Thursday, May 16, 2019

A Pleasant Surprise

"That of course is the advantage of being a pessimist; a pessimist gets nothing but pleasant surprises, an optimist nothing but unpleasant."

Rex Stout, Fer-de-Lance

Monday, May 13, 2019

On the death of your mother

To MR. JAMES ELPHINSTON - September 25, 1750.

'DEAR SIR, You have, as I find by every kind of evidence, lost an excellent mother; and I hope you will not think me incapable of partaking of your grief. I have a mother, now eighty-two years of age, whom, therefore, I must soon lose, unless it please GOD that she rather should mourn for me. I read the letters in which you relate your mother's death to Mrs. Strahan, and think I do myself honour, when I tell you that I read them with tears; but tears are neither to YOU nor to ME of any further use, when once the tribute of nature has been paid. The business of life summons us away from useless grief, and calls us to the exercise of those virtues of which we are lamenting our deprivation. The greatest benefit which one friend can confer upon another, is to guard, and excite, and elevate his virtues. This your mother will still perform, if you diligently preserve the memory of her life, and of her death: a life, so far as I can learn, useful, wise, and innocent; and a death resigned, peaceful, and holy. I cannot forbear to mention, that neither reason nor revelation denies you to hope, that you may increase her happiness by obeying her precepts; and that she may, in her present state, look with pleasure upon every act of virtue to which her instructions or example have contributed. Whether this be more than a pleasing dream, or a just opinion of separate spirits, is, indeed, of no great importance to us, when we consider ourselves as acting under the eye of GOD: yet, surely, there is something pleasing in the belief, that our separation from those whom we love is merely corporeal; and it may be a great incitement to virtuous friendship, if it can be made probable, that that union that has received the divine approbation shall continue to eternity.

'There is one expedient by which you may, in some degree, continue her presence. If you write down minutely what you remember of her from your earliest years, you will read it with great pleasure, and receive from it many hints of soothing recollection, when time shall remove her yet farther from you, and your grief shall be matured to veneration. To this, however painful for the present, I cannot but advise you, as to a source of comfort and satisfaction in the time to come; for all comfort and all satisfaction is sincerely wished you by, dear Sir, your most obliged, most obedient, and most humble servant,


The Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell


Of Mice and Testimonies

B.H. Carroll tells of a man who had a wonderful Christian experience that...
"when he joined the church [his particular experience] evoked unusual praise from the pastor and the church. So much was said about it that he, himself, began to glory in it. He carefully wrote it out and would read it to every visitor. He became so complacent over it that he stopped right there - no progress - a cause of arrested development. In the lapse of time the mice got int the drawer where he kept his precious document and ate up his Christian experience! We need and experience that rats cannot eat up - an experience not folded up and put in a drawer, but one that moves forward taking the steps of the faith of Abraham."

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Every Wise Woman Builds

The Bible says every single wise woman is a builder. Proverbs 14:1, “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.” She doesn’t lay the foundation, build the frame, and do the roofing. But she does build up the home in an equally important way, making  it her mission to build, keep, and maintain the wellbeing of her home. She uses the gifts God gives her to build and preserve a godly home, being faithful to her calling.

Every wise woman builds her home with wisdom and knowledge (Proverbs 24:3-4). She thinks about what kind of home she wants. She knows the strengths, weakness, and the heart of those who live in her care and labors to build up and strengthen her family. Every wise woman builds her home with pleasantness (Proverbs 24:3-4) and makes it a place where her family wants to be.  A home with godly peace and pleasantness is a treasure, much to be desired. Every wise woman builds her home with love because she loves God and loves those God gave her. Every wise woman goes outside of herself for wisdom to build her house. And no, I’m not talking about Pinterest, but the Bible. She won’t find recipes, suggestions for paint schemes and home décor, but she will find everything she needs to know about herself, her husband, her children, and how she can build a stable homelife for her family. It’s better to live in a house built by love than to live in a picture perfect, modern home, sitting around a feast with a perfectly dressed and mannered family (Proverbs 15:17).

The foolish woman, however, doesn’t build, but tears down her home. She will leave it rubble. She’s a one-woman demolition crew of her own home and one day will look up from the ash heap and wonder, “what happened?” The foolish woman doesn’t want to bring her house to ruins, but it’s inevitable. Foolishness never builds a strong family. She tears down her own house with selfishness. When she puts herself first and her family is always last, she will destroy her home. This is the principle for any relationship. Any leader who puts themselves first will have control and get what they want in the short term but destroys the foundations in the long-term. Where the foolish woman lives for today, the wise thinks toward the future. The foolish woman tears down with anger (Proverbs 21:9). An angry home is an empty home. She tears down her own house with contentions (Proverbs 19:13). A small leak in the roof over time with a continual drip will bring a home to ruin. The constant and continual quarrelsomeness of the foolish woman slowly tears her home apart.

Like anything worth building, it takes hard work, planning, dedication, and a commitment to see it through. A home isn’t built in a day. Thank you, wise wives and mothers for all you do.  

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Not Ashamed

2 Timothy 1:8-12 “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord…” The Tolerance Police stand ready to keep people in line. Think differently than the commonly accepted line of "truth" and you'll soon hear a version of their battle cry. To some, more intimidating than the "Rebel Yell" or an Apache war cry,  the phrase “You ought to be ashamed!”  sends grown men whimpering off to the corner mumbling to themselves. Should it?

Shame is the feeling of judgment when we are guilty of a transgression, or embarrassed by one of our characteristics, or embarrassed by our associations.  Shame or feeling ashamed can be both a good or bad thing – it all depends on why you are ashamed. If we’ve done wrong, shame leads us to seek forgiveness. Having no shame means you never feel the weight of your guilt. However, it’s just as bad to feel ashamed when you shouldn’t. The feeling of shame comes from our conscience but sometimes our conscience is out of tune with the truth.

Amazingly, Timothy was ashamed of Jesus. Many Christians are also ashamed of Jesus. Timothy was ashamed of the Lord’s testimony and embarrassed by the gospel, the testimony that Jesus died on a cross for his sins. Timothy was embarrassed to be associated with Paul, the persecutor turned prisoner, the fanatical preacher of the gospel of Jesus.

Jesus did nothing wrong, ever and had nothing to be ashamed of. But in the court of public opinion, Jesus is guilty of breaking with the world. Put to death on a Roman cross, the world judged Jesus and condemns him. Because the carnal heart is enmity against God, the world always will think poorly and judge harshly the Lamb of God. The cross is a stumbling block for the Jews and foolish to the Gentiles. He is guilty and condemned in the eyes of the world. Anyone who associates with Christ, shares His beliefs and moral characteristics, and trusts in His name is guilty by association in the world system. Timothy felt shame because he feared the judgment of the world more than the judgment of God. He elevated the opinion of nonbelievers higher than the opinion of His Lord. He didn't want the world to hate him.

