March Memories: A Kitchen Prayer.

This poem was written many years ago by a 19-year-old girl in domestic service in England.  It was read by Dr. G. Campbell Morgan during one of his services at Westminster Chapel, London.

Lord of all pots and pans and things,
Since I’ve no time to be
A saint by doing lovely deeds
Or watching late with Thee
Or dreaming in the dawnlight
Or storming heaven’s gates,
Make me a saint by getting meals
And washing up the plates!

Although I must have Martha’s hands
I have a Mary mind,
And when I black the boots and shoes,
Thy sandals, Lord, I find!
I think of how they trod the earth,
What time I scrub the floor;
Accept this meditation, Lord,
I haven’t time for more!

Warm all the kitchen with Thy love,
And light it with Thy peace!
Forgive me all my worrying
And make all grumbling cease!
Thou Who didst love to give men food
In a room or by the sea,
Accept this service that I do –
I do in unto Thee!
_______________

(originally published March 15, 2013).  I hope the people this young lady worked for appreciated what a treasure they had in her!

Advertisements

March Memories: In The Flesh.

[We continue in “March Memories” with another post on the person of the Lord Jesus, who was and is so much more than we really have any idea about.]

The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us….  John 1:14.

See also Philippians 2:5-11.

I suppose this is a continuation of “The Third Genealogy,” where we focused on the deity of Jesus.  He was truly God.  If He isn’t, then there is no hope of salvation at all.  But, as John also emphasized, He was also truly human, with a real body.

In the first place, the body of our Lord was indeed a real body.  Some have supposed that He was merely an apparition or a phantom, only appearing to have a body.  But His body was as real as yours or mine.  Though He was truly God, He was also truly human.  His body developed in Mary’s womb just like any other baby.  His birth was like any other.

Really, it’s the “virgin conception” that made Him special, though He was born of a virgin.  He grew and developed just like your children or mine, Luke 2:52.  I’ve often wondered if He “spoiled” His parents for their other children.  Yes, I know there’s a huge discussion about this, which I won’t get into here, with a large percentage of professing Christendom believing in Mary’s perpetual virginity.  It’s enough for me that Matthew 1:25 clearly says that Joseph and Mary enjoyed normal marital intimacy after the birth of Jesus.  And Jesus being called Mary’s “firstborn” is meaningless if He were her “only born.”

Second, it was a human body.  Jesus was God manifest in the flesh, and that “flesh” was truly human.  There is also a discussion over whether or not Jesus could have sinned.  I’ll only say that I don’t think it was possible for Him to sin – He is holy, harmless, and undefiled, Hebrews 7:26.  As I’ve said elsewhere, Satan had no “hook” in Him to get Him to sin.  Sin is not essential to being human. Adam and Eve were perfectly and completely human as they came from the hand of their Creator.  Sin may have “entered” the human race, but it isn’t essential to us, and one day will be gone from those who have been saved.

Third, it was a “prepared” body, Hebrews 10:5.  The conception and birth of Jesus wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment thing; it was carefully planned and prepared for in eternity past, 1 Peter 1:20.  In Matthew 1:22, we read that all this was done that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet….  The immediate context refers to the virgin birth, but the virgin herself didn’t just appear out of thin air.  I think it can be said without exaggeration that “all this” includes everything from the very creation of Adam himself.  After all, the human DNA for the Lord’s body would have to have been present in Adam and carefully and providentially safeguarded through all the generations from Adam to Jesus.  Wasn’t the seed of the woman promised from the very beginning?  If not in Adam, then when was it introduced into Mary’s ancestry?

Fourth, it was a sacrificial body.  Jesus came into this world to be an offering for sin, a sacrifice for sinners.  His body was carefully prepared to be the sacrifice which would take away the sin of the world, that is, of the human race considered as a whole.  The only ones individually who can say their sins are paid for are those who have believed on Him for salvation. Unbelievers are still subject to God’s wrath, John 3:17, 18, and will still pay for their own sins, though that debt will never be paid.

