Posted in theology

Jesus is…

By Elizabeth Prata

Jesus is greater than Moses (Hebrews 3:3)

Jesus is greater than the temple (Matthew 12:6)

Jesus is greater than Jonah Matthew 12:41,42

Jesus is greater than Solomon (Matthew 12:42)

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.

Posted in theology

Please…you need to know Jesus

By Elizabeth Prata

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.

In his sermon The Heart of the Gospel, Charles Spurgeon opened with the following:

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.

Who is Christ? Here is the video-

Posted in theology

The Carpenter

By Elizabeth Prata

Yesterday I wrote about the importance of reading old books. I’d found out about a 1900s missionary William Borden, and in a biography Borden mentioned attending a sermon by Campbell Morgan. Curious about Morgan and the sermon that impacted this burgeoning missionary, I followed up. What I found was wonderful. I wrote about the evangelist Campbell Morgan yesterday, but today I’d like to share with you about the sermon he preached, one of hundreds I’m looking forward to learning about.

I think we’re all curious about Jesus in his “hidden years at Nazareth” as Morgan called them. We see much about the baby when he was born, and then when he was about two years old when the Magi worshiped him in the house. We see nothing else of Jesus until he was twelve and at the temple questioning the priests and listening to them. That was the incident when the caravan left Jerusalem to return to Nazareth but Jesus wasn’t among them. Joseph and Mary had to return and look for the boy. Then…nothing until he stepped foot in the Jordan at John the Baptist’s baptism of Him.

What was Jesus like in the in-between? In his sermon, Morgan said there were two verses from which we could glean much. The Hidden Years at Nazareth is based on his sermons from Mark 1:11 and 6:3, “This is my beloved Son in whom I am well pleased”, and “Is this not the carpenter’s son?” we learn of man’s view and God’s view. Morgan said that the 18 years between Jesus entering manhood and seen questioning the elders at the temple, and his step into public ministry at the baptism are the hidden years, but that we have much to learn from the silence and the one or two Bible verses about it.

We think of the triumph of the cross but that would not have been a triumph if Jesus had sinned along the way. With Easter just passed we rightly focused on the cross, but we often gloss over the import of the part where we say “He lived a sinless life.”

Morgan wrote: “Let us, then, try and see Him in those eighteen hidden years. The two verses that I have read are the only two that give us any definite or detailed account of what Jesus was doing from the time He was twelve until He was about thirty. Take the two statements and fix them on your minds for a moment: “Thou art My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.”  “Is not this the carpenter?”  These two passages supply the story of the eighteen years. Jesus was a carpenter pleasing God.” end Morgan quote.

Jesus was baptized, overcame the temptation in the wilderness, then returned and ascended the teaching seat in the synagogue and read from Isaiah. The men assembled in that solemn Sabbath day said, “Is this not the carpenter?”

As Jesus stood between the dividing line of his hidden life and his public ministry, God spoke from heaven, saying, “This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.” Was God’s pleasure in Jesus on the cross? It was yet to be. Was it of his temptation in the wilderness? That was still to happen. Morgan makes the case that what God was pleased with was Jesus’ daily life in common work- as a carpenter.

Campbell Morgan again: “For the greater part, then, of the life of Jesus, He worked with His own hands for His own living. That brings the Son of God, in living, pulsating life, close to every man who works. The man Jesus rose at daybreak, and, picking up His tools, made yokes and tables in order that He might have something to eat, and that, not for a brief period, but for eighteen years. He was an apprentice boy, a young man improving His craft, a master in His little shop with the shavings round Him and the tools about Him.”

Picture this scene in Nazareth 2000 years ago. Note that the men in the synagogue said is this not THE carpenter? It was not likely that a small town such as Nazareth would have had more than one carpenter. Jesus was THE single carpenter, toiling in this manual labor daily.

“Sometimes we have overshadowed the carpenter’s shop with Calvary’s cross. We have no right to do it. We have come to forget the fidelity of the Son of God in the little details of life as we have gazed upon His magnificent triumphs in the places of passion and conflict.” ~Campbell Morgan

It means that for all those 18 years between 12 and 30, Jesus never once did “shoddy work.” It was always his best work for the customer. He never once became impatient with a customer. He never cut a corner. He was never late with an order.

