Category Archives: The Gospel

These posts preach the elements of the Gospel and challenge the brethren to match their perceptions about the gospel to the Word of God.

The Cross & Suffering

God does not diminish the reality of human suffering; He gives no easy answers. God deals with our suffering from the depths of His heart. Human suffering is central to the gospel because suffering is the result of sin, and the gospel is Christ’s good news of atonement and redemption and deliverance from sin! Human suffering both calls the unbelieving world to God and disciplines God’s beloved  children so that they can partake of His holiness. Therefore the Church must understand human suffering and exercise Christ’s supernatural love to this suffering world!

Click this link for our study on the-cross-suffering.

Sermon Series: Love and Holiness

1 Corinthians 13:1-4

If I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, and have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, and have not love, I am nothing. If I give all my goods to feed the poor, and if I give my body to be burned, and have not love, it profits me nothing.

If I do not have love, I am nothing.

This lesson series on Love and Holiness is the most critical series I have ever preached. It is because love has fallen from the center of the Church’s preaching that Satan has claimed the word and we have fallen into disunity, chaos, and sin.

View and Download my PDF copy here:

love-holiness

“Speak Smooth Words”

Isaiah 30:9-10 “This is a rebellious people, lying children, children who refuse to listen to the law of the LORD; they say to the seers, ‘you must not see visions’, and to the prophets, ‘you must not prophesy to us right things; speak pleasant things, prophesy illusions.'”

The deceptive and rebellious heart demands that God’s servants speak “smooth words” (KJV); I lament that in our day we see such a heart as this!

2 Timothy 4:2-4 “Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season, reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with all patience and teaching. For the time will come when people will not endure sound doctrine, but they will gather to themselves teachers in accordance with their own desires, having itching ears, and they will turn their ears away from the truth and turn to myths.”

Preaching righteousness incurs wrath from those who cannot tolerate reproof, rebukes, and exhortations; the call to preach God’s word is not a call to popularity, nor is it a call to brutality, it is a call to preach the truth with resolute steadfastness of heart.

Never loose sight of this one compelling reason that makes the cost of preaching righteousness worth it:

John 8:32 “You shall know the truth, and the truth shall set you free.”

Never forget that the truth has power to set sin’s captives free through Jesus Christ!

In an age where darkness rules through deceit and rebellion, the Church must not lose the voice of truth!

Declare to Jacob his Transgression

Micah 3:8 “I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the LORD, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin.”

The last thing I want to do is inspire someone who is not called of God to start rebuking the Church. God calls the humble, not the prideful, and empowers them by His grace and the Holy Spirit to preach His living word to the stubborn, obstinate, and self-righteous. But rather, I want to expose a deception that claims God does not send His servants to expose transgression.

Ezekiel 3:18-19 “When I say to the wicked, ‘You shall surely die’, and you do not warn him, nor speak to warn the wicked from his wicked way that he may live, the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity, but his blood I will require at your hand. Yet if you warn the wicked and he does not turn from his wickedness or from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity, but you have delivered your soul.'”

God does raise up servants, whom He charges with His word to preach against the wicked. He gives them an anointing and a responsibility to carry the message that He gives them. These preachers are not to speak where God has not spoken, nor are they to be silent when God has spoken!

I believe cowardice on the one hand, and presumption on the other, are the primary reasons the Western Church is in such decline – cowardice on the part of those who were entrusted with God’s message to rebuke and warn but didn’t, and presumption on the part of those who were not call to preach but did!

Isaiah 66:2 “But to this one I will look, To him who is humble and contrite of spirit, and who trembles at My word.”

God does not look upon the proud, the contentious, the arrogant and boastful; He will not call them to be His preachers. God looks upon the humble and contrite of spirit, and upon the one who trembles at His word! He does not call those who are ready to “call fire down from heaven” (Luke 9:55) to preach for Him without first reforming them, rather, He calls those who say “we are unworthy slaves; we have done only that which we ought to have done” (Luke 17:10); neither does God call those who use His word for their own purposes, but He calls those who quake within at the sound of His Word!

The Church is not purifying herself through the blood of Christ and the washing of the water of the Word like she is called to; so many continue practicing sin and are not mournful for it, but instead, many even boast in this! The Church must open her ears and begin listening to the truth being preached by God’s true servants.

Ephesians 4:17-18 “From now on you must not walk as the Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their minds, having their understanding darkened, excluded from the life of God through the ignorance that is within them due to the hardness of their hearts.”

In closing I wish to encourage those who are called by God to preach His word: if you preach God’s word, you will be surrounded by enemies and those closest to you will turn on you, but do not fear!  For “the LORD is your light and your salvation; whom shall you fear?  The LORD is the strength of your life; of whom should you be afraid?” (Psalm 27:1)  You will not be without trials and tribulation, but Christ is your portion and the hope of your soul; delight yourself in Him and you will not be disappointed!

The New Man: The Miracle of Regeneration

I have recently seen the necessity to think and speak rightly about the miracle of regeneration; for the slightest derivation in our thinking and speaking about this subject can lead to traumatizing spiritual maladies in our personal relationship with Christ.

Because of this I felt compelled to begin a series in our church on the topic of being “born again”.

I can’t ignore the reality that so many Christians today are perilously besieged by Satan’s lies on this subject; many in the Church today believe that it is normal for divorce rates, fornication, adultery, racism, and abortion to be as prevalent within the Church as it is in the world- nothing could be farther from the truth! But Satan’s attack is not one dimensional. Unfortunately, many Christians, seeing this deception for what it is, have been besieged by another one of Satan’s lies about regeneration; namely, that it is impossible to sin once you become born again.

