for the week of January 9, 2011
shall be as gods!
2:3-4 Let no one deceive you by any means; for that Day will not come
unless the falling away comes first, and the man of sin is revealed, the
son of perdition, who opposes and exalts himself above all that is
called God or that is worshiped, so that he sits as God in the temple of
God, showing himself that he is God.
3:5 "For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be
opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil."
it be nice to be God or at least "like God?" People would
respect and fear us. We would be able to control everyone and everything
around us. People would follow us and fight for us. We would be rich. We
would never be sick. We would be smarter than everyone else. We would
"have it made."
who want to be "like God" do not worship God, they worship
themselves. They do not submit to God, they ask others to submit to
them. They do not ask people to take up their crosses to follow them,
they ask people to take up their swords to follow them. They do not use
"religion" to serve others, they use "religion" to
control others and to get others to serve them.
all have differing ideas about what God is really like. But nearly
everyone thinks that when God says "Jump," people should say,
"How high?" on the way up. God is more powerful than everyone
else, and He is smarter than everyone else. Even though most of us would
like to be all powerful, the crucial issue in the deception of Eve was
that she would have knowledge and would know things. The early church
had people called "gnostics" that also told the Christians
that they had mystical intuitive knowledge that others didn't have. If a
person can convince people that they have understanding and knowledge
that most people don't have and if that person also has a charismatic
type of personality that causes people to like him, a person like that
can get most people to do just about anything. He ends up being very
in spiritual things has always been an issue. Satan is a liar and the
father or originator of lies (John 8:44). We all want to follow people
we admire. How can we tell whether we are following a good person like
the Lord or a bad person like the man of sin of 2 Thessalonians 2? I
believe the answer is in Matthew 7:16. The passage has to do with
knowing people by their fruits. The passage is not dealing so much with
whether people are saved or lost but with whether people are false
prophets. A false prophet will be known by his fruits. A false prophet
is compared to thorns and thistles. These are weeds that can hurt us and
that do not produce fruit that can nourish us. The Lord was meek and
gentle. A false prophet will usually deceive by flattery and then if
that doesn't work, he will intimidate. He will ask people to fight for
him and his causes. He will usually ask them to take up a sword and not
order to avoid being deceived by a person like this we need an intimate
knowledge of the Lord. This is gained through the consistent prayerful
meditative reading of the Word of God which we call the Holy Bible.
Those who are saved have the Holy Spirit indwelling them, and He teaches
them the things concerning the Lord Jesus. The Bible tells us to be
careful with whom we associate and to identify quickly with no man,
especially if that man is going to be a leader (1 Timothy 5:22).
I believe that the deception referred to in 2 Thessalonians 2 occurs
after the believers of our day are caught up to meet the Lord in the air
(1 Thessalonians 4:17) and will be part of the seven years of
tribulation that is to be poured out on the earth, yet religious
deception is abounding in our day. Basic truths with regard to the need
to "repent and believe" are not being taught. Eternal
conscious punishment is considered too cruel for our God of mercy.
Social ills are being corrected without correcting the heart of man
through the new birth and the regenerating power of the Holy Spirit. The
sinless nature of Christ is denied and He is not seen by many as God.
The accuracy and reliability of the Bible is questioned.
we believe and follow is an important issue. Our destinies for eternity
depend upon believing and following the right person. That person is the
Lord Jesus Christ. We are not God, He is!
for the week of January 16, 2011
God for Grace!
1:17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came
through Jesus Christ.
am so glad that we do not read in Scripture, "For by the law you
are saved." Instead we read, "For by grace are you saved
(Ephesians 2:5)." The children of Israel had a wonderful leader and
deliverer in Moses. But Moses didn't get to enter the promised land
because the law cannot save, and Moses represents the law. However,
there is a deliverer who can get us into our promised land. That
deliverer is Christ who provides salvation by grace.
grace of God is usually defined as the undeserved love and favor of God.
While the old testament is not usually seen as the testament of grace,
yet the grace of God is illustrated there in profound ways. In one
illustration, Ruth is a Moabite who would be considered unclean by
Israelites. Yet because she has faith in the God of her mother-in-law,
Naomi, she was shown favor. When she follows Naomi back into the land of
Israel and begins trying to feed herself and her mother-in-law by
gleaning in the field of Boaz, Boaz shows her favor that she doesn't
deserve. When he is kind to her she says, "Why have I found favor
in your eyes, that you should take notice of me, since I am a foreigner
(Ruth 2:10)?" Boaz of course illustrates the favor of the Lord
Jesus that we non-Jews do not deserve.
Matthew 15, there is a woman from Canaan that wants the Lord to heal her
daughter. She understands that she is not an Israelite and that she
doesn't have the same relationship to the Lord that a true Jew would.
