A Deadly Enemy!

unnamed

(William Sprague, “Lectures on Revivals of Religion”)

“You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God?
Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.” James 4:4  

Beware of the world!

Everyone who has made much progress in the Christian life, has been taught by his own experience that the world is a deadly enemy to the believer’s growth in grace.

The cares of the world are exceedingly apt to mar the Christian character.

But there are, in addition . . .
the pleasures of the world,
the honors of the world,
the riches of the world,
all of which in turn seize hold of the heart with a mighty grasp.

Sometimes the world laughs and scoffs at the Christian, and tries to persuade him that he is giving himself to fanaticism and folly.

Sometimes it flatters and caresses him, and by its artful blandishments, seeks to draw him aside from the plain path of duty.

Indeed the world will assume any form, or morph into anything, to draw the Christian away from God and from duty.

How important then that you be on guard against this dangerous enemy! Beware especially against the levities and amusements of the world; for this is the point at which you are most in danger.

“Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him. For everything in the world–the cravings of sinful man, the lust of his eyes and the boasting of what he has and does–comes not from the Father but from the world.” 1 John 2:15-16

A Fountain of Unfailing Happiness!

459px-po_vodam

(George Everard, 1884)

“He predestined us to be adopted as His sons through Jesus Christ” Ephesians 1:5

“You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus!” Galatians 3:26

Here is one of the sweetest privileges of the Christian life. The Christian is God’s beloved child, and shares all the love and tenderness of the Father’s heart!

This one thought is a fountain of unfailing happiness!
“I am at home with God!
Once I was far off–but now I am near.
Once I was a stranger–but now His beloved child!
Once the thought of His presence was fear and dread–but now it is life, and joy, and peace.
He is my Father, and in this Name all heart-joys meet.
He knows me by name, and cares for me in all my cares.
He pities me, and in tender compassion marks each tear I shed, and each sorrow that weighs upon my heart.
He opens His hand, and each day gives me all that I need.
He bows down His ear and hearkens to each prayer I offer.
I have boldness and liberty to go at all times into His presence-chamber, and may tell Him every desire and ask of Him whatever is for my good.”

“How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!” 1 John 3:1

The New Jerusalem and More on the Temple of God

The New Jerusalem

There are many who have been taught that when Jesus comes back on the clouds of glory that He will establish a new Jerusalem; a literal, physical city, at a location somewhere on this earth.  Some people believe that it will be at the location of the old Jerusalem, while others, particularly those in the LDS (Mormon) church, believe that it will be located in the United States, and, more specifically, in Independence, Missouri.  Let’s see what the Bible has to say regarding this issue.

With regard to the possibility that this earth will even exist beyond Jesus’s second coming (Judgment Day), In 2 Peter 3:7, we read, “But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men.”  Further on in verse 10, we read, “But the day of the LORD will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up.”  God reiterates this point in verse 12 and finally in verse 13 we read, “Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness.”

In Revelation 21:1, it reads, “And I saw a new heaven and a new earth: for the first heaven and the first earth were passed away; and there was no more sea.”

Regarding the new Jerusalem, however, in the very next verse we read, “and I John saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.”  Later, at the end of verse 9, one of the seven angels told John, ” Come hither, I will shew thee the bride, the Lamb’s wife.”  And in verse 10, “and he carried me away in the spirit to a great and high mountain and shewed me that great city, holy Jerusalem, descending out of heaven from God.”  We can readily see that the city, the new Jerusalem is not some literal, physical, city, but rather the kingdom of God encompassing the body of all true believing Christians, the true eternal Church, which God looks upon as the bride of Christ!

To see that the new Jerusalem is a spiritual representation of the kingdom of God that is made up of the body of believers, we just have to turn to Revelation 3:12, where we read, “Him that overcometh will I make a pillar in the temple of my God, and he shall no more go out: and I will write upon him the name of my God, and the name of the city of my God, which is new Jerusalemwhich cometh down out of heaven from my God: and I will write upon him my new name. He that hath an ear, let him hear what the spirit saith unto the churches.”  This truth is also evident in Galatians 4, verses 25 and 26 which contrasts the earthly Jerusalem and her children (the Jews of national Israel), described as being in bondage (to the works of the law), with the heavenly spiritual “Jerusalem which is above is free (through the grace of God), which is the mother of us all (all true believing Christians).”

