A Little Taste of the Promise June 06, 2012Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions in Genesis.
Tags: Abraham's Faith, Christ, faith, Genesis 23, Glory, Glory of God, Glory of Man, heaven, patience, Promised Land, waiting on God
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“Afterwards, Abraham buried Sarah, his wife, in the cave of the field of Makpelah toward Mamre (which is Hebron), in the land of Canaan. The field and the cave which is in it were given up to Abraham as a possession for a grave from the Sons of Cheth.”
And with dignity and with a foretaste of what is to come, Abraham buries Sarah, his wife. Later, Abraham will also be brought to this site for burial. Though Abraham never saw fulfillment of the promise of the land, he did close his life owning a piece of property within the inheritance that God promised him. And in that, he was satisfied.
So much about Abraham’s life is about waiting and anticipating, it is no wonder that he is referred to as the Father of the Faithful (Romans 4:11). And much like Abraham, we too are called by God to wait on Him and upon His timing. How often we grow impatient at waiting for God to fulfill his promises. How often, because of our impatience, we miss the partial fulfillments that God places in our lives. For Abraham, the partial fulfillment took the form of a burial plot for Sarah. For us, our promised inheritance is in heaven, kept free from decay and defilement (1 Peter 1:4-5), but does not God give us little tastes of heaven in the context of Worship? Is not the gathered body of Christ meant to be a foretaste of heaven to come?
How often the worship of God’s people is little more than going through the motions. Beloved, when worship is only about what you are doing, then you will only ever get out of it what you put in…there is a zero sum gain. But when worship is only about God and what he is doing, then you taste his glory, which is a gain of everything and more. If you focus your worship on man, you will only find the walls of man’s own limitations. If your focus is upon God, then walls are broken down and we will come face to face with the transcendent God. For Abraham, his longing was for God himself; for you, what will it be?
The Sojourner Becomes a Resident May 28, 2012Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions in Genesis.
Tags: Alien, Christ, Finding a Home, Genesis 23, Home, Resident, Sojourner, The Church a home
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“And Abraham listened to Ephron. Then, Abraham weighed out for Ephron the silver which he spoke of in the hearing of the Sons of Cheth — four-hundred shekels of silver according to the merchants. Thus, the field of Ephron, which was in Makpelah, which was before Mamre — the field and the cave which was in it and all the trees which were in the field which are within all of the borders around it was sold to Abraham as property in the eyes of the Sons of Cheth and all those who entered the gates of his city.”
The deal is now fully negotiated and made. Abraham purchases the lot and its contents as his own. This will be the first piece of the Promised Land that actually will fall into the control of Abraham…a taste of the promise that will be later fulfilled as the children of Abraham move out of Egypt, through the wilderness, and into Canaan. A third party (the merchants) is called in to measure out the silver (again, making sure that a fair deal is struck and no one can complain the Abraham cheated Ephron out of his property), and witnesses seal the public deal. Abraham is now a land-owner, at least on human terms, and will bring his own life to a close dwelling in this area.
The sojourner has now become a resident, the alien has been given a home. In death, Sarah’s body is given that which she did not enjoy in life, though in the new creation, she will enjoy it most fully. How that is the story of the believer. Before God takes ahold of our lives, we are spiritual wanderers, flitting about from one ideology to another, always glorifying self and not Christ. But in Christ, we find a home. In Christ, we find meaning. And in Christ, we finally belong. How Christ’s church ought to reflect that; how rarely Christ’s church does a good job of reflecting that. Jesus said, “Come to me all you that are weary and heavy laden and I will give you rest…” (Matthew 11:28). May Christ’s church be that place where we can find our rest from the wearying burden of sin in our lives and in the world.
The Seed and the Gates of Hell March 31, 2012Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions in Genesis.
Tags: armor of God, Christ, Enemies, Gates of Hell, Gates of our Enemies, Genesis 22:15-18, Grace, Great Commission, Shield of Righteousness, spiritual warfare, Strongholds of Hell, The Seed, Truth
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“And the Angel of Yahweh called to Abraham — a second time from heaven. And he said, ‘In myself I swear, utters Yahweh; because of this thing that you have done in not sparing your son, your only one, I will surely bless you and your seed will surely be great as the stars of the heavens and as the sand which is on the lip of the sea. And your seed will take possession of the gates of his enemies. And in your seed will all the nations of the earth be blessed on account of your obeying my voice.”
“Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed; he did not say, ‘and to the seeds,’ as if it were to many, but to one. ‘And to your seed,’ which is Christ.”
The promise of God’s blessing does not go out to all of Abraham’s children, but through Isaac and his line. But when we get to the New Testament, a greater depth to God’s plan and design is unfolded in a way that helps us to see the plan and work of God. For in the ultimate sense, it is not through one’s biology that one inherits the promise of God, but through the great “Seed” or “Offspring” of Abraham, that is Jesus Christ. Jesus is the seed that was always in view here and the promise finds its meaning and fulfillment in Christ Jesus. Through faith in him, not through our biological lineage, we are made part of the inheritance of God.
Indeed, such was always the case, for it has always been through faith that men have been saved. Abraham believed (had faith in) God and it was counted to him as righteousness (Romans 4:3). And Paul continues that the promised does not come through the Law or works of the Law, but through the Righteousness of Faith (Romans 4:13). Why is this? It is because if we were able to earn salvation on our own merit, not only would the idea of God sending a Savior become nonsensical, but then there would also be no room for grace (Romans 4:16).
But if it is by grace, it is no longer by works, for grace would no longer be grace.
And thus, when God makes this promise to Abraham, he intentionally uses the singular of “seed” or “offspring” to make it clear that the inheritance is being guaranteed by one very special and distinct offspring of Abraham, Jesus the Christ. And in Christ, though faith, a multitude of believers from all of the nations have been brought in. How will the seed become a blessing to all of the nations? Surely, there is no greater blessing that comes than from hearing and believing the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Even here, in the promise given to Abraham, is the anticipation of the worldwide evangelistic campaign of believers seeking to fulfill the Great Commission.
And what about the gates of their enemies? That sounds pretty militaristic, particularly for a nation that has spent most of its history under the dominion of other nations. Again, we find language that anticipates the church and the consummation of all things. For what is it that Jesus tells Peter when he establishes the church?
And now I say to you, you are Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:18)
Notice the language of the Gates of Hell? As Christians, who is our enemy? All too often we get stuck in the mindset that there is no spiritual reality. Yet, what is it that the Apostle Paul teaches us regarding our true enemies?
“Put on the whole armor of God so that you will be able to stand against the schemes of the devil because we are not engaged against blood and flesh but against rulers and against powers and against the cosmic powers over this darkness and against the spiritual powers of evil in the heavens.”
Indeed, the gates of the enemy promised to Abraham are the gates of the strongholds of our enemy the devil. And like the Israelites were to put the cities of the pagan Canaanites to the sword, devoting them to destruction, we too are given the call to devote the spiritual strongholds in this world to destruction as well, for God will give us the gate of our enemies (2 Corinthians 10:4-6).
Yet with promises like this, how is it that Christians live such a timid life? It seems that we have abandoned the weapons of our warfare. We have abandoned discipline and discipleship and we have abandoned prayer. Sure, we may pray over our meals or for a friend who is having a hard time, but do we really pray with the expectation that God will act in this world? We may do our Bible studies, but do we really study the Bible as if we really believe that it is profitable for us in every area and venture of our lives (2 Timothy 3:16-17)? We read about putting on the whole armor of God, guarding our mind with the helmet of salvation and our hearts with righteous activity, but do we really seek to live that out? When we have a headache, what is our first action? Take an aspirin or pray? Not that there is anything wrong with taking an aspirin, God has blessed us with many medications and remedies for our aches and pains, but what do we do first? Do we live and act as if there are spiritual realities around us? If we do not, we are engaged in warfare with the wrong enemy … and we wonder why we are not prevailing!
Tags: Abraham, Active and Passive Obedience, Active Obedience, Christ, Christ's Submission, forerunner, Genesis 22:9, Isaac, Isaac's Submission, Jesus, life eternal, Passive Obedience, raised from the dead, resurrection, Shadow, submission
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“In this way they came to the place which God had told him and there Abraham built the altar and arranged the wood on it. He bound Isaac, his son, and set him on the altar on top of the wood. Then Abraham stretched forth his hand and took the knife to slaughter his son.”
