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MARCH 2005

 

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Exodus 12:2 This month shall be unto you the beginning of months: it shall be the first month of the year to you.

Exodus 12:3 Speak ye unto all the congregation of Israel, saying, In the tenth day of this month they shall take to them every man a lamb, according to the house of their fathers, a lamb for an house:

Exodus 12:6 And ye shall keep it up until the fourteenth day of the same month: and the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it in the evening.

Exodus 12:7 And they shall take of the blood, and strike it on the two side posts and on the upper door post of the houses, wherein they shall eat it.

Can you imagine what would happen in your home if you took a perfect one year old male lamb out of the flock and brought it into the house to watch it and care for it for 4 days? In my home, the lamb would have been named and I really don’t think the family would have been very happy when it came time to kill it.

This old testament story is historically accurate as well as being instructive and prophetic. The Lamb is Christ. Egypt represents the bondage of this world. The Pharaoh that didn’t know Joseph, Israel’s deliverer (Exodus 1:8), is a picture of Satan who is the god of this world (2 Corinthians 4:4). When the lamb was slain, the blood had to be applied for it to be effective in protecting the firstborn from the judgment of God. The firstborn represent what we are by virtue of our first birth (sinners who sin). When the blood was applied, the children of Israel had a new beginning. Their civil year starts in the Fall (about September) but their religious or spiritual journey started in the Spring (about April). 1500 years after the original Passover lamb was slain, the Lord commemorated that anniversary with His disciples (Luke 22:15) and before that day was over, He became the fulfillment of the prophetic picture. There are some things that I have been thinking about in connection with this Festival:

1. There are two kinds of love mentioned in the new testament (three if you count the love of things). One is charity or the devotional love of duty. The other is the personal love of friends. When the lamb dies, he is a picture of the love of duty or charity. But by becoming a pet, that love becomes the personal love of a friend. In John 15:13 the Lord says, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” I like the fact that the Lord loved me in the way that He loved the world, but when I realize that He died for me so I could be His friend and He could be mine, I like that even better.

2. After the Lamb was slain, the blood had to be applied for it to be effective. Even though Christ died to save all and the offer of salvation is universal, His blood has to be applied by faith for it to be effective.

3. Only God could have arranged events so that the Lord would eat the Passover and then fulfill the teaching by dying for our sins on the anniversary of the original events that had occurred 1500 years previously.

4. Many people deny the need to have a clear cut new beginning when they are saved even though the new testament clearly teaches that truth in John 1:12-13, John 3:7 and John 5:24. This passage illustrates that truth clearly. The Israelites had a new beginning and a new calendar. We have a new beginning and a new birthday when we trust Christ.

I am thankful that “Christ our Passover” has been sacrificed for us (1 Corinthians 5:7). This sacrifice is according to the plan of God from eternity past. It provides a universal offer of salvation from the bondage of sin that becomes effective upon believing on or trusting in the Lord. When this sacrifice becomes effective in our lives by personal faith, we get a new life and a new beginning with the Lord Jesus who wants to be our friend. That prepares us to live because then we are prepared to die.

Week of March 6, 2005

John 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me.

1John 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.

Eternity is a long time. Actually, eternity is a concept that does not include time. However, even God helps us understand eternity by using concepts of time that we understand. In Revelation 20:10 we read, “And the devil that deceived them was cast into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are, and shall be tormented day and night for ever and ever.” I don’t know if there is a literal day and night in eternity or if this is a way to help us understand unending time. Either way, I still have trouble grasping the fact that eternity goes backward without end and also goes forward without end. Because eternity is so long, I am glad that I can know that I have eternal life rather than just think I have it like the religious Pharisees that the Lord addressed in John 5.

Our God is eternal (Romans 16:26). The true believer enjoys eternal life (1 John 5:13). Punishment for those who reject Christ is eternal.(2 Thessalonians 1:8-9). Eternity in the English Bible is often translated everlasting, but everlasting starts now and continues forever. Eternal has to do with something that always was, is and always will be. It is the concept of God that we have in the title Jehovah. God presents Himself as the one who is, was, and is to come, that is, as the eternal one in Revelation 1:8. Eternal life has both a quality to it (life from eternity and for eternity that comes from an eternal God) and it has quantity associated with it since it is forever.

Many people have used many imaginative illustrations to help us understand eternity. I could repeat some of these but I have to admit that as a person constrained by time, I just don’t understand something that will never end. Before I was saved, I used to worry about the length of eternity because I wasn’t prepared to die. Now that I have eternal life by trusting in the eternal Son of God who became the only sacrifice that fully satisfied God for my sins, I still don’t understand eternity; but I am thankful that I don’t have to understand it, because I have prepared for it. I have peace about where I will be for eternity.

Our lives are but a dress rehearsal for eternity. To make a mistake with one’s life during our short time here on earth would be bad, but to make a mistake with our souls for eternity would be extremely foolish. Most of us are much more occupied with the here and now which is temporary than we are with eternity which is permanent. Obviously, we would be wiser if we prepared for eternity. In addition, most people seem happy to “think“ that they have eternal life (John 5:30). Because of the length of eternity, we need to “know” that we have eternal life (1 John 5:13).

Week of March 13, 2005

John 3:18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.

I have been thinking about the simplicity of the Gospel in contrast to complexity of the human mind that has been corrupted by sin. As a result of our sin nature and our desire to tell God how to do His saving, we have trouble accepting God‘s simple plan of salvation.

In this verse there is a clear distinction between those who trust (believe on) Christ and those who do not. In preaching the Gospel, I often use a chart that has two doors and two roads on it. One road is narrow and is the road of the saved who have gone through the narrow door that represents faith in Christ. The other road is broad and has a wide gate. All the people that have more confidence in what they think is right than they do in what God says is right are on this road. On the chart, between the two roads there is a reminder that there is no middle path. According to the Bible, we are either believers or unbelievers, saved or lost, on the way to heaven or on the way to eternal conscious punishment. Today most people tell me that they hope to go to heaven but they are not sure if they have been “GOOD ENOUGH.” However, most of them don’t think they are “BAD ENOUGH” to perish eternally. They haven’t read God’s plan of salvation as found in the Bible since none of us are good enough to go to heaven and all of us are bad enough to deserve an eternal destiny in the lake of fire. That is why we need to be saved. We can’t save ourselves but we can trust in the truth that Christ died for sinners (Romans 5:8). And either we have or we haven’t.

When Christ made salvation so simple, why do we make it so difficult? On reason might be that we don’t like admitting we are wrong. Another reason might be because if we admit we are sinners we are admitting that we are responsible to an authority greater than ourselves. All of us like to tell others what to do and very few of us want someone else to tell us what to do. In the sermon on the mount (Matthew 5, 6, and 7) we find out what a righteous person should be like. If we are honest before God we know that we haven’t measured up. So because we haven’t measured up, we are told to repent and believe the Gospel (Mark 1:15). Blessing is the result of obeying this command and condemnation is the result of not obeying. Again, there is no middle ground. Yet often people would rather lose their souls than submit to the One who created them (John 1:3, 14) and then died to save them.

I often have the question asked, “Why should we believe in the Bible and in the Lord Jesus Christ?” I could give you the proofs of Scripture. These have to do with the prophecies that were written over so many years and many of them were fulfilled in the dealings of God with the nation of Israel. Many of them have also been fulfilled in the first coming of Christ. I could also tell you of experimental proofs. These would have to do with answered prayers and the obvious intervention of God in our lives at times when we needed to be guided or preserved. They would also have to do with the fact that I cannot control my breath or my beating heart and yet I am able to survive because of the power of God in creating a body for me that miraculously works in this earthly environment.

But, really the better question is, “Why shouldn’t we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ which is the simple way to be saved?” The bottom line is that we either want to or we don’t. I want to.

Week of March 20, 2005

Luke 16:25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.

Memory is powerful. Some of our memories are sweet and some are crippling. There are some things that we should remember and some things that we should forget. The Lord wants us to remember Him, and He set up a memorial so we would not forget. It is called the Lord’s supper. Sometimes we say, “Out of sight is out of mind.” Because the Lord knew that was often the case, He gave us a celebration that would keep us reminded of His love and of His sacrifice for us until the day of His coming again. In our relationship with the Lord, we should not forget Him because of His absence, but we should be examples of a contradictory proverb that says, “Absence makes the heart grow fonder.”

The rich man who died and went to Hades was told to remember. I don’t fully comprehend how someone without a body can think, recognize, speak and remember, but that was the case with the rich man. His body was buried, but he continued to exist. I cannot say he continued to live because he was separated from the God who created him and gave him physical life. In the Bible, death is separation but not the end of existence. When the rich man realized that he had not made proper preparation for death, he began praying for his family. One of the great punishments of the unbeliever has to be that they will remember the times when they could have been saved. They will remember the times when creation reminded them that they were accountable to God. They will remember how the Spring reminded them of resurrection. They will be reminded of how death reminded them of the shortness of time and of the awful consequences of sin. They will be reminded of times that they did wrong even when they wanted to do right and how they seemed powerless to control sin in their lives. They will remember that there was a celebration called Easter when many of their acquaintances professed their faith in the death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Yes, they will remember how the Lord spoke to them about their need to prepare for the day of their death.

Some will remember the meetings that they endured and of the parents who forced them to go to Sunday School. Some will be able to remember John 3:16 because they memorized it but never believed it. I wonder what it will be like to remember that one could have been saved and to even know the Scriptures that could have given them the promise of eternal life and yet to know that now it is too late, forever too late.

Yes, memory is powerful. Many people are playing with God. They say they are saved. but their lives and conversation indicate that they have never been convicted of the reality of these eternal things. I preach the Gospel knowing that for many people, I am planting memories that will torment them forever when they die without Christ. However, for others they will be wise and will respond to the Gospel. While they may forget many things, they will never forget that there is a living God in heaven who loved them so much that He sent His only begotten (his unique) Son to the cross to bear the punishment for sin that they rightly deserved. They will remember what it was like when they realized they were lost, and they will remember the peace that they got when they trusted in Christ. Those memories will be eternally sweet.

Week of March 27, 2005