Finally, it is a resurrected body.  Jesus truly died; He truly rose again from the dead.  Some have questioned this with the idea that a resurrection would somehow have cancelled out his payment for sin.  But the resurrection is the receipt, if you will, for that payment.  Without the resurrection, we have no way of knowing if His death was any more effective in that regard than the death of the others who died with Him that day.  Furthermore, read Paul’s defense of the physical resurrection of the Lord in 1 Corinthians 15.  If there is no resurrection from the dead, then there is no salvation from sin and, as Paul put it, if there is no salvation, then Christians are to be pitied more than any other humans.
_______________

(Originally published March 17, 2013.)  edited and new material.

March Memories: “If Jesus Is God,….”

[In a couple of our last “March Memory” reviews, we looked at what the Bible says about the deity of the Lord Jesus, that He was truly God manifest in the flesh.

“Yes, but…”]

“If Jesus is God, how can the Father be greater than He is?”  “Does Jesus pray to Himself?” “Doesn’t that make Him His own Father”  “”How can He call God, ‘My God’?”  “Why were there things He didn’t know?”

And on and on go the questions.

All such questions were answered by Paul in Philippians 2:5-11:

Let this mind be in you which was in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men.  And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.  Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and those on earth, and those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

This incredible Scripture has three parts.

Jesus as God, vs. 6, 7.

1.  His being, in the form of God.

In our post on “The Third Genealogy,” we noted that nowhere does the Bible speak of Jesus “becoming” or being “created” as God, or a God.  John said that as the Word, “Jesus” being His human name, He was, or, existed as, God.

To us, the word form carries the idea of “shape.”  However, to the Greek mind, the word carried the idea of nature or character.  In agreement with John, Paul was saying that the Word was Deity, was God.

2.  His thinking, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God.

Though there is discussion among scholars about the meaning of the words translated, “consider it robbery,” it seems to me that the best meaning is that He didn’t think equality with the Father was something to be selfishly held on to.  We’ll return to this thought in a moment.

3.  His action, made Himself of no reputation.

Scripture teaches that there was a group of people who would otherwise have been lost who were chosen by the Father, Who gave them to the Son.  Jesus called them “His sheep.”  However, since these people are by nature the children of wrath, Ephesians 2:3, something had to be done about their sin and their sinfulness.

Jesus agreed to come into this world as the Redeemer and Representative of His people, “His sheep,” Matthew 1:21.  He was their “Shepherd.”  However, He didn’t come with glory and honor, such as He had in Heaven with the Father, and which He could rightfully have claimed.  He didn’t “hold on to” the honor He had as God.  He didn’t come as a “personality” with a huge following, like some in the Church today.  He was born into an ordinary family in an obscure village in a part of Israel that was looked down on.  He spent 90% of His life unknown and even when He began His ministry, it was to ordinary people, the rulers and leaders wanting nothing to do with Him.  Indeed, it was they who ultimately demanded His death.

He didn’t just “think about” doing something.  He went ahead and did it.

The phrase could be translated, “He emptied Himself,” and there is discussion about what this means.  Some teach that He emptied Himself of His deity, that as Man He ceased to be God.  That isn’t what the term means at all.  We’ll come back here in a minute.

Jesus as Man, vs. 7, 8.

When Paul wrote that Jesus took on the form of a bondservant and the likeness of men, he wasn’t saying that Jesus just “looked” like a man.  He was emphasizing that Jesus was really and truly human.  As human as you or me, without the sin which plagues us.  Though we speak of “the virgin birth,” it was His conception which was miraculous.  Once conceived in the womb of Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit, though, He developed like any other baby.  Like any other baby, He was born into this world, where He grew and developed as a baby, a toddler, a child, a teenager (though that is a recent concept), and then as an adult.  Indeed, in His culture, once He reached adolescence, He would pretty much have been considered an adult.

It’s difficult to visualize the Creator of the Universe as having to learn how to walk,

This is where all the questions come in about the so-called limitations of Jesus.  As a human being, He didn’t have the infinite capabilities that He had as God.  It is this He divested Himself of, His divine glory and the independent exercise of His divine power, though there are still glimpses of them.  He turned water into wine, walked on water, stilled storms, healed the sick, raised the dead.  These aren’t ordinarily human activities.  Though Man, He did not cease to be God.

As for those who say that He never claimed to be God, those who heard His statement in John 8:58, “Before Abraham was, I AM, clearly understood that’s what He was saying, that He was Jehovah.  That’s why they tried to kill Him – and why they couldn’t.  See also John 5:18; 10:33.

