In the past, Tim Challies posted an article titled The Most Terrifying Thing God Can Do. It’s a terrifying article. It crushed me reading it and apparently it did for many others as well. I saw this article referred to and re-posted numerous times.
The most terrifying thing God can do is to turn an unsaved person over to his sin. Having just gone through Romans 1 in my Sunday School class, I was starkly reminded again of God giving them over to their sin. It’s stated three times at the end of the chapter. This again clutched my heart with terror and grief. Sin is such a powerful drug, a terrifying trap.
Who is this God who personally ministers to a sobbing Hagar in the desert? Who is this God who sends angels to an exhausted Elijah? And later Himself comes to Elijah in the cave?
Who is this God who judges the world in watery wrath, but chooses to save 8? Who is this God who creates worlds and the wind and waves obey Him, but goes after the lost sheep in the ditch?
Who is this God who restores a crushed Peter? Who saves murderous persecutor Saul?
Who is the One who is coming back again in wrath and judgment, but gently protects His own in the place he has prepared?
It is JESUS, the One and Only. Name above all names.
And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death: death on a cross. For this reason also God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus EVERY KNEE WILL BOW, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Philippians 2:9-11).
It might seem strange to say this, but we are not living to live. Living is not the point of our living. Waiting is. We live while we’re waiting.
For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, 12training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age, 13waiting for our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, (Titus 2:11-13).
Paul is giving Titus some instructions and reminders as to our duties as Christians, to be done while we wait.
Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible reminds us also that this life is a preparatory for the one to come.
To look for the glories of another world, to which a sober, righteous, and godly life in this is preparative: Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ. Hope, by a metonymy, is put for the thing hoped for, namely, heaven and the felicities thereof, called emphatically that hope, because it is the great thing we look and long and wait for; and a blessed hope, because, when attained, we shall be completely happy for ever.
In today’s time it’s not considered mature to speak of prophecy. I believe that’s wrong. I believe that because so many verses stress that we are to look forward, to hope in His coming promises, to wait for His return. I can’t think of a better encouragement than to dwell on His prophecies. This life is difficult. (John 16:33). It’s full of evil people and seducers waxing worse and worse. (2 Timothy 3:13). It’s full of disease, strife, challenge, and vigilance. (1 Corinthians 11:30, 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Proverbs 28:25, Psalm 46:1,1 Peter 5:8).
We are being trained while we wait. But waiting is our task, our joy, our hope. We should look to His return for encouragement. He is the blessed hope!
“And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James, and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain by themselves. And he was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his clothes became white as light. And behold, there appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him. And Peter said to Jesus, “Lord, it is good that we are here. If you wish, I will make three tents here, one for you and one for Moses and one for Elijah.” He was still speaking when, behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” When the disciples heard this, they fell on their faces and were terrified. But Jesus came and touched them, saying, “Rise, and have no fear.” And when they lifted up their eyes, they saw no one but Jesus only.” (Matthew 17:1-8)
The Holy Spirit’s ministry is to point to Christ (John 16:13-14). Christ is the pre-eminent Person in all the universe (Colossians 1:18). Peter, in his boundless and sometimes unthinking enthusiasm, wanted to make a tabernacle for all three of the glorified beings he saw before him. One for Moses, one for Elijah and one for Jesus. In verse 4 Peter makes it clear, he says it twice, ‘three tents’ and then explains, ‘one for you and you and you…’
Sinning. Every human on the planet, no matter his or her age, is good at sinning. Hands down. Me included.
Look at this example from scripture.
Woe to you, blind guides, who say, ‘If anyone swears by the temple, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gold of the temple, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind fools! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that has made the gold sacred? And you say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it is nothing, but if anyone swears by the gift that is on the altar, he is bound by his oath.’ You blind men! For which is greater, the gift or the altar that makes the gift sacred? So whoever swears by the altar swears by it and by everything on it. And whoever swears by the temple swears by it and by him who dwells in it. And whoever swears by heaven swears by the throne of God and by him who sits upon it. (Matthew 23:16-21).
