The But Chapter: Incomprehension, Indecision, and Ignorance

October 24, 2018 at 11:12 am | Posted in Luke | 2 Comments
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There are 16 buts in Luke 9. “But” can be a cop-out word that often simply nullifies whatever we say before it. “Honey, I think you look beautiful today, BUT…” “I promise I am going to clean up the house, BUT…” However, the “buts” in Luke 9 are very instructive.

1. The But of Incomprehension

Jesus gave the disciples their instructions, and then:

And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where. Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead;

Luke 9:6-7

Herod was baffled and confused. He didn’t seem to comprehend the ministry of Jesus and His disciples. Herod had ordered the beheading of John the Baptist, and it may be that he knew it was wrong, and that his conscience was bothering him.

And of some, that Elias had appeared; and of others, that one of the old prophets was risen again. And Herod said, John have I beheaded: but who is this, of whom I hear such things? And he desired to see him.

Luke 9:8-9 (emphasis added)

Some people were speculating that Jesus might actually be Elijah or another one of the Old Testament prophets resurrected, but Herod did not comprehend who Jesus was. Is that YOUR problem, too? You can’t really be a Christian without knowing Jesus, but a DISCIPLE needs to not only KNOW Him personally (although that is of paramount importance), but also to keep knowing more and more about Him. Disciples need to know His attributes and principles and precepts. Perhaps you aren’t following Jesus like you should, and it’s a little similar to what Herod was experiencing. Something is bothering you. You know that you need to be serving Jesus in different ways and with more passion, but have you really comprehended WHO HE IS? You are wondering: Will He leave me or forsake me? Will He forget to repay my costs and my hurts? Just how trustworthy is He? What does He think about people like me? What does He think about the people around me? Jesus does not have to be incomprehensible to us. Herod desired to SEE Him. If you desire to see Him, you can.

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

Hebrews 2:9 (emphasis added)

First, see Him on the Cross – a Man suffering and dying for you. You will comprehend that He loves you. Then see Him seated in glory at the Father’s right hand. You will comprehend that He is victorious.

For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,

Hebrews 2:10-11

This promise will demolish any “but” of incomprehension that stands in your way. Jesus has suffered what you have suffered – and MORE than you have suffered – yet He is not ashamed to call you “brother” or “sister.”

2. The But of Indecision

It doesn’t always work out this way when you compare the Gospel accounts, but you can look in Luke 9 and Mark 9 and see the same incident.

And it came to pass, that on the next day, when they were come down from the hill, much people met him. And, behold, a man of the company cried out, saying, Master, I beseech thee, look upon my son: for he is mine only child. And, lo, a spirit taketh him, and he suddenly crieth out; and it teareth him that he foameth again, and bruising him hardly departeth from him. And I besought thy disciples to cast him out; and they could not.

Luke 9:37-40

Here was a child possessed by a violent demonic spirit, yet Jesus’s disciples could not cast the demon out. Mark gives a parallel account of the incident:

When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose. And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.

Mark 9:25-29 (emphasis added)

Now you can see why the disciples could not deal with this demonic spirit. They believed they had authority, BUT they were undecided about what was wrong. They had not prepared. How in the world are we going to know what to do when we face an unexpected spiritual battle if we haven’t been preparing by prayer and intense serious devotion to God? If I don’t meditate on His Word – in prayer, too – then I’m going to wind up on my “butt” when the first tough ministry opportunity knocks me right down.

And Jesus answering said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring thy son hither. And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father. And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God. BUT while they wondered every one at all things which Jesus did, he said unto his disciples,

Luke 9:41-44

Don’t get caught “wondering” in the “but of indecision” while it’s time to act. Be prepared.

3. The But of Ignorance

Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men.

Luke 9:44

Jesus’s disciples knew by this time that He was referring to Himself when He used the prophetic title “Son of Man.” They also knew that “delivered into the hands of men” meant taken captive by His enemies – most likely through betrayal – for punishment, torture, and death. Why didn’t this have a bigger impact on them?

BUT they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying.

