The Propriety of Paragonal Parenting

November 11, 2016 at 3:18 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
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Previously we have seen some of the problems with popular, pecuniary, and petulant parenting. The most Biblical, and therefore best, model for parenting is to parent in such a way that we are, as parents, showing our children a good example of the love of God and the fear of God. We do this by emulating our perfect paragon, the Lord Jesus Christ.

Many of His attributes are strictly divine and are incommunicable to us. However, as to His communicable attributes, parents, as authority figures over the children He has entrusted to our care, have a serious responsibility to portray them accurately and faithfully in our parenting. We are, in a sense, God’s ambassadors to our children.

Christ has a three-fold mediatorial office: Prophet, Priest, and King. As parental “prophets,” we must teach our children this truth:

All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.

Matthew 11:27

Christ revealed God to men. Parents are to reveal Christ, and God in Christ, to their children.

As parental “priests,” parents must intercede for their children.

Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children; And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

Ephesians 5:1

We can not atone for the sins of our children, and we are certainly not their eternal saviors! However, just as Christ interceded before God the Father for us, we should intercede before our Heavenly Father on behalf of our children, seeking to bring them into a right relationship with Him in Christ, and praying for them diligently.

As parental “kings,” parents must rule their children.

Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. Pilate therefore said unto him, Art thou a king then? Jesus answered, Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world, that I should bear witness unto the truth. Every one that is of the truth heareth my voice.

John 18:33-37 (emphasis added)

Jesus did not deny being a king. He was the King of the True Kingdom. As Christian parents, we are united to Christ, the greatest King. Good kings do not only rule by force. They rule by love. They protect their subjects. They even serve their own subjects. We must exercise our God-given authority over our children toward the end that they will be united to Christ through our ministry and united to God through His.

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The Power of the King

October 22, 2015 at 1:48 pm | Posted in Matthew | 1 Comment
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So far in this Study of Matthew we have seen the King’s genealogy, and historical proof of His kingship. We have also looked at the principles of His Kingdom, and have seen the King and His followers begin to put those principles into practice, and to display the power of the King.

If anyone should have recognized Jesus as the King – the anointed Messiah – it would seem like it should have been the Jewish scholars, for they knew the law and the prophets of the Old Testament so well. Sadly, because of the childish hardness of their hearts, they allowed their pride to blind their eyes and block their ears. Christ the King, knowing that these Jewish hardliners would require a sign, performed many great works and miracles in their midst. However, in the places where the power of the King was most prominently displayed, He found the least faith.

He that hath ears to hear, let him hear. But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children. Then began he to upbraid the cities wherein most of his mighty works were done, because they repented not:

Matthew 11:15-20

Jesus Christ: The Greatest Priest, Prophet, and King

July 10, 2015 at 3:01 pm | Posted in Matthew | 1 Comment
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The second big transitional phrase in Matthew comes at the beginning of Chapter 11:

And it came to pass, when Jesus had made an end of commanding his twelve disciples, he departed thence to teach and to preach in their cities.

Matthew 11:1

The transition is from a section dealing with the King training His workers/warriors to a section dealing with the types of battles they faced.

Jesus explained that the religious leaders had been introduced, both by John the Baptist and by Jesus Christ Himself, to their true King.

But whereunto shall I liken this generation? It is like unto children sitting in the markets, and calling unto their fellows, And saying, We have piped unto you, and ye have not danced; we have mourned unto you, and ye have not lamented. For John came neither eating nor drinking, and they say, He hath a devil. The Son of man came eating and drinking, and they say, Behold a man gluttonous, and a winebibber, a friend of publicans and sinners. But wisdom is justified of her children.

Matthew 11:16-19

These leaders, having heard the principles of His Kingdom, did not worship Him. Instead, they rebelled against Him. Worship involves surrender and humility. The rebellious leaders chose to be childish, and childishness involves pride and self-worth, along with a desire to show that “I can do it on my own.” This is the attitude that almost kept me from coming to Christ.

