Prophetic Foot Washing

October 30, 2019 at 9:08 am | Posted in John | Leave a comment
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Now before the feast of the passover, when Jesus knew that his hour was come that he should depart out of this world unto the Father, having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end. And supper being ended, the devil having now put into the heart of Judas Iscariot, Simon’s son, to betray him; Jesus knowing that the Father had given all things into his hands, and that he was come from God, and went to God; He riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments; and took a towel, and girded himself.

John 13:1-4

As Jesus disrobed and took on the appearance and attitude of the basest of servants – the lowliest of the low – He demonstrated humility to a shocking degree.

After that he poureth water into a bason, and began to wash the disciples’ feet, and to wipe them with the towel wherewith he was girded. Then cometh he to Simon Peter: and Peter saith unto him, Lord, dost thou wash my feet? Jesus answered and said unto him, What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter.

John 13:5-7

The foot-washing demonstration by Jesus was done for many reasons, but chiefly it was a preview and illustrated sermon about what He would soon do to an even greater degree in His Curcifixion.

Secondarily, it was an example of how His disciples were to love and serve one another, but Jesus was not instituting a ritual or ordinance to be observed as a ceremony in the Church.

If I then, your Lord and Master, have washed your feet; ye also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I have given you an example, that ye should do as I have done to you. Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.

John 13:14-16

Jesus used a quote from Psalm 41:9 to let the Disciples know that Judas’s betrayal would not catch Him off-guard or in any way be a surprise to Him.

I speak not of you all: I know whom I have chosen: but that the scripture may be fulfilled, He that eateth bread with me hath lifted up his heel against me. Now I tell you before it come, that, when it is come to pass, ye may believe that I am he.

John 13:18-19

As you study the prophetic demonstration whereby Jesus washed His Disciples’ feet, I hope you will see not only an encouragement to love and serve your fellow church members with humility, but that you will also have a greater appreciation for the amazing extent to which the Savior humbled Himself in His service on the Cross.

A (Perhaps) Parabolic Prodigal’s Preferential Proximate Predicament Produces Patient Prosperous Passionate Persistent Protective Paternal Pardon

October 28, 2019 at 2:36 pm | Posted in Luke | 4 Comments
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Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost.

Luke 15:8-9

In the previous parable, about the lost sheep, the sheep was foolishly wandering away, but the coin did absolutely nothing to lose itself. This lady losing a piece of silver would be like a person with a thousand dollars losing $100. It’s only a small percentage, but it’s still a lot of money. If you lost it, you would rejoice when you found it.

The parable about the lost sheep highlights the Son. The parable about the lost coin highlights the Holy Spirit. The story about the prodigal son highlights the Father. Lost sheep and lost coins are out of place. People who are out of God’s will (especially lost sinners) are “disjointed,” they are out of place and not considered “useful” as long as they remain lost. They are also in danger.

The “parable” of the prodigal son may be a made-up story, as most of the parables of Jesus are thought to be, but the stories about the sheep and the coins are specifically called parables (Luke 15:3), whereas the one about the prodigal son starts off with:

And he said, A certain man had two sons:

Luke 15:11

Jesus may have taken the account of an actual event and used it for a spiritual lesson.

And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.

Luke 15:12 (emphasis added)

But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his.

Deuteronomy 21:17

Under the Old Testament system an older son got two thirds and younger son one third, but this is talking about inheritance rights, and inheritance rights aren’t triggered until the father dies, so the younger son in Jesus’s story wanted the portion of the goods that would “falleth” to him. He was tired of waiting for his father to die. He didn’t want to be around him. He didn’t want to live with him. He didn’t want to work for him. He just wanted his money. In essence, he wished his father was dead. The younger son’s preference was to live without the father’s presence.

As Christians, let us never feel oppressed by our Father’s presence. When we deal with lost people, remember that they have no desire for God’s presence. We often hear of people “seeking God,” but, apart from Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit, they are seeking God the way bank robbers seek cops.

In the story of the prodigal son the father divided unto THEM his living. He didn’t argue and he didn’t plead. He just did it, but we can imagine that there was much drama before this day. We find out later on this was a loving father, and it did not appear that the son was planning on ever coming back.