What I have recognized during this series is just how much discipline is required to think and speak rightly on this subject. It is remarkable just how easily influenced our belief’s on this subject are by the various trends and currents of today’s events: but we must not be so easily tossed to and fro by every wind and wave of doubt. We must believe what God has promised with all our heart and mind!

THE MIRACLE OF REGENERATION

There’s a trend today to divorce the moral teachings of Jesus from our desperate need for atonement. As Oswald Chambers put it, “people talk pleasant, patronizing things about Jesus’ teachings while they ignore His cross. But the teaching of Jesus apart from His atonement simply adds an ideal that leads to our despair. What is the good of telling me that only “the pure in heart shall see God” when I am impure? Or of telling me to love my enemies when I hate them? I may keep these thoughts down, but the spirit is still there. Does jesus Christ make it easier? He makes it a hundredfold more difficult! The purity God demands is impossible unless we can be remade from within, and that is what Jesus Christ undertakes to do through the Atonement.” (Biblical Ethics/ The Moral Foundations/ The Philosophy of Sin: Principles for Christian Living, chapter 1: Moral Imperatives 1).

We must understand something about the moral imperative of God’s law that has been placed on the heart of all mankind: God’s moral requirement of humanity does not make itself weak to those who are weak, nor does it palliative our shortcomings; it does not take into account our heredity, infirmities, or cultural disadvantages. God’s moral requirement upon humanity requires that we be absolutely moral because God created us as moral beings. This is what separates us from animals; we feel moral indignation over transgressions and injustices that they simply cannot entertain in their animal senses.

But, through sin, death has separated us from our Creator and thus fractured in us what it means to be fully human. And as soon as we realize our human brokenness and inability to attain to God’s standard, we begin to equivocate: “of course God won’t demand it; of course God will make allowances”. But, as Oswald Chambers wrote, “God’s laws are not watered down to suit anyone; if God did that He would cease to be God. The moral law never alters for the noblest or the weakest; it remains abidingly and eternally the same.” (Biblical Ethics/ The Moral Foundations/ The Philosophy of Sin: Principles for Christian Living, chapter 1: Moral Imperatives 1).

ROMANS 2:11-12, 15 (MEV) “for there is no partiality with God. As many as have sinned without the law will also perish without the law, and as many as have sinned under the law will be judged by the law, who show the work of the law written in their hearts, their consciences also bearing witness, while their conflicting thoughts either accuse or excuse them.” (see also Romans 3:23).

There is no human being that does not have some remnant of a moral imperative within them that makes them say “I ought to do this”, or “I should not do this”. This remnant of the human moral fiber exists in every person, even in the most degraded human specimen, and the Bible tells us exactly how it got there- it comes from God (Genesis 1:27).

Oswald Chambers wrote, “the modern tendency is to leave God out and make the moral standard whatever is most useful to people” (Biblical Ethics/ The Moral Foundations/ The Philosophy of Sin: Principles for Christian Living, chapter 1: Moral Imperatives 1). Nothing has changed since his time in the late 1800’s.

The prevailing moral thinking today says that morality has evolved by human beings for the benefit of humanity- the greatest good to the greatest number- but nothing could be farther from the moral reality each of us experiences on a day to day basis. A thing is not “moral” simply because it benefits the greatest number of people, a thing is moral because God is behind it! This is why philosophies of eugenics are so abominable to the human conscience; only a human conscience that has been seared beyond human recognition finds the rational practice of eugenics to be “moral”.

However, our problem is that we find in our brokenness this disposition: “I ought to do this, but I won’t; I shouldn’t do this, but I will.” This universal human problem removes from the realm of possibility all moral philosophies that teach us that we can simply “teach people what is right and they will do it”- they simply will not. The Scripture tells us our problem, that “we are carnal, sold under sin. For what I am doing, I do not understand. What I will to do, that I do not practice; but what I hate, that I do” (Romans 7:14-15). Fittingly this discourse in Scripture ends with the despairing cry “O wretched man that I am! Who will deliver me from this body of death?” (Romans 7:24) But the human spirit revives at the revelation “I thank God- through Jesus Christ our Lord! There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus, who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit” (Romans 7:25- 8:1).

Again, Oswald Chambers nails it; “what we need is a power that will enable us to do what we know is right! We at say, ‘Oh, I won’t count this time’, but every bit of moral wrong is counted by God. The moral law exerts neither coercion nor tolerates compromise. ‘For whoever shall keep the whole law, and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all’ (James 2:10). Once we realize this we see why it was necessary for Jesus Christ to come. The redemption is the reality that alters our inability into ability!” (Biblical Ethics/ The Moral Foundations/ The Philosophy of Sin: Principles for Christian Living, chapter 1: Moral Imperatives 1).

The law of God is “the great equalizer”; everyone comes to it clothed and beautified by their wonderful accomplishments of pride, and everyone flees from it naked, bruised, and bloodied! Some flee from God’s law and quickly redress themselves in their vain accomplishments and pride; others, hearing the gospel of Jesus Christ, humbly kneel before their creator with a broken and contrite heart. The former flee into eternal damnation, the latter kneel into everlasting life and are raised into newness of life and clothed in the white garments of Jesus Christ!