It is at this point where the faith of Isaac comes to surface next to the faith of his father. There is no longer any doubt as to whether Isaac understands what is going on for he has likely seen his father make many such sacrifices of animals. Even still, Isaac allows his father to bind his hands and feet like one would bind an animal for the slaughter and then lay his bound body on the fire. There is also no question that if Isaac chose to resist, this teenager could have easily maneuvered around his centenarian father. Yet, Isaac chooses to submit to his father’s will and his obedience to his father here moves from an active obedience to a passive one, trusting the call of God upon his life.
How, in Isaac’s submission, we see an image of Christ. Being God, Christ could have chosen not to go to the cross — yet such a choice would have condemned us all. In love for us and in submission to his Father, Jesus chose to go to the cross and submit to the cruelty of the sacrifice that was laid out before him. Isaac gives us a picture of that submission in his own life though we rarely give Isaac the credit for being a man of faith.
Abraham, too, stands as a man of faith, trusting God to fulfill his promise even through resurrecting his son from the dead. There will be another son (Jesus) who will indeed do just that — die and be raised from the grave to glory. While the promise to Abraham was through Isaac, the one who the promise is ultimately guaranteed by is Christ Jesus, who indeed is the seed of the woman promised in Genesis 3:15 as well as being the seed of Abraham (Galatians 3:16). Abraham believed the promise would be fulfilled through Isaac even if God had to raise him from the dead; God made his promise fulfilled and consummated through Christ, His Son, by resurrecting him from the dead that our hope and life may be in Him. Isaac is a shadow for us of the Christ to come. Praise be to God that he has indeed come and given us life and life eternal.
The Sleep of the Beloved August 12, 2011Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Various.
Tags: an end to nightmares, anxiety, beloved, Christ, Christian, Fear, God, God's sovereignty, Grace, Mercy, nightmares, Prayer, Rest, Sleep, true rest, trust in God, Truth
“It is vain for you to get up early and go late to your dwelling,
Eating the bread of toil;
For he gives to his beloved sleep.”
It may be granted up front that there is some discussion as to how to interpret the last line of this verse. Commonly it is rendered as I have done so here, but some would argue that it ought to be rendered, “for he provides for his beloved during their sleep.” Though the nuances of the psalm are changed within that translation, the essential meaning of the text remains the same. God provides for the needs of his beloved — and he does so in an abundantly wonderful way.
In the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5-7), Jesus speaks in much the same way. It is expected that the pagans will lay awake worrying all night, working long and thankless hours to provide bread for their families. Their idols are false creations of their own hands and imaginations. What benefit can a chunk of wood give me apart from helping to heat the house when I burn it in the fireplace? If I create something with my own hands, it contains no power to do anything but sit there. It has no life. One can draw no hope or assurance from such things.
But we worship a true and living God — one from whom we can draw assurances. He lives and is the God of the living (Matthew 22:32; Luke 20:38) and not of the dead; he gives us new life (1 Peter 1:3) and he gives us that life abundantly (John 10:10). And thus Jesus says to us, “why do you sit home and worry about what may or may not happen this week or even tomorrow?” Do we forget whom we serve? Our worry seems to betray that we do, yet to the beloved, God gives rest and peaceful dreams at night.
How often my dreams have been haunted by the cares of countless anxieties—anxieties that are projected in nightmarish ways. Yet, in prayer, there is rest for the soul. How often there has been tossing and turning rather than restful slumber; again, trust in God’s provision, believer, and you will find that rest will come. There is no need to fear what may transpire; our God is sovereign over all events (Ephesians 1:11) and has promised to work them all out for our good (Romans 8:28). What comfort there is in those divine promises to us! What rest we can find in that context!
For the believer, rest means more than sleep during the evening hours. Rest also includes rest from one’s enemies—the greatest of which are the spiritual powers of wickedness that roam this world like a roaring lion. They may roar, but we are held secure in the hands of our loving Savior (John 10:28-29); of what shall we fear? No, we are loved of God and true love casts out all fear (1 John 4:18).
