servant

 

God takes the initiative by choosing us, Jesus tells us in John 15:16, “You have not chosen Me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that you should go and bring forth fruit.”   In Ephesians 1:4 we learn that “He has chosen us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love.”

 

He chooses us, not for what we are; but for what He can do through us for His glory as we see in Ephesians 1:6 & 12. 

 

As Jesus was a despised Jew of Nazereth, so He still chooses those who are despised by the world for Jesus’ sake to be His servants.

 

A Voluntary Servant

 

It is possible for us to be both chosen and voluntary servants of God. In Philippians 2:5-8 Paul writes of how Jesus in humility submitted Himself to His Father’s will and voluntarily came into this world with a servant heart.  So we are to have the same humbleness of mind.  As Paul says in I Corinthians 9:19,  we are free in Christ; yet we serve Christ by willingly choosing to serve others.  We are constrained  to servanthood by cords of love for Christ  and not by chains of force, Paul writes in II Corinthians 5:14-15.

 

Though God chooses us for service and wants to use us, He will not force anyone to serve Him.  We must volunteer, as Isaiah did in Isaiah 6  and as Saul of Tarsus did in Acts 9.

 

A Beloved Servant

 

A faithful servant of God will experience; not only the hatred and disdain of the world, as Jesus taught in John 15:19-23 and the Apostle Paul taught in  II Cor. 4:7-12;   but he will also experience God’s loving support from those who love the Lord.  No true servant of God is normally popular with the world and often with his own family. In fact, Jesus warns His servants in Luke 6:26 to beware “when all men speak well of you.”   To the contrary, Hebrews 13:12-13 warns us to expect just the opposite; rejection and suffering from those we would serve.  Those who do not learn this lesson early will not last very long in ministry for Christ.  Though it pays to serve Christ in eternity,  it costs to serve Christ in this present age.  

 

Most people liken the ministry of the Gospel to a prestige position: such as being a medical doctor or a lawyer or the president of a firm. Young person, if you choose the ministry with this expectation, you are in for a cruel awakening, especially if you are faithful to Christ and His Word. Though those who love Christ and His Word will treat you with love and respect, many within the church will treat you as II Chronicles 36:16 describes Israel‘s treatment of their prophets. “They mocked the messengers of God and misused His prophets until the wrath of the Lord arose against His people till there was no remedy.”

 

Note God’s sober warning to those who would dare to rise up against a faithful servant of God as found in I Chronicles 16:22  “Touch not mine anointed and do my prophets no harm.”  One who dares to do that is playing with something more dangerous than lightening.

 

If you are a preacher who finds yourself hopping from church to  church because you feel you are not loved and appreciated, perhaps you have missed your calling.  Hopefully, you are a faithful pastor who has had a wrong view of the ministry; but are humble enough to receive reproof and make some changes in your attitude towards your calling.

 

Early in my ministry, I read in Ezekiel 3 of how God called the prophet Ezekiel and of the response he would receive to his ministry.  That has helped me to have the right response to opposition throughout my ministry.

 

Understand this, dear servant of God.  Though hated and despised by the world and sometimes by carnal Christians; you are beloved of God. Read John 15:10-15 and understand that Jesus does not deal with His servants as servants, but as friends.

 

A Faithful Servant

 

God the Father was well pleased with His Son Jesus, who came as a servant to earth. Jesus had set His face like a flint to go to Jerusalem and to the cross.  He had prayed for His Father’s will in the Garden of Gethsemane.

 

A servant’s most important trait is faithfulness.  Proverbs 20:6 declares that faithfulness is a rare quality in men. I think all of us would agree, What good is someone to you if you can never count on their word,  if they never do what they say they will do?

 

An Empowered Servant

 

God asks us to do a supernatural work.  That can only be accomplished through the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit. Luke 4:1 tells us that even Jesus ministered in that same power that’s available to us.

 

According to Colossians 2:6-10 we are complete in Christ to be what He wants us to be and to do what He wants us to do.  I Timothy 3:16-17 teaches us that we are equipped by God’s Word.  As David, when he went to fight Goliath, as recorded in I Samuel 17;  we do not need the armour of the world.  All we need are the five smooth stones of God’s Word.

 

A Gentle Servant

 

According to Matthew 12:19-20  God’s servant is gentle.  The Apostle Paul in II Timothy 2:24-26 and II Corinthians 10:1 emphasizes the importance of gentleness in our dealings with people.  We compel by love; not force. God’s wisdom is exercised by gentleness.  James 3:17   The Fruit of the Spirit includes gentleness.  Gal. 5:22.