Jesus did not come to make things easier, as some preachers erroneously claim, He came to supernaturally lift us onto another plane! Remember Jesus said, “Unless your righteousness exceeds the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, you will in no way enter the kingdom of heaven!” (Matthew 5:20). Jesus goes behind the law to the heart of our very disposition. As it is written, “Do not think that I came to destroy the Law or the Prophets, for I did not come to destroy but to fulfill” (Matthew 5:17).

As Oswald Chambers wrote, “The teaching of the Sermon on the Mount penetrates our very heart and soul! Jesus didn’t simply say, ‘you shall not do certain things’, rather He demands that we have such a condition of heart that we do not even desire them! Every thought and imagination of heart and mind is to be utterly pure!”

We must make absolutely certain that we do not err in our thinking and be led to believe that “salvation” is at all separate from “atonement”: the purity God demands is impossible unless we can be remade from within, and that is exactly what Jesus Christ undertakes to do through the atonement!

Jesus didn’t come to tell people that they “ought to be holy”- everyone of us has already been born of a moral fiber and intuitively knows that there is an “ought” to which we are accountable- He came to put us in the place where we can be holy. This is the miracle of regeneration, and it is where humanity stumbles the most because it is out of our control. I can intellectually acknowledge various truths and realities; I can perform various sacred sacraments like baptism and the Lord’s Supper; but I cannot lift myself out of the fractured state of separation from God and place myself onto the high plane of justified fellowship with my Creator in true and unending holiness! That is the one thing I simply cannot do on my own.

Read Hebrews 9:14 (MEV), “How much more shall the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God?”

What is fractured in our carnal condition is restored in the regeneration of Christ. Though every human being has a moral conscience, only those who are “born of water and spirit” have clean consciences. The carnal man’s conscience is fractured; it is not complete because he has been separated from God through sin. But the new man’s conscience is restored because he is in Christ Jesus and walking according to the Holy Spirit who now miraculously abides within him.

Therefore it is not a question of first applying Jesus’ teachings to your actual life and then trying to live them out, but rather, it is a question of applying them to your relationship with Him; then as you keep your soul open towards Him, He works in you to bear then fruits of your new life!

When we read “blessed are the poor in spirit”, this is not to say that we then attempt to become paupers towards the world! There are enough mortally poor in spirit souls in the world as it is. Rather, it is to say that we must become utterly poor in spirit before our God; then will we the “kingdom of heaven be ours”. Likewise with out mourning, meekness, hunger for righteousness, mercy, and purity. Such teachings of Christ must first be applied to our relationship with God before they can be realized in our walk upon this earth.

Therefore the best expression for us is found in Psalm 139:23: ‘Search me, O God’; I cannot make my own heart pure, I cannot alter my heredity, I cannot alter the dress of my mind; ‘Search me, O God, and know my heart.’ That is the poverty of spirit Jesus has blessed; if you are in that condition, He says the kingdom of heaven is yours! Why? Because God gives teh almighty gift of salvation from sin to paupers; He gives the Holy Spirit to them who ask as those who are destitute (Luke 11:13).

The Reality of Hell

The concept of an eternal destination reserved for wicked souls that is filled with the wrath of God and torment is too terrible an idea for many people to tolerate. And I would even submit here that the idea of Hell should be too terrible to tolerate; I do not believe God gave us the revelation of Hell to be tolerated.

We need a revelation of hell that will drop us to our knees!

Unfortunately, the academic tendency of today’s theology is to sterilize Biblical concepts with finely articulated and well rounded presentations. I am not going to offer such an apologetic here. Hell is holy to God because Christ satisfied hell on the cross (Romans 5:8-9).

Hell is the most abhorrent, appalling, disturbing, ghastly, gruesome, terrifying and terrifyingly misunderstood thought one can entertain. It’s a place God created for Satan, the murderer and father of all lies, and his demons (Matthew 25:41) where His wrath will burn with everlasting punishment (Matthew 25:46)! I believe that because God created the human soul to be in holy, eternal, fellowship with Him, the thought of everlasting separation from God in burning wrath is fundamentally the most repulsive thought imaginable for our hearts to entertain. The tendency, then, is to veil the reality of hell in layers upon layers of questions, doubts, and theories, thus dulling this terrible thought until it no longer pierces our soul through with anguish. But we must never allow our hearts to become dull towards the reality of Hell. It is holy to God and was central to Christ’s finished work on the cross!

People have not changed so much in 2,000 years that the doctrine of Hell we find so repulsive today was somehow so acceptable to them then. No one relishes the idea that they will be strictly held accountable for every wicked deed they do; and every soul finds the idea of everlasting punishment unbearable! The world was converted to God 2,000 years ago because it witnessed the love and power of God, and in light of God’s great love and power, the reality of hell makes sense. God did not give us the revelation of Hell to win popularity contests and delight our fancies; “hell” only makes sense after someone has witnessed the “power” and “love” of Jesus on the cross and in the resurrection! The reality of Hell can only be rightly understood in light of God’s revelation of sin, love, and justice.

SIN & DEATH

The agony of death is separation from God (Matthew 7:23), and sin is the mechanism by which God’s creation is separated from Him (1 Cor. 15:56). Our Creator-God has told us that we are more than mere flesh, but that we also have a soul and a spirit (1 Thess. 5:23). Even our body is more than mere material value (Luke 12:23). This means that death is not simply the end of our mortal body, but instead, that the reality of death is sin-induced separation from our Creator (Genesis 2:17 and 3:24).