But she knows that the Lord can help her and is willing to be called a
dog that only enjoys the crumbs from the master's table in order to have
her daughter healed. And of course, the Lord showed her grace. She had
great faith, but she still got blessing that she didn't deserve.
could ask, "Are only non-Jews saved by grace?" The answer is
no. All, including Jews, are saved by grace. The Jews rejected Jehovah
over and over again. They rejected their Messiah. They don't deserve to
be saved. But they can still be saved by grace.
are saved eternally by grace and not by works of righteousness, that is,
by the works of the law. Some think that grace means that we cannot do
anything to be saved. But that is inconsistent with the truth that we
are to "strive to enter through the narrow gate (Luke 13:24)."
Also, we are commanded to "repent and believe the Gospel (Mark
1:15)." However, there is nothing that we can do that will make us
DESERVING of salvation. Grace is often seen as a free gift. A person
might be told to come and pick up a gift, but that doesn't mean that
they did anything to earn it or deserve it.
we were to be saved by the law, we would be fearful that we might keep
the whole law all our life and then one failure at the end of life would
condemn us eternally. James tells us that if we keep the whole law and
yet offend in just one point, we are guilty of breaking the whole law
(James 2:10). But because we are saved by grace through faith in the
Lord Jesus and because the Lord tells us that the work that saves was
finished on the cross, we are set free from the condemnation and burden
of the law. We don't need to fear failure. We don't try to live right in
order to go to heaven which is the legal way of doing things. Instead,
we live right because we are going to heaven and we want to please the
One who loved us enough to die for us. Grace removes the burden and
gives us liberty and joy.
get a little understanding of these truths by looking at the marriage
relationship. Before we were married, many of us lived selfish lives;
and we thought only of ourselves. After marriage we live differently
because we want to please our marriage partners. We don't have to live
the way we do, we do it because we love the one we married and want to
please them. The way we live doesn't cause us to be married but it keeps
our marriages happy. Sometimes we even take courses on how to live right
so that our marriages can be happy. Christians need that same kind of
Biblical instruction if they want to make the Lord happy.
law is a burdensome thing. The law sets us up for failure. Grace frees
us from the burden of the law and gives us absolute certainly that our
sins are forgiven. We don't deserve God's salvation, and we can't earn
His salvation; but we can say "thank you!" when we receive
this great salvation by faith in the promises of God.
for the week of January 23, 2011
Sell All and Give it to the Poor? Really?
19:21 Jesus said to him, "If you want to be perfect, go, sell what
you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and
come, follow Me."
our attitude toward it and stewardship of it, is an important subject in
the Bible. Unfortunately what is said about the topic is not what is
usually practiced by Christians. I have to confess, I have a couple of
things I could probably sell if I really wanted to follow the
instructions that the Lord gives here.
of us would say that we don't have to sell our houses because we need a
place to live. However, if we want to follow the Lord, we would be
following One who said, "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have
nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head (Matthew
8:20)." The Lord "owned" the cattle on a thousand hills
and yet he spent many nights as a guest in others homes and many nights
on a mountain praying. Even Paul does not seem to own property other
than some coats and some books as he fulfilled his missionary call to
Lord didn't have a car or even his own animal to ride on his trips
between the province of Galilee and Jerusalem. Most people traveled on
animals, but he walked. When he made his triumphal entry into Jerusalem
on the donkey, he borrowed one. I have two cars, one for me and one for
my wife. I need them in order to do what the Lord has called me to do,
or do I?
Christians today are concerned about the liberties that the government
is taking away from the individual. One of those liberties is the
ability to earn and spend our own income without governmental
interference. However, the Lord is the highest authority and He also
wants to interfere with our earning and spending habits. He says,
"give it all away to the poor." We aren't supposed to tithe,
we are supposed to give it all away. We aren't supposed to give it to
the "church", we are go give it to the poor. Do any of us do
that? Absolutely not! How would this old world work if we didn't have
pension plans and savings accounts and mutual funds and real estate
investments and life insurance policies; and if we didn't give ten
percent to the Lord so He can bless us with more?
have had to confess that while I am not rich, I have not given
"all" to the poor. If that were really the way to heaven, I
would not be going there. While I do believe that we need to take these
instructions to heart as Christians, I also believe that we are saved by
grace through faith in the Lord Jesus and these instructions just point
out how futile it would be to assume that we could ever be "good
enough" to merit heaven by doing good.
young ruler who came to the Lord wanting eternal life found out that the
standards of God are just not attainable by those of us who are born
into this world with a sinful nature. However, the Lord who was able to
live up to the standards of the law that requires us to love our
neighbors as we love ourselves, is still able to save sinners.
am one of those sinners. I found out as Paul did, "that Christ
Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief (1 Timothy
1:15)." When I was first saved, I understood that the Lord had died
for me a sinner. As I have gone along life's pathway, I have become more
and more amazed at how great a sinner I really am. As I learn more and
more about God's grace, I become more and more amazed at the greatness
of His salvation.
I do want to live to glorify God, I do not plan on putting my humble
manufactured house that I call home up for sale. I sold one house to pay
debts so I could continue in the Lord's work and I hope that the Lord
will understand when I keep this house. But I do wonder kind of blessing
I would experience if my wife and I had faith enough to actually take
the Lord at His word, and if we actually lived out this promise
for the week of January 30, 2011