And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.

Luke 15:13

How predictably heart-breaking. As soon as he could pack up his stuff and cash his dad’s check, he headed straight for the far country. He didn’t want his father’s presence, and, in fact, he didn’t even want his father’s proximity. As Christians, we must never stop drawing near to God.

For the law made nothing perfect, but the bringing in of a better hope did; by the which we draw nigh unto God.

Hebrews 7:19

Let us draw near with a true heart in full assurance of faith, having our hearts sprinkled from an evil conscience, and our bodies washed with pure water.

Hebrews 10:22

Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners; and purify your hearts, ye double minded.

James 4:8

Drawing close to God involves cleansing, but lost people have no way to get clean apart from Christ.

The father divided to the younger son his “living” – his bios – the things necessary for life, and the son soon started selling those things to support a depraved type of “living” – zao – a vain “lifestyle.”

So, here’s the picture of the prodigal lifestyle. First, you have enough cash for “riotous living.” You don’t think about earning, much less saving. You spend, and you party, and you make tons of fake friends. Then you use it all up, and you start to lose your furniture, your car, your clothes, even your home. Then it’s not a question of whether you should work – it’s how are you going to eat? To make things worse, in the case of the prodigal son, it appears that the economy crashed while he was in this condition. Swayed by his own selfish preference, and not wanting his father’s presence or proximity, he found himself in quite a predicament.

And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want.

Luke 15:14

He had no more friends, no more resources, no more family, no resume’, and no credit. We might expect the father to come to his rescue at this point, but he didn’t. By withholding material provision the father was actually providing somthing better: the opportunity for transformation through brokenness. He was waiting for the son to come back to him.

And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine.

Luke 15:15

This was an especially terrible job for a Jewish man, for whom swine were considered not only physically, but religiously, unclean.

And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.

Luke 15:16

Our Heavenly Father knows exactly how bad things have to get for his children before they are forced to face reality and/or learn their lesson.

And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!

Luke 15:17

Having seen an illustration of the Father’s patience, we now see His prosperity. Even when we squander His resources, God’s supply never runs out – or even runs low. The first things the younger son thought of when he came to his senses were the father’s goodness (he fed his servants well) and the father’s greatness. God is good – willing to be gracious – and great. He has enough grace to spare for the worst sinner. We can’t out-sin God’s grace.

Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance?

Romans 2:4

I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee,

Luke 15:18

Sinners always sin against someone, but first and foremost sin is against God.

And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants.

Luke 15:19

None of us are “worthy” to be called God’s children, and we can’t work our way into his favor.

And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.

Luke 15:20

We thank God for His patience and prosperity, but we must not forget His persistence. The prodigal son’s father was watching and waiting. As an earthly father, he was hoping, but our Heavenly Father KNOWS. We also see an illustration of His passion, as the father in the story RAN, no longer waiting. The simple act of a wayway son coming home filled him with joy.

If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; [he is] a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

Deuteronomy 21:18-21

The Father’s protection from the penalties of the Law may be another facet to the story. Did the prodigal son’s father run and embrace the son to keep him from being stoned? If so, his protection was met with the son’s proposal:

And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son.

Luke 15:21

But here he was interrupted by the father’s pronouncement:

But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.

Luke 15:22-24

The father’s response were the gifts of imputed righteousnesss (the best robe placed on the son), ordained authority (a ring placed on his hand), freedom (shoes placed on his feet), temporal joy (a command to feast), and everlasting joy (a recognition of figurative resurrection, “was dead and is alive again).

longing for God

A Reminder of Recompense

October 25, 2019 at 10:53 am | Posted in Jeremiah | 1 Comment
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When reading through the Book of Jeremiah, by the time you get to Chapter 50, it might seem to a casual reader as if Jeremiah has been speaking of Babylon in a positive light for a long time, but, remember, the Babylonians were not God’s people. He was using their own evil disposition and desire for conquest and power as His tool to ultimately punish and chasten His people. The Babylonians did not realize it, but, although they were in God’s hands, they were still accountable for their own sins.