I’ve heard it said that “Heaven is for those who humbly bow their knees before God and say ‘not my will but Thine be done’; Hell is for those who hold up their fists to God until He finally says to them ‘not My will but thine be done’.” Hell is not God’s will for His creation; Hell is the will of those who obstinately choose separation from God.

God did not mince words when He said “wrath is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18); wrath is the result of deliberate defiance and rebellion against the truth. When we choose the things that God will have no part of, we choose separation from the One who gives life!

We see the reality of separation from God in death portrayed in the revelation of the judgment: “And I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. THIS IS THE SECOND DEATH. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:11:-15)

What we understand as death now is the first separation from God, but Hell is the final separation from God where those who persistently denied God and choose separation from Him in this life by their works will receive the reality of their choices.

The more we suppress the truth with our lies about God the tighter grip death gains on the world! Like a chain smoker who tries to ignore the signs of his cancer, or the drug addict who reassures himself that he can keep it together, our lies do not change the reality of our separation from God, they only ensure its finality!

JESUS & WRATH

“Hell” was eternally satisfied with Jesus when God did the unthinkable by putting on flesh and emptying Himself of all privilege; taking the sins and infirmities of the world upon Himself, in the body of Jesus God provided the ultimate sacrifice on the cross and proved His love to the world with power to deliver the human race from their sin and guilt! In the face of Christ we see God’s will for mankind and the love that He demonstrated towards us even while we were still sinners as we peer into the face of Him by whose blood we were saved from wrath (Romans 5:8-9).

The few times in human history when someone of great privilege has sacrificed everything and lowered themselves to the desperate and destitute around them, they have received praise and acclamation from everyone for their noble sacrifice. Yet all of these noble souls were guilty of sin at some point in their life. Only Jesus was wholly innocent of all guilt; for all of mankind’s time on this earth, God was lavishly pouring out His grace on the human race and giving life and joy to all who lived on earth, regardless of whether or not they returned any thanksgiving or worship to Him. As the human race stubbornly pressed on in sin, reaping death for the transgressions that separated them from the author and giver of life, God’s love and mercy was proved upon the earth with every new sunrise. From such a place of perfection did God empty Himself of privilege and took upon Himself flesh- and unimaginable denigration for the Creator of all things- and subjected Himself to mortal weakness because of His perfect love!

To the apostate and the skeptic who cast blame on God, saying “for all the injustices we suffer here, living on earth is hell enough”, what will you say to the love of God who left heaven with the resolve to pay for your sins and surrendered His hands and feet to be nailed to the cross by sinners just like you and I?

JUSTICE AND JUDGMENT

The lies we tell ourselves can sometimes suppress the insatiable human desire for justice when “justice” becomes personal, however, we cannot escape the reality that every human soul craves justice.

Political philosophers (http://www.iep.utm.edu/justwest/) have long agreed that the single most important pillar of stable governance is “justice”. Families stand strong when there is a clear sense of justice, and they crumble when there is oppression and chaos. Businesses thrive with equitable business practices, but unfair business practices can poison entire business cultures. No part of the human experience of life can long survive when justice is robbed! We need justice.

Justice necessitates both “moral law” and “impartial fairness”. One of the lies we tell ourselves today is that there is no moral standard to which we are accountable, yet we loudly protest when we are not treated fairly. We rob ourselves of the justice we crave when we separate ourselves from the moral law of our Creator to pursue our own lusts. This suppression of the virtues of truth in favor of ungodliness eventually leads to the “hell-on-earth” of an utterly unjust society, courteously of our own making! Whether here on earth or in eternity to come, we cannot escape hell when we choose separation from God!

Justice belongs to God. He wrote His moral law on our hearts in our consciences (Romans 2:15), and He will execute an impartial and fair judgment upon all mankind (Romans 2:5-11). The Judge of all mankind has said that “indignation and wrath, tribulation and anguish, according to each one’s deeds” are the inheritance of every soul who does evil (Romans 2:6, 8-9). He is impartial and fair in His judgments; there will be no favoritism towards the Jew, nor prejudice against the Gentile. We will all be judged according to what we have received from God.

There are many questions regarding how God will apportion His wrath on sinners when the Day of Judgment arrives; such questions as “is hell eternal?” “Is hell a conscious torment?” “Will those who never heard or rejected the gospel suffer in hell?” These questions are valid but not necessary in order for God to be a just judge. A prior understanding of the precise proportion of punishment that will be received for a transgression is not necessary in order for justice to exist. I may not know what the penalty is for Grand Theft Auto, but I know that it is wrong and that I will be punished accordingly. Justice only necessitates the existence of a moral law and an impartial and fair application of punishment.

The aforementioned questions are valid subjects for another time- subjects to which many scriptures speak- but it is a foolish and disastrous distraction to worry about how God will apportion His wrath on sinners when the Lamb of God is offering the love of God to the world on God’s holy altar!

HELL IN LIGHT OF CHRIST

I believe there is a reason why God said that He will “judge the secrets of all mankind by Jesus Christ according to the gospel” (Romans 2:16). I believe the reason why we will be judged by Jesus Christ is because when those of us who rejected Christ look at Him, all our lies will evaporate like the dew in the morning heat and we will see in Christ Jesus the perfect and irrefutable logic of God! We are told that “at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, in heaven and on earth, and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11); I do not believe this confession will be made under duress, but that when the world looks at Jesus Christ on the Judgment Day, we will see the love of God that we rejected, and we will find no shelter from the terrible reality that we have chosen for ourselves!

