Sunday, June 27, 2010

Christ is God in Scripture

Our detractor states: "Jesus never claimed to be God-He never actually said "I am God".

On the contrary. Jesus is co-equal with God. This is the consistent teaching of the whole bible, especially the New Testament. Though not every statement is expressed with equal explicitness, every statement bearing on the nature of Christ proves He is full Deity & humanity in one person, without contradiction. The various names and titles of Jesus are unequivocal of his full Deity.

Just a few verses will bear this out:

Micah 5:2, King James Version 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

Vs. 2b, New American Standard Bible His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity.

Isaiah 42:8 I am the LORD; that is my name! I will not give my glory to another...

Isaiah 48:11c I will not yield my glory to another.

John 17:5 [Jesus prayed] And now, Father, glorify me in your presence with the glory I had with you before the world began.

Psalms 45:6 Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever; a scepter of justice will be the scepter of your kingdom.

Hebrews 1:8 But about the Son he says, “Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever, and righteousness will be the scepter of your kingdom

John 1:1, 14 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.... [14] The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.

John 5:22-23 Moreover, the Father judges no one, but has entrusted all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son just as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father, who sent him

Matthew 28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.

Psalms 23:1 The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not be in want.

Ezekiel 34:31 You my sheep, the sheep of my pasture, are people, and I am your God, declares the Sovereign LORD.

John 10:14 I [Jesus] am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me.

Hebrews 13:20 ...our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep...

Romans 9:5 Theirs are the patriarchs, and from them is traced the human ancestry of Christ, who is God over all, forever praised! Amen.

Now that you know Jesus is clearly called God in many ways throughout Scripture...what will you do with that knowledge?

Friday, June 25, 2010

Series on Genesis At Pyromaniacs

Because it's such an excellent series, I need to link to John MacArthur's & Phil Johnson's stuff at Pyromaniacs. In essense, Genesis One is truth. It shows God's existence, & his Creation of the universe as supernatural acts, and Christians who compromise on the literal meaning of Genesis as a historical narrative are undermining the text as well as Christian orthodoxy on original sin and soteriology. It begins here, with follow ups at Phil's blog. READ IT!

Thursday, June 24, 2010

The Real Cause of Starvation

As I was reading the Proverbs, I came across one of the truest statements in the bible.

"The fallow ground of the poor would yield much food, but it is swept away through injustice." Proverbs 13:23

Consider the problem of poverty and starvation in Africa, particularly Ethiopia. There are many natural resources that could build the infrastructure of these countries, and stabilize them. The quest for power and control of rich resources like the Nile River have created political injustice.

When resources are sent to help the poor and starving, often some or all of it is stolen by regional warlords who stockpile the goods for their troops.

The solution is right there in the very rich lands that God has ordained in places like Africa, but evil prevails, and injustice prevents the people from having enough basic goods. It's a sad reality.

We must realize that as Chrsitians we need to continue to have compassion on our neighbours. We cannot solve or rid the world of it's evil, but we can give the Gospel with compassion, and offer our worldly goods to help. This is no social gospel. It's love for our neighbour.

Monday, June 14, 2010

What Hinders Our Prayers?

Unconfessed Sin
If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me. Psalm 66:18

Rebellion Against God
Pro 28:9: "He that turneth his ears from hearing the law even his prayer shall be an abomination".

Lack of Faith
"If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not, and it shall be given him. But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering. For he that wavereth is like a wave of the sea driven with the wind and tossed. For let not that man think that he shall receive anything of the Lord. A double minded man is unstable in all his ways." James 1:5-8

"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses" Matthew 6:15

Dishonoring Your Wife
"You husbands likewise, live with our wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered."(1 Peter 3:7)

Impure Motives
James 4:3 “You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures."

See also D.L. Moody's book, Prevailing Prayer, What Hinders It? There is a Google(C) scan of the book
at  Sermon Depository here.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Bach - Matthaeus Passion - 01

A classic piece. This sure beats the "campfire" music of worship bands in most Evangelical churches. This music elevates the senses to a grandeur lacking in most worship. Enjoy!