 

 A Victorious Servant

 

Political causes will fail. As much as we love America,  it will fail one day. It’s been crumbling morally for as long as I can remember.

 

Religious organizations, including denominations, churches, colleges and seminaries have fallen under the control of Theological  Liberals for more than a century. One day the Lord Jesus is returning to this earth to reign and the Bible tells us that faithful Christians will reign with Him.

 

 

President Woodrow Wilson said, “I would rather fail in a cause that will triumph, than to triumph in a cause that will fail.”   We can apply that to Christians and the cause of Christ.  One day Christ’s cause will triumph and faithful Christians will share in that triumph.

 

December 1, 2008 Posted by | Christmas Series | Comments Off on Behold My Servant

Behold, Your God!

The announcement, “Behold your God!”  is found in Isaiah 40:9. As we read the rest of that chapter, there is no question that the entire chapter prophesies the coming of the Lord Jesus.

 

ISAIAH A MINI-BIBLE

 

As our Bible is made up of 66 books,  39 from the Old Testament and 27 from the New Testament;  so Isaiah contains 66 chapters.  The first 39 chapters (as the Old Testament) speaks primarily of judgment for sin.  The last 27 chapters, beginning with Isaiah 40, (as the New Testament) prophesies primarily of the coming of Jesus and salvation through Him. 

 

It’s true that even in the first section of Isaiah, we find prophecies of the coming Saviour, just as we find prophecies of Christ throughout the Old Testament.   For example,  in Isaiah 1:18  we are invited to be saved and find cleansing from sin.  Isaiah 7:14 is a clear prophecy of Christ’s virgin birth and in Isaiah 9:6-7 there are prophecies of the character and ministry of Christ. In Isaiah 11  we have a wonderful prophecy of His future Millennial reign on the earth.

 

However, most of the first 39 chapters of Isaiah deal with God’s judgment on heathen nations which have harmed Israel, God’s beloved chosen people.

 

ISAIAH 40, A CHAPTER OF GOD’S COMFORT

 

As the 27 books of the New Testament emphasize the person and work of Christ  and His wonderful salvation,  so the last 27 chapters of Isaiah, beginning with Isaiah 40, deal with Christ and His salvation and the comfort He brings to our hearts.

 

The first word of Isaiah 40:1  is “Comfort“.  Peace and comfort and joy are qualities that only come to those who by faith have come to Christ for salvation.

 

All the religions of the world are about you and me doing something to gain or inherit our salvation. They all lead to a life of fear and bondage as people attempt to merit salvation by their own self efforts. Hebrews 2:14-15 tells about that lifelong fear and bondage that religion brings. Ask any religionist, including the  Protestant who has never been saved,  about his chances of going to Heaven and he will tell you that he hopes to go there and he is doing his best he can to merit Heaven. Such a person is still lost in his sins.

 

Roman Catholics light candles and pay for Masses for their loved ones in a vain hope to have them released from Purgatory, an invention of the Roman Catholic Church.

 

Muslims willingly commit suicide and killing others in the vain hope of satisfying their god. 

 

In summary, all religions, like Cain’s in Genesis 4, regardless of the brand; teach that Heaven is attained by our works and our sacrifices. All those counting on their own works to inherit Heaven  are lost and will spend eternity in Hell.

 

Biblical salvation, on the other hand,  is all about Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. That sacrifice is pictured in Abel’s accepted blood sacrifice in  Genesis 4 in contrast with Cain’s unacceptable sacrifice of the works of his hands.   All the other animal sacrifices for sin throughout the Old Testament are types or pictures of  Christ who made the ultimate full, complete sacrifice of Himself on the cross in payment for all our sins; past, present and future.

 

God’s wrath, which should have been poured out on us for eternity in Hell; was poured out on His Son, Jesus, as He hung on the cross, dying for our sins.  Jesus paid the full price. He cried out as He died, “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?  God the Father turned His back on His Son as He suffered and died for our sins so that He would never have to turn His back on those who trust Christ for salvation.

 

Why on earth would God go to that extreme to save us if there were any other way to be saved?   We do not appease God for our sins.  Jesus is the propitiation, the appeasement of God’s wrath, for our sins, as is taught in Romans 3:20-28  and I John 2:1-2  and  4:10.