What this section of scripture is about is Jesus pronouncing woes upon the Pharisees. The Pharisees were one of the two ruling classes in Israel, the Sadducees being the other. The Pharisees had twisted the faith into something unrecognizable, laying incredible burdens down on the people, (like over 600 laws!) failing to minister to sinners, making sons of hell twice as worse as they were, and being total hypocrites. When Jesus pronounced His many woes upon them, this particular set of woes involved swearing by the LORD and lying.
The Pharisees had cunningly devised a way to appear to swear by the Lord but be able to get out of it later. As Romans 1:18 says, we all know the truth but we suppress it in unrighteousness. They knew what they were doing but they were devising evil in rationalizing what they THOUGHT were clever ways to wriggle out of it.
They THOUGHT that if they swore an oath by the temple and not by the gold of the temple, they could break their oath later with no repercussions. Or swear by the altar and not the gift on the altar, or by heaven and not by the throne in heaven. As President Bill Clinton famously said when he was trying to avoid an answer, “It depends on what the meaning of is is.”
Photo Pixabay.com. cc.
Look how finely they were splitting hairs! They were dead wrong, as we read Jesus’ excoriation of their sly practices. All the hairs matter.
But you see how we as humans excel at sinning and rationalizing our sin. We’re really, really good at it. “It wasn’t that bad.” “It wasn’t a real promise.” “No one keeps promises anymore.” “I’m not gossiping, I’m sharing a prayer request.” “It wasn’t as bad as that other guy’s sin over there.” “No one saw.”
All rationalizations are simply self-justifications. And there is only One who justifies, Jesus. Our pitiful attempts to justify ourselves when we sin are just evil blasphemies and vain delusions. When we transgress God’s laws, we injure ourselves and dig ourselves deeper into the pit we will eventually fall into. (Matthew 15:14)
As I go through the day I ask Jesus to show me where I am sinning but I’m rationalizing it away. Where I am too ignorant or blind to see my own sin. I ask Him to help me sin less against Him tomorrow than I did today, by the Spirit’s conviction and strength. I am not only the Chief of Sinners, I am Queen of Rationalizations! Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. I pray mine and your walk grows purer with each day and each step. Paul was so wise to pray this for his people:
I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people, (Ephesians 1:18).
Lord open the eyes of my heart so I may see and repent of the sins that lurk there. All the ways of a man are pure in his own eyes, but the LORD weighs the spirit. (Proverbs 16:2).
Your eyes are too pure to look upon sin but my eyes are too depraved to see holiness. I need Your eyes, Lord.
Today, the 4th of July Independence Day holiday here in the US, is all about freedom, but the best freedom of all is freedom from the power of sin, freedom from the wrath of God for sin, and freedom from the yoke of sin. Repent and believe on the Son today, and experience REAL freedom!
This episode is also available as a blog post: https://the-end-time.org/2022/07/04/true-freedom/
Kay Cude poetry. Used with permission. Right-click to open photo in new window
After finishing this piece, the more I read and reread Mark 4:37-41 and Colossians 1:16-18, the more I was overcome with tears. The Holy Spirit is so faithful to teach, especially at times when I am too busy “doing things” for Christ (in my own effort). How many more readings of these verses will it take for me to attentively remember that Christ’s continuing patience with me, my fears and my sometimes feeble faith is unbelievably profound and so very merciful?
How many times has Scripture told me, told all believers, to pay attention to Christ and His Word, and to not allow the storms of battering and fearful trials or heartaches overwhelm us? That He is sufficient; that He will enable us to glorify Him in our lives; that He will supply us with the appropriate words needed at perilous times of persecution and impending death? Or to remember that all things are under His authority and that He is preeminent and sovereign and that he will supply us the wisdom and endurance to continue on? Or that His Holy Spirit sustains us!
I am so thankful, so grateful, that He knows the hearts of His redeemed so intimately, and so very thankful that He rescued me!