Paul was not ashamed (2 Timothy 1:12). He boldly proclaimed the gospel of Christ despite the condemnation. Jesus saved us, called us with a holy calling by his grace, ordained before the world began. Jesus Christ our Lord, abolished death and through his death burial and resurrection gives eternal life and by faith in Christ, we are saved. Paul is a preacher of such glorious good news and he isn’t ashamed because he knows Jesus. People will condemn him. People will tell him “he ought to be ashamed” but he’s not ashamed, because those judges are wrong. He knows his soul is safe in the Lord Jesus and so his is not ashamed now and won’t be ashamed in the last day.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

A Hard Won War

Proverbs 18:19 A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.

The longest known siege in history started in 1648 on the small Mediterranean island of Crete. During the Ottoman-Venetian wars, the Ottoman Empire besieged the city Candia, Crete's capital. The fight to take the city lasted 21 years. It all started when a Catholic organization known as “The Knights of the Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem" looted an Ottoman ship carrying treasure to Constantinople. The Ottoman forces attacked in kind and took over the island, all except the capital. But the city was well fortified and protected, and for the next two decades, countless lives and fortunes were lost in the battle until Candia finally succumbed to the never-ending onslaught.

A hard-won battle taking down a fortified city designed to resist attack is the image Solomon has in mind describing the attempt at repairing a busted relationship with a brother. Whether in families or in churches, brothers in the flesh or brothers in Christ, when we are hurt by the wrongdoing of brother, it’s going to leave a mark much deeper than if it were an enemy.

Why? Well, it doesn't take much effort to get the relationship of an acquaintance back to the normal. You aren't that close anyway, so you don't have far to fall, or don't have to far to travel back. But, with a brother, it's different. We love and trust our brothers. We don’t expect the betrayal. When brothers have bonded in struggles, fights, blood, sweat, and tears, there is a bond that develops that is like no other. So when that love is betrayed it shakes us to the core.  We expect our brothers to have our back, not stab us in it. We expect our brothers to walk with us. Why is it sometimes easier to let things slide with an acquaintance than a brother? We show more leniency toward an acquaintance because we are either trying to win them to our side, or don’t expect as much from them. That’s also why we are harder on our friends and brothers than we are those outside the camp.  A brother’s sin is a betrayal of both the relationship both people have devoted so much to and the big part of our life we share with them.

You need to guard your relationship. A small matter can cause irreparable harm, and once the offence has been committed, it’s very difficult to win them back. Because the bond is close, it’s very easy to take advantage of a brotherly bond. Once the brotherhood is broken, it takes great effort and struggle to make it right again. I’ve known brethren at odds a lot longer than Ottoman-Venetian conflict. Though it is possible to win him back, it would be better not to sin against him in the first place or when we sin, quickly ask for forgiveness.

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Even so, Come Lord Jesus

“He which testifieth these things saith, Surely I come quickly. Amen. Even so, come, Lord Jesus,” Revelation 22:20.  When we say we believe something or have faith in a teaching, how does our belief affect our life?  Believing in something should cause an outworking of that doctrine.  Some have intellectual beliefs about the Bible, but little or no faith in those same beliefs because they have no fruit in their life.  If you believed your house was on fire, you probably wouldn’t sit down with a cup of coffee and discuss the philosophical implications of light, heat, and flame. No, you would grab your family and get out of the house. If you truly believe the Bible, you are going to act like you believe the Bible.

One very common theme in God’s Word, for believers is the soon coming of the Lord Jesus Christ, one of the great hopes of the Christian. We, as it says in Titus 2:13, are, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ.”  Not a “I hope it happens” but a faith knowing it is going transpire. If you believe the Bible, you confess Jesus is coming again. How does the return of Christ affect your life?

The apostle John was captured and put into exile on the isle of Patmos, banished for preaching the Word of God and the testimony of Jesus Christ.  He was persecuted and afflicted for righteousness sake and banished to a rocky island, barren, desolate, and void of anything making Patmos a desirable locale.  Not exactly an island paradise. The apostle was in the Spirit on the Lord’s Day and received the revelation of Jesus Christ concerning the end times. John had little reason for hope.  Exiled, hated, persecuted, aged, afflicted; he dedicated his best years to preaching the gospel and teaching the saints only to end it in exile.  But John had hope. Not in changing the government to like Christians. John had no hope of living a normal, peaceable life, but his hope was in Jesus Christ.  John wasn’t wishing to die, but he wanted Christ to come back and get him, and his eschatology (the study of the last days) impacted his whole outlook on life.

Do you take comfort in the return of Christ (1 Thessalonians 4:17-18)? Do you desire the return of Christ?  When is the last time you meditated on the soon coming of Jesus Christ, let alone desire it? Can you say, “even so, come Lord Jesus,” and mean it? There is a crown of righteousness in Heaven, waiting for all God’s people who love his appearing (2 Timothy 4:8). Is there a crown waiting for you? Do you live like Jesus may return today? Or, have the cares and concerns of this life taken over your heart and affections? “Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of man cometh at an hour when ye think not,” Luke 12:40.

Thursday, April 11, 2019

A Better 3G

I worked for AT&T Wireless back when internet on your cell phone just started to be a big deal. Everyone wanted the new and faster 3G (3rd generation) technology. As the technology improved, internet speeds got faster. Now, however, when you see 3G, you may get frustrated because it means download speeds are roughly 10 times slower than 4G. Verizon is rolling out their 5G and it is supposedly 20 times faster than 4G. But I have a 3G you can get excited about again. It’s based on a 16th century Heidelberg Catechism written in a place called the Electorate of the Palatinate (modern day Germany) in the city of Heidelberg. I prefer  the “immersed” version Baptist preacher, Hercules Collins revised called the Orthodox Catechism. 

The answers to the first two questions provide an outline for the whole catechism. “What is your only comfort in life and in death” and, “what must you know to live and die in the joy of this comfort?” Answer: “First, how great my sins and misery are; second, how I am delivered from all my sins and misery; third, how I am to be thankful to God for such deliverance.” This is also an outline of the book of Romans, and where we get the better 3G’s.

Guilt. “You must know how great your sin truly is.” In the first 3 ½ chapters of the book of Romans, Paul proves, “all have sinned”. We are guilty before God and have no hope of being justified before the law. Doesn’t sound very hopeful, especially when we want to know the answer to question one, “what is your only comfort in life and death?” That leads us to the second G.

Grace. ”You must know how you are set free from you sin and misery.” Starting at the end of chapter three, through chapter 11, Paul instructs us on the grace of God. We cannot be saved by the law since in only condemns us, but we are saved by Grace. Jesus Christ, the second Adam, died for our sins as the perfect sin sacrifice, the just and justifier. He took the sins of his people, paid their debt, and graciously, imputes His righteousness to our account. Not by our works of righteousness, but by grace and His righteousness. Which leads us to the third G.

Gratitude. “You must know how you are to thank God for your deliverance.” Must we keep the law to be saved? Of course not, but how can a person be saved from their wicked, Hell deserving sins, rescued from an eternity in the Lake of Fire and given eternal life not be grateful and live a life of “reasonable service”? We do not keep the law  to be saved, but a child of God, with a heart of gratitude, lives a life that is pleasing to God, giving our bodies as a living sacrifice, out of love for God saving us.

Next time your phone is slow, and you’ve got the dreaded 3G, praise God, and think of your guilt, His grace, and your gratitude.