 

Jesus is the one and only Mediator between a Holy God and sinful man. Learn that truth in I Timothy 2:5-6.  Mary and those others the Roman Catholic Church canonizes as saints,  cannot mediate for us. They are sinners themselves in need of a Mediator provided by God Himself.

 

Now read Isaiah 40:1-2. This is what it is teaching. For those who trust in the finished sacrifice of Christ on the cross, there is nothing you need to add to the sacrifice.  The penalty for your sins has been paid in full. Listen to the description in Isaiah 40:2  of one who trusts Christ for his salvation. “her warfare (against God) is accomplished”.  Read Ephesians 2:13-17 in connection with this.  Now back to Isaiah 40:2. “her iniquity is pardoned”  and get this,  “she has received of the Lord’s hand double for all her sins.” The payment for our sins is more than enough.  It is double what we needed.  Putting it in monetary terms,  if it took one billion dollars worth of God’s grace to save us,  He has given us two billion dollar’s worth of His grace: far more than enough!  

 

What a comfort we find when we put our trust in Christ and quit trying to earn our own way to Heaven!  No wonder this chapter is filled with comfort. God is telling us to quit beholding our own self righteousness which He describes in Isaiah 64:6  as stinking, filthy rags.  He is telling us to get our eyes on Him and behold Him and what He has done for us on Calvary.

 

Note, how in Isaiah 40:3 we get the obvious hint that He is speaking of Jesus.  He is speaking of the forerunner of Jesus,  John the Baptist who introduces Jesus to a world of sinners. Compare John the Baptist’s introduction of Jesus in Matthew 3:1-3  with this Isaiah passage.  

 

So as we Behold Jesus in the New Testament, we are beholding God.  Let’s put our emphasis on each of these three words one at a time.   Behold Our God!

 

 

Behold your GOD!

 

 

As you read through Isaiah 40 you will behold God as the all-powerful Creator, as your Saviour and as your kind, gentle Shepherd caring for His lambs.  As you compare Isaiah 40 with the four New Testament Gospel accounts of Jesus’ life, you begin to recognize that Isaiah is referring to Jesus: our Saviour, Shepherd and God.is lambs. His   For convincing proof that Jesus is God, the Creator and Sustainer of His universe, read John 1,  Colossians 1,  Hebrews 1  and Revelation 1.  Yes, God Himself came down to earth in human flesh as God the Son to sacrifice Himself for our sins.  How much more proof do you need to believe that God loves you a sinner? 

 

Now as you read Isaiah 40, note again how God is our Creator in 40:12-31 our Saviour in 40:1-2 and our Shepherd in 40:11.

 

Jesus is I AM.  Do you remember the story of Moses in Exodus 3 when He met God in a burning bush that was not consumed?  God identified Himself to Moses as the  I AM.  Note in John 8:58  that Jesus made that same claim concerning Himself. It infuriated the Jews and they sought to kill Him right on the spot.

 

Jesus is Immanuel,  (God with us)  Isaiah 7:14  and Matthew 1:23

 

Jesus is one with the Everlasting Father. Isaiah 9:6  John 10:30

 

Jesus was born a baby boy. In the person of the child, Jesus; God’s Son was given. Isaiah 9:6

 

He is the Wonderful Counselor to us through His Word and His Holy Spirit.

 

He is the mighty God. Isaiah 40:28-31

 

He is the Prince of Peace. John 14:27 When you trust Christ, you will immediately discover this peace that passes all understanding  He not only brings peace to our hearts now, as believers;  but one day He will bring peace to the whole world when He returns to reign.

 

 

Behold YOUR God!

 

 

Christianity is not a mere religion or set of doctrines.  It is knowing Jesus experientially through His Word as our Creator, Saviour and Shepherd.

 

The Apostle Thomas discovered this intimate personal relationship with Jesus.  Read his touching story in John 20.

 

Can you say with David in the 23rd Psalm,  “The  Lord is MY Shepherd”?

 

Is it your heart cry to know Jesus personally as the Apostle Paul in Philippians 3:10  expressed his desire “to know Christ and the power of His resurrection” as the experience of his life?

 

 

BEHOLD Your God!

 

 

The dictionary definition of the word BEHOLD means to keep in sight, to observe,  to discern, to focus our attention.

 

We behold and focus our attention as we spend much time in the Bible. Isaiah 40:8 tells us of the eternality of His Word. Don’t focus on your pastor, including TV and radio preachers.  If they give you God’s Word, test what they say by the Bible.  But don’t blindly follow a preacher just because you like his personality or style.