In Matthew Chapter 12 we see that the religious leaders began to take on the methods of Satan. Instead of just killing Jesus, they began to attempt to subtly undermine the principles of His Kingdom.

At that time Jesus went on the sabbath day through the corn; and his disciples were an hungred, and began to pluck the ears of corn, and to eat. But when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto him, Behold, thy disciples do that which is not lawful to do upon the sabbath day.

Matthew 12:1-2

However, when their tactics did not work, they did in fact try to kill Him. This was what they had done in the past to God’s anointed prophets, kings, and priests. What they did not realize was that Jesus was…

Greater than the previous priests:

But I say unto you, That in this place is one greater than the temple.

Matthew 12:6

Greater than the previous prophets:

The men of Nineveh shall rise in judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: because they repented at the preaching of Jonas; and, behold, a greater than Jonas is here.

Matthew 12:41

Greater than the previous kings:

The queen of the south shall rise up in the judgment with this generation, and shall condemn it: for she came from the uttermost parts of the earth to hear the wisdom of Solomon; and, behold, a greater than Solomon is here.

Matthew 12:42

It is not enough to clean out our spiritual house. The house must be filled with something.

When the unclean spirit is gone out of a man, he walketh through dry places, seeking rest, and findeth none. Then he saith, I will return into my house from whence I came out; and when he is come, he findeth it empty, swept, and garnished. Then goeth he, and taketh with himself seven other spirits more wicked than himself, and they enter in and dwell there: and the last state of that man is worse than the first. Even so shall it be also unto this wicked generation.

Matthew 12:43-45

For whosoever shall do the will of my Father which is in heaven, the same is my brother, and sister, and mother.

Matthew 12:50

If you do the will of God in trusting and receiving Christ Jesus, then you will be the right kind of “whosoever.” If you reject Him, you will the wrong kind of “whosoever.”

Are You Struggling?

February 18, 2013 at 10:13 am | Posted in Biblical Violence, Matthew, Salvation | 4 Comments
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And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

Matthew 11:12

Are you struggling to believe the truth about your sin? You need to know that the Bible says that your sin is against God (Romans 3:23; Psalm 51:4), and that God, Who is just, righteous, and holy, will not let your sin go unpunished.

Have you faced the truth about eternity? Your life here on earth will not be the extent of your existence. Your soul is going to leave your body when you die, and you are going to face God, Who will either welcome you into Heaven or cast you into hell.

Do you find it difficult to believe the Bible’s promise that the gift of salvation is a free gift that you must receive by grace through faith alone? You cannot earn it or pay for it or add anything of your own merit to it, and you do not deserve it.

If you are struggling with any or all of these truths, do not give up. Believing in Christ can be a time of violent struggle for many people. You will either struggle violently to get away from the drawing power of the Holy Spirit, or you will submit and be drawn to repent of your sin, and trust Christ. You may even be struggling violently against your own pride, or peer pressure, or some lie which has led you to believe you don’t need a Savior because you are not in trouble.

The fact is we are all sinners. We all deserve God’s wrath. None of us deserve to go to Heaven.

He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

Mark 16:16

The Kingdom of Heaven will suffer (“put up with”) your violence if you have the attitude of a desperate sinner in desperate need of a Savior. Salvation is a gift that Christ offers to you, but an offer alone does not make a gift. An offer must be received to be a gift. Will you receive it today?

Calling Witnesses (Part 1)

March 2, 2011 at 10:16 am | Posted in Bible Studies, Salvation | 8 Comments
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One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.

Deuteronomy 19:15

Lord, the testimony of Your Word is so plain, so clear. I pray that Your Spirit would make it even clearer as we read it. I pray that no one would be confused. I pray, Lord, that You would present us with the clear choice You always have: to reject You or trust You. To doubt or believe. To obey or rebel. I pray that even the rejecters, and the doubters, and the rebels would have a clear understanding, but, by Your power and Your divine will, I pray that all would repent, believe, trust, and obey. In Jesus Christ’s Name, Amen.