Even though Jesus was, and is, God, He had a human mind and mere human abilities.  This is why, though as God He is omniscient, there were things He didn’t “know.”  It wasn’t because He wasn’t God, but because He was also Man.  As God, He is omnipotent.  As a Man, He got tired and hungry.  As God, He is omnipresent, being here and there.  As a man, He had to walk from here to there.

In addition, Paul wrote that Jesus was born under the Law, Galatians 4:4.  As such, He was responsible to live by its demands.  This would include acknowledging the Father as His God just like any other Jewish person.  This is why, when talking to Mary Magdalene about His ascension, He could say that He was going to “My God and your God,”  John 20:17.  Notice, however, He didn’t say, “our God.”  There was still a distinction.

As a Jewish man under the Law, He would have been subject to the Father.  It was because of this that He could say that the Father was greater than He.  It has nothing to do with some “inferiority” on His part, but has everything to do with the relationship He had with the Father at that time.  It had nothing to do with His not being God, but everything to do with His being human.  In addition, He had come to do the Father’s will, John 5:26 and many other verses.  He had come as the Servant of Jehovah, Isaiah 42:1-4.  As such, He was  obedient….

As the ultimate evidence of His humanity, He died.  God cannot die.  This is why the Word had to take on Himself true humanity, so that, as “Jesus,” He could die.  But He didn’t die easily, in glory and honor, with a morphine drip, as terminal patients do today.  He even refused what relief was available back then, Matthew 27:34.  He died the most cruel death imaginable, a death even the Romans considered despicable, though they weren’t slow to use it.

In the words of Paul, He died even the death of the cross….

But, His story doesn’t end there.

Jesus as Lord, vs. 9-11.

As far as the world is concerned, Jesus has little, if any, relevance or significance.  He might as well still be dead.  Many believe that He still is.  Certainly, there is no government which honors Him or tries to live by His word.  Even “Christendom” has relegated Him to a secondary, or less, role.  In fact, many churches still have Him on the Cross.  Others have taken His place as Head of the Church or as who guides how it functions.

To many unbelievers, Jesus is little more than a cuss word.  Or a name to be mocked and ridiculed.  Many doubt that He really existed.  Sadly, even many professing Christians don’t give Him the honor He deserves, seeing Him only as a buddy, or “a Jewish carpenter.”  Views about Him are more likely to be from sentiment than they are from Scripture.

Scripture says that God raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His own right hand.  There is a lot of discussion about what this means, and the place of the Lord Jesus in the current scheme of things.  Arguments abound over the interpretation of Old Testament Scriptures which tell of a “kingdom” over which Messiah will reign.  It’s not the purpose of this post to get into all that.

It’s enough to say that there is coming a time when every single created being will bow before the Lord Jesus and confess that He is who He said He is. Every knee will bow before Him, and every tongue will confess that He is Lord.  There are those who believe that this means that everyone will eventually be saved.  Scripture teaches otherwise.  The atheist, the skeptic, the false religionist, the demon, all will be forced to bow before Him and acknowledge Him.  This bothers some people who are concerned about “free will,” but there is no “free will” in this, any more than in a criminal forced to acknowledge his sentence and enter prison.  And there will be no appeals from this court.

God WILL be glorified in this, His Son, this One despised and rejected of men.

Though one day, even the lost will have to admit that He is Lord, He is Lord, and He has willing subjects.

Are you one of them?

There’s really only one thing left to consider….

What do you think about Christ?  Matthew 22:42.
_______________

(originally published, May 8, 2013.)  edited and additional material.

March Memories: The True God.

The Maker of the Universe
As Man for man was made a curse.
The claims of laws which He had made
Unto the uttermost He paid.

His holy fingers made the bough
Which grew the thorns which crowned His brow;
The nails that pierced His hands were mined
In secret places He designed.

He made the forests whence there sprung
The tree on which His body hung.
He died upon a cross of wood,
Yet made the hill on which it stood.

The sky that darkened o’er His head
By Him, above the earth, was spread.
The sun that hid from Him its face
By His decree was poised in space.

The spear which spilled His precious blood
Was tempered in the fires of God.
The grave in which His form was laid
Was hewn in rocks His hands had made.

The throne on which He now appears
Was His from everlasting years,
But a new glory crowns His brow,
And every knee to Him shall bow.