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Fausset on Leaven

"A lump of old dough in high fermentation. As making it and leavening bread with it took time, unleavened bread was used in sudden emergencies (Gen_18:6; Gen_19:3). It was forbidden in all offerings to the Lord by fire (Lev_2:11; Lev_7:12). The Israelites on pain of death were to have none in their houses or in the land during Passover for seven days, from 14th Nisan (Exo_12:15; Exo_12:19; Exo_12:39; Exo_13:7; Exo_23:18; Deu_16:3-4). Salt was its opposite, and was never to be absent from the altar burnt offering, representing the incorruptible imperishableness of Jehovah's covenant. Honey as liable to ferment also was excluded from the altar burnt offerings. Leaven reminded Israel of the haste with which they fled from Egypt, and of their sufferings, which answer to the insipidity of unleavened bread, "the bread of affliction."

Its prominent symbolical meaning was, it is bred of corruption and corrupts the mass with which it is mixed. Hence it represents "malice" (the evil habit) and "wickedness" (evil coming out in word and deed) as opposed to "sincerity" and "truth" (1Co_5:7). The Jews searched with extreme care their houses, to purge out every particle of leaven. So Christians ought to search their hearts and purge out every corruption (Psa_139:23-24). It also symbolizes corrupt doctrine (Mat_16:6). Another quality is its secretly penetrating and diffusive influence: 1Co_5:6, "a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump," the influence of one sinner corrupts many (Ecc_9:18); but in Gal_5:9 a little legalism mixed with the gospel corrupts its purity. Though elsewhere used in a bad sense, leaven in Mat_13:33 represents the gospel principle working silently "without observation" from within, until the whole is leavened, just as the mustard tree represents its diffusion externally; so "flesh," though usually in a bad sense, in Eze_11:19 is in a good sense.

The decomposition of social elements, accompanying and providentially preparing the way for the gospel, makes the image appropriate. Leaven was allowed to be offered in the firstfruits and tithes (Deu_26:2; Deu_26:12; 2Ch_31:5), the Pentecostal loaves (Lev_23:15; Lev_23:17), and the peace offering (Lev_7:13). See Lev_2:11 "as an oblation of firstfruits ye shall offer them (leaven and honey) unto the Lord, but they shall not be burnt on the altar for a sweet savour." In Amo_4:5 the leavened bread was "with the sacrifice of thanksgiving of the peace offerings," not with burnt offerings of animals on the altar. Perhaps however the command is ironical, "offer by burning (margin) a sacrifice ... with leaven" (which was forbidden), your very offerings being open insults to God."

Fausset's Bible Dictionary
by Andrew Robert Fausset

Sunday, March 31, 2019

AW Pink on Receiving Christ

"The first thing for me, as a poor lost sinner, to make sure of is, Am I relying upon what Christ did for sinners? Am I personally trusting in His shed blood?

If I am not, if instead, under the eloquence and moving appeals of some evangelist, I have decided to turn over a new leaf, and endeavor to live a better life, and I have "gone forward" and taken the preacher’s hand, and if he has told me that I am now saved and ready to "join the church," and doing so I feel happy and contented—my peace is a false one, and I shall end in the Lake of Fire, unless God in His grace disillusions me.

On the other hand, if the Holy Spirit has shown me my lost condition, my deep need of the Savior, and if I have cast myself upon Christ as a drowning man clutches at a floating spar; if I have really believed on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 16:31), and received Him as my own personal Savior (John 1:12), and yet, nevertheless, I am still lacking in assurance of my acceptance by God, and have no settled peace of heart; it is because I am failing to rest in simple faith on the written Word. GOD SAYS, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and thou shalt be saved". That is enough. That is the Word of Him who cannot lie. Nothing more is needed. "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth My Word, and believeth on Him that sent Me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life" (John 5:24).

Never mind about your feelings; do not stop to examine your repentance to see if it be deep enough. It is CHRIST that saves; not your tears, or prayers, or resolutions. If you have received Christ, then you are saved. Saved now, saved forever.—"For by one offering He hath perfected forever them that are set apart" (Heb. 10:14).

In the same way that the firstborn Israelite could know that he was secure from the avenging Angel—by the Word of God. "When I see the blood I will pass over you". God is saying the same to-day. If you are under the blood, then you are eternally secure. Neither the Law, nor the Devil, can harm you. "It is God that justifieth, who is he that condemneth?" (Rom. 8:33, 34).

Receive Christ for salvation. Rest on God’s Word for assurance and peace!

It is faith in God’s promise which brings assurance. For salvation, faith is simply the hand that receives the gift. For assurance, faith is "setting to our seal that God is true" (John 3:33). And this is simply receiving "His testimony". In this paper we have only sought to develop that which is central and vital in connection with our salvation and peace."

Pink, Arthur W.. Gleanings in Exodus 

Friday, March 22, 2019

Spirit of Fear- Tuesday with (2nd) Timothy #6

2 Timothy 1:5-7 When I call to remembrance the unfeigned faith that is in thee, which dwelt first in thy grandmother Lois, and thy mother Eunice; and I am persuaded that in thee also. 6 Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands. For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.

One of the great spiritual weapons used against the child of God is fear. We are to fear (reverence, worship) the Lord, but are not to be fearful, cowardly, or timid, which is a great sin. "But the fearful...shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death," Revelation 21:8.  Fear is a powerful tool to manipulate people to act against their consciences or to cower from doing right. Paul encouraged Timothy not to cringe in the face of potential persecution, but to boldly serve God and declare the gospel. Fear keeps preachers from preaching the whole counsel of God. Fear keeps Christians from witnessing at work. Fear keeps men from opposing false doctrine and fear of trouble keeps men from doing what they believe to be right. Fear keeps pastors from stepping on the wrong toes and try to make everyone happy in the pews, especially those with power. Fear makes a preacher skip the application of a message and say, "It's not my job to apply Scripture, that's the Holy Spirit's job." A young man was called to pastor a church in Kentucky, and his first sermon he preached against drunkenness. The deacon came up to him afterword and said, "I know you are new here, but there are quite a few men who work at the distillery, so you shouldn't preach on drunkenness." The next week, he preached on truth telling, and against liars. The deacon said, "About that sermon – we have a few politicians in the church, and they took exception to that sermon." Frustrated, the young preacher said, "Well then, what CAN I preach about!” The deacon thought for a moment and said, "You can preach against the Mormons. I doubt there is a Mormon within 500 miles of here."

To encourage boldness, Paul told Timothy to remember his heritage (2 Timothy 1:5-7). Remember God's good providence in blessing Timothy with a mother and grandmother who loved him enough to read and teach him the Bible. It can be a good tool for spiritual boldness to recall how the Lord saved you, and even what he saved you from and to consider your election. God saved you by his mighty power, not because of good that you have done, but according to His loving mercy. Remembering how God ordained your salvation and brought it to pass can give you boldness for the present day. Be encouraged by Christian fellowship and the prayers of saints. Timothy may have been afraid of persecution, but Paul was praying for him. His dear friend lifted him up before the throne of grace. Timothy was not alone. Timothy was not abandoned. When we become fearful or allow fear to manipulate us, the thought of the church praying for you is a great means of boldness. Yet another reason why you need to be in the regular fellowship of a church. We need the prayers of our brothers and sisters, and we need to be able to request prayer. We also need the fellowship of the believers who know us and want the best for us. You can't have that when your forsake the assembly.