Luke 9:45 (emphasis added)

They were ignorant of what Jesus came to do. Is that the “but” of your problem when it’s time to serve Jesus? Are you really ignorant of exactly what Jesus came to do? Was He a good role model? Yes, but you are ignorant if you think that’s the message of Jesus’s Gospel. Was He a good example – willing to serve others even to the point of laying down His life as the ultimate example? Yes, but you are ignorant if that’s what you think His real message was and is. Was He on the right track, but He just got overcome by the evil in this world, so we honor Him for “a good try?” That’s romantic and heroic, but you are ignorant if you think that’s what the Gospel of Jesus is about.

But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying.

Luke 9:45 (emphasis added)

We can’t be afraid of facing what Jesus really came to do. We can’t be afraid to tell people that He suffered and died, and that it was a bloody gruesome death, and that God forsook Him on the Cross and emptied the cup of wrath on His head. We’re afraid to talk about that because of its implications. Why was the death of the Son of God so awful – so horrible – so atrociously bloody? Because you and I were so wicked, so vile, so perverse, so at enmity with God, so undeserving of the love wherewith He loved us. We can’t remain ignorant of those facts, and we can’t let others “but” their way around that Truth. We needed an awesome Savior because we were awful sinners.

Next time we will look at the “buts” of immaturity and independence.

Submission and Sin

August 20, 2018 at 4:03 pm | Posted in I Peter | 1 Comment
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Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;

I Peter 2:13

Christians are supposed to submit to the institutions on this earth which were ordained by God. These include the family, the government, and the Church. The world says submission is slavery. The hairs on the back of our necks bristle at the very thought of submission, but the attitude and practice of submission is one of the most overlooked virtues of the Christian life today. Most large churches and most of the major religions and denominations today are teaching that we should be allowed to pick and choose when and when not to submit. There is very little true submission to the ordinances of man, to Godly authority in our homes, to church discipline, and, least of all, to the Bible and God Himself.

These failures come from a deceptive and foolish attitude about sin. We are taught today that sin is something that hurts someone else. If I take something that belongs to someone else, it is stealing, and we recognize stealing as “bad” because I have deprived someone else of something that he needed. But what’s really bad is that I broke Commandment No. 8. I broke my God’s COMMANDthat’s sin. Bill Gates probably made more money while I was writing this lesson than I could make in 10 lifetimes. If I had access to his personal possessions, I could probably take a Rolls Royce or a Rolex watch and it wouldn’t hurt him a bit. But it would be a SIN – an offense against my Lord and Savior that He bore in His body on the tree.

At the end of I Peter Chapter 2 we see some of the paradoxes of Christ. He was given stripes so we could be healed. We die so we can live (die to sins, and live unto righteousness). He was the Shepherd Who died for the sheep SO He could oversee the sheep for all eternity. He knew no sin, but He bare the sin in His own body on the tree – the sign of a cursed life – when His whole life was nothing but one giant blessing to God the Father, and to all mankind. He bore MY sin on that tree, and it wasn’t just sins against others. It was and is sin against HIM.

In light of that, as citizens, we are called to submit to the laws of government and to the men who hold offices in government. As church members, we are called to submit to church leaders. As employees, we are called to submit to employers. Wives are to submit to husbands. Children are to submit to parents.

What Does it Mean to be “Saved?”

July 19, 2018 at 11:24 am | Posted in Salvation | 6 Comments
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I have noticed that many people have incorrect ideas and general confusion about the term “saved.” To be “saved” in the Biblical sense means to be saved from God’s wrath. God’s wrath is what we deserve because of our sins against Him. To be “saved” is to be “rescued,” or “delivered” from a punishment against which we are helpless. We are saved by God’s grace, meaning that it is a free gift that we do not deserve. We are saved through faith, meaning that it happens when we believe the Truth about Jesus Christ and His Gospel and place all our trust in Him alone. We can add nothing whatsoever to this salvation. It comes to us through Christ, according to His Word, and for God’s glory. For several years I have been asking people if they are “saved” and these are the most common responses:

1. “Yes, I go to church.” But going to church does not mean that you are saved.

2. “Yes, I have been baptized.” But being baptized does not mean that you are saved. Being baptized is something we are commanded to do AFTER we are saved. Baptism is an illustration of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. It does not wash away anyone’s sins.