Additional support is found in Hebrews 12:22-23 , where we read, “But ye are come unto Mount Sion and unto the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to an innumerable company of angels, To the general assembly and church of the firstborn, which are written in heaven, and to God the Judge of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect,”.

As to the timing of the fulfillment of the coming of the new Jerusalem we are told in Matthew 24:29-31, “Immediately after the tribulation of those days shall the sun be darkened, and the moon shall not give her light, and the stars shall fall from heaven, and the powers of the heavens shall be shaken: And then shall appear the Son of man in heaven: and then shall all the tribes of the earth mourn, and they shall see the Son of man coming in the clouds of heaven with power and great glory.  And he shall send his angels with a great sound of a trumpet, and they shall gather together his elect from the four winds, from one end of heaven to the other.”

The Holy Temple of God, Where is it Now?

This brings us to another problem.  There are those in various religions today who claim to have access to a literal, physical, earthly holy temple of God.  As was indicated above, the holy temple of God is a spiritual structure made up of true believing Christians (described as pillars in the temple) coincident with the new Jerusalem in heaven.  This is entirely consistent with what we read in 1 Peter 2:5-8, where God equates the true believers to “lively stones” that are part of the spiritual temple of God of which Jesus Christ is the “Chief Cornerstone.”  “Ye also, as lively stones, are built up a spiritual house, an holy priesthood, to offer up spiritual sacrifices, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.  Wherefore also it is contained in scripture, (Found in Isaiah 28:16 and Psalm 118:22) behold I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him shall not be confounded.  Unto you therefore which believe he (The Lord Jesus Christ) is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed, the same is made the head of the corner, And a stone of stumbling and a rock of offense, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed.” (See also Isaiah 8:14, Matthew 21:42, Mark 12:10, Luke 20:17, Acts 4:11, and Romans 9:53)

So that there can be absolutely no doubt that the holy temple of God could never, ever, again be defined by physical stones and mortar (whether in Jerusalem; Salt Lake City, Utah; Independence, Missouri; or anywhere else for that matter), we read in Ephesians 2:19-22, “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellow-citizens with the saints, and of the household of God: And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone: In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”

Finally, in 2 Corinthians 6:16, we read, “…Ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said (see Ezekiel 37:26&27), I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.”

To more clearly understand why there could never again be any need for an earthly, physical temple of God following the death of the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross, we have only to search the scriptures to review what happened at the precise moment of His death.  We read in Matthew 27:51, Mark 15:38, and Luke 23:45 that, at that very moment, the veil of the temple was rent in twain (torn in two) from top to bottom. 

The result was that the “Holiest of all,” (see Hebrews 9:3) the tabernacle altar of God (where only the high priest, alone, could venture once a year to make an atoning sacrifice of blood on the Day of Atonement) which had heretofore always been hidden from outside view by the veil, had now been fully exposed by God to show that the sign or figure that the “Holiest of all” of the temple represented had been perfectly fulfilled in the sacrifice of Jesus Christ; as He was both the sacrificial Lamb of God and the High Priest that offered the perfect atoning blood sacrifice.  God was showing that the function of the earthly temple had come to an end! (Read all of Hebrews chapter 9 to see that this is so).   Although the Jewish high priest (Caiaphas) no doubt rushed in to repair the torn veil, so that he, and the other Jewish high priests that followed him, could continue the yearly atonement sacrificial rite until the physical temple in Jerusalem was destroyed by the Romans in 70 A.D., the priestly action would have been pure vanity and rebellion against God.  Those efforts could not have had any effect or substance so far as God’s plan of salvation was concerned.  In fact, (according to Isaiah 66:1-4) they would have only been an abomination in God’s sight (because by carrying out those rites, the Jews were continuing to deny that Jesus Christ had come to fulfill the law of sacrifice, which had all along been the sole focal point of the blood sacrifices that were carried out in the temple before Christ died). 