Morgan said in addition to His common work, Jesus was perfect in his relations with his community. “In the second place, the divine approval meant that the influence of the life had been pure and bright and good. You all know the effect of influence. What sort of influence has He exerted? Pure and strong! But he would have lived a bright, strong, glad life before Him, for no life ever touched the life of the Son of God but was the brighter and purer and stronger for the contact; and so, when the years of the carpenter’s shop are over, God sets His seal of approval upon them, first, because the work has been well done; and secondly, because the influence of the life has been true and right and noble.”

It was Jesus’s delight to do the will of His Father, and for those 18 years the will of God was for Jesus to labor in obscurity in the carpenter’s shop…to live a perfect life, and to produce good goods, be pure in heart, and honorable to all. Why? Why not incarnate and go right to the cross? No! It was the daily accumulation of the steps toward that pinnacle that Jesus must tread. He had his foot on the neck of every sin, every day, as he toiled.

Morgan: “Let me put it superlatively, and say, Calvary’s cross would have been nothing but the tragic ending of a mistaken life, it had not been for the carpenter’s shop! In that carpenter’s shop He fought my battles. My hardest fight is never fought when there is a crowd to applaud or oppose, but when I am alone. There was necessity for it, and because of Nazareth’s shop there came Gethsemane’s garden and Calvary’s cross, and so, abiding in the will of God, by victory upon victory, He won His final triumph, and so opened the kingdom of heaven to all believers. The carpenter’s shop made Calvary not a battle-field merely, but a day of triumph that lit heaven and earth with hope.”

Let us not dare to think our work in the common hours is meaningless. Our tentmaking jobs, the jobs in which God is pleased to serve us as His will, are the steps t the place of triumph. Stay at home mothers, for you, as well, the daily grind of overcoming temptation to impatience, to sloth, to shoddy work, are the jewels in the crown that Jesus shares with you.

For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things just as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15). Does this verse now have more meaning as we picture Jesus in his carpenter shop, toiling daily for years upon years, living the grind of life, step by step climbing over the temptations as he exudes purity and honor among all who see Him? It pleased God to station us as cleaners, plumbers, manufacturers, stay at home mothers, God having served up to us a daily toil in obscurity where we meet life with honor and purity and overcoming temptations. Let us be walking daily toward our reward in heaven, living the common life in our toil, toward the Carpenter who will receive us with the words that show He, also, is pleased with us.

Further Reading

Christian Tentmaking

Campbell Morgan’s Hidden Life at Nazareth, a .pdf

Posted in theology

Acceptable worship pleasing to the Lord

By Elizabeth Prata

Yesterday was Resurrection Sunday, also known as Easter Sunday. People of all stripes drove to their local church, enjoyed an Easter, and afterward people ate together in a Sunday Supper. I say people of all stripes, because it’s one day of two that unsaved family members can sometimes be pressed to join saved family members in the service. Also, Christians-in-name only attend, those would be the people who go to church twice a year, Christmas and Easter. Some people call them Chreasters, a word combining Christmas and Easter.

True Christians see the Resurrection Sunday service as a high point of the year. And why not? It’s the high point of our faith. It’s the high point of history. It’s the high point of eternity. I pray that the joy we felt in the service will be present in our hearts every day, all year. Remember the cross. Remember the resurrection. Remember the ascension. Remember He is coming again.

Continue reading “Acceptable worship pleasing to the Lord”
Posted in theology

The Babe

By Elizabeth Prata

And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn. (Luke 2:7).

Think of Jesus, divesting Himself of His majesty agreeing to become flesh. To incarnate. He lowered himself from His throne as King of all the universe, to be born as helpless babe, in poverty, in obscurity. He didn’t come as a boy, able to run away from danger or to feed and manage for himself. He didn’t come as a man, able to protect himself from dangers all around. He came as a newborn baby. Totally helpless. Total reliance on others.

Continue reading “The Babe”
Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

Advent- Thirty Days of Jesus: Day 24, His omniscience

By Elizabeth Prata

This section of verses that show Jesus’ life are focused on His earthly ministry &attributes. We’ve seen Him as servant, teacher, shepherd, intercessor, and healer.

Now we look at His attributes. Today- omniscience.

thirty days of Jesus day 24

CARM.org: Definition of omniscience

GotQuestions: What does it mean that Jesus is omniscient?