3. “Yes, I have been saved many times.” But this is impossible. Salvation is a one-time-only event for each person who experiences it. Upon salvation you receive eternal life, and “eternal” life, by definition, cannot be lost or taken away.

4. “Yes, I pray to God every day.” Being saved may occur during a prayer, but the act of praying itself is not the same as being saved.

The Offensiveness of Talking about Sin and the Gospel

June 30, 2017 at 2:46 pm | Posted in Social Media Shares and Mass Emails | 5 Comments
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Pagan: You are a cruel #$@&%*! for telling your children that they are sinners. If the Bible says that God is love, and He made us pure, then aren’t we born of love and light, and made to show love, not fear?

Christian: The fact that we all come into this world with a sin nature is proven by both the Bible (Psalm 51:5), experience, and plain common sense. Jesus Himself is the Light of the World and He is condemned and rejected because human beings love darkness more than light (John 3:19). We are born physically alive, but spiritually dead in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:1-3). Think logically and critically for a minute. Do parents have to teach little children to deceive and lie and be selfish? No, of course not. In fact, loving parents spend much time trying to teach their children to be kind and honest and loving and generous. Pure children of light and love wouldn’t need such training or correction. Presumably, you think that people SHOULD be loving and show love. But what was your first reaction when you saw a viewpoint you strongly disagreed with? To be loving and accepting and tolerant? To be “pure” light? Nope. It was to call names and blurt out profanity. We can pat ourselves on the back and boast about how loving we are, but until we come humbly to God, trust in Christ, and receive a new spiritual heart, we are simply incapable of pleasing our Creator. Our default setting is evil, and we are condemned by our thoughts, deeds, and attitudes. That’s why we need a Savior who can give us His righteousness that allows us to be accepted by a holy God Who hates sin. See John 3:17-21. Nobody likes to be called sinful or evil, but the Truth is what sets us free.

Pagan: It is my opinion that babies are born clean. It is the world – we grown people with our silly stuff – who put upon them our foolishness, our pride, our prejudices…. Shame on us!

Christian: Hardly anyone personally likes to think of himself as a sinner. And most people share the opinion that babies are born without any guilt until some mean or thoughtless grownup corrupts them. The problem with that is, our opinions never outweigh Scripture, which is God’s explicit revelation of the Truth. The Bible says that the wicked go astray directly from the womb (Psalm 58:3). It says that not a single one of us is “good” or righteous (Romans 3:10-12). It says that our hearts are desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9). This can be tough to hear because it hurts our pride. But if we can’t admit that we are sinners, we won’t really see our need for a Savior. Jesus didn’t suffer and die for basically good people. He died for the wicked and the self-righteous and the people who would rather not think that God might want to punish them for lying and cheating and stealing and being covetous and a bunch of other stuff we give ourselves a pass on every day (see Exodus 20). And no one likes to be confronted about sin, but only those who can admit the truth about themselves will be forgiven when they believe the Truth about Jesus (Mark 1:15) and call upon Him to save them (Romans 6:23; 10:13). God doesn’t see our sin as silly stuff. He sent His Son to be murdered by vicious blood-thirsty liars in order to rescue those who will be humble enough to admit that we don’t deserve that kind of love.

Pagan: The Bible doesn’t prove a thing. Try science.

Christian: You make it sound like you think those things are at odds with each other. They are not. Science is just knowledge which is gathered and tested. The Bible provides the only logical explanation in the whole world for why there is even such a discipline as “science.” Without the God of the Bible, things like gravity and logic and time and thoughts could not exist or ever be expected to behave consistently according to the “laws” that only a divine Creator could have made them to follow. Therefore, the Bible does indeed “prove a thing.” It proves everything (Colossians 2:3).

Pagan: I am so sorry for all who believe this sinner stuff. You are so much more than what you have been told that you are. You have you been lied to by religion and government. The concept of sin is profitable. All we need to do is love one another, and stop destroying our planet by doing things like killing the bees. Without the bees, we are all goners.

