Sunday, April 24, 2011

Excerpt - Tempted and Tried

When it comes to God, we convince ourselves that God doesn't see (Ps. 10:11; 94:7) or that he'll never call us to account (Ps. 10:13), but in order to do that we have to quite our God-designed conscience that points continually to the criteria by which we'll be judged before the Creator's tribunal (Rom. 2:16).

 The demonic powers not only will give us what we crave, but they will assist us in covering it over, for a little while.  That's precisely the irony.  Often you are fueled on from one temptation to the other because you haven't been caught.  This gives you an illusion of a cocoon protecting you from justice.  The powers, though, don't want you to get caught - not yet, not this early in the march to the slaughterhouse.  They don't have a mere seventy or eighty years to live.  They are ancient and patient and quite willing to wait until your downfall will bring with it the most catastrophic consequences - for you, for your family, for the kingdom of God, and to the image of Christ you carry.  So they'll help you cover it all up, and then they'll expose you  - mercilessly.  You'll never see it coming around the bend.

Where before the invisible presences disputed the contents of the law, now they remind us of it in every jot and tittle, and how we've violated it.  When before they'd scoffed with us even of the possibility of future judgement, now they wish to hold its certainty ever before our eyes.  They accuse us with our own transcribed  consciences as evidence.  And we know they're right.

                          Russell Moore - "Tempted and Tried: Temptations and the Triumph of Christ" page 57

Monday, December 6, 2010

Good Parenthood

Once again as Christmas is here, I enjoy listening to all the old Christmas songs to which I grew up listening.  As I get older, it brings back memories.  It seems each year, even after hearing a song hundreds of times, a phrase in a song will catch my attention.  This year, such is the song, "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" which the Internet tells me was written by a Meredith Wilson in 1951.  One phrase in this song is this: "And Mom and Dad can hardly wait for school to start again."  What a pitiful commentary about parenthood.  Are the children really so much trouble that these parents can't wait to send their kids back to strangers so that they won't have to spend time with them.  And this desire takes place at Christmas which American tells us is all about the family.

While this lyric seems to demonstrate a warped view of parenthood, I fear that it may be true for many families today.  They can't wait for the holidays to be over so that they can ship their children to schools who teach them a worldview which denies Christmas in favor of a winter holiday.  While I confess that I have failed miserably over the years, I hope I have at least taught my children about the the incarnation of Jesus Christ, God in the flesh, come down to accomplish the salvation of His people.  We have enjoyed many of the  traditional aspects of Christmas, but I hope we have not lost sight of this.  Will any child get this at a school that teaches from a naturalistic worldview?  No - they must get this first from their parents.  So during this Christmas season, let us not long for sending our kids back to school, but take advantage of the time with them and teaching them of a Savior born who is Christ the Lord, good news for all types of people for He has come to save His people from their sin.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

I Am He

I have been reading through James White's book, The Forgotten Trinity. In one chapter, titled "I Am He, White points out the obvious parallelism of the "I am He" statements found in the Gospel of John related to similar statements found in Isaiah. After pointing out the obvious intention of John to connect theses words of Jesus with those of the prophet Isaiah and that one would be hard-pressed not to see these connections, he makes the following statement:
Lest one should find it hard to believe that John would identify the carpenter from Galilee as Yahweh himself, it might be pointed out that he did just that in John 12:39-41 by quoting from Isaiah's temple vision of Yahweh in Isaiah 6 and then concluding by saying, "These things Isaiah said because he saw His glory and he spoke about Him." The only "Him" in the context is Jesus; hence, for John, Isaiah, when he saw Yahweh on His throne was in reality seeing the Lord Jesus

I have always been amazed at John 1:11, "He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him." referring to the Jews rejecting Jesus as their Messiah and, in light of John's clear intention of presenting Jesus as Yahweh, their God. What is even more amazing is that when Isaiah 6 is read in Jewish synagogues today, those confessing Jews are still rejecting the very one they are reading about in the text.

