Tag Archive | jesus

Hate Week Essay #6: When will we hate Jesus? Answer inside

No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money. (Matthew 6:24)

Jesus is an all-or-nothing proposition. This is because He is all. He is the all in all (Colossians 3:11). He is everything good, He is sufficient. Nothing should compete with Him. Hence the warning about two masters.

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible

No man can serve two masters … – Christ proceeds to illustrate the necessity of laying up treasures in heaven from a well-known fact, that a servant cannot serve two masters at the same time. His affections and obedience would be divided, and he would fail altogether in his duty to one or the other. One he would love, the other he would hate. To the interests of the one he would adhere, the interests of the other he would neglect. This is a law of human nature. The supreme affections can be fixed on only one object.

Please be aware of any growing idols in your (and my) life, whom you (and I) are serving. We cannot have two masters else we will hate the one. Jesus is too precious to risk hating Him, even if for a short while before realizing and then repenting.

Answer to the Title’s question: We will hate Jesus when we serve another master.

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Hate Week Essay #3: The World will hate you

If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you. (John 15:18)

The kind of hate we discussed on Monday was the kind of righteous holy hate that God has against sin, divorce, lying, and the 6 other things the Proverbs listed. On Tuesday I followed that up with looking at our hate against those things that God hates, which, mirroring our God, is also a righteous hate (hopefully).

But the world’s hate comes from a completely different fountain. It comes from satan’s river of hate, and the world not only drinks from that fountain, but is immersed and submerged in it.

For what reason does the world hate Jesus? He explained that in John 7:7b

but it hates me because I testify about it that its works are evil.

The Gospel is a command. It is a command for repentance and to obedience to God. People are commanded to repent because, as the other part of the Gospel so clearly says, people’s works are evil and do not please God. They will be judged one day.

No one likes to be told they are sinners, evil, and judged as wanting. In fact, the reprobate mind (as the unsaved possess) cannot understand those things. Therefore they will hate the one who tells them. They hated Jesus for it, and they hated it so much they killed Him.

Gill’s Commentary: how they had expressed their hatred, not only by words, calling him a gluttonous man, and a winebibber, a sinner, a Samaritan, a madman, one that had a devil, yea, Beelzebub himself, but by deeds; taking up stones to stone him more than once, leading him to the brow of an hill, in order to cast him down headlong, consulting by various means to take away his life, as Herod did in his very infancy;

And as Paul alluded to here, they will hate the Apostles and disciples for it.

Am I therefore become your enemy, because I tell you the truth? (Galatians 4:16).

Stephen told the Jewish leaders the truth, and they were cut to the heart, but as Ellicott’s Commentary explains, it wasn’t a righteous anger over their own sin, it was a hatred of the one who told them.

They were cut to the heart.—Literally, were sawn through and through. The word describes a keener pang than the “pricked” of Acts 2:37, producing, not repentance, but the frenzy of furious anger.

The world has a killing hatred of Christ and His people.

Some Christians think that if we make the church friendly, those who are seeking will eventually relax into repentance. But it is not so. There is no one seeking after God, no not one, Romans 3:11 says. Therefore there are no seeker friendly churches. And secondly, the Gospel is tampered with to make it palatable to those whom people think are seeking. But the Gospel is a violent thing, it commands what doesn’t want to submit, it reveals what doesn’t want to be revealed. It judges, it forces. Any Gospel that’s changed in any aspect is no Gospel at all.

Paul said in Galatians 1:8,

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.

No, we must carry the exact message the King sent to His Ambassadors, whether it’s received eagerly or in rejected in hatred.

Barnes’ Notes on the Bible reminds us not to be deterred.

If the world hate you – The friendship of the world they were not to expect, but they were not to be deterred from their work by its hatred. They had seen the example of Jesus. No opposition of the proud, the wealthy, the learned, or the men of power, no persecution or gibes, had deterred him from his work. Remembering this, and having his example steadily in the eye, they were to labor not less because wicked men should oppose and deride them. It is enough for the disciple to be as his Master, and the servant as his Lord, Matthew 10:25.

