Obstacles, Others, and Ourselves

April 12, 2018 at 11:16 am | Posted in Luke | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , ,

Jesus gave a revelation of the “new” Sabbath, then He went on to reveal the institution of a “new nation.” He fulfilled the real meaning of the Sabbath and the real meaning of what the nation of Israel and the 12 tribes of Israel were supposed to represent.

And it came to pass in those days, that he went out into a mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God.

Luke 6:12

Jesus prayed all night because He had some tough decisions to make. Are you this committed to prayer and its importance?

And when it was day, he called unto him his disciples: and of them he chose twelve, whom also he named apostles;

Luke 6:13

Jesus had many students (“disciples”) during His earthly ministry, but He chose only 12 “Apostles,” corresponding to the number of the tribes of Israel. These Apostles would be His official messengers and missionaries after His Resurrection and Ascension.

Today, as Christians, we need to be both: disciples who are learning and “apostles” who are going, witnessing, and ministering.

The section of Scripture starting in Luke 6:20 may be a truncated version of the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew Chapters 5-7), or a different, but similar, sermon, since Jesus sometimes repeated His teaching for different audiences at different times and locations.

This sermon focuses on having a right attitude toward obstacles, including poverty, physical pain, emotional pain, and three forms of persecution (scornful, secret, and slanderous).

And he lifted up his eyes on his disciples, and said, Blessed be ye poor: for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are ye that hunger now: for ye shall be filled. Blessed are ye that weep now: for ye shall laugh. Blessed are ye, when men shall hate you,, and when they shall separate you from their company, and shall reproach you, and cast out your name as evil, for the Son of man’s sake.

Luke 6:20-22

Our attitude toward these circumstances must be not that the circumstances themselves are blessings, but that we are blessed to be counted worthy by God to undergo these circumstances.

Jesus also focused on our attitude and actions toward our enemies, including how to speak TO them and FOR them.

But I say unto you which hear, Love your enemies, do good to them which hate you, Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you.

Luke 6:27

Finally, Jesus focused on our attitude toward ourselves, warning of the dangers of pride and perception, and the importance of our production.

And he spake a parable unto them, Can the blind lead the blind? shall they not both fall into the ditch? The disciple is not above his master: but every one that is perfect shall be as his master.

Luke 6:39-40

If I am “leading,” then I had better be a follower of the true leader, Jesus Christ.

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but perceivest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother’s eye.

Luke 6:41-42

These verses do not say that I should not be helping my brother or sister to see clearly, but they do say that I am to make sure that I am seeing clearly first.

For a good tree bringeth not forth corrupt fruit; neither doth a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit.

Luke 6:43

These negative implications of regeneration tend to be more popular sermon topics, but are only half of the truth – which is dangerous. We don’t mind hearing that bad trees bring forth corrupt fruit, because we like to think of ourselves as good trees, but it is just as important to acknowledge that the proof that we ARE in fact good trees would be the production of good fruit.

For every tree is known by his own fruit. For of thorns men do not gather figs, nor of a bramble bush gather they grapes. A good man out of the good treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart bringeth forth that which is evil: for of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaketh. And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?

Luke 6:44-46

We tend to use “Lord” as a verbal pause button when we pray, but, by definition, your “Lord” is the one you serve. Are you serving yourself? Are you serving the world? Are you unwittingly serving Satan? Or are you truly serving the Lord Jesus Christ?

Advertisements

The Purpose of Jesus’s Birth

December 27, 2017 at 11:18 am | Posted in Incarnation | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , ,

In this short series I have mentioned some concepts that parents could easily discuss with their children during the holiday season:

1. Incarnation
2. Advent
3. The Condescension
4. The Virgin Birth
5. The Humanity of Jesus
And, finally:
6. The Purpose of Jesus’s Birth

