20 December 2009

From Babe to King

“Then I looked, and I heard around the throne and the living creatures and the elders the voice of many angels, numbering myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, saying with a loud voice, ‘Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!’ And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!’ And the four living creatures said, ‘Amen!’ and the elders fell down and worshiped.”

-Revelation 5:11-14-ESV

I shall begin this post with a paraphrase of a thought from my pastor, Jimmy Caraway (with my own thoughts added):

As we come into the final week of anticipation before we celebrate the day of our Savior’s birth, we can see that the world does not have a problem with out Lord remaining in a manger, but only when He comes to establish His rule as King of kings and Lord of lords.

It is precisely the reality of the lowly Babe in a manger now resurrected as the King of glory that must be etched in the corridors of our minds and bolted to the motives of our hearts if we truly desire to honor Him for who He now is and not to sentimentalize over what He then was.

Of course what I mean by this must be explained, but in my explanation I hope you see the majesty of the One we see the angels heralding that eventful and long-awaited night in the then-insignificant town of Bethlehem (Micah 5:2). By way of explanation, this post is in no way an attempt at demeaning the celebration of the human birth of our eternal Lord, the only Son of God, second Person of the blessed Trinity. I believe this time of year would be well-spent if we contemplated humanity’s hope born in a stable north of the Pharisaical, self-righteous hotbed of Jerusalem instead of facing the temptations of the anxiety of not giving enough gifts and falling short of family expectations, feasting ourselves to way too much food and giving into the sin of gluttony, and worshipping at the altars of consumerism and humanism, all the while singing the praises of a now-mythologized Saint Nicholas and a red-nosed reindeer that may be able to lead a magical sleigh through a snow squall, but is completely powerless to rescue fallen man as the Lamb of God (John 1:29).

It is of utmost importance to remember that our Lord came as a man, born of a virgin (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:18-23), in the lowliest and most unlikely of places: the stall of a manger, complete with the sights and smells one can expect from a filthy barn house (Luke 2:6-7). He did not receive a royal procession with lavish surroundings; this small town of Bethlehem could not house the King of kings even in a lowly inn (Luke 2:7b)! And yet here we find the newborn Lord of all creation, seemingly at the mercy of Joseph and Mary, not counting equality with God something to be considered (see Philippians 2:5-8). This Babe, this sinless, spotless Lamb would grow, be revered and hated, then mostly hated, suffer the sinful wrath of man and the righteous wrath of God on a cross, and then rise again from the grave to defeat death and return to heaven with the glory due Him as the Son of man.

Now, we can see from our passage John being blessed by God to be able to peer into the throne room of Almighty God, with the Lamb being given the same homage and glory as the Father Himself. Our text shows that all of creation, from the glorious, mighty angels above, to every creature in heaven and earth proclaiming that the Lamb is worthy to receive all worship and everything that comes with bowing down before God eternal. Why? Because He is the One who is worthy to rule over all creation, having subjected Himself to the insults, slings, stones, and bludgeonings our fallen humanness had to offer (by the way, He still endures blasphemy, slander, and all manners of sin against Him billions of times over day after day after sin-soaked day) in order to redeem us from: 1) the wrath of God the Father, Yahweh the Almighty, and 2) the bondage to sin and all of its most vile and wicked corruptions. No man born in any estate deserves such adoration, glory, blessing, and might! Our Lord Jesus stooped down as low as anyone could go and took on the form of weakened man, being completely divine and yet also completely human in a wonderful mystery we will not even come close to understanding this side of the veil of mortality, and will even spend all eternity contemplating its wonder, that God omnipotent would become flesh and blood and redeem His elect from before the foundation of the world, humbly beginning as the peasant Son of peasant parents born in a forgotten manger in an unknown town in an oppressed Israel to a people awaiting Messiah!