– F. W. Pitt
_______________

(Originally published March 20, 2013.)

March Memories: The Third Genealogy.

[As we continue in our March Memories post reprints, I’ve become impressed with the necessity of emphasizing the unique person of the Lord Jesus.  Islam is resurging, and it views Jesus as just another prophet, important though He may be in their view of things, but nevertheless much inferior to their own prophet.  Certainly not God, nor did He die on the Cross.  And much of professing Christendom denies His deity and His redemption.]

Most people know of the genealogies of Matthew and Luke.  Matthew’s genealogy is condensed and intended to connect Jesus with the great covenants of the Old Testament:  the Abrahamic and the Davidic.  Matthew’s is the genealogy of Joseph.  His is the genealogy of Christ’s royalty, though both genealogies trace Jesus back to King David.  Luke’s genealogy is longer, some 75 generations, and goes through a different son of David all the way back to Adam.  This is Mary’s genealogy.

That’s two.  Where’s the third one?  I really hadn’t thought about it quite like this until recently, like this morning.  Perhaps in the strictest sense, it isn’t a genealogy, and yet it is.  It’s contained in two verses, though a few other verses add some explanation.  Here it is – you’ll recognize it immediately”

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God, … And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, John 1:1, 14.

This is the genealogy, if you will, of Christ’s deity.  In a few words, simple words in the Greek original, words so simple that beginning Greek students translate them in their first attempts at translation, – in a few words, John expresses truths that 2000 years of Church history haven’t begun to understand.

“Now, wait a minute!”  Someone who might knock at your door will say, “That’s not what John meant at all.  There’s no “the” in front of God in the Greek, so John was saying that Jesus was ‘a’ God.”  They also teach that the “beginning” John wrote about was when God created the Word, or Jesus.  He was the beginning, and then He created all the rest.  They might take you over to Proverbs, where the writer personifies wisdom and describes its role in creation.  “That,” they will say, “is Jesus.”  They might even tell you that He is really Michael, the archangel, brother of Lucifer.

Is that all John meant in these verses?  That Jesus was the first thing created by God, and He created everything else?  That He isn’t “God” at all, just “a god”?

It’s true that John didn’t write, “the Word was the God.”   There’s no article – no “the” – in front of God.  In the Greek language, there is no indefinite article – “a”, “an” – either.  As Martin Luther pointed out centuries ago, and someone probably pointed it out centuries before he did, John couldn’t have written, “The Word was the God,” because then he would have been saying that the Word and the Father were the same, and the Oneness folks, who deny the Trinity, would be right.  If John says one thing, it’s that the Word and the Father are distinct from each other.  They aren’t just different “manifestations” of the One God.

There’s another difficulty with the idea that Jesus is only “a” god.  What kind of “god” is He?  How many “gods” are there, or is He the only one?

They answer that by saying that Jesus was an angel, and in the OT, angels are called sons of God, Job 1:6.  He is, therefore, rightly called son of God.  It’s true that angels are called “sons of God.”  Does this, then, put them and Jesus in the same class?

The writer to the Hebrews anticipated this idea.  In 1:5 (NKJV), he wrote, …to which of the angels did He ever say, ‘You are My Son, today I have begotten You?’  The expected answer is, “There are no angels to whom that was said.”  Not as a Jehovah’s Witness once told me, “Jesus is that angel,” and then quoted this verse to me.  He completely missed the point of the verse.  That is not what the writer was saying.  The Father was not speaking to ANY angel in that verse!

In fact, after discussing what the Father did not say to the Son, Hebrews goes on in v. 8 with what He did say, But to the Son He says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever.”  The New World Translation (NWT), the JW Bible, has it, “God is your throne forever and ever.”

I’m sorry, but that doesn’t even make sense.  Not to be irreverent or anything, but do they believe that Jesus is sitting on God’s lap?  The Greek text reads, “The throne of You, the God, into the ages of the ages.”  Note the presence of the article with God in this verse:  “the God”.  The contrast between Jesus and angels couldn’t be clearer.  In fact, in v. 6, Hebrews says, Let all the angels of God worship Him.  Even older versions of the NWT say that – I have a copy.  Granted, in newer editions, it’s changed to “Let all the angels of God do obeisance to Him,” but even then, it translates the Gk. word as “worship” when it doesn’t refer to Jesus.