They hated Jesus. At some point, someone will hate you (and me) for sharing the Gospel, or for witnessing with our life and deeds. And that is good, for we would be like our Master. It’s hard to slough off the world’s hatred, but this world is not our home. We are from a far country, where no hatred exists, only love and devotion to our Master.

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Love week essay #6: Love fulfills the law

All this week we’ve explored the blessings of love.

We looked at God’s love through the lens of Psalm 136.

We looked at the meaning of love through the lens of the Apostle John’s epistle.

We looked at how there are different words to express love (which is not a feeling.)

Yesterday we looked deeper into how love is not a feeling, but a choice of the will.

Yesterday we explored the difficult concept of loving our enemies.

Today we look at how love fulfills the Law. First, the scriptures.

“Teacher, which is the great commandment in the Law?” 37And he said to him, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. 38This is the great and first commandment. 39And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. 40On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40)

Owe no one anything, except to love each other, for the one who loves another has fulfilled the law. (Romans 13:8)

As we have looked at previously, love is a distinguishing characteristic of the Christian. It marks him or her out from the world. Yet we go even further, that the kind of love Jesus expects of us to display is a law-fulfilling love. The two commandments are to love Him, and love people.

But how can God command us to feel something, one might ask. We can’t command feelings, can we? Again, as we have looked at previously, love isn’t a feeling that comes on its own like the wind and blows away when it wants, leaving us either filled and romantic, or dry and loveless. We have the will to choose to love. We gain that will by adhering to the precepts of the Father, who said to love all, even one’s enemies. The will to love comes from the fountain of grace that indwells us, AKA the Holy Spirit.

Now, commandment one is to love the God with all our strength, soul, and mind. The second is to love your neighbor as yourself.

Love doesn’t harm a neighbor. Love protects a neighbor. Love doesn’t slander him, or murder him with ill thoughts, or take his wife. Love doesn’t harm a neighbor by harboring covetousness over his new car/riding lawnmower/pool. Love wants the best for people, always.

It is upon us to rely on the Spirit, ask the Spirit, pray for the Spirit to cultivate in us Godly desires that squeeze out even the desire for violence against our neighbor, violence even in the form of sinful thoughts, never mind sinful actions. The goal is to love one’s neighbor enough so that any desire for harm against him is not even present in our heart.

When we do that, when we love our neighbor as purely as possible, it cycles us back to the first Law, loving God with all our strength,mind, heart, and soul, because we are obeying Him.

Love fulfills the Law.

Now I need to get to work. It seems I have a lot of heart work to do… 🙂 Do you?

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Resources

In this devotional, Alistair Begg wants us to Make Him Glad with our Love

Hugh Binning’s book Christian Love is recommended at Banner of Truth Trust, Monergism, Reformation Trust, and other sources. Here is the book blurb-

In this Treatise of Christian Love, the Scottish Covenanting minister Hugh Binning movingly presents the need for Christians to show by their love for one another that they belong to Christ. Basing his remarks on John 13:35, By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another, he argues, ‘This badge that Christ left to his disciples: if we cast this away on every disagreement, we disown our Master, and disclaim his token and badge.’
Binning describes the excellence of Christian love, demonstrating its nature from 1 Corinthians 13. He gives strong reasons why Christians should love one another, and shows that love is rooted in Christian humility and meekness, after the pattern of Christ himself.

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Love Week Essay #5: Loving our Enemies?

All this week we’ve explored the blessings of love.

We looked at God’s love through the lens of Psalm 136.

We looked at the meaning of love through the lens of the Apostle John’s epistle.

We looked at how there are different words to express love (which is not a feeling.)

Yesterday we looked deeper into how love is not a feeling, but a choice of the will.

Today we’ll look deeper into that, loving not only those who are easy to love, or loving who we are supposed to love, but loving those who actively hate us. Enemies.

I’ll take a moment here to let you all know something. I enjoy writing, but that’s not the only reason I write blogs every day. I process the Word by writing. When I post a blog essay, I’m not telling you all how to be Christian, though there is some exhortation with each essay. Mainly, I am preaching to myself. I don’t find it easy to love the way the Bible tells us, even to friends and brethren. I certainly don’t find it easy to love enemies. I fail in many ways, every day. So please don’t ever think that I have it all together!