Christian: You say that you are sorry for all who believe this “sinner stuff.” But then you go on to list a number of things you think are wrong. Do you see the contradiction in this? Why speak loudly against hurting the environment or exploitation of the masses or any of the causes you are against? Who’s to say that those things are wrong? If you reject the notion of sin and sinners, then those people are just exercising their preferences and you have no basis for placing your preference to be free from manipulation and control above their preference to control and manipulate you. But I don’t think you’ve really thought this through. It’s just easier to classify others as evil and not to think about our own sin. We think, “If we really stand up against the government or the industrialists or the bee-killers or the religious oppressors, then maybe God won’t notice that we have told lies, or committed adultery, or stolen, or blasphemed His name, or dishonored our parents, or failed to love our neighbor, or to worship Him the way He deserves.” But that won’t work. Hebrews 9:27 says we are all going to see God one day (sooner than we think!) And He is going to judge each of us individually, and He’s not grading on a curve and giving us a pass just because there are some people out there that you think are worse than you. When we stand there before His throne it will be one of two ways: with our sin or with His Son. If you are with His Son, He will welcome you as His child. If you are there with your sins unforgiven, then He will do what is right and good and cast you away for all eternity. It’s sobering and frightening to consider, but that is the absolute most LOVING thing you could hear because it’s true.

For he [God] hath made him [Jesus] to be sin for us [humble repentant sinners], who [Jesus] knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him [Jesus].

II Corinthians 5:21 (bracketed words added)

 

Take the Good with the Bad

May 23, 2017 at 1:25 pm | Posted in Common Expressions, II Corinthians | 2 Comments
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It is commonly said that we often have to “take the good with the bad,” meaning that some things are so enjoyable, that, while they are not perfect or ideal, they are still worth the trouble that comes with them.

facts of life

Most people certainly do NOT enjoy being painfully injected with a vaccine, but they are willing to put up with it in exchange for crossing some deadly disease off their list of concerns. I abhor waiting a long time outside a restaurant for a table to become available, but I am willing to endure it if the food is delicious enough when it is finally served to me.

Biblically speaking, we find this principle having various applications, one of which is:

For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad.

II Corinthians 10:5 (emphasis added)

This is what some theologians have called “The Great Assize,” more commonly referred to as “The Final Judgment.” One day (and it could be today!), after Christ has returned to this world to claim His rightful ownership of it, and to assert His absolute authority over it, all the people who have ever lived will stand before Him in some sort of judgment. For Christians, whose sins have been forgiven, the judgment seat of Christ will be a place where our works, words, thoughts, and motives are judged. There will be rewards and there will be loss of rewards. For non-Christians, there will be a Great White Throne Judgment. There, sins WILL be judged. The Book of Life will be opened, and those who have not trusted Christ unto salvation will find that their names are not therein written, and they will be cast into the lake of fire forever.

So, while different judgments will occur for the two most important categories of people – saved vs. lost; born again vs. born once; saints vs. sinners; children of God vs. enemies of God; Christians vs. non-Christians; true believers vs. unbelievers; sheep vs. goats; wheat vs. tares; justified vs. unjustified – it is still true that everyone will be judged in some sense according to the things he or she has done during his or her earthly life.

This should be a powerfully bracing reminder to us that what we do each and every moment of our lives MATTERS. God is watching. He is keeping records. He sees our most secret deeds, hears all our words, and even knows our deepest, darkest, and dearest thoughts. We will truly, one day (much, much sooner than we think), take the good with the bad, and, let’s face it, as good as we think our good might be, our bad would far outweigh it on the scales of God’s perfect divine justice.

This is why it is vitally important to have an “alien” good (meaning a “goodness” or “righteousness” that comes from somewhere outside of ourselves) imputed to our account, and just as vitally important that our “bad” gets fully removed by someone who could pay the price for it in our stead. That’s where our Heavenly Advocate comes in. Only Christ can accomplish both of these gargantuan and eternal tasks for us.

When we have to cushion the blow of some disturbing information, we sometimes ask the recipient of the information, “I have bad news and I have good news: Which do you want to hear first?” You’ve already heard the bad news: All people come into this world condemned before God Almighty, the Judge of all the earth. Now, please, hear the Good News: Christ will remove your condemnation, pardon your crimes, justify you before the Judge, and give you eternal life, if you will believe, repent, turn to Him in faith, and ask Him to rescue you.

Buried Treasure

August 4, 2016 at 10:34 am | Posted in Isaiah, Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth.