 

Don’t focus on a denomination or association of churches.  If you focus on Jesus; then preachers, churches and denominations will take their proper place in your life. Don’t focus on the political situation in the land. Don’t focus on the economics situation.  Don’t even focus on a cause, such as “Let’s put Christ back in Christmas” in our communities. You can be involved in any cause that concerns you; but your focus must be on Jesus.

 

Don’t even focus on worship experiences and how they make you feel.  A worship experience can lead you astray.  The Bible will keep you on course.  Psalm 138:2 challenges us to magnify  God’s Word even above Jesus’ name. In Psalm 1 the Blessed Man is the man or woman who does not listen to and walk in the counsel of the ungodly; but meditates day and night in God’s Word.  In short, test EVERYTHING by God’s Word.

 

 

The Results of Beholding Jesus

 

We grow in godliness. I Peter 2:1-2

 

He removes our fears and gives us His strength. Isaiah 40:8,13

 

We become like Jesus. II Corinthians 3:18

 

As we enter the New Year and into new situations and  experiences in our lives, God’s Word will keep us from pessimism and fear and give us hope for tomorrow.  Jeremiah 29:11 reminds us “For I know the thoughts and plans  that I think towards you, saith the Lord,  thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you an expected end.”  The NASB translates that phrase,  “to give you a future and a hope”.

November 30, 2008 Posted by | Christmas Series | Comments Off on Behold, Your God!

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

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?

Christmas series #3 Have You received your Gift?

The majority of the Jews in Jesus’ day did not recognize or receive Him as God. John 1:11 says, “He came unto His own and His own received Him not.”

They knew they were descendents of Abraham and as such enjoyed a special covenant relationship with God. Because they tried to live by the Laws of God, they did not see any need of a Saviour.

Messiah

As Israel’s concern back in the days of the Prophet Samuel was for a king, so now Israel was longing for a political Messiah who would deliver them from the oppression of the Roman Empire. Jesus seemed to be the perfect Messiah. He could feed multitudes of people with almost nothing. He could heal the sick and raise the dead. The people tried to force Him into this role, but He refused.

Today there are many Conservatives who long for Christian moral values to influence our nation.

They like the idea of living in a “Christian” nation. At the same time, many of those who hold to Christian principles have never been born again. You see, as in Palestine 2000 years ago, there were many who appreciated Jesus; so today there are those who appreciate Christianity and its positive affect on their nation, but they have never seen themselves as lost sinners in need of trusting Christ as Saviour. Though they celebrate Christmas and make much of the baby Jesus in the manger, they have never yet recognized Jesus as the only one who can save them from their sins. When you recognize Jesus as your God and Saviour and Lord, then you will have experienced the miracle and the wonder of Christmas.

Though the crowds did not recognize Jesus as Messiah and Saviour, there were a few who did. These people are a major part of the Christmas story.

These knew the miracle and wonder of Christmas.


It was certainly clear to Mary, the mother of Jesus and to Joseph, his step-father. The angel Gabriel had made that clear to both of them. They worshipped the baby Jesus as their God and Saviour.

The wonder of Christmas was made clear to the shepherds who heard it directly from the angels and who came immediately to worship the baby Jesus.

It was also clear to the wisemen from the East who had studied the Old Testament scriptures, especially the prophet Daniel, who while a captive in Babylon centuries before had such a powerful, godly influence on their nation. Now, centuries later, the wise men came and bowed down and worshipped the young child, Jesus,  God incarnate.

Simeon and Anna, two very old people, who spent much time in the temple praying and studying the Scriptures; immediately upon seeing the baby Jesus, recognized Him as the promised Messiah and Saviour of the world.

Later Saul of Tarsus, travelling to Damascus, met the risen Saviour and instantly bowed before Him as Messiah, Saviour and Lord. Later Saul, now renamed Paul, wrote many of the New Testament epistles, including those to Timothy. In I Timothy 3:16 Paul writes, “And without controversy, great is the mystery of godliness; God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.”

The Apostle John after experiencing three years of intimate fellowship with Jesus, wrote in John 1 of Jesus, the Word. I encourage you to read prayerfully John 1:1-18 and the rest of the Gospel of John and it will become evident to you who Jesus is. It’s very clear that Jesus is God the Creator of this universe and He is not only Creator, but our Saviour from sin.