I said above that we must never let our hearts become dull towards the reality of hell. I believe there is only one thing on earth worse than a Church that denies the existence of hell, and that is a Church, knowing the existence of hell, that says nothing about it to the lost world! The Christian whose knee is bent before God in prayer because of hell will rise with the fire of the Holy Spirit to save souls from hell by the good news of Jesus Christ!

Defending Your Faith: Is Jesus Yahweh?

There is nothing more important, more central, and so hotly disputed than the deity of Christ. Muslim’s believe that Jesus was a prophet, but not God; Mormons believe that Jesus became god distinct from the Father; Mahatma Gandhi believed Jesus to be a “great man”; atheists believe him to be anything from a great man, to a raving lunatic; and Christians believe Jesus to be Jehovah God incarnate.

So what did Jesus claim?

Jesus said “you are from below, I am from above; you are of this world, I am not of this world. Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for unless you believe that I AM [He], you will die in your sins” (John 8:23-24). Jesus used Jehovah’s “I AM” covenant name, making His meaning explicitly clear: unless we believe that He is Jehovah God, we will die in our sins.  Because of this the Jews picked up stones to kill Him for what they saw as blasphemy

The claim today is that either Jesus never claimed to be God, and/or, that the prophets never gave the Messiah deity.  Indeed, if Jesus came claiming to be God but the Scriptures never said the Messiah would be God, then Jesus would have been a imposter and a fraud; He would not have been the promised Messiah if His claims about Himself were found to contradict the prophecies concerning the coming Messiah. 

So, as the Bereans were considered “more noble” because they tested daily everything that was preached to them according to the Word to find out whether or not it was from God, we must give a defense for our belief that Jesus is Yahweh incarnate.  And we must remember that giving a defense for the faith we have in Christ is one of the chief tasks given to the Church (1 Timothy 3:15; Matthew 28:19-20; 1 Peter 3:15), but to do so we must “study to show ourselves approved” (2 Timothy 2:15[NKJV]). Lazy answers and cliche’s are damaging to the Church because they show through. Clever debate tactics and mudslinging may win arguments, but they will not win souls. We must be able to reason from the wisdom and word of God with those we encounter so that they may receive the faith that is delivered to us by Jesus Christ through the Word of God.

Prefatory Note: if we answer this question only with an experience-based answer (i.e. “I know because He lives within me”), then we haven’t given a defense of Jesus as the promised Savior and Messiah; we have only stated that we have had some kind of mystical encounter, but that says nothing of Jesus Christ. Neither have we given a defense of the faith that will make “faith” possible in the ears of the hearer, for “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).

Thus, I put forth this question to answer: “Is Jesus Jehovah GOD?”

Herein is my defense for why I believe from the Word of God that Jesus is Jehovah God (this is my answer to questions like “did Jesus really claim to be God”, “why not call Jesus a prophet/great man”, “the Messiah was never prophesied to be God”, “there is only one God, so Jesus and the Father can’t both be God”):

Firstly, Old Testament prophecies demonstrate that the Messiah bears the names and titles of God:

  • “God”: Deuteronomy 4:35 and 6:4 make it known that Jehovah alone is God; in Isaiah 9:6-7 the Messiah is given 5 names; “Wonderful”, “Counselor”, “Mighty God”, “Everlasting Father”, and “Prince of Peace”. See also John 1:1 and Romans 9:5.
  • “Savior” & “Redeemer”: Isaiah 43:10-11 says that God alone is “savior”. Again in Isaiah 49:26, Jehovah reveals that by His judgment all living things will know that He alone is “savior” and “redeemer”. See Hosea 13:14, Luke 2:11, John 4:42, and Acts 5:31for further details.
  • “Jehovah” (YHWH): Jeremiah 23:5-6 foretells the coming “Branch of Righteousness” and says “Now this is the name by which He will be called: Yahweh our Righteousness”. In the New Testament, Hebrews 1:8-12 also ascribes to Jesus Psalms 102:25-27.
  • “I AM”: Exodus 3:14-15 ascribes this title to God. In John 8:23-24, Jesus said that unless you believe He is the “I AM”, you will die in your sins (see also John 8:58-59; 13:19; 18:5-8).
  • “Alpha and Omega”: Isaiah 44:6 God takes upon Himself the Hebrew version of the Alpha and Omega, and in Revelation 1:8, 17-18; 2:8; 22:12-13, it is Jesus communicating that He is the Father by bearing the title Alpha and Omega in Himself.
  • “King of kings and Lord of lords”: In Deuteronomy 10:17 God takes this title as God of gods and Lord of lords, furthering His message that there is only One God, and in Revelation 17:14 and 19:11-16, Jesus receives this title Himself.

The Scripture then witnesses that Jesus also receives the prerogatives of Deity:

  • “Glory”: Isaiah 42:8-11 foretells the glory of God that rests upon the Messiah. We see this reflected in Jesus in John 17:5 and 17:24.
  • “Worship”: Exodus 34:14 forbids giving worship to anyone else but God; Jesus refuted Satan in Matthew 4:10 with this commandment. But Jesus received worship at His birth (Matthew 2:2-11), after calming the storm (Matthew 14:31-33, and after His resurrection (Matthew 28:9-10).
  • “Saving name”: in Joel 2:32 it was promised regarding the Messiah that “whoever calls on the name of Jehovah shall be saved”. Jesus was given the name by which men may be saved (Acts 2:21; Romans 10:13); recall Isaiah 43:10-11 in which we’re told that only Jehovah is “Savior”.
  • “Prayer”: Jesus is prayed to and through (John 14:13-14).
  • “Faith”: Jesus is also believed on for salvation (John 3:16, 36; Acts 16:31).
  • “Forgiveness of Sins”: in Isaiah 53:4-5, 10, and 12, it was foretold that atonement for sin would be made by the Messiah. Psalms 99:8 calls God by the name “God-Who-Forgives”.

Scriptures also demonstrates that Jesus possesses the incommunicable attributes of God:

  • “Independence”: only God is all self-sufficient, therefore “aseity” belongs only to God (Ex. 3:14-15); but Jesus possesses aseity in Himself (John 5:26).
  • “Eternity”: Micah 5:2 prophesies of the coming Messiah to arise out of Bethlehem and says that He is “from everlasting”. See also Isaiah 9:6, John 1:1-2, and Hebrews 7:3.
  • “Immutability” (unchangeableness): Hebrews 13:8 ascribes to Jesus this immutability that is ascribed to Jehovah in Malachi 3:6.

Lastly we must consider Scripture’s witness showing that Jesus performed the works of God:

  • “Creation”: Proverbs 8:27-31 uses the archetype of wisdom to illustrate the Christ and says that “When God prepared the heavens, I was there”. In Isaiah 44:24-28 “the Redeemer” is the one who stretched out the heavens “alone” and spreads abroad the earth below. See Job 9:8; John 1:3, 10; 1 Co. 8:6; Hebrews 1:2, 3:3-4 for further study on Christ as the Creator.
  • “Judgment”: God alone may sit as the Judge to whom all things are accountable: Zechariah 14 foretells of the coming day of wrath and judgment that God will execute by “His right arm”. In Romans 14:10; 2 Cor. 5:10; and John 5:22, judgment is shown to be by Christ.

God’s word says in Romans 14:10 that we are all going to appear before the judgment seat of Christ to give an account of ourselves to Jehovah God, who alone is God. Every soul will witness to God without excuse having His varied testimony to mankind according to His perfect wisdom. When you stand before God, if you have not acknowledged that Jesus is the “I AM”, you will die in your sins (John 8:24).

For further consideration, please see these videos:

The Glory of Christ

I am yet again arrested in my study by the splendid contemplation of the glory of Christ!  And surely it is by the Spirit of Christ who dwells within me that I can sense Christ’s own zeal to reveal His glory to me! 

“Father, I desire that they also whom You gave Me may be with me where I am”, Jesus prayed, “that they may behold My glory…” (John 17:24)

I must wonder, do I know how strongly Christ desires to reveal His glory to me?  For surely if I knew, if I was really convinced and convicted that Christ longs for me to see His glory, I would be renewed in my faith daily and my love would not grow weary! 

But there is a terrifying thought that plagues my mind; it is more frightening than any other nightmare I have ever had: it is the thought that the human mind and human spirit might become altogether inhospitable to the glory of Christ!  What I mean by that is that the mind might become so inhospitable to the glory of Christ that it simply cannot endure the contemplation of His glory by faith anymore; that the human spirit might become altogether adverse towards the glory of Christ and could no longer abide before the face of Jesus Christ!  Oh God what a frightful thought! 

A second frightful thought to me is this; that some poor soul could hear what I’ve just said and be so unmoved as to say within themselves, “well I never think on the glory of Christ and I’m ok, so what’s the deal?”  That someone could come to the point of realization where they perceive that they do not think much on the glory of Christ and have such darkness in their mind so as to reassure themselves in this condition that they are still ok is a truly terrifying thought to me! 

What’s the big deal?”!  I’m not embellishing my speech right now; I really do have to ask myself how “carnal” and how “dark” have our minds become today that we are not struck by how little Jesus Christ is glorified in the Church. 

What’s the big deal?” is that God has divinely and extraordinarily shone in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of His glory in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:6); to glorify Jesus Christ is the great work of the Holy Spirit (John 16:14)!  And sometimes it seems like we don’t at all seem disturbed that Jesus is not being exalted and glorified among us!

I am not talking about the emotional experiences, exuberant demonstrations, or the magnificent performances that have become the cheap external substitutes for the glory of Christ in our day.  I am talking about the heart-bending, faith-building, strength-giving, hope-rising, love-purifying glory of Christ that captivates the soul with the beauty of His holiness!

John Owen wrote the following:

Let us live in the constant contemplation of the glory of Christ, and virtue will proceed from him to repair all our decays, to renew a right spirit within us, and to cause us to abound in all duties of obedience.

It will fix the soul unto that object which is suited to give it delight, complacency, and satisfaction… when the mind is filled with thoughts of Christ and his glory, when the soul thereon cleaves unto him with intense affections, they will cast out, or not give admittance unto, those causes of spiritual weakness and indisposition.

And nothing will so much excite and encourage our souls hereunto as a constant view of Christ and his glory. 1

1. The Glory of Christ, The Works of John Owen, ed. William H. Goold, 1850-53, (Carlisle, PA: Banner of Truth Trust, 1965), I, 460-461

I came across this quote from something John Piper wrote on the glory of Christ, and I cannot raise any more apt response from my heart than  “amen!”

The soul that is fixated on the glory of Christ is not so easily rattled!  Such a bond with Christ will, as Owen wrote, cast away or give no place to our spiritual weaknesses and indispositions.  But such a bond with Christ will also draw in and give sanctuary to those divine attributes of God that give us great spiritual strength and inclination that we find utterly lacking in our flesh!