And Messiah they did receive, though not as they had expected. Like us today, we long for a Messiah that will fulfill our expectations, deliver to us our desires, and be fashioned after our own likeness. This is seen perfectly this time of year, when the very word “Christmas” is censored in order to worship the winter season and all of its fesitivities, and Santa Claus is granted the omniscience of God Almighty, when the popular secular hymn says of him, “He knows when you are sleeping, he knows when you’re awake, he knows when you’ve been bad or good, so be good for goodness’ sake.” And unfortunately, this goodness can only be what Martin Luther accurately called in his commentary on the book of Galatians “active righteousness,” the righteousness we all-too-easily expect a reward for because our own standards gave been appeased (for instance, I wonder how many children this Christmas will give themselves a sack of coal for breaking all of God’s commandments this past year?).

So then, how ought we to live this day? Like we ought live every day, in the reality of the imminence of our Lord’s coming, not counting time as we count it, knowing that a day is a s a thousand years and a thousand years as a day (2 Peter 3:8-10). And as verse 10 states in the passage above, “But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed” (ESV). Let us rejoice that our Savior has indeed come and let us receive our King this Christmas, not as a tender Child alone, but also as our consuming Fire, the One who drives us to be holy as He is holy, prompting us to walk as He walked (1 John 2:6). Let us worship Him and then strive even more so to be repentant, refusing to allow sins of the heart, mind, or hands to bring any more shame upon the Lord of glory, Jesus Christ. O Christian, let this reality pierce you to the core and drive you ever nearer to take up your cross and follow this One who is coming to reclaim His elect, His children, and bring His peace and goodwill to all upon whom His favor rests (Luke 2:14). Amen and Amen, come quickly Lord Jesus and find us faithful to Your Word, not desiring to be ashamed in Your presence, but casting our crowns down to You who alone is worthy!

Soli Deo Gloria

25 November 2009

An Expository Look at Philippians

Not all may like the style of music that is presented here, but it does lift the Word of our LORD Jesus high in my opinion. Check it out...

The original post can be found at Reach Records.

Soli Deo Gloria

Grace Gem for 11/25/2009

Ten-pound Christians!
(by J. R. Miller)

"So he called ten of his servants--and gave them ten pounds. 'Put this money to work,' he said, 'until I come back.'" Luke 19:13

We are doing business in this world for Christ. Each one of us has something of His--a pound which He has entrusted to us--to trade with as His agent. Our life itself, with all its powers, its endowments, its opportunities, its privileges, its blessings, its possibilities--is 'our pound'. Our life is not our own. We are not in this world merely to have a good time for a few years. Life is a trust. We are not done with it either, when we have lived it through to its last day. We must render an account of it to Him who gave it to us. Our business is to gather gains, through our trading with our Lord's money. We are required to make the most that is possible of our life!"The first came forward and said--Master, your pound has earned ten more pounds!" Luke 19:16 We always find a few of these ten-pound Christians among the followers of Christ. They are those Christians who, from the very beginning, through divine grace--strive to reach the best things attainable in life. They are not content with being merely saved from sin's guilt, with being mere members of the church. They make their consecration to Christ complete, keeping nothing back. They set their ideal of obedience to their Lord--at the mark of perfectness, and are not slack in their striving, until they reach the mark in heaven. They seek to follow Christ entirely, fully, with their whole heart. They accept every duty--without regard to its cost. They seek to be like Christ, imitating Him in all the elements of His character. They give their whole energy to the work and service of Christ. They lie, like John, on the Master's bosom, and their souls are struck through, as it were, with the Master's loving spirit.These ten-pound Christians grow at last--into a Christ-likeness, a spiritual beauty, and a power of usefulness and influence, by which they are set apart among Christians, shining with brighter luster than other stars, in the galaxy of the church. Their one pound has made ten more pounds! Their high spiritual attainment has been won by their diligent and wise use of the one pound with which they began!

24 November 2009

What Do You Think of National Healthcare?