But love your enemies, and do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High; for He Himself is kind to ungrateful and evil men. (Luke 6:35).

And again in Matthew:

You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect. (Matthew 5:43-48)

Barnes’ Notes explains:

We are bound to love our enemies. This is a law of Christianity, original and unique. No system of religion but Christianity has required it, and no act of Christian piety is more difficult. None shows more the power of the grace of God; none is more ornamental to the character; none more like God; and none furnishes better evidence of piety. He that can meet a man kindly who is seeking his hurt; who can speak well of one that is perpetually slandering and cursing him; that can pray for a man that abuses, injures, and wounds him: and that can seek heaven for him that wishes his damnation, is in the way to life. This is religion, beautiful as its native skies; pure like its Source; kind like its Author; fresh like the dews of the morning; clear and diffusive like the beams of the rising sun; and holy like the feelings and words that come from the bosom of the Son of God. He that can do this need not doubt that he is a Christian. He has caught the very spirit of the Saviour, and he must inherit eternal life.

It’s easy to love those who love us. It’s simple to treat others lovingly who treat us well. Jesus said even the Gentiles (who do not know love) do the same.

A Christian’s love must be different than what is expected. It has to be different from the kind of love the world is used to. It must be perfect.

But how can our love be perfect? We’re imperfect sinners!

John MacArthur here in his sermon Love Your Enemies part 3:

The point is this: you are to be like God.  You say, “Well, that standard is too high.”  You’re right, and that’s exactly what He wanted the Pharisees to know. You can’t make it. … What Jesus is saying in the Sermon on the Mount is the same thing, “Be perfect.”  They’re supposed to say, “But I can’t be perfect.” And that’s when He says, “Right; and if you fall short of perfection, you need a Savior.” And that’s where Jesus comes in, and brings to you what Peter calls the divine nature, and makes you like God, a partaker of His nature. Then God, in a miracle of salvation, does for you what you could never do for yourself – be like God. When you came to Jesus Christ, positionally, you were made like God. You were given His eternal life, His righteousness, you became like Him in that sense. And now you need to bring your behavior into harmony with your position.

Oh no! I still can’t!

John MacArthur continues:

Listen: a Christian is not someone who keeps the Sermon on the Mount. A Christian is somebody who knows he can’t, do you see – and comes to Jesus Christ for forgiveness for the sin of falling short, and receives from Christ the forgiveness, and then the power to begin to live these principles. That’s the point of the message.

If that makes you cry, good. It did me. His standards are holy and high, and we can’t make it. It makes me cry out Abba! Father! Help me! Help me to love like you would have me do! And He will.

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A note about the photo: It was taken by a friend of mine who works with the American Legion, an American veteran, who was in NYC for a conference on the day of 9-11. He took this photo the day after. He gave this picture to me and spent some time telling me how the day was for him and his colleagues. It was an emotional day for all of us, though it’s hard to believe it has been 17 years since then. I watched in shock as the towers fell (and knew many were dying at that moment), the pit in the ground in PA where the plane dove in, the Pentagon ruptured and a Navy man who lived in our town was killed inside. Whether it’s an individual enemy at work, or a national enemy out to destroy America, and every enemy in between, it is very hard to love your enemies. Yet Jesus did, while He was being nailed to the cross, He pleaded for mercy upon those who nailed Him and wanted Him dead. The truth is, before salvation we were all enemies of God and we all have that depravity in us that wants God dead. Praise Him that before we knew Him, He first loved us.

Gadara & Sychar: A Tale of Two Towns

A Tale of Two Towns

Gadara, where Jesus healed a demoniac

When the herdsmen saw what had happened, they fled and told it in the city and in the country. 35 Then people went out to see what had happened, and they came to Jesus and found the man from whom the demons had gone, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed and in his right mind, and they were afraid. 36 And those who had seen it told them how the demon-possessed man had been healed. 37 Then all the people of the surrounding country of the Gerasenes asked him to depart from them, for they were seized with great fear. (Luke 8:34-37).