The Living Word of God

Note that in John He is referred to as The Word of God. As words reveal our hearts to others, so Jesus, the Word, reveals God’s heart to us. Have you ever wondered in what language God spoke to Adam? We will never know. When Adam sinned in the Garden of Eden, daily communication was cut off from God. If God had not initiated a solution to sin, Adam and the human race would never have known God. But God in His great love for us intervened with the Edenic promise in Genesis 3:15. There you find the history of redemption in a nutshell. God would eventually be victorious over Satan and utterly destroy him. God would eventually send Jesus into the world to save us from our sins.

We could not reach up to Heaven and bring down our own salvation. God had to reach down to us and He did it through the incarnation of His Son, Jesus. When men beheld Jesus, they beheld the glory of God in a man.

We could not understand the celestial language of God, so He translated it into a language we could understand, His Love for us.

The crowds observing Him and listening to Him, concluded, “No man ever spoke as this man.” He spoke so that even the youngest and the uneducated could understand Him. It was His love that enabled others to understand His Words. If we love the people to whom we minister in words and song, they are going to understand and we will reach their hearts.

Even the Roman centurion who directed the crucifixion of Christ, understood without ever hearing a sermon from Jesus. As he watched Jesus die he declared, “Truly He was the Son of God!” I expect to meet that centurion in Heaven? Will I meet you?

May 28, 2006 Posted by | Christmas Series | Comments Off on Christmas series #3 Have You received your Gift?

Christmas series #4: Gift Exchange

Christmas is one of the most blessed of holidays and exchanging gifts is one of the most exciting activities of Christmas, especially for children.  What a joyful, gratifying experience it is to shower gifts of love on our children!  Those of us who are empty-nesters, look back with nostalgia on those happy years when we were together as a family, experiencing these happy occasions, now only memories.

 

Agape Love

 

In this article, lets consider this matter of giving.  Did you know that we don’t know the first thing about unselfish giving and loving until we know God intimately through faith in His Son, Jesus?   “We love God, because He first loved us.”  I John 4:19

 

God’s love (agape love) is the true, selfless love that comes from God alone.  This is unconditional love that is showered on us with no strings attached. Any giving with the expectation of getting something in return is not really giving at all.  It is a selfish manipulation of others to get what we want. When we know God personally, it is possible for us to love and give as God does.  Such love is expressed by the giving of our time, energy and resources to people needing it, regardless of whether they appreciate it or whether they can reciprocate.  We offer such love to others because God’s love is flowing through us.

 

Imagine what this world would be like without God.

 

Without God there would be no loving and no giving in the world.  We are all born TAKERS; not GIVERS.  Children do not need to be taught to take.  They grab from birth and scream if they don’t get what they want NOW!   As they grow, they need to be taught to give.  They learn that kind of giving by observing the love and sacrificial giving of their parents.  But more than our love, they learn it as they come to know and experience Christ’s loving sacrifice for their sins. Being born again will change hearts like nothing else can.

 

Can you imagine what this world would be like totally devoid of love and sacrificial giving?  There would be no loving families, no churches, no hospitals, no medical care and no nursing homes.  There would be no Red Cross or Salvation Army, nor any other charitable giving. There would be no orphanages, no shelters or rescue missions, no missionaries. We would live in a totally selfish world.

 

What is a Gift?

 

A gift is a tangible or intangible expression of our love that meets the physical, emotional or spiritual needs of others.

 

A gift is unearned.

 

It is given from a heart that has been touched by God’s love and grace and responds in love and appreciation to Him.

 

It is given unconditionally, whether the receiver reciprocates or not.

 

It is given freely with no strings attached.  It’s not ” I’ll give you a gift if you give me one.”  That’s really not a gift. That’s merely swapping stuff.

 

When giving gifts we do not compare the value of what I gave you with the value of what you gave me.  The difference in value does not miff us and it is not even a consideration. 

 

Consider God’s Gift to us.

 

God gave His Son for us.  John 3:16

 

Christ gave Himself for us is taught in such passages as  Galatians 2:20,  Ephesians 5:25,  I Timothy 2:5-6

 

As a mother who gives her baby to adoption parents freely gives all the baby things with her baby,  so God freely gives us with His Son, all we need to live the Christian life in this world. II Peter 1:3-4, Romans 8:32, James 1:17

Have you received God’s Gift of salvation?  Are you  still rejecting Him?  Think how you would feel if you went to great expense and to great pains to give a gift to someone you love, and that person rebuffed you and rejected the gift.  That’s how God feels about your rejection of His Gift of Jesus.

