Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Hebrews 4:12

"For the Word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart."

As is His Word, so is He.  God's Word is living because He lives.  Just as surely as we know, love, and serve the living God, so we are assured that His Word lives, as well. 
Consistent with continual activity by the one true God, so His Word is likewise active.  Though sin in its many manifestations dulls our senses to discern His movements, nonetheless He is ever active in His sovereign interactions with His creation. 

There is nothing He does not see (Hebrews 4:13), nothing which would surprise Him, nothing which could "catch Him off guard," since He sees the end from the beginning with absolute awareness, (Jeremiah 23:23, 24).  Morever, the living God "sees not as man sees, for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart," (I Samuel 16:7).

It is this spiritual scrutiny, this revealing of our heart, that confirms the uniqueness of the Word of God.  Because the heart is more deceitful than all else (Jeremiah 17:9), no one truly knows his own heart.  It is a work of the Holy Spirit in the life of the believer to continually reveal his heart to him, primarily through the tool of His blessed book. 

As we present our heart to the Holy Spirit, exposing it to the standards, admonitions, examples, exhortations, and purities of His truth, our very thoughts and intentions undergo spiritual surgery.  His scalpel of Scripture cuts deeply into the diseases of sin and self, and lays open the illnesses which need removal by confession, repentance, and forsaking.  The more thorough our yearning for His knife, the greater the healing, restoration, joy, and usability.   

Wednesday, December 3, 2014


The elect only are the ones who accept what the Bible says about it, who catch a glimpse of its horrific reality, feel the force of its implications, and rejoice in relief that it's not their destination.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Underestimating God's Holiness

"But when they came to the threshing floor of Nacon, Uzzah reached out toward the ark of God and took hold of it, for the oxen nearly upset it.  And the anger of the LORD burned against Uzzah, and God struck him down there for his irreverence; and he died there by the ark of God,"  (II Samuel 6:6,7).

What seems on the surface to be a capricious outburst of unjust anger on God's part is actually justified wrath in the face of disobedience to His plainly-stated requirements for acceptable worship. 

* The Requirements. 

In Numbers 3:30, 31; 4:15; and 7:9, the Old Testament law specified that the ark of God was to be carried by the sons of Kohath.  Additionally, Exodus 25:12-15 clearly recorded the LORD's instructions through Moses for the means of transporting the sacred ark: "You shall cast four gold rings for it and fasten them on its four feet, and two rings shall be on one side of it and two rings on the other side of it.  You shall make poles of acacia wood and overlay them with gold.  You shall put the poles into the rings on the sides of the ark, to carry the ark with them.  The poles shall remain in the rings of the ark;  they shall not be removed from it." 
Thus are given the living God's specific and crystal clear commands concerning moving the ark which represented His ineffable Name.

*  The Requirements Unknown.

Having captured the ark of God, the Philistines decided after seven months (I Samuel 6:1) that they had had enough.  Throughout the land mice had brought plague, and tumors had broken out on the entire populace, producing an outcry for relief.  Their pagan priests and diviners advised returning the ark with a guilt offering of their own concoction (6:5).  Moreover, the means they counseled for its transportation was a new cart (vv. 7,8), hitched to two milch cows on which there had never been a yoke.  The people heeded this advice (vv. 10, 11), and the ark was led back to Beth-shemesh, where the people there rejoiced at the sight of its return.

* The Requirements Ignored.

Having become established as king over Israel (II Samuel 5:12), David determined that it was time for the ark of God to be returned to Jerusalem, the City of David.  He gathered thirty thousand of Israel's chosen men together, to transport the sacred ark.  "They placed the ark of God on a new cart that they might bring it from the house of Abinadab which was on the hill; and Ahio was walking ahead of the ark," (6:3,4). 

Did King David not know the passages in Numbers and Exodus related to moving the ark?  Of all things, he is adopting the same mode as the enemies of the Lord:  a new cart(!)  Where is the spiritual leadership from the "man after God's own heart"? 

* Consequences of Man-Made Worship

In this situation, David's failure to conscientiously follow God's worship mandate cost a man his life.  David's anger (6:8) was likely directed at himself for carelessly underestimating the holiness of the living God.  In his zeal to get the ark back in its proper location, he failed to take into account the supreme holiness of God's Name. 

This account is a needed reminder and warning for our man-centered society and lackadaisical churches.  Any attempts to worship the sovereign God of heaven and earth apart from the Spirit of the Lord Jesus Christ are rejected.  God must be worshipped in Spirit and in truth (John 4:24), acceptable only through access granted by the Lord Jesus (John 14:6).  Any and all attempts to approach Him by humanly-devised methods and means are idolatry, and an abomination. 
May He grant grace for the acceptance of this truth.


Monday, October 20, 2014

Who Has Our Trust?

  "Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils;  For why should he be esteemed?"  (Isaiah 2:22)

In context, Isaiah is picturing and prophesying richly-deserved judgment upon Judah.  A number of elements in the second chapter fitly describe what was experienced during the Babylonian captivity, but the overall intensity better portrays the future tribulation known as the Time of Jacob's Trouble (Jeremiah 30:7; Matthew 24; Revelation 6--19).
"In that day men will cast away to the moles and the bats Their idols of silver and their idols of gold, Which they made for themselves to worship, In order to go into the caverns of the rocks and the clefts of the cliffs Before the terror of the LORD and the splendor of His majesty," (vv. 20, 21; cf. Rev. 6:12, 15, 16). 

In such a time of unprecedented trauma, chaos, and terror, peace will be promised by the Antichrist, and his confident assurances will lead many to place faith in him.  Verse 22 is Isaiah's admonition to stop depending on people, however trustworthy and capable they may seem, and trust only in the living God. 