The word that the LORD spake against Babylon and against the land of the Chaldeans by Jeremiah the prophet. Declare ye among the nations, and publish, and set up a standard; publish, and conceal not: say, Babylon is taken, Bel is confounded, Merodach is broken in pieces; her idols are confounded, her images are broken in pieces. For out of the north there cometh up a nation against her, which shall make her land desolate, and none shall dwell therein: they shall remove, they shall depart, both man and beast.

Jeremiah 50:1-3

Just as Babylon had come from the north to conquer Judah, now the Medes and Persians would come from the north to conquer Babylon. There are many statements in the prophecies in Jeremiah 50-51 that had a then-contemporary element in Judah, Babylon, and Persia, but that have an ultimate fulfillment in Revelation Chapters 17 and 18.

Israel is a scattered sheep; the lions have driven him away: first the king of Assyria hath devoured him; and last this Nebuchadrezzar king of Babylon hath broken his bones. Therefore thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel; Behold, I will punish the king of Babylon and his land, as I have punished the king of Assyria. And I will bring Israel again to his habitation, and he shall feed on Carmel and Bashan, and his soul shall be satisfied upon mount Ephraim and Gilead. In those days, and in that time, saith the LORD, the iniquity of Israel shall be sought for, and there shall be none; and the sins of Judah, and they shall not be found: for I will pardon them whom I reserve.

Jeremiah 50:17-20

God could use the nation of Babylon but He would not truly bless it, because of its chief sin: its pride.

Behold, I am against thee, O thou most proud, saith the Lord GOD of hosts: for thy day is come, the time that I will visit thee. And the most proud shall stumble and fall, and none shall raise him up: and I will kindle a fire in his cities, and it shall devour all round about him.

Jeremiah 50:31-32

God allowed the oppression of His own people because He truly loved them. When God allows your oppression, humble yourself. Do not starting announcing your own strength and perseverance and pride.

Thus saith the LORD of hosts; The children of Israel and the children of Judah were oppressed together: and all that took them captives held them fast; they refused to let them go. Their Redeemer is strong; the LORD of hosts is his name: he shall throughly plead their cause, that he may give rest to the land, and disquiet the inhabitants of Babylon.

Jeremiah 50:33-34

God wants glory for himself, not for us apart from Him.

When Cyrus, King of Persia, conquered Babylon, he would (by God’s decree) show favor to the Judeans in exile in Babylon and allow them to go home and rebuild (which is what Ezra and Nehemiah are primarily about). Just as God had warned people to submit to Nebuchadnezzar so they could leave Jerusalem, He now commanded them to be ready to leave Babylon when Cyrus gave them that opportunity.

Flee out of the midst of Babylon, and deliver every man his soul: be not cut off in her iniquity; for this is the time of the LORD’s vengeance; he will render unto her a recompence.

Jeremiah 51:6

The LORD hath brought forth our righteousness: come, and let us declare in Zion the work of the LORD our God.

Jeremiah 51:10

God wanted them to be firm in their resolve to leave. Fleeing a city of destruction should be an easy choice, but He knew how rebellious their hearts could be, and how wavering and frightened. He didn’t want them to be paralyzed by fear in a time of change and upheaval.

My people, go ye out of the midst of her, and deliver ye every man his soul from the fierce anger of the LORD. And lest your heart faint, and ye fear for the rumour that shall be heard in the land; a rumour shall both come one year, and after that in another year shall come a rumour, and violence in the land, ruler against ruler.

Jeremiah 51:45-46

We, too, must remember that God is in control, and not let our hearts be swayed by rumors or “fake news” that tells us God was wrong about something.

A Christian Weight-Loss Program

October 23, 2019 at 10:33 am | Posted in II Corinthians | Leave a comment
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But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness.

II Corinthians 2:1

Before we leap to the conclusion that this verse sets forth the Apostle Paul’s motivation for dropping a few pounds (“I promise not to be so heavy the next to time I come to visit you.”), we must remember that the “heaviness” to which he referred meant a spirit of being mentally weighed down with concerns. He wanted very much to see his friends in the church at Corinth, but he wanted to be blessing, not a burden, to them.