Loved ones, sleep well and dream well of the glory of our God. He will provide for your needs because he loves you (Matthew 6:31-34); the pagans eat the bread of their sweat and toil—enjoy the restful sleep that your Father provides.
Held by Christ (Luke 22:31-32) July 06, 2010Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on Gethsemane.
Tags: Christ, Job, Luke 22:31-32, Permission of God, Power of God, Power of Satan, Satan, Satan's Power Limited
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“Simon, Simon, Satan has appealed to sift you like grain, but I have interceded regarding you in order that your faith might not fail. And at the point when you return, undergird your brothers.”
Though Satan sought to sift, just as in the account of Job, Satan needs to ask permission. The word translated here as “appealed” refers to a strong and pleading request—an impassioned plea of sorts—Satan’s hands are clearly tied here just as they were tied in Job’s day. How often we find Satan portrayed otherwise. We see him portrayed as strong and deadly and mighty beyond comparison, and while we should never underestimate our foe, he is restrained by our mighty God. Satan must ask and Jesus’ petition is not that Satan not be allowed to test Peter, it is that Peter’s faith might remain intact and thus after his time of breaking, that he would return to Christ in brokenness.
How often our God allows Satan to test and break us to strip us of our pride. Jesus has rebuked Peter on multiple occasions before, but this will be the point in Peter’s life where he will be changed and transformed from the headstrong spokesperson of the Twelve to the humble Apostle that will proclaim the gospel boldly at the day of Pentecost. No one proclaims the Gospel so boldly as the one who has really experienced the Gospel. It is one thing to have an intellectual understanding of the Gospel, but when you finally get to the point where you realize that by all measure you deserve to be condemned to Hell, then you truly will understand what Christ came to do. Peter understood that only as a result of the experience that would take place a little later this night. Paul understood this as he traveled the road to Damascus. And it was God, then, that used both of these men to proclaim the Gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the known world.
Yet, in our time of sifting, where will our comfort be? Will God leave us for a time? No, and absolutely no! Jesus will never leave nor forsake his own (Hebrews 13:5). Our hope, beloved, is in the intercession of Christ for us as we walk through life. He will lift us in prayer before his Father, he will send his Spirit to comfort us and to strengthen us, and he will not allow Satan to pluck us from his hand. Though the darkness may seem to surround us, the plunge into darkness is not without the tether line of Christ’s intercession. What an amazing gift that Christ offers to us as his people. Though trouble assail us and loved ones fail us, we need not fear, for the Lord of all creation has not renounced his claim on the totality of our lives. Be of good cheer, beloved, for even Satan must ask permission and be told the boundaries when he seeks to sift our lives.
For I have been persuaded that neither death nor life, angels nor powers, neither that which has been nor that which will be, neither powers nor heights, neither depths nor any other creature is able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Follow the Leader (Matt. 26:32; Mark 14:28) June 30, 2010Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Devotions on Gethsemane.
Tags: Christ, Christian obligation to follow, Gethsemane, Jesus leads his people
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“Yet, after I am raised up, I will go ahead of you to Galilee.”
(Matthew 26:32; Mark 14:28)
Though most of our English Bibles do not reflect such (even my own translation does not reflect such), there is actually a one word difference between Matthew and Mark’s account. In Matthew’s account, he uses the simple transition, de/ (de), which is a simply transition that binds two statements together; Mark uses the conjunction, ajlla/ (alla), which indicates a contrast between what is being said and what has been said before. The first can either indicate a parallel or a contrasting statement; the second can only indicate a contrast. The value of this is simply that in the variation between Matthew and Mark’s choice of language, clarity is added and we see better what Christ is saying. The scandal will be a bad and depressing thing, but Jesus’ going ahead of the disciples to Galilee is a good and encouraging thing.
