Monday, December 21, 2009

Implications of the Incarnation

Let us seek to apply Philippians 2:3-11 to our lives this week. It reads

Philippians 2:3-11 3 Do nothing from selfishness or empty conceit, but with humility of mind regard one another as more important than yourselves; 4 do not merely look out for your own personal interests, but also for the interests of others. 5 Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. 8 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. 9 For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

Yesterday we saw three implications of the incarnation:

1. Pursue Humble Service

Christ existed in the very form of God, but did not clinch with a tight fist the equality that He had with God, but instead emptied Himself (made Himself of no reputation) and took the form of a slave.

If Jesus took the is God and yet took the role of a slave, do you think you deserve better?
We ought to humble serve one another in the body of Christ: whether physical needs or spiritual needs (ministerying the word to one another).

2. Pursue Purposeful Sacrifice

The second implication of the incarnon is to purue purposeful sacrifice. Verse 8 says that Jesus humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even death on the cross. Christ intentionally sacrificed for others. The death of Christ is an example to us, but not a mere example because it actually accomplished something by bearing the weight of our sin and guilt.

So we too ought to intentionally and purposefully sacrifice for others.

3. Pursue Proper Glory

Christ sought to be obedient to the Father and ultimately all that was done was for the glory of the Father (v.11). So we too ought not to pursue vain or empty glory v.3, but proper glory. We ought to pursue the glory of God and ultimately God will vindicate Christ and His exaltation and glory will be our exaltation and glory.

Let us fix firmly the glorious incarnation of our Lord to our hearts this week.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Questioning the Authority of Jesus

Mark 11:27-33 27 They came again to Jerusalem. And as He was walking in the temple, the chief priests and the scribes and the elders came to Him, 28 and began saying to Him, “By what authority are You doing these things, or who gave You this authority to do these things?” 29 And Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question, and you answer Me, and then I will tell you by what authority I do these things. 30 “Was the baptism of John from heaven, or from men? Answer Me.” 31 They began reasoning among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ 32 “But shall we say, ‘From men’?”—they were afraid of the people, for everyone considered John to have been a real prophet. 33 Answering Jesus, they said, “We do not know.” And Jesus said to them, “Nor will I tell you by what authority I do these things.”

Three obvious criteria to submit to the authority of Jesus:
1. Jesus is the Authority
• Jesus demonstrates Himself to be the authority all throughout this passage. He controlled the conversation.
• He winsomely stifled the opposition with His question.
• Mark has been demonstrated the authority of Jesus all throughout the gospel through His word and works. The religious leaders should have seen this.
JESUS AUTHORITY OVER DEMONS—Mark 1:27 27 They were all amazed, so that they debated among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey Him.”

JESUS’ AUTHORITY TO FORGIVE SINS—Mark 2:10 10 “But so that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—He said to the paralytic,

JESUS’ AUTHORITY OVER SABBATH LAW—Mark 2:28 28 “So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.”

JESUS AUTHORITY DELEGATED TO TWELVE—Mark 3:14-15 14 And He appointed twelve, so that they would be with Him and that He could send them out to preach, 15 and to have authority to cast out the demons.

JESUS AUTHORITY TO BIND THE STRONG MAN AKA SATAN—Mark 3:27 27 “But no one can enter the strong man’s house and plunder his property unless he first binds the strong man, and then he will plunder his house.

JESUS’ AUTHORITY OVER CREATION—Mark 4:41 41 They became very much afraid and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey Him?”
• FEEDING OF 5,000 AND 4,000.

JESUS’ AUTHORITY OVER DEATH—Mark 5:41 41 Taking the child by the hand, He said to her, “Talitha kum!” (which translated means, “Little girl, I say to you, get up!”).

• WHAT IS ASSUMED IN THEIR QUESTION? The assumption is that they are the authority. They were the religious leaders of Israel. If they wanted to change the setup of the buying and selling in the temple, then they were the ones to do it. If someone was truly the Messiah, then they had to approve of it. Do you realize that we are all born into this world as our own authority. We do what we want, when we want, and how we want it, until we see the beauty of Jesus as One who is worthy to submit our lives to. He is the Kind King who is worthy of our submission. He then becomes the authority of our lives and there is then a radical shift in our thinking and out living.
But even if we have self-consciously submitted to Jesus, then we must admit that sometimes we begin to live outside of the authority of Christ.
• Is Christ the authority in our marriages?
• Is Christ the authority in the way you raise your children?
• Single folks, is Christ the authority in who we choose to date?
• Who is your authority when it comes to what you wear? Sure, the NT does not give us a dress code like Muslim tradition does, but certainly there are principals.
• Who is the authority when it comes

2. Jesus Sees Through Rejection of His Authority
You see, the religious leaders tried to publicly ride the fence for a long time, but Jesus knew their real motives. Jesus knew that they rejected His authority. Jesus throughout this gospel would try to shove them off the fence:

Mark 2:5-7 5 And Jesus seeing their faith said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” 6 But some of the scribes were sitting there and reasoning in their hearts, 7 “Why does this man speak that way? He is blaspheming; who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Mark 3:1-6 1 He entered again into a synagogue; and a man was there whose hand was withered. 2 They were watching Him to see if He would heal him on the Sabbath, so that they might accuse Him. 3 He said to the man with the withered hand, “Get up and come forward!” 4 And He said to them, “Is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save a life or to kill?” But they kept silent. 5 After looking around at them with anger, grieved at their hardness of heart, He said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And he stretched it out, and his hand was restored. 6 The Pharisees went out and immediately began conspiring with the Herodians against Him, as to how they might destroy Him.