Friday, June 11, 2010

Satan's Opportunities

I posted this as a comment at another blog, but I thought it would make for a quick post given my time limits.

Satan tested Jesus in the wilderness. Satan also tests those who follow Jesus. The Bible likens the Evil One to a roaring lion who roams the earth looking for prey. And here are some opportunities to definitely avoid so as not to give the devil opportunity to work. Satan's opportune moments come:

1. when you are not in the right place where you should be.
   2 Samuel 11:1-2; Proverbs 1:8-19

2. when you're anger is unresolved.
    Epesians 4:26-27

3. when you are physically weary.
     Matthew 26:41

4. when you are locked in some secret sin.
     John 13:27

5. when you're pride is ripe.
     Proverbs 16:18

6. when you are fliritng with temptation.
     Matthew 6:13

There are many other opportunities to be sure. Let's watch and pray until the devil is put under our feet.

Monday, June 7, 2010

When The Preacher is Not That Great

This is an older post from Steve Burchette, of Christian Communicators Worldwide. He makes a few good points about how to handle the situation of a less- than- stellar preacher, or like he says it..."When Your Preacher Is NOT John Piper".  Good reading.

For First Time Preachers

I've had the opportunity to speak in my church, and to do some public preaching. It's not something that comes naturally to most of us. I recall the first time I spoke to a particular group in my my church. It was a ministry to people on the street or who had basic needs. I was asked to speak about "The Cross". I didn't exactly prepare for that topic, but I did come with a topic I called "The Hope of the Resurrection".

As I spoke about the resurrection, I mentioned that because of sin our bodies suffer from disease and death. It's a consequence of the Fall. After my sermon, I was approached by a couple of angry listeners! They accused me of saying that sick people are sinful, as if sickness were a sign of personal sin. They "heard me" wrong. I tried to reason with them, but they left as unsatisfied customers.

Later, I got a letter from the group leadership. Actually, it was a list of standards for speakers in the church. I don't have a copy of it now, but it listed some basic points of protocol for what is acceptable and not while speaking to a group from the Bible. Well, seems they got a few complaints about me.

And so it is that I learned the hard way that you need to use your words very carefully, because people can hear you a certain way, and misquote you. I recall too that a pastor once told me, young preachers like to show off all that they know.

So, don't show off, and speak carefully. Self-evident ?....yes! But always good reminders.

"He that hath knowledge spareth his words: and a man of understanding is of an excellent spirit"  (Proverbs 17:27)

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Famous Atheist Refutes His Own

Here is Atheist Isaac Asimov on the use of the word "unicorn" in the King James Version. From his Asimov's Guide to the Bible pp. 186-187 Vol. 1, 1968 :
Atheists who want accuse the Bible of teaching mythology at this point have no support from the one time President of the American Humanist Association. If an atheist or other critic of biblical inerrancy would be honest with the facts, they could see that they have no two legs to stand on polemically. Also, I'm not saying that just because Asimov wrote this, that it must be true. Only that today's critics would be well served to be honest and careful with the evidence as Asimov was, and so acknowledge the truth.

