Beware the Frustrated Fixation

September 14, 2015 at 3:12 pm | Posted in The Fives | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

John, in a revelation like no other, had seen wondrous, dramatic, emotional, and frightening things. But he had also seen the partial unfolding of God’s miraculous plan of redemption. Completely fixated upon the idea of seeing the culmination of God’s will in Heaven and on Earth, he saw with great hope a book which would reveal even more of God’s glory to him. But, alas, his hope was turned to despair upon realizing that the book was bound with a seal, and that no one was worthy to open this seal!

And I saw a strong angel proclaiming with a loud voice, Who is worthy to open the book, and to loose the seals thereof? And no man in heaven, nor in earth, neither under the earth, was able to open the book, neither to look thereon.

Revelation 5:2-3

John’s reaction was to break down weeping.

And I wept much, because no man was found worthy to open and to read the book, neither to look thereon.

Revelation 5:4

Only a truly unique and a truly supreme being would capable of breaking this seal and opening this book. He would have to be both Almighty and all-worthy God, while at the same time being perfect, sinless, and guiltless man. It seems to some a paradox beyond resolution. How easy it is for us to fall into sorrowing and hopelessness – to think that this world is spinning out of control and has us overmatched! How easily we weep in our fixation and false belief that the purposes of our God have somehow been frustrated.

One of the elders gave John the hint, but it wasn’t until he looked for himself that saw the divine solution: the One Who was both Lion of Judah and Lamb of God!

And one of the elders saith unto me, Weep not: behold, the Lion of the tribe of Juda, the Root of David, hath prevailed to open the book, and to loose the seven seals thereof. And I beheld, and, lo, in the midst of the throne and of the four beasts, and in the midst of the elders, stood a Lamb as it had been slain, having seven horns and seven eyes, which are the seven Spirits of God sent forth into all the earth.

Revelation 5:5-6

The purpose and will of God would not be frustrated, for this holy Lamb had been slain, yet He lived. He was truly worthy beyond measure – not only to take the book… not only to open the book… not only to unleash the judgments and fulfilled prophecies contained in the book… not only to induce the rightful worship which God alone deserves… but to sit upon the throne of the Most High! To rule and reign and to fulfill all the promises made from the beginning, to the glory of the Father and to the everlasting joy of all His people! Praise His name forever!

And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing. And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth, and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever.

Revelation 5:11-13

Beware the Flagging Finishers

July 14, 2015 at 11:25 am | Posted in The Fives | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

In fighting sports, the winner is typically declared in one of two ways: (1) the fight comes to an end and the official judges who watched the fight decide who won; or (2) one of combatants “finishes” the fight by knocking out his opponent, making him give up, or injuring him to the extent that he can not keep fighting. Fighters who win fights by the latter means are called “finishers.” As the fight announcers like to say, they “don’t let it go to the judges.”

There is a fight going on between Jesus Christ’s church and the “world” – meaning, the system of this world, which is influenced, and sometimes organized, by Satan, and which opposes the Kingdom of God. In a battle between God and anybody or anything else, it should be obvious Who the winner will be, but, while the battle is still raging, human beings need to choose on whose side they will fight.

The “world” is no joke. It’s a fierce warrior, and we can be very fixated on what we can see with our eyes, what we can touch with our hands, and what makes sense to us in our immediate circumstances. Therefore, we tend to rely on things like our family, friends, finances, health, career, contacts, and intellect. These things may look like they are able to overcome the world, but the fact is, they are not “finishers.” There is really only one Person who is worthy of our faith if we are to truly overcome the world, even when our energy, resources, and wits are flagging.

Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?

I John 5:5

Beware of Fresh-Faced Frowardness

June 19, 2015 at 4:04 pm | Posted in The Fives | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Youth is prized in our modern culture. Actually, a youthful appearance has probably always been coveted among those who seek a shallow outward-focused beauty. But it is only in relatively recent times that youthfulness has started to seem like an indicator of quick-wittedness, intelligence, discernment, or at least innovation.