We gain boldness by action. It may not seem very spiritual, and it may not seem helpful, but a good way to not be fearful is to run straight into what you are afraid of. Go. Move. Get to the field of service despite your fear and trust in the Lord. This is how you can courage. Stirring up the gift of God is to use the gifts God gave you and kindling the fire of service. Fan the flames of God's gift into a roaring fire. Timothy was called to preach, called to pastor, and called to defend and proclaim the gospel of Christ. The gift God gave him is related to that ministry. But, he thought, if he used his gifts, he would be persecuted, and so he was afraid. Paul’s answer to Timothy’s timidity? Use the gifts. And not half-hardheartedly. Stir them up, kindle the fire and burn down the barriers of fear! When I was small child, I was convinced there was some sort of scary monster standing outside my window. I just knew if I opened the window, I'd be looking face to face with some ugly ghoul wanting to eat me whole. My mom came in my room and I told her why I wasn't asleep, and about the monster outside the window. Do you know what she did? She made me get up and open the window and look outside. That was the very thing I was afraid of! "But what if there IS a monster outside?" She said, "There isn't, but if there is, you'll be able to see it and then deal with it. But, if you lay here wondering, then you'll always be afraid." The advice was sound. If fear keeps you from serving God, the only way to defeat fear is press on in your calling. The work will dampen the fear. The more experience you gain, the less you’ll fear the unknown. And the more you are mortifying the fear in the Spirit of God, the more grace you receive.

God has not given us the spirit of fear. Whenever a Christian has the disposition of fearfulness, know it isn’t God. The character of fear is not a fruit of the Spirit. It’s easy to dress fear up in different garments, but underneath, it’s still fear. We may call it by different names, but it’s still fear. We may call it practicality. We may call it generosity. We may call it broadmindedness, or say we are protecting ourselves. We may say its living to fight another day. But if we search our hearts, we may find our motivation is being afraid. Obviously, this doesn’t do away with wisdom, but be careful that fear isn’t manipulating Scripture to give an easy out. Wise as serpents, after all.

The “spirit” is the source of the power of fear. If you are driving down a mountain and your breaks go out, it would be right and ok to be afraid. That human emotion is useful to release adrenaline and help us to get out of a life or death situation. But God hasn’t give us the spirit of fearful self-preservation. God has given us the spirit of power. Mighty, supernatural, God given power, whereas fear is weakness.

God has given us the spirit of love. Fear is self-motivated, and hesitant to act. Love presses forward for the good of others. Fear keeps us quiet in self-preservation. Love motivates us to move and sacrifice for God and for others. Fear is selfish, thinking only of ourselves. Love is selfless, serving for God’s glory. God has given us the spirit of love.

God has given us a sound mind. Fear takes the mind captive. Fear causes us to be irrational. Fear causes us to miss out on opportunities of service. Fear creates problems that are not really there, or amplifies problems that are really small. Fear takes weak enemies and makes them giants. Fear takes inconsequential barbs and turns them into swords. Fear takes the possibility of disapproval and turns it into a great trial where all the world is watching. It’s not rational. God gives us a sound mind. A healthy mind to be able to look at what is true, what is real, and what is important. God gives us a mind that isn’t ruled by our emotions, but a mind that is ruled by truth and reality.

Fear sells. Fear makes men compliant. Fear lets evil run free. The devil wants you afraid. The enemies of goodness and truth want you afraid. The worst case scenario for evil doers is coming across  a man whose had enough and no longer fears what man can do to him.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

From the blood of righteous Abel unto the blood of Zacharias

Interesting article from Alan Jacobs on the technology of the book, thinking about this passage from the gospels.
"In referring to this story, Jesus is clearly indicating that Zechariah — not, to be clear, the one who wrote the book of Zechariah — is the last of the Bible’s prophet-martyrs, just as Abel was the first. Yet this is clearly not so: half a dozen later prophets were martyred, at least according to unanimous tradition. But there is no mistake here, neither by Jesus nor by Luke. By invoking an arc that stretches from Abel to Zechariah, Jesus is indeed imagining a strict sequence, but not that of the history of Israel: rather, he has in mind the sequence of the Bible as he knew it."
Which, believe it or not, he brings this to bear on reading on Kindles and iPads. Like I said, it's interesting. Read more HERE.

Thursday, March 14, 2019

Authority and Baptism

Luke 20:1-8 “The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men?  ...they answered, that they could not tell whence it was.  And Jesus said unto them, Neither tell I you by what authority I do these things.”

If baptism began as a man-made ordinance or ritual then it really would not matter how, when, or why you baptized.  Men can change and redefine their creeds and practices to suite their own needs and wants.  Laws, constitutions, by-laws change all day long in different organizations. Baptism, however, is not man-made ordinance but a divinely authorized practice so men do not have the right to change the practice. We can submit to but cannot change what God established. Jesus asked a lot of questions, not because he did not know the answer, but because He wanted the people He asked the questions to give an answer.  Jesus asked in Luke 20:4 a question that should be considered and answered today. “The baptism of John, was it from heaven, or of men?”  If John’s baptism was from men, we have liberty to change it from its original mode and purpose, submit to it  or leave it aside.  We are not bound to observe and follow the traditions of men.  But, as Jesus illustrates by asking the question and as the Pharisees illustrate by not answering the question, John’s baptism did not originate with men.

What did Jesus mean when He asked, “from Heaven or men?”  Jesus asked about the authority and originator of the baptism. Jesus confirms the ministry of John the Baptist as being sent and authorized by God.  The chief priests questioned the Lord’s authority to preach the gospel and teach the Word of God.  Unable to find any other fault with the preaching of Jesus Christ, it was a desperate attempt by wicked men, to try and discredit the Lord by discrediting His ministry.  Since they could not find fault with the doctrine, they would attack His authority to teach.  (By the way, people still do that today to the men of God.  If you don’t like his preaching, find some other reason to discredit the message. He preaches too long or too short, too loud or too quiet. He isn’t refined enough, or he isn’t country enough. The reason is not the man but the message.) Jesus turned the tables by questioning them about John the Baptist and by whose authority He came preaching and baptizing.  They could not answer because both the Lord’s and John’s authority came from the same place – God.  Baptism was not a man-made practice or a preacher invented ritual; but it came from God. John 1:6, “There was a man sent from God, whose name was John.”  God sent John to preach, prepare and baptize. The Baptism of John and the ministry of Christ are forever linked, even today. Do you have the baptism of John? Have you been baptized for the same purpose, in the same way, with the same God given authority?

When John flinched at baptizing the Lord Christ, Jesus told Him in Matthew 3:15, “Suffer it to be so now: for thus it becometh us to fulfil all righteousness.” John’s baptism was not a vain tradition of men. Immediately after the baptism of the Son of God,  the Spirit of God and God the Father visibly and audibly declared their approval (Matthew 3:16-17). God sanctioned, authorized and approved of John’s Baptism.