For if I make you sorry, who is he then that maketh me glad, but the same which is made sorry by me?

II Corinthians 2:2

Sorrow tends to be contagious, and we don’t want to be guilty of putting a damper on anyone else’s spiritual enthusiasm, but we must guard against insularity. As Christians, we need to bring joy into the lives of people who are suffering because of sin, and we have the ultimate remedy for their afflictions: the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

And I wrote this same unto you, lest, when I came, I should have sorrow from them of whom I ought to rejoice; having confidence in you all, that my joy is the joy of you all. For out of much affliction and anguish of heart I wrote unto you with many tears; not that ye should be grieved, but that ye might know the love which I have more abundantly unto you. But if any have caused grief, he hath not grieved me, but in part: that I may not overcharge you all. Sufficient to such a man is this punishment, which was inflicted of many. So that contrariwise ye ought rather to forgive him, and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one should be swallowed up with overmuch sorrow. Wherefore I beseech you that ye would confirm your love toward him.

II Corinthians 2:3-8

True Gospel ministry helps us balance correction and love. Satan would like to inject sin into a body of believers, and he sometimes does, forcing us to take serious measures in order to purge it out, but, once it is expelled, he does not quit. If we are not careful he will tempt those involved in correcting a situation to become bitter. Remembering Christ, abiding in Him, and staying humble will cancel out bitterness.

God vs. Sin (Part Two)

October 21, 2019 at 4:27 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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God is not disinterested in sin. As I pointed out in Part One, He actively opposes it. Here are some of the figurative ways the Bible describes how God deals with sin:

1. God subdues and drowns sin in the depth of the sea.

He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

Micah 7:19

To subdue something is to apprehend it, hold it down, control it, and keep it down. The “depths of the sea,” to an Old Testament Israelite, was a forbidden place, a place where no one would ever want to go. God throws sin into outer darkness, where the record of it against His people can not be retrieved or “brought up” again.

How does this image of God’s victory over sin help us? It reminds us to live our lives figuratively up in the open air of God’s presence, not down in the depth of darkness and despair.

2. God places sin beyond reach.

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

Psalm 103:12

The joining of the east to the west is a geographical impossibility. These destinations are never connected. There is an infinity of distance between them, and that is the type of removal that God does with the guilt caused by our sins.

How does this image of God’s removal of sin help us? It reminds us that we are free to move in all directions in the grace of God. We may go to places that remind us of our sins and past temptations, but they are no longer in the same hemisphere that we occupy in Christ.

3. God washes sin away.

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Isaiah 1:18

Even the strongest detergent can not remove ALL dinginess from a white garment once it has been stained, but the blood of Christ is stronger than the strongest detergent. It completely removes the stain of sin, and grants believers the pure white robe of Christ’s righteousness.

How does this help us? We don’t have to feel the shame of defilement or believe that we are too “dirty” or that we are covered with too many telling stains to be of service to God.

4. God throws sin behind His back and covers it up.

Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.

Isaiah 38:17

Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

Romans 4:7-8

While we have the comfort of knowing that – in Christ – our sins are behind us, here we are told that they are also behind God. He who covers his own sin will not prosper, but the person whose sins are covered by ANOTHER – specifically, by God – is truly blessed. He has placed them out of His view, back in what we think of as the past. We draw near to God, He draws near to us, and, because our sin is now behind Him, it is no longer between Him and us.

How does this help us? It reminds us that a life of Christian service is a life of moving forward. Things thrown behind us do not stand in our way. We are free to advance in our sanctification and out of our former comfort zones, as we stay active in serving Him. Everyone has a garbage can, but no one chooses to hang out near it. This is important in our relationships too. Getting hysterical is bad; getting historical is worse. Don’t retrieve things that God has thrown behind His back.

5. God blots out and forgets sin.

I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.

