Thursday, July 12, 2018

Jesus Hated Life in This World

He who loves his life shall lose it, and he who hates his life in this world
shall keep it unto eternal life.  If anyone serves me, he must follow me.
John 12:25–26a

Preacher Clark testified once that God had spoken to him and said, “I am not a hypocrite.  I don’t command you to do something that I don’t do.”  Jesus was our example, and he expects us to follow it.  He did not tell us to hate this life even though he loved it.  He hated this life as an example for us, showing us how to hate it in a godly way, as he said, “If anyone serves me, he must follow me.”
But what is it about life in this world that Jesus hated?  First of all, when he came into the world, the righteous and the wicked were both living in it.  Second, when he came into the world, nobody in this world had the kind of life that he had, the eternal life that God gave him when He created him.  Therefore, nobody in this world truly knew or understood either him or his Father.  His Father knew him, and he knew his Father; every other creature in heaven or in earth was in darkness.
Before the Son of God rose from the dead, ascended into heaven, and cast Satan and his angels out, godly and ungodly creatures dwelt in heaven, too.  Also, no heavenly creature, except the Son, had God’s kind of life, just as no earthly creature had God’s kind of life.  Moreover, Paul said that from the foundation of the world, the Son of God was hidden from both men and heavenly beings until he was revealed in Jesus Christ (Col. 1:26; Eph. 3:9).  This means that no creature in heaven knew or understood the Son before he was revealed, just as no creature on earth knew or understood the Son.  In short, the kind of life Jesus hated in this world when he came into it was very much like the kind of life Jesus knew in heaven before he came.
All this brings us to a question.  If Jesus hated life in this world, then did he also hate life in heaven before he came to earth and returned to heaven, and cast Satan and his angels out, thus purging heaven of all ungodliness?  There was certainly something about life in heaven that Jesus hated, for when he returned to heaven, he made enormous changes there, purifying it, according to the author of Hebrews (9:23).
When Jesus prayed that the Father would restore glory to him, he said he was praying for “the glory that I used to have with you before the universe existed” (Jn. 17:5).  Before this universe existed, the Son dwelt openly with the Father in supreme happiness (Prov. 8:22–31).  After the universe was populated, in heaven and in earth, the Son was hidden by the Father, to be revealed at the appointed time.  Repeatedly, in the book of Psalms and in the prophets, we find the hidden Son of God asking the Father to let him come to earth and teach men about the Father.  For example: “Let me sing of the LORD’s eternal mercies!  Let me make known with my mouth your faithfulness through all generations!” (Ps. 89:1).
How happy must the Son have been when the Father at last sent him to earth to be revealed, to be free to teach men, as the Son of God, about his Father – and to return to heaven and openly enjoy again the Father’s presence as His precious Son!

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Things That Are In Christ

The phrase “in Christ” is used seventy-seven times in the New Testament.  Seventy-four of those times are found in Paul’s letters.  Luke used it once (Acts 24:24), and late in Peter’s life, he used it a couple of times (1Pet. 3:16; 5:14).  During the night recently, I was lying in bed thinking about the things of God and the thought came to me, “How many things does the Bible say are in Christ?”  And so, I arose and looked up the scriptures concerning what is in Christ Jesus.  Here is what I found (along with a few verses that say “in me” or “in him” when referring to Christ):

God the Father
John 10:38b: The Father is in me, and I, in him.
2Corinthians 5:19: God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.

The Fullness of God’s Nature
Colossians 1:19: God was pleased for all His fullness to dwell in him.
Colossians 2:9: In him dwells all the fullness of God’s nature, bodily.

John 1:4: In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

Romans 3:24: Being freely made righteous by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.

Romans 12:5: We, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members of one another.
2Corinthians 5:17: If anyone be in Christ, he is a new creature.

The Law of the Spirit of Life
Romans 8:2: For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has made me free from the law of sin and death!

The Love of God
Romans 8:39: . . . nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord!

2Corinthians 3:14: Their minds were blinded, and even until this very day, in the reading of the Old Testament, the same veil remains, not taken away – which thing is removed in Christ.

2Corinthians 11:3: I fear, lest, as the serpent led Eve astray by his craftiness, so your thoughts likewise be led astray from the simplicity that is in Christ.

