Sunday, September 2, 2018

“Instead of Being Your Fathers”

In ancient Israel, the coming Messiah was often referred to as “the son of David”.  This is the title by which blind Bartimaeus used when he cried out to Jesus as he was passing by: “O son of David, have mercy on me!”  But one day when the Messiah was teaching in the temple in Jerusalem, he pointed out, by asking a simple question, that “son of David” was an inadequate title for him.  How could it be, he asked, that the Messiah is David’s son, when David, speaking by the Spirit of God, referred to the Messiah as his Lord (Mt. 22:45, referring to Ps. 110:1).  It was a good question.  Why would any man call his son his Lord?
The central revelation of the New Testament is that from the foundation of the world, God has had a Son and that God’s Son was His agent in the creation of all things.  Only with this revelation can we see the wisdom in Jesus’ penetrating question.  God’s Son did not come from David; on the contrary, David, along with all creation, came from God’s Son.
This truth, hidden at the time, lies behind one of David’s prophecies of the fathers of Israel someday reigning over the world with the Messiah.  David must have wondered what the Spirit meant when it spoke these words through him, for David was ignorant of the Son.  He didn’t know that the Messiah had been with God from the beginning or that the Son was the perfect reflection of the Father.  And so, David didn’t know what the Father meant when He spoke through David’s mouth to the Son about the fathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, and said, “Instead of being your fathers, they will be your sons, and you will set them as princes over all the earth” (Ps. 45:16).

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

The Law Helped Fallen Men To Sin Safely


He answered and said to them, What did Moses command you?
They replied, ‘Moses allowed for a man to write a certificate of separation, and to divorce.’
Jesus answered and told them, ‘He wrote that commandment for you
because of the hardness of your heart.’”
Mark 10:3–5

Jesus was saying that although God created men and women to be married once, they were bound to sin, thus making divorces inevitable.  So, He gave them laws regarding divorce so that they would do the evil they were going to do, the safest way they could do it.  We see this same love of God in another place in the law He gave to Moses.  Foreseeing that Israel would one day reject Him as their king, God gave them instructions on how best to reject Him and choose a different king (Dt. 17:14–20). He didn’t want Israel to destroy themselves before He sent His Son to save them.
The law was not given for those who hated righteousness (1Tim. 1:9), but for those who hated sin but could not escape its domination over them.  God loved those who wanted to do right, even if they could not always do it.  Therefore, He gave them the law to guide them in their sin, to save them from the worst effects of the sins they could not escape until He sent His Son.  As Paul told the Galatians, “Why the law?  It was added because of transgressions, until ‘the seed’ should come” (Gal. 3:19).  And in the end, the “seed” came, for God loved those struggling against sin enough to send His Son to purify their souls so that they would no longer need to be guided in wrongdoing because they would no longer desire to do wrong.

=======

God is so good to man.
Gary
=======

Good morning,

I see a great love for God’s people in this!  God knew that “man at his best state is altogether vanity” without Him and needed help, so he gave them the Law so they could go about doing the wrong they intended to do in the safest way.  There was only love in that.

I was thinking as I read this, how wrong I used to feel towards God before I studied the Old Testament with you.  Before, I thought the Law with all of its rules and ceremonies was hard and grievous.  But the more I studied, the more I saw the tender love from God toward his children “to save them from the sins they preferred”.  The Law was intended to make their lives easier, not harder.  

Then, it made Jesus’ coming all the sweeter knowing that God sent him to purify our hearts so that we would no longer desire to do any evil thing. We no longer need an external law because Jesus gave his life so we can have clean hearts!  I love that we can have clean hearts!  And I love the way you ended that we no longer need guidance in our wrongdoing because we no longer desire to do wrong.   What a precious gift!
Lee Ann
=======

John,
This shows the love God had for His people before He sent His son. God knew that they could not keep the law perfectly with only their carnal nature. 

I really like the last paragraph.  The way you explain the reason God sent His son is very good. 
Tom
=======

I love this sentence: “for God loved those struggling against sin enough to send His Son to purify their souls so that they would no longer need to be guided in wrongdoing because they would no longer desire to do wrong.”

What a good God we serve! 

Thank you for writing this!
Donna
=======

I love how simple the message is here – God knows our humanness and that we can have hardness and stubbornness in our hearts when we want our own way, but He loves us so much that He gave instructions on how to do the least damage to ourselves and others – and then He sent Jesus to change our old nature into His godly nature so we could really live and take care of the hearts around us. 
Bess
=======

I love this!  I feel the love of God in it.   He knew men were going to fall, to sin, to follow their own ways but he loved them so much he gave them the law as a “cushion” until He sent His beloved Son!  

Really love this: “for God loved those struggling against sin enough to send His Son to purify their souls so that they would no longer need to be guided in wrongdoing because they would no longer desire to do wrong.” 

That is a love that’s beyond anything in this world!  How precious!  How humbling! 
Michelle
=======

I like this. These are thoughts man would never think of, that God loved them so much He would guide them in their sin. Whew, that’s love. Then, love them enough to send His Son. This is so good and full of love!
Lou
=======

This is so good, John! God’s people need to hear this clear and simple message. Thankful for God’s anointing on you to deliver it, if they’ll only take it in. Thankful that we have!
Jim K.
=======

I know the Law is holy because it’s from God. But after reading this and I feel the Law is less holy than I thought before. It’s an uncomfortable feeling.  I certainly can feel the love and mercy in the law but at the same time, I feel like I just learned it’s not the highest standard set by God. It’s a very thought provoking blog post. 
Michael
. . . .