How can two beings both be “God,” in view of all the Scriptures which tell us there is only “one God”?  There are a lot of illustrations of the Trinity, which is what this is really all about.  A cube is the best one I know.

A cube has length, width and height, all at the same time, but it’s not three cubes.  It’s just one cube.  The length isn’t the width or the height, the width isn’t the length or the height, and the height isn’t the length or the width.  And the cube doesn’t “manifest” itself as height one day, width another day, and length yet another day, as some try to teach that the One God manifests Himself differently at different times.

The cube has three measurements, but they all coexist in the one cube at the same time.  Like His creation, God is, if you will, three-dimensional:  Father, Son and Holy Spirit.  The Father isn’t the Son or the Spirit.  The Spirit isn’t the Father or the Son.  The Son isn’t the Father or the Spirit.  Three different Persons, for lack of a better word, all different, but all coexisting together as the One God.

The Word was God.

One final thought on this.  Some folks say that Jesus never claimed to be God.  Funny, but the people who heard Him say in John 8:58, “Before Abraham was, I AM,” understood that was exactly what He was claiming.  That’s why they tried to kill Him.

And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us…, John 1:14.

This is the reason for the other two genealogies.  The story of Jesus doesn’t start, “Once upon a time….”  It’s rooted in and grounded firmly on the history of Israel as revealed in the Old Testament.  I know there are those who deny that He ever existed, but after all the attempts over 2000 years to get rid of Him, and He’s still here – must be something “real” about Him.

Notice John’s comparison.  The Word was God – the Word became flesh.  Nowhere does John or the Bible say that the Word “became,” that is, that it came into existence, or that it became God.  In other words, there has never been a time, if we can refer to eternity like that, when the Word did not exist, or that it was not God. There was a time, however, when the Word became flesh.  Matthew and Luke gives us a glimpse of that time.

The Word became flesh.

Four words.

The Word became flesh.  Four words.  Describing an event which has no parallel in human history.  Psalm 113:5, 6, says, Who is like the LORD our God, Who dwells on high, Who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in heaven and in the earth?

The Lord God “humbles” Himself even to look at this speck of dirt off to one side of His creation.  What must it have been like for the Lord Jesus to live on it?  We think we know so much, with our “Doctors of Theology,” our books, our “mega-churches,” etc. [and I’m not opposed to education or books or church], but I don’t think we understand even as much about our Lord’s “humiliation,” to use the theological term, as a newborn understands about its mother’s agony in bringing it to birth.  How can we?

It’s not for nothing that Paul refers to the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ in 2 Corinthians 8:9, where he continues, though He was rich, yet for your sakes He became poor….  The Lord didn’t come to this world to be feted in Rome, or to live in a place like the White House or Buckingham Palace, although those places would be mere shacks compared to what He was used to.  He came to live a relatively minor, troublesome, province of Rome.  Except for one incident, He was unknown for nearly thirty years, and in the last three, “fame” was fleeing, and hostility and opposition were lasting and increasing.  Even though He rose from the dead, as far as the world is concerned, He might as well still be dead.  Indeed, much of the world thinks that He still is.  Even if people class Him with the religious leaders of this world, they are more likely to live by their teachings than His.

So, you see, the third genealogy gives us a more complete idea of Who Jesus of Nazareth really was.

And is.

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God,…  And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us….
_______________

(Originally published March 12, 2013.)  edited.

March Memories: Jesus, The Good Shepherd.

In John 10, the Lord Jesus had a lot to say about His sheep.  Shepherds and sheep were a common sight, and He used them to illustrate redemption.  Without going into great detail, and in no particular order, there are several things in this chapter which illustrate the care of the Lord for His sheep.

1.  The shepherd has responsibility for the sheep.

By the very nature of his job, the shepherd is responsible for the welfare of his flock.  It is what he does.  He isn’t there for himself, but for them.  Further, he is accountable for what he does.  We see the Lord’s responsibility in John 10:16 (NKJV), where He said, “…other sheep I have which are not of this fold; them also I must bring….”  Notice the phrase, “I must bring.”  He has responsibility for the sheep.