We continually struggle with faith in the seen versus faith in the unseen.  Our senses constantly scream that what we can see, hear, taste, touch and smell are reality, and the unseen realm of spirituality is (a) non-existent, (b) unscientific, (c) undependable at best, (d) an indication of insanity at worst.  The world system assures us that man is the measure by which the universe should be perceived, and what we do not understand shouldn't concern. 

Yet in times of difficulty, loss, death, despair, fear and heartbreak, times when we're overwhelmed by life's enigmas, faith in man won't do.  Even faith in faith will disappoint, for faith is only as valid as the object in which it is placed.  Thus, only faith in the living triune God of the Scriptures, the sovereign King of the universe, will sustain us through tribulation. 

The Father assures His own, "Do not fear, for I am with you;  Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God.  I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous right hand," (Isaiah 41:10).  The Son, the Lord Jesus Christ invites, "Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS," (Matthew 11:28, 29). 
The third Person of the Trinity, the blessed Holy Spirit, provides unspeakable comfort for all who belong to the Lord Jesus, even as the Savior promised, "I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not see Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you and will be in you," (John 14:16, 17).

Grant grace that we who have been changed by the Lord Jesus would lean less and less on man and be deepened in our dependence upon You. 
In the Lord Jesus' Name,

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Word of the living GOD

"Is not My word like a fire?" declares the LORD, "and like a hammer which shatters a rock?"  Jeremiah 23:29

In stark contrast to the dreams of false prophets, devised out of deceitful hearts, for the purpose of making God's people forget His name, the living God Himself likens His truth to (a) fire and to (b) a hammer. 

(a)  Fire consumes
       In I Kings 18, the authenticity of Elijah's commission as a prophet and the veracity of his message from God were on the line.  The prophets of Baal outnumbered him 450 to 1, and the hearts of the undiscerning people had been swayed to spiritual adultery.  Elijah proposed settling the issue by a contest: "Now let them give us two oxen; and let them choose one ox for themselves and cut it up, and place it on the wood, but put no fire under it; and I will prepare the other ox, and lay it on the wood, and I will not put a fire under it.  Then you call on the name of your god, and I will call on the name of the LORD, and the God who answers by fire, He is God," (vv. 23, 24). 
All morning, through the noon hour, even to the time of the evening sacrifice, the false prophets leaped about the altar, cut themselves with swords and lances until covered with blood, all the while yelling for their god to answer by fire.  The Bible says, "but there was no voice, no one answered, and no one paid attention," (v. 29). 
Elijah then models obedience to the living God's worship requirements by erecting the altar in His Name (v. 32), at the proper time (the evening sacrifice)(v. 36), and with prayer that glorified Him as God:  "O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel, and that I am Your servant, and that I have done all these things at Your word.  Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that You, O LORD, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again," (vv. 36, 37). 
At the command of the LORD, "the fire of the LORD fell, and consumed the burnt offering and the wood and the stones and the dust, and licked up the water that was in the trench." (v. 38) 
What the physical fire did in this narrative, the word of the living God does, spiritually, where it is proclaimed in the power of the Holy Spirit.  Speculations are destroyed, lofty things raised up against the knowledge of God, consumed by His invincible word which accomplishes what He desires, succeeding in the matter for which He sends it.
At the judgment seat of Christ, consuming fire will be used in the determining of rewards: "Each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work.  If any man's work which he has built upon it remains, he shall receive a reward.  If any man's work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire," (I Corinthians 3:13-15).     
(b)  Fire also purifies.  As it is that our hearts are "more deceitful than all else, and desperately sick" (Jeremiah 17:9), we are in continual need of the Word's purifying work on our hearts.  John Rippon's familiar hymn, "How Firm a Foundation" applies:
When through fiery trials thy pathways shall lie,
My grace, all sufficient, shall be thy supply;
The flame shall not hurt thee; I only design
Thy dross to consume, and thy gold to refine. 

The Word is the tool of His grace by which His purifying work is accomplished.  Through hearing, reading, studying, memorizing, meditating upon, and obeying the Word, our impure motives are revealed, our secret sins surface for confession, hypocrisy unheeded is no longer ignored, the grieving and quenching of the Holy Spirit is taken seriously, and the desire to please our Lord becomes preeminent.

As a hammer, the Lord's Word shatters.  Why?
It is His Word.  The Word of the living God is all-powerful because He is omnipotent.  As Jeremiah records God's question, "Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh; is anything too difficult for Me?"  The prophet humbly affirmed, "Ah Lord GOD!  Behold, You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm!  Nothing is too difficult for You!" (Jer. 32:27, 17)
Isaiah also quotes the living God as He asserts, "My word which goes forth from My mouth shall not return to Me empty, Without accomplishing what I desire, And without succeeding in the matter for which I sent it," (Isaiah 55:11).
As someone has well said, hard words produce soft hearts.  Conversely, soft words produce hard hearts.  Meaning?  The undiluted Word, the unvarnished truth, proclaimed in the power of the Holy Spirit, confronts the heart, pierces the soul (Hebrews 4:12), and makes one willing in the day of His power.  As Paul commanded his protege' Timothy, "Preach the word... reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction," (II Timothy 4:2).  Sound doctrine, strongly delivered, makes for softened hearts.
However, the deceitful heart is hardened when the truth is compromised, when pleasing to the tickled ears of the hearers, who will then eschew the truth and turn to myths (vv. 3,4).

In these days where false prophets abound, where the church has become worldly and the world has become so churchy that there's little difference between the two, and when a God-sent spiritual awakening is our only hope, pray the Lord of the harvest to raise up godly, Spirit-unctioned preachers who preach the shattering Word in its purity and power!   

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Preach the Word

"I solemnly charge you in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom:  preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort, with great patience and instruction.  For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires; and will turn away their ears from the truth, and will turn aside to myths," (II Timothy 4:1-4). 