Isaiah 43:25

Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

Colossians 2:14

For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

Hebrews 8:12

This blotting-out has a connotation of an official notation made of and the satisfaction and cancellation of a debt in a bookkeeping or record-keeping context. Sin was taken by Jesus and nailed to His Cross. There it was covered by His blood and stamped “paid in full.” This is done not merely for our sakes, but for His own sake – His own glory. He divinely erases, cancels, and “forgets” the record of sin on our ledger and in His holy “books.”

How does this help us? We face an accuser who is quick to remind us of our sin, but God does not remember it. The official record has been erased as though it never existed. With a clean slate, we may serve the Lord with a clean conscience.

F. God expiates (takes away) sin.

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

John 1:29

God has thoroughly defeated sin. He has subdued it and drowned it in the depth of the sea. He has placed it beyond reach. He has washed it away. He has thrown it behind His back and covered it up. He has blotted it out and forgotten it.
He has expiated it by laying it upon Jesus who carried it away. He can therefore forgive us for it, demonstrating His grace, mercy, and love, while remaining holy, just, and righteous.

Signs of the End Times?

October 16, 2019 at 10:05 am | Posted in Q&A | Leave a comment
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Question: It seems like every year somebody comes up with some sign of the end times, whether it’s lunar or solar eclipses, natural disasters, or some political figure who is secretly supposed to be the Antichrist, and there are all these preachers or internet prophets who have supposedly been given visions that the world will end at a certain time. Isn’t it silly to pay attention to these things?

Answer: Well, I would be cautious about mocking people who are interested in these things. Certainly, there are charlatans and frauds who promote end times prophecies in order to make money or get attention, and the majority of them seem to be severely lacking in sound Biblical support. However, as Christians looking forward to the return of Jesus, I can certainly understand the desire to be aware of how current events might or might not be signaling the approach of the fulfillment of Biblical prophecy (II Peter 3:12-13; II Timothy 4:8; Titus 2:13).

There are two competing ideas at work here. Jesus rebuked the Jewish leaders for their insistence on seeing miraculous or prophetic “signs” that would demonstrate the credibility of Jesus’s ministry. He rightfully rebuked them as being part of a wicked, adulterous, and sign-seeking generation (Matthew 16:1-4; Mark 8:11-12; Luke 11:16-29). However, when His Disciples asked Him about the sign of His coming and the end of the world, He gave them a good bit of information (Matthew 24), without chastising them.

The key for us today is to focus more on getting ready for the return of Christ by living holy lives, and staying busy carrying out His great commission (Matthew 28:19-20), than on idly (or obsessively) speculating on dates or trying to match current events to some of the apocalyptic language in Scripture. However, I would certainly not want to make fun of anyone who is earnestly trying to understand Biblical prophecy, or who is seeking to view current events and even astronomical phenomena through a Biblical worldview.

The Joy of Rescuing Lost Sheep

October 14, 2019 at 2:47 pm | Posted in Luke | 3 Comments
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Jesus came to seek and to save that which was lost. He came to this world on a mission, and He has commanded us to be part of this mission, alhtough Jesus is really the one who does the seeking and the saving, and He only seeks and saves that which is “lost.” People need to realize they’re lost in order to realize they need to be found.

Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them.

Luke 15:1-2

“Sinners and publicans” are classified differently from “Pharisees and scribes” not because they are different in substance, but because they are different in attitude. One group recognizes its condition: lost. The other does not think of itself as lost. Those of us who frequently listen to orthodox Christian sermons and Bible lessons are used to hearing that Jesus is willing to save even the most notorious sinners, but sometimes we forget this wonderful truth: Jesus rejoices when He finds and saves what was lost!

And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost.

Luke 15:3-6

As human beings we are more like sheep than we at first might want to admit. We are helpless, lacking wisdom, prone to wander, prone to separate from others, prone to get into trouble. In Bible times a faithful shepherd would leave a flock of sheep to search for one lost sheep because it cost the shepherd to lose one AND because he loved his sheep. Jesus has paid a high price for His sheep, but He loves them also.

I hope you know the joy of what it means to be saved, but have you ever thought about the joy that Jesus experiences when He saves a lost sinner?

I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance.

Luke 15:7

There may be a party in Heaven when ONE lost sinner is found by his or her Savior.