John was the first to baptize in the Bible, but certainly was not the only one. By what authority did the disciples baptize believers? John 3:22, “After these things came Jesus and his disciples into the land of Judaea; and there he tarried with them, and baptized.”  John 4:1-2, “...Jesus made and baptized more disciples than John,  (Though Jesus himself baptized not, but his disciples).”  How did Jesus baptize when John said he didn’t? Christ baptized through His church, using men as His representatives to immerse believers under the water. The apostles baptized for Jesus, in His name. The process and authority to baptize was from Heaven, commissioned by God to John.  Jesus then commissioned and authorized His disciples to baptize believers in His name.  Though the men put people under the water, the authority to do so was from God. Jesus baptized by authorizing His disciples to do it for Him.

The divine ordinance of baptism began when God sent John. Next, Jesus authorized His disciples, to baptize in His name. So then, who can baptize today? Matthew 28:18-20, “And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost…”.  All power is Christ’s and all authoritative, kingly power is Christ’s and in divine royal authority He commissions the church to go and teach and baptize in the name of the Trinity, in observance of all things He had commanded. Just as the Trinity sanctioned, authorized, and approved of John’s Baptism in Matthew 3, and just as the apostles baptized for Jesus, in His name, the church is commissioned to carry out this same practice in Matthew 28 in name of the Trinity. Just as God sent and authorized John alone, and  just as Christ authorized the disciples alone to baptize, God  authorizes His church, and His church alone to baptize.  The Lord’s church baptizes in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ carrying out the commission with His authority, in His church.  Baptizing in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is more than saying the words, but by their authority. 

Friday, March 1, 2019

LORD? A Defense of our English Bible

In preparation for preaching Wednesday, I was studying In Matthew 22:43-46, Jesus said, "How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?' And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions."

"The LORD said unto my Lord..."

I think it's common knowledge for most Bible readers that the word LORD in all caps in our English Bible, refers to the covenant name of God. Some modern translations have taken to replace *some* of those instances with Yahweh or Jehovah (that's a separate issue, and I won't address that here). For years, I've read scholars talk about the crime of the translators following the superstitions of the Jews by not translating God's name, but following the tradition of saying LORD. This is a subject that has fascinated me for well over a decade. I recently preached on the burning bush and dealt with God's name. LORD, I AM that I AM, YHWH  was fresh on my mind as I read this passage.

Jesus quotes Psalm 110:1, “The LORD said unto my Lord…” In both the Old and New Testament, LORD is in all caps in my Bible. In the Psalms, LORD in Hebrew is the Tetragrammaton, the covenant name of God. Hebrew doesn’t have vowels, and until much later in history, they didn’t have vowel markers. The Tetragrammton, God’s name, is spelled in English letters, YHWH. Anytime in our English Bible you see LORD in all caps, it refers to the Divine name. It's not a hidden mystery and I think important to make sure we are aware of the reason for the small caps.

The question: should we or must we substitute LORD with YHWH in our reading or even work toward a translation of the Bible that makes the change? One evangelical author is adamant about getting a translation that changes all instances of LORD to the point of saying it's wrong and superstitious to continue such a foolish tradition. Have God's people been duped for millennia? Does my Bible have literally thousands of mistakes?

Not so fast. Let's think about the passage in Matthew. The Greek Word for LORD is κύριος (kyrios) and that’s the word translated Lord in all three places in Matthew 22:43-46.  But if the King James is mistranslated and it should have been translated YHWH, why didn't the Lord correct it here or why didn't Matthew correct it?

Εἶπεν ὁ κύριος τῷ κυρίῳ μου Κάθου ἐκ δεξιῶν μου ἕως ἂν θῶ τοὺς ἐχθρούς σου ὑποπόδιον τῶν ποδῶν σου

See for yourself, the kyrios said to my kyrios. Not YHWH said to my kyrios. 

Did Matthew misquote Jesus? Did Jesus say LORD? Was Matthew wrong in writing LORD?

Or, perhaps, Matthew, under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, wrote exactly what God wanted us to read. If we "go to the original", to what original will we go? The Greek which says kyrios or the Hebrew that says YHWH? If "LORD" is wrong, it also means Matthew is wrong. But, since Matthew was under inspiration of the Holy Spirit, and the Word of God is innerant and infallible and Matthew wrote LORD quoting the Old Testament, it is not wrong for us to do likewise in the Old or the New Testaments.

It’s easy to point to Jewish superstitions in the Septuagint as the cause for the practice of writing LORD. But if that’s the reason its in the Bible now, why did Matthew commit the same "error"? Why didn't the New Testament authors, who were hardly afraid of ruffling the feathers of the Jews, not set the churches straight? Or, maybe, in God's providence, the people of God have not been wrongly reading God's Word for 2100+ years. You won't find Jesus or the apostles ever correcting Scripture when they quote the Old Testament even when they quoted their translations. We would be much better off following their practice and stop correcting our Bibles and let our Bibles correct us.

Thursday, February 28, 2019

Son of David

In Matthew 22:42-46, Jesus asked the Pharisees, "What think ye of Christ? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David. How then doth David in spirit call him Lord, saying, The LORD said unto my Lord, Sit thou on my right hand, till I make thine enemies thy footstool? If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?' And no man was able to answer him a word, neither durst any man from that day forth ask him any more questions."

That’s a good question. What do you think of Christ? I want you to answer that question. Do you think little of him? Do you dislike Jesus? Do you love Jesus? Do you even know him? Jesus asks the all-important question and the answer concerns the destiny of your soul. The Jewish leaders tried to entrap the Lord with questions designed to prove he was either a false teacher or to get him arrested. They utterly failed. Jesus showed himself to be the impeccable Christ and defeated his enemies. Now it’s his turn to ask the questions.

When Jesus asked, “What think ye of Christ, whose son is he?” They answered, “the son of David.” How is that considering Psalm 110:1? David had no one on earth above him. He was king, and only God was higher. Even in his death, no earthly king surpassed him. David was the standard by which all the kings were judged. A good king was said to walk after David. Every king of Judah after him was an heir. These men followed David, sat on David’s throne, walked in David’s ways, were called the sons of David, ruling in the city of David (1 Kings 2:12; 2 Kings 22:2; 2 Chronicles 24:16). The kings of Judah were all sovereigns, but still walked in David’s shadow. How is it then, David called his heir, his son, Lord? “The LORD said unto my Lord”. Jesus said, David, moved by the Holy Spirit, spoke the inspired Word of God, called one of his heirs “my Lord”. The only way that is possible, is if the LORD was his Lord. The Messiah is the son of David, but is also David’s Lord because the Christ is both the son of David, and the son of God. He is truly man, and truly God.

The Pharisees had no answer, realized they were defeated, and left with no more questions. The best of the best thought about what Jesus said, and couldn’t, rather they wouldn’t answer him. Their only option was to either say the inspired word of Psalm 110 was not true or admit that Jesus was correct. And, to confess Jesus right, they must bow, trust in Him as their Saviour, Lord, and Christ. But, they didn’t answer him and walked away. I hope you don’t act like the Pharisees and read the truth of who Christ is and then walk away, heart hardened, not repenting and trusting in him.