Isaiah 53:9

The prophecy that Christ would be buried with the rich was fulfilled by the actions of Joseph of Arimathaea. Jesus’s death and Resurrection are integral parts of the Gospel, but so is His burial.

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand.

Isaiah 53:10

The Lord Jesus bore our sin to the Cross, but it is not the weight of that sin that crushed (“bruised”) Him; it was the weight of God’s wrath. Jesus was childless in the biological sense, and, furthermore, the prophecy describes a dead man “seeing his seed.” How could this be? It was fulfilled in Jesus’s Resurrection and the spiritual children He would regenerate and adopt.

He shall see of the travail of his soul, and shall be satisfied: by his knowledge shall my righteous servant justify many; for he shall bear their iniquities.

Isaiah 53:11

God the Father was not “satisfied” in the sense of taking delight in Jesus’s suffering, but His righteousness, law, holiness, and justice were satisfied by payment in full for the entire sin debt of His people.

Therefore will I divide him a portion with the great, and he shall divide the spoil with the strong; because he hath poured out his soul unto death: and he was numbered with the transgressors; and he bare the sin of many, and made intercession for the transgressors.

Isaiah 53:12

Jesus on the Cross made intercession for transgressors, and He’s still doing that today.

For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

II Corinthians 5:17

Let us esteem Jesus Christ better today than men did when He came to die for us. Let us look at what they esteemed instead of Him, and ask ourselves if we esteem those things more than Him today. He was poor. Do we esteem wealth? He was an outcast among the religious establishment. Do we esteem popularity and acceptance? People lied about Him and said vile things. Do we fight for our good reputation with plans and schemes to get even, and with our own get-back-at-you gossip? Which do we care about more – that we look good to men, or that God looks great to men? He came to serve and to die. Do we dare to try to get ourselves in the position of being served by someone else? He suffered hardship and discomfort and a life of hard work. Will we dare to pamper ourselves?

Jesus is rejected so much today, for so many of the same reasons He was rejected back then – He represents everything that carnal men hate. He is worthy, and that’s an thing easy to sing, but do our activities and attitudes and awe prove that He’s our Treasure?

The Assurance of the Blood

December 28, 2015 at 3:14 pm | Posted in Eternity, Hebrews | 6 Comments
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Perhaps over the past year you have done some good works. Perhaps you have done God’s will. Perhaps you have even – dare we say it without sounding proud? – done some things which were not only PLEASING in the sight of the Lord, but which were WELLPLEASING to Him?

If so, we have Him and Him alone to thank for these accomplishments and blessings – since these types of deeds and activities would not be possible with anything less mighty, amazing, and all-sufficient than Resurrection power, perfectly good and great shepherding, and all-powerful blood which purchased and confirmed an everlasting covenant!

Now the God of peace, that brought again from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, Make you perfect in every good work to do his will, working in you that which is wellpleasing in his sight, through Jesus Christ; to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

Hebrews 13:20-21

Perhaps you feared God more over the past year than you ever had before. If so, and if this fear was a holy and reverent fear given to you by God in His grace, then it is very likely that He has also caused you to grow in knowledge and wisdom. These things, too, were and are secured by His blood-bought covenant!

And I will make an everlasting covenant with them, that I will not turn away from them, to do them good; but I will put my fear in their hearts, that they shall not depart from me.

Jeremiah 32:40

Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

Luke 22:20

Among the assurances that will keep you going as you face the trials, struggles, temptation, troubles, and battles that a new year will surely bring, I hope you will resolve to look to: (1) God’s own Word, preserved in the Holy Bible; (2) the seal of the Holy Spirit upon your soul; (3) the facts of the Crucifixion, burial, and Resurrection of the God-Man, Jesus Christ. But don’t forget this one, too: The everlasting Covenant – wholly the act of the Triune God – found in the shed blood of the Savior.

Douglas Wilson on Why We Must S.W.I.M.

October 13, 2015 at 1:07 pm | Posted in Quotes | 3 Comments
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There are Christians who say that we ought not protest abortion, but rather preach the gospel. We ought not to oppose the official degradation of marriage, but rather preach the gospel. That is like training lifeguards to rescue people without any references to water. That is like watching millions of people drowning in the same ocean, and holding pep rallies on the beach.