National healthcare would be a miserable failure, as it has been reported from other places around the globe. I do not trust this administration especially (and frankly any administration) to decide who gets the care and who doesn't. You cannot FORCE people to ante up the dough for healthcare costs when their hearts are full of greed; they will find some other way to cheat the system. The only way to bring about the reform we need is when all men see that they are in violation of God's holy standard. When we all (including you) recognize that we have sinned in our minds and in our actions against a 100% pure and holy God and therefore deserve His righteous punishment in hell will we then be in a position to receive the "cure" for our malady of incredible avarice, selfishness, and cruelty.

How do we see this, you may ask? Peer into God's holy law and see yourself as He sees you; if you've told even one lie, you are a LIAR (the 9th commandment), if you've stolen anything (the value matters not, but rather the ACTION of STEALING) including company time or someone's trust by lying, you are a THEIF (the 8th commandment). You have heard it said "Do not commit adultery," but Jesus said that if you even LOOK at someone to lust after them, God sees you as an ADULTERER (the 7th commandment). This is only three of God's holy commandments (Ex. 20). How did you do? God will judge you guilty for breaking His law, for being a seething, rebellious sinner at heart no matter how many times you have been to a religious institution to try and curry His favor. We all have gone astray and have shown ourselves to be hopelessly vile in heart (even if you haven't done the act physically, God judges your very THOUGHTS! He sees ALL!) Therefore, since we are all criminals in His eyes, we ALL (whether Pope, priest, pastor, or President) face an eternity of hell seperated from a God so pure, so good, so holy that He CANNOT PARDON TRANSGRESSION AND ALLOW US IN HIS SIGHT (Prov. 17:15). To do this, God Himself would be sinning by turning a blind eye to justice, which of course He cannot do.

But the Good News is that Jesus Christ, God's Son, was sent by God to keep a law we couldn't keep, and then crushed by God on the cross (Isaiah 53) as a willing victim of our cruelty and malice toward Him so that He could take our punishment and we could go free, even giving us the status of righteous in God's sight! Then Jesus rose from the dead, defeating death, showing Himself to be a trustworthy Savior, very God of very God Himself. The Bible (God's Word) declares that if a man or woman will repent of his/her greed, covetousness, lust, rebellion, idolatry (for the Bible says none of us seek God as He truly is, but rather an idol that we are more comfortable with; like one we can do good works for in order to gain access into heaven or nirvana or blissful existence or whatever idolatrous man feels most comfortable calling it), and all other forms of wickedness, and TRUST in Christ and His work on the cross as their ONLY HOPE for salvation and deliverance from God's wrath and their own wicked, incessantly sinning hearts, THEN God will remit our case against Him due to our sin, cleanse us from ALL iniquity, treat us and look upon us as He does His righteous Son Jesus, and grant us everlasting life. That is my "philosophy" on healthcare and health insurance reform.

Until this change takes place in a man's heart, he will forever either: 1) live out blatantly sinfully lifestyles, joining the embezzlers and misers of the world by sinning his greedy heart's content, or 2) live out his life of greed and covetousness in secret, putting on his Sunday best, his political piety, or popish pretense the better to deceive others into thinking he knows the way to salvation, as a smokescreen throws a predator off of the trail of its prey. But mark my words, we will one day all answer before Him who sees ALL, knows ALL, and avenges the very least of these, from those unborn, to those oldest born. Please repent and trust the Savior Jesus Christ, and read His Word so you too may flee the wrath to come. The honesty and fidelity in healthcare reform will then follow, not by putting the cart before the horse, but as fruit falling from a firmly rooted tree, producing its fruit in season.