Tuesday, February 26, 2019

Hearing From God

Believers have always longed to hear from God. Imagine being an Old Testament believer living in a time before written revelation. The first five books of the Bible were penned by Moses, the guy we meet at the beginning of Exodus. That means all the people we find in the book of Genesis and Job (Job probably lived before Abraham) did not have a written Bible. Genesis covers around 2,370 years, so there were a lot of people, for a long time, who longed to hear from God.

Now, in the New Covenant, God has given us 66 books of written revelation. On top of that, Christians have the Holy Spirit to guide and teach us. When we read the Bible, we hear from God. Jesus said in Matthew 22: 31-32, “But as touching the resurrection of the dead, have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God, saying, I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.” Jesus was talking to unbelieving Sadducees who mocked the supernatural. Jesus condemned them because they had not read, they didn’t understand, and believe the written Word of God. They were responsible to understand what God had revealed.

Also notice how Jesus viewed the Scripture. He said, “have ye not read that which was spoken unto you by God.” He didn’t say, “Moses said” even though Moses penned it. Jesus asked if they had not read, in the Bible, what GOD had said “unto YOU.” The Bible is God’s Word. The Bible does not “contain” the Word of God, it is the Word of God. Pseudo intellectuals like to talk about their “translations containing the Word”, but, much like the Sadducees of old, they have a different view of the Bible than Jesus. The Old Testament Scripture did not contain God's Word, it was God's Word.

The Bible is God’s Word, and it is God’s Word to you, and you have access to it. When I open my Bible and read it, I am reading God’s Word. You don’t have to travel to Jerusalem to hear from God. You don’t need to climb a mountain and wait for a vision. You also don’t need to learn Greek or Hebrew to read God’s Word. My English Bible is the Word of God. Don’t let anyone shake your confidence in the Bible. Some will try to make you think only Greek and Hebrew scholars can tell you what God said. Only the trained professionals can know and hear from God and unlock the hidden secrets because they know what God's Word really says. That’s not what Jesus believed.

Some want to make the Bible merely a historical book to see what God said to Moses with little application directly to us today. Jesus didn’t believe that either. Jesus made application to this Old Testament verse, to the people in his hearing, and didn't first feel compelled to let the Sadducees know the historical redemption timeline.

Other believers want to set aside the written, revealed Word and go back to listening and waiting for God to speak and go back to the Old Covenant days instead of enjoying the blessings of the New Covenant. Imagine, being an Old Testament believer living in a time before written revelation. Imagine what it was like for Mahalaleel (Genesis 5:17) knowing only what Adam told him. Then, he finds out one day, there would be a book with the mystery of redemption revealed. That book would be available for anyone to read. God's will revealed. And then people set it aside and wait for a revelation. He'd think we were nuts.

Monday, February 25, 2019

Sovereign Grace, Silsbee Texas

My brother is the pastor of the Sovereign Grace Baptist Church in Silsbee, TX.

He has his sermons online now. Check them out HERE.

Go on now, click and listen.

Thursday, February 21, 2019

The Bible Teacher

Baptists are a “people of the Book” and believe God is honored and glorified in the preaching, reading, and teaching of the Word of God. Preaching and teaching are a priority in the church. In 1 Timothy 3:2, Paul says a pastor must be "apt to teach", meaning a he should be one who can teach, who does teach, and is ready to teach. Everyone can't be a teacher (1 Corinthians 12:29) and everyone shouldn't want to be a teacher (James 3:1). Just because someone wants to teach, doesn’t mean they ought to teach (1 Timothy 1:7). But, the church needs teachers (Ephesians 4:11), and there are probably people who could teach, having the knowledge and natural gifts, but don’t (Hebrews 5:12).
Are you a Bible teacher? Teach the Bible (1 Timothy 4:11). This may seem obvious, but too many teach everything BUT the Bible. A pastor was absent from his church and asked an itinerant preacher to come and fill in for him. When the pastor came back the next week, he asked one of the boys at the church what the guest preacher’s sermon was about. “Electricity,” the boy said. Now, whether the boy listened or whether the man really taught the Bible, it’s hard to say, but the big impression the man left on the boy was his stories about electricity. Their can’t be a greater or loftier desire than to know God through Jesus Christ. Entertaining people will make you popular, but it’s a sad substitute to teaching others about Jesus Christ the Lord.

Lewis Carroll had some good horse-sense in his book Alice in Wonderland we can apply to teaching. “Begin at the beginning," the King said, very gravely, "and go on till you come to the end: then stop.” If you want to be a better teacher, listen to the king. To know where the beginning and end of a subject is, you need to know the subject. Then, have a plan for getting where you want your lesson to go. Those traveling with you may not know where you are going, but if they are confident you have some idea, they’ll trust your navigation. I just came back from a Bible conference in Florida and Google Maps gave me the directions, but I had to enter a starting point and a destination before I could get the plan. Start at the beginning, and keep going until you get to the end, then stop your lesson. Someone said their preacher lied every Sunday because he would say, “in conclusion” and then have no intention of concluding. Know your subject. Know what you want to say. Have a point and stick to it. Start at the beginning, go to the end, then stop. Try to winnow your information down to fit in the time allotted and save the rest for another time.
In conclusion… Oh – I’m out of space.

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

How Deep the Father's Love - John 3:16

Most people are familiar with John 3:16. It’s a very familiar passage of Scripture, part of a conversation Jesus had with Nicodemus about the new birth. John 3:16 is a blessed verse. A glorious sentence spoken by our gracious Saviour. John 3:16 shows the Father’s great love, God’s perfect salvation, and the triumph of his eternal plan. There are three things I want you to think about in this verse in showing how Christ perfectly saves according to the will of the Father. God loves, God gave, and God saves.

GOD LOVED - For God so loved the world

When we think about God’s love here, we see the Father Truly Loved and the Father Intended to Save.

The very first thing we see when we read John 3:16 is it’s talking about the love of God the Father. It’s common for people to get confused about the Trinitarian love of God. Some see the Father as stern. He is strict and uncaring, and it’s the Son who loves us, because he died for us. It may be from misunderstanding God’s anger at sin, or confusion about the eternal covenant. Perhaps a misinterpretation of God in the Old Testament. But if you think about it, saying the Father is stern, and Jesus is loving would, in essence, say God the Father really doesn’t love us, but hates us and Christ has changed the Father's mind. And now the Father merely tolerates us only because Jesus died for us.  God the Father is the God of judgments appeased by the New Testament God of love. But, for this to be true, it would mean the will of the Father and the will of the Son are competing and opposed to one another. The Father and his heart would be against the Son, and the Son would need to overcome and defeat the will of the Father.

Nothing can be further from the truth. The Lord Jesus tells us salvation begins in eternity with the Father.