The cuteness of the Nativity scene can be attractive to children, there is no doubt about it. Parents need to remind kids, though, that the birth of Christ was only the beginning of His lifelong mission to:

a. Seek and save sinners (Luke 19:10; I Timothy 1:15)
b. Fulfill the Law of God (Matthew 5:17-18)
c. Minister to others and give His life for a ransom (Mark 10:45)
d. Divide the true from the false (Luke 12:51-53; John 18:37)
e. Call sinners to repentance (Mark 2:17)
f. Die for the sins of the world by satisfying the wrath of God (John 12:27; I John 4:10)

Advent

December 15, 2017 at 9:01 am | Posted in Incarnation, Luke | 5 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

December is a great time for Christian parents to talk with our children about some of the great theological concepts associated with Christ’s:
1. Incarnation
2. Advent

As we get older, it seems like December 25 comes faster and faster each year. The agony and expectancy of having to wait for the opening of presents and the sharing of goodies makes the period between Thanksgiving and “the big day” seem like an eternity to little kids. For us adults, who have full schedules and obligations, it seems like Christmas comes the day after Labor Day!

“Advent” means the arrival of something important, and it has taken on the connotation of waiting for something with the sort of longing that makes it seem like a long time in coming. In Christian theology, though, it has a specific reference to the appearance of Jesus Christ at his birth in Bethlehem (His first Advent) and His imminent return, for which we are still waiting (His second Advent). Christmas is a good time to explain to kids that faithful Old Testament believers knew what it feels like to wait with great anticipation for Christmas morning. The prophecies that a Messiah would come to save them from the punishment for their sins and to set them free to enjoy the favor and goodness of God began way back in Genesis 3:15 and continued for centuries and centuries. Kids who are antsy about the arrival of Christmas are the perfect candidates to hear about the stories of Simeon and Anna.

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ. And he came by the Spirit into the temple: and when the parents brought in the child Jesus, to do for him after the custom of the law, Then took he him up in his arms, and blessed God, and said, Lord, now lettest thou thy servant depart in peace, according to thy word: For mine eyes have seen thy salvation, Which thou hast prepared before the face of all people; A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel. And Joseph and his mother marvelled at those things which were spoken of him. And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed. And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day. And she coming in that instant gave thanks likewise unto the Lord, and spake of him to all them that looked for redemption in Jerusalem.

Luke 2:25-38.

See also:

And he said, Hear ye now, O house of David; Is it a small thing for you to weary men, but will ye weary my God also? Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.

Isaiah 7:13-14

For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.

Isaiah 9:6

But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.

Micah 5:2

Next time we will take a look at the Condescension.

Growing up Perfect

October 26, 2017 at 12:26 pm | Posted in Luke | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

Even as the birth of Jesus heralded Good News for the helpless and the hopeless, Jesus Himself quickly became “the hunted,” as His earthly parents were forced to flee to Egypt for His safety. Luke did not record this event in Jesus’s life, but he did document the family’s observance of the Levitical rites of purification under the Old Testament law.

And she shall then continue in the blood of her purifying three and thirty days; she shall touch no hallowed thing, nor come into the sanctuary, until the days of her purifying be fulfilled. But if she bear a maid child, then she shall be unclean two weeks, as in her separation: and she shall continue in the blood of her purifying threescore and six days. And when the days of her purifying are fulfilled, for a son, or for a daughter, she shall bring a lamb of the first year for a burnt offering, and a young pigeon, or a turtledove, for a sin offering, unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, unto the priest: Who shall offer it before the LORD, and make an atonement for her; and she shall be cleansed from the issue of her blood. This is the law for her that hath born a male or a female. And if she be not able to bring a lamb, then she shall bring two turtles, or two young pigeons; the one for the burnt offering, and the other for a sin offering: and the priest shall make an atonement for her, and she shall be clean.

Leviticus 12:4-8

Under these laws, a woman was considered unclean for 40 days after giving birth to a boy, and for 80 days after giving birth to a girl. Her separation from the Tabernacle had hygienic reasons and spiritually symbolic reasons, but why would a sin offering have been required? Not because having a baby is a sin, but as a reminder that our sin nature is transmitted by birth.