Soli Deo Gloria

12 November 2009

Grace Gem for 11/12/2009

One of the Secrets of Happy and Beautiful Life
(J. R. Miller, "One Day at a Time" 1903)

"As your days--so shall your strength be!" Deuteronomy 33:25

One of the secrets of happy and beautiful life, is to live one day at a time. Really, we never have anything to do any day--but the bit of God's will for that day. If we do that well--we have absolutely nothing else to do. Time is given to us in days. It was so from the beginning. This breaking up of time into little daily portions means a great deal more than we are accustomed to think. For one thing, it illustrates the gentleness and goodness of God. It would have made life intolerably burdensome if a year, instead of a day--had been the unit of division. It would have been hard to carry a heavy load, to endure a great sorrow, or to keep on at a hard duty--for such a long stretch of time. How dreary our common task-work would be--if there were no breaks in it, if we had to keep our hand to the plough for a whole year! We never could go on with our struggles, our battles, our suffering--if night did not mercifully settle down with its darkness, and bid us rest and renew our strength.
We do not understand how great a mercy there is for us in the briefness of our short days. If they were even twice as long as they are--life would be intolerable! Many a time when the sun goes down--we feel that we could scarcely have gone another step. We would have fainted in defeat--if the summons to rest had not come just when it did.
We see the graciousness of the divine thoughtfulness in giving us time in periods of little days, which we can easily get through with--and not in great years, in which we would faint and fall by the way. It makes it possible for us to go on through all the long years and not to be overwrought, for we never have given to us at any one time--more than we can do between the morning and the evening.
If we learn well the lesson of living just one day at a time, without anxiety for either yesterday or tomorrow, we shall have found one of the great secrets of Christian peace. That is the way God teaches us to live. That is the lesson both of the Bible and of nature. If we learn it, it will cure us of all anxiety; it will save us from all feverish haste; it will enable us to live sweetly in any experience.

"Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself. Each day has enough trouble of its own." Matthew 6:34

Intro: The Church Contra Mundum ("Against the World")

I believe there is an all-out war being waged against the body and bride of Christ today, both from without and within, both here in the States and abroad (although, of course, most of my comments here are about my homeland). This is nothing new under the sun; the same thing has been happening since our Lord instituted His Church through His apostles and will continue on until the Final Judgment begins. The seeker-sensitive movement of today is riding the decaying coat tails of Finney's "easy believism and revivalism." The emergent church movement of McLaren and company is nothing more than a repackaging of protestant liberalism and universalism, caring more about "planting a tree for Jesus" than proclaiming the truth that actually saves (which it is impotent to do, for its leaders are Gospel-bankrupt as it is)! The Word-Faith movement is so disgustingly materialistic and so full of "smoke-and-mirrors" that it would make Simon the Sorcerer blush (Acts 8:9-24)! Prominent members (and I would venture to say many non-prominent as well) of mainline pretender churches (i.e. ELCA, et al), in an attempt to be culturally savvy, capitulate to this present evil age (Gal. 1:4) by turning a blind eye to homosexual sin (for instance), being fully satisfied in letting a whole world of professing sinful men and women slip into eternal hell because they are more concerned about not upsetting the applecart. Even a ministry like Focus on the Family, champions for conservative causes, while trying to maintain biblical principles, compromises by walking arm-in-arm with enemies of the Gospel (i.e. Mormons) without so much as a public call to repentance. And sadly, these are only some of the many maladies facing the true Bride of Christ. For instance, many American Christians do not read their Bibles regularly, pray often, or serve the Body they were bought to serve, which is all-too painfully obvious when one just looks across the cultural landscape. Many church-going men (and even women) are even now given over to viewing pornography and engaging in immoral, licentious living (with a good amount of their shepherds leading the way). Our children are being taught to "chill" with their "homeboy" Jesus by unregenerate youth "pastors" who forgot along the way that manhood was designed to be a transition FROM something (immaturity) TO something (biblical manhood). And where are we as church-affiliated parents? Divorcing, commiting adultery, lying, stealing, trying to look cool, and all other manners of wasted time and riotous living that shows just how much we do not know the Gospel of our salvation. We want the world to feel at home in the church while the "church" longs for the fleshpots of the world. My dear brothers and sisters in the Lord, this should NOT be what passes for American Evangelical Christianity! And to top it all off, per the Wretched Radio program from last Tuesday, the American "blab-it-and-grab-it" prosperity Gospel, with all of its vile, wicked, evil, putrid, self-exalting, and hellish stupidity is now sliming its way into Africa, India, and Asia.