We could rephrase John 3:16 by saying, “For the Father so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.” The Father gave his son. This verse tells us it was the Father who so loved the world. Salvation displays the love of God, one of his excellencies and eternal perfections. God IS love. Love is a motivating factor in our salvation. The Father so loved the world, that he gave his son. Not the physical world, or else there wouldn’t be a New Heaven and New Earth. Not all of mankind, or else all of mankind would be saved. The Father freely chose in eternity past, to set his love upon Hell-deserving wretches because he loved, because he is gracious, because he is merciful. His love was not determined by the actions of man, or our love or our choice. The great love of God is not payment for good things we have done.

Not only does the Father love, but it’s the pinnacle of all love.

When Jesus calls us to love our enemies in the sermon on the mount, he says we need to love as the Father loved HIS enemies.

 (44)  But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you;  (45)  That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven:

The low-down, tax collecting Publicans, everyone’s favorite whipping boys…THEY loved people who loved them. So what is noble, good, and honorable about that? It's not gracious that the publicans loved those who loved them. Their love is different from the Father's love, who LOVED HIS ENEMIES. We love God because "He first loved us". If the Father only loves and saves because of what we do for him, what difference is there between that love and the publicans?

No, the Father, in Eternity loved sinners and chose them for his own, and in His wisdom, ordained a plan to save us, and adopt us in his family, making us sons of God. No wonder John wrote in 1 John 3:1 Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be called the sons of God

The Father Intended to Save

The next thing we see is that this love isn’t a generic, undefined love, but love with a desired end and purpose in mind. It started in eternity past, demonstrated in time, and has a purpose through the endless ages of eternity future.

Jesus said, “For God so LOVED”. Loved is past tense. It points to his intention and motivation for sending the Son. Logically speaking, Love came before the sending, and the sending had a stated purpose. The Father had a reason for sending the Son.

President Dwight Eisenhower had a new speech writer come in the Oval Office, and he looked over a draft of a speech and asked the writer, "What's the QED?

The speechwriter looked at him funny, and Eisenhower said, "The QED - quod erat demonstrandum - What's the bottom line? What's the point?

QED is an acronym for that Latin phrase, and you use it when you demonstrate something has been proven or shown.

Eisenhower wanted every speech to have a message or a meaning. He didn’t want to just speak nice things, but he wanted to go into a speech with a plan and purpose – a message. Delivering the speech was carrying out his plan.

Most preachers I know anyway, have a plan when they get behind the pulpit. The sermon is carrying out the plan.

God had a plan. He had a purpose in salvation. There was a point to all this. What was it?

It was the Father’s aim, or His will, or His intent to save a people of His own choosing. God didn’t have to love us. God didn’t have to save us. God didn’t even need to create us. You are only sitting there, because God wanted it. This big, wide world you live it...It’s here because it pleased God to make it, not because he had to.

God chose to create us. God chose to love us. God ordained to save us. That was the plan.

John 6:35-40. And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst. 36 But I said unto you, That ye also have seen me, and believe not. 37 All that the Father giveth me shall come to me; and him that cometh to me I will in no wise cast out. 38 For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me. 39 And this is the Father's will which hath sent me, that of all which he hath given me I should lose nothing but should raise it up again at the last day.

What was the Father’s will? What was the Father’s intention?

40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that everyone which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.

Which parallels John 3:16

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life

John 3:16 isn’t the great Arminian Calvinist killer so think it is.

It was the Father’s will that all those he loved and gave to Christ would come to him and be saved. The Father chose a particular people and then gave those particular people to Jesus. The Father's will was not opposed to the Son's will, but in perfect, Trinitarian Unity, the persons of the Trinity are unified in will. The Godhead is unified in perfect fellowship. Perfect love. Perfect Unity.

It was the Father’s purpose for the Son to redeem the people He chose in ETERNITY PAST. The sacrifice Christ made on the cross was made for the Father’s elect. The Son was sent so that we might “have everlasting life” That’s eternity FUTURE.

Ephesians 1:9-14 Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him: In whom also we have obtained an inheritance, being predestinated according to the purpose of him who worketh all things after the counsel of his own will: That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise, Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

God revealed this mystery of redemption to us. God ordained and predestinated us according to his purpose. Just as John 3 teaches us about the New Birth, Ephesians 1 teaches us that at the New Birth, the Spirit quickens us to life, and we are sealed with the Holy Spirit of promise, the promise of eternal life in the eternal covenant of redemption. The Spirit is our earnest until the redemption of the purchased possession, or until we have our glorified bodies.

Look in chapter 2, verse 4, "But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us,5 Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved;) 6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:7 That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus.

The purpose, the aim, the Father’s will was to save to the uttermost, all the way to the end. To raise us up together. That we would sit in heavenly places. That we would forever be in Christ. His will that was in the ages to come, he would display his LOVE and grace and his kindness toward us in Jesus Christ.

A covenant of the Godhead in eternity past, ordaining salvation for us today "through the blood of the everlasting covenant", for all of eternity future.

The sacrifice of Jesus Christ didn’t “win” the Father’s love. Jesus didn’t, in other words, change the Father’s mind about us through his death, burial, and resurrection. The Bible tells us that the atonement is the essential way God the Father achieves his loving purpose in salvation.  The atonement flows from the love of God, which comes before the incarnation of Christ. This love comes before even the creation of the world. Eternally, and by His own good pleasure, God chose to love his people.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life

John 3:16 displays God’s great love, his perfect salvation, and the triumph of his eternal plan.

Now, with that in mind, let’s think about our second point.
GOD GAVE - For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son,

In this most famous of all verses, we find that after the Father loved and because he loved, he gave. When I was thinking about this, I had 3 questions.

What did he give?
How did He give?
Why did He give?

What did he give?
The Father gave His only begotten and dearly beloved son.

We have salvation because we are “Accepted in the beloved" and that beloved one is the Son.

The Godhead enjoyed perfect unity and perfection in eternity. And God giving of His only begotten Son also shows the love God has for us. He gave HIS SON.

We flinch a bit reading about Abraham when God commanded him to offer his son as a sacrifice. Waking up one morning and taking Isaac on a little trip up the mountain to worship God. It breaks my heart when I read Isaac say, "Daddy, where's the lamb to sacrifice?" That part breaks my heart. I remember after Elijah, our first, was born, reading this passage like never before.

We know that Isaac is the sacrifice. Abraham was told by God to give his son. His beloved son.

Can you imagine it?

What relief it is, when we read that passage and the angel stays Abraham, and we find out all along that God was not going to require Isaac, and he would be substituted for the ram stuck in the thicket.

Isaac lives! Isaac goes free! Abraham doesn't sacrifice his son. The ram is the substitute.

Then we get to the New Testament, and it dawns on us, that substitute was not a ram. That the substitute was a Son. A dearly beloved Son. An only begotten Son. A son whom the Father was, "Well pleased"

And this time, no angel stayed the Father's hand. This time, there was no other substitute to turn to.
It was Passover week in Jerusalem, and millions of lambs were slain, but that wasn't enough. The Son. The Only BEGOTTEN SON was given

How did He give?
The Father gave the Son, his Only Begotten, as a sacrifice for sin. Not simply as an example. Not only as a moral teacher, but as a sacrifice.