Mark 11:18 18 The chief priests and the scribes heard this, and began seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for the whole crowd was astonished at His teaching.

• The religious leader had been trying to publicly ride the fence for a long time. Jesus refused to allow to ride the fence. Jesus could see through them and He knew the malice and wickedness which they were plotting against Him in their hearts. Do you realize how easy judgment day will be for the Lord?
Jesus sees right into their hearts. Jesus knows they reject Him and they reject the bapism of John. You can try to ride the fence of Christianity, but Jesus knows where you stand.
Matthew 12:30 30 “He who is not with Me is against Me; and he who does not gather with Me scatters.

Jesus is the Kind King, but He must be submitted to. Failure to submit to Jesus in this life will have eternal consequences. All who do not bow the knee to King Jesus will burn.
Bonar says, “It is not the importance of the thing, but the majesty of the Lawgiver, that is to be the standard of obedience...Some, indeed, might reckon such minute and arbitrary rules as these as trifling. But the principle involved in obedience or disobedience was none other than the same principle which was tried in Eden at the foot of the forbidden tree. It is really this: Is the Lord to be obeyed in all things whatsoever He commands? Is He a holy Lawgiver? Are His creatures bound to give implicit assent to His will?” Andrew Bonar, referring to the laws found in Leviticus, quoted J. Bridges, The Pursuit of Holiness, p. 23.
3. Jesus Sees Through Fear of Man
29 And Jesus said to them, “I will ask you one question, and you answer Me, and then I will tell you by what authority I do these things. 30 “Was the baptism of John from heaven, or from men? Answer Me.” 31 They began reasoning among themselves, saying, “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ He will say, ‘Then why did you not believe him?’ 32 “But shall we say, ‘From men’?”—they were afraid of the people, for everyone considered John to have been a real prophet.

• “they were afraid of the people”—Oh, how powerful the fear of man is. It is so powerful that it restrains other sins. The fear of man was so powerful in their hearts that they were unwilling to openly reject John the Baptist.
Mark 11:18 18 The chief priests and the scribes heard this, and began seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for the whole crowd was astonished at His teaching.

Mark 12:12 12 And they were seeking to seize Him, and yet they feared the people, for they understood that He spoke the parable against them. And so they left Him and went away.

• Mk 14—when they finally go to arrest Jesus, it is not in the temple that they arrest Him, but in the middle of the night while Jesus was in the Garden of Gesthemane.
In Matthew 6 Jesus says they blew the trumpet when they gave money to the poor. They would stand and pray in the synagogue and on the street corners. They loved to let everyone know that they were fasting. Jesus saw right through their hearts and used the fear of man as a noose to hang around their necks. Jesus knew that they would not reject the ministry of John the Baptist because the people regarded John as a prophet, but they couldn’t endorse John because to endorse John would be to endorse Jesus.

John 12:42-43 42 Nevertheless many even of the rulers believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they were not confessing Him, for fear that they would be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the approval of men rather than the approval of God.

Proverbs 29:25 25 The fear of man brings a snare, But he who trusts in the LORD will be exalted.

Beware of people-pleasing. Jesus sees right through it. People-pleasing is a cruel master. You can never please everyone.

Last night, after rigorous evening of obstacle courses and sliding down 20 blowup slides at Tommy and Gianna’s birthday. An obstacle course so rigorous that my brother broke his nose on it. We came home and I flipped on the TV and watched some America’s Most Wanted. They had a sad but beautiful story of children who were growing up in a horribly abusive home. The children were beaten regularly. They were held under water almost to the point of drowning. Then one tragic day an older sister was told to watch her infant younger 2 year old sister who would stop crying. The older sister shoved the two year old and it led to her death.
The death of this little girl led to an investigation of this family. The police uncovered all the atrocities that were taking place in this home. The 6 children were delivered from the home and adopted by appeared to be Christian families. You couldn’t help but think that the death of this child led to the deliverance of her brothers and sisters. I thought what a beautiful picture of Christ. His death led to our salvation.
He is a Kind King and worthy for us to submit to His authority.

Monday, November 30, 2009

Commanding Fruitful Religion

Yesterday we saw 3 fruits that Christ commands from His disciples that were absent in Israel's (as illustrated in the fruitless fig tree and the fruitless worship in the temple):

1. The Fruit of Faith

Mark 11:22-25 22 And Jesus answered saying to them, “Have faith in God. 23 “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.

“And Jesus answered saying to them”—this is a major tip off that Jesus is not beginning a new subject, but what he is saying is in response to Peter’s comment concerning the fig tree which was related to the fruitless religion in Israel as evidence by swapmeet taking place in the temple.

“Have faith in God”—present active imperative; it is a command; it is not a suggestion; present tense suggests be continually having faith in God.

Trust—I think it would be better translated as trust or dependence;

Everyone has faith because everyone is trusting or believing in or depending upon something.
J. Gresham Machen says “Faith is only as strong as the object.”

According to Jesus, what must be the object of our faith or trust? v.22 “in God.” This will help us to understand everything that follows.

23 “Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him.

“whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea,’ . . . will be granted”—What this does not mean—it does not mean that you have the decreetive power of God.

God, on the first day of creation said, “Let there be light” and there was light.
Also, Jesus is not telling us to do rediculous things.
Also, Jesus is not advocating the positive confession the Word-Faith teachers:
Do you know anyone in the history of God’s people who has ever moved a mountain?
The Word-Faith teacher can ramble on about a verse like this, but when push comes to shove, there are a whole lot of mountains on God’s green earth and I haven’t seen any of them move any of them.
But what does Jesus mean?