And when eight days were accomplished for the circumcising of the child, his name was called JESUS, which was so named of the angel before he was conceived in the womb. And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord; (As it is written in the law of the Lord, Every male that openeth the womb shall be called holy to the Lord;) And to offer a sacrifice according to that which is said in the law of the Lord, A pair of turtledoves, or two young pigeons.

Luke 2:21-24

The fact that Joseph and Mary went with the bird offering instead of a lamb shows that they were not wealthy, and that Jesus was not born with a silver spoon in His mouth, despite the claims of some of the prosperity preachers. (I don’t know if you’ve purchased a lamb lately, but they aren’t cheap!) This also shows the humanity of Jesus, and that one of His Divine missions was to fulfill all righteousness and to perfectly keep the Law of God.

Now we meet Simeon, another elderly person (like Zacharias and Anna) who had been praying and waiting for the Messiah.

And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

Luke 2:26

Most people tend to think of “Christ” as Jesus’s last name, but really it is a title: the Anointed (Messiah/Christos) of God. Jesus was God incarnate, and He was also sent by God the Father, to both the Jewish people and to gentiles.

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name [was] Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him.

Luke 2:25 (emphasis added)

A light to lighten the Gentiles, and the glory of thy people Israel.

Luke 2:32

Here is what Simeon prophesied about the life of Mary:

And Simeon blessed them, and said unto Mary his mother, Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising again of many in Israel; and for a sign which shall be spoken against; (Yea, a sword shall pierce through thy own soul also,) that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed.

Luke 2:34-35

This remark about a sword piercing her soul referred to the ongoing conflict of loving her human Son and of knowing something of His Divine calling. Try to imagine the tension of having a Son Who was sinless and Who would have recognized the sin of His earthly parents acutely, and still having the responsibility of exercising parental authority over Him.

And when they had performed all things according to the law of the Lord, they returned into Galilee, to their own city Nazareth.

Luke 2:39

Here, once again, the Holy Spirit had Luke emphasize Jesus’s perfection under the Law.

And the child grew, and waxed strong in spirit, filled with wisdom: and the grace of God was upon him.

Luke 2:40

This is a good picture of what parents should be nurturing in their young children. Growth is promoted by nourishment, exercise, and protection. Strength in spirit means spiritual “toughness” – learning the principles of faith and separation. Fullness of wisdom means intellectual instruction. The grace of God is given by God, obviously, but it is to be explained and illustrated to children by their parents.

Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover. And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast. And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it. But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day’s journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance. And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him. And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions. And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers. And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing. And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father’s business?

Luke 2:41-50

Note the “must” and note the “business” to get an idea of the way we ought to view church attendance and ministry. As far I know these are the only two recorded questions asked by Jesus during the first 30 or so years of His earthly life, and they speak a world of information about our reason for living this life: carrying out our Father’s business, in community, and considering it unthinkable to do otherwise.

Big Words of the Christian Life: Omniscience (Part 2)

October 19, 2017 at 11:10 am | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Last time, we acknowledged that God’s knowledge is comprehensive, continuous, and constant. Now we will see that it is also complete.

Who hath directed the Spirit of the Lord, or being his counsellor hath taught him? With whom took he counsel, and who instructed him, and taught him in the path of judgment, and taught him knowledge, and shewed to him the way of understanding?

Isaiah 40:13-14

God does not need any assistance in getting information, or in helping Him to understand or interpret the information He has. Nor does He need anyone to counsel Him as to how to use His information or knowledge. Obviously, the same cannot be said of us. We often need assistance, help, or someone to give us advice. We need teachers, and the Bible says we are foolish if we won’t listen to someone with more experience than us. We need instruction manuals. We have to stop and ask for directions.

But not God. He doesn’t need anyone’s advice. That’s one of the many reasons that we must read and study our Bibles diligently. That’s where God has told us exactly what He wants us to know – no more and no less. Obedience to God’s Word is not bondage or drudgery; it is great freedom. He knows what’s best for us, and when He says, “thou shalt not,” we had better believe there’s a very good reason for it. His Word is not up for debate, because He has spoken it, and caused it to be written, out of His omniscience.