He also has accountability.  In John 17:2, the Lord told the Father, “Those whom You gave Me I have kept, and none of them is lost except the son of perdition, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.”  The Lord is accountable to the Father for those whom the Father has given Him.

2.  The shepherd has authority over the sheep.

Because He is the shepherd, He has the right and the authority to enter the sheepfold, vs. 1,2, and to lead them out to pasture.  The doorkeeper, or security guard, to use the modern term, knows Him and will let Him in.

Indeed, our Great Shepherd of the sheep, Hebrews 13:20, has been given authority over all flesh, John 17:2 (emphasis added).  Have you ever really thought about that?  Does it just mean, as some seem to think, that He is now “ruling” in heaven?  I don’t wish to be difficult, but it seems to me from His own words that such a thought has nothing to do with what He actually said.  John 17:2 says, “…as You [the Father] have given Him authority over all flesh, that He should give eternal life to as many as You have given Him  (emphasis added).  A lot of people don’t like to hear that.  I do understand.

Our religious culture has been so filled with the idea that God’s done all He can do, and now it’s up to us, that any idea that that may not really be true is hard for some to accept.  This is not to deny our responsibility to preach the Gospel or to believe it.  Preaching is the means God uses to call in the sheep, and faith is the evidence that one is a sheep.  And “preaching” doesn’t just mean from a pulpit.  It has to do with anything that focuses attention on the Lord Jesus.  That might just be how we do our job.  A tract, this blog, a word of encouragement, all these may be included in “preaching.”

The shepherd has authority.

3.  The shepherd knows the identity of the sheep.

Perhaps there would be several flocks of sheep in a fold, but the shepherd knew which ones were his, vs. 4, 5.  And the sheep knew him,  Furthermore, he knew them individually.  He had named each of them, and called them one by one.  Naming animals is nothing new.

We’ve mentioned elsewhere the lovely duet sung in church to the effect that “when He died, He didn’t even know my name”!  That is a truly sad view of the death of Christ.  He knew His sheep when He hung on the Cross, dying for them.  He knew them before Genesis 1:1.  Their names were written in His Book of Life before time began, Revelation 13:8; 17:8.  And He will know them forever.

He knew everything about us,…and He died for us, anyway.  We are His.

4.  The shepherd guides the activity of the sheep.

He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.  And when he brings them out, he goes before them, vs. 3, 4.  The Psalmist put it like this:  He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still water, Psalm 23:2, 3.

5.  The shepherd seeks the prosperity of the sheep.

Now this doesn’t mean a fat bank account, a nice house and a Lexus out in the driveway, perfect health and wonderful relationships, as many in the church think, who seem to have no interest in anything beside this world.   The shepherd wanted his flock to be fed and watered and protected.  Our Lord has that for His own, but He has so much more besides.  He said, “I have come that they might have life, and they might have it more abundantly,”  v. 10.  Once again, the “abundant life” doesn’t refer to material things, though the Lord may give those to us.  Nor, as some believe, does it refer to a state of sinless perfection.  After all, the life the sheep have is eternal.  In the Lord Jesus Christ, the poorest believer has for free what all the wealth in the world for all time could not buy:  eternal life.  “Abundant life” isn’t the privilege for an elite few among believers.  It belongs to all of us because our Shepherd has given it to us.

6.  The shepherd provides security for the sheep.

In vs. 11-14, Jesus said, “The good shepherd gives his life for the sheep.  But he who is an hireling and not the shepherd, one who does not own the sheep, sees the wolf coming and leaves the sheep and flees; and the wolf catches them and scatters them.  I am the good Shepherd, and I know My sheep, and am known by My own.”  

Further, He said in vs. 27-30, “My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.  And I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; neither shall anyone snatch them out of My hand.  My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all, and no one is able to snatch them out of My Father’s hand.  My Father and I are one.”

In those four verses is clearly stated the hated (at least by some), the hated doctrine of eternal security, centuries before John Calvin and the generation after him, which actually formulated the so-called “5 Points”.  Our Lord said that His sheep would never perish, and no one could take them away from Him or the Father.  To the idiotic idea that, well, yes, but they can leave, – that would just show that they weren’t sheep to begin with.  Cf. 1 John 2:19.

