Restriction and Freedom in Worship

May 22, 2015 at 9:27 am | Posted in Exodus | 5 Comments
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In Exodus Chapter 24, after the covenant was ratified with blood, Moses the mountain climber was at it again.

Then went up Moses, and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel: And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it were a paved work of a sapphire stone, and as it were the body of heaven in his clearness. And upon the nobles of the children of Israel he laid not his hand: also they saw God, and did eat and drink. And the Lord said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them. And Moses rose up, and his minister Joshua: and Moses went up into the mount of God. And he said unto the elders, Tarry ye here for us, until we come again unto you: and, behold, Aaron and Hur are with you: if any man have any matters to do, let him come unto them.

Exodus 24:9-14

Moses was going to be there a while, so Aaron and Hur could act in his stead to settle issues among the people.

And Moses went up into the mount, and a cloud covered the mount. And the glory of the Lord abode upon mount Sinai, and the cloud covered it six days: and the seventh day he called unto Moses out of the midst of the cloud. And the sight of the glory of the Lord was like devouring fire on the top of the mount in the eyes of the children of Israel. And Moses went into the midst of the cloud, and gat him up into the mount: and Moses was in the mount forty days and forty nights.

Exodus 24:15-18

Moses was alone with God for 40 days and 40 nights. That’s a long time to be in the midst of this devouring fire. I hope there has been or will be a time in your life when you become very intense about getting into the presence of God the Father. We don’t climb a mountain to do it – we do it in Christ – but it is a still a real thing, and it can transform your life.

And the Lord spake unto Moses, saying, Speak unto the children of Israel, that they bring me an offering: of every man that giveth it willingly with his heart ye shall take my offering.

Exodus 25:1-2

God gave the people the gracious opportunity to give willingly and freely from the spoil they had taken from the Egyptians and the Amalekites, and from whatever they had managed to obtain on their own. The people gave willingly, from the heart, but you will note the design of the worship was all God’s. The people didn’t incorporate ideas from the world, and they didn’t dream it up on their own. Corporate worship is supposed to be about what pleases God, not what we happen to like.

And thou shalt put into the ark the testimony which I shall give thee. And thou shalt make a mercy seat of pure gold: two cubits and a half shall be the length thereof, and a cubit and a half the breadth thereof.

Exodus 25:16-17

The Mercy Seat is where the Law was, and God knows the Law will be broken, but it is called the Mercy Seat instead of the Judgment Seat because blood will be applied there.

And thou shalt make two cherubims of gold, of beaten work shalt thou make them, in the two ends of the mercy seat.

Exodus 25:18

This design instruction did not violate the Second Commandment because the Giver of the Law Himself specifically commanded it, and because these cherubim figures were not “saints” or animals to be worshiped. They were images of supernatural beings that show the intense interest these creatures have for what God is doing out of love for lesser, fallen creatures (mankind).

And make one cherub on the one end, and the other cherub on the other end: even of the mercy seat shall ye make the cherubims on the two ends thereof.

Exodus 25:19

The Particular Path

September 15, 2014 at 2:54 pm | Posted in Do You Know the Way?, John | 18 Comments
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Do You Know the Way? (John 14)

I. The Prepared Place (John 14:1-3)
II. The Particular Path (John 14:4-11)

Previously, I argued that there are not degrees of exclusivity in Heaven. However, it is important to know that Heaven itself is an extremely exclusive place. By this I mean that there is only one particular path that leads all the way into it. Jesus is the only “Door” – the only entryway – by which to get into Heaven.

And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works’ sake.

John 14:4-11

In our modern Western society there are very few things that are truly offensive any more. Flagrant, egregious sin used to be criminalized. Eventually, it came to be frowned upon, although no longer aggressively attacked. Later, it starting actually becoming accepted. To say that it is tolerated now is a vast understatement. All manner of wickedness and perversion is no longer just tolerated. It is celebrated and praised and glorified. The day is coming soon when it will be mandatory. The only thing that a wicked society truly condemns is “intolerance,” but “tolerance” has taken on a very specialized meaning. It now means openly affirming and accepting everything except that Jesus is God and that what He said is true.

The Bible pronounces a curse of “woe” to those who call evil good and good evil (Isaiah 5:20), and that prophetic day of woe is upon us. If you put on a silver suit and black Nikes and drink the poisoned kool-aid while you wait for the comet to take you away, we can’t say that’s “crazy” because such a comment would be insensitive and offensive, and we must tolerate your beliefs. If you want to murder an innocent baby in the mother’s womb, I might be able to meekly mumble that such a thing would not be my personal preference, but I need to tolerate and support and celebrate your right to do so. If you are a man burning with lust for another man, I might feel disgusted on the inside, but I need to be understanding about the parade we’re going to have to honor you for doing it. The highest ranking officials in our nation don’t have time to speak out on behalf of American citizens (who also happen to be Christian pastors) illegally locked up abroad, or about Muslims torturing women in the Middle East, because they’re too busy celebrating professional athletes and calling them “heroes” because these athletes have decided that they want everyone to know that they like to fornicate with others of their own gender.