Galatians 2:4: False brothers . . . slipped in to spy out our liberty which we have in Christ Jesus.

No Human Differences
Galatians 3:28: There is neither Jew nor Greek, neither slave nor freeman, nor male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.
Galatians 6:15: In Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision means anything, but being a new creature does.

All Spiritual Blessings
Ephesians 1:3: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who in Christ has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in heaven.

Access to God
Ephesians 2:13: In Christ Jesus, you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.

The Promise of God (the Spirit)
Ephesians 3:6: The Gentiles are to be heirs with the Jews, and of the same body, and partakers together of His promise in Christ, through the gospel.

The Attitude of a Servant
Philippians 2:4–5: Let each of you look not to his own interests, but each one also to the interests of others.  Let this mind be in you that was also in Christ Jesus.

The Calling of God
Philippians 3:14: I press on toward the goal, for the prize of the heavenly calling of God in Christ Jesus.

The Will of God
1Thessalonians 5:18: In everything give thanks, for this is the will of God for you in Christ Jesus.

Faith and Love
1Timothy 1:14: The grace of our Lord abounded, with the faith and love that is in Christ Jesus.
2Timothy 1:13: Maintain the standard of sound words which you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.

The Faith
1Timothy 3:13: Those who have served well earn for themselves good standing and much boldness in the faith which is in Christ Jesus.

God’s Promise of Eternal Life
2Timothy 1:1: Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, in accord with the promise of life that is in Christ Jesus . . .

The Grace of God
2Timothy 2:1: So, my son, you be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

2Timothy 2:10: I endure all things for the sake of the elect, that they might attain to the salvation which is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.
There are many good things in Christ.  May we discover and experience what they all are!

Wednesday, June 13, 2018

Heaven Did Not Know Him

At the beginning of his gospel (Jn. 1:10), John wrote of the Son of God, “He was in the world, and the world was created through him, but the world did not know him.”  It was revealed to Paul that from the beginning of creation, the Son of God had also been unknown in heaven.  Paul spoke of “the mystery of the Father and the Son” (Col. 2:2), “the mystery that was hidden from the Aeons (heavenly beings) and from generations of man, but now is revealed to His saints” (Col. 1:26).  This mystery, hidden from the beginning of time, was that there had been a Son somewhere in heaven with God, through whom God had created everything.  Nobody in heaven or earth knew that the Son existed until the Son was revealed in the man, Jesus Christ.
This means that at the beginning of his gospel, John could also have written this about the Son: “He was in heaven, and heaven was created through him, but heaven did not know him” (Jn. 1:10).

Friday, June 8, 2018

They Understood Nothing

It was not just Jesus’ prophecies of the rising from the dead or his statements about having come down from heaven that the disciples could not understand.

John 10:1–6
“Truly, truly, I tell you, he who doesn’t enter through the gate into the sheepfold, but climbs up at some other place, is a thief and a robber.  He who enters through the gate is the shepherd of the sheep.  The gatekeeper opens for him, and the sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  And once he has driven out his sheep, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him because they know his voice.  They will never follow a stranger, but they will flee from him because they don’t know the voice of strangers.”  Jesus spoke this allegory to them, but they did not understand the things that he said to them.

Truths that we all now take for granted, people of Jesus’ time on earth had never dreamed of and could not imagine.
Be thankful.  You live in an amazing time.

Monday, April 30, 2018

Redemption in Two Parts

The redemption of the soul happens now, in this life.  The redemption of the body is still to come; that will be our salvation.

The Redemption of the Soul Happens Now

Ephesians 1:7 PJV
7. [Jesus Christ] in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the richness of His grace.

Colossians 1:14 PJV
14. [God’s beloved Son] in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

1Peter 1:18–19 PJV
18. You were not redeemed from your worthless way of life, received by tradition from your fathers, with corruptible things such as silver or gold,
19. but with the precious blood of Christ, as of an unblemished and spotless lamb.

The Redemption of the Body Will Be Our Salvation

Romans 8:23–25 PJV
23. We who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, also groan within ourselves, eagerly awaiting the adoption, the redemption of our body.
24. For we are saved by hope, but hope that is seen is not hope, for what someone sees, why does he still hope for it?
25. But if we hope for that which we do not see, then with patience we eagerly wait for it.