Galilee, of course, was home territory for the disciples, and a place for them to be able to regroup away from the influence of the murderous priests and Jewish leaders. It is most likely in Galilee that Jesus would spend 40 days teaching the disciples as we find in Acts 1. Note, too, the language of Jesus going up ahead of his disciples. How significant it is that our Lord leads and does not expect his own to stumble around ahead of him. Such is the language of Hebrews 2:10—Christ, through his suffering and death, led the way for us to follow into salvation. At the same time, note what must come first—the raising up. Before Jesus can gloriously lead us to salvation and toward the celebration of the mighty Kingdom of God in its fullness, a sacrifice must be made to atone for our sins. One must go through the valley before one will appreciate the peaks that surround it.
Of course, along with the idea of Jesus leading implies not only our responsibility to follow (for it is only the most impudent of children that will not follow the road down which their parents lead—and what would we call a soldier that refuses to follow his commander down a given path), but the implication is that we must follow down the path that our Lord has traveled. Often, we act as if we are comfortable with the idea of Jesus facing trial and persecution in his sacrifice and death and then are surprised when we face trial and persecution ourselves. As Isaac Watts said, “Why do we think we will enter heaven on a bed of roses when our Lord entered with a crown of thorns?” Jesus did not simply say, “follow me,” he said, “take up your cross and follow me.” Understanding that life principle (or death principle as we ought die to this world) makes all the difference.
The Law of the Jungle February 27, 2010Posted by preacherwin in Reality Check.
Tags: account of elephant killing a rhino, behavior in church, born again, Christ, christian witness to the world, Church, elephants and rhinos, Forgiveness, Grace, guilt for sin, hostility, inherited guilt, inherited sin, Law of God, Law of the Jungle, Mercy, modeling grace for others, regeneration, Revenge, righteous law, Sin, Survival of the FIttest
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Recently, I read of the following account:
Elephants and rhinos normally get along quite peacefully, though the elephant defends her calf against any hint of aggression. Once a baby elephant at a water hole near Tree Tops Lodge, in Kenya’s Abedare National Park, playfully approached a rhino. The rhino charged, sending the calf squealing back to its mother, and then the rhino sauntered off. The mother elephant was so enraged that she turned and attacked another rhino drinking nearby, sending a tusk into its chest. While tourists watched from the lodge’s terrace, the elephant then held the innocent rhino underwater with her forefeet until it drowned.
The Law of the Jungle is brutal. It is a law that essentially says, you can do whatever you can get away with. It is a law that says that you, the individual, and perhaps (but not always) your family is the only thing that is important. It is a law that permits one not only to hate his enemy, but also to turn on his friend if such is expedient. Power and survival are the sole virtues of the Law of the Jungle and one’s purpose in life is simply the gaining and preservation of power and the propagation of one’s own line. Sacrifice is meaningless unless it brings about that end. The strong survive; all others are merely in the way.
What struck me about this little account of the elephant and the rhinoceros was not only the brutality of the event where the mother enacts her revenge on an uninvolved bystander, but sadly, how often Christians act in much the same way when dealing with one another. True, we typically don’t drown people in watering holes, but how often we drown others with criticism, exclusion, or outright hostility. How often we follow the example of the Jungle and not the example of Christ in our personal dealings.
In the jungle, when one is offended, revenge is the response. There is no such thing as humility or grace, these things belong only to those who bear God’s image. And in the jungle, when revenge is handed out, there is always an escalation of aggression—even a minor offense yielding capital punishment as in this case. There, of course, are many who would point to the brutality of many of the Old Testament Biblical laws, but the concept of “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” is a principle that states that the punishment must suit the crime. One could not demand execution in response to a personal injury—in the jungle, as the account of the elephant and the rhino illustrates, death is common even for small crimes. It is not a matter of justice, but of severe vengeance served cold and bloody.
It should not be too surprising when non-Christians choose to follow the Law of the Jungle for philosophically they simply see humanity as a highly developed animal living under the same rule as our “cousins” in the animal kingdom. In addition, to really give grace to others, it requires that one have experienced it in a transforming way. And free grace is one of those things that really is unique to Christianity and to the way our God deals with us.