 

From Dark Death to Living Light

October 10, 2019 at 4:21 pm | Posted in John | 1 Comment
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Jesus, having learned of a contingent of gentiles who wanted an audience with Him as He made His way to Jerusalem with His followers and those waving palm branches, began to explain that His death would be the necessary fulfillment of all that He came to do.

Verily, verily, I say unto you, Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone: but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit.

John 12:24

A kernel of wheat – a seed – must be buried away, in the dark, alone, in order to fulfill its purpose, and in its “death” it brings forth not only new life, but “much fruit.” This is a key New Testament theme, present in the Old Testament, but now revealed in a greater light. In order to bring forth fruit to the glory of God, followers of Jesus must die to self, both at the moment of salvation, and in ongoing service throughout our lives.

He that loveth his life shall lose it; and he that hateth his life in this world shall keep it unto life eternal.

John 12:25

It’s not that we hate life itself; it’s that we hate the life that our flesh considers “ours.” We receive a new kind of life – eternal life, “God life” – that is directed unto the service and glorification of God, and the service of others, not self-service. This way, people will recognize God’s greatness and goodness in deeds that He inspires and empowers us to do. This hearkens all the way back to John 3.

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

John 3:19-21, emphasis added

It also foreshadows Ephesians 2’s great statement spelling out the distinction between working BECAUSE OF salvation, rather than working FOR salvation.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:8-10

Now is my soul troubled; and what shall I say? Father, save me from this hour: but for this cause came I unto this hour.

John 12:27

This sounds similar to the prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane: “If it be possible let this cup pass from Me, but nevertheless, not My will but Thine be done.”

Father, glorify thy name. Then came there a voice from heaven, saying, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.

John 12:28 (emphasis added)

“Father, glorify Thy name.” This should be our prayer in even our most extreme trials.

God had already gloried His own name through Christ, primarily through His miracles, and, secondarily, through Christ’s perfect obedience and consistent attribution of His own actions and words as being the same as God’s actions and words. “I will glorify it again” points directly to the Cross.

The people therefore, that stood by, and heard it, said that it thundered: others said, An angel spake to him. Jesus answered and said, This voice came not because of me, but for your sakes.

John 12:29-30

The people did not have ears to hear God’s voice. It sounded like thunder, reminiscent of God’s revelation at Mt. Sinai:

And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. And they said unto Moses, Speak thou with us, and we will hear: but let not God speak with us, lest we die.

Exodus 20:18-19

This was also a fulfillment of several prophecies throughout Isaiah about God increasing the inability of people who would reject His servant to hear or understand His Words and His teachings, which prompted the Holy Spirit to cause John to close out Chapter 12 with a theological treatise on the cause of the people’s unbelieving response to three-plus years of Jesus’s hands-on in-person ministry, miracles, and manifestation among them:

But though he had done so many miracles before them, yet they believed not on him:

John 12:37, emphasis added

Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me, believeth not on me, but on him that sent me.

John 12:44, emphasis added

I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.

John 12:46, emphasis added

The Smell of Death and the Sound of Life

October 8, 2019 at 9:06 am | Posted in John | 1 Comment
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Jesus informed His Disciples that his friend Lazarus had died. Despite the danger that a trip to Bethany would pose for Jesus, Who had been targeted for arrest and execution by the religious leaders, He nevertheless intended to go.

Then said Jesus unto them plainly, Lazarus is dead. And I am glad for your sakes that I was not there, to the intent ye may believe; nevertheless let us go unto him. Then said Thomas, which is called Didymus, unto his fellowdisciples, Let us also go, that we may die with him.

John 11:14-16

The nickname commonly given to Thomas – “Doubting Thomas” – needs to be tempered with the understanding that he at least showed a courageous resolve in speaking up and calling for active faith as he proposed to follow Jesus into an encounter that could very well result in death.

Then when Jesus came, he found that he had lain in the grave four days already.

John 11:17

There was a Jewish superstition in those days which held that a deceased person’s soul could linger in the vicinty of the body for a period of up to four days, at which time decompsition made it impractical for the soul to consider re-entering the body, and death became “more final.”