Missionary to Vanuatu in the late 1800s, John G. Paton, writing about the death of one of his first native converts in his book Thirty Years Among the South Sea Cannibals, said:
“While staying at Aneityum, I learned with as deep emotion as man ever felt for man, that noble old Abraham, the sharer of my Tannese trials, had during the interval peacefully fallen asleep in Jesus. He left for me his silver watch one which I had myself sent to the dear soul from Sydney, and which he greatly prized. In his dying hour he said, “Give it to Missi, my own Missi Paton; and tell him that I go to Jesus, where Time is dead.”
That converted cannibal had a real and profound grasp of his position in Christ. I have read many times that in heaven sin will be dead, tears will be dead, sorrow will be dead, but I never read anything put quite like that. In heaven, time is dead.
Job Says There Is No Arbitrator between God and Man
1Then Job answered, 2“In truth I know that this is so; But how can a man be in the right before God? 3“If one wished to dispute with Him, He could not answer Him once in a thousand times. 4“Wise in heart and mighty in strength, Who has defied Him without harm? 5“It is God who removes the mountains, they know not how, When He overturns them in His anger; 6Who shakes the earth out of its place, And its pillars tremble;
7Who commands the sun not to shine, And sets a seal upon the stars; 8Who alone stretches out the heavens And tramples down the waves of the sea; 9Who makes the Bear, Orion and the Pleiades, And the chambers of the south; 10Who does great things, unfathomable, And wondrous works without number. 11“Were He to pass by me, I would not see Him; Were He to move past me, I would not perceive Him. 12“Were He to snatch away, who could restrain Him? Who could say to Him, ‘What are You doing?’
13“God will not turn back His anger; Beneath Him crouch the helpers of Rahab. 14“How then can I answer Him, And choose my words before Him? 15“For though I were right, I could not answer; I would have to implore the mercy of my judge. 16“If I called and He answered me, I could not believe that He was listening to my voice. 17“For He bruises me with a tempest And multiplies my wounds without cause.
29“I am accounted wicked, Why then should I toil in vain? 30“If I should wash myself with snow And cleanse my hands with lye, 31Yet You would plunge me into the pit, And my own clothes would abhor me. 32“For He is not a man as I am that I may answer Him, That we may go to court together. 33“There is no umpire between us, Who may lay his hand upon us both.
34“Let Him remove His rod from me, And let not dread of Him terrify me. 35“Then I would speak and not fear Him; But I am not like that in myself.
Job keenly felt the gap between himself as sinner and God as holy. He knew there was an insurmountable chasm between him and the Holy One in heaven. How to overcome this? Job could see no way. He pleaded for an umpire to be the bridge between man and God.
Jesus is that umpire. He is our advocate before God and defender against satan. The cross is His bridge that lays one hand on our shoulder and the other on God’s. Take a moment today to reflect on Christ’s work on earth and in heaven. Think of His unfathomable love for us, He who lived on earth with sinners, died an excruciating death, and ascended in flesh to live in heaven as man-God forever. When Job passed into glory, he finally met his umpire, the Christ. We will too. What a day that will be.
The entire point of having social media, for me, is to point to Jesus. It’s an opportunity to get the scriptures into the public square, to show who Jesus is and why people need Him. Although this video is ultimately a promotion for the G3 Conference, most of this video explains who Jesus is and why we need Him. It is only 2:44 long. The video is very well done.
THE heart of the gospel is redemption, and the essence of redemption is the substitutionary sacrifice of Christ. They who preach this truth preach the gospel in whatever else they may be mistaken; but they who preach not the atonement, whatever else they declare, have missed the soul and substance of the divine message. In these days I feel bound to go over again the elementary truths of the Gospel. In peaceful times we may feel free to make excursions into interesting districts of truth which lie far afield; but now we must stay at home, and guard the hearths and homes of the church by defending the first principles of the faith. In this age there have risen up in the church itself men who speak perverse things. There be many that trouble us with their philosophies and novel interpretations, whereby they deny the doctrines they profess to teach, and undermine the faith they are pledged to maintain. It is well that some of us, who know what we believe, and have no secret meanings for our words, should just put our foot down and maintain our standing, holding forth the word of life, and plainly declaring the foundation truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ.