Tag Archives: Jesus Christ

Rejoicing the Heart

Psalm 19:8a “the statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.”

To the weary and downcast I want to say “rest in the word of God”.

This word “statutes” is the Hebrew Verb “פָּקַד (pāqad); though it has a wide range of meaning, it’s core meaning basically expresses the action of overseeing an individual for a particular purpose” (Mounce’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old & New Testament Words (p. 29).

This brought this to my mind:

Psalm 23:1-3 “The LORD is my shepherd, I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures. He leads me beside still waters. He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness For His name’s sake.”

No matter what you are facing in your life, the Word of God is your Shepherd; listen to His voice and let Him lead you beside still waters where your heart can rejoice in the joy of the Holy Spirit, as it is written “the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness, peace, and joy in the Holy Spirit” (Romans 14:15, 17).  He has a purpose for His overseeing of your soul (1st Peter 2:1-5, 9-12).

Therefore, “enter His courts with praise” and rest in the Word of God, for He is your good Shepherd, who alone can refresh your heart with living waters and nourish your soul in green pastures so that you will be fit for every good work.

Suffering and Sickness

There are some modern theologies that say suffering and sickness should not exist in the Church; they view sickness and suffering as indicators of a lack of God’s grace in one’s personal life.  But does God’s word agree?

In this study, we are going to examine this topic to see what God’s word says.

A THORN IN THE FLESH

2 Corinthians 12:7-10 And lest I should be exalted above measure by the abundance of revelations, a thorn was given me in the flesh, a messenger of Satan, to torment me, lest I be exalted above measure. I asked the Lord three times that this thing might depart from me. But He said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore most gladly I will boast in my weaknesses (KJV- infirmities), that the power of Christ may rest upon me. So I take pleasure in weaknesses, in reproaches, in hardships, in persecutions, and in distresses for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.

There was a purpose behind Paul’s suffering; God used this “thorn in the flesh” to keep him humble so that he would not fall to the temptation of pride because of the greatness of God’s work accomplished through him.

Although some teach that Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was not physical illness, Paul interprets this thorn in the flesh in verse 9 to be “infirmities” and in verse 10 expands the possibility to “reproaches, hardships, persecutions, and distresses”. The Greek used here is ἀσθένεια (astheneia), which means “want of strength, weakness, illness, suffering, calamity, or frailty.”; it’s translated as “ailments(1), diseases(1), ill(1), illness(1), infirmities(1), sickness(3), sicknesses(2), weak(1), weakness(9), weaknesses(4)” – and the Greek HELPS Word-Study comments that ἀσθένεια “refers to an ailment that deprives someone of enjoying or accomplishing what they would like to do. ἀσθένεια focuses on the handicaps that go with the weakness. It expresses the weakening influences of the illness or a particular problem.” The word ἀσθένεια is a word that describes physical
weakness that comes from illness.

Paul then demonstrates how God was glorified through this “thorn in the flesh” in verse 10, by the conclusion “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor. 12:10).

A MESSENGER OF SATAN

Some will argue that Paul’s thorn in the flesh was not illness, but was a “messenger of Satan”, some kind of demonic experience, but saying that Paul’s “thorn in the flesh” was a “messenger of Satan” in no way eliminates illness.

Job 2:7 “Therefore, the Adversary went out from the presence of the Lord, and he afflicted Job with severe sores from the sole of his foot to the top of his head.”

Illness is one of the vehicles through which the Adversary can strike us. In Job’s life, his terrible suffering was divinely permitted by God for the demonstration of God’s glory and future joy of Job and the kingdom of God to whom Job’s testimony has served as an example of perseverance down through the ages.

Numbers 12:10 “When the cloud went away from over the tabernacle, Miriam became leprous as snow, and Aaron turned toward Miriam and saw that she was leprous.”

God struck Miriam with leprosy for her rebelliousness, demonstrating that God uses illness to discipline His people!

Amos 3:6 “If there is disaster against a city, is it not the Lord who has done it?”

God brings calamity, both upon His own people for their correction and refining, and upon the unbelieving world to get their attention and punish them for sin. God uses suffering – which is a result of sin – to punish, correct, refine, purify, and
glorify!

ILLNESS IN THE CHURCH

Illness is not a foreign concept to the Church.

In addition to Paul, consider the following passages: Acts 9:36-41; Philippians 2:25-27; 1st Timothy 5:20; 2nd Timothy 4:20. So long as we abide in these earthly tents we will experience the decay of this sin-ridden world. The modern theologies that say Christians should not suffer illness are not supported in Scripture, and they have been used to bring terrible dismay upon the children of God who are enduring the very illnesses that we are commanded to serve them with tender care and encouragement through (Matthew 25:36-40). Much the same way that Job’s friends heaped accusation upon accusation against him in his suffering, these modern theologies have been Satan’s instrument of accusation against faithful brethren, and the Church must learn its lesson from Job’s testimony.

The plain testimony of Scripture is that God works within suffering and sickness in the world for His glory (John 9:1-7); sometimes He heals, and is glorified accordingly, and other times He walks alongside the suffering saint and is highly glorified in the eyes of the world by the suffering saint’s faithfulness. To categorically say that God never afflicts, allows, or permits suffering and sickness is a dangerous heresy that has done significant damage in the Church to those who are, indeed, suffering and sick.

Discipline is purposed by God to make us “partakers of His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10); God uses an array of trials in our life to refine us as gold refined in the fire.

For an in-depth study on the Cross and Suffering , please follow the link to my lesson on the subject, which deals with the topics of suffering, the cross, and God’s wrath.

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.

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)

A Gospel That Is Uncomfortable

Because I’m a preacher I have the sometimes privilege, sometimes undesirable work of professionally annoying people with the truths that they were trying to hide from (I’m not sure, but this might be why people avoid me).

One of those truths is that you can talk about God all you want, complain all you want about the hypocrisy of the Church, post all you want about God on facebook, vote conservative, and go to Church daily, but if your life has not been entirely crucified on the cross of Christ and made wholly new by the resurrection of the Holy Spirit, then you are no different than the Pharisees John the Baptist called “a brood of vipers”; you are still sons and daughters of the father of all lies- the Devil.

This is why I preach the truth that if holiness is not the characteristic of your life, then Jesus is not the Lord of your life and you are still dead in your sins; I preach this truth because I would much rather see my beloved friends and family uncomfortable in their sins and moved to repentance than see them deceived by wolves who promise “peace” where there is no peace; indeed I would much rather bear the accusations and slander of my beloved friends and family as being an intolerable self-righteous man than receive praise and acclamation from the dead whom I never tried to turn from destruction!

Today’s Church must realize that we simply cannot compromise the truth; neither to obtain a form of godliness, though denying its power (2 Timothy 3:5), nor to have the appearance of liberty, though being slaves of corruption (2 Peter 2:19)! We cannot compromise and exchange the truth of God for the deceptions of the devil. True godliness will not condemn the righteous, nor will true liberty justify the wicked!

The unseemly truth of the matter is that until you come to the realization that you will be judged for your sins and the demand of salvation is so wholly beyond your powers to accomplish that you know you are utterly helpless, you will remain dead in the darkness of your sins.

Faith is the irrevocable demand of Jesus Christ; to “trust and obey”, as the old hymn goes, “is the only way” with Jesus Christ. If upon hearing “that no fornicator, unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, has any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and God” (Eph. 5:5), you harden your heart and seek to justify that which has already been condemned by Christ, it is imperative that you come to your knees in repentance, for you do not yet have the faith that was authored by Jesus Christ. His faith did not seek an alternative way to justify the sins that had separated mankind from God, rather, His faith embraced the cross and accepted death for the mortal body that it might gain life by the Holy Spirit!

It is fitting, then, for the impossibility of the gospel to be clothed in this simplicity, namely, that to anyone who will simply “trust and obey” the Gate will open wherein you may enter and abide in the love of God.

The gospel that does not make you exclaim “that is impossible! If that is true, who could be saved?” is no gospel at all. The fact is that the salvation of Jesus Christ IS impossible for man, and if you aren’t confronted by that reality, then you haven’t been confronted by the gospel my beloved brethren.

Is this your gospel?

It is time that we each go seek God through prayer and the Word in the quiet of your secret place.

The Bond of Perfection

We believe that Jesus is redeeming to Himself a glorious Church that is holy and entirely without blemish; we believe that He will be satisfied with the labor of His soul.  But, we also see great confusion and mishandling of the Word of God regarding perfection, which leads to empty expectations, misguided and doomed labors, and disobedience to Jesus’ commandments.

Therefore, we are going to take a look at the bond of perfection: 

Colossians 3:12-17  Therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, put on tender mercies, kindness, humility, meekness, longsuffering; bearing with one another, and forgiving one another, if anyone has a complaint against another; even as Christ forgave you, so you also must forgive Above all, put on love, which is the bond of perfection And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body.  Be thankful.  Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with gratitude in your hearts to the Lord.  And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.

Christian perfection is measured in terms of love. The apostle John wrote in the same Spirit as Paul and said,

1 John 2:10  He who loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no cause for stumbling in him.

We’re not talking about flesh-empowered love; we’re talking about the love of Jesus Christ that moves within our heart and compels us as brothers and sisters of the Lord.

Ephesians 1:3-6   Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love, having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.

Pure, undefiled love is God’s design for holy and blameless conduct.  Jesus’ commandment to His disciples was to love one another, even as He loved them!

Love is the effectual conduct of holiness.

This lesson is undesirable to men and women who are inwardly looking for an occasion to boast in holiness because there is no room for such boasting in godly love (1 Cor. 13:4).  Nothing will crucify the flesh more completely than a soul driven by perfect love!

Ephesians 4:1-3   I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

The  character worthy of our gospel-calling is love exercised by a meek and gentle heart.  That is the description of our Lord Jesus Christ, who was the “meek and lowly” love of God manifest to men.

Love certainly mourns: it grieves to see brothers and sisters stumble, it weeps for personal iniquity, but it also restores those who have stumbled, it bears their burdens.  Love does not act as an excuse to behave selfishly according to the lustful desires of the flesh, rather, it considers the needs of others above its own and is incapable of trampling underfoot the sacrifice of Christ.  Love  denies itself, and all the lustful pleasures that entice the flesh, and presses on to lift up holy voices of praise and worship to God!  No one who walks in love will sin because “there is no law against love“.  Love is wholly and entirely for God, and flows through Him to creation.

Therefore, brethren, hear the exhortation to “put on love, which is the bond of perfection”.  Be taught of Christ concerning this in the secret quiet places.  Amen!

IN TUMULTUOUS TIMES

In tumultuous times it is very easy to become distracted and get swept away by the tides of society.

By simple observation I believe tumultuous times are coming to the U.S.  We can easily see diametrically opposed powers lining up against each other that are utterly incapable of reconciling themselves to one another.  Even more than that, we cab see dramatic shifts in the bedrock of American culture and values; such shifts are fracturing families, friendships, and churches in ways that no one had previously imagined.  No country can sustain this kind of divisiveness for long before the sheer weight exerted on it by such contentions brings the whole thing crumbling down.  Unfortunately there is a spirit of divisiveness in the land and it is wrecking havoc!

It is easy in light of these events to speculate about the coming end times, and while we are assured of both the signs of the end times and the certainty of their coming, Christians must not become unstable or lose the soberness of our mind during these times.  It is imperative that we look to God for counsel in these days so that we may live blameless and holy in His sight in this generation.

So what is the Church to do as we look upon our nation that has long been the epicenter of lust, covetousness, pride, and violence; what are we do to as we see that same lust, covetousness, pride, and violence consuming the nation from the inside out?

STRENGTHEN THE HANDS WHICH HANG DOWN

Therefore strengthen the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees, and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be dislocated, but rather be healed.  Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.  For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears. ~Hebrews 12:12-17

The things we are observing in our time should only emphasize our need to “strengthen that which remains”; we need to look to those in our brotherhood that are weak, discouraged, weighed down but not cut off, and we need to strengthen them while there is time to straighten out our paths.

I believe it is a mistake to assume that we will get our houses in order when the pressure comes, when those things that will make up our trial arrive.

WATCH AND PRAY

Keep watching and praying that you may not enter into temptation ~Matthew 26:41

Repeatedly Jesus exhorted the disciples to “watch and pray”.  The days ahead will be difficult for the Church, especially those who have not exercised themselves to godliness, and those who are disconnected from the body, but how much more perilous will those days be for those who did not “watch and pray”?

Do you know the signs of our dear Lord’s return?  Are you “keeping watch”?  Have you sought the Lord’s counsel lately, and besought His mercy?

PREACH THIS GOSPEL AND MAKE DISCIPLE UNTO THE END

And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come. ~Mt. 24:14

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. ~Mt. 28:19-20

Many in the Church today have laid down their swords in cowardice before a seemingly overwhelming enemy and refused to fight the good fight; their condemnation is just (Revelation 21:8).

But we are not without might in this generation; the power of God for salvation is sharp and sure, it has not been blunted, nor has it been compromised.

I believe that it is the duty of the Church in the face of all that we face to take up the fight with greater boldness and preach “repentance in the name of Jesus Christ in light of the Kingdom of God”; for the righteous to do any less is an egregious sin.

LET THE CHURCH BE THE CHURCH

I believe the day warrants the elders and pastors of the Church meeting together to seek counsel from God on how they ought to walk in these difficult times.

So what is the answer for the Church in light of these troubled times, and even more so as we approach the end?  I believe the answer is to let the Church be the Church!

 

Genesis 6-8: Noah and the Flood

Critical Apologetics Issues:

The account of Noah and the flood is foundational.  From baptism to the end times, the account of Noah and the flood is necessary to understanding God’s revelation in scripture to mankind.  It is no surprise, therefore, that it has received such an array of critical attacks that need to be answered.

Apologetics is quite literally means “to speak in defense of” something; from the Greek “ἀπολογία” (apologia).

  • See Philippians 1:7 “Defense and confirmation of the gospel”
  • See 1 Peter 3:15 “Always being ready to give a defense for the hope that is in you”

Far from apologizing for the gospel, the defense of those things that are written in God’s word is the front lines in which the gospel is preached and the strongholds of the enemy are torn down.

Included in the correlating handout are articles which deal with critical apologetics issues regarding Noah and the flood.

  • How could Noah build something So Large?
  • What is known about Noah and the Ark?
  • Kinds: How many animals were on the Ark?
  • How could the animals fit on the Ark?
  • How could Noah care for all the animals?
  • How could the animals breathe?

These and many other issues are dealt with in the included printout taken entirely from Answers in Genesis.

Critical Apologetic Questions on Noah from AIG

 

 

Genesis 6: The Ark Prepared Whilst Wickedness Abounds

Point 1 (Genesis 6:1-7, 11-13)

As man began to fulfill God’s commandment to

Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish, birds, and every living thing on the earth”, (Genesis 1:28)

The LORD saw that man had subjected all creation to wickedness and filled the earth with violence.

The LORD saw that every intent of the heart was only evil continually…” (Genesis 6:5)

God had given man a dominion as His stewards over all creation- to fill the earth and subdue it- and man used his stewardship to fill the earth with violence and subject it to wickedness; and God was deeply grieved and began withdrawing His Spirit from man (Genesis 6:3-4)!

God even saw that “all creatures” on earth had become corrupt (Genesis 6:12):

God saw how corrupt the earth was, for every creature had corrupted its way on earth.

Note From Our Times: ANIMALS have recently been observed NOW committing homosexual acts.

 

Here, the Sovereign looked down upon man and pronounced his condition; that every intent of his heart is evil.  It’s self-seeking and vain glory!  The nakedness of mankind’s shame was again exposed by God- only this time there would be no covering’s provided by God, but instead, the LORD would cleanse the face of the earth with His wrath.

Noah stands preaching to us today: “the patience of God DOES come to an end; His wrath WILL come!”

 

—IMPORTANT NOTE:

God does not abandon His purpose in creating man, not even when the world is covered in darkness and man’s wickedness saturates every thought and imagination that comes into his heart; God knew “the end from the beginning” (Isa. 46:10)- Remember, it is mortal man that tries to make sense of the past in the darkness of time, but the long journey of the past only makes sense in the Light of the future!

Therefore, with such evil in the world, God’s word focuses on the deliverance of Noah from wrath in the Ark.  In other words, God is telling you- O end times Church- to focus on your deliverer, not your calamity!

“Set your minds on things above, not on things on the earth!  For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God!  When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with Him in glory!” (Colossians 3:2-4)

READ: Romans 8:18-26 “I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us…”

 

Point 2 (Genesis 6:8-10)

God tells us of the “generations” (NASB) of Noah; and we are not told first off of his progeny, but rather, of righteousness.  Preceding God’s recitation of Noah’s “generations” we find that Noah found grace from the LORD- before anyone can be brought into the line of righteousness as an heir they must first find GRACE!

It is here that we see Jesus foreshadowed again: Christ is “grace upon grace”- Noah found grace.

Let us consider Noah’s generation of righteousness (which is revealed at greater length in the entire chapter 11 of Hebrews):

(PREACH) By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear, prepared an ark for the saving of his household, by which he condemned the world and became heir of the righteousness which is according to faith. (Hebrews 11:7)

“Noah condemned the world”, just as we die to the world:  the floodwaters, which represent our baptism into the death and resurrection of Christ by the Holy Spirit, were the means by which the whole world was condemned to Noah, and by which Noah died to the whole world- when he emerged from the Ark he emerged into a new world.

 

 

Of Noah’s generations it is said:

  1. He was righteous and blameless in his generation.
  2. He walked with God.
  3. His progeny: Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

 

Point 3 (Genesis 6:13-22)

“Elohim” spoke to Noah (God’s Genesis 1:1 name), and told him that the Creator of Heaven and Earth is coming to destroy creation.  “Elohim” declares the end from the beginning with what will ultimately be fulfilled at the return of Christ:

And God said to Noah, ‘The end of all flesh has come before Me, for the earth is filled with violence through them; and behold I will destroy them with the earth.’

  • See Isaiah 34:1-4 “Let the earth hear, and all that is in it; for the indignation of the Lord is against the nations…”
  • See 2 Peter 3:10-13 “But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise…”

 

From this point on God speaks exclusively regarding Noah’s salvation:

  • The Ark of God’s covenant by which Noah would be delivered from God’s wrath.
  • The floodwaters of God’s wrath by which Noah would be delivered from the wickedness of the world.

Now the details regarding the Ark of God’s covenant begin to be revealed:

 

  1. The Ark is God’s covenant with Noah provided by grace and entered through faith.
  2. The Ark’s design is revealed in advance.
  3. The Ark had one window.
  4. The Ark had many rooms.
  5. The Ark had one door.
  6. The Ark was God’s deliverance during the outpouring of His wrath

 

  • See Psalm 32:6-7For this cause everyone who is godly shall pray to You in a time when You may be found; surely in a flood of great waters they shall not come near him. You are my hiding place; You shall preserve me from trouble; You shall surround me with songs of deliverance.”
  • See Luke 11:13How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him!

Noah and his sons labor to build the ark for anywhere between 55 to 75 years (high estimates are 100+ years).

(v22) “Thus Noah did”

By faith Noah, being divinely warned of things not yet seen, moved with godly fear (Heb 11:7)

 

Genesis 7: The Great Flood

Point 1 (Genesis 7:1-6)

The LORD watched Noah, who was moved with godly fear as he received God’s warning by faith; God saw Noah’s faithfulness all these long years of thankless, sweat-stained, blood-stained, ridiculed labor, and declared;

“Come into the Ark, you and all your household, because I have seen that you are righteous before Me in this generation.” (Genesis 7:1)

By the labor of faith Noah entered the Ark.

So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.  For the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His.  Therefore let us be diligent to enter that rest, so that no one will fall, through following the same example of disobedience.” (Hebrews 4:9-11)

Jesus Christ is the Sabbath-rest of God. Enter His rest at the invitation of His word (Matthew 11:28) whereby every sincere heart of faith is filled with the grace of God. Let us be diligent to set our hope on the firm foundation of Christ’s return; to take up every promise of God whereby we may become partakers of His divine nature (2 Peter 1:4); and to abound in the joy of our salvation through blessing and trial by offering to God our sacrifice of praise (Hebrews 13:15).

Hear this: today we must be moved by the same godly fear that moved Noah by faith!

1 Peter 4:17For the time has come for judgment to begin at the house of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the end of those who do not obey the gospel of God?

See Matthew 24:27-41

 

Point 2 (Genesis 7:7-24)

This is when everything ceased being faith for Noah and everything he had believed in became reality; for years Noah was moved with God fear by faith to labor for things that seemed so far off.  The world continued as it had always been- life, merriment, death, and new life- but Noah and his family forsook the passing pleasures to pursue something that was utterly veiled to their understanding.

  • The floodwaters began to rage as the fountains of the deep were broken
  • The widows of heaven were opened.

 

Then God commanded Noah to enter the Ark:

So those that entered went in as God had commanded Noah; and the LORD shut him in.”
(Genesis 7:16)

Noah is sealed into the Ark by the LORD:

  • See Ephesians 4:30
  • See Romans 8:35-39

 

 

Genesis 8: Noah Delivered and God’s Covenant with Creation

Point 1 (Genesis 8:1-14)

The floodwaters of God’s wrath that cleansed the face of the earth from the exceedingly great wickedness of man brought deep sorrow to God:

I take no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but rather that the wicked turn from his way and live. (Ezekiel 33:11)

Every creature of God’s “very good” creation was destroyed; the fierceness of God’s wrath- the wrath that can only be fully satisfied by Christ- broke loose upon the face of the earth with great noise, terror, and power.  And in this moment God was utterly robbed of any pleasure in His creation.  No song of nature.  No beauty of the fields.  Nothing on earth but the Ark carrying the line by which the greatly anticipated Seed that would crush the Serpent’s head was left on the face of the earth.

Then Elohim remembered Noah in the Ark and brought a wind to dry up the earth.

After the Ark came to rest on Mt. Ararat Noah began sending out birds to see if the earth was ready to receive him again;

 

  1. First the Raven
  2. Then a Dove (returned).
  3. Again a Dove (returned with an Olive Branch).
  4. And again a Dove (Did not return).

 

Olive Branch Meaning: Romans 11:17-21. Olive Branch representative of Israel into which the Gentiles are grafted!

 

Point 2 (Genesis 8:15-22)

Now that the earth is dried up God spoke to Noah again;

“Go out of the Ark, you and your household, bring out with you every living thing that is with you so that they may abound on the earth, and be fruitful and multiply on the earth.” (Genesis 8:17)

 

Noah is now breathing the hope of new life and builds an altar to the LORD to sacrifice a burnt offering of every clean animal and of every clean bird.

Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place.  For we are to God the fragrance of Christ among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing.  To the one we are the aroma of death leading to death, and to the other the aroma of life leading to life.  And who is sufficient for these things?  2 Corinthians 2:!4-16

Noah’s sacrifice foreshadowed the complete redemption of all creation that would be made by Jesus Christ in the end; by this sacrifice Noah diffused the fragrance of the knowledge of Christ.

 

In the past God has cursed man’s dominion at the fall of Adam and Eve; even so again God struck man’s dominion again at the flood.  Now God makes a covenant;

I will never again curse the ground for man’s sake, although the imagination of man’s heart is evil from his youth; nor will I again destroy every living thing as I have done.  While the earth remains, seedtime and harvest, cold and heat, winter and summer, day and night, shall not cease” (Genesis 8:21-22)

 

 

Prophetic Signs of Noah’s Time:

  • Mankind gave and took in marriage and bore sons and daughters (Ch. 5)
  • Mankind multiplied on the face of the earth (6:1).
  • Mankind’s wickedness was widespread on the face of the Earth (6:5).
  • Every intent of their heart was evil (6:5).
  • Noah found Grace from God (6:8)
  • Noah’s generation was righteousness (6:9)
  • The Earth itself was also corrupt before God (6:11).
  • The Earth was filled with violence (6:11).
  • Every creature (people and animals) on earth had corrupted its ways (6:12 see v7).
  • God judged Noah’s faithfulness during the years of construction (7:1)
  • The Ark is God’s covenant with Noah
  • The Ark’s design is revealed in advance, as Christ was foretold by the prophets.
  • The Ark has one window.
  • The Ark has many rooms.
  • The Ark had one door.
  • The ark was God’s deliverance during His outpouring of wrath.