CARM.org: If Jesus is God, then why did He not know the time of His return?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thirty Days of Jesus Series-

Introduction/Background
Day 1: The Virgin shall conceive
Day 2: A shoot from Jesse
Day 3: God sent His Son in the fullness of time
Day 4:  Marry her, she will bear a Son

Day 5: The Babe has arrived!
Day 6: The Glory of Jesus
Day 7: Magi seek the Child
Day 8: The Magi offer gifts & worship
Day 9: The Child Grew
Day 10: The boy Jesus at the Temple
Day 11: He was Obedient!
Day 12: The Son!
Day 13: God is pleased with His Son
Day 14: Propitiation
Day 15: The gift of eternal life
Day 16: Two Kingdoms
Day 17: Jesus’ Preeminence
Day 18: Jesus is highest king
Day 19: Jesus emptied Himself
Day 20: Jesus as Teacher
Day 21: Jesus as Shepherd
Day 22, Jesus as Intercessor

Day 23: Jesus as Compassionate Healer

Posted in theology

What does “Dayspring” mean?

By Elizabeth Prata

During this Christmas season you might sing the old hymn, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” The hymn is thought to have originated in the 1100s! The 1861 translation of this ancient hymn from the Latin contains the verse about a Dayspring.

O come, Thou Dayspring, from on high,
And cheer us by Thy drawing nigh;
Disperse the gloomy clouds of night,
And death’s dark shadows put to flight.
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel

Continue reading “What does “Dayspring” mean?”
Posted in encouragement, Uncategorized

Thirty Days of Jesus Repeat: Day 24, His omniscience

By Elizabeth Prata

This section of verses that show Jesus’ life are focused on His earthly ministry &attributes. We’ve seen Him as servant, teacher, shepherd, intercessor, and healer.

Now we look at His attributes. Today- omniscience.

thirty days of Jesus day 24

CARM.org: Definition of omniscience

GotQuestions: What does it mean that Jesus is omniscient?

CARM.org: If Jesus is God, then why did He not know the time of His return?

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Thirty Days of Jesus Series-

Introduction/Background
Day 1: The Virgin shall conceive
Day 2: A shoot from Jesse
Day 3: God sent His Son in the fullness of time
Day 4:  Marry her, she will bear a Son

Day 5: The Babe has arrived!
Day 6: The Glory of Jesus
Day 7: Magi seek the Child
Day 8: The Magi offer gifts & worship
Day 9: The Child Grew
Day 10: The boy Jesus at the Temple
Day 11: He was Obedient!
Day 12: The Son!
Day 13: God is pleased with His Son
Day 14: Propitiation
Day 15: The gift of eternal life
Day 16: Two Kingdoms
Day 17: Jesus’ Preeminence
Day 18: Jesus is highest king
Day 19: Jesus emptied Himself
Day 20: Jesus as Teacher
Day 21: Jesus as Shepherd
Day 22, Jesus as Intercessor

Day 23: Jesus as Compassionate Healer

Posted in theology

Did Jesus struggle with his gender and his sexuality? Was he tempted to same-sex attraction?

By Elizabeth Prata

This article from Ed Shaw at The Gospel Coalition Australia is causing a stir. It claims that Jesus “struggled” with sexuality, His gender, and temptation to same-sex sin.

Shaw said in his interview:

TGCA: Tell us about your plans for the youth night on Friday night? Do you see youth as a particularly vulnerable age for confusion on matters of sexuality?

Shaw: I’m wanting the young people who come to this event to know that Jesus is the one person that they can fully trust with their sexualities, identities and gender because he is both their Creator God and a human being who knows what it is like to grapple with a sexuality, identity and gender.

Jesus struggled with same-sex temptations? Thoughts? Lusts? No.

Their basis for saying this, wrongly, comes from a misunderstanding (or a deliberate twisting) of the verses in Hebrews that say Jesus was tempted in every way.

For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted. (Hebrews 2:18).

Nor we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin. (Hebrews 4:15).

The homosexual lobby is separating the temptation from the sin itself and claiming that the temptation itself isn’t a sin, just the act is sin, so it is OK that Jesus ‘struggled’ with it. And the temptation not being a sin, it isn’t necessary to repent from. That’s a generalization but it’s essentially the issue that is leading to this problem and confusion.

