Big Words of the Christian Life: Adoption (Part 1)

January 29, 2010 at 10:48 am | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 17 Comments
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Adoption, in the common every-day sense of the legal adoption of a child, involves three entities: a parent, a child, and a family. So does Biblical Adoption. However, the Biblical doctrine of Adoption demolishes some of our false applications of earthly practices to Heavenly realities.

Supposedly, when Charles Spurgeon, who held different views about God’s sovereignty in relation to man’s will from John Wesley, was asked if he expected to see Mr. Wesley in Heaven one day, Mr. Spurgeon replied, “No.” The questioner was somewhat taken aback, until Mr. Spurgeon elaborated further: “I don’t expect to see him in Heaven because he will be so near the throne of God, and I will be way in the back.” This was undoubtedly a tongue-in-cheek remark, and an example of Mr. Spurgeon’s good-natured self-deprecatory humor, but the fact remains: Many people do believe that, in Heaven, there may be people standing closer to the throne of God than others. This type of theory seems to fit in with the idea of rewards given to believers at the Bema seat of Christ, but, in one sense, it is a very worldly concept.

It is true that some believers are more mature than other believers (Hebrews 5:12-14). However, no believers have greater family rights than other believers. All believers have an “adult” standing in the family of God. That is the meaning of Biblical adoption: It is the act of God by which He grants believers an adult standing in His family. We get into God’s family by “birth” (regeneration, the second birth.) But we are given our standing (not our righteousness) by God through His act of adopting us. In other words, regeneration is how you get into God’s family. Justification is God’s declaration that you are right before Him in Jesus Christ. Adoption is how you experience your status as God’s child.

Your experience includes privileges and responsibilities. You are treated as an adult child, and God expects you to act like an adult child. The term “child” can refer to age or to relationship. Therefore, there are “adult children” (which sounds like an oxymoron, but is not in this case.)

Adoption, like justification, happens instantaneously. I want to use an acrostic to help study some key blessings under the doctrine of Biblical adoption. With each of these blessings we receive both a privilege and a responsibility.

A.ssurance
D.
O.
P.
T.
S.

The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

Romans 8:16

Immediately upon being saved, through the act of adoption, we have knowledge of our own standing.

Privilege: Adults, unlike babies, know and understand who their parents are. They understand what it means to be in a family.

Responsibility: To learn more and more about God.

A.ssurance
D.irection
O.
P.
T.
S.

For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God.

Romans 8:14

Babies cannot “follow” because they cannot walk. They have to be “carried.” Adults can walk. They can follow willingly. When my children were just learning to walk they would pull themselves to their feet and hold onto the edge of a piece of furniture. The reason they would let go of the furniture and take a few staggering, tentative steps to their dad was not because they wanted the independence of being able to move around freely on their own. The reason that they did it was because they wanted their father more than they wanted the security of the piece of furniture they were using to hold themselves up.

Privilege: We are able to walk in obedience.

Lost people cannot do this.

Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience:

Ephesians 2:2

Responsibility: Being given the freedom to follow willingly, we must not walk after the flesh.

That the righteousness of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit.

Romans 8:4

Next time, we will fill in some more of the acrostic:

A.ssurance
D.irection
O.
P.
T.
S.

They Don’t Make ‘Em like They Used To – and They Never Did

January 28, 2010 at 12:29 pm | Posted in Haggai | 5 Comments
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The name “Haggai” means “festive” – prone to celebrate. The Biblical prophet Haggai prophesied, along with Zechariah, during the time of Ezra – approximately 537 B.C.

About 50,000 Jewish exiles had left Babylon for Judah after King Cyrus issued an edict that they could. They went back to rebuild the city and the temple. The work began, and then stopped for 16 years (536-520 B.C.) It is probable that Haggai and Zechariah were sent by God to get the people working again on the temple after this stoppage. The temple was completed in 515 B.C., so Haggai and Zechariah did not prophesy in vain.