Although these are all causes for alarm, those who are of the true Bride of Christ (beautiful as she is) will be lead by the Spirit of truth, for our Lord Himself promised that the gates of Hades will never, EVER prevail over her (Matthew 16:13-20). However, the members of this true Church can and are being deceived by the seemingly endless multitude of wolves parading about as if they even had one inlkling who the Lord of Glory was! And because this assault is being executed on all fronts, the true Church must retain its bearings and return fire NOT against flesh and blood, but against rulers and principalities in high places (Satan and his unholy minions--Ephesians 6:12), against every thought, philosophy, and worldview that would seek to exalt itself against the knowledge of Christ Jesus (2 Cor. 10:3-5), and against every motive, inclination, and wicked desire of our corrupted, putrid flesh that would seek to become one with 2 of the members of our three-fold adversary; the world and the devil (1 Peter 5:8-9; 1 John 2:15-17). We do indeed stand on the brink of eternity, whether we are young and (seemingly) full of years or old and nearing the end of the mortal coil. We cannot suffer the enemy of our souls to continue to mock the Captain of our Salvation, Christ Jesus the Lord, by driving us into fear, compromise, and apathy. Rise up, soldiers of the cross! There is far too much at stake! And though these things make those of the Spirit of Christ angry and sick, we must not wage war with the pen of hatred, the sword of force, or the tongue of cruelty. We must never seek the destruction of lost men and women who themselves are dead to spiritual realities (Ephesians 2:1-3). Our mission is to preach the Gospel to every creature (Mark 16:15), NOT "be green." Our mission is to make disciples of every nation (Matthew 28:18-20), NOT to save the world from famine and poverty. Our mission is to become all things to ALL men that we might save some (1 Corinthians 9:19-23), NOT to make excuses and find ways to justify dressing, talking, and behaving in worldly, unredeemed ways. And in the end, if we, the Church, press on in our mission, these issues that we can mistakenly make primary issues will take care of themselves, NOT because a yoke of legalism at the hands of the wolves will threaten to crush our necks. No, because the redeemed man and woman will respect and care for this world out of the fear of the Lord. They will feed the poor and clothe the sick because of how their Lord exercised the same mercy in clothing them with His robe of righteousness and by providing them the Bread and Water of Life. They will truly do all things to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31) NOT for the cheif end of man and his ego, but to the praise of the One "[who] makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust" (Matthew 5:45b--ESV). Our mission: to seek and save those who are lost by the will of God the Father, through the Word of Christ Jesus our Lord, and in the power of His Holy Spirit.

Therefore, this is the reason for yet another blog. My thoughts and musings are most certainly not indispensable (quite contrary, actually). I am a filthy, rotten, no-good vile member of fallen humanity who has been washed in the blood of the Lamb by the decree and election of God my Father to the praise of His glorious grace, that He could take a vomitous wretch like me and clothe me in the rightousness of His Son! My desire is not to reinvent the wheel nor steal the fire from my brothers and sisters who have been laboring fervently. My desire is that this blog may be a source of encouragement, challenge, and conviction to the glory of God alone. My hope is that those who do not believe in the blessed Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ would come under conviction that only He can bring through the power of His Holy Spirit and that He would save them from the wrath of God they (and let's not forget we) so richly deserve.
But my primary reason in beginning this blog is to help strengthen the true Church of Christ, that she would march forth in her militant stance and poise, and wage war with the weapons of His truth (Hebrews 4:12-13), His love (1 Corinthians 13:13), and His power (2 Timothy 1:7). May we all fall on our faces before our holy God and seek Him for the grace we need to carry out His mission in this world and refuse to trust in our own sinful devices and means. O Lord, grant us the boldness, the zeal, and the compassion to live lives of holy and most fervent devotion, witness to Your glorious Gospel of truth to all men we may come in contact with, and dedicate ourselves to seek Your glory in everything we would put our hands to!

Soli Deo Gloria