Sychar, where Jesus met a woman at the well

Many Samaritans from that town believed in him because of the woman’s testimony, “He told me all that I ever did.” 40 So when the Samaritans came to him, they asked him to stay with them, and he stayed there two days. 41 And many more believed because of his word. 42 They said to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves, and we know that this is indeed the Savior of the world.” (John 4:39-42).

In one town, they saw Jesus perform a miracle, delivering the man from his legion of demons. Jesus demonstrated his sovereignty over creation, including the demons in the spiritual realm. The people saw, and rejected.

In another town, one woman’s testimony, a well-known immoral woman, seemed to have been changed. Her shame was gone, or at least diminished in the face of the incredible news that this man who told her all she ever (shamefully) did (but seemed to love her anyway), could be the Christ.

Things to ponder:

1. Just because they witnessed a miracle does not mean that belief always follows. Some believed because of the signs (John 2:11, John 2:23, John 11:45). Others saw signs and miracles and did not believe (John 11:46).

2. Far from being dry, dusty, and unnecessary, doctrine leads one to faith and repentance. Doctrine is the act of teaching or that which is taught. “Doctrine is teaching imparted by an authoritative source.” (GotQuestions). Like the Bereans who consulted the word after hearing Paul, the townsmen of Sychar were open to hearing Jesus teach. They listened and heard. “And many more believed because of his word”.

3. Some in the same crowd or the same room or in the same family believe, and others don’t. That’s the way it always has been and always will be. Some wonder why that is when we all have free will. Our will isn’t as free as one thinks it is. Our will is a slave to sin, it’s bound. Belief comes when Jesus opens ears and eyes to see and repent, gives a spirit of repentance. He intervenes from outside of earth, outside of ourselves, from heaven and breaks the binding of our soul to sin by giving us the Holy Spirit. There is nothing in us that can awaken our dead soul. Picture Lazarus dead in grave cloths, awakened by the sovereign call of Jesus. That was a picture of God’s sovereign election of individuals to save whom He decided in eternity past to save, before history began. Did Lazarus have free will? Only to remain dead.

The Reformed view of election, known as unconditional election, means that God does not foresee an action or condition on our part that induces Him to save us. Rather, election rests on God’s sovereign decision to save whomever He is pleased to save. (Source: Ligonier, Tulip & Reformed Theology: Unconditional Election)

Two towns, Gadara and Sychar. Two individuals in the same family, the unconverted and the saved. One rejects and departs, one repents and believes. Continue to pray for those in unbelief.

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Bible Reading Plan thoughts: All have sinned and fall short

romans 3 sunday

(Bible Reading Plan for Sunday is Romans 3-4).

Romans 3:23 is a familiar verse to us. For all its familiarity, don’t let it skim in and out of your mind as you read.

for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God,

All.

Even you.

Especially me.

Genesis 6:5 says that

The Lord saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.

This verse doesn’t stand for just that pre-deluge time. (antediluvian). It’s for all time. As then, now people now live in a time of great wickedness, their hearts’ every intention thinking evil, all the time. That is the natural state of unsaved man. For saved man, it’s the natural state we resist against, with the aid of the indwelling Holy Spirit.

So, all have sinned and fallen short.

The Strong’s definition for the word fallen short is:

5302 /hysteréō (“failing to fulfill a goal”) means to be in lack and hence, unable to meet the need at hand because depleted (“all run out”). This state of lack (insufficiency, privation) naturally results when a person misses out on what is vital.

I grew up during the time when American stunt performer Evel Knieval was active. He was a guy in a Captain America-type suit who would line up a zillion semi-trucks and go really fast on a motorcycle and jump them. He was always jumping something. Of course, being a daredevil stunt performer, his feats had to become increasingly daring to keep his audience.