The Bible, as is so often the case, stands in contrast to, and corrects, the “wisdom” of the world.

Likewise, ye younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.

I Peter 5:5

Humility is an important trait for every Christian believer to cultivate, but it is especially incumbent upon those who are less mature, both in age and in spiritual growth, to be in subjection to their elders.

Submission can be a tricky and touchy topic these days, but the admonition and command concerning church authority, leadership roles, and attitudes is that the younger believers generally defer to the elder believers, who, through experience, are in a better position to govern (as undershepherds) the Body of Christ.

Beware the Fattening Fantasy

June 1, 2015 at 12:07 pm | Posted in The Fives | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Some people call it the “American Dream.” It’s the idea that you and/or your family will become successful according to worldly standards. You will have a good job and a lucrative career. You will own a nice home with modern amenities. Perhaps you will eventually acquire a luxury car, or a boat, or a summer home. Your kids will have the latest gadgets, technology, and toys. You will put away funds with a view toward retiring at a fairly early age.

You might give regularly to charity as your budget allows, but, for the most part, your life plan will be mainly focused on you and yours. You will apply the moniker “Christian” to yourself, and you might even officially join a church, but, to the extent you concern yourself with spiritual things, your worship of the Lord of all the Earth, and your service in the name of Christ, will be, at most, in the nature of a figurative accoutrement to an already-full, self-sufficient, and subjectively satisfying life.

If this sounds appealing, or actually describes you, beware of seeing such “success” and “prosperity” as a sign of God’s blessing.

Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter.

James 5:5

The glory that the Lord God will get from your life may come from the sacrificial, Christ-exalting things you are allowed to voluntarily do now, or it may come at some point in the not-too-distant, or perhaps eternal, future when He glorifies Himself by involuntarily stripping you of the things you loved more than Him.

Like an animal wearing a prize-winning ribbon at a county fair, you do not want to find out one day that you’ve been fattening yourself up merely for a slaughter.

Beware the Feeling of Formidability

May 18, 2015 at 2:20 pm | Posted in Hebrews, The Fives | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

The Lord Jesus Christ, in His position as the Great High Priest, is superior to the Levitical priesthood of the Old Testament. Not only is He seated at the right hand of God, on the throne of grace, but He is a superior High Priest in the way in which He was ordained. Aaron was appointed by God as high priest, and was given great honor, respect, responsibility, and privilege among men.

For every high priest taken from among men is ordained for men in things pertaining to God, that he may offer both gifts and sacrifices for sins:

Hebrews 5:1

But Christ was appointed by God as the Great High Priest without any glorying in Himself on His own behalf.

So also Christ glorified not himself to be made an high priest; but he that said unto him, Thou art my Son, to day have I begotten thee.

Hebrews 5:5

Christ was greater, not only in the way He was ordained, but also in the sacrifice that He offered. Aaron sacrificed animals. Christ sacrificed Himself. None of those animals came back to life, but Christ rose from the dead. God did not speak directly to Aaron at his ordination, but He did speak to Jesus.

Aaron and the subsequent high priests felt formidable. Despite their best efforts to remain pious and humble, they were guilty of pride and self-promotion because of their position. The Lord Jesus Christ humbled Himself to the point of becoming a servant, enduring abuse, and allowing Himself to experience a greater undeserved humiliation than any other man. God honored this humility and sacrifice by making Him the eternal Mediator between God and man. We must never think of ourselves as worthy to minister on behalf of God, nor as holding a special exalted place in ministry because of any inherent good within us.

Beware of Fretting over the Forlorn

May 4, 2015 at 2:55 pm | Posted in The Fives | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , ,

It is right and good that the Bible admonishes us to pay special attention to the needs of widows. Ladies whose husbands have passed away have always been at risk in a sinful society. However, the Lord, while certainly pointing to the plight of, and being compassionate toward, older widows, is also very gracious to recognize their worth and value to the body of Christ.

Now she that is a widow indeed, and desolate, trusteth in God, and continueth in supplications and prayers night and day.