Dr. Denny Burk, Professor of Biblical Studies at Southern Seminary and their undergraduate institution, Boyce College, and author of the book, What is the Meaning of Sex as well as the forthcoming book, Transforming Homosexuality: Living Faithfully with Same Sex Attraction, was interviewed at BiblicalCounseling.com, to discuss the question, Is Same-Sex Attraction Sinful?

His partial response (and the interview is good to read the transcript of  or listen to) –

The issue is – and this is one of the things that distinguishes Jesus’ experience from ours – is that Jesus was sinless; that’s what Hebrews 4:15 says, He was “…without sin.” This doesn’t characterize our experience because the Bible says that we have been brought forth in iniquity and conceived in sin. We have a sinful nature. James 1 teaches us that oftentimes our temptations emerge from within and that we have temptations that emerge from our own evil desires. James 1:14 says, “But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire” (emphasis added). We face temptations arising from our own lusts which Jesus never faced. So, what does that mean? It means that sometimes there are dispositions, attractions, desires, which emerge from our own heart that are themselves sinful because we are sinners by nature. Jesus never faced those kinds of temptations so we find ourselves having to repent of our own desires that sometimes come quite naturally to us as sinners.

Associate Pastor of Faith Ref. Presbyterian Church Steven Wedgeworth wrote on Twitter, explaining the issue this way

Whatever the pastoral intent, the argument invokes Hebrews 2:18 and 4:15 in order to claim that Jesus “struggled with” sin and that He was may have “struggled with His sexuality.” This is not an ordinary vanilla way of reading those passages.

The classic definition of Christ’s sinlessness is that He was free from original sin and all of its affects on His will. He suffered from certain effects of internal sin (decay, certain kinds of sickness), but he did not have total depravity as we do.

Jesus did not have disordered desires. He did not have concupiscence (still a relevant term!). He did not consider that sinning might be the right course of action. He didn’t go back and forth about whether to do it. He was perfect and always lived to do the Father’s will.

When it comes to temptation, Jesus was subject to external temptations. But He did not possess internal ones, for those would require a will disposed towards the sin. See the attached Owen quote for one explanation.

Now, what is it to be tempted? It is to have that proposed to a man’s consideration which, if he close withal, it is evil, it is sin unto him. This is sin’s trade: Epithumei—’It lusteth.’ It is raising up in the heart, and proposing unto the mind and affections, that which is evil; trying, as it were, whether the soul will close with its suggestions, or how far it will carry them on, though it do not wholly prevail (p. 194). ~John Owen

So we can’t say that Jesus “grappled with” or “struggled with” sexual temptations. He always had appropriately ordered desires and affections. He was always chaste.
Also, we shouldn’t press “tempted in every respect” to mean that Jesus experienced every possible temptation. This gets ridiculous fast. Was he tempted to mass murder? To enslave children? No.

And terms like “wrestle with,” “struggle with,” “grapple with” are too imprecise for these kinds of conversations. The speaker *may* have some nuance in his mind, but most people just hear those words as saying “an internal battle.” Indeed, they are metaphors involving violence.

I don’t know what sort of connection TGC Australia has with the main TGC, but you would think they would be very upset with that statement from the editors and would look into the matter with some urgency.

We can and should want to have the most-charitable dispositions towards Christians trying to battle against all kinds of sexual temptations. However, we can’t rewrite our systematic theologies to make this an easier task.

I found those explanations to be most helpful. But before we get too far into definitions, explanations and John Owen and the Greek words, here is the simplest and in my opinion the best way to look at it-

Matthew 4. He was led by the Spirit, and He was tempted by the devil. Now you say, “Wait a minute. If God tempts no man” – as we noted, James chapter 1 – “then how in the world can the Holy Spirit drive the Son of God into a conflict with the devil?” Oh because, you see, from God’s viewpoint it was a test to prove His righteousness. It was only a temptation from Satan’s viewpoint. ~John MacArthur, The Crisis of Temptation part 1

See end for a post script.

Let’s finish with a verse from Apostle John,

Do not love the world or the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For all that is in the world – the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and the pride of possessions – is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever, (1 John 2:15-17).

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the original PS compared
Ed Shaw’s PS at the end of his article at TGC AU, both the original and edited, side by side. 
My article here was to present proper interpretation of Heb 2:18 & 4:15,
as Shaw’s PS recommended.