“this mountain, ‘Be taken up and cast into the sea’”—this mountain moving must be speaking of a seemingly insurmountable task.

But the question is, “Is Jesus calling us to believe in something that He hasn’t promised?” I don’t think so. I believe Jesus is assuming that belief or faith includes a promise from God or the character of God.

If the object of our faith is not God or His promises, then what is the object of your trust or faith? Yourself, your own words, or possibly as Kenneth Copeland says, “You must have Faith in Faith.” But who is the object of faith according to v.22? “HAVE FAITH IN GOD!!!”

Ryle says, “Do we desire to grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ? Do we wish to make progress in our religion, and become strong Christians, and not mere babes in spiritual things? Then let us pray daily for more faith, and watch our faith with most jealous watchfulness. Here is the corner-stone of our religion. A flaw or weakness here will affect the whole condition of our inner man. According to our faith will be the degree of our peace, our hope, our joy, our decision in Christ's service, our boldness in confession, our strength in work, our patience in trial, our resignation in trouble, our sensible comfort in prayer. All, all will hinge on the proportion of our faith. Happy are they who know how to rest their whole weight continually on a covenant God, and to walk by faith, not by sight.”

2. The Fruit Faith-Filled Prayer

24 “Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you.

Objection—see, this just means that if we believe it and ask for it and believe enough, then we’ll have it. This cannot be true. How do I know that?

Mark 14:35-36 35 And He went a little beyond them, and fell to the ground and began to pray that if it were possible, the hour might pass Him by. 36 And He was saying, “Abba! Father! All things are possible for You; remove this cup from Me; yet not what I will, but what You will.”

Mark 14:39 39 Again He went away and prayed, saying the same words.

How did John who was there when Jesus said this, pass along Jesus’ teaching:

1 John 5:14-15 14 This is the confidence which we have before Him, that, if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests which we have asked from Him.

How does this look?

When praying for unbelieving friend or family—Lord you have said in your word
Ezekiel 18:32 32 “For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone who dies,” declares the Lord God. “Therefore, repent and live.”

You invite sinners to come to you “If any man thirsts let him come unto me and drink.”

You are glorified in the salvation of the lost. So God I beg you to save my parents. God I beg you to save my sister. God I beg you to save my friend.

When praying for Sexual Purity
1 Thessalonians 4:3 3 For this is the will of God, your sanctification; that is, that you abstain from sexual immorality;

God You say that it is your will that I be sexually pure in my actions and in my thought life. So God I beg you with a believing heart to enable me to grow in this area. God help me to detest sexual immorality and may thoughts that invade my mind be driven out like an enemy who crosses the border.
3. The Fruit of Forgiveness

25 “Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions.

“if you have anything against anyone”—someone has sinned against you and you are still holding it over them. There is bitterness in your heart towards them.

“forgive”—btw, this is the passage that won’t allow me to believe that forgiveness cannot take place if there is no confession and repentance.

Matthew 6:12-15 12 ‘And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. 13 ‘And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. [For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.]’ 14 “For if you forgive others for their transgressions, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. 15 “But if you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions.

Spurgeon said, “If you don’t forgive then when you pray the Lord’s prayer, you are writing your own death sentence.”

We must forgive others. Israel religion consisted of paying back and "eye for an eye and a tooth fo a tooth," which was never intended for personal revenge.

May God help us to grow in these areas of fruitfulness.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Cleaning House on Fruitless Religion

Three reasons why you should beware of fruitless Religion:
1. Jesus is a Fruit Inspector
11 Jesus entered Jerusalem and came into the temple; and after looking around at everything, He left for Bethany with the twelve, since it was already late.

• Jesus comes into Jerusalem and He is doing a kind of reconnaissance. Jesus is scoping out the situation to seek what kind worship of the Father is taking place.
12 On the next day, when they had left Bethany, He became hungry. 13 Seeing at a distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if perhaps He would find anything on it; and when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs.

• “in leaf”—this means that it was the time of year around the Passover when the fig tree would have leaves, but not only budding figs (paggim), not the full blown figs (te’enim). Hence, “for it was not the season for figs.” There were only leaves, but no budding figs. This was evidence that there wasn’t going to be any figs. It didn’t matter how long you waited the fig tree wasn’t going to produce figs.
14 He said to it, “May no one ever eat fruit from you again!” And His disciples were listening.

• Was this just about the fig tree? Surely not!
Jesus in the same vein as the prophets of old was using this as an object lesson. God gives Ezekiel all kinds of object lessons to use and teaching tools for the people.

Ezekiel 4:1-3 1 “Now you son of man, get yourself a brick, place it before you and inscribe a city on it, Jerusalem. 2 “Then lay siege against it, build a siege wall, raise up a ramp, pitch camps and place battering rams against it all around. 3 “Then get yourself an iron plate and set it up as an iron wall between you and the city, and set your face toward it so that it is under siege, and besiege it. This is a sign to the house of Israel.