In addition to being complete, God’s knowledge is correct.

Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:

Isaiah 46:9-10

Even the smartest human experts are sometimes proven wrong. There are times when we “know” something without a shadow of a doubt, and then it turns out that we were deceiving ourselves or we were forgetful.

But not God. He is perfect in all His ways, and, in His omniscience He cannot be wrong, mistaken, forgetful, or untrue. He knows everything that will happen, not because He looks ahead in time before making His predictions or prophecies, but because He is infinite and is already present in the “future” now, sovereignly causing or allowing events to occur before anyone else “gets there.” God would score a perfect A+ on any history test, not because He was the one Who wrote the test, but because history is “His story.” He is making it happen, and the future, to Him, already exists in His omniscience.

Because God’s knowledge is comprehensive, continuous, complete, and correct, it is also comforting.

For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.

I John 3:20

We don’t know what tomorrow holds, but (to use a well-worn but still accurate cliche’) we know Who holds tomorrow. At least I hope you know Him. He knows you – either as His child or as His enemy – either as His “son” or as a sinner. He knows where you’ve been, what you’ve done, what you’re thinking right now, and where you’re going.

For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren. Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. What shall we then say to these things? If God be for us, who can be against us? He that spared not his own Son, but delivered him up for us all, how shall he not with him also freely give us all things?

Romans 8:29-32

You are going to see Him – probably much sooner than you think. The determining factor on that day will not be your baptism, your church attendance (or even your membership), or your religious affiliation. No last rites or rosaries or confessions or the record of how good a Samaritan you were will matter at that moment. Your “good” deeds will not be weighed on a scale against your bad deeds. Your parents, your skin color, your bank account, or whether you loved your country – none of that will matter. What will matter is whether you believed and received the eternal Son of the omniscient God.

Helpless and Hopeless No More

October 9, 2017 at 10:55 am | Posted in Luke | 6 Comments
Tags: , , , , , ,

Jesus came to save the helpless. He came to seek and to save that which was lost. He was the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world. Luke Chapter 2 is where we find what is known as the “Annunciation” The Annunciation is the announcement of Christ’s Incarnation. In the Incarnation God became flesh. God the Son became man while remaining God.

Why did He become a man?
1. To represent us before God
2. To identify with us in our nature
3. To fully keep God’s Law, thus becoming the perfect sacrifice for people who had broken God’s law.

As humans, left to our own strength, our own wisdom, our own merit, we are completely helpless. Jesus came as a newborn baby, and babies are helpless. They can’t eat, they can’t talk, they can’t walk, they do not even know what to think. Spiritually, we are that helpless without God.

And it came to pass in those days, that there went out a decree from Caesar Augustus, that all the world should be taxed.

Luke 2:1

And Joseph also went up from Galilee, out of the city of Nazareth, into Judaea, unto the city of David, which is called Bethlehem; (because he was of the house and lineage of David:)

Luke 2:4

God providentially involved others in helping Jesus, including His earthly parents, and angels.

And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God, and saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.

Luke 2:13-14

He even used shepherds.

And the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen, as it was told unto them.

Luke 2:20

Maybe you know someone who is poor and helpless (like Joseph and Mary). Maybe you know someone who is on the “outside” of society (like the shepherds). Maybe you fit into these categories yourself. Maybe you even feel shut out of Christianity because of your sin. If so, there is Good News: Jesus wants you to come to Him – to look on Him in faith. He became helpless Himself in order to be the Great Helper to the helpless. He gave hope to the hopeless.

And when the days of her purification according to the law of Moses were accomplished, they brought him to Jerusalem, to present him to the Lord;

Luke 2:22

The law of Moses pointed toward the Hope, but it did not give hope itself. You can not live a “good” enough life. You can not do enough “good” things. You can not bring anything to God in order to gain entrance into Heaven. Those attempts are hopeless attempts.