 

Consider your gift to God.

 

Understand,  that  we can give Him nothing to earn our salvation.  By His grace alone, He gave us Himself as a sacrifice for our sins.

 

However, if you  have received God’s gift of salvation,  you can show your gratitude and appreciation by giving yourself totally to Him.

 

He wants nothing less from you than your life.   In Romans 12:1-2 Paul does not command, but he beseeches us to present our bodies to God as a living sacrifice.  In II Corinthians 5:14-21  we are constrained by His love to live the rest of our days serving Him. 

 

Your body, your life, your time, your talents, your strength, your heart all belong to Him.  How can you give Him less than your best?

May 27, 2006 Posted by | Christmas Series | Comments Off on Christmas series #4: Gift Exchange

Christmas is for Children

As meaningful as Christmas is to all of us,  it’s not quite the same without little children to help us share it.  The heart of the Christmas message is that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners.  That’s a message that can only be appreciated by child-like people.  That’s what Jesus declared in Matthew 18:1-4  He said, “Except ye be converted and be come as little children, ye shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven.

 

When Jesus talks about child-likeness, He is not talking about childishness.  Child-likeness is beautiful.  Childishness in an adult is disgusting. Childishness is  characterized by selfishness, peevishness, as when one acts as a spoiled child and a “cry baby”. One who is  child-like is humble, forgiving, innocent, teachable and unsophisticated.

 

SOPHISTICATION- It’s Cause

 

One who is sophisticated is proud and has a know-it-all attitude.  A sophisticated person is deprived of naturalness and simplicity.  A small child is cute because of these qualities.  But the moment a child tries to be cute by putting on an act, he ceases to be cute.  That’s the first step to sophistication; trying to be what he isn’t.

 

A new Christian has a freshness and simplicity about him that blesses others.  It’s God’s purpose that a new Christian begins growing and maturing as he  feed on the Word. But even in the process of coming to maturity, Satan tempts us to pride and sophistication.  A common temptation of every Christian is to think of ourselves more highly than we ought to think.  See the warning in Romans 12:3.

 

Though we are not to revert to childishness,  we must not lose our child-likeness in the cloak of sophistication.  Why do we lose that child-likeness and  tend to be sophisticated?  Satan corrupts our minds, Paul reminds us in II Corinthians 11:3.  He plays on our pride as he did with Eve in the Garden of Eden. He slanders God by telling us that God is withholding from us and that we can only  be wise if we disobey Him and go our own way. 

 

As we listen to Satan, we find ourselves becoming sophisticated, trying to cover up our real selves.  A sophisticated person covers up what he really is.  It often begins in the teen years when we try to “act cool”.  We tend to take on a role of superiority, but come across as obnoxious, know-it-all Christians.

 

SOPHISTICATION- It’s curse

 

Sophistication is a manifestation of pride, one of the most obvious and most ugly  of sins.   Sophistication blinds sinners from coming to Christ. II Corinthians 4:4 tells us of how Satan blinds us.  He makes us feel too intellectual to need a Saviour from sin. He makes us feel too intelligent to simply believe the Bible;  God’s inspired, infallible Word.

He sneers at us as he did at Eve, “Hath God said?” 

 

Not only does Satan try to  keep us from Christ, but he works in the minds of deceived Christians to worship at the shrine of intellectualism.  Theological liberals sneer at the Bible and at the simplicity of salvation through faith in Christ’s shed blood.

 

Satan keeps us from understanding the Word and thus hinders our growth. Paul warned about this danger in II Corinthians 11:1-3.   Satan also hinders our service to God. Knowledge, training, skills, talents, abilities are only useful as we keep a child-like humble spirit.

 

SOPHISTICATION- It’s Cure

 

One of the first things a Christian must learn is meekness and humility. They are primary traits in a growing Christian, as we learn in the Beatitudes (Beautiful attitudes) Jesus taught in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 5-7.  We learn these attitudes of humility as we go to Christ and learn from Him. 

 

In Matthew 11:28-30.  Jesus invites us to come and learn of Him. He invites us to be yoked up with Him as we serve Him.  He is meek and lowly of heart and we find our rest in Him even as we serve in His strength. 

 

In Philippians 2:5-11  we are reminded of our humble Saviour who came down from Heaven to live with us as a human and then die for our sins on the cross. We are challenged to have this same humble attitude.  That’s the cure for sophistication.