It is clear to see why John's very next statement following this one in John 1:11, is that those who receive and believe Him are only able to do this because they are born of God. Without the new birth, no one could believe.
But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:12-13)
White goes on to point out Jesus statement in John 8:24: “Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I am He , you will die in your sins.” He makes the following remarks on this verse:

Jesus here gives us the context and object of saving faith - real faith is that which focuses on the real Jesus. A faith that demands a change in Jesus before a commitment is made is not real faith at all. The Jews standing around Him during this conversation most assuredly would not have denied that He is a man - but that was not sufficient for faith. Some had only recently proclaimed Him as Messiah - but that was not sufficient for faith. Some might hail Him as a prophet or a miracle worker, blessed by God - but that was not sufficient for faith. Some today say He was a great moral teacher and philosopher - but that is not sufficient for faith. Some call Him "a god" or a great angel - but that is not sufficient for faith. No, Jesus himself laid down the line. Unless one believes Him for who He says He is - the ego eimi - one will die in one's sins. There is no salvation in a false Christ. If we are to be united with Christ to have eternal life, then we must be united with the true Christ, not a false representation. It is out of love that Christ uttered John 8:24. We would do well to heed His words.

Indeed, salvation is only found in the true Christ that John presents as Yahweh of the Old Testament. This only goes to show the importance of all believers understanding the biblical doctrines of the deity of Christ and the Trinity. For many, calling themselves "Christians" today, deny these foundational doctrines, teaching and believing in a false Christ that will not save them from their sins.

Friday, April 9, 2010

Take Heed of the Examples But Remember the Promises

Recently, I have been meditating on 1 Corinthians 10:1-13. Paul begins this passage (verses 2-3) pointing out the great advantages and grace that God had shed on the people of Israel as they were brought out of Egypt. He says they "were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea" or in other words they were partakers of the miracles of God's continuing presence in the guiding them with the cloud as well as seeing the great miracle of the Red Sea parting. He goes on to show how they partook of the same spiritual food and drink probably alluding to the manna and water that God provided for them again in miraculous fashion. Finally, Paul says that these people drank for the Spiritual Rock of Christ once again referring to how God provided water to them from a Rock. All these physical miracles during the Exodus were Spiritual types pointing to Christ.

Paul then changes gears from the activities of grace that God provided for them to their actions in response. He says that although God granted these great blessings to them, He was not pleased with most of them (verse 5). Paul specifically says that these actions are examples for us "so that we will not desire evil as they did." What were the actions of some of these people which we are to take heed:
  1. They were idolaters (1 Corinthians 10:7 quoting Exodus 32:6 which deals with the events of the golden calf)
  2. They were immoral (1 Corinthians 10:8 pointing to the events of Numbers 25:1-9)
  3. They put Christ to the test (1 Corinthians 10:9 pointing to the events of Numbers 21:5-9 when the people complained about God's provision and God sent poisonous snakes)
  4. They complained against God (1 Corinthians 10:10 pointing to the events of Numbers 16:41-50 when the people again complained against God's dealing through Moses and Aaron and God send a plague)
Paul shows that many were cut down in the wilderness because of these sinful action. These things should serve as examples to us to keep us from evil. In 1 Corinthians 10:12, Paul writes, " So let the one who thinks he is standing be careful that he does not fall" Why would he says this? Well, he has just shown that many people who had experienced many of God's miraculous wonders still turned to sin. If they, who beheld these wonders, could so easily turn to sin, then we too, who have not seen the Red Sea part, manna falling from heaven, or water suddenly coming from a rock, can also easily turn to sin.

The questions comes - will remembering these examples keep us from sin? Well, they certainly will help - but the glorious promise of 1 Corinthians 10:13 will aid us in our battle to put evil to death in our lives.
No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.