What grieves me is when I see professing Christians choosing to follow the Law of the Jungle instead of another law—the law modeled to us by Christ—is that they demonstrate that they don’t really understand what it is that Christ did on the cross. When Jesus hung upon the cross of Calvary, the man without sin, being judged as a sinner, his words were not that of vengeance, but he said, “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing.” The word we translate as “forgive” is the Greek word ajfi/hmi (aphiami), which means to pardon, forgive, or to release from legal obligation.
We owe a debt to God because we have broken his law. In addition, we owe a debt to God because we have inherited the unpaid debt of our fathers that have gone before us (Exodus 20:5, 34:7). This debt goes back to Adam (1 Corinthians 15:20-22). God is righteous and righteous justice is demanded for sin—we have inherited death and earned wrath. Yet, God chose to do something unheard of; he took the punishment for a group of people upon himself by sending his Son, Jesus Christ to die and bear his wrath in their place—a substitutionary work of atonement. To Christ’s work, we contribute nothing. Jesus has fulfilled the righteous demands of the law on our behalf and we vicariously benefit.
Who is the “we” that benefit? It is those who have been given new life by the Holy Spirit (John 3:3) and are thus drawn to Christ in faith. This is a work totally dependent on God and on his Grace, not upon who we are or what we might be capable of doing. Were it earned in any way or reliant on our works in any way, Grace would no longer be Grace (Romans 11:6). In theological terms, we refer to this as God’s act of election, an act which God chose before the foundation of the earth (Ephesians 1:4,11). We are spiritually dead in our trespasses against God (Ephesians 2:5) before this new life and thus, can do nothing to help ourselves, but are totally and absolutely reliant upon God’s Grace for this salvation. Grace is not favoritism, for favoritism demands that there is a reason one places his affections more so on one person than another; Grace is given where it is not deserved so that the giver of Grace is upheld. Who then is this body of grace-receivers? It is those who are born again believers in Jesus Christ—those who believe in their heart and profess with their lips that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior (Romans 10:9).
The sad thing is that so many who profess this betray their hearts when they refuse to show grace to others around them. If you are a professing Christian, you must understand that the bar has been set very high. Christ has shown infinite grace to you; you have an obligation to show grace to others around you. No, it is true that you and I are not capable of the intense level of grace modeled by Christ Jesus; we have been shown a grace that transcends all worldly experience. At the same time, as ones who have received grace that is transcendent we can yet strive for a grace that gives others a taste of the grace that can be found in Christ.
God is not asking you to show others something that he has not first shown to you in super-abundance; he is asking you to show grace to those around you that do not deserve it, who have offended you, and who have rejected the things that you stand for. He has also promised that he will not leave you on your own as you seek to do this, but that he will be with you in the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit. The next time you are tempted to gossip, complain, slander, undermine, or get angry at another around you, make the decision to show them grace and shed love upon them instead of wrath (even where that wrath is deserved). If you want to see a change in the culture around us, take the lead not from elephants in the wild, but from Jesus Christ. Then step back and watch what God does through your witness.
 Cited from: Shreeve, James. Nature: The Other Earthlings. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., 1987. Pg 166.
Revealing God (John 17:6) September 21, 2009Posted by preacherwin in Devotions, Various.
Tags: Agnosticism, atheism, Christ, God, Great Commission, hidden God, John 17:6, making God known, Paganism, search for God, seekers, Seeking God, veiled God
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“I have made your name known to the people whom you gave me out of this world; they were yours, even so, you gave them and they have guarded your word.”
Jesus has made the Father’s name known. What a remarkable statement this is! Often we find agnostics speaking of their pursuit of God; philosophers of ages past have sought to understand the nature of the invisible God behind the universe—yet these always rely on their own strength. God even goes as far as to pronounce that he will be hidden from his enemies (Genesis 4:14; Matthew 11:25), yet revealed in the Son alone. Thus, John earlier records:
“Jesus said to him, ‘I am the Path, the Truth, and the Life; no one comes to the Father except through me.’”
The Apostle Paul even goes as far as to write:
“To me, the least significant of the saints, this grace was given, to proclaim the good news of the incomprehensible riches of Christ to the nations, and to illuminate that which is the plan of the mystery which has been hidden from eternity in God who created all things in order that the multi-faceted wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and authorities in heavenly places.”