In v. 27, the tenses are all “present;” the sheep are hearing, the Lord is knowing, and the sheep are following.  Salvation isn’t something that just happened years ago with some “decision” or church rite.  It’s a “today” thing – which doesn’t mean that we can lose it tomorrow.  When tomorrow gets here, then it will be “today,” and the sheep will still be following….

Jesus and the Father are “one” in Their determination to save the sheep.  It’s a commentary on the sorry condition of Christianity that the belief that that can be thwarted is so widely held.  The sheep are Christ’s.  He cannot and will not lose them.

7.  The shepherd tends to the productivity of the sheep.

Leaving aside the fact that sheep can be food, they produce two things: wool and more sheep.  In John 15:5, 8, the Lord said, “I am the vine, you are the branches.  He who abides in Me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without Me you can do nothing…By this My Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you shall be My disciples.”  The goal, and responsibility, of the Christian life is fruitfulness.  After listing several things to be developed as corollaries of faith, like virtue, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness and love, Peter goes on to say, For if these things are yours and abound, you shall be neither barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 Peter 1:5-8.  This could really be a post in itself.

The LORD is my Shepherd….  These thought are just a small portion of what Psalm 23:1  means.
_______________

(Originally posted on April 12, 2013) edited and new material.

 

 

 

March Memories: Creation and the Fall of Adam and Eve, Genesis 1-3.

[As we continue our “March Memories,” we think it’s good to back to the beginning – of everything.  On every side, atheistic science and materialism tell us that there is no God, and there is nothing that we can’t figure out in a laboratory or raise in a petri dish.  I just watched a TV show that asserted that Noah could never have built the Ark the Bible describes because he didn’t have the technology to build such a craft.  We still haven’t figured out for sure how the Egyptians built the pyramids, but we know for sure that Noah couldn’t have built the Ark!  There’s lots of stuff “back there” that we haven’t figured out how they did it, or even in some cases what it is, but they still did it!]

As we come to the book of Genesis, we find that it tells us where everything came from, not from some random cosmic explosion, but from the power and wisdom of God.  So Genesis is the real Origin of Species, long before, and in opposition to, Darwin.  It tells how the earth came to be, and where man came from.  It accounts for the entrance of sin into the world, revealing that man is a moral being, different from all other earthly creatures, in contrast to evolution, which tells us that he’s just a highly-developed version of them.  It accounts for the nation of Israel, as well as for the origin and distribution of many of the other nations of the world.

Genesis is also the “foundational” book of the Bible.  It tells of sin and redemption, and forms the basis for most of the rest, if not all, that the Bible says on these subjects.  Its first redemptive promise contains in a verse (Genesis 3:15) the whole of prophecy given in the rest of the Bible.

Here are some ways Genesis might be outlined:

1.  The Beginning of Human History, chs. 1-11.
2.  The Beginning of Hebrew History, chs. 12-50.

or –

1.  The Beginning of Man’s Residence on the Earth, chs. 1, 2.
2.  The Beginning of Man’s Rebellion on the Earth, chs. 3-11.
3.  The Beginning of Man’s Redemption on the Earth, chs. 12-50.

or the more familiar –

1.  Creation, chs. 1, 2:  Preparation for Man.
2.  The Fall, chs. chs. 3-5:  Presumption of Man.
3.  The Flood, chs. 6-9:  Punishment of Man.
4.  The Tower of Babel, chs. 10, 11:  Perversity of Man.
5.  The Patriarchs, chs. 12-50:  Preference Among Men.

As we look more closely at the opening of Genesis through this outline, we see:

Creation, chs. 1, 2: Preparation for Man.

A.  It opposes many errors, among them:

1.  Atheism.  “In the beginning, God…,” Genesis 1:1.  NOTE:  the Bible was written to people who already believed in God, and, in many cases, who had had personal dealings with Him.  The Bible never attempts to “prove” the existence of God, though His creation (“nature”) has many proofs for those who will see them, Psalm 19:1-4; Romans 1:18-20.

2.  Pantheism.  That is, God is everything, and everything is God.  There is a modern version of this called “panentheism,” which, while maintaining that God is everything, also maintains that He is greater that everything.  Creation is “contained” within Him.  Scripture shows that God is indeed the Supreme Creator and Sustainer of everything, but also that He is distinct from everything.  He IS everyWHERE; He IS NOT everyTHING!