In the last section of the last letter he was to pen on this earth, the apostle Paul prefaces his strongest command to his protégé, Timothy, with supreme solemnity.  He appeals to (a) the Father's presence; (b) the Lord Jesus as Judge; (c) His return; and (d) His reign. 

(a)  The writer of Hebrews states, "And there is no creature hidden from His sight, but all things are open and laid bare to the eyes of Him with whom we have to do," (4:13).  The Lord Jesus said, "And I say to you, that every careless word that men shall speak, they shall render account for it in the day of judgment," (Matthew 12:36). 

The one who stands to declare the truth of God before men must continually recall that he speaks in the presence of the living God.  He will incur a stricter judgment (James 3:1), and is accountable for every word that he utters.  He must preach the word as if he were standing in the very throne room of God, with an audience of One.


(b)  As the apostle John records what the Lord Jesus said, "For not even the Father judges any one, but He has given all judgment to the Son," (5:22).  Paul adds, "For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad," (II Corinthians 5:10). 

All believers will come before the Lord Jesus after the rapture, appearing before His bema for the distribution of rewards (I Corinthians 3:12-15).  Paul's charge to Timothy (and all who are called to preach) is to preach the whole counsel of God with the judgment-seat of Christ in view.  The man of God is to move beyond the evaluation of a congregation, or leadership, to the awareness that he will stand before the righteous Judge of all the earth to give an account for his life and message. 

(c)  Paul's charge includes the element of urgency: the imminent return of the Lord Jesus to gather His elect (John 14:2, 3; I Corinthians 15:50-53; I Thessalonians 4:13-17).  With the time that has elapsed since the Lord ascended back to heaven, the temptation arises to be lulled into complacency.  "After all," the enemy whispers, "it's been a long time... and He probably won't return in your lifetime, anyway."  This temptation is not new, of course (cf. II Peter 3:3, 4). 

The Holy Spirit continues to speak through Scripture, urging the man of God to proclaim the whole counsel of God, since he knows not the hour when the Son of God will split the skies, gather His elect, and take us to glory. 


(d)  The Lord Jesus continues to maintain His three-fold roles of Prophet, Priest, and King.  It is His kingly role that Paul presses upon Timothy in his charge. 

A vivid illustration of the Lord's regal and sovereign reign is given in Isaiah 6.  In the throes of grief upon the prior death of king Uzziah, the prophet came to the temple to worship.  There he was given a life-changing vision of the thrice-holy King upon His throne, surrounded by flaming angels known as seraphim.  Their continual declarations of His holiness, as well as His ineffable presence, and the temple filling with smoke, compelled Isaiah to fall on his face in conviction and awe. 

Centuries later, quoting from the latter portion of that same 6th chapter, John writes, "These things Isaiah said, because he saw His glory, and he spoke of Him," (12:41).

A needed reminder, this.  When the man of God stands to proclaim the truth, he not only stands before mortal man, but the King of kings and Lord of lords! 
May these truths sink deeply into the hearts of both congregation and preacher.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Nothing Is Too Difficult

"For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain," (Titus 1:10, 11).

Paul's pastoral heart comes through here, as he considers the immeasurable damage being done to families of believers by false teachers.  Judaizers had slipped into a number of congregations, teaching a works-righteousness, convincing some that salvation may have begun by grace through faith, but works completed the process.  Hence, they needed to be circumcised if they had not been previously, and they must adhere to the Mosaic ceremonies.

Families who were grounded in the truth, who understood the lie represented by this teaching, were understandably upset.  Any teaching which mixes works with grace nullifies the cross and trivializes the atonement (Galatians 2:21).

These men spoke from hearts of rebellion, deception, and greed.  Cloaked in religiously-acceptable language, their manipulative mandates had the insidious intent of "sordid gain."  False teachers' goal of affluence remains the same to this very day.

Paul instructs that these apostates "must be silenced."  In our day, with the incredible financial resources at their disposal, the extensive array of technological tools their ministries enjoy, how can they be silenced?

Prayer.  The most potent resource in the universe, the most effective weapon for the destruction of fortresses, the greatest channel for tapping the omnipotent power of the living God, is prayer.   As Jeremiah prayed, "Ah, Lord GOD! Behold You have made the heavens and the earth by Your great power and Your outstretched arm! Nothing is too difficult for You," (32:17). 

You've established Your throne in the heavens, and Your sovereignty rules over all.  As You've declared so clearly, Your thoughts are not our thoughts, neither are our ways Your ways.  Your purposes and plan in allowing apostasy are inscrutable, yet You are good and You do good. 
The enemy and all his forces operate only as You sovereignly allow, and the damage he is doing through false teachers is within Your providential permission.  Still, I would beseech You to silence the heretical teachers who are distorting the truth of Your Word. 
Grant discernment to Your people, the training of their spiritual senses to detect and shun doctrinal error in all its forms.  You know our laziness, our lack of diligence in persevering prayer.  Impress upon us afresh the urgency of the hour, for the sake of Your Name and men's souls. 
In the matchless Name of Your Son, the Lord Jesus, I pray,

Monday, August 11, 2014

Enlightened, Alarmed

The opposite of faith is not doubt, but unbelief.  Thomas doubted, and Peter denied, but both were restored by our Lord.  Why?  He knew that at the heart of their lives was genuine faith, saving faith, and their times of doubting were momentary.

Judas Iscariot had doubts, as well, but they were based in unbelief.  How do we know? His character and conduct.  At some point along the way, the one will always produce the other.  We act on what we believe.  Thomas and Peter persevered.  Judas defected.  All three acted on what they believed, which seemed to be the same at the time, but Judas' apostatizing revealed his true character.