In 1974 he decided he wanted to jump the Snake River Canyon. This is a 1600 foot jump. A motorcycle can’t jump that far so Knieval invented a ‘sky-cycle.’ His contraption was a bucket seat attached to a steam-powered thrust engine. Knieval attempted the jump in August 1974. He fell short. The parachute accidentally deployed and the sky-cycle was dragged by winds back to the launch site.

We all fall short, all the time. If we think our Bible reading will get us into heaven, it won’t. If we think our good deeds will get us in, they won’t. If we think our donations and charity will get us in, they will not. God’s glory is so far and so high, there is nothing we can do to arrive into His light and dwell there. Our sin prevents it. We are unrighteous.

Fortunately, Jesus came to live, die as the perfect sacrificial sacrifice for sin, and be resurrected. His cross bridges that gap. We don’t have to strive, construct contraptions to get across, or worry if our own merits and good works are enough. Jesus is enough. If we are in Him, we will never fall short- because He didn’t.

But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe
. (Romans 3:21-22)

He is The Amen

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“And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation’. (Revelation 3:14).

Please read Revelation. It’s a majestic book, filled with wonders and prophecies and promises and our future. It is the only book that reveals Jesus as He is. And, it is promised to the reader that he will receive a blessing for reading it. So…

To each of the churches in these opening chapters, Jesus greets them as a different aspect of Himself. He is the Alpha & Omega, He who walks among the lampstands, the first and the last, he who has the sharp two-edged sword, him who has the seven spirits of God and the seven stars, and here in the last letter to the churches, the Amen. These are just a few of the titles Jesus expresses Himself as in the opening chapters of the book, which goes back to my statement, Revelation shows Jesus in all His glory and majesty.

From John MacArthur’s study Bible introduction to the book:

Revelation’s primary theological contribution is to eschatology, i.e. the doctrine of last things. In it we learn about: the final political setup of the world, the last battle of human history, the career and ultimate defeat of Antichrist, Christ’s 100-year earthly kingdom, the glories of heaven and the final state of the wicked and the righteous. Finally, only Daniel rivals this book in declaring that God providentially rules over kingdoms of men and will accomplish His sovereign purposes regardless of human or demonic opposition.

Those are some fantastic reasons to read the book!

In chapter 3, Jesus announces Himself as The Amen. What does that mean?

According to the MacArthur study Bible again, the Amen is a common biblical expression signifying certainty and veracity (cf Isaiah 65:16, “the God of truth”). As 2 Corinthians 1:20 says, all the promises of God are fulfilled in Christ, that is, all God’s promises and unconditional covenants are guaranteed and affirmed by the person and work of Jesus Christ.

Gill’s Exposition says,

Christ may be so called, because he is the God of truth, and truth itself; and it may be expressive of his faithfulness, both to God his Father, and to his people, in whom all the promises he either made, or received, are yea and amen; and also of the firmness, constancy, and immutability of Christ, in his nature, person, and offices, in his love, fulness of grace, power, blood, and righteousness; and is very appropriately assumed by him now, when he was about to give the finishing stroke to all covenant engagements, and to all promises and prophesies;

When we pray and say Amen, it is a verbal stamp on what has been said. Deepening the meaning of the Amen in this context, is that Jesus is the Word and is the living embodiment of all of God’s promises and works. We say Amen at the end of a prayer, Jesus IS the Amen.

We begin the New Year this morning with a hopeful look over the year’s calendar. All those days and weeks and months to fill up. It’s like empty scaffolding. We don’t know what’s ahead. We don’t know how these days ahead will be filled- with pain and tragedy, or joy and fulfillment, or a mixture of both, or… Whatever we do and whatever happens and however these days will be filled up and marked off, we do know one thing and it is certain.

Jesus is the Amen.

Isn’t it comforting to know that no matter what the New Year brings, what He has said is certain and utterly true. No matter what the world does to us, His faithfulness to His word and its exacting and sterling truth is the scaffold and framework for our days and weeks and months ahead. Grab onto it. Let it be your guide, your strength, your uphold, your protection, and your stronghold.

He is the Amen. He has said it. His titles of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation titles confirm the Lord’s faithfulness, sovereignty, and power to bring all things to their proper completion. Amen.

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Photo EPrata