God has promised:
  1. That we will never face a temptation that is extraordinary.
  2. The He (God ) is faithful to His promises.
  3. That we will never face a temptation that is beyond our ability to overcome.
  4. That God will provide an escape with every temptation we face.
  5. Because of the above truths, we can endure.
How often do we drift into self pity over temptations thinking no one has ever faced the temptations like we have. We don't have the strength to fight and we can't win. To think this way flies in the face of these promises from God. As regenerate believers, we can overcome sin. God is Faithful - He will always keep His word. He tells us we can endure, we can overcome, He will always give us an escape.

The questions comes then why do we continue to choose sin when these fearful examples and glorious promises of a Faithful God are ours? Well, it still comes down to the same problem those many Israelites had - Unbelief. They did not believe God was really faithful to His promises. They did not believe God was interested in their absolute best. They did not believe obedience to God and faith in His promises was better for them than the false promises of the temptations they to which they yielded.

When we sin we have no excuse - God has provided a way of escape in every temptation. We still live in this flesh and will battle sin all the days of our physical life. And we still will sin. But what do we do when we fail as those Israelites in the wilderness. The only thing we can - flee to the cross of Christ, repent of the sin and find forgiveness in His perfect work. Find your peace of forgiveness and right standing with God through the work of Christ alone - for that is your only hope. But - go on to fight sin by believing the promises of a faithful God that will never leave or forsake you. You can overcome - you can endure. Fight with God's precious promises - especially remembering that one day He has promised that all sin will be destroyed and we as His people will no longer be even capable of sinning against Him. Take heed of these fearful examples, remember your are weak in your own self - but also remember the great promises of God to aid you in your fight by working in you to will and to do according to His good pleasure (Phillipians 2:13)
My sin, oh, the bliss of this glorious thought!
My sin, not in part but the whole,
Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more,
Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight,
The clouds be rolled back as a scroll;
The trump shall resound, and the Lord shall descend,
Even so, it is well with my soul.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Work of Christ for Sinners

We sinned, and were exposed to the curse. The Word that was with God, and was God, then was made flesh. The eternal Son became:
  • our brother;
  • took upon Himself our sin, in the way of a mysterious imputation;
  • paid our debt to the majesty of the inviolable law;
  • covered our nakedness with His righteousness;
  • presented us, as those in whose stead He appeared, blameless and acceptable to the Father;
  • excited the hallelujahs of angels at our exaltation;
  • elevated us to a participation of His own riches, blessedness, and privileges;
  • pitched tents of peace for us around the throne of God;
  • and connected us with Himself by the bonds of eternal gratitude and affection.
Such is the edifice which the Almighty reared upon the ruins of sin; and of which the disciples, at that time, had not the remotest idea.

------- From The Suffering Saviour by F. W. Krummacher

God forgive me when I take these eternal blessings for granted by sinning against You.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Tradition + Theology = ?????

This year I have listened to a few radio stations playing the old Christmas songs that I grew up with. It brings back many memories. One of those songs is "Here Comes Santa Claus" sung by Gene Autry. Below is a brief history of the writing of this song:

Gene was riding his horse, Champion, down Hollywood Boulevard for the annual Christmas parade in 1946 when, hearing the crowds of children gleefully crying, “Here comes Santa Claus!” he was inspired to write a song. He turned his sketch over to Oakley Haldeman (then in charge of Gene’s music publishing firms) and legendary A&R chief “Uncle” Art Satherley. They completed the lead sheet, hastening a copy over to singer/guitarist Johnny Bond’s home to make an acetate disc of the finished product. A cocktail was mixed for Uncle Art, who sipped near the microphone while Bond sang Here Comes Santa Claus for the first time. When the group heard the ice cubes jingling so merrily on the playback, they were inspired to use a “jingle bell” sound on Gene’s record! It was the first Gene Autry Christmas release, a huge commercial and artistic triumph that opened the door to an unexpected extension of his phenomenal career.