Now Bethany was nigh unto Jerusalem, about fifteen furlongs off:

John 11:18

“Fifteen furlongs” indicates a distance of around two miles.

And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary, to comfort them concerning their brother.

John 11:19

It is possible that the large number of comforters were due to the influence and wealth of Martha’s and Mary’s family, but this also highligted the danger to Jesus in making His visit.

Then Martha, as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming, went and met him: but Mary sat still in the house.

John 11:20

Martha and Mary both acted in accord with their distinctive personalities: Martha rushing out to meet Jesus, and Mary inactively waiting.

Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if thou hadst been here, my brother had not died. But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.

John 11:21-22

We must not conflate Martha’s busyness, however, with a complete lack of faith on her part.

Jesus saith unto her, Thy brother shall rise again. Martha saith unto him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection at the last day.

John 11:23-24

Martha misunderstood Jesus’s meaning concerning the timing of this interim resurrection that was about to happen, but her statement was nevertheless also true.

Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live:

John 11:25 (emphasis added)

This is the fifth of the seven commonly recognized “I AM” statement in the Gospel of John. He is the Bread of Life, the Water of Life, and the Light of Life. Food, water, and light are all necessary for life, but we need to also remember that Jesus IS the Life. Lately I’ve been seeing people post pictures of themseleves, their friends, their family members, even their pets, with the curious caption, “Living my/his/their best life.” If Jesus is truly eternal, abundant Life personified, then, by necessity, you can’t be living your best life apart from Him. Jesus is the Way of life and He gives life (II Timothy 1:10; I John 1:2): eternal, immortal LIFE.

And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? She saith unto him, Yea, Lord: I believe that thou art the Christ, the Son of God, which should come into the world.

John 11:26-27 (emphasis added)

Martha’s statement is a great confession and profession, and all true Christians should affirm this truth.

And when she had so said, she went her way, and called Mary her sister secretly, saying, The Master is come, and calleth for thee.

John 11:28

Martha called Mary secretly because of the danger in identifying with Jesus. Today we should take advantage of the freedom we have to meet openly with other believers and tell them the same thing.

Jesus therefore again groaning in himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it. Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto him, Lord, by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days.

John 11:38-39

My daughter likes a silly joke where she sniffs the air curiously, and says, “Something around here smells like updog.” Gamely playing along, I ask, “What’s ‘updog?'” in response to which she beams brightly, slaps me on the back, and says, “Not much, dawg, what’s up with you?!” Maybe it’s one of those “you had to be there” moments, but I enjoy it. The miracle of Lazarus’s (who after four days in the grave smelled way worse than any updog, or downdog, for that matter!) resurrection went beyond any human or material agency. It was completely supernatural. No physician played a part, no medication was administered, no sleight of hand or optical illusions were employed. However, here is one of the many truths which we may take from this true historical account of Jesus’s miraculous power: God needs no man to accomplish His will, but He does deign to work through human agency.

And when he thus had spoken, he cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.

John 11:43

It has been surmised that, perhaps, Jesus specifically used Lazarus’s name to prevent the emptying out of Abraham’s Bosom, or even sheol.

And he that was dead came forth, bound hand and foot with graveclothes: and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him, and let him go.

John 11:44

Lazarus moved without walking. This is a picture of salvation in which spiritually dead sinners are brought to life without any meritorious cooperation on their own behalf.

Then many of the Jews which came to Mary, and had seen the things which Jesus did, believed on him. But some of them went their ways to the Pharisees, and told them what things Jesus had done. Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles.

John 11:45-47

This “council” was the Sanhedrin.

If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation. And one of them, named Caiaphas, being the high priest that same year, said unto them, Ye know nothing at all, Nor consider that it is expedient for us, that one man should die for the people, and that the whole nation perish not. And this spake he not of himself: but being high priest that year, he prophesied that Jesus should die for that nation;

John 11:48-51

Caiphas gave a true (albeit unrecognized by him) prophecy.