And, behold, there was a man in Jerusalem, whose name was Simeon; and the same man was just and devout, waiting for the consolation of Israel: and the Holy Ghost was upon him. And it was revealed unto him by the Holy Ghost, that he should not see death, before he had seen the Lord’s Christ.

Luke 2:25-26

You may know someone who has given up, but the hope of Christ is always available in this lifetime.

And there was one Anna, a prophetess, the daughter of Phanuel, of the tribe of Aser: she was of a great age, and had lived with an husband seven years from her virginity; And she was a widow of about fourscore and four years, which departed not from the temple, but served God with fastings and prayers night and day.

Luke 2:36-37

You may feel hopeless because no one cares about you, but Jesus cares about you. God cares about you so much that He sent His Son to give you hope, and not to be a messenger only, but to BE your Hope Himself!

On Your Mark…

September 14, 2017 at 4:24 pm | Posted in Mark | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I admit it: One of my many faults is that I’m a slow reader. It’s not that I usually have trouble understanding the words or comprehending the sense of what I’m reading. It’s just that I tend to fixate on sentence structure, word choices, and even ambiguous grammar and punctuation. So, while I do read “a lot,” it often takes me far longer than it should to do it.

This goes double for my Bible reading. Bible verses can be so packed with spiritual truth that, if you truly love God’s Word, there is a temptation to go over certain verses, clauses, or even words, multiple times before moving on. Recently I’ve been seeing articles advocating the practice of reading whole books of the Bible in one sitting. While I have done this before, it is a tremendous challenge for me, and I personally don’t recommend it as a proven study method. However, if I had to pick a book which seems most suitable to this practice, I would probably choose the Book of Mark. I’m not saying that I taught or wrote the lessons in this series after a rush-through nonstop reading of Mark, but there is something about the way the Holy Ghost inspired Mark to write about Jesus’s earthly ministry that seems to prompt a desire for “movement,” and “activity,” even “busyness.” Mark shows us Jesus “on the move,” the Divine, yet earthly, Servant Who for about three and a half years went “straightway” about His Father’s business, always on the verge of sprinting off toward the next miracle, teaching opportunity, event, or activity. My prayer is that these lessons will motivate us to stay active and energetic and enthusiastic in emulating His example, as we are motivated by His glorious Gospel:

1. Immediate Service (Mark 1:12-13)
2. A Major Breaking News Story (Mark 1:15)
3. The Ordo Salutis (Mark 1:15)
3. Casting FOR Fish, and Casting OUT Fiends (Mark 1:16-28)
4. Compassion for the Crowds (Mark 1:32-45)
5. Forgiveness, Fulfillment, and Freedom (Mark 2-3)
6. The Gross-Out Factor for Kids (Mark 2:16-17)
7. He Was Beside Himself (Mark 3:21)
8. Serving without Fear (Mark 4-5)
9. Beware the Furious Fiend (Mark 5:5)
10. Rising Faith (Mark 5:33-42)
11. Faith in Service (Mark 6:1-9)
12. The Direction of True Faith (Mark 6:20-46)
13. Disciples, Defilement, and Division (Mark 7)
14. Clean Hands and Pure Hearts (Mark 7:1-13)
15. Biblical S.T.O.P. Signs
(Mark 8)
16. Okay, Who Forgot to Bring the Food?! (Mark 8:12-18)
17. Doubting Disciples Duped by Demonic Distractions (Mark 8:27-36)
18. The One Question You MUST NOT Get Wrong (Mark 8:29) *
19. What Lack I Yet? (Mark 8:35-36)
20. Overcoming Shame (Mark 8:38)
21. His Glory and His Word (Mark 9)
22. Water, Water, Everywhere… (Mark 9:41)
23. Becoming Part of the Family (Mark 9:42)
24. A Pair of Paradoxes (Mark 10:2-16)
25. The POV of Marriage (Mark 10:2-9)
26. Defining “Impossible” (Mark 10:26-27)
27. A Second Pair of Paradoxes (Mark 10:28-45)
28. Role Reversal Ransom (Mark 10:45)
29. Blind Beggar Boldly Beats Bandwagoners (Mark 10:46-49)
30. The Servant King and Servant Judge (Mark 11)
31. The Servant Prophet (Mark 12)
32. Especially the Family (Mark 12:28-31)
33. Living and Giving, Heeding and Proceeding (Luke 12-13)
34. Flipping the Script on the Passover (Mark 14)
35. Cross-Eyed (Mark 15:29-32)

