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Evangelist, Baptist, Husband, Father, Mid-30's.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

See It and Be Glad

I should be a asleep right now, but as I prayed over these past few weeks and my evangelistic endeavors, I've been horrified to see a serious lack in the highest theological thought in scripture; the crucifixion of Jesus. The Apostle Paul said this was his sole endeavor, and that it is the message we preach that comes with power (1 Corinthians 2:2, 1:23, 1:18). As I thought about it, my mind instantly went to the crucifixion passage which impacts me the most; way back in the Old Testament. It is something I must put to paper before I can let this day come to a close.
When the humble see it, they will be glad;
you who seek God, let your hearts revive.
 ~ Psalm 69:32
This is the conclusion to an utterly terrific psalm, one so incomprehensible in its pain and sacrifice that I expect it will take us an eternity to understand the God here described. This Psalm recounts an innocent man oppressed by evil men for no reason (v. 4), but worse, crushed by God for those evil men's sins (v. 9), paying a price higher than any sacrifice ever made, before and after (v. 31), and this is why it is so terrifying.

Beloved, stop for a moment, the man on the cross is God the Son (v. 21, John 19:28-29), despised by men, afflicted by God. Now look and be glad. Your King is shamed, crushed, humiliated, infinitely punished, wrongly accused, disbelieved, abandoned by God and friends, scorned by the very ones he came to save. See it and be glad.

See it and be glad? Wouldn't we expect that weeping would be a better response? On that day, "there followed him a great multitude of the people and of women who were mourning and lamenting for him. But turning to them Jesus said, "Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me, but weep for yourselves and for your children (Luke 23:27-28)..."

For you see, Jesus did not go unwilling to the cross, he was not the victim of sin, but a willing and capable sacrifice. He came for this purpose, to bear witness to the truth (John 18:37), he has ordained history for this very moment (John 12:27). What should we say? Save him from the cross?

No, we rather look at that hideous cross and the Lord of Glory upon it, and we are glad. Glad for two reasons, that, one, we have a God who hates sin and the suffering, death, and destruction caused by sin, and, two, that we have a God who loves sinners to such an extent to save them from his hatred.

And so we see our Lord and God lifted up on a cross, declaring to the universe that God is righteous and a Saviour (Isaiah 45:21), and besides him, there is no other. Our sin is heinous and costly and none of us can pay for even a single one. A single lie will ensure we are punished forever in Hell for our rebellion against the God of Truth. If there were any other way to be saved, then Jesus Christ died in vain, and he would not be able to say that he is the way, the truth, and the life, and no-one comes to the Father but by him.

Sin requires an infinite payment, and apart from an infinite Saviour, our souls were counted loss. So we look at the cross and are glad, glad that we have such a payment, such a ransom, as to save us from the power of sin and death, and transfer us into the kingdom of God.

And we look at the man, who for the joy set before him, endured the cross, despised the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God (Hebrews 12:2), and are glad that he is our God, the God of love and of truth, of mercy and of righteousness, who perfectly reconciled in his body of flesh sinful men and holy God, and has put away all malice towards those who humble themselves before him and trust in his holy name.

Beloved, I have endeavored to show you Jesus Christ and him crucified, that you may know the power of this message, made perfect in his resurrection. If there is any lack of gladness in you towards the events which he endured on Calvary, please search your heart, and know that your King endured these willingly, prepared from eternity past for such work, to make known his Father's justice and grace. Look at the cross with nothing but gladness, the means by which God revives the deadman's heart, and be glad that you have a God who loves righteousness and hates wickedness, who is anointed with gladness today, for the work he accomplished long ago.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Something More Sure

Introduction

With the physical stress of moving, the mental stress of moving, losing my Bible once or twice, the break in routine, and the passing of my Grandmother, I have read my Bible less in the last month than probably any other time in my Christian life. Directly related to that, I've written less in the last month than ever in my Christian life. Tonight I heard an especially encouraging sermon and it sparked my writing. I want to take just a minute to go over one of the best passages in scripture and hope it encourages you to read your Bible more and trust fully in the Risen Christ.

Before we begin, ask yourself what would be the best way to learn to walk in sanctification and to know the truth and to demonstrate truth and to know who Jesus is. No doubt, it would be to walk with Jesus during his three year earthly ministry in the 1st Century, right? Let's see.

Walk with Jesus?

Concerning himself and the other Apostles, Peter writes, "we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty."

The Apostles walked with Jesus, they saw his miracles, they heard him speak with authority, he defended his flock with appropriate severity, he loved people with the love of God, they saw him in power and Peter even saw him in transfiguration. These Apostles were eyewitnesses, three-year long friends and co-ministers with the Lord of Glory.

Thomas was among them, he saw Jesus, he walked with him, but what did Jesus say to Thomas?

Have you believed because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.

Peter says likewise about walking with Jesus, "we have something more sure..." More sure than walking and talking and listening to Jesus? More sure. Then it must be hearing directly from Heaven that Peter would remind us of in his ultimate epistle.

Hear from Heaven?

Peter writes, "We were with him on the holy mountain...when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased."

That would be a great way to learn from God, right? To have him speak directly to you and let you interpret his words to suit your own situation? Peter rebukes you, "We have something more sure...knowing first of all that no prophecy of scripture comes from someone's own interpretation."

Is it hearing from God that makes us the best followers, the most sanctified? Without a doubt, the most dangerous of hirelings and false teachers are those who rely on things they've heard in the spirit, who reject the Bible and speak their own revelation; men like Mohammed and Joseph Smith come to mind, but there are no lack, no lack at all, operating today.

Something More Sure

How could something be more sure than learning from Jesus? How could something be more sure than hearing from the Father? Beloved, it's because those things can be counterfeited. Recently I was perusing the cult tome, The Urantia Book, which includes impossible details about Jesus' early life and later ministry.

The private interpretation of the author(s) teach things that are wild and ungodly, but how can we say Jesus did not say and do these things? We have something more sure.

Faith-Healers constantly claim that God spoke to them regarding a health issue, who are we to doubt that God actually spoke to them? We have something more sure.

We have something more sure. The prophetic word, not open to interpretation, not open to addendum, a lamp shining in a dark place, not produced by man, but by God the Spirit sweeping men along in his perfect current.

For this reason the Bible is our final rule of faith and practice. We know that God spoke new revelation in the 1st Century and then left us something so sure that he never would need to speak again, and will not speak again, until the glorious bright and morning star, Christ Jesus, returns and lights our path in our glorification.

Conclusion

Beloved, would you need to see Jesus to believe? Jesus says you are blessed if you believe without seeing. Would you need to hear from Heaven to stand on the truth of God's promises? Peter says you have something more sure. God has revealed himself perfectly to us in his Word, giving Jesus as the perfect example of life and godliness, the one who has called us to his own glory and excellence, who has opened the eternal kingdom to us in becoming our Lord and Saviour by giving himself for our sins and being raised for our justification.

Peter intends to remind you of these things even after his death, as did all of the other prophets; their tongues are silent today, but their words, inspired and directed by the Holy Spirit, speak today, so listen to them exhorting you to trust in Christ, and walk in his light, being continually washed in the water of his word.