And not for that nation only, but that also he should gather together in one the children of God that were scattered abroad. Then from that day forth they took counsel together for to put him to death. Jesus therefore walked no more openly among the Jews; but went thence unto a country near to the wilderness, into a city called Ephraim, and there continued with his disciples. And the Jews’ passover was nigh at hand: and many went out of the country up to Jerusalem before the passover, to purify themselves. Then sought they for Jesus, and spake among themselves, as they stood in the temple, What think ye, that he will not come to the feast? Now both the chief priests and the Pharisees had given a commandment, that, if any man knew where he were, he should shew it, that they might take him.

John 11:52-77

The Pharisees, most likely invigorated by Satan deviously working and influencing behind the scenes, did not want Jesus to make it to the Passover alive.

God vs. Sin (Part One)

October 4, 2019 at 9:13 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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We may define sin as the breaking of God’s law. Sin first showed up in God’s universe when Lucifer, in his pride, rebelled against God, inducing one third of the Heavenly host to join him. Sin appears for the first time in the earth very early in the Bible, as the same Lucifer, now Satan, in the form of a serpent, tempted Eve to disobey God in the Garden of Eden, and she in turn brought sin to Adam. He sinned too.

The word “sin” first occurs in Genesis 4:7: “If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.” It plays a key role in the story of the Bible, and because it is our chief identification apart from Christ, and because it is the cause of the curse upon this world, including death, disease, misery, and the exhibition of God’s wrath against His creatures, it is a serious foe, opposing the glory of God, and one with which God must deal.

One little sin caused God to cast His entire “very good” universe into moral darkness and decay. That’s one example of how “bad” sin really is. Another example also comes early on in the Bible:

And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous;

Genesis 18:20

Then the LORD rained upon Sodom and upon Gomorrah brimstone and fire from the LORD out of heaven; And he overthrew those cities, and all the plain, and all the inhabitants of the cities, and that which grew upon the ground. But his wife looked back from behind him, and she became a pillar of salt. And Abraham gat up early in the morning to the place where he stood before the LORD: And he looked toward Sodom and Gomorrah, and toward all the land of the plain, and beheld, and, lo, the smoke of the country went up as the smoke of a furnace.

Genesis 19:24-28

Because God is just, He can not simply ignore sin, and, although we know He forgives sins, there must be some basis other than pure mercy for God to deal with sin in mercy while remaining just.

He that justifieth the wicked, and he that condemneth the just, even they both are abomination to the LORD.

Proverbs 17:15

This is the great dilemma. God could “set aside” sin, in a manner of speaking, for a time, but His just and righteous wrath could not be done away with, only stored up.

And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

Acts 17:30-31

The “winking” described Acts 17:30 is not a cutesy type of approval. It’s not an inside joke whereby God acknowledges that “boys will be boys” or that “sinners will be sinners, so what am I gonna do?” What it describes is a sort of judicial “overlooking” for the time being with the understanding that what is currently being allowed WILL be dealth with at the proper time.

When my oldest daughter was still learning to walk, my wife and I took her grocery shopping with us, and, one time, she wandered down the wine aisle without us noticing it while we were having a discussion. Before we knew it, she had hooked her finger into the glass ring on the neck of a huge jug of wine, lifted it from a bottom shelf, and begun precariously toddling toward us. Sure enough, before we could reach her, the jug slipped from her finger and smashed on the floor, sending dark red wine and shards of glass flowing in a rapidly expanding ring. Panicked over the thought that I had let my one-year-old break a bottle of wine, compounded by the embarassment that someone might think my wife and I were near the wine aisle because we were there to purchase wine (we weren’t!), my temptation was to “wink at” this accident – to overlook it and leave quietly, trusting some store employee to discover it and clean it up on his/her own. Thankfully, even back in those days, I had enough integrity to report the spill to the store manager and offer to pay for the damage. This is perhaps not that great of an analogy for what the Bible describes when it talks about God allowing the sins of his Old Testament people to be “passed over” until the day of Christ’s atonement, but it does give some idea of the meaning behind the idea of God “winking at the time of ignorance,” before we move on to some of the specific ways that God does deal with sin, which we will look at in Part Two.

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