Luke 13:6-9 6 And He began telling this parable: “A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. 7 “And he said to the vineyard-keeper, ‘Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?’ 8 “And he answered and said to him, ‘Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; 9 and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.’ ”

• This was an indictment against the fruitless religion of Israel:
Now for 3 ½ years they saw the miracles of Christ, they heard the teachings of Christ, they had the OT Scriptures that pointed to Christ, but were not willing to follow Christ to His death.
• The fig tree had the outward appearance of fruit but upon closer inspection, there was no genuine fruit. There was an outward acknowledgement by some that He was Messiah, “Blessed is He that comes in the name of the Lord. Blessed is the coming Kingdom of our father David,” but Jesus upon closer inspection is able to see the fruitlessness.
App—the outward veneer of religiosity was unable to fool Jesus. Therefore, you must examine your own fruit
What fruits?
• Fruits of repentance and trusting in Jesus
• Fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, and self-control. (Gal 5)
• Fruits of worshipful love for God and love for others to come to know God.
Ryle says, “Let us take care that we each . . . learn the lesson that this fig tree conveys. Let us always remember, that baptism, and church-membership, and reception of the Lord's Supper, and a diligent use of the outward forms of Christianity, are not sufficient to save our souls. They are leaves, nothing but leaves, and without fruit will add to our condemnation. Like the fig leaves of which Adam and Eve made themselves garments, they will not hide the nakedness of our souls from the eye of an all-seeing God, or give us boldness when we stand before Him at the last day. No! we must bear fruit, or be lost forever. There must be fruit in our hearts and fruit in our lives, the fruit of repentance toward God, and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ, and true holiness in our conversation. Without such fruits as these a profession of Christianity will only sink us lower into hell.”
What is frightening about Jesus’ indictment of fruitlessness is that it concerns the professing people of God. He is not talking about those outside the body of Christ.
2. Jesus is Angry Against Fruitless Religion v.15-19
15 Then they came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who were buying and selling in the temple, and overturned the tables of the money changers and the seats of those who were selling doves; 16 and He would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple.

• Remember that this is Passover week. At a Passover week about 35 years later, Joseph says there were 255,600 lambs sacrificed. This doesn’t even include the birds that would’ve sacrificed by the lower-income families. 2,000,000 Jews estimated to here for the Passover.
What kind of fruit did Jesus see here:
a. Outward Preparation for Worship but Inward worship of money
• There was temple tax that would have been charged to each person.
• The priest would tell you that your animals aren’t fit for sacrifice and you must purchase the pre-approved animals in the court of the Gentiles.
• You must only use the currency of Tyre because there was no pagan symbols on it. Therefore, go and exchange your currency with of course a 10-12% fee.
b. Outward veneer of Worship but Irreverence Towards God
16 and He would not permit anyone to carry merchandise through the temple.
• Evidently people were using the court of the Gentiles as a kind of shortcut to other parts of the city. Jesus puts a halt to this as well. Can you imagine the fear that Jesus must have struck. There would have been 1000’s of people. The court of the Gentiles was 500yds long and 325 yds wide with 150 by 100 yd court within it.
• Once Jesus gets everyone’s attention:
c. Indifference toward Lost Outsiders
17 And He began to teach and say to them, “Is it not written, ‘MY HOUSE SHALL BE CALLED A HOUSE OF PRAYER FOR ALL THE NATIONS’? But you have made it a ROBBERS’ DEN.”

Jesus being the narrow-minded fundamentalist that He was quoted Scriptures:
Isaiah 56:7 7 Even those I will bring to My holy mountain And make them joyful in My house of prayer. Their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be acceptable on My altar; For My house will be called a house of prayer for all the peoples.”

• The court of the Gentiles was a kind of “outreach” section of the temple. It was specifically designed for those outside of Israel to be able to come and inquire about and perhaps seek in prayer the true and living God of Israel. But these Jews had no concern for the unbelieving Jews. They were content for them to go to hell. They were content for them perish.
“den of robbers”—this is a safe haven for robbers; Jeremiah said this during a time when the people had put trust in the temple as a symbol of God’s favor:
Jeremiah 7:4-7 4 “Do not trust in deceptive words, saying, ‘This is the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD, the temple of the LORD.’ 5 “For if you truly amend your ways and your deeds, if you truly practice justice between a man and his neighbor, 6 if you do not oppress the alien, the orphan, or the widow, and do not shed innocent blood in this place, nor walk after other gods to your own ruin, 7 then I will let you dwell in this place, in the land that I gave to your fathers forever and ever. . . 11 “Has this house, which is called by My name, become a den of robbers in your sight? Behold, I, even I, have seen it,” declares the LORD.

• Certainly this is bad fruit.
App—Just as Jesus was angry with fruitless religion 2,000 years ago, He is angry with fruitless religion today. Jesus demonstrates His Righteous Anger against their Insatiable love of money, Irreverent Attitude, and Indifference toward the Lost. They heard the teaching of Jesus for 3 years. They saw the miracles of Jesus for 3 years. They had the Scriptures that pointed to Jesus, yet they were still entrenched in their fake religion. How about you? What kind of fruit are you bearing?
Also, what kind of zeal for righteousness do you have?
3. Jesus Curses Fruitless Religion
19 When evening came, they would go out of the city. 20 As they were passing by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered from the roots up. 21 Being reminded, Peter said to Him, “Rabbi, look, the fig tree which You cursed has withered.”

• “the fig tree You cursed is withered”—Wow! What an indictment!
• They were mindlessly offering their sacrifices while the TRUE SACRIFICE was before them and they rejected Him. They put all their hope in the temple as a symbol of their favor from God and yet rejected the TRUE TEMPLE of God that was standing before them.
Mark 4:5-6 5 “Other seed fell on the rocky ground where it did not have much soil; and immediately it sprang up because it had no depth of soil. 6 “And after the sun had risen, it was scorched; and because it had no root, it withered away.