"The Hebrew word represented in the King James Version by “unicorn” is re’em, which undoubtedly refers to the wild ox (urus or aurochs) ancestral to the domesticated cattle of today. The re’em still flourished in early historical times and a few existed into modern times, although it is now extinct. It was a dangerous creature of great strength and was similar in form and temperament to the Asian buffaloes.The Revised Standard Version translates re’em as “wild ox.” The verse in Numbers is translated as “they have as it were the horns of the wild ox,” while the one in Job is translated “Is the wild ox willing to serve you?” The Anchor Bible translates the verse in Job as “Will the buffalo deign to serve you?”
The wild ox was a favorite prey of the hunt-loving Assyrian monarchs (the animal was called rumu in Assyrian, essentially the same word as re’em) and was displayed in their large bas-reliefs. Here the wild ox was invariably shown in profile and only one horn was visible. One can well imagine that the animal represented in this fashion would come to be called “one-horn” as a familiar nickname, much as we might refer to “longhorns” in speaking of a certain breed of cattle.
As the animal itself grew less common under the pressure of increasing human population and the depredations of the hunt, it might come to be forgotten that there was a second horn hidden behind the first in the sculptures and “one-horn” might come to be considered a literal description of the animal.
When the first Greek translation of the Bible was prepared about 250 B.C., the animal was already rare in the long-settled areas of the Near East and the Greeks, who had no direct experience with it, had no word for it. They used a translation of “one-horn” instead and it became monokeros. In Latin and in English it became the Latin word for “one-horn”; that is, “unicorn.”
The Biblical writers could scarcely have had the intention of implying that the wild ox literally had one horn. There is one Biblical quotation, in fact, that clearly contradicts that notion. In the Book of Deuteronomy [33:17—BT], when Moses is giving his final blessing to each tribe, he speaks of the tribe of Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh) as follows: “His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns....”
Here the word is placed in the plural since the thought of a “one-horn’s” single horn seems to make the phrase “horns of a unicorn” self-contradictory. Still, the original Hebrew has the word in the singular so that we must speak of the “horns of a unicorn,” which makes it clear that a unicorn has more than one horn."

Thursday, June 3, 2010

The Power of Reasoning From the Scriptures

I've become more convinced that speaking to people about Christ is a testimony, and not a dissertation on theology. You might know what I mean. Someone begins a conversation about Christ or something related, and before you know it, you're discussing whether the mind exists in reality, or whether science is the ultimate truth, or such other things.

The Gospel is the power of God unto salvation to those who believe. The Apostles preached this Gospel with power. They weren't philosophers for Christ. They weren't one of the Athenian elites. They just preached a crucified & resurrected Jesus. They were witnesses of the risen Lord Jesus. But it was simple enough....the Scriptures of the Prophets spoke of a suffering Servant who would rise again from death, and they and others saw this. It was really "according to the Scriptures", that Paul and others spoke the Gospel.

So next time some eager soul, wrings his hands, ready to shut you down with a sly argument...cut to the matter and say something like,"Yea, but you're still a sinner, in need of the forgiveness of God, which is in Jesus, because He alone died for sinners, and rose again, with the result that this Jesus is going to judge the whole world...Now it's time to repent & trust in the Name of Jesus for your salvation". And see the power of the Gospel work in confounding the "wisdom" of this world and give life to a dead soul.

Sunday, May 30, 2010

Brothers, We Are Sinners

It's no surprise that the philosophies and religions of the world are offended at the notion of calling people "sinners", in the true sense of that word. Man-made traditions have a too high opinion of the human condition. That's why they don't have the solution to our common problem; it's just not found in man-made traditions, it can't be "found" at all, it's a matter of revelation from God, who alone truly knows what is in a man's heart.

Not everybody who professes Christ acts like they understand these things. I've been around believers with whom I've shared a little of my sinful past as part of a testimony. I mean, I am what the Bible says I was..."by nature a child[ren] of wrath", a "sinner", "wicked". I mean, yes, I'm also a "saint", a "son" by God's adoption, because of Christ. I have no merit of my own- only what He did for me. However, when past sins are mentioned, to demonstrate what I once was, what Jesus suffered to save me from, people in the church act like I slurped a tea cup of Darjeeling and wiped my mouth with the sleeve of my shirt. They're offended! I think a lot of these types grew up in and had the benefit of a Christian upbringing-and good for them. Nothing wrong with that. However, not everybody has.

I suppose nobody needs the gory details of the past. There's a "forgetting" of past things, and a "pressing on towards the high calling of God", and thankfully we can do that. Also, some things are too offensive to mention and I never would. Barring that,why do some church people act like there's a leper in the room if I talk about what I was once, before Jesus saved me. It's as if Jesus only came to save the righteous or Church is only for the "ceremonially clean", an elite of moralistic, upright Evangelicals who disdain any talk of what Christ saved us from, i.e. real sins, real wickedness.