What Jesus said in John 14:6 does not, under these false premises, seem very tolerant, but it is nevertheless true. Jesus is the exclusive way to Heaven. The exclusivity of Jesus, is, in fact, one of the key elements of the Gospel (Acts 4:12; I Timothy 2:5). So, when we announce this soul-saving fact, we are going to hear objections:

I’m tolerant and you’re intolerant.
I’m progressive and open-minded, and you are a narrow-minded bigot.
You think your way – only Jesus – is the only right way, but I think there are many different ways for all the diverse people that I celebrate.
You think only one road leads to God, but I think all roads lead to God. (Actually, there is some truth to this statement. All roads do lead to God – in the sense of going to see God one day – but all roads except for Jesus are going to require a U-turn when you get there.)

Regardless of the objections, Jesus is the one and only particular path that leads to acceptance with God.

Little children, yet a little while I am with you. Ye shall seek me: and as I said unto the Jews, Whither I go, ye cannot come; so now I say to you. A new commandment I give unto you, That ye love one another; as I have loved you, that ye also love one another. By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another. Simon Peter said unto him, Lord, whither goest thou? Jesus answered him, Whither I go, thou canst not follow me now; but thou shalt follow me afterwards.

John 13:33-36

After Jesus had attempted to soothe the hearts of the Disciples by giving them His Word about Heaven, the prepared place, Thomas still had questions.

And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 14:4-6

Thomas was concerned about logistics. He wanted a map or at least directions, but Jesus had a bigger concept of “The Way.” We use the word “way” to refer to a path, but we also use it to refer to a manner of conduct.

“What is the way to your house?”
“Turn right at the oak tree, go half a mile and look for the three legged dog.”

“Why do you guys say ‘y’all’ and eat crawfish and carry shotguns in the back windshield of your pickup trucks?”
“That’s just the way it is in Louisiana. That’s just the way we are.”

Now, Jesus had an amazing way of communicating a vast amount of truth in a few simple words. He was the greatest teacher of all time, so all His statements are worthy of being studied, examined, looked at from all possible angles, explored for all eternity.

John 14:6 is an excellent example. It starts off with the statement “I am,” which in itself is a claim to deity. When Jesus said “I am,” He was claiming to be God. “I AM” is the Old Testament name for Yahweh – Jehovah – I AM THAT I AM. It was the name by which God set Himself apart from all the false gods. It is the name which says, “I AM the eternal, self-existent, immutable, all-powerful, exclusively true God.” Any respectably religious person Jesus encountered would have gasped to hear Him say it in Aramaic or Greek – Ego Eimi – because it was an unmistakable claim to be God.

Do not be deceived. Jesus wasn’t killed because He threatened the Roman tax system. He was arrested and crucified because He said I AM God – and He was telling the truth!

He said I AM “the.” “The” in John 14:6 is what we call the “definite article.” It is an important word. For example, I wouldn’t say, “My wife is A girl for me,” because that would imply she could be one of many. Instead, I say, “My wife is THE girl for me,” because we have an exclusive relationship. I don’t say that, “Open Door Baptist Church is A church I belong to.” I say, “It is THE church I belong to,” because it’s the only local church fellowship of which I’m an official member. It is a claim of exclusivity.

In John 14:6 Jesus was saying that He is something truly unique. He is the only real way, the only right way, the only possible way to be accepted with God. Let’s say you read that and you think, “How intolerant, how bigoted, how arrogant!” My response is, “So what?” Let’s assume for moment you’re right – that Jesus doesn’t meet your definition of open-mindedness and tolerance. Still, the fact remains, if it’s true, it’s true. I don’t necessarily like being called narrow-minded, but I have no choice if I am a Christian. I must be exactly as narrow-minded as Jesus when it comes to the truth claims of Christianity.

Now, let’s consider an even deeper element of Jesus’s statement. He is THE Way, but, that means, logically, He must also be A way. So, Jesus is eloquently expressing two great truths in four short words: “I am the Way.” The first one we’ve already discussed. Exclusively He is the ONLY way to acceptance with God. “No man cometh to the Father but by me.” No one will be acceptable to God apart from Jesus. No one could be forgiven, adopted by, justified by, allowed in the presence of, or even allowed to live before God – except for those who come to Him “in” Christ Jesus alone. There are – in this sense – no other ways, no shortcuts, no backdoors, no other sincere forms of faith that “just haven’t heard He’s called Jesus,” no alternative means to escape God’s wrath, nor to be accepted as His child. That is a great truth, and that is the truth that every lost person in this world needs to hear and believe.