Hx—within 40 years of the temple would be destroyed, the sacrificial system would abolished, and Israel would be wiped off the face of the map.

John 15:6 6 “If anyone does not abide in Me, he is thrown away as a branch and dries up; and they gather them, and cast them into the fire and they are burned.

Matthew 3:8-10 8 “Therefore bear fruit in keeping with repentance; 9 and do not suppose that you can say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham for our father’; for I say to you that from these stones God is able to raise up children to Abraham. 10 “The axe is already laid at the root of the trees; therefore every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.

Matthew 7:21-23 21 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. 22 “Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 “And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS.’

18 The chief priests and the scribes heard this, and began seeking how to destroy Him; for they were afraid of Him, for the whole crowd was astonished at His teaching.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Behold the Humble Servant

In Mark 11:1-10, we see Jesus coming into Jesus on a colt. This is often called the triumphal entry.
In this passage we saw three proofs that Jesus is King so that you would make Him your King:
1. His Kingly Omniscience

1 As they approached Jerusalem, at Bethphage and Bethany, near the Mount of Olives, He sent two of His disciples, He sent two of His disciples, 2 and said to them, “Go into the village opposite you, and immediately as you enter it, you will find a colt tied there, on which no one yet has ever sat; untie it and bring it here. 3 “If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ you say, ‘The Lord has need of it’; and immediately he will send it back here.” 4 They went away and found a colt tied at the door, outside in the street; and they untied it. 5 Some of the bystanders were saying to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” 6 They spoke to them just as Jesus had told them, and they gave them permission. 7 They brought the colt to Jesus and put their coats on it; and He sat on it.

• Jesus Divine Omniscience is able to make arrangements for this.
• We observe the same Divine Omniscience put on display in Mark:
Mark 2:5-9

Ill—3 pronouncements that He is headed to Jerusalem to die and rise from the dead: Mark 8:31; 9:31; 10:33-34.

App—Jesus sees all that you do. Jesus can see who your King is. Jesus knows what it is that Masters you. You cannot serve “2 Kings ‘lords’ ‘kurios’ you will hate the one and love the other or be devoted to one and despise the other.”
If Jesus is Your King you can trust Him because He is omniscient.
He said He would died on the cross and rise from the dead and His complete his mission.
Because He is omniscient, you can continue to follow Him, knowing that He will fulfill every promise He has ever made.
Yet, He comes not even with His own donkey, but a borrowed donkey.
Ryle says, “How did He enter Jerusalem when He came to it on this remarkable occasion? Did He come in a royal chariot, with horses, soldiers, and a retinue around Him, like the kings of this world? We are told nothing of the kind. We read that He borrowed the colt of a donkey for the occasion, and sat upon the garments of His disciples for lack of a saddle. This was in perfect keeping with all the tenor of His ministry. He never had any of the riches of this world. When He crossed the sea of Galilee, it was in a borrowed boat. When He rode into the holy city, it was on a borrowed beast. When He was buried, it was in a borrowed tomb.”

• Herein, we see a beautiful combination Kingly omniscience and yet humility.

2.His Kingly Fulfillment

Mark 11:6 6 They spoke to them just as Jesus had told them, and they gave them permission. 7 They brought the colt to Jesus and put their coats on it; and He sat on it. 8 And many spread their coats in the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields.

• But there is more significance to the colt. It was prophesied many years prior that the future Kingly Messiah would ride a colt:

Genesis 49:10-11 10 “The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler’s staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples. 11 “He ties his foal to the vine, And his donkey’s colt to the choice vine; He washes his garments in wine, And his robes in the blood of grapes.

Zechariah 9:9-10 9 Rejoice greatly, O daughter of Zion! Shout in triumph, O daughter of Jerusalem! Behold, your king is coming to you; He is just and endowed with salvation, Humble, and mounted on a donkey, Even on a colt, the foal of a donkey. 10 I will cut off the chariot from Ephraim And the horse from Jerusalem; And the bow of war will be cut off. And He will speak peace to the nations; And His dominion will be from sea to sea, And from the River to the ends of the earth.

• The crowd also chants a Messianic psalm in the Old Testament:

9 Those who went in front and those who followed were shouting: “Hosanna! BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest!”

• Where is this found in the OT:

Psalm 118:25-26 25 O LORD, do save, we beseech You; O LORD, we beseech You, do send prosperity! 26 Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the LORD; We have blessed you from the house of the LORD.

• The crowd had just witnessed Bartimaeus cry out “Son of David, have mercy on me.” And Jesus healed this poor blind man.

Yet even in this fulfillment the ‘stone’ would be rejected.
Psalm 118:22 22 The stone which the builders rejected Has become the chief corner stone.

Spurgeon says, “It is a kingdom, in the first place, in which the disciples are the courtiers. Our blessed Lord had no prince in waiting, no usher of the black rod, no gentlemen-at-arms who supplied the place of those grand officers? Why a few poor humble fishermen, who were his disciples. Learn, then, that if in Christ's kingdom you would be a peer you must be a disciple; to sit at his feet is the honor which he will give you. Hearing his words obeying his commands, receiving of his grace—this is true dignity, this is true magnificence. The poorest man that loves Christ, or the humblest woman who is willing to accept him as her teaches, becomes at once one of the nobility that wait upon Christ Jesus.”

•Have you bowed your life to this humble King?

3.His Kingly Welcome

Mark 11:7 7 They brought the colt to Jesus and put their coats on it; and He sat on it.

•They made Jesus a saddle before He sat on it. Why? Because a King should have a saddle.
•A King should also have a red carpet to walk upon

8 And many spread their coats in the road, and others spread leafy branches which they had cut from the fields.

•A King also needs some theme music

9 Those who went in front and those who followed were shouting: “Hosanna! BLESSED IS HE WHO COMES IN THE NAME OF THE LORD; 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David; Hosanna in the highest!”
•They were shouting from Psalm 118, but a specific portion of Psalm 118:
•This crowd already saw Jesus heal Bartimaeus and possible watched Jesus raise Lazarus from the dead.
Yet even in this welcome, there is humility.
•There is no royal red carpet that is laid out for this coming King, but tattered clothes and leaves.
•There was no saddle ornate w/ jewels, but rather they threw their clothes on it.
•There was no garrison or nobility surrounding him, but fisherman, tax collectors, a former terrorist.
It is seriously doubful that the crowd understood all the implications of what it meant for Jesus to be King. They were looking for a political freedom fighter and not a King who would serve them and lay down his life as a ransom for many. When this would become obvious in ch 15 the crowd would not be chanting “Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David” but rather “Crucify Him! Crucify Him!”

Many a person in this World wants Jesus to fix their problems in life. The Jews wanted Jesus to fix their problem of political oppression, but few are willing to admit their real problem of sin and embrace Jesus serving them and giving His life as a ransom on their behalf. Then you become a subject of His Kingdom. What about you? Do you follow Jesus because you think He is your Servant boy to fix your problems in life, or is Jesus to the King who laid down his life for you and now owns you?

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Union and Communion by Arthur W. Pink

Arthur Walkington Pink was a fascinating guy. He carried on an amazing writing ministry throughout his pilgimage on earth. He sold a monthly letter called Studied in the Scriptures. Almost everything published by him today was posthumously (after his death) published in book form. He bounced from pastorate to pastorate (one thinking he emphasized the Sovereignty of God too much another thinking he emphasized human responsibility too much.

A.W. is at his best when he writes on experimental Christianity. He doesn't disappoint in this book. His chapter on experimental union is worth the price of the book. He has a section on backsliding that has some great counsel. His superlapsarian bleeds through at several points with some pretty weak arguments, but it doesn't detract from the book. It is a book well worth the read. Here is a lengthy section where Pink gives rememdies for backsliding. Hopefully, it will wet your appetite to read the book:

Having sought, then, to show again wherein experimental communion with Christ consists, and dwelt upon the means and maintenance thereof, we must now turn to the darker side of our subject and consider the interruption and severance
of the same. And in this connection we cannot do better than devote the remainder of this chapter to a careful examination of our Lord’s words in Revelation 2:4, “I have against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.” As an assembly is but the aggregate of its members and officers, the rebuke to the Ephesian church applies directly unto individual Christians who are in the condition here described. It is one in which the heart is not so deeply affected as it once was with the love of God in Christ, nor is there now such devotion toward nor delight in Him; and in consequence, there is a feebler resistance to sin and slackening pursuit of holiness.
It is to be carefully noted that the charge which is here preferred by Christ is not “thou hast lost thy first love” (as it is frequently misquoted), but “thou hast left thy first love,” which is a more definite act, and emphasizes the failure of
responsibility. The sad state here depicted signifies a decay in grace, a declension in spirituality, a waning of affection, with the resultant loss of relish for Divine things, growing carelessness in the use of means, and formality in the
performance of duty. It is a state of heart that is here in view, which may or may not be accompanied by outward backsliding. The fine gold has become dim. Christ no longer holds the first place in the soul’s affections. Some are conscious of this decay in love, while others aware of it draw the erroneous conclusion they have never sincerely loved Christ at all.

Genuine Christians may find their love for Christ languishing. Just as the body will soon be chilled if, on a winter’s day, it leaves the fireside, so the soul’s ardor and fervor will quickly wane if the things of time and sense are allowed to
crowd out close communion with Christ. But though grace may decay, it is never utterly destroyed; hence the error of speaking about “losing” our first love. The “seed” of God (I John 3:9) remains in His people even when they backslide: it
did in David, and in Peter. There is a vital principle communicated in regeneration which is indestructible. So, then, though the Christian’s love may suffer a sad abatement, it is never totally extinguished: the acts and fruits of it may be
few, its measure may greatly diminish, but the root of it is still present.
That we may the better understand this spiritual disease (and thus be fortified against Satan’s lies) let us point out what it is not. First, not every distemper or ailment which the renewed heart perceives and mourns over, is a leaving of
our first love. Every act of known sin is not apostasy, nor even a degree of it; as every rise of bodily temperature after a meal is not a fever. There are infirmities and failures in the most spiritual saints. As said an old writer, “Alas for the
generation of the just, if every vain thought, idle word, or distempered passion, were a decay of love.” Nothing is so uncertain as to judge ourselves by particular acts, for in every act love does not put forth itself so strongly as at other
times. Some obstructions of love there may be for the present, which the soul takes notice of and retracts with sorrow, but still we hold on our course.
Second, every abatement or absence of transports of soul and mountain-top elations, is not a leaving of first love. At conversion there are strong joys and liftings up of soul upon our first acquaintance with God in Christ, but such an experience is not sustained, nor meant to be so. A healthy person will regularly relish his food, yet he must not expect it to produce such sensations of pleasure as does the first meal to a starving man. At conversion our love shows itself in sensitive expressions, for as yet it is not dispersed and diffused in the several channels of obedience; but when the Christian learns how many ways he is to express his love to God, he may have a true zeal and affection for Him, and become “rooted and grounded” in love, without those ravishments of soul which he experienced when first realizing that his sins were all pardoned and that he was accepted in Christ.