And the chief priests and all the council sought for witness against Jesus to put him to death; and found none. For many bare false witness against him, but their witness agreed not together. And there arose certain, and bare false witness against him, saying, We heard him say, I will destroy this temple that is made with hands, and within three days I will build another made without hands. But neither so did their witness agree together. And the high priest stood up in the midst, and asked Jesus, saying, Answerest thou nothing? what is it which these witness against thee? But he held his peace, and answered nothing. Again the high priest asked him, and said unto him, Art thou the Christ, the Son of the Blessed? And Jesus said, I am: and ye shall see the Son of man sitting on the right hand of power, and coming in the clouds of heaven. Then the high priest rent his clothes, and saith, What need we any further witnesses? Ye have heard the blasphemy: what think ye? And they all condemned him to be guilty of death. And some began to spit on him, and to cover his face, and to buffet him, and to say unto him, Prophesy: and the servants did strike him with the palms of their hands.

Mark 14:55-65

Witnesses can be unpredictable. Generally, the testimony of many is more convincing than the testimony of one. I have seen instances where a parade of witnesses – all expected to testify for someone – actually ended up testifying against that person. You might be reading this as someone who has heard the testimony of at least one witness who has testified before you of the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. Someone, at some time, has told you that Jesus Christ was and is the Son of God; that He lived a perfect, sinless life; that He died on the Cross for the sins of the world; that He was buried; that on the third day He rose again from the dead; that He was seen by hundreds of witnesses – physically, bodily resurrected; that He ascended to Heaven; that He lives today, ready, willing, and able to save the souls of all who trust Him; that – even today – even RIGHT NOW – if you will repent of your sins, believe these things about Him are true, call upon Him to save you, and receive Him as your Savior – He will place His seal on your eternal soul, He will be your Lord and Savior, and you will one day go to Heaven, to be with Him forever.

Maybe you have heard these things from at least one witness, but yet you remain unconvinced. When I ask you if you know for sure that you will go to Heaven one day, your answer is:

“I hope so.”
“It depends.”
“I’m not sure.”
“Nobody can know that.”
“If others in my church are going, I’m with them, because I’ve done what they’ve done. If they’re going, I’m going too.”
“I’m trusting the fact that I’ve been baptized.”
“I’m trusting my own good deeds and good works.”
“I’m trusting Brother So-and-So or Sister So-and-So or Pastor or Minister or Father So-and-So – if they’re going, I’m going too – I’m at least as good as them.”

In case someone reading this remains unconvinced of the Truth, I intend to call a number of witnesses. I could call on many to testify for the Lord – to proclaim the wonderful change He has made in their lives. But instead I want to address those who may have heard those types of testimonies before yet remain unconvinced.

The LORD looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, and seek God. They are all gone aside, they are all together become filthy: there is none that doeth good, no, not one.

Psalm 14:2-3

If you are not seeking God, what are you seeking instead?

For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s.

Philippians 2:21, emphasis added

You want your own way instead of Jesus Christ’s way. Therefore, instead of calling witnesses for the Lord, I will call witnesses against you. These are not “hostile witnesses.” They are not testifying against you because they are mad at you. They love you. In fact, they are in a great state of anxiety over the condition of your soul. They long to see you saved. But make no mistake – while you refuse to surrender to Christ their testimony is “against” you.

FIRST WITNESSES: TRUE CHRISTIANS

When I ask them about what it is like to be a true Christian, you will observe something remarkable: They know about their future rather than wonder about their future. If you are a child of disobedience, you may have slandered these witnesses. You may have called them a “bunch of hypocrites.” You may have heard them say they were Christians, but then you saw them commit a sin, and it made you doubt their authenticity. Or you may have ridiculed these witnesses: “Here comes Billy Bible. Here comes Holy Roller Susie.” You may may have even persecuted these witnesses: “Get out of here with that religious talk.” Maybe these witnesses are the types of people who offend you because they appeared to be “too Holy” – too much interested in talking about God. But let’s get the roles straight: You are the rebel; they are obedient. Rebellion pays tribute to obedience in the form of insults, mocking, and threats.