*most-read post in category

Sin and Paranoia

August 29, 2017 at 4:41 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , ,

The ultimate temporal consequence of sin is death. The ultimate ETERNAL consequence of sin is the “second death:” conscious torment in the lake of fire. Christians have escaped that consequence through the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. However, even Christians must prepare to face the mortality which awaits us at the end of our journey through this earthly life.

While we long to see our Lord face to face, we cherish our earthly life, and want to avoid careless or senseless danger, but, make no mistake about it, we do place ourselves in great earthly danger when we take for granted the grace that God has bestowed upon us, and foolishly sin against Him.

If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.

I John 5:16

Christians should not scuttle through life in a state of abject fear, but we do need to be aware of the danger that unconfessed sin brings into our life. The difference between believers and unbelievers is not a careless disregard for our mortal safety, but a faithful assurance that the righteousness imputed to us by Christ allows us to confidently face circumstantial danger, and fiercely battle and overcome sin itself. Whereas, those who do not know Christ ought to tremble at every lightning strike, unsafe driver, outbreak of sickness, and “breaking news” alert.

The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.

Proverbs 28:1

Spiritually Disabled

August 16, 2017 at 3:24 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Traditionally it has come to be known as the doctrine of “total depravity.” Stated simply, it is the idea that, because of the sinful condition into which all human beings are born, our moral default mode is that we are depraved, and lack the ability to love, trust, and worship God of our own volition. However, some theologians, fearing that the words “total” and “depravity” will be interpreted to mean that every human being, unless He is supernaturally changed by God, always does the absolute worst thing he can do in every conceivable situation, would prefer to use different terminology. Because it can often be demonstrated that even the worst sinners could sin more frequently, and in worse ways, than they are presently sinning or have sinned in the past, the term “radical depravity” is offered as a substitute for “total depravity.”

However, this might also require some explaining. We tend to think of the word “radical” as an adjective which refers to something “extreme.” A kid who backflips off his speeding skateboard into the back of moving truck has done something “radical.”

radical skateboard

A political group that wants the government pay for birth control may be called “liberal,” but a group that wants the government to pay for genital mutilation surgery is “radically” liberal. This is not the sense that theologians want to convey when speaking of “radical depravity.” What they are getting at is the sense of the Latin word for “root:” radix. A person who is “radically” depraved is a person who is depraved down to the “root:” the most basic foundational level of his ontology. There is within him, preventing him from making God-honoring moral choices, a core of depravity which skews or perverts his thinking, his emotions, and his very will, toward evil rather than good.

One of the most marvelous things about God’s redeeming grace is that when He enables a person to trust Jesus Christ unto salvation, the Holy Spirit regenerates that person – completely changing his ontology, and giving him a new ability that he did not before possess: the ability to truly love and serve God.

The label “disabled,” when applied to someone who has a physical or mental infirmity, has become controversial and has the potential to offend, so I’m not trying to disparage anyone’s physical condition, but the fact is, apart from the miraculous work of God, our “natural” minds and natures are truly disabled by the consequences of sin.

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

Romans 8:7

We get frustrated at people who disobey the law of God, including (far more frequently than we like to admit) ourselves. But we have to remember, people operating in their “carnality” – in their “flesh” – do not obey God because they CAN NOT obey God. They are totally disabled. Some physical and mental disabilities can be treated and even cured. However, our spiritual disability can ONLY be overcome by the Lord Jesus Christ.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:1-2

The Servant Prophet

August 4, 2017 at 3:14 pm | Posted in Mark | 1 Comment
Tags: , , , , , , , ,

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.

Next Page »


Entries and comments feeds.