Third, nor must the Christian conclude that his love has decayed because he no longer experiences those conscious goings forth of heart to God as he had in special seasons, when God granted him a high day in His courts. There are occasions when God feasts the soul so that it is constrained to say, “My soul shall be satisfied as with marrow and with fatness, and my mouth shall praise thee with joyful lips” (Ps. 63:5). There are times when we are favored with rich experiences of God’s love, to which all the pleasures of the creature are no ways comparable. Such are very great
mercies, but they are never intended for us to try our state by. A settled calm, a quiet peace of soul, is an even greater mercy than occasional transports of joy. If we preserve our relish for spiritual things it is a surer proof of our standing in
grace than in any spasmodic or sporadic raptures. Though Christians ought not to lightly or rashly judge themselves guilty of a decay in their love, yet on the other
hand they should not readily acquit themselves of it, for it is a great evil. The highest degree of love does not answer to the infinite worthiness of Christ, nor to what we owe Him for having rescued us from Hell and secured for us an eternity
with Himself in Heaven. But when a believer falls from that measure of love whereunto he had already attained, it is the more grievous, because to now seek his happiness in things, to settle down with a measure of contentment in his backslidden state, is tantamount to saying that he had formerly loved Christ too much, and had been more earnest and diligent in seeking to please Him than was necessary. Thereby he condemns his former love and disesteems Christ as not worthy to be loved with all heart, mind, and strength. Moreover, as love decays, so do all our other graces, with their fruits and works. Nor will Christ, who is jealous of His peoples’ affection, ignore their growing coldness, but will make them smart for their sin and folly.

It is not without reason then that Christians are exhorted to “keep yourselves in the love of God” (Jude 21). The healthy Christian is still apt to remit something of his delighting himself in the Lord, and his constant duty to honor Him in all things; and at no point does he need to be more upon his guard than in the preserving of his love. There is much of self-pleasing in us, love of our own ease and carnal gratification, much lusting after the things of this world, and such a
continual opposition of the flesh to the Spirit which ever seeks to draw off from God and heavenly things, that we cannot be sufficiently watchful against everything which has a tendency to quench that spiritual fire which should always be burning in our hearts. Unless we daily heed that exhortation, “Keep thy heart with all diligence” (Prov. 4:23) we shall quickly lapse into that careless and cold state which is the case with the great majority of professing Christians. How much we need to pray for one another “the Lord direct your hearts into the love of God” (II Thess. 3:5).

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Speaking God's Words

Speaking God's Words: A Practical Theology of Preaching by Peter Adam is a good book that lays out a theology of preaching. I especially appreciated his section on understanding preaching as part of the broader ministry of the word (along with counseling, exhorting, evangelizing, etc.) Sometimes I will hear people contend for the primacy of preaching. This was a view that I used to hold. I now hold to the Primacy of Word Ministry, which included preaching. But word ministry comes both publicly and house to house (Acts 20:20). His last two chapters on the purpose of preaching and the demands of preaching are worth the price of the book. He uses John Calvin and Richard Baxter as historical models. This would be a great book to solidify the importance of preaching in the local church and to convince someone of its importance.

Monday, April 13, 2009


These resources are good for equipping a new believer in the areas of evangelism and discipleship:


The Way of the Master—by Ray Comfort (DVD-Basics or book by Ray Comfort); This evangelism training is unique in that it is the only one that I know of that uses the law of God as a dagger to the conscience of the human heart. Most evangelistic training courses advocate telling the person they are a sinner, but none advocate the direct use of the law (Calvin’s 1st use of the law). There is a serious different between someone acknowledging "Yeah no one is perfect. Sure, I'm a sinner." and having their mouth stopped because they realize they've sinned against the God who created them. Yes, the Spirit of God must do the work, but He is pleased to use word of God and specifically the law of God to do it. They have a simple acrostic WDJD: Would you consider yourself a good person? Do you think you’ve kept the 10 commandments? Judgment—If God judged you on the basis of the commandments would you be innocent of guilty? Destiny—Do you think you would go to heaven or hell? If they believe hell, then you can proceed to give the glorious good news. I highly recommend it. The videos are simple and well done. Excellent for a new Christian or any Christian.
Today’s Gospel: Authentic or Synthetic by Walter Chantry. This is a helpful exposition of Jesus’ encounter with the rich young ruler. Jesus’ use of the law and call to repentance exposes the synthetic gospel of most evangelicals today. Most modern evangelical would have had the rich, young, ruler saying the prayer or walking the isles only to eventually find out as Bunyan said years ago ‘that there is a way to hell from the gates of heaven.’ Chantry exposes the modern gospel in a simple and easy read.
Six Step to Talking About Jesus DVD/Study Guide by Matthias Media—a helpful course to believers to get out there and start telling people about Jesus.
Six Steps to Encouragement DVD/Study guide by Matthias Media/Gorden Cheng (also Cheng’s book called Encouragement—God’s Word Changes Us and Through Us It Can Change Others Too. This is the motto of the course. It is simple, but lifechanging were everyone in the body of Christ to take it to heart. This course is about personal ministry or discipleship within the body.
Ready to Restore by Jay Adams—helpful intro to discipleship counseling to all people within the body of Christ. For too long the church has prostituted the role of spiritual physicians to people in white coats rather than sages immersed in the Word of God.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Beginner-Christian Living

More resources for the beginner Christian on Christian living.