The beloved apostle John speaks of three characteristics of apostates in I John, chapter 2.  He is writing to enlighten and to alarm.  He is intensely concerned that the congregations recognize (1) that the apostates' defection reveals their character; (2) that their teachings reveal their unbelief; and (3) that theirs is a deadly serious impact.

In v. 18 he says that "many antichrists have appeared," which characterizes the last hour (in which we are living, as well).  His use of the plural distinguishes them from The Antichrist mentioned in Revelation 13:1-5 and 19:20.  Their spirit of opposition to the Lord Jesus is the same, though, (straight from the pit), and manifests itself in several ways.

First, their defection.  "They went out from us...so that it would be shown that they all are not of us," (v. 19).  In the first century, as now, within the visible church there were those who professed Christ, who knew and used the language of faith, who even rose to levels of leadership, but who eventually left, no doubt taking some with them.  This confused the remaining ones, and John assures them that such behavior stems from false faith.
Had their faith been genuine they would have endured (Mark 13:13; Hebrews 3:14), manifesting the reality of authentic, saving faith.

Secondly, their doctrine.  "Who is the liar but the one who denies that Jesus is the Christ?  This is the antichrist, the one who denies the Father and the Son.  Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also," (vv. 22, 23). Though most likely eloquent in speech, convincing in manner, and authoritative in tone, John calls them liars and heretics because of their denial of sound doctrine.  In chapter 4 of this same letter, he adds, "every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, and now it is already in the world," (v. 3).
Distortion of the nature of the Lord Jesus, according to the whole counsel of God embodied in the Bible, is a crucial indication of apostasy.  Denying His deity, downplaying His humanity, ignoring His wrath and judgment, focusing exclusively on His love and compassion, refusing His statements on the reality of hell, rejecting His sovereignty, are but a few of the ways false teachers and deceivers deny the Scriptural presentation of the Lord Jesus Christ.  In so doing, John asserts, it's demonstrated that the apostate knows neither the Son nor the Father.

Finally, their deception.  The apostle unmasks the motive of the false teachers: "These things I have written to you concerning those who are trying to deceive you," (v. 26).  Since we act on what we believe, knowing the truth is of paramount importance.  Indeed, the father of lies does all that he can to trivialize the truth, downplay the eternal consequences that are at stake, and keep genuine believers from discerning the seriousness of the situation.  
The time has arrived when even believers "will not endure sound doctrine, but wanting to have their ears tickled, will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths," (II Timothy 4:3,4).  

May the living Lord of His church awaken sleepy believers to not only be enlightened, but alarmed, grasping the implications of apostasy, and willing to confront the error all about us.  He will  hold us accountable for our roles as watchmen (Ezekiel 33:7-9).

Sunday, August 3, 2014

A Wake-up Call!

"For there are many rebellious men, empty talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision, who must be silenced because they are upsetting whole families, teaching things they should not teach for the sake of sordid gain, " (Titus 1:10, 11).

Praise to Your Name, there is nothing too difficult for You.  What is impossible with man is effortless with You.  You who created the heavens and the earth by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm, be pleased to heed the tiny voice of Your child, I plea.  
In Your absolute awareness of all things, before Whom all things are open and laid bare, with nothing hidden from Your eyes, You have known these days from all eternity.  You know perfectly the ways apostates have insidiously infiltrated fellowships of believers all over the planet.  
In Your permissive will You have seen fit to allow the false teachers and deceivers of the brethren to wreak havoc through the centuries, tares among the wheat, tools of the enemy who leads to damnation and destruction apostates and those they influence.  
In these moments, Father, I beseech You to silence them in all areas of their apostasy, for the sake of the families who are being upset by their heresies.  With so many communication tools at their disposal, only You can silence them.  Be pleased to do so, in a manner that brings the greatest glory to Yourself.
Too, I would ask You to move on the hearts of all who read this prayer to boldly approach Your throne of grace, as well.  So many have imbibed the spirit of the times and culture, ignoring the spiritual warfare going on incessantly, all about us.  Heighten our awareness of the heart You have for the truth, for preserving and protecting the purity of Your truth.  
I would lastly plea for ongoing perseverance in declaring to a sleepy, gullible, indifferent church the truth that You have revealed concerning earnest contending for the faith You once-for-all delivered to Your saints.  
Grant knowledge of sound doctrine, discernment between truth and error, and a willingness to confront error with Truth.
In the Lord Jesus' Name,

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Truth to the Unsaved

Life is brief.

"As for man, his days are like grass;  As a flower of the field, so he flourishes.  When the wind has passed over it, it is no more,  And its place acknowledges it no longer."  Ps. 103:15, 16

"As for the days of our life, they contain seventy years,  Or if due to strength, eighty years;  Yet their pride is but labor and sorrow;  For soon it is gone and we fly away."  Ps. 90:10

Death is certain.

"...it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment."   Hebrews 9:27

"Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, so death spread to all men, because all sinned,"
Romans 5:12

Hell is real.

"And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame."
Luke 16:24

"Then He will also say to those on His left, 'Depart from Me, accursed ones, into the eternal fire which has been prepared for the devil and his angels;"   Matthew 25:41

Eternity is forever.

"...the Lord Jesus will be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels in flaming fire, dealing out retribution to those who do not know God and to those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus.  These will pay the penalty of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of His power." 
II Thessalonians 1:7b-9

"And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also;  and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever."   Revelation 20:10

Monday, July 14, 2014

Standing, Sin, & Satan

There is condemnation judicial, and there is condemnation experiential.  One is based on God's perspective, the other on ours.  The former is predicated upon how He sees our sin, and the latter on our view of it.  As with all truths of Scripture, the more simply and obediently we grasp and apply what God says is so, the greater He is glorified and we will be Christ-like.

Judicial Condemnation

"There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus."  Romans 8:1

In His essence God will not abide sin.  In His presence, in heaven, there is no sin.  His infinite holiness and purity preclude it (Habakkuk 1:13a; Leviticus 11:44; I Peter 1:16).  Since every person born into this world is a sinner by nature and choice, and the wages of sin is separation from God (Romans 6:23), God's judgment seems inescapable.

Yet, in loving condescension, God sent His Son to endure His holy wrath against sin upon the cross, taking the place of sinners God had set His heart upon in eternity past.  God's gavel of judgment came down in a death sentence upon the Lord Jesus rather than us, and we not only are viewed as free but righteous (II Corinthians 5:21).
At the moment of salvation, the perfect righteousness of the Lord Jesus is imputed to the account of the believer.  For time and eternity, his position is "in Christ," permanently placed there by the living God.  The sentence can never be altered, because the unchanging righteous Judge of all the earth has decreed it so.  We can never be condemned because the Lord Jesus' atoning sacrifice was utterly sufficient and accepted as complete by His Father.

Experiential Condemnation

The condemnation we experience as believers comes primarily from Satan and his agents, through the world system and our flesh.  Its manifestation is guilt, and the result is broken fellowship with the Father, as well as a shamed conscience. 
When we've sinned, the enemy's tactic is to increase guilt and condemnation through accusation.  He wants us to focus on the transgression, as well as our weakness, in order to keep our focus off the Lord Jesus.  He doesn't care what he uses, as long as our attention is taken from Him.  
The apostle John wrote, "We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things.  Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God," (I John 3:19-21).  
Claiming Romans 8:1 as our position, we are to fix our eyes on the Lord Jesus (Hebrews 12:2), and thank Him for the full payment of our sin-debt on the cross.  Agreeing with the Master that we have sinned (confession), we plea repentance and restoration, knowing this is His desire, as well.  The Holy Spirit longs for us to look upward, not downward... outward rather than inward... focused upon Him instead of ourselves.  

May we grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, increasing in spiritual discernment, that we may take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ.

Sunday, July 13, 2014


Thank You for the truth, personified in the Lord Jesus, and revealed so clearly in the Scriptures.  Knowing it is such a privilege to have great ease of access to Your truth, while there are so many believers who would give anything for a scrap of Scripture, I would plea in these moments for those who are translating Your infallible Word into languages I will never know, in places I will never see.  
I praise You for placing such a commitment in their hearts... be pleased to deepen their heart-determination, especially in times of discouragement, opposition, and fatigue.  Speak encouragement to their spirit when the spiritual warfare is intense, that it may be evident to unbelievers that You alone are the living God.  May their speech always be with grace, seasoned as it were with salt, particularly when it would be so much easier to complain, grumble, or resort to cynicism.  
May Your watch-care extend to their families, as they are often the avenues the enemy effectively uses to attack Your servants.  Protect and shield them, as well, from the fiery missiles of the evil one, as he seeks whom he may devour... maintaining their priority of prayer... cultivating a servant's heart which rejoices most when least observed.  Bring Your blessed Word to their remembrance at crucial times when tempted to be critical, judgmental or pitied.  
Grant perseverance, Father, when they're tempted to slack off.... empowering grace, when the flesh, the world, and the devil oppose their efforts most strongly.... Spirit-strengthened resolve, when days are long and nights provide little rest.  May they return to the cross continually, seeing the price paid for their salvation, putting their efforts in proper perspective.  Lavish them with love, Father, as only You can... that others may see it, recognize Your divine work, and be drawn to the Savior.
Praise to Your omnipotent Name, that nothing is too difficult for You!
In Your Son's Name, I pray,

Friday, June 27, 2014

Trusting, Ever Trusting

Throughout Scripture, the living God bids us trust Him.  Proverbs 3:5 plainly exhorts, "Trust in the LORD with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding."  Implied in the term is "special reliance on presumed integrity."

Why is trusting the Creator an ongoing challenge for us?  Two of His attributes apply:

INVISIBLE  "...the only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords; who alone possesses immortality and dwells in unapproachable light;  whom no man has seen or can see.  To Him be honor and eternal dominion!  Amen.  (I Timothy 6:15c, 16).
I John 4:12a  "No one has beheld God at any time."
John 1:18  "No man has seen God at any time;  the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him."

Although creation sufficiently manifests His "invisible attributes..." to the point that man is without excuse (Romans 1:20), in His essence He cannot be seen.  And were we not accountable to Him (Romans 14:12; Hebrews 4:13) that would be of little or no concern (as it obviously is for many of the world's unbelievers).  Yet for one who has been called by Him, changed by Him, and for whom He has become the loving focus of life, invisibility presents a challenge.
In order to walk by faith (trust) and not by sight, we must know the living God intimately (Psalm 9:10).  This requires determination, time, and most of all, love.  His Holy Spirit's love poured out into a pure heart is promised the blessed ability to "see God," (Matthew 5:8). Such yearning begets deeper yearning, as He reveals Himself to our eager heart (Psalm 5:3). Over time, as our senses are trained to better discern His ways, as our hearts and minds are saturated with Scripture, as we find Him infallibly faithful, we experience the truth of which Peter wrote, "and though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy inexpressible and full of glory," (I Peter 1:8).

INSCRUTABLE   " 'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Neither are your ways My ways,' declares the LORD.  'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, So are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts,' " (Isaiah 55:8,9).

Romans 11:33  "Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!"

Psalm 147:5  "Great is our Lord, and abundant in strength;  His understanding is infinite."

Isaiah 40:28  "Do you not know?  Have you not heard?  The everlasting God, the LORD, the creator of the ends of the earth Does not become weary or tired.  His understanding is inscrutable."

We are finite, He is from everlasting to everlasting.  We are born unable to not sin, with a sin nature that precludes being able to think about God aright.  As Proverbs 14:12 puts it, "There is a way which seems right to a man, But its end is the way of death."  Thus, it is impossible for the natural man to "figure out" God's ways and doings.
With the change that God accomplishes through salvation in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, the regenerated one is graced with the presence of the Holy Spirit, the mind of Christ (I Corinthians 2:16), and the ability to take every thought captive to the obedience of Christ (II Corinthians 10:5).  
One of the first desires upon conversion is to know God's will in any given situation.  The changed heart wants to please the Savior above all else, and submit to His leading.  Bible studies, workshops, conferences, and conventions are attended to learn His will.  Why?  He is Spirit, and rather than understand plainly His movements, we often only discern clues and hints of His directing.  
The two main means He has ordained in the revealing of His will and ways are prayer and the Bible.  Much of our lack of trust (and misplaced trust) stems from neglecting the one and ignoring (or misinterpreting) the other.  Contrary to some teaching, prayer is actually work. Whether we grasp it or not, the enemy knows full well that the greatest threat to his kingdom is the ongoing, fervent, faith-filled praying of God's people.  
The Word reveals His personality, promises, purposes, plans and perspective.   The one whose mind and spirit are satiated with sound doctrine of the Scriptures, who is in continual submission and obedience to its authority, will go far in learning to discern God's determinations, and will have his willingness to trust God deepened immeasurably.

Friday, June 13, 2014


"I am the Light of the world." (John 8:12a)  "You are the light of the world, a city set on a hill cannot be hidden."  (Matthew 5:14)

* CONSTANCY  As it does not change, does not move, is immutably stationary, the lighthouse is dependable.  Were its light to move about, emanating from different locations, its value for avoiding danger would be nullified.  Those approaching its harbor during storm and gale must know that the lighthouse has not changed locations.
As the Light of the world, the Lord Jesus is supremely constant.  The writer of Hebrews states that He is "the same yesterday, today, and forever," (13:8).  His divine nature (John 10:30; Colossians 2:9) cannot change (Malachi 3:6a), necessitating that His word is true, and that it cannot change, either.  There is great comfort here for the Christian!  With change and deterioration a continual and constant course of our daily living, the truth that our living Lord NEVER changes affords great confidence in His Word's declarations, especially His promises.
By His "precious and magnificent promises" we who've been born from above are "partakers of the divine nature" (II Peter 1:4), assured that "as many as may be the promises of God, in Him they are yes; wherefore also by Him is our Amen to the glory of God through us," (II Corinthians 1:20).  If our Lord were mutable, if He could be altered, then every promise in His Word would lose its dependability, its trustworthiness.   Yet, He IS from everlasting to everlasting, and not one word of all His truth will ever fail!

*  PENETRATING LIGHT  From the time man first ventured out onto the open sea, even to the present, there has been a need for safe navigation back to shore. Storms of every intensity increase this imperative, and especially in darkness.  Without a light to mark the safe harbor, countless lives have been broken and lost on treacherous reefs and rocks.  The simple casting of a strong beam of light across the dark water has served to save numberless mariners from shipwreck at the shore.
The apostle John tells us that the Lord Jesus' life was "the light of men," and that "the light shines in the darkness..." (1:4,5).  From the moment Adam and Eve sinned in the garden of Eden, mankind has been in spiritual darkness.  David's testimony is universal: "Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, And in sin did my mother conceive me," (Psalm 51:5).  Sin results in spiritual darkness of the heart (Romans 1:21), as well as spiritual death (Ephesians 2:1). As in His absolute holiness the living God cannot abide sin (Habakkuk 1:13a), judgment against mankind's sin is inevitable: "And this is the judgment, that the light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the light; for their deeds were evil," (John 3:19).  Only as the Lord Jesus reveals Himself as the Light of the world, changing man's sinful nature, is it possible to avoid the shipwreck of judgment.  He said, "Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears My word, and believes Him who sent Me, has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life," (John 5:24).  
Those whom He has changed He calls "the light of the world," (Matthew 5:14), and instructs us to "let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven," (v. 16).  As we are led by the Spirit of God (Romans 8:14) we are to live lives of holiness, speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15), and exhibit His winsome joy that causes others to want an explanation.

*  CONSISTENT CARE    Since lives are at stake, the keeping of the lighthouse is a 24-hours-a-day, 365-days-a-year responsibility.  A non-exhaustive list of the keeper's duties would include:
Light the lamp at sunset and put it out at sunrise.
Fill the lamp with kerosene before every evening. 
Trim the wicks of the lamp so they don’t smoke when lit. 
Clean and polish the Fresnel lens every morning. 
Clean the windows of the lantern room every day.
Shine all the brass in the lighthouse.
Sweep the floors and stairs of the lighthouse every day.
Clean tower windows and sills as needed.
Clean, paint, and repair all buildings on the light station when needed.
Maintain all mechanical equipment at the light station.
Maintain lighthouse log book and record all daily light station activities.
Take weather readings every day and record in log book. 
Weed the walkways and maintain the light station grounds.
Take soundings of river and inlet channels. Move channel markers as needed. 
Lend assistance to ships and sailors in distress as needed. 
Keep an accurate inventory of all light station equipment and fuel. 
Maintain light station launch (boat) and keep in good working order.
Keep boathouse clean, organized, and in good repair at all times. 
Provide visitors with tour of light station as needed. 
Clean keeper dwelling chimneys as needed to prevent fire. 
Do not leave light station at any time without permission.
Clean house on a regular basis and make repairs as needed. 
Keep privy (outhouse/bathroom) clean. Apply lime as needed. 
Stack wood properly in woodsheds. 
Maintain a clean uniform at all times. 
Plant and tend personal garden as needed.*
*Ponce Inlet Light Station (est. 1887) 

With such vigilance involved in attending to a lighthouse, how much more time and attention should we who are followers of the Light of the world give to Him Who is life itself.  Moment by moment we are to be "fixing our eyes upon Jesus, the Author and Finisher of our faith," (Hebrews 12:2).  Seeing circumstances and people through cleansed lenses (by prayer, confession and repentance), we are to be full of light (Matthew 6:22), daily.  In so doing, we will maintain our gaze upon God, while glancing upon situations.  
May our gracious Lord Jesus make these truths a consistent reality, so that we actually live what we believe.


Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Ephesians 4:14, 15

"As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;
but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, Who is the Head, even Christ."

One of the greatest grievances to God (and, by extension, to those He calls as pastor/teachers) is believers who should be mature but still do not have their senses trained to discern spiritual danger.  Paul knew the intense need for Christians (1) to move beyond gullible immaturity, becoming spiritual adults who are consistently stable; (2) to be alert to the schemes of the enemy; and (3) whose speech is replete with the truth, graciously given.

(1)  Employing nautical imagery, Paul likens the immature Christian to a child adrift upon a storm-tossed sea.  It is an ocean of doctrines, vast and varied, driven by the enemy's spirits for the destruction of the child's faith and testimony.  To be anchored against such forces of drift, to become spiritually grounded in sound doctrine, requires ongoing diligence in study of the Scriptures for the purpose of increasing knowledge of the Lord Jesus (John 5:39).  The greater the saturation of the truth, the greater the sensitivity to the false.  

(2)  Christendom is rife with false teaching and teachers.  As in Paul's day, so today "works righteousness" in a myriad of forms permeates religious life.  The most devastating teaching is not coming from the more obvious doctrine of cults and the like, but from the seemingly-orthodox ministries.  Appealing to Scripture (giving the impression of soundness) interpreted to support their "grace plus" perspective, the false teachers render the cross of Christ needless, point their followers to themselves for authority, and do immeasurable damage to the body of Christ, as they give the false impression that works are necessary for salvation.  

(3)  For good or ill, everyone's mouth speaks from that which fills his heart (Luke 6:45).  That upon which we think, meditate, ponder and dwell will be spoken.  To mature, we must think the truth, speak the truth, and live the truth.  No one produces godly fruit from error. The primary tool God has provided for this life-long quest is His Word (John 17:17), which is to be spoken in the power of the Holy Spirit, for the exposure and silencing of false teachers (Hebrews 4:12; Titus 1:11).  In the delegated authority of our Head (Matthew 28:18), we are to contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints (Jude 3), speaking Scriptural truth with the sincere desire for our hearers' salvation.  

May our God grant grace to obey His Word, sensitive to His blessed Holy Spirit, as we have opportunity to speak His truth in love.  

Monday, May 26, 2014

Jude 3,4

"Beloved, while I was making every effort to write to you about our common salvation, I felt the necessity to write you appealing that you contend earnestly for the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints.  For certain persons have crept in unnoticed, those who were long beforehand marked out for this condemnation, ungodly persons who turn the grace of our God into licentiousness and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ."

With apostasy as its one theme throughout, the book of Jude is unique in the New Testament.  Other writers make reference to it, of course, but only Jude devotes his entire letter to this important issue.  Interestingly, his initial intention was to focus upon the salvation which is common to all the elect.  Yet, the Holy Spirit impresses upon him the urgent need to, instead, exhort his readers to beware of apostates who have infiltrated their fellowships.
In so doing, Jude calls upon them to (a) know the faith, (b) exercise discernment, and (c) earnestly confront error.

(a)  People act on what they believe... making sound doctrine of pivotal importance for godly living and acceptable worship of the living God.  We either embrace and act upon revelation (God's Word) or speculation (our own ideas of what is right, wrong, and what God is like).
Jude's exhortation centers upon "the faith which was once for all delivered to the saints."  The faith for which we are to contend earnestly is the body of truth known as the Scriptures.  The sixty-six books are the completed and final revelation of God to His people, and the only Book containing God's promise of His infallible inspiration (II Timothy 3:16).  The more diligently God's people know His Word, the better able they will be to earnestly contend for the truth to an unbelieving world.  

(b)  One of the greatest needs of the church today is discernment.  As evidenced by the multitude of cults, apostate denominations, and sects, it is obvious that the enemy has been adroitly and insidiously planting tares among the wheat for centuries.  At the same time he has cleverly used the infiltration of false brethren and teachers into the visible church, who have cast doubt upon the inspiration and literal interpretation of the Scriptures.  Forsaking the divine authority of the Bible has contributed immeasurably to the decline in discernment, as well as spiritual-mindedness of the people of God.  In our "information age," with its placing of a premium upon education and intellect, the church has by-and-large been intimidated into worldliness and conformity to the assumptions of a godless culture.  An authoritative voice which evaluates society by God's Word has been largely lost, silenced into compromise and cowardice.  Without determined commitment to the Bible as the Word of the living God, as well as unwillingness to submit to the Holy Spirit's operations, many of God's people move through their days blissfully ignorant of the continuous spiritual warfare raging on every hand.  

(c)  Consequently, there is relatively little interest nor intention to confront doctrinal error by believers today.  "Live and let live" has become the mantra of this culture, and the church has absorbed the perspective into its very pores.  "Who are we to judge?", and "Judge not, lest ye be judged," have been so widely communicated from world to church that we seldom search the Scriptures in context to discover the fallacy of such sentiments.  Jude would call us to take God's truth seriously, both personally and corporately, and to love the lost enough to confront them with it.  Truth is not popular today (and actually never has been), but we are called and commanded to speak it in love, consistently, courageously, with full conviction of the Holy Spirit.  May He grant grace to increase our willingness and obedience!

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Isaiah 30:18

"Therefore the LORD longs to be gracious to you, And therefore He waits on high to have compassion on you.  For the LORD is a God of justice; How blessed are all those who long for Him."

Three truths relating to our Lord's longing present themselves here:

I.  He is characterized as wanting and waiting to be graciously compassionate toward His own.

II. It is right that He would long for His children so deeply.

III. Blessing is promised to those of His children who have His same yearning.

I.  What a wonderfully-needed word for a weary soul!  How good of our loving Lord to reveal His heart's yearning for His own.  So similar is this to David's statements in Psalm 103: "The LORD is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness.  Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the LORD has compassion on those who fear Him.  For He Himself knows our frame;  He is mindful that we are but dust," (vv. 8, 13, 14).
Lessons which come to mind:
     a.  I cannot disappoint my Father, for He knows me completely, knows that I am but dust.  Nothing I do can ever catch Him by surprise, nor find Him making false assumptions about me.  He has no unrealistic expectations which cannot be met.
     b.  He is never indifferent to me.  The world about me often mocks the thought that God (if there IS one) would care one way or the other about this world, much less individual needs of the billions here.  Yet the living God is as great in His minuteness as He is in His magnitude, and, as Paul reminded the Roman believers: "He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?" (8:32)
     c.  My Father's eagerness to shower me with grace and compassion  encourages me to pray!  "Oh, Father!  Heighten my sensitivity to the many ways You show grace and compassion to Your undeserving child.  Call me and cause me to praise You, as You are worthy!"

II.  The uprightness of the LORD proclaimed by Isaiah echoes Moses's lyrics as recorded in Deuteronomy 32:  "For I proclaim the name of the LORD;  Ascribe greatness to our God!  The Rock!  His work is perfect, For all His ways are just;  A God of faithfulness and without injustice,  Righteous and upright is He," (vv. 3, 4).  
One of Satan's most potent and pervasive tactics to deceive mankind is to question God's character.  At the very outset of interacting with humanity, he asked Eve, "Has God said...?"  From then to now his character of skepticism has not changed, and his spirit of rebellion is at the heart of all doubting God's uprightness, justice, and goodness.  We lapse into this same attitude when we complain, contrary to God's command through Paul:  "Do all things without grumbling or disputing," (Philippians 2:14).  "Disputing" refers to questioning God, negatively... to criticize Him, either verbally or in our hearts.  Such a stance steals our joy, grieves and quenches the blessed Holy Spirit, and breaks our fellowship with the Father.  The antidote for such a poison?  Unconditional thanksgiving (Ephesians 5:20).

III.  "How blessed are all those who long for Him."  This is both an observation and a promise.  The most satisfied, fulfilled, and completed people on earth are those who long for the living God.  This longing is at the very heart of why we were created.  As the Westminster Shorter Catechism asks, "What is the chief end of man?"  Answer:  "Man's chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him for ever."  Enjoying God, responding in eagerness to His eagerness, is possible only through the Lord Jesus Christ.
Being dead in trespasses and sins, (Ephesians 2:1), the natural man is without saving faith, incapable of pleasing God (Hebrews 11:6), considering the things of the Spirit foolishness (I Corinthians 2:14).  Thus, it is understandable that such a one would avoid God's presence as much as possible.  
What does NOT make sense is the child of God, bought by the blood of the sinless Son of God, who experiences little eagerness to fellowship with his/her Father.  The only explanation is sin.  Sin it was, that caused Adam and Eve to try to cover themselves and hide from God's presence... and it has the same effect today.  Oh that we would continually refuse and forsake all that would hinder the fellowship our Father desires to enjoy with us!  

Monday, April 14, 2014

Holding to a Wednesday Crucifixion

In his book, "Wednesday Crucifixion", George Miller clearly presents this position and the biblical rationale for it.  In summary:

"Mark gives us a clear and uncomplicated series of entrances of the Lord Jesus into the city of Jerusalem.

His first entrance had to be on a SATURDAY, or He would have broken the Sabbath by walking from Jericho to Jerusalem the previous day.  "And they brought the colt to Jesus and put their garments on it;  and He sat upon it.  And many spread their garments in the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields.  And those who went before, and those who followed after, were crying out, 'HOSANNA!  BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David;  HOSANNA in the highest.'  And He entered Jerusalem and came into the temple; and after looking all around, He departed for Bethany with the twelve, since it was already late," (Mark 11:7-11).  

His 2nd entrance (SUNDAY) was as Priest.  "And they came to Jerusalem.  And He entered the temple and began to cast out those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who were selling doves; and He would not permit anyone to carry goods through the temple," (Mark 11:15, 16).

His 3rd entrance (MONDAY), [from Bethany, again] was as Prophet.  "And they came again to Jerusalem.  And as He was walking in the temple, the chief priests, and scribes, and elders came to Him, and began saying to Him, 'By what authority are You doing these things, or who gave You this authority to do these things?'  And Jesus said to them, 'I will ask you one question, and you answer Me, and then I will tell you by what authority I do these things.  'Was the baptism of John from heaven, or from men? Answer Me.'  And they began reasoning with one another, saying, 'If we say, 'From heaven,' He will say, 'Then why did you not believe him?'  But shall we say, 'From men?' -- they were afraid of the multitude, for all considered John to have been a prophet indeed.  And answering Jesus, they said, 'We do not know.'  And Jesus said to them, 'Neither will I tell you by what authority I do these things,' " (Mark 11: 27-33).

TUESDAY was the Preparation Day, and after the trials He was executed on the following day:  WEDNESDAY.

NOTE:  In fulfillment of Exodus 12:3, 5, 6, the Lord Jesus (as the sacrificed Passover Lamb [I Corinthians 5:7], was inspected for FOUR DAYS, from the 10th day of the month (a Sabbath day), to the 14th day of the same month.  

Three days and three nights (like Jonah [Matthew 12:40]) He was in the tomb.  He then arose from the dead on the first day of the week (our Saturday night), the Jewish first day of the week."