3.  Materialism.  That is, “matter” is eternal and, as such, has always existed.  This begs the question, “Where did matter come from in the first place?”

4.  That everything came unintentionally and spontaneously into existence, i.e., “The Big Bang.”

B.  Genesis reveals the origin of the universe and of the earth.  It doesn’t particularly tell us “how” or “why.”  Theistic evolution, in a sincere but misguided attempt to align Scripture with atheistic science, doesn’t see what the Bible says about origins.  I have no difficulty with the idea that the earth is more than 6,000 years old; I just have trouble with the idea, as we’ll see in a moment, that it’s billions of years old.

Herbert Spencer, an eminent scientist who died in 1903, taught that everything exists in one of five categories:  time, force, action, space or matter.  Moses already knew that, millennia earlier.

1.  time – “In the beginning”
2.  force – “God”
3.  action – “created”
4.  space – “the heavens”
5.  matter – “and the earth.”

C.  Genesis has many features which don’t agree with evolution.  Among them are:

1.  It has an intelligent Creator, not a mindless cosmic catastrophe, followed by aimless and random development.

2.  The earth was created before the stars!  They were made on the fourth day, when the earth already existed.

3.  Plants were created on the third day, before the Sun, which was created with the other stars on the fourth day.  If the “days” are geologic ages, as evolution claims, then how did vegetation survive without the Sun to nourish it?

4.  On the first day, God created “light” as something distinct from Himself, Who is light, 1 John 1:5.  On the fourth day, creating the Sun, He created “time.”  Our concept of time would have relevance nowhere else in the universe.

5.  Each kind of animal was created fully developed.  It had no need for further “development,” apart from adaptation to climate or environmental changes.  There are many instance of such development within species; there is no evidence for development between species.

6.  Each creature was made with the ability to reproduce according to its kind, 1:11, 21, 24, not mutate into another, entirely different, kind.

7.  Sea creatures were created on the same day as birds.  Birds did not evolve eons later from the dinosaurs.

8.  In a separate act, man was created from the dust of the ground, 2:8.  He did not “evolve” from “lower” animals, nor did God simply choose one or two from a number of already existing hominids with which to form a special relationship.

The Fall, chs. 3-5:  Presumption of Man.

1.  Note that man fell because of a discussion over whether the Word of God was to be accepted “literally” or not.  That discussion is alive and well today.

2.  Note that man fell because he decided to replace God as the moral authority as to what was “good” or “evil.”  The essence of sin is the disagreement with God over jurisdiction:  who decides “good” or “evil”?

3.  Because of his sin, man fled from God.  Left to ourselves, we’re still fleeing.  This doesn’t mean that men and women can’t be “religious;” witness the number of religions in the world, but how many of them, even those who claim to believe the Bible, actually follow the Bible, or believe it’s authoritative?  How many people even read the Bible and have any real idea about what it says?

God must seek us, if we are to “find” Him, Isaiah 65:1.

4.  Man was taught that, because of his sin, the only way he could continue to live physically was through the substitution and death of an innocent sacrifice.  All religion revolves around this central issue:  how may a man or woman live before God, regardless of how “live” is defined, or whomever or whatever God is said to be.

5.  Because of man’s sinfulness and God’s holiness, God’s justice bars the way to the tree of life, Genesis 3:24.  All religion seeks to answer the question asked very early in Biblical history, “How can man be righteous before God?”  “…Or how can he be pure who is born of woman?”  Job 9:2; 25:4.

To put it another way, how can I satisfy God’s justice and the holiness His word and nature require?  How can I escape the penalty for the disobedience I’m guilty of?  It is only Biblical Christianity (for there is a great deal in “Christianity” that is not Biblical) that proclaims the answer foreshadowed by the slain animals and coats of skin.  The only way God’s justice has ever been or ever will be satisfied is through the sinless life and shed blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.  By His death He paid forever the penalty demanded by a broken Law, and by His sinless life He obtained that righteousness imputed to believing sinners, by which and only by which they and we will ever be able to stand before God uncondemned.

Friends, if we have committed even one sin, and who among us wouldn’t have to admit to that, we are lost and undone without the Lord Jesus.  O blessed life, that did what we could not, and blessed death, that did what we dare not!
_______________

(originally published, April 9, 2013) edited and new material.