The Servant Prophet

August 4, 2017 at 3:14 pm | Posted in Mark | 1 Comment
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Jesus the Servant was a Servant King, a Servant Judge, and a Servant Prophet. A true prophet teaches, but He stresses obedience. Prophetic teaching is about more than just imparting information. Many of us Christians are educated beyond our level of obedience. Jesus wants us to understand what He says, and to DO what He says.

What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others.

Mark 12:9

Why would the Lord of the vineyard do this? Because of what had been done to His servants, messengers, and his son:

And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country. And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled. And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some. Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours. And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard.

Mark 12:1-8

If you’re rejecting one truth from God, you have no right to ask Him for a second truth to examine. The Jewish leaders rejected John the Baptist, so why were they examining the teaching of Jesus? Have you ever heard a professing Christian complain that, “I’m just not getting anything out of reading the Bible?” If we are not “getting anything” out of the Bible, it is because we are not “doing” what we do get.

A true prophet stresses obedience, and obedience brings responsibility. Prophets prophesy, but they don’t force people to act on their prophecies by putting a gun to their head or a sword to their neck. The responsibility to obey falls on the hearers.

And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words. And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it. And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar’s. And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.

Mark 12:13-17

Caesar’s image is on Caesar’s money, so it belongs to Caesar. God’s image is on me, so I belong to God.

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Three Reasons for Ten Commandments (Revelatory)

April 25, 2014 at 1:18 pm | Posted in Exodus | 12 Comments
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Lord, I say with the psalmist, I love Your law. We should meditate upon it every day and every night. We know that it is better than our own thoughts. We know that it is absolute truth. We know that those who love Your law will have great peace. Help us to see the correct uses for Your law, and especially Your Ten Commandments. In the name of the Lord Jesus I pray. Amen.

The Ten Commandments are a part of the “Law of God” – specifically, the Old Testament Law. They are normally thought of as something that children need to learn, or that we need to teach them to help them behave better, or that need to be posted in public, so people can see what Christians think of as “right and wrong.”

Do you believe in the Commandments of God? Most Christians would say yes. Do you know the Commandments of God? Some Christians would say yes. Do you teach the Commandments of God? Most Christians would say a hearty “yes” (or at least agree that they should be taught). But this is a different question: Do you love the commandments of God?

Therefore I love thy commandments above gold; yea, above fine gold.

Psalm 119:127

The Old Testament believers were supposed to love the commandments of God – to “love His law” – but in the New Testament we are “under grace” not “law.” So should we love the Commandments?

If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:15

God’s commandments are not cosmic laws that God discovered and decided to adopt to keep order in His universe. They are not rules He made up to keep Himself entertained as He watched over His creation. They are simply an expression of Who God is – which leads us to the first of three purposes which are revealed in Scripture to tell us some of the reasons for God giving us the Ten Commandments and His moral law. (These are not the only three reasons. There are more, but these are three big ones.)

1. The Revelatory Purpose of the Ten Commandments

He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them, he it is that loveth me: and he that loveth me shall be loved of my Father, and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him.

John 14:21

“Revelatory” just means something that “reveals” something – something that lets us know what something else is like. If you love God, you must love what God loves. The Ten Commandments reveal to us what sort of being God is. We know that He is the only true God, because the 1st Commandment tells us that there are no other gods before Him. We know that He is holy and is righteously jealous, because the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th Commandments tell us that we are not to make anything that is supposed to look like Him, we are not to mess with His Name, and that we are to have special days set aside just for worshiping Him. We know that He is a God that ordains authority and submission and obedience because of the 5th Commandment, and that obedience and submission are how He prefers love to be expressed. We know that He loves life, because He condemns murder. We know that He loves and promotes marriage, because he condemns adultery. We know that He loves truth, because He condemns lying and stealing. We know that He is omniscient – that He knows everything – including what’s best in every circumstance, because He condemns covetousness, which is dissatisfaction with what He’s given us.

Some people call the “revelatory” use of the law the “teaching” use, so this purpose for the Commandments is also known as the “didactic” purpose. The Holy Spirit uses the law of God to teach us how to live in a way that’s pleasing to our God after we have trusted Christ unto salvation.

For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

I John 5:3

Do you see again the connection between loving God and loving His commandments? The lie of Satan and the lie of this world and the lie of our flesh is that rules and laws and commandments restrict our freedom – that they are “grievous” – that they are given to be a burden to us. But God says that this philosophy has it backwards. The worst type of slavery – the worst type of imprisonment – is “freedom” from God’s commandments. The worst thing that can happen to you is that you “get free” from God. Like a stray dog – a person who is “free” from God has himself for a master – and a man with himself for a master has a terrible master. Stray dogs get run over, they get sent to the pound, they get shot, they get killed by bigger and meaner dogs, they get rabies, they die alone and scared and miserable. Dogs are meant to be dominated by a master, and you and I are meant to be dominated by our loving Heavenly Father.

When you love God’s commandments and keep God’s commandments, that’s when you find true freedom. That’s when you become what God originally intended for you and I to be: His image-bearers – His good and obedient and loved and blessed children. That’s real freedom.

Next time, we’ll take a look at a second reason for the Ten Commandments.

Catechism Question 1

February 24, 2014 at 12:05 pm | Posted in Children's Bible Catechism | 6 Comments
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A “catechism” is a teaching device typically in the form of a set of questions and answers. Catechisms have been popular in the history of the Christian Church for training believers in basic doctrine, and for articulating orthodox statements of faith. The Westminster Catechisms (the larger and the shorter) and the Heidelberg Catechism are two of the more well-known catechisms.

The word “catechism” is derived from the Greek words kata, meaning “down,” and ekheo, meaning “to sound.” So we might say that “to catechize” is to “sound down.” In other words, a teacher or instructor verbally questions the student or novice, and the response “echoes” back up with the correct doctrinal answer.

When I decided to formulate a catechism to use with my children I looked at several and came up with a short one, probably influenced the most by a “prove it” catechism for children attributed to Charles Spurgeon that I found online.

The Bible commands fathers to train children in Biblical instruction, and while I do not know of any specific commands to use catechesis as the required method, I do believe that the principle of “sounding down” (parents to children) in a methodical, formal, structured and consistent way is authorized by the Word of God:

And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

Deuteronomy 6:6-7

When we do it in our family, I ask the question to one of my daughters. She responds with the answer. I say “prove it,” and she proceeds to do so by reciting the correct Bible verse from memory. Starting today, I will be posting the 22 questions and answers to our family’s Bible catechism.

Question 1: Who made you?
Answer: God made me.
Prove it.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.

Genesis 1:27

This is also a good opportunity to explain to children what it means to be made “in the image of God.” To be an “image-bearer” of God does not necessarily mean that we are made in His physical likeness, because the Bible speaks of God as a spirit-being, Who is not confined to a physical body the way we are. However, God is a “person,” and therefore we, like Him, have wills and make choices and have consciousness and have a personality. This makes us unique among all of creation.

This is also a good time to go through the entire creation account of Genesis Chapters 1 and 2, and to consider this verse:

God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

John 4:24


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