I Timothy 5:5

A Godly lady who would otherwise find herself alone and desolate may nevertheless learn to lean upon, and trust in, the Lord in ways which go beyond the abilities of wives still attending to the needs of earthly husbands. For this reason, among others, the Bible reminds those in church leadership to encourage the powerful and prayerful intercession of these precious women.

Beware the Father of the Furtive

April 17, 2015 at 1:19 pm | Posted in The Fives | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness.

I Thessalonians 5:5

In one sense, to say that Christians are “children of light” and “children of the day,” is a figure of speech. In obedience to Christ, we are to walk in the light of His truth, as He is in the light, and our righteous activities ought to be done honestly and without guile. We should also be awake and alert (I Thessalonians 5:6), on the lookout for opportunities to serve with care and compassion in a dark and deceived world, and on the lookout for the return of our Master, to Whom we will give an account.

But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that that day should overtake you as a thief.

I Thessalonians 5:4

In another sense, though, we may understand that we really are children “of” the light and the day, as opposed to the children “of” the night and the darkness. We belong to the holy God, who is the Father of Lights, not to Satan, whose nickname is “The Prince of Darkness.”

Satan likes the cover of darkness. He has a way of convincing people that those things done in the absence of light are done in secret, though the Bible tells us plainly they are really not. He likes subtility, craftiness, and sleight of hand. Those of us who are in Christ do not belong to this shadowy manipulator any longer, but we need to frequent areas that are brightly lit with spiritual light, and on those occasions when we must venture into his realm to rescue a soul in the power of the Holy Spirit, we should go in with our Gospel lights blazing.

When “closing time” at the nightclub suddenly arrives, those patrons who are behaving drunkenly and lecherously are jerked into a state of shame and revulsion as the lights come on.

https://i0.wp.com/i.kinja-img.com/gawker-media/image/upload/s--FS8Hi-co--/c_fit,fl_progressive,q_80,w_320/17qtknfid8rvijpg.jpg

A similar effect may be observed when a Spirit-filled Christian shows up in the midst of the life of a non-Christian reveling in sin. This “moment of clarity” may only last for an instant, but, when it happens to one of your friends, co-workers, acquaintances, or family members, you, as a child of the Light of the World Himself, will want to be prepared to “work while it is day.”

Beware Forensic Filth

March 30, 2015 at 3:14 pm | Posted in Salvation, The Fives | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

If you’ve attended an evangelical church long enough or often enough, you’ve probably heard this well-worn challenge from the pulpit: “If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”

forensic-evidence

The Bible teaches that true Christians are those who have been born again to new life in Christ by the grace of God through faith. This “new life” is eternal life, which means that, once a person repents, believes the Gospel, and calls upon Christ alone to save him, then his sins are completely forgiven and judicially set apart from him at a distance that is as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).

So why, then, would a preacher, Bible teacher, or spiritual counselor go to the trouble of inquiring into the “evidence” of your life as part of the inquiry into whether or not you are destined for Heaven? There are multiple reasons, but one of them is that this is the same type of inquiry that the Holy Spirit commands us to consider:

For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God.

Ephesians 5:5

Perhaps at some point in your life you were told that, in order to go to Heaven (and to escape eternal damnation) you had to call upon and/or trust Jesus with all your heart. And, perhaps, this sounded like a safe bet at worst, or an exceedingly good deal at best. After all, you couldn’t deny the guilt of your sins, could you? So you prayed a prayer. Or you made a decision. Or you got baptized. Or you joined a church – which, by the way, are all good things to do.

So, what’s the potential problem? The potential problem is that you are not saved by trusting your heart. You are saved (if you are to be saved at all) by trusting Christ Jesus Himself. And when you are truly saved by Christ Jesus Himself, there is an expectation that you will begin to love Jesus, walk with Jesus, talk to Jesus, serve Jesus, live for Jesus, trust Jesus more and more, read about Jesus in the Bible, and, perhaps slowly, perhaps fitfully, perhaps with much labor and back-and-forthing and stumbling and searching – but still nonetheless realistically – you will become more like Jesus. Jesus was sinless, both inwardly and outwardly.