Our sanitized testimonies are soulless and unimpressive.We've (some of us) imported the false evaluation of human nature I mentioned in the beginning, into our mentality. I've found that there's an unwritten rule in the churches that you don't say too much about whether you were a fornicator, an adulterer, a murderer, or anything else that God actually justifies us from. See, that would be too shocking to our sensibilities and we're apparently too holy to hear about real sins, real lives, and what the true power of God's forgiveness in Christ. Why the shock? Our most revered biblical heroes were the worst offenders. Noah built an ark by faith. But his story ends in a drunken, incestuous scandal. Yet we remember him as a "preacher of righteousness". David the King...after God's heart, but a conniving murderer and adulterer. Why don't these church regurgitate their Sunday brunch when they hear these stories? Are the sins of saints past any more "acceptable" because they made their way into the biblical cannon? Is Moses' manslaughter or Paul's persecution more elevated since they are mentioned by inspiration of God? No. These people are of the same flesh and blood Adamic line as we are. They sinned and their sins are just as heinous to God.

Brothers, God is going to cast away false, hypocritical, adulterous, lying, murderous, professing Christians. He's got a Lake of Fire reserved for the condemned, for all time. He appointed the death and spilling of rivers of blood of sacrifices for thousands of years until the Messiah, his perfect, sinless, Son, had his body nailed to a crucifix, for our sins. He died for our fornication and lust, and adultery, and murder, and gossip, and a thousand other sins. Real, black, vile, repugnant sins Jesus willing took on Himself, in fact he was made SUCH so that we might be God's righteousness in Him.

Let's not pretend anymore. It insults Jesus who condescended to our level for our sins without sinning himself. We're not righteous people. We're not to think of ourselves as better than anyone else. The message of salvation is joyful, but only because of the wretchedness and vileness of our sins. We need to hear the whole Gospel.

Let's begin here: Nothing good is in us of ourselves. We are sinners vile. Christ died for us while we were vile sinners. And because of that we can talk all we want about His righteousness in us.


Friday, May 28, 2010

Spurgeon on Street Preaching

In my limited time preaching on the streets, I learned quickly that there are different styles of preaching. The street is not a place of academic debate. It's the place to be heard and to make the Gospel clear. this is definitely the place where the soul who stands and proclaims the message of Christ must hate his own life and lose it for the sake of the Gospel.

Charles Spurgeon had something to say about public proclamation too.

The New Covenant & Israel

The New Covenant

31 “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, 32 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. 33 But this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 34 And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”

Jeremiah 31:31-34
Here is stated God's promise to form a new covenant with Israel. The Church is not in view here. We would no more say that God made the new covenant with the church in this passage than we would say that God gave the LAW of Moses to the Church at Mount Sinai. Clearly the Lord is addressing the people who have violated the Law and are in danger of coming judgment. I want to exegete the features of this covenant to see what God has promised the nation, and what is involved in the new covenant.
First, it is a Jewish covenant. As stated above, Gentiles are not here spoken of. The object of the covenant is the "house of Israel and the house of Judah". The kingdom was still divided. This cannot be the church. It cannot be Gentile. Sounds Jewish to me.

2. The covenant was still future. God did not institute it at the time it was spoken, but only spoke of it's impending replacement of the old covenant.

3. That brings me to the next point. The new covenant will be new in that it will not be like the Sinai Covenant. Israel broke that covenant. The blessings of it are conditioned on the obedience of the people, and it's clear they had violated from the start. The new covenant will be characterized by dissimilarity and discontinuity with the old covenant. Like a wayward wife, Israel was unfaithful to God, characterized by spiritual idolatry of the pagans around her and the breaking of her Sabbaths.

4. The New Covenant will bring the law into their hearts. This is in contrast to the old covenant written by the finger of God on stone tablets.(Exodus 24:12;  Deuteronomy 4:13)

5. Israel will be God's people. They will all know the Lord. There won't be any ignorance of God or spiritual separation. Israel will fulfill her true role as the elect nation, because of the spiritual work of God in their hearts.

6. The covenant is unilateral. God alone will fulfill the terms of the Covenant. There is no mention of any duty on the part of the people to fulfill the terms.