Christian Living—Beginner
Trusting God by Jerry Bridges—This book unfolds God’s Sovereignty, Goodness, and Wisdom that will anchor the soul of any believer who trust Him amidst the afflictions of life. A great book for applying the Sovereigty of God to our lives in a practical way.
Pursuit of Holiness by Bridges—It introduces the doctrine of sanctification as the pursuit of every true follower of Christ.
Disciplines of Grace by Bridges—a very helpful book on understanding the relationship between grace and using the means of grace to grow spiritually.
Humility by C. J. Mahaney—this is a helpful and practical book on humility. Augustine said the three most important things in the Christian life are humility, humility, and humility.
How Can I Change by C. J. Mahaney—it goes through some of the means of change in the Christian life: word, law, prayer, communion, etc.
How People Change by Paul Tripp or Changing Hearts Changing Lives DVD—explains how real change takes place in a Christians life with a very important emphasis upon the heart.
When People are Big and God is Small by Ed Welch—if you think you don’t have fear of man problems, then you haven’t read this book. But Welch not only diagnoses your fear of man/people-pleasing idolatry, but he gives you the hope of the gospel and a plan to cultivate a greater fear of God. Because he who fears God fear no one and nothing.
Cross-Centered Life by C. J. Mahaney—great call to keep the cross the main thing in our life. The cross is the heart of Christianity and should be the heart of the Christian life.
The Treasure Principal by Randy Alcorn—helpful book to give the Scriptural principles of finances without getting in the details of specifically how to do your own finances.
The Peacemaker by Ken Sande—the best book in resolving conflict in print. He goes through the 4 G’s of resolving conflicts: Glorify God, Get the log out of your eye, Gently restore, Go and be reconciled. The book will change your marriage if you apply it. It also helps cultivate peace within the body of Christ. We all have a tendency to be
Sex Isn’t the Problem, Lust Is by Josh Harris—the bets book in print on dealing with sexual immorality. He does shy away from uncomfortable discussions. It is gospel centered and very practical on how to deal with this sin that many Christians are entangled in. Formerly published as Not Even a Hint. I am not sure why they changed the title, but the content is the same except for an extra appendix in the newer edition on dealing with internet pornography.
God’s Solutions to Life’s Problems by Wayne/Josh Mack—very good workbook that would be an excellent discipleship manual for a new believer or any believer who has not yet been taught how to fight sin and grow in the Lord.
Stop Dating the Church by Josh Harris—great book for this non-committal generation. He goes through some of the important things to look for in a good church an exhorts people to commit to the local body.
Guidance and the Voice of God by Philip Jensen—probably the best introductory book on decision making from a biblical perspective. This is a huge issue in discipleship. If find many Christians paralyzed in their decision-making because of misunderstanding what the Bible teaches on this issue. It dispels the common ideas that paralyze Christians in making decisions: fleeces, peaces, and signs. He beckons readers to understand three different categories of decision: righteousness, wisdom, triviality. This alone is worth the price of the book.

More to come.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Beginners-Bible Study/Doctrine

I will spend the next couple of posts recommending certain resources for 4 different areas of the Christian life: bible study/reading, doctrine, christian living, and equipping. I am also further breaking them down into 3 groups of beginner, intermediate, and advanced. Yes, I could have used John's language of children, young men, and fathers, but then we might all be tempted to be proud of whichever group we're in. I am sure there could be more categories but we will focus on these for the sake of simplicity. If you have any suggestions of books that I might leave out or some that belong in different categories like intermediate vs. beginners, I am open to suggestions. Here's my 2 cents of resource recommendation for beginners in Bible Study and Doctrine:

Bible Study

• Reading Through Bible in 1 Year
• MacArthur Scripture Memory System—Helpful system that gives you a broad array of important Scriptures to feast upon throughout the year.
• Six Steps to Reading Your Bible by Matthias Media

Bible Doctrine—Beginner

• Fundamental of the Faith by John MacArthur—excellent workbook with 13 lessons that cover the fundamental doctrines of the Christian faith. It also works well for unbelievers as long as you keep going back to the gospel. Essential for any new believer. It is now published by Moody and contains an MP3 CD with 13 sermons that cover each topic.
• Bitesize Theology by Peter Jeffrey—excellent little book that introduces different important theological terms such as election, justification, etc. Each chapter has suggested Scriptures to study. It is simple and yet profound.
• Basic Christianity by John Stott—excellent book for an unbeliever or a new believer. Covers some common objections that unbelievers might have concerning Christianity.
• Right With God by John Blanchard—excellent book for an unbeliever or a new believer. It’s abridged form is found in the famous pamphlet Ultimate Questions. A helpful and simple explanation of the gospel.
• Chosen by God by Sproul—excellent introduction to the doctrines of grace. Sproul is a master at taking rich and hard to understand theological truths in a very clear manner. DVD is also available.
• Holiness of God by Sproul—life changing book that will drive you to bow in wonder and awe at the Tri-Holy God. DVD is also available.
• Knowing God by J. I. Packer—excellent work for a person to feast upon the character of God. You will understand why it is considered a classic if you read it. It might be pushing it to place this in the beginner's categories, but my dad gave it to me when I was about 14. I think most beginners could handle it.
• Hard to Believe by John MacArthur—excellent book for a new believer or unbeliever to explain the high cost of following Christ. I consider it a popular version of The Gospel According to Jesus.

That's all for now.