And this brings us back to the point about story. The old stories train us to recognize scribes who speak with no authority, lifeguards who never swim out to anybody, cancer surgeons who are scared of scalpels, firemen who never jump on a truck, jet pilots who never scramble, guardians who will not guard, and gospel preachers who keep muttering peace, peace, when there is no peace.

Douglas Wilson

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.

Romans 1:16

And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.

Jude v. 23

Sleeping with the Enemy

September 16, 2015 at 2:25 pm | Posted in Weeping Creeping and Sleeping with the Enemy | 2 Comments
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In a previous lesson I discussed the blessings that Phinehas somewhat surprisingly received from the Lord for his violent attack on Zimri and Cozbi. When thinking through the reasons for this it is important to remember that Phinehas, unlike so many of his compatriots, had not joined himself unto Baal, and so his thinking was not cloudy or unclear or tainted by self-interest. He was thinking like God, and therefore He had a zeal – even a violent passion – for the holiness of God

Phinehas expressed God’s wrath in an atoning way. He did not kill the offenders because Zimri had personally ticked him off. It wasn’t because he was jealous that Zimri appeared to be getting away with what he wanted to be doing. It wasn’t because Phinehas wanted to show off, or because he was a sadist who just liked a good spearing. What motivated Phinehas was his intense hatred for what Zimri’s actions said about the Lord his God, and he discerned that it was time for something extreme.

As stated in the previous lesson, though, extreme physical violence inflicted upon sinners is not commanded for New Testament Christians. A principle to be taken from Phinehas’s attitude, however, is that there is a time for something as extreme as telling the truth in actions, not just words. Too many Christians today are sleeping with the enemy – if not physically, then intellectually, practically, and even spiritually. This is seen most blatantly in the ecumenism invading Christian churches, homes, and families. An adulterated, watered-down version of the Gospel deserves pointed and harsh truth. A hybrid bastardized version of the Gospel – part Christianity and part pragmatism, right in the midst of the camp, right in the middle of a ministry that calls itself by the name of the Lord Jesus – deserves pointed and harsh truth.

When Phinehas took up his spear, it looked like it was over – like it was too late. Have we lost the battle for the truth in our culture? Is right now wrong, and wrong now right? Are there now just no such things as “right” or “truth?” This is going to sound bad, but, in a way, I hope so. I hope the battle that we’ve been trying to win in our strength is over – that we’ve lost – that it’s too late. God often comes to the rescue when all seems lost. It was too late when Phinehas stood up and executed judgment. It was too late for the Israelites, and it may be too late for us, but when it’s “too late” by our estimate, that is often when God shows up – when He sends someone with the courage and the conviction, with the disregard for popularity, to take a stand and to symbolize atonement.

Phinehas stopped the plague because God really stopped the plague. Jesus didn’t make atonement by impaling us sinners on the point of God’s wrath, although that’s what we clearly deserved. He stopped God’s wrath by offering Himself as the atoning sacrifice. Will you and I weep rightly? Will we stop creeping around with the enemy? Will we stop sleeping with the enemy? Will we get out of bed with the enemy and get on board with God? May He help us.

Christ’s Childhood Preparation

December 19, 2014 at 10:55 am | Posted in Matthew | 5 Comments
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In the book of Matthew, as we study the beginning of Christ’s life on Earth, we learn that Jesus was born in Bethlehem, was taken to Egypt for His protection, and actually grew up in Nazareth.  He was sometimes called “Jesus of Nazareth.”

Nazareth was a disreputable place, and must have seemed hardly a fit background for the King of Kings.  However, it may be that Jesus’s childhood home was one of the things that prepared Him for a life of humility.

God’s desire for Christians is that they actually be conformed to the image of His Son.  Are we keeping this in mind in our prayers for our children today?  If we are praying in God’s will that they be conformed to the image of Christ, then we may be seeing those prayers answered when our children experience rejection, pain, or humiliation from their peers.  Parents may grieve over this, but, really, it should bring us joy.

After all, will a child who has never experienced the “embarrassment” of dressing modestly in a carnal world, or who has never expressed disapproval over the foul language of his classmates, ever have the nerve to stand up in public and proclaim Christ, or the courage to knock on a stranger’s door and share the Gospel?

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