Who is left among you that saw this house in her first glory? and how do ye see it now? is it not in your eyes in comparison of it as nothing?

Haggai 2:3, emphasis added

We must be careful about what we see “in your own eyes.” (See David and Michal in II Samuel 6; and James 4:10.)

Haggai had probably seen Solomon’s temple before it was destroyed. In 536 B.C. the foundation was laid, and the younger men shouted for joy. The older men wept. Why did they weep? They wept because the new temple did not match up, in their estimation, to the old temple. This weeping revealed a lack of enthusiasm for the great work that God was doing. However, even those who were enthusiastic slacked off when opposition grew.

The Degrees of Estimation

January 27, 2010 at 12:46 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 10 Comments
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Christians have clear instructions from the Word of God on how to relate to the authorities the Lord has ordained to govern us. These instructions can be found in numerous passages of Scripture, but I Peter 2:17 is a good summation: “Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the king.”

Notice that Christians are generally to esteem others better than themselves (Philippians 2:3), but to different degrees, and with different types of deference. All men who are worthy of honor should be honored (Psalm 8:4-5). Other Christians (“the brotherhood”) are to be loved (Ephesians 1:15). Christian love is an active love, a giving love, and a love which carries a sacrifice of self, and a true desire that the recipient of love will grow in Christ-likeness (Hebrews 6:10). The king, or, in modern terms, the high-ranking government official, is to be honored in his office, regardless of personal politics (I Samuel 24:6-8).

The highest esteem – fear – is reserved for God (Matthew 10:28). This encompasses all the other forms of esteem – honor, love, reverence, etc. – and speaks of a very real desire to please a loving Father who wants to give good gifts to His children, but is not overly hesitant to chasten in love. Biblical fear of God is an often misunderstood and unpopular concept in today’s culture, but it is a great comfort for the true believer and lover of the Living Word. After all, the fear of God is both the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10), and the beginning of knowledge (Proverbs 1:7).

From Cursing to Blessing

January 26, 2010 at 10:05 am | Posted in Galatians, Salvation | 9 Comments
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Have you perfectly kept all of God’s commandments your whole life? If not, you may be in serious trouble. In fact, you may be under a curse. The Bible says,

…Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them.

Galatians 3:10b

By posting this, I am hoping to bless you, even though you are under a curse! Can such a thing be done? Only in Christ Jesus.

Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

Galatians 3:13

If you will repent, believe the Gospel, and trust Jesus Christ to save you, you can, by faith, go from being cursed to being blessed!

The Big Cover-Up

January 25, 2010 at 2:56 pm | Posted in Genesis | 4 Comments
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Noah was a preacher of righteousness. In obedience to God, he built the ark that, upon the waters of the world-wide flood, saved the human race from extinction. Noah, however, was human, and, like everyone who has ever walked the face of the earth – except for the Lord Jesus Christ – Noah did commit sins. Genesis Chapter 9 records the shameful account of Noah’s post-flood vineyard, his drunkenness, and his exposed condition in his tent.

Noah’s son, Ham, found him in this condition, and, instead of discreetly covering his father, he went to tell his brothers.

And Ham, the father of Canaan, saw the nakedness of his father, and told his two brethren without. And Shem and Japheth took a garment, and laid it upon both their shoulders, and went backward, and covered the nakedness of their father; and their faces were backward, and they saw not their father’s nakedness.

Genesis 9:22-23

Shem and Japheth did what Ham should have done. In love, they covered their father’s sin. The Bible teaches us that a sinner who covers his own sins shall not prosper. (Proverbs 28:13) However, Christians, imitating the love of their Savior, should seek to cover the transgressions of their brothers and sisters, rather than seeking occasions to harvest grist for the rumor mill. (Proverbs 17:9)

Eternal Security Does Not Have an Expiration Date

January 22, 2010 at 9:45 am | Posted in Eternity | 5 Comments
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We go to great lengths to make food last longer. We put preservatives, such as salt, in it. We refrigerate or even freeze it. We wrap it in foil. We seal it up tight in a Zip-Lock bag. Ultimately, however, food, unless completely consumed, is going to spoil. In common vernacular, it just won’t “keep.”

Thankfully, though, we serve a Lord Who is mightier, stronger, and more dependable than the tightest Zip-Lock bag and the coldest deep freeze. For all those who come to Christ Jesus, and are washed by His blood, His power saves us, and His power “keeps” us.

Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

I Peter 1:5

Jesus Christ redeemed born-again believers from the worst source of corruption of all time: sin. He did this by taking on the sins of all His people in His body, and bearing those sins on the Cross of Calvary.

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.

I Peter 2:24

Those sins included not just sins which had been committed up until that time, but sins which were committed since then, and even sins being committed today.

God’s power over sin is such that forgiven sinners may never be rejected of God. They will never be eternally “spoiled” by sin. Therefore, we must remember to take advantage of our access to this power, and to remember that we are part of God’s family, and to therefore live victoriously over sin in our own lives first.

For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?

I Peter 4:17

It is a great privilege to be “kept” by God’s power. Let us not abuse our position by acting “spoiled.”

Big Words of the Christian Life: Justification (Part 3)

January 20, 2010 at 9:03 am | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 4 Comments
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Previously we have seen:
1. God’s Motive for justification; and
2. God’s Meaning of justification.

Then we saw:
3. God’s Method of justification

This time, I want to look at the Marks of justification – what happens to you when you have been justified.

First, you enjoy a right relationship with God.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Romans 5:1-2, emphasis added

A key element of this right relationship with God is having peace with God. Justification itself is not peace – it is a declaration of peace. If you were at war with an earthly enemy, and you surrendered, you would most likely be:
(a) killed; or
(b) humiliated.
When you surrender to God you are given life, freedom, and peace. Being unjustified, you have (idiotically) no fear of God – or a fear that makes you run from God. That’s where you would be if there was somehow “peace” without justification. Say, for example, if God decided not to attack you or to justify you, but gave you the realization of what you are and Who He is: this would cause you to flee from Him in fear. But, being justified, you still have a fear of God – only now it’s a fear that makes you run to God, not away from God.

In other words, being justified, we have peace with God, and freedom of fellowship with God. Unjustified, we would have no access to God because we would stand condemned before Him. Being justified, God’s grace is our complete sufficiency.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Romans 5:1-2, emphasis added

Blessings from God come by grace, so we are free to ask for blessings. After all, He has declared us to be righteous.

To review: Being justified, we have:
1. Peace with God
2. Freedom of fellowship with God
Furthermore:
3. We have hope.

Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

Romans 5:1-2, emphasis added

Hope makes us rejoice. Our hope is in knowing that God will share His glory with us.

Right in the Middle

January 19, 2010 at 1:05 pm | Posted in Zephaniah | 8 Comments
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Don’t you just love the King James Version of the Bible? Okay, maybe you don’t, but you should. It is simply the best, most accurate, most God-honoring translation of God’s Holy Word for people who speak English, bar none. Let me encourage you to read it, meditate upon on it, and ask God to use it to speak to your heart.

Many of God’s Old Testament prophets were called by God to pronounce warnings, judgments, and even condemnation and wrath upon God’s people and upon the enemies of God’s people. However, these prophets consistently ended their prophecies with words of hope. The prophet Zephaniah was no exception. In Chapter 3 of the book that bears his name, he describes God’s workings in a place that the King James Bible translates as “in the midst.” Other Bible versions use words like “within” or “among,” but the phrase “in the midst” has a connotation of God not only being positionally in the middle of His people, but metaphorically and realistically in the middle of their troubles. God is not only omnipresent in the sense that His Spirit can be found everywhere in this universe, but He is also intimately acquainted with every trouble we are going through. Sometimes when we are in trouble, we speak of being “stuck in the middle.” God is not “stuck,” but in every difficulty of life, He is right there with you, “in the midst.”

Let’s look at a few of the actions of God as He operates “in the midst,” in Zephaniah Chapter 3:

Ruling in the midst is the Lord.

The just LORD is in the midst thereof; he will not do iniquity: every morning doth he bring his judgment to light, he faileth not…

Zephaniah 3:5

The Lord is such that, no matter how bad the trouble, He will never do wrong, or be unjust.

Removing the prideful from the midst, the Lord will not share His glory with anyone.

…I will take away out of the midst of thee them that rejoice in thy pride, and thou shalt no more be haughty because of my holy mountain.

Zephaniah 3:11

Remaining in the midst by the Lord’s power will be the people who have put their trust in Him.

I will also leave in the midst of thee an afflicted and poor people, and they shall trust in the name of the LORD.

Zephaniah 3:12

Reigning as King in the midst shall be the Lord.

…the king of Israel, even the LORD, is in the midst of thee: thou shalt not see evil any more.

Zephaniah 3:15

His rule in the midst will not be temporary. He will reign for ever more.

Redeeming and Rejoicing in the midst, the Lord shall save His people right where they are, and He will be joyful, as is fitting and right, over His Own might.

The LORD thy God in the midst of thee is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing.

Zephaniah 3:17

Previous posts on Zephaniah:
Don We Now Our Strange Apparel
Trouble at the Threshold

The Consequences of Forgiven Sins

January 18, 2010 at 9:46 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments
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David’s sins had been great. Looking with lust upon Bathsheba, he soon found himself involved in adultery, murder, and lying. David repented, and the Lord was faithful to forgive, but David was learning the harsh realities of the consequences of forgiven sins.

Bathsheba had given birth to a child who had no name, but the child was due to be circumcised on the eighth day after his birth. David spent six days in fasting and prayer, asking God to suspend His principle of sowing and reaping. But on the seventh day the child died.

And it came to pass on the seventh day, that the child died. And the servants of David feared to tell him that the child was dead: for they said, Behold, while the child was yet alive, we spake unto him, and he would not hearken unto our voice: how will he then vex himself, if we tell him that the child is dead? But when David saw that his servants whispered, David perceived that the child was dead: therefore David said unto his servants, Is the child dead? And they said, He is dead.

II Samuel 12:18-19

This was not to be the end of David’s chastening, but it was a key moment in David’s walk of faith. Rather than turning from the Lord, he continued to turn to the Lord. Bathsheba also received forgiveness from God, for we find her in the genealogical line of Christ. In II Samuel 12:15 she is called “Uriah’s wife.” Uriah was the man whose death David had arranged so he could have Bathsheba for himself. However, in Verse 25 Bathsheba is referred to as David’s wife.

When God chastens His children, the chastening can seem harsh and severe. But we know He chastens in love. Christians who have stumbled, and then have sought and received the Lord’s forgiveness, must not be discouraged if there are consequences to their sins which still must be dealt with. God does not always deliver tidy explanations, but He does give dependable promises.

Coming to Yourself

January 15, 2010 at 11:56 am | Posted in Salvation | 3 Comments
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The Lord Jesus once described a young man who left his father’s home, spent everything he had, and wound up miserable and humiliated. Finally, one day, he decided enough was enough, and, according to Luke 15:17, he “came to himself.”

Are you like this wayward son? Are you broke, miserable, and humiliated? If you have never received Christ as your Savior, it will do you no good to “come to yourself” – for you do not have the keys to eternal life. A person who has only been born once in this life may “come to himself” and return to his “father,” but his father is the “father of lies.” (John 8:44)

The prodigal son came to himself, and remembered that he had a loving and truthful father. If you have trusted Jesus and been born again into God’s family, you may “come to yourself” and find His Spirit there within you, ready to forgive you and send you back to the Father.

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