Therefore, if the pattern of your life since the time when you say you trusted Christ unto salvation is marked by the types of sexual immorality, idolatry, selfish lust, and general uncleanness that you see described in Ephesians 5:5, it is definitely worth your time (and the time of those who love you enough to tell you the truth) to inquire into exactly why or how your heart may or may not have been deceiving you when you felt like you believed the Gospel and trusted Christ. Jesus is too magnificent, His Gospel is too glorious, eternity is too long, and the stakes are too high, to simply rely upon feelings and ignore the evidence.

Beware Faithless Freezing

March 12, 2015 at 1:16 pm | Posted in The Fives | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Did you ever play the childhood game “freeze tag?” Picture a bunch of kids running around, some chasing and others being chased. When a chaser touches a “chasee,” the one who is “tagged” must “freeze” and not move from that spot until another chasee touches him, setting him free to run again.

https://i1.wp.com/www.buzzle.com/img/articleImages/608332-232321-46.jpg

It’s a fun game, but it’s also, sadly, an illustration of the spiritual life of many Christians. You know the cliched jokes about the “frozen chosen” and those who attend church only to “sit, soak, and sour.” These are believers who understand that that they have been chosen by God unto salvation in Christ Jesus, but who then wrongly believe that this calling to new life is the end of the journey rather than the beginning. All that is left to do, they mistakenly think, is to wait for Jesus to bring them home.

Why is this such a popular notion? One reason is that there is some partial truth to it. Those who are born again are waiting for the fulfillment of the glorious promise of having our faith become sight, and being brought into the presence of Christ’s eternal sanctification, to be free once and for all from the cares, trials, and sin of this world and our mortal flesh. However, this “waiting” is not a sedentary killing of time, nor an inchoate longing for better days to come. It is waiting through the Holy Spirit.

For we through the Spirit wait for the hope of righteousness by faith.

Galatians 5:5

And it is a waiting that should be accompanied by a tireless pursuit to put into practice the positional righteousness we have received through faith. If the Holy Spirit chased you down and “tagged” you with the Lord’s salvation, don’t freeze in your babyish state of “just-born-again” Christianity. Instead, chase after the One Who chased after you. Follow the Spirit as He leads, reading His Word, doing what it says, magnifying your Savior, serving your neighbor, and glorifying your Father as He lovingly watches over you from your future home in Heaven.

Beware the Fiduciary Foundation

February 24, 2015 at 11:57 am | Posted in The Fives | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

A fiduciary relationship is one of trust. It involves the giving over of something to someone else to keep safe and to manage well. When a person trusts Christ unto salvation, he receives, at the moment of his regeneration, the gift of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit functions in many different ways as He indwells the bodies of Christian believers, and one of those ways is that He acts as a sort of “earnest payment” which signifies the person’s eternal salvation and future ultimate redemption.

Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit.

II Corinthians 5:5

However, it is important to remember, as believers, that we do not control the Holy Spirit; He is supposed to be in control of us. When we are thinking correctly, and abiding in Christ, the Holy Spirit is in charge of us; we are not in charge of Him.

In today’s climate of psuedo-spiritual religious promotion, it is easy to get mixed up in this regard. If we do not keep our minds saturated with Biblical truth, we will start to think that the Holy Spirit has been given to us “in trust,” and that we need to manage Him properly, but that, if we put Him “to work” (the way a smart financial manager will put your money to work to earn interest), then He can be used to makes us wealthy, healthy, influential, comfortable, charismatic, and well-known.

That is the wrong foundation for Holy Spirit-led living, and a Spirit-filled life. The Holy Spirit, and the assurance of His indwelling, is given to us to remind us that we belong to Christ. We have been purchased at the greatest cost, and our lives are themselves now held “in trust” and, if we are to be faithful stewards, they must be managed in such as way as to magnify Jesus and glorify God.

Next Page »

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.
Entries and comments feeds.