Ephesians 4:30 PJV
30. Do not grieve the holy Spirit of God, by which you were sealed until the day of redemption.

Wednesday, March 14, 2018

“Would Jesus save me if he came today?”

     Many of us have had that question come up in our hearts.  And we have certainly hoped that Jesus would indeed save us if he came today.
Recently, the Lord gave me another question which will help us determine the answer to that first one.  It is this: “Would Jesus give me the holy Ghost today if I did not have it?”
If Jesus would give you the Spirit today if you were seeking it, then he would save you today if he came.  Would you be given the holy Ghost today?

Sunday, January 14, 2018

“I Don’t Care”?

Many years ago now, I heard a lively congregation in Kentucky sing a peppy old gospel song which included the line, “I don’t care what this world says about me. . . .”
Those words can encourage sincere saints to be strong and faithful, but most of the people who have sung that song over the years were only puffing themselves up in singing it, for the world wasn’t really saying anything about them.  They were singing about an imaginary persecution, and boasting of an imaginary courage in the face of it.
We cannot really know whether or not we care what the world says about us until the world says something about us.  Until then, our task is to do the will of God so that we earn the test of genuine persecution, and if we do the will of God, that test will surely come.  And when that persecution comes, we will then, for the first time, know whether or not we care what the world says about us.
If the world has not yet said anything about you, please sing that old hymn prayerfully, asking God for grace to let those words prove true when your time comes to be tested.

Friday, January 12, 2018

Preserving the Treasures of the Gospel

January 2, 2018

I have spent the last ten days or so traipsing through antique ruins of Rome, “the eternal city”, straining my neck to view the tops of majestic monuments, trudging for hours over rocky paths and roads, climbing several of Rome’s famed seven hills, and squinting into dim underground caverns to glimpse graves deserted of the corpses they used to cover.  I have meandered through galleries viewing broken bits and pieces of a culture which many think is extinct but is actually well-preserved in a different form by those who are its heirs.  Much of what I saw would normally be cast aside as worthless junk, but through the efforts of lovers of that past, it is revered, fenced off, and presented as a precious testimony to a special life and time.  Dirty pieces of that past, all but insignificant even when new, are now encased, guarded, and allowed to be viewed only by those who pay the price of admission.  The enormous expense – gladly paid – and the enormous effort – gladly made – to preserve these ruins is part of the glorification of the culture whence those objects came.  Nothing of it that remains is deemed unimportant; indeed, it is all esteemed as nearly sacrosanct.
I have at least one thing in common with the spiritual descendants of Rome.  They glorify Rome and are devoted to perpetuating that Empire in its revised form, Christendom.  Their predecessors long ago blended Roman culture with the faith of Christ to produce the world’s greatest religion, Christianity, to which well over a billion people on earth now belong.  I am devoted, just as Christians are, to preserving something that existed two thousand years ago.  I know how it feels to be devoted to an ancient thing, to treasure the least bits of it.  I know the passion; I feel the same compulsion to go to any expense and to make every effort to preserve what my heart esteems as precious.  But the object of my devotion is not Roman culture or the religion that came from it; rather, the object of my devotion is the pure and simple gospel of Christ.  I do not glory in grand basilicas of the past or present, or in ancient or modern epitaphs, mosaics, or statues.  I glory in the love of God revealed to us through Christ and the apostles.  Every truth of Christ that I have learned is encased within my heart; I contemplate its beauty for hours.  I marvel at the gospel’s majesty, which, unlike Christian monuments and art, has not faded, though men have often plastered over its beauty with their doctrines, and covered its gold with the silt of vain traditions, and even though Christianity itself has many times attempted to eradicate it from the earth by persecuting those who treasured it.
It is my chief joy to discover any bit of the truth, any remnant of the true gospel, and I am constantly and diligently searching for it.  You are also invited to do so.  And you are promised that “if you cry after knowledge, and lift up your voice for understanding, if you seek her as silver, and search for her as for hidden treasures”, then you will find Christ, the hidden wisdom of God.  Please let me know what you find so that we may rejoice together.