In their testimony you will notice both a surety and a fear. Not a fear of you, but a fear for you. They have a fear of the horror of your sin and the price you must pay for your sin if you will not trust Christ. For if you die without Christ, your future is almost indescribable – and indescribably horrifying.

We don’t say much about hell these days, but the Bible is clear.

And fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul: but rather fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 10:28

Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.

II Corinthians 5:11

These witnesses have a fear not only for your future, but also a fear of their God. That fear is a blessed fear. It is the fear of a son’s fervent desire to please his father. These witnesses – because they do fear God – do not fear anything else. On the witness stand they testify lovingly toward you, and they tell you that if you do not fear God, you must fear everything else.

Would you cross-examine these witnesses? Would you ask them, “Why should I trade fear of death, fear of eternity, fear of hell, for fear of your God?”

They will easily answer with irrefutable truth. They will say, by God’s power, my fear of Him has given me a peace that defies your ability to understand.

And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Philippians 4:7, emphasis added

They will say, “I know I have a Master, and that makes me a servant, but who would not want to serve a Master Who has died for His servants, and who wants better things for them than they want for themselves?”

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest… For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28; 30

These witnesses have established a strong case against the unconverted, but I have many more witnesses to follow, which I will continue calling next time.

Different Types of Burdens

August 3, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Posted in Galatians, Uncategorized | 11 Comments
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One day, Jesus of Nazareth stood up in a busy corner of the marketplaces of Capernaum. People were rushing to and fro, busy with the cares and concerns of everyday life.

This Jesus began to speak openly, and He said a remarkable thing.

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.

Matthew 11:28-30

Psalm 55:22 tells us, “Cast thy burden upon the LORD, and he shall sustain thee: he shall never suffer the righteous to be moved.” Galatians 6:2 says, “Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.” And then, there is this interesting Scripture:

For every man shall bear his own burden.

Galatians 6:5

So, which is it? Are Christians supposed to accept the invitation of Christ, and exchange our heavy burdens for His light one? Are we supposed to cast our burdens upon the Lord? Should we find someone else to bear our burden for us? Or, is it back to square one: each person bearing his or her own burden? The answer lies in the type of burden to be borne.

First, there is the burden of the soul’s concern for the chronic cares of survival and mortality itself. This burden will wear us down, and eventually crush us, if we try to carry it in our own strength through the everyday trials and struggles of life. This burden must be exchanged for the burden of our Master. His burden is a joyful reminder that, one day, we will spend eternity with Him. The thought that the tears, pain, and death, which are inevitable in this earthly life, will one day pass away, is a burden which is light and easy to bear.

Second, there are some burdens which God never intended for you to bear. These include physical infirmities, overwhelming circumstances, and the never-ending battle against the temptation to sin. These burdens are to be cast upon the Lord. He will bear them for us.

Third, there are some burdens which may be shared with a brother or sister in Christ. These include burdens which can be alleviated through prayer, encouragement, and charitable giving. When you see someone bearing a burden that you can share, do not hesitate to fulfill the law of Christ: “Love one another.

Finally, there are burdens which God wants each of us to be attentive to on our own. These burdens help strengthen us, and make us more like Christ. When I am tempted to meddle with someone else’s burden just out of idle or morbid curiosity, and not a desire to truly help, I will be better off concentrating on bearing my own burden instead.

Is it Wrong To Ask for an Overt Response? (Part 2)

July 26, 2010 at 9:09 am | Posted in Bible Studies | 3 Comments
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In a backlash against what is perceived as the “manipulative altar call,” I have heard it said that, “The old preachers used to instruct their listeners to go home and get right with God.”

Maybe so. But before the old preachers did that, the even older preachers demanded an overt response by commanding men to repent and be converted.

In Luke 13 Jesus responds to the questions of the Theodicians by telling them to repent, or else they will perish. Maybe He told them to go home first, before they got right with God, but the Bible doesn’t say that. In fact, later in the same Chapter He says, “Strive to enter in at the strait gate.

If people are being told that a formulaic prayer is the thing that saves them, then I would say that formulaic praying that makes the prayer itself the object of faith is unbiblical. However, demanding an overt response from the hearers of the Word of God (even lost hearers) is clearly Biblical.

Stating that leading lost sinners in prayer, or calling hearers to an altar for prayer or counseling, somehow means that God is too weak to save during these events is unbiblical. Folks who were regenerated by God as they said a “sinner’s prayer” are God’s Own children, redeemed by Him, predestinated from the foundation of the world unto salvation, elect, secure, and irrevocably bound for Heaven.

Try to catch the Biblical view of God’s sovereignty and power.

For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; Praying us with much intreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.

II Corinthians 8:3-5

God is powerful enough to make men speak of “their” power and them being “willing of themselves” while it is still “by the will of God.” If you can acknowledge that men respond, then you are just a short step away from admitting that God wants men to call other men to respond actively and overtly.

Men are totally depraved and without hope, apart from Christ. Regenerated saints are called to preach the Gospel to these depraved sinners. When God opens the eyes of lost sinners, and shows them their sinful condition, the regenerated believers are to try, in the power of God’s Spirit, to bring these lost folks to Jesus. That’s what Andrew did. We don’t know if he ever preached a sermon or taught a lesson, but we know he brought people to Jesus. Why did the people go with Andrew when he said, “Come with me to meet Jesus?” Why did they “respond?” Because God ordained it and because God made them want to come. You can call it “monergism” or “synergism” or whatever – I don’t care – neither of those words are in my Bible. Andrew bringing people to Jesus, the Apostles demanding a response, people responding, and God saying it is all of Him – those are all in my Bible.

According to the Bible God saves people in His Own power, and He is the One Who keeps them saved, and His Own power empowers them for service. The same principle is at work both in God calling lost sinners to repentance and in God calling His saints to service. I chose II Corinthians 8:3-5 because of the close proximity between God’s will and men “giving of themselves” to the Lord in the same passage of Scripture. I could give plenty of examples of this in the Bible. I believe these Verses are talking about true Christians, not lost unregenerate people, but it’s the same principle, the same God, the same power. I hear people say, “Lost people can’t give themselves to God,” and it’s true – unless God calls them to do it (and He does.) But by the same token, saved people can’t give themselves (or anything else) to God without God’s power, either. God’s will is for people to respond. God calls whom He will to respond. He calls us to call people to respond. And some of them do respond. You can’t get more overt than that. These folks in II Corinthians 8 weren’t just raising their hand or praying a prayer – they were giving money! (Or at least material possessions.)

“How do we get a dead sinner to respond actively and overtly to the Gospel?” is the wrong question. We don’t “get” them to. We command them to – we tell them to – we even “beseech” (Bible word) them to.

We are commanded by God to deliver the Good News with reverence and passion, and the people who hear it from us, spiritually dead though they may be, are responsible for responding.

We are to demand that lost sinners repent, believe the Gospel, and be converted “right there on the spot.” If they walk away, we are to keep praying. (I would argue it’s okay if we even chase after them – certainly Paul covered the same ground more than once in his missionary journeys.) But if God has quickened them, and they say, “I want to know more about this repentance, this belief, this conversion” then we can either say, “Sorry, God will have to do a work in you, I’ve preached and now I’m packing up my box of ‘death to the sinner’s prayer’ and ‘death to the altar call’ quotes and leaving.” Or we can say, “Good, I would be glad to show you from God’s Word more about the salvation of God, and, by God’s Spirit, I will even (gasp!), help you in prayer to call upon the Lord to be merciful and to regenerate you.” One time, the Apostles demanded a response to the Gospel “right there on the spot” and about 3000 souls were saved in that same one day.

Concerning the 3000 who were saved in Acts 2:41, whose Word did they receive? Was it the Apostles’ or God’s?

It was both.

In the day when God shall judge the secrets of men by Jesus Christ according to my gospel.