 

Peace Comes

Peace comes to those who wait upon the Lord.

The prophets of old wrote, “Behold, this is our God; we have waited for Him, and He will save us. This is the LORD; we have waited for Him; we will be glad and rejoice in His salvation” (Isaiah 25:9); they made God their hope, and trusted in His coming rather than the strongholds of men.  By “strongholds of men” I mean those fortresses of things like health, wealth, knowledge, weapons of war, and bigger barns that we put so much confidence in.

Peace is written concerning Christ:

“I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim and the horse from Jerusalem; the battle bow shall be cut off.  He shall speak peace to the nations; His dominion shall be ‘from sea to sea, and from the River to the ends of the earth’” (Zechariah 9:10).

For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder.  And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.  Of the increase of His government and peace there will be no end, upon the throne of David and over His kingdom, to order it and establish it with judgment and justice from that time forward, even forever.  The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. (Isaiah 9:6–7)

There is one Prince who establishes lasting peace; by His scepter righteousness will reign over the earth!

But beware of the peace accord that is struck between the light and darkness; do not be seduced by such a peace, as it is written “indeed, they have seduced My people, saying, ‘Peace!’ when there is no peace” (Ezekiel 13:10)- again, there can be no peace between the temple of God and idols.  Again, there is a call for peace that seeks to heal wounds where there can be no peace; do not be deceived, as it is written, “for they have healed the hurt of the daughter of My people slightly, saying, ‘Peace, peace!’  when there is no peace” (Jeremiah 8:11).

Remember what is written:

For I will stretch out My hand against the inhabitants of the land,” says the Lord. “Because from the least of them even to the greatest of them, everyone is given to covetousness; and from the prophet even to the priest, everyone deals falsely.  They have also healed the hurt of My people slightly, Saying, ‘Peace, peace!’  When there is no peace.  (Isaiah 6:12-14)

For when they say, “Peace and safety!” then sudden destruction comes upon them, as labor pains upon a pregnant woman. And they shall not escape. (1 Thessalonians 5:3)

Therefore, do not trust the peace that is proclaimed in this generation.  Rather, peace comes to those that wait upon the Lord, as it is written;

For He Himself is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of separation, having abolished in His flesh the enmity, that is, the law of commandments contained in ordinances, so as to create in Himself one new man from the two, thus making peace, and that He might reconcile them both to God in one body through the cross, thereby putting to death the enmity.  And He came and preached peace to you who were afar off and to those who were near.  For through Him we both have access by one Spirit to the Father. (Ephesians 2:14–18)

Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. (John 14:27)

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law.  (Galatians 5:22-23)

Peace comes to those who wait upon the Lord, who walk in the Spirit, being themselves crucified to the flesh and alive anew to God in Christ!  His peace abides in them that love Him and bear fruit in accordance with repentance by the Holy Spirit.

The peace that is given by this world can likewise be taken away by this world; but the peace that is the fruit of the Spirit- the peace that joins us together with God- cannot be taken away by this world because it transcends even the reach of this world and those who walk in the world.

Days are approaching in which those who have their peace from this world will find no rest, and those who have not found peace in Christ will seek it with tears to no avail.  It is a time when the confident will find no strength to stand before God; their vain words will vanish like the morning dew, and their strength will faint before the glory of God- yes, even the multitude of their prayers will not save them in the flood of His great wrath!

These days are approaching silently as people pursue the cares of this world and scoff at the warnings God sends their way.  There is mercy still to be found in the setting of the sun, even mercy in the late watches of the night, but these who refuse to be corrected deride God’s mercy and insist upon their own way!

But those who wait upon the Lord shall sow the fruit of righteousness in peace!  There will be no shadow of turning in their ways, nor will they be afraid of the dark, because the Light of Christ has burst forth in their heart and given them light for their path!

Therefore, whoever is weary and has not found peace, hear the word of the LORD:

Come unto me, all ye that labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.  Take My yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.  For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.   Matthew 11:28-29