While listening to this song it seems the authors, Gene Autry and Oakley Haldeman, mix a little of the tradition of Santa Claus with the truth of God. A few of the lines of the song while making good lyrics really don't make clear theology - in fact I don't quite fully understand them at all:

Santa knows that we're God's children,
That makes everything right.
Fill your hearts with Christmas cheer,
'Cause Santa Claus comes tonight.

The author tells us that Santa knows that we are God's children. What does that mean? Are all people God's children in light of being part of the human family? Well, that might be somewhat seen in Scripture, but the Bible seems to show more often that God has a particular, chosen people who are His children. He possesses them as His own (Exodus 19:5-6; 1 Peter 2:9). The writer of this song then tells us that this knowledge makes everything right. Again, what does he mean by that? How does it make everything right? He ends this stanza by concluding that based on these facts we are to fill our hearts with Christmas cheer - because Santa Claus comes tonight.

Another stanza has the phrase:

Peace on Earth will come to all
If we just follow the light

While this is probably derived from the scripture concerning the proclamation of the angels to the shepherds concerning a Savior, it really again is unclear as to how will peace come to all on the earth? What light does he mean we are to follow? While not trying to over analyze this Christmas ditty, I still think it is crucial that we always pay attention to those things we hear, read, and even sing to make sure that we are not proclaiming things the Bible does not.

I find it interesting that this song focusing on the coming of the traditional Santa Claus as the source of this joy. But if we look at these lines from the song from a Biblical perspective, we see that the source of this joy is found in the coming of a Savior, who is Christ the Lord, who will save His people from their sin. The songs talks about being a child of God, having peace, being right, and following the light. This is only possible through Jesus Christ. It is because of His coming, His perfect righteous life, His substitutionary sacrifice for His people, and His resurrection that indeed anyone can have true peace - a peace with God that comes from being forgiven from our sins which rightly deserve His wrath (Romans 5:1). It is only thought Him that we can be made right with God - able to stand before Him in the righteousness of Christ without fear of Him and able to call Him Father (Romans 5:19). He is the true light (John 1:9-13) and only those who call on and trust Him as Lord and Savior can truly be called His children for they have been adopted according to His kindness and His grace (Ephesians 1:5).

So while we sing and listen to these old time songs at Christmas, remember to sing some of the old time true Christmas Carols as well. In many of these we can see what happens when Biblical truth presents true doctrine clearly vs a tradition trying to exclaim why we really need to celebrate this time of year.

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Does It Really Take So Long?

Have you ever began a Bible reading program with the goal to read through the entire Bible in a certain amount of time? And have you ever after a short period come to the conclusion that it will simply take too much of your time and seems to take too long. Well, I began thinking about the actual time it would take to read through the entire Bible. I looked up 3 popular versions of the Bible as they are offered in an audio format. The following are the times presented for the entire Bible being read out loud in a non-dramatic format:
  • NIV - 77 hours
  • ESV - 75 hours
  • NASB - 73 hours
So we see an average of 75 hours to read the entire Bible. That is just 3 hours over 3 complete days. That is less than 1% of a year's time. And remember, that this is reading the Bible out loud - which would probably take longer than reading silently to yourself. Of course- thoughtful meditation while reading would also take longer. But on the surface would you have thought that it would only take a little over 3 complete days to read the entire Bible? Think about the time you have spent this year doing other things. I know I have spent way more time than this watching sporting events, movies, and favorite television programs. Which would be a better use of my time?

I guess my point is that reading the Bible really does not take so long when viewed in the aspect of a year. As a new year approaches, make it a point to read through the Bible. If fact, make it a point to read through the Bible at least once every year of your life. There are many published plans out there and even designated Bibles that can aid you. And while I bet that it may take you longer than the time above because the Holy Spirit will aid you in understanding and illumination of the Bible, it will be time well spent. And - it will not seem to be so long. In fact you may feel that you may need to make more time to read God's revelation given to His people - a revelation straight from Him meant for His glory and our absolute best.