7. Similar to #6, the New Covenant is unconditional. Since God alone will act to perform the terms of the covenant, it's blessings come on the basis of His promises, it doesn't depend on Israel's obedience.

8. The law will be fulfilled by God putting it into people's heart. This will be based on the forgiveness of their sins, never again to be counted against them. Already we see the aspects of justification and regeneration promised in this covenant.

9. The promises of the new Covenant are comprehensive. They are all-encompassing to the people of Israel. Words like "no longer", "all" and "no more" are applied to the nation collectively. This speaks to the total blessing of all of God's remnant people.

From the least to the greatest, Israel will finally walk with God. All shall know him. This hasn't happened yet. There is still a future fulfillment of these things. Though it has begun already. And that will be for a another post.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

The Gospel is Essential

I have heard some of the most exquisite theories about what humanity’s problem is, and what the hope for that problem involves. The world is looking for a solution because it’s undeniable that we all live in a state of chaos and trouble. Solutions abound from the divinization of the soul through evolutionary spirituality to the nihilistic termination of the soul, which says “from dust we came, and dust we will always remain”. The latter seems hesitantly committed to the void of transcendent meaning of life. I say hesitantly because it seems against nature to live meaningfully here and now, while pressing on to a state of cold existence, with nothing beyond. In this, it’s clear that people are blind to their own essential problem and the essential answer to that problem. The Word of God pierces the darkness of our mortal ignorance. We are sinners. It is that simple, definite, proposition that is the beginning of the solution to our spiritual death. It’s the only right judgement of our nature, and rightly understood it should bring us to our knees in utter helplessness to change by our own ingenuity. The Gospel is the power of God to save those who believe.

In the Gospel, we have the forgiveness of sins, the power of new life, and a reconciliation to God, where once there was only enmity and condemnation. Christ is our resurrection. Because he overcame the power of death, we can live forever in immortal bodies, that will never get sick or decay. Christ’s victory is the assurance now that the graves and tombs of the earth will eventually be emptied, and never used again. Because Jesus bore our sins, their is a cleansing, a purifying of the conscience of culpable souls, who live with condemnation. Not only is there a taking away of sins from our account against us before the Lord our Judge, but also a gift, an amazing grace of an “alien righteousness”, a perfect righteousness that is given freely to us who believe. We also die to sin. Our relationship to our old nature and old identity is changed in Christ.

Who can accomplish these things? None of us. We have , as it were, tried by every means in our own power to re-enter the original Paradise to “know good and evil” and to be like God. We have tried to achieve this supremacy in our lives, by trying to connect with secrets of the universe through mysticism, or determine our own lives as if we are gods. And these efforts are a total failure. In fact, the very best of human endevour and the very highest of human morality, the most sophisticated of human culture, the wisest of man’s learning, and the hight of human power in this world is absolute foolishness and abomination in the sight of God. What displays the glory and wisdom of God is the accomplishment of redemption from sin and death at the Cross of Jesus. A Messiah whose body was bloody and beaten and nailed to a Roman cross, who became a curse for us is essential, not just optional, if we would find salvation from our sin, and the regeneration of all things in the kingdom to come.

And now God commands all men everywhere to repent, because He has fixed a day when he will judge all people by that Man whom He has appointed, even Jesus

What Hinders Your Obedience?

One important word occurs  in the account of the  calling of the disciples at the start of Jesus' ministry. I think it's the key to discipleship because it sets the right attitude for our response to the Word of God.

Mark 1:16-20:

16 Passing alongside the Sea of Galilee, he saw Simon and Andrew the brother of Simon casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. 17 And Jesus said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you become fishers of men.” 18 And immediately they left their nets and followed him. 19 And going on a little farther, he saw James the son of Zebedee and John his brother, who were in their boat mending the nets. 20 And immediately he called them, and they left their father Zebedee in the boat with the hired servants and followed him.

Do thou likewise, and thou shalt be blessed.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Evangelical Errors

The peace of God is one of the supposed indicators of being in God's will. How often have you been told: "Pray about your situation, and when you sense God's peace in your heart, then you'll know it's God's will."?
The Scripture which is used is Colossians 3:15...

And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful.