Sunday, May 30, 2010

So Very Rich (2 Cor 8:9)

So rich, so very rich, was Christ
Through past eternity!
As God the Son, with God enthroned,
The Heir of all was He.
So poor, so very poor, did He
As Son of man become!
From manger birth to shameful death
Rejected by His own.
For us, ah yes, it was for us
He bore such poverty.
That we by His redeeming grace
Might be as rich as He!

- C.R.S.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The resurrection

What did our Lord's resurrection from the dead accomplish?

First of all, there were immediate results. It silenced those who had ridiculed His claims, and struck terror into their hearts. It fulfilled the prophecies which predicted Christ's death. It encouraged His followers, making cowards bold, turning their fear into faith, their sorrow into joy and their despair into victory.

There were also long range results. Our Lord's resurrection is a warning to unbelievers:

…because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead (Acts 17:31).

For not even the Father judges anyone, but He has given all judgment to the Son (Jn 5:22).

And He ordered us to preach to the people, and solemnly to testify that this is the One who has been appointed by God as Judge of the living and the dead (Acts 10:42).

But to believers, Christ's resurrection from the dead assures us that our debt of sin has been fully paid (Rom 4:25; 5:1), gives us a living Savior to help us in our daily walk (Heb 7:25; Titus 2:11-12) and promises us our own resurrection someday:

For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who have fallen asleep in Jesus (I Thes 4:14).

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead (I Pet. 1:3).

If you haven't yet placed your faith in our risen Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, and what He accomplished for us on the cross, I urge you to do so now. Our lives on this earth are but fleeting moments, and none of us know how much time we have left. When your time here is over, will you be able to say you are among the believers?

For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life (Jn 3:16).

Sunday, May 16, 2010

A Special Hymn

A preacher was completing a temperance sermon; with great expression he said, "If I had all the beer in the world, I'd take it and throw it into the river."

With even greater emphasis he said, "And if I had all the wine in the world, I'd take it and throw it into the river."

And finally, he said, "And if I had all the whiskey in the world, I'd take it and throw it into the river."

He then sat down.

After which, the song leader stood very cautiously and announced with a smile, "For our closing song, let us sing Hymn # 365: Shall We Gather at the River.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Progressive Revelation

A few Sundays ago my pastor made an excellent point — John 6:53-56 sounds like it’s about the Lord’s Supper but it’s not. However, the Lord’s Supper is about John 6:53-56.

So Jesus said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you have no life in yourselves. "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. "For My flesh is true food, and My blood is true drink. "He who eats My flesh and drinks My blood abides in Me, and I in him (Jn 6:53-56).

You see, when comparing the events of the four gospels, the Lord’s Supper doesn’t take place until around John 13. This is important because whereas John 6:53-56 refers to the sacrificial death of Christ, the Lord’s Supper is to be a reminder to us of that event. But if we aren't careful, we might interpret John 6:53-56 as being the Lord’s Supper and conclude that partaking of the communion table saves us.

My pastor’s point got me to thinking the rest of the week about how easy it is to misinterpret Scripture. If we pull a verse or passage out of the middle of the Bible and interpret it without considering the context or the progression of revelation, we can easily put down the first building blocks of a false doctrine. And by using those false conclusions to help us interpret other portions of Scripture, we can build ourselves a faulty theology in no time at all.

Unfortunately, this happens all too often. One reason it does is many of us seem to believe progressive revelation includes the possibility that subsequent revelation may change the meaning of something previously revealed. In other words, instead of interpreting Scripture progressively — as it was meant to be understood — we read back a later revelation into something previously revealed and completely change its meaning. I have often witnessed this very thing. Someone will state that because it says such and such in Romans, James doesn’t actually mean what it says. Or, because Ephesians says such and such, Matthew such and such really means something different than what is written. You have to give us kudos, though, because it’s rather difficult to reconcile two opposing concepts. However, with a bit of twisting here and a little back-reading there, we usually manage quite well to come up with something or other.

Clear as mud, right? Okay, well let’s look at an example from Ephesians and Matthew:

And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtor (Matt 6:12).
For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you (Matt 6:14).

Be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you (Eph 4:32).

Did you notice that Eph 4:32 is completely flipped around from what Matt 6:12 and 14 say? Matthew 6:12 and 14 were spoken by our Lord before His death and resurrection, when people were still under the Law. Ephesians 4:32, however, was spoken by Paul after Christ’s death and resurrection, when we were no longer under the Law. Therefore, in Matthew forgiveness was dependent on faith plus what we did (works), whereas in Ephesians forgiveness has already been granted apart from the Law (no works) because of what Christ has done for us. And the fact of the matter is, salvation by grace through faith alone had not yet been manifested in Matthew.

What do we usually do with these verses, though? We either read back Eph 4:32 into Matt 6:12, 14 and say Matt 6:12 and 14 really mean what Eph 4:32 is saying. Or, we state that in view of Eph 4:32, (and Rom 3:28; Gal 2:16) the forgiveness spoken of in Matt 6:12, 14 is only for the purposes of believers restoring fellowship with God (most likely reading back 1 John 1:3-9 into Matthew as well); all in an attempt to accommodate the meanings of both Matthew and Ephesians.

But later revelation on a subject does not make an earlier revelation mean something different. It may add to it or even supersede it, but it never changes its original meaning. Progressive revelation is rather like a building — and certainly the superstructure never replaces the foundation.

Monday, May 10, 2010

It Is Well With My Soul

When peace like a river attendeth my way
When sorrows like sea billows roll

Whatever my lot
Thou hast taught me to say

It is well, It is well with my soul.

It is well, with my soul

It is well, It is well with my soul.

My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought

My sin, not in part, but the whole

Has been nailed to the cross

So I bear it no more

Praise The Lord, praise The Lord, oh my soul.

And Lord, haste the day when my faith shall be sight

The clouds be rolled back as a scroll

The trump shall resound and
The Lord shall descend

Even so, it is well with my soul.

By Selah