Why, when such a delight awaits us in Christ, might we feel so burdened by deep contemplation of the glory of Christ? 

It may be that we are driving the Holy Spirit from His sanctuary in our heart.  Consider carefully Ezekiel 8:6 and 1 Corinthians 6:9-11,19 & 20.  If we drive the Spirit from the sanctuary of our heart by sin, we drive away Him who is appointed to glorify Christ from the very place in this fallen world where Christ’s glory is revealed! 

It may also be that we have not exalted God to glory in our own lives, nor have regarded Him as holy.  Consider carefully Leviticus 10:3.

Whatever we find that drives the glory of God from our minds so that His glory cannot abide long in our hearts and in our minds, my heart is stirred today to call on the Lord and ask for the grace of the Spirit to reveal Christ in glory to me!

“Sanctify the Lord God in your hearts…” (1 Peter 3:15)

Faithfulness v. Fruitfulness

I’ve been considering the question of “faithfulness” versus “fruitfulness” lately: specifically, whether it is more important to remain faithful to God’s Word or reap a fruitful harvest?

Now I’ll admit at the outset that I think this question presents a false dichotomy by forcing the mind to choose one or the other when I think it may well be that it is impossible to have either one without the other, but I believe this question should be thoroughly considered.

This question has become the center of a conversation that I’ve been engaging in with a pentecostal pastor friend of mine as we’ve been discussing it in light of two pastor friends of his that accentuate this concern for “fruitfulness” (defined as either “a harvest of believers”, or, “the increase given by God through the Holy Spirit”) over “faithfulness” (defined as “love for God as expressed in obedience and fidelity to His Word”).

STORY NUMBER 1:

One pastor who’s known as a man exhibiting great fruits of the Spirit in his life, recently came out in affirmation of gay marriage.

Although his decision has invoked the ire of many established Christians, it has also resulted in more opportunities to connect with people who are not typically touched by “the Church”.  For this pastor, affirming homosexuality has given his church the ability to reach a demographic that would otherwise never even affiliate with Christians who hold to what they see as an antiquated view of sexuality and marriage.

STORY NUMBER 2:

Another pastor, was preaching a sermon that included a note that homosexuality is wrong.  Through a series of events, a legal complaint was lodged and the pastor was warned that if he continued to preach hate speech he would be faced with potentially shutting down.

The pastor says he has temporarily decided to stop preaching on the matter and offered the justification that there are no gay members attending his church and it would be foolish to stop the work of God being done in this church.

The pastor went on to say that they baptized 100 people the previous month and he could not allow Satan to put a pad-lock on the door and shut the church down where they would not be able to reach the community.

I believe these realities are only going to get more onerous as time goes on. But what do they say about the topic of “fruitfulness” v. “faithfulness”?  Is fruitfulness apart from faithfulness ever warranted?  Or is faithfulness apart from fruitfulness ever possible?  These questions may often times appear more “behind the scenes” than most, but I believe they have great weight to them and need to be answered.

IS FRUITFULNESS APART FROM FAITHFULNESS EVER WARRANTED?

In both these true stories we see pastors pursuing “fruitfulness” above “faithfulness”, one by affirmation and the other by conformation.  But were these compromises acceptable?  And will they produce the desired results these pastors hoped for- namely, a greater harvest of souls?

A couple passages come to mind that I would like to examine:

REVELATION 2:10 WEB

Don’t be afraid of the things which you are about to suffer. Behold, the devil is about to throw some of you into prison, that you may be tested; and you will have oppression for ten days. Be faithful to death, and I will give you the crown of life.

I believe the seven churches of Revelation merit close examination by the Church today.  Regardless of your eschatological position on these seven churches, you will find great blessing in reading what Jesus has to say to these churches.

To the persecuted Church in Smyrna Jesus admonished them not to be afraid and forewarned them of the coming trials they would face; in light of these trials, Jesus promised “the crown of life” to the faithful.  The full weight of Jesus’ promised “crown of life” was placed on being faithful.

Jesus’ words to the churches in Ephesus, Pergamos, and Thyatira, show that Jesus does weigh our faithfulness to His doctrine; the Ephesians, despite all their hard work (2:3), had left their first love and were required to repent (2:4-5), and the Church in Pergamos needed to repent for embracing the doctrines of Balaam and the Nicolaitans (2:14-16); likewise the Church in Thyatira was admonished to repent for tolerating the false prophets who taught Christ’s people to commit sexual immorality (2:20-25).  In each case Jesus was concerned with faithfulness as demonstrated through love, doctrine, and prophesying.

Another passage that stirs my mind regarding this subject is as follows:

1st CORINTHIANS 3:11-15

For no one can lay any other foundation than that which has been laid, which is Jesus Christ. 12 But if anyone builds on the foundation with gold, silver, costly stones, wood, hay, or stubble; 13 each man’s work will be revealed. For the Day will declare it, because it is revealed in fire; and the fire itself will test what sort of work each man’s work is. 14 If any man’s work remains which he built on it, he will receive a reward. 15 If any man’s work is burned, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved, but as through fire.

We can build on Christ in such a way that will not endure the fire.  Though the craftsman suffers loss of reward because his work did not remain, the craftsman may still expect his salvation.  Through folly the craftsman selected wood, hay, or stubble over gold, silver, or precious stones- for whatever reason, the more easily obtainable former materials were more attractive than the more costly latter materials- and therefore the craftsman suffered the loss of all his work and the reward he so earnestly expected.