Romans 2:16

Now to him that is of power to stablish you according to my gospel, and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery, which was kept secret since the world began,

Romans 16:25

Remember that Jesus Christ of the seed of David was raised from the dead according to my gospel:

II Timothy 2:8

God is amazing enough to cause men to be stewards of His Word, and to even inspire men to call it their own.

Were the folks in Acts 2:41 saved because the Apostles demanded them to do so?

Yes, it was “because” the Apostles demanded a response, and it was because God ordained it. Not only that, He proclaimed it in the Old Testament, and He decreed it from the foundation of the world. Every one of us has a very finite view of cause and effect because we’re not God. God has an infinite view of cause and effect. This is the Truth as God explains it in the Bible, not the way it is popularly explained in the words of men when they rail against “sinner’s prayers” and “altar calls” and “decisionism.”

God has commissioned His church to preach the Gospel and press hard for a response. Death to canned prayers? Amen! Death to sinners praying that God would be merciful to them? Not amen. The Bible condones sinners praying that God would be merciful to them. Death to calling for an overt response to the preaching of the Gospel? Not amen. Jesus and the Apostles called for an overt response to the preaching of the Gospel.

And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

Matthew 11:12

The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.

Luke 16:16

They responded and they acted. If God approves of sinners “pressing,” He surely approves of them praying as they press.

What Is God Like?

December 18, 2009 at 7:30 pm | Posted in Bible Studies, Exodus | 29 Comments
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And Moses said unto God, Behold, when I come unto the children of Israel, and shall say unto them, The God of your fathers hath sent me unto you; and they shall say to me, What is his name? what shall I say unto them? And God said unto Moses, I AM THAT I AM: and he said, Thus shalt thou say unto the children of Israel, I AM hath sent me unto you.

Exodus 3:13-14

Was Moses really concerned about what name he would give to God before the people? He told God, “They shall say to me, ‘What is His name.’ What shall I say unto them?” But God had already told him in Exodus 3:6: “Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God.”

Moses had several questions – and several excuses – but what he was really asking is revealed partially by what he asked about himself in Exodus 3:11: “And Moses said unto God, Who am I, that I should go unto Pharaoh, and that I should bring forth the children of Israel out of Egypt?”

Moses wanted to know, “Who am I? What am I like?” So, when he asked God, “What shall I tell them when they ask me Your name,” what he was really asking God was, “What are You like? How can I describe You? To what can I compare You? What are You really like?”

The Bible has many names for God: Elohim, El Shaddai, El Elyon, El Olam, Yahweh (YHWH), Yahweh Jireh, Yahweh Nissi, Yahweh Shalom, Yahweh Sabbaoth, Yahweh Maccaddeshcem, Yahweh Ro’I, Yahweh Tsidken, Yahweh Shammah, Yahweh Elohim Israel, Adonai, Theos, Kurios, Despotes, Father, just to name a few. God cannot be fully described by men as to Who He is, so we are given to know Him by what He does. There are many names that describe a part of what God is, but what people throughout Scripture have asked is, “God, what are You really like?”

Micah, Micaiah, Michal, Michael are all Bible names that ask the rhetorical question: “Who is like God?” This question points out the real problem with explaining what God is really like: As several well-known theologians and preachers have pointed out: There is no one and no thing to which to compare Him. I know we’ve all been told, as privileged people, that we’re “special,” but the fact is, as human beings, there are many, many ways in which we are all similar to each other. But God had to say “I AM” because He could point to no one outside of Himself and say, “He is like Me” or “She is like Me,” or “I am like that.” The truth is: He is like nothing else at all.

When we speak of the problem of making a comparison concerning God, we begin to understand the true concept of God’s holiness. Of all the attributes which make up the glory of God, His holiness may be the most significant – especially when it comes to trying to grasp at His true nature – what He is like. The angels near the throne of God do not cry out love, love, love, or righteous, righteous, righteous, or grace, grace, grace, or even mighty, mighty, mighty, although all of these would be true. What they cry out is holy, holy, holy (Isaiah 6:3). The name for God’s Spirit is not the Peace Spirit, or the Joy Spirit, or even the Faith Spirit, although He is a Spirit of peace, joy, and faith. His name is the Holy Spirit.

There is none holy as the LORD: for there is none beside thee: neither is there any rock like our God.

I Samuel 2:2

For I am the LORD thy God, the Holy One of Israel, thy Saviour: I gave Egypt for thy ransom, Ethiopia and Seba for thee.

Isaiah 43:3

God is holy because of His complete uniqueness, and because in Him is no sin. One of the reasons that, throughout Scripture, the holiness of God is so tied into the idea of sinlessness or freedom from sin, is that a sinful world’s most obvious difference between us and God is that we sin, and He does not.

Who is like unto thee, O LORD, among the gods? who is like thee, glorious in holiness, fearful in praises, doing wonders?

Exodus 15:11

God has no beginning and no end. He is all-powerful, omniscient, omnipresent, sovereign, timeless, providential. As one well-known preacher says, God is not like us, only wiser, or more powerful, or more righteous – He is not LIKE us at all!

God told Moses to tell the people that God is “I AM THAT I AM,” and for something like 1500 years people asked, “Who is like God?” Then, Jesus of Nazareth came on the scene – a sinless humble obeyer of God’s Word. Jesus is our best look at what God is really like. It was as if God answered and said, “You want to know who is like Me? He is like Me – now learn His ways, and follow Him – He will show you what I am really like” (Matthew 11:27).

For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ. No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

John 1:17-18 (See John 14:7-10.)

Learning what God is really like will be an eternal undertaking – but while we are here on earth we must learn about the Father by walking with, talking with, emulating, worshipping, and magnifying His Son.

Quarterback Commandment No. 7

May 19, 2009 at 12:12 pm | Posted in Quarterback Commandments | 1 Comment
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This is a continuation of the series of Quarterback Commandments given by Bill Parcells to Tony Romo, quarterback of the Dallas Cowboys.

Quarterback Commandment No. 7: Throwing the ball away is a good play. Sacks, interceptions, and fumbles are bad plays. Protect against those.

For those whose football parlance is somewhat lacking:

“Throwing the ball away” is when the quarterback intentionally throws a pass that no one can catch. This ends the play, and the next play starts where the previous one started, without any loss of yardage. The reason for doing this is that, among the possible outcomes of a pass play – sack (the quarterback is tackled before throwing the ball); interception (the pass is caught by someone on the other team); and incomplete pass (described above) – the incomplete pass is the least harmful.

A “fumble” is when someone carrying the football during a play drops the ball. Fumbles often occur during sacks, and often result in the other team grabbing the loose ball, which is disastrous.

The gist of Parcells’s commandment is: Rather than trying to force the best result out of every play, quarterbacks, when faced with a possible disaster, have to learn when to settle for a less-than-stellar result, so their team can have another chance on the next play.

Spiritual application: Christian ministers must learn to avoid strife over non-essential issues which will ultimately hurt the cause of Christ.

As you minister for Christ Jesus you will find yourself opposed. You will also find yourself having to decide where to draw the line as far as with whom you will minister and fellowship. A Christian minister often finds himself in the position of encountering opposition, much the same way a quarterback faces defenders who want to keep him from moving the ball downfield.

Thus, like a quarterback, a Christian minister must learn that there are times when it is better to salvage what he can from a bad situation, than to try and make a bad situation into a good one. “Live to fight another day” is the military slogan.

The Holy Spirit, through the Apostle Paul, instructed Timothy to be a very aggressive Christian quarterback:

Thou therefore, my son, be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.

II Timothy 2:1

But He also let him know that it’s good, once in a while, to throw the ball into the first row of spectators:

But foolish and unlearned questions avoid, knowing that they do gender strifes.

II Timothy 2:23

Titus got similar instructions: Play hard, and keep trying to win the game until the final whistle blows:

This is a faithful saying, and these things I will that thou affirm constantly, that they which have believed in God might be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable unto men.

Titus 3:8

But do not get bogged down by forcing the issue when the game is not on the line:

But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain.

Titus 3:9

So, as a Christian quarterback, I would like for everyone to use the King James Version of the Bible, but if you want me to go with you to visit your lost cousin in the hospital, and you insist on taking along your New King James, or even your NIV, I’m not going to refuse to go.

I believe that Jesus Christ is going to rapture His Church out of this world before the Tribulation starts, but if you don’t believe that’s precisely the order of the end-times events, I still want you to faithfully attend my Sunday School class.

When R.G. Lee, one of the best preachers of all time, pastored the First Baptist Church of New Orleans, he was allowed to go, once a week, and speak on the campus of Tulane University. He would answer questions from students, many of whom were skeptical about the truth of the Bible. On a particular occasion, a young lady raised her hand and asked, “Well, if what it says in Genesis is the literal truth, would you mind telling me just where Cain got his wife?”

Dr. Lee, not taken aback at all, responded, “Ma’am, I don’t know and I don’t care. If she was good enough for Cain, she’s good enough for me.”

Clearly, this was a good example of avoiding foolish contention, strife, and unlearned questions.

If I’m playing quarterback, and it’s fourth and long with no time left on the clock, with my team trailing by six points, I’m going to stand in the pocket, ignore the rushing linemen, and do my best to throw the ball to my receiver in the end zone even if he’s surrounded by defenders, because giving up on that play is not an option. In the same way, you and I are not going to be able to minister together if you do not believe that men are saved by grace through faith, and not of works, or if you believe that the Bible is errant and fallible, or if you believe that Jesus of Nazareth wasn’t really the Son of God. Again, in military language, although it is good to live to fight again another day, the slogan, “there are some hills worth dying on,” is also true.

It is against a good quarterback’s nature to slack up, to give up on a play, or to admit that he can not improvise his way out of a bad situation. In other words, quarterbacks are not, by nature, meek. However, Parcells must believe that, to be successful, a quarterback’s natural boldness must be tempered by meekness in some situations, as part of the overall effort to win a game.

Did not Jesus Himself give us a similar example for the Christian life? Never giving up in accomplishing His ultimate objective, He nevertheless knew when to walk away from strife and contention:

He shall not strive, nor cry; neither shall any man hear his voice in the streets.

Matthew 12:19

During His boldest pronouncements, He sometimes invited peaceful submission rather than forcing His will upon His enemies:

Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

Matthew 11:29

He even taught His disciples that sometimes it was better to throw an incompletion than to take a sack, give up an interception, or fumble the ball:

And whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when ye depart out of that house or city, shake off the dust of your feet.

Matthew 10:14

When God Condones Violence

May 18, 2009 at 9:52 am | Posted in Biblical Violence, Matthew | 12 Comments
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Bible scholars believe that John the Baptist first appeared on the scene approximately two years before Jesus made this exceptional statement about his ministry:

And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force.

Matthew 11:12

The word “suffereth” in this verse does not mean that the Kingdom of Heaven “suffers” in the sense of having pain or damage inflicted on it. Rather, “suffer” in the Bible means “to let” or “to allow.” (Matthew 19:14) Christ is saying that the Kingdom of Heaven, although it is ruled over by the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), does make allowances for certain types of violence.

Chiefly, this is the violence of those who suddenly recognize their lost condition, and see their urgent need for a Savior. Under conviction of God’s Holy Spirit, these lost souls may be excused for having an unruly and even desperate desire to get to Jesus – He being the only Way (John 14:6) to get to the Father, and to escape the merited punishment for our sins.

Those who trusted Christ years ago certainly find a peace and a comfort in resting on the promises of God’s Word, and knowing their eternal inheritance is secure. However, it pays to remember the Kingdom of Heaven still suffers violence, and that there are times when we should desire the abiding presence of God on our lives so desperately that we become intensely serious about seeking His will and the filling of His Spirit.

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