Yes, the law was certainly holy.  The apostle Paul told us that several times.  But he also told us that in comparison to the holiness of God revealed in Christ, the law has no glory at all.
Pastor John
=======

This is wonderful.  I’ve been studying 1 and 2Timothy recently, and these verses where Paul was talking about this stood out to me, but I didn’t understand it as well as I do now after reading your blog.

Studying the law is wonderful to help fine-tune our judgment in things happening around us to help us get ready to rule with Jesus.  But as long as we're walking in the Spirit (staying holy), we won’t have problems where we need it used on us!

I love the food you feed us!
Aaron
=======

God loved His people enough to guide them in their sin, to save them from the worst of the sins they preferred. Then, He loved them enough to send His Son to purify their souls so that they would no longer need to be guided in wrongdoing because they would no longer desire to do wrong.

Oh how this makes my heart sing! For this is my testimony. This is truth that I know deep in my soul. How many times I wanted to just follow “the law” and never did I dream I would one day be set free from even the desire to sin. This truth, this love, is what my Jesus did for me. I know this love in the fibers of my soul, it was sewn in by my Jesus, whom my heavenly Father sent to rescue me.

I love the truth.
Beth D.

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Discerning the Lord’s Body

To discern the Lord’s body means “to acknowledge those who labor among you, and who rule over you in the Lord and admonish you, and to esteem them as highly as possible in love because of their work” (1Thess. 5:12–13).  Elders who rule well are worthy of double honor (1Tim. 5:17), but if we fail to recognize who is ruling well, we will fail to count them worthy of double honor, and we may give double honor instead to an elder who is not ruling well.  To discern the Lord’s body also means to “warn the disorderly, encourage the faint-hearted, help the weak” (1Thess. 5:14).  But how can we warn the disorderly if we do not discern what unruliness is?  Or how can we encourage the feebleminded if we fail to discern who they are?  Or how can we help the weak if we do not know which saints are weak?
Judgments of some of God’s people are of more value than the judgments of others.  Some of God’s people are spiritually mature and able to be fed the “hard sayings” of the gospel, while many others “are not able to bear it.”  Some “walk worthy” of their calling in Christ Jesus, while “many walk”, as Paul said, “whose end is destruction . . . who mind earthly things.”  It is imperative that we discern whose judgment is sound and whose judgments are in vain.  Will the body be edified if “babes in Christ” are choked with teachings they are not able to bear, or will the body increase “with the increase of God ” if those who are ready for spiritual meat are not given it?  Or will the body grow in grace if the disorderly are not warned, the feebleminded are not encouraged, and the weak are not helped?
Without discerning the body of Christ, God’s children live in mass confusion, hurting one another while trying to do good.  Paul said that failure to discern the body brings on sickness, and even premature death (1Cor. 11:29–30).  Only by discerning the body of Christ do we know what to do or say to whom, and when.  In other words, we truly do good to one another when we know one another, discerning each one’s spiritual condition and acting and speaking accordingly.

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Pursuing the Knowledge of God


One of the lessons my father learned in Christ, he said, is that anything we believe can be a lie as far as we know, and he exhorted all believers to pursue the knowledge of God rather than be satisfied with merely believing in Him.  In this connection, he often quoted the apostle John: “I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you might know” (1Jn. 5:13a).
My father taught us that a newly born child of God knows his heavenly Father no better than a newly born human knows his earthly father, and that wise saints pursue the knowledge of God after being born again.  The apostles were grieved when those whom they brought into the kingdom of God did not “follow on to know the Lord” (1Cor. 3:1–3; Gal. 4:19–20; Heb. 5:12–13; cp. Hos. 6:3), and they were thrilled whenever they did:

1Corinthians 1
4. I thank my God always for you, for the grace of God which is given to you in Christ Jesus,
5. because in every way, you are enriched in him in all speech and in all knowledge.
3John 1
4. I have no greater joy than this, to hear that my children are walking in truth.

Monday, July 23, 2018

God’s Witness of the Right Way

On the day of Pentecost, God’s life, His Spirit, came into and completely re-created Jesus’ followers, but the fundamental purpose for God giving His Spirit was to provide a sure witness of the right way, the only way, to Him.  “The Spirit is the witness”, John would later write, “because the Spirit is truth” (1Jn. 5:6).  No news reporters were in heaven when the Son offered himself to the Father as a sacrifice for man’s sins, and no cameras or microphones recorded that awesome, holy moment.  In the Old Testament shadow, when Israel’s high priest went into the Holy of Holies to present the blood of animals before God for the sins of the nation, no one, not even other priests, were allowed in the tabernacle (Lev. 16:17).  In the Son’s case, even the holy creatures of heaven would have been barred from witnessing the event.  Otherwise, the Spirit would not be the witness, as John said.  It would only be one of many.
Without God’s witness, the Spirit, people can believe that Jesus is Lord, but only with His Spirit can we ever know that Jesus is Lord and Christ.  This is what Paul was talking about when he said that without the Spirit, no one can say (and know it to be true) that Jesus is Lord (1Cor. 12:3).

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.

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

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

Believers
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!

Understanding
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.

Simplicity
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.

Liberty
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.

Salvation
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.