 

We need the mind of Christ and Paul tells us in I Corinthians 2:16 that we have the mind of Christ.  One who has the mind of Christ keeps a child-like simple dependence on God for everything.  He is our life, our sunshine, our all in all. The effectiveness of a Christian’s service is found in this child-like dependence on God.

 

Moses had it. Read through Exodus 3 and 4.  Moses wasn’t perfect,  but he had this child-like dependence on God.  For that, God called him “the meekest man on the earth.”

 

Gideon also had this child-like spirit and God used him to defeat the huge Midianite army.

 

Solomon started out with a child-like spirit, we read in I Kings 3:5-10  It’s so sad that he lost it.  At one time the wisest man on the earth, he later became one of the greatest fools who ever lived.  He was ruined when he lost his child-like dependence on God.

 

Jeremiah was a faithful prophet who had a child-like faith in God.  The problem was that when God called him to be a prophet, he used his child like qualities as an argument that God could not use him.  God chided him about this and finally Jeremiah was willing to obey God in this matter and became a great prophet to Judah.  

 

Let us keep a child-like, simple unsophisticated attitude towards God.  As we read and study His Word, we will grow in the grace and knowledge of Him. Let us beware of letting spiritual growth go to our heads making us feel self-important and giving us a know-it-all attitude.  Pride and sophistication are of Satan.  Humility comes from God. 

May 26, 2006 Posted by | Christmas Series | Comments Off on Christmas is for Children

In the Fullness of Time

God is never off schedule

 

Galatians 4:4-5 speaks of Christ coming into the world “in the fullness of time”.  God is never off schedule.  He is right on time in every situation.  Psalm 31:15 reminds us that “our times are in God’s hands”.  That is,  God is absolutely sovereign in the timing of every event of your life.  Fifty some years ago when I began my ministry, I knew that truth intellectually.  Through the years I have been learning it practically. 

If you are single, you can take comfort in this truth.  God has a plan for you. If you are to be married, He knows who your spouse will be and He has the timing of events under His control. If it is His will for you to remain single, He has a plan for you that will be more fulfilling and will bring you more joy than if you were married.

As the President of the United States is constantly surrounded and protected by his secret service agents,  so we are surrounded and protected by God’s secret service angels.  Hebrews 1:13-14 speaks of them.

 

The fullness of time had come.

 

Getting back to the context and truth of Galatians 4:4-5 Paul is writing of how God planned the coming of His Son, Jesus, into this world.  It was “in the fullness of time”.

It was time for Israel’s Messiah to come.  Israel had been cured of their idolatry after seventy years of captivity in Babylon.  They were now back in their homeland.  The Old Testament was completed.  Synagogues had been established where Israel could meet and hear the reading and expounding of God’s Word.   Jesus would use the synagogues to teach the people.  Later, Paul would meet with the Jews in the synagogues to preach the Gospel of Christ.

Three hundred years earlier, Alexander the Great conquered the world and so Greek became the common language throughout the known world. Thus the Gospel was made accessible to the nations.

Jesus came in the fullness of time. In the Pax Romana, initiated under Caesar Augustus, the world enjoyed a time of relative peace in the Roman Empire.  Minimal Roman force was needed during the years from 27BC  through 180 AD.   The Romans had established a system of roads throughout the empire.  Those roads would fascilitate the spread of the Gospel as Paul and others preached it.

The spiritual darkness prophesied in Isaiah 60:1-3 had fallen on Israel as they were led by the spiritually dead Pharisees.  Christ’s coming brought spiritual light to that darkness.  That light would enlighten Gentiles as well as Jews.

John the Baptist, son of the priest Zacharaias and his wife Elizabeth, would be the forerunner and introducer of Jesus to the public when He began His public ministry at the age of 30.

 

The mystery of God in human flesh

 

And so Paul writes in Galatians 4:4-5  “When the fullness of time had come, God sent forth His Son, made of a woman, made under the law, to redeeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons.”

Christ, who is the eternal Word of John 1:1-3 who created the world, became flesh and dwelt among us  John 1:10-14 The people of that generation had the privilvege of beholding God in human flesh.  This tremendous event was prophesied by the prophets, most notably by Isaiah in Isaiah 7:14  and 9:6  The prophet Micah also prophesied of Christ’s birth in Bethlehem in Micah 5:2.    These prophesies were written seven hundred years before the event.   Seven hundred years is a long time;  two hundred years longer than the time period between Columbus discovering America and this present time!