Make no mistake that I believe teachers can bring themselves under the wrath of God through their teachings- such as occurred in the Book of Revelation when the doctrine of Balaam was taught- but Christians may err in less serious ways that can still ruin their work without endangering their souls, especially those Christians who build on Christ but who do not hold teaching positions (which are judged more severely: James 3:1).  Excuse my run-on sentence there, but I’m just going to go with it.

My belief is that we must not abandon fidelity to God for perceived fruitfulness, which can only end in tears and great weeping.

FAITHFULNESS MUST BEAR FRUIT

I do not believe that it is possible for faithfulness to be without fruit.  It is possible for the faithfulness of “charity” not to produce the fruit of “evangelism”, and therefore to disappoint the expectations of the one who has such a narrow view of “fruit”, but faithfulness in “charity” will always bear the fruit of “charity”. 

There may, therefore, be a weight of burden on our expectation of “fruitfulness” that is inconsistent with the promise of Scripture, but, I believe it is impossible to divorce “faithfulness” from God’s promise of “fruitfulness”. 

We must heed the following Words of Christ:

JOHN 15:7-8 WEB

If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, you will ask whatever you desire, and it will be done for you.  In this is my Father glorified, that you bear much fruit; and so you will be my disciples.

Fruitfulness requires faithfulness, and faithfulness is proved by fruitfulness.

A “morally pure church” may ask, “why, then, is there no increase in our body”, to which we should ask “did you abide in Christ’s word to ‘go out and make disciples’?”

A numerically “large church” may ask “why, then, are we so fruitful even though we do not keep His word”, to which we should ask, “what makes you so sure your fruitfulness will survive the fire?”

Fruitfulness is dependent on abiding faithfully in Jesus’ word; a church may not see the fruit of harvest because it does not go out, or, when it goes out and increases, it may not see the fruit of righteousness because it does not abide in the truth; but no church will be barren that faithfully abides in the Word. 

What we see being tested here are two things: firstly, our perception of fruit, and secondly, our faith that God will be faithful to honor faithfulness.  We so easily get confused and discouraged when we do not see the fruit of other parts of the body in our own life, and we wrestle with the faith to believe that God is faithful towards our faithfulness because we have usurped God as “lords of the harvest” and attempted to bear the weight of “fruitfulness” all on our own.

We need to know that it is “God who adds those who are being saved” (Acts 2:47); though one may sow and another waters, “it is God who gives the increase” (1 Corinthians 3:6)!  Rather than trying to control the outcome of the harvest, we desperately need to cry out to the LORD of the harvest (Matthew 9:38)- let us pray to Him concerning the harvest, knowing that He is faithful over it (1 Corinthians 1:9).

SO BE HIS DISCIPLES

Something that I cannot get over is how many pastors I have met and held long conversations with who are beaten down and discouraged.  They are discouraged by their lack of growth, sometimes in both the harvest and in spiritual fruit, and they feel like they are utterly defeated; but I cannot escape the reality that without exception they are not abiding in Christ’s word to go out, nor are they calling on the Lord of the Harvest for help! 

Brethren, if we find our churches lay in spiritual desolation; arise!  Return to the truths from which you have wandered, and do them.  Bear the fruits of repentance and offer again the sacrifice of praise by the fruit of holy lips. 

And if we see that we have brought in no fruit of the harvest; arise!  Go out into the fields and labor.  Sow, water, and tend to the fields in which you live, and pray to the Lord of the Harvest, who will grant your increase that He may be glorified and that you may be His disciples! 

The Preacher

What is a preacher?  What’s the function of a preacher?

I think it’s helpful when discussing different parts of the body to reiterate that the Body is healthiest when every part works together with the whole towards faithfulness to Christ (Ephesians 4:16). Every member is vital to the healthy functioning of the Body as a whole.  But what happens when the multiplicity of Body parts stops working in unison and the Body begins to be deceived and led astray?

God sends His preachers to call the Body back into the way.

“Preachers” come in many different forms- they are not a stagnant office.  Preachers are those God entrusts to deliver His message to His people; there have been many preachers in scripture called to be deliver God’s word; Solomon (Ecc. 1:1, 12); Noah (2 Peter 2:5); Jonah (3:1-2); John the Baptist (Mark 1:4); and Jesus (Mark 4:17). The apostle Paul wrote, “for which I was appointed a preacher and an apostle—I am speaking the truth in Christ and not lying—a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and truth” (1 Timothy 2:7 and 2 Timothy 1:11).

Anyone can be called by God to be a preacher because “preaching” is simply “the act of exhorting, prophesying, reproving, or teaching”. That’s why we have Solomon, who was a king, but also a preacher. Noah, who was a patriarch (essentially an elder), but was also a preacher. Jonah was a prophet, but also a preacher. Paul, who was an apostle as well as a teacher, also identified himself as one “appointed as a preacher”.

The preacher is a functional position, not a stagnant office.  The preacher is known for his message, not his presentation or charisma. For the preacher, nothing is more important than what he has to say from God.  He never speaks for himself.  He is God’s messenger, and God’s messenger alone.

I believe the Church needs God-sent preachers today.  But where are these voices calling us back to God through repentance?

In view of the great evil’s in our society today, the lack of such voices crying out should be cause of grave concern and trembling!  It should drive every one of us to our knees daily, begging God to send out His servants to give us another chance to repent!