In other words, the plan of God to reveal himself in his Son has intentionally been kept hidden from the world until God revealed his Son, Jesus Christ. In turn, God has also given the church the task of making this great truth known to a world that has been kept in darkness, awaiting the preaching of the Gospel. No matter how hard the philosopher or the agnostic “searches” for God, he will not find God apart from the Gospel of Jesus Christ. But for those who hear the word preached, there is eternal life.
“For the word of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to those who are being saved, it is the power of God.”
(1 Corinthians 1:18)
Many are rather uncomfortable with just how “exclusive” the claims of Christ are—Jesus leaves us with no room to suggest that there is any other way to genuinely know God than through Him. Now, it is true that God reveals enough about himself in the natural world as to leave mankind without an excuse (Romans 1:18-20). Yet, as we have been discussing, He remains veiled apart from his Son, Jesus Christ. It is like being caught in a maze. The very existence of the maze points to a creator and the logic of the maze implies that there is an exit; yet the only exit door by which you may meet the Creator and enjoy life is the Creator’s Son, Jesus Christ. Apart from him, you become more and more befuddled and feebleminded by the complexity and darkness of the maze.
Yet, loved ones, note the joy with which Paul proclaims that it has been given to him to preach the good news of the “incomprehensible riches of Christ” to the unbelieving nations. This task, which we call the Great Commission, belongs to you and to me as well. Let us indeed rejoice in this task, but let us also engage the world as we live out this great and wonderful responsibility, for Christ has revealed the Father to a world that is dark and filled with unbelief. Let us reveal Christ so they might have light and hope.
Is the Bible Inerrant? July 04, 2009Posted by preacherwin in Reality Check.
Tags: Bible, Christ, death, eternal life, faith, God's Word, Inerrancy, Jesus, Scripture, Truth
One of the things we talk a lot about in church circles is the authority of scripture—that it is given by God and is designed to instruct us in every area of life. One of the terms that we use when we speak of why the scriptures are authoritative is the term “inerrant.” But I have found that while we often throw that term around, a lot of times, people aren’t entirely sure what the term means.
To be “inerrant” means far more than something has no errors in it. When I was in school, I regularly had “error-free” mathematics tests; when I was in seminary, many of my Hebrew vocabulary tests were found to be “error-free,” but none of these were inerrant. The word inerrant means not only that something has no errors, but that it is incapable of making an error. The Oxford American Dictionary defines “inerrant” as “incapable of being wrong.” One writer described the inerrancy of the scriptures in this way: “They are exempt from the liability to mistake.”
So why do we ascribe such a nature to the scriptures? To begin with, they are God’s word, and if God is incapable of making a mistake, then his word also must be incapable of making a mistake—remembering that those who wrote down God’s word were “moved along by the Spirit” as a ship is blown by the wind filling its sails (2 Peter 1:21). In the language of the Apostle Paul, scripture is exhaled by God (2 Timothy 3:16) and thus is the source of all training and guidance for the believer. These are God’s words and not man’s and thus we ought to expect them to carry the authority and attributes of God’s character and not man’s character.
It is granted that there are many these days that doubt the inerrancy of scripture. For some, it is a plain matter of unbelief. For others it is misinformation or not having studied the evidence. For others it is the fear that if one acknowledges these words to be the inerrant word of God then one must submit one’s life to scripture’s authority and demands, and such is true. Regardless of the reason that people doubt, Scripture has withstood every test and challenge that has been leveled at it.
There is one other thing that is worth noting about such a book as we have. Not only are the scriptures our only guide for faith and life, but they are the only book to guide us as we go to our deaths. The Bible shows us Jesus Christ, our need for him as a redeemer, and his promise that if we trust in him in life, confessing him with our lips and believing in him in our hearts, he will confess us before the Father and guarantee us eternal life in paradise. For the one who is facing death, this is the kind of knowledge that brings peace and enables them to leave this world with grace and not fear. It is no wonder that the Scriptures are what most people ask to have read to them on their deathbeds, and not Shakespeare or Coleridge. The Bible is the one book that transcends death because it was written by a God who died and rose again—promising that he would do the same for us.