 

God and Time

 

We live in the realm of time. Most of us have the privilege of living about seventy years. We’re in a hurry to squeeze all we can out of the limited time we are given.   God is eternal.  Time means nothing to Him.  He has infinite time to accomplish His purposes.

You’ve heard the saying, “The wheels of justice grind slow, but they grind exceedingly fine.”  Let me rephrase that. “The wheels of God’s purpose move slowly, but God’s purpose is always accomplished.” God is never behind schedule.  Seven hundred years is as nothing to God; nor are two thousands years. Two thousand years ago Jesus prophesied that He would return to this earth.  He still has not yet returned, but the promise is just as sure to be accomplished as Isaiah and Micah’s prophecies of His first coming to this earth.

You would think that such an event as God becoming flesh and visiting the earth would have been with great fanfare and excitement; but it was not.   The eternal God, creator of Heaven and earth, came as a new born baby.  He was born to Mary, who though betrothed to Joseph, their marriage had not yet been consumated sexually. Jesus had been conceived by the Holy Spirit. 

Jesus, the God-Man, came to this earth as a tiny helpless baby who needed the care of his mother, Mary and step-father Joseph. He needed the parental care and training that every baby needs.  He grew up and became a man and then in God’s perfect time, He went to the cross and died for our sins, rising again the third day and returning to Heaven.  Jesus came as the God-man.  He died as the God-man.  He returned to Heaven as the God-man and He is returning to claim His Bride, (His Church) one day, perhaps soon, as the God-man.  When He returns for us, He will still be the God-man and He promises that we will be with Him forever.  For the blessed promises of this truth read I Thessalonians 4:13-18,  Revelations 21:1-4  Ephesians 2:4-7.

 

Our eternal relationship with Christ

 

What will be our relationship as Christ’s bride be? We will forever be His Bride.  That is mysterious and difficult for us to grasp.  Let me shed a little Biblical light on it.  Jesus makes a statement on it in Matthew 22:24-30 and the same statement is repeated in  Mark 12:18-25  and Luke 20:28-36.  According to Jesus’ clear statement,  there will be no marriage relationships in Heaven.  There will be no family circle relationships as we know them on earth.   Even now on earth, it is difficult to maintain family circles.  Children grow up and get married and form their own family circles. As these circles expand from one generation to another, they grow less tight.  Certainly when people remarry, there is a break up of family circles.  

When we arrive in Heaven, there will be only one family circle and that will be centered around our Bridegroom, the Lord Jesus Christ. Perhaps you are sorrowing at the thought of not being forever related as the wife of your beloved departed husband.  Let me encourage you. If you are both saved through faith in Christ, the relationship you had with your husband on this earth will be as nothing compared to the relationship you will have with him and with all the redeemed in Heaven.   Though not sexual, it will be infinitely more intimate and perfect, as will our relationship with Christ and with all of us who are in Heaven by the grace of God and through faith in Christ.

 

Details of your life matter

 

Returning to our theme, “In the fullness of time” let us consider how Micah’s prophecy of the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem was accomplished.

Mary was in her ninth month of pregnancy.  That is not a good time to travel.  My wife and I traveled from Greeenville S.C.  to western Nebraska in her seventh month of pregnancy.  That was not a good time to travel.  There were lots of stops along the way, giving her time to walk and stretch her legs.   Mary and Joseph needed to be in Bethlehem momentarily and they probably weren’t even thinking of travelling anywhere.  But God intervened.  That prophecy of Micah written seven hundred years earlier must be fulfilled to the letter. Jesus was to be born in Bethlehem.

So God put it in the mind of Caesar Augustus to make a decree that everyone in the Roman Empire must return to their birth place to be registered in a census so they could be taxed.  Joseph and Mary must by Roman decree travel to Bethlehem to be enrolled in the census.  So they started their painful, difficult journey of about sixty miles from Nazareth to Bethlehem.  No doubt Mary rode on a donkey and no doubt it took about two weeks.  She arrived just in time and went into labor. Though there was no room in the inn, they found a relatively quiet and private place in a cave where the animals were kept. There in the straw, Mary delivered her holy baby boy and laid Him in a manger among the cattle and sheep.

Do you see how God in His wisdom and sovereignty put details into motion to fulfill His Word?  He will do the same for you and me if we are His through faith in Christ and if we are surrendered to His will.

 

May 25, 2006 Posted by | Christmas Series | Comments Off on In the Fullness of Time