The giving included more than sending into His own creation, born of a woman. The giving is more than sending THE Prophet to preach and to teach and to heal. He gave his Son, to die for sinners.

Why did He give?
The Father gave because it was necessary.
It was necessary because of who God is
It was necessary price of redemption

Isaac asked Abraham, “Where is the sacrifice?” But Jesus didn’t need to ask the Father. Jesus knew all along. Jesus lived his whole living looking toward the cross. The Father willingly and lovingly sent the Son, and the Son willingly and lovingly came and died.

David risked his life for his father's sheep. He fought a lion to protect those sheep. He fought a bear to protect those sheep. He loved his father. He loved his job as shepherd. He loved those sheep.

How much, the Shepherd of our souls, who loves the Father, and loves his sheep, that he voluntarily laid down his life as a substitute.  

John 3:16 is true as it is necessary.

It’s this the great question? Why? Why didn't the Father simply forget our sins and move on? Why didn’t the Father proclaim his people innocent by “order of the King”?

The Father loved the Son. Surely, couldn't there had been another way?

Murray asked, “If we say that he could not [save by any other way], do we not impugn his power? If we say that he could but would not, do we not impugn his wisdom? Such questions are not scholastic subtleties or vain curiosities. To evade them is to miss something that is central in the interpretation of the redeeming work of Christ and to miss the vision of some of its essential glory. Why did God become man? Why, having become man, did he die? Why, having died, did he die the accursed death of the cross? This is the question of the necessity of the atonement.”

It's necessary because of Who God is. What God does is related to who God is.

Like I said, God didn’t have to save us, but when He chose to save us in His love and His mercy, he had to save us in a way that also coincides with his holiness and his justice.

God is simple. That just means he is not made up of different parts. He is not 50% love and 50% holiness…

We talk about the attributes, plural, but that doesn't mean they are parts of God. It's not that God is love and his love is greater than his holiness. Or Love is primary, and justice is secondary. Or that his attributes are at odds with one another.

God is perfect, simple. He isn't a composite of things, but He is One. So, God, by being God, by being I AM THAT I AM, cannot, separate Himself from, or disown, or disavow his character. God is Love, He is also Just and those two things, in our mind, are just different views of God's perfection.

God is so great, so immense, that we cannot conceive of Him, unless we think of Him in such a way as different attributes and how they relate to us in time.

Thomas Boston said, "the glory of one attribute is more seen in one work than in another: in some things there is more of His goodness, in other things more of His wisdom is seen, and in others more of His power. But in the work of redemption all His perfections and excellencies shine forth in their greatest glory.

This is why the cross was necessary.

God couldn’t express his love in forgiving sinners and ignore his justice and his holiness, because God is perfect.

So, while God did not have to save, because HE purposed TO save, it was necessary to save through a blood sacrifice.

It was necessary price of redemption

Galatians 3:21  Is the law then against the promises of God? God forbid: for if there had been a law given which could have given life, verily righteousness should have been by the law.

IF there could have been another way, there WOULD have been another way.
The Cross is a display of God love.
It is a display of God's wisdom
It is a display of God's Justice in punishing sin

Hebrews 2:10 For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing may sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

If something is becoming, it’s proper. It’s right. So, in other words, it was suitable and proper, it was complete right and appropriate for the Father to bring his sons to glory through the sufferings of our Captain. If there was some other way, it would not have been suitable and proper.

When Abraham took Isaac up the hill, God demanded a blood sacrifice. It was suitable for God to accept a substitute. It was right and proper to accept it for Isaac.But that blood wasn't suitable and sufficient to be a complete satisfaction of God's justice. It was suitable and proper for salvation to come through the suffering Captain. Nothing else was suitable.

17 Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that the might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertain to God to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

The word translated “behoved him” means to be duty bound, or “must needs”. It’s the idea of being under obligation, under a necessity with no other choice. So, it was necessary for Christ to be made flesh, like his brethren. It was required under the eternal plan of redemption, for the Word to be made flesh that he could make reconciliation for the sins of his people. Christ was duty bound, to fulfill his promise and the covenant, to die for sinners.

 If it was one way of many, or if it was even a preferred option, it would not behoove him, nor would it be suitable for the father to Send him.

Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission. The Shedding of an animal's blood for man's sin was not a suitable substitute. It wasn't enough. It never brought satisfaction. The crime of your sin was so great, only a blood sacrifice could satisfy justice. The heinousness of your sin was so vile, only the sacrifice of man could satisfy justice. Your Sin is so horrible, that only the sacrifice of a perfect man, a sinless man, would be suitable and sufficient.

And so all those old testament sacrifices were merely patterns of the Heavenly, eternal plan of redemption. God sent His Son, because that's the only way those HE loved would be saved.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life

John 3:16 displays God’s great love, his perfect salvation, and the triumph of his eternal plan.

GOD SAVES – “that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life

It was the Father’s will that the Son die for his people, that they should not perish, but have everlasting life. The Father’s aim was for his elect, whom he loved, to be with him in glory. He sent his Son on that mission, to save and redeem the lost. The son accomplished that mission by substituting himself in the place of sinners, redeeming them from God’s sword of justice, paying their sin debt, and making atonement, himself being the propitiation for sinners.

The will of God was that sinners would not perish but have everlasting life.

God in his infinite wisdom, ordained that men would receive salvation and the forgiveness of sins through faith.

God saves by grace. Full and free. Completely and successfully. Perfectly.

The truth is beautiful. God loves, perfectly. God loves, completely. The love of God is on full display by saving unworthy, undeserving sinners. It doesn’t beautify love to say that God loves everyone equally, all in the same way, and some of his loved ones go to hell, and some don’t. Does it uphold and beautify and make great a love that loves me the same way as Pharaoh? Or, that I am loved the same way and as much as God loves Goliath. Does it inspire worship and praise that God loves me the same as he loved the rich man in Hell?

Other than several inches, what’s the difference between me and Goliath? Other than political power, what’s the difference between me and Pharaoh? Other than money, what’s the difference between me and the rich man?

You could argue (and would be correct) that these men are far my superior. Goliath was a great champion. A war hero. A battle-hardened famous warrior. I played football in High School. Pharaoh was the most powerful king on Earth. He had the power of life and death in his words. He ruled a nation and is famous, even today. Pyramids and structures still stand built in honor of the throne he held. I am a business analyst for the state of WV. Do you really need me to point out the difference between a rich man and a preacher? Superior strength. Superior intellect. Superior wealth, power, and influence. There really is nothing that I have that’s any better than these three men.  Knowing my heart, like I do, I can’t say that I’m morally superior.

Why am I saved? Why are they in Hell and I’m on my way to Heaven? Because the Father so loved the world, that he gave His only begotten Son as a sin-sacrifice, an atonement, a propitiation for sins of those he loved. The Son expiated the sins of those people, forgiving and paying the sin debt. And, according to the wisdom of God, we receive the forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and escape the punishment of hell, by faith in the finished work of Christ.

“For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life

John 3:16 displays God’s great love, his perfect salvation, and the triumph of his eternal plan.

I implore you, to believe in the Only Begotten Son and receive everlasting life.