But there is another great truth that Christians need to hear and understand, and that is that Jesus is also A way. He is the only Way to God, but He calls himself a “way” because He cares about our conduct. Because He won our freedom, and because our freedom is to be used to serve Him. If I claim that I am in the Way, but I am living nothing like the Way Himself, we must question whether I am really in the Way. Those who confess Jesus as the Way are supposed to be passionately interested in His “ways” – How He lived, How He led, and how He loved. And we are supposed to be emulating His ways.

The way of Jesus is honesty and purity and holiness and temperance and kindness and graciousness and forgiveness – and love. If I know the way, it means I need to go the way. Jesus is a Person. When He said follow ME He was not just espousing an an ideal or a concept. He was also advocating a path: FOLLOW Me. Jesus is the Way, but He is also a way. He is both a Person and a Path. He wants us to walk how He walked – to observe His ways and learn of Him. He is a Particular Path, and His path is likewise particular.

Next time, we will learn about the power of prayer (John 14:12-14).

Charles L. Quarles Pleads that We S.W.I.M. with Urgency

August 27, 2014 at 12:55 pm | Posted in Quotes | 1 Comment
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The gospel of Jesus Christ is the one and only way of salvation. There is no hope for redemption apart from it. That conviction should drive us across the street, across the nation, and across the ocean, whether we run or swim or walk or crawl on bleeding hands and knees to deliver our message.

Charles L. Quarles

Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.

John 14:6

For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

I Timothy 2:5

But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth.

Acts 1:8

Only Jesus

October 3, 2012 at 9:21 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 14 Comments
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And we have seen and do testify that the Father sent the Son to be the Saviour of the world.

I John 4:14

Could God have sent anybody else to be the Savior of the world? No, nobody else could have done it – only Jesus. What are some of the things Jesus did that no one else could do?

1. He left Heaven to come to this earth, being born in humble circumstances. No one else could do that, because all other beings are created. Jesus was not created. He existed in His Heavenly home for all eternity.

2. He left the supreme throne of the universe to walk in this lowly world, and He saw sin and the hurt that it causes from a unique perspective. All human beings are sinners ourselves, and we see sin and pain through a cloudy lens of self-interest.

3. He was able to love and save His worst enemies – even those who wanted to kill Him. As mortal sinners, we are sometimes nice to people that we like – or even to people we don’t know. But to people who hate us? Not so much. And certainly not to people who would want to kill us!

4. He brought forgiveness of sins and the only true peace that troubled souls can experience. No one else could forgive our sins because everyone else has their own sins. Jesus did not. He was and is the the perfect sinless Son of God. Only He has the power to forgive sins.

5. He spoke words of eternal absolute truth. When we try to comfort someone who is hurting, our words are not always helpful. Jesus’s words have special power. They are always true. If you believe them, they have the power to make you “whole,” and to make you righteous before God.

6. He opened the eyes of the physically blind and the spiritually blind. Jesus showed us the true nature of God.

7. He cared about people’s needs comprehensively. You do not have a need in your life that Jesus cannot meet.

Jesus was the the King Who came to serve, rather than to be served. He obeyed His Father perfectly. He loved us perfectly. He is the King over all kings and the Lord over all lords, and yet He came to die for you and me. Despite our lack of worth and intrinsic merit, we are important to the King. It is one thing for someone powerful and wealthy to meet your physical, material needs – to give you presents or money. But dying for you is way more than giving gifts or money. Jesus doesn’t expect you to earn His love or forgiveness. We could never do that anyway. He wants us to obey Him and live for Him, which is the best thing in the world for us.

Do You Want to Live Forever?

October 23, 2009 at 9:31 am | Posted in Eternity, Salvation | 27 Comments
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You have probably heard the expression, “Life is short.” In one sense, it is. No one will live forever in this world. However, in eternity, everyone will consciously exist forever. Do you know what your eternal existence will be like, and, if your answer is yes, upon what are you basing that knowledge? The Bible tells us that Jesus Christ is the only Mediator between God and man (I Timothy 2:5). If this is true, then it is absolutely crucial that you know Him personally. You will spend eternity in the presence of God. The presence of God through His Mediator will be absolute bliss, blessedness, and joy (Revelation 21:1-7). The presence of God without His Mediator will be unbearable torment (Revelation 14:10).


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