This is the most likely reason why God finally allowed the physical temple in Jerusalem to be destroyed for the third (and last) time (as prophesied by Jesus in Matthew 24:1-2), and why he scattered National Israel, the Jews (until our day).  Additionally, because God also subsequently allowed the Islamic Dome of the Rock to be built on the temple site in Jerusalem, the Jews have been prevented from rebuilding the temple ever again (despite the fact that the Jews in National Israel have had political sovereignty over Jerusalem since 1967).

The Temple of God

Was reading in 1 Corinthians 3 this week and this passage was before me:
1 Corinthians 3:16-17: Do you not know that you are God’s temple and that God’s Spirit dwells in you? If anyone destroys God’s temple, God will destroy him. For God’s temple is holy, and you are that temple.
This should resonate for the Christian, though we are far removed from the heavily Jewish flavor of the 1st century in Palestine. Jewish Christians hearing this from Paul would likely have connected what he said here with cherished promises they had heard all their lives. But the apostle reveals that the true fulfillment of all of God’s promises are found in Christ, not in a parcel of dirt in the middle east.
Here’s what the 1st century Jews were holding onto:
Abram. Genesis 12:2 & 3: I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.
Jacob. Genesis 27:29: Let peoples serve you, and nations bow down to you. Be lord over your brothers, and may your mother’s sons bow down to you. Cursed be everyone who curses you, and blessed be everyone who blesses you!
Israel. Numbers 24:8 & 9: God brings him out of Egypt and is for him like the horns of the wild ox; he shall eat up the nations, his adversaries, and shall break their bones in pieces and pierce them through with his arrows. He crouched, he lay down like a lion and like a lioness; who will rouse him up? Blessed are those who bless you, and cursed are those who curse you.
Blessing and curses. God loves His people! Yes, He does. And note: not only does Paul apply this same blessing curse to the body of Christ, he also told us that all who believe on Jesus are true children of Abraham according to the promise. And Matthew told us that when Israel was called out of Egypt (as we see in Num 24, above and in Hosea 11), that this was a shadow of Jesus coming out of Egypt (Matt 2:15).
1 Corinthians 3:11 (HCSB) For no one can lay any other foundation than what has been laid down. That foundation is Jesus Christ.
1 Corinthians 3:16-17 (HCSB) 16 Don’t you yourselves know that you are God’s sanctuary and that the Spirit of God lives in you? 17 If anyone destroys God’s sanctuary, God will destroy him; for God’s sanctuary is holy, and that is what you are.
Yes, God loves His people. He sent His Son to redeem us from sin and hell and death. He did this so that we would shine like lights in a dark place, heralding the gospel to a world that consuming itself. Fear not, God is giving His kingdom to His children. Go forth, now and tell people that Jesus saves sinners from a certain doom that is far worse than any “hell” they imagine.

No Longer Normal

In the month since I posted my blogs about prayer, our world and our lives have been turned on their heads. Many of us are having to self-quarantine due to Covid-19 (or the Coronavirus). This means except for shopping for essentials or walking by ourselves around the block, we are not going out. Most restaurants are closed, schools and colleges are closed, and even shopping malls and stores are closed.

Social distancing is a concept that many could not have articulated a month ago. Now, even grade school age children understand what this means. Many parents are now forced to be home, along with their children, because many work places are also shut-down. Many may no longer have a job and multiple businesses will close forever. The government is currently considering a massive stimulus package that will reimburse families and businesses for lost time and wages.

Everything that was normal is no longer normal.

On Monday of this week, I listened to the BBC News and heard the daily broadcast given by the British Prime Minister Boris Johnson. A month ago, if the British people would have been told that police and government workers have the power to break up any gatherings of more than two people, they would have probably laughed and ridiculed you at the thought of such Draconian laws being put into place.

For those who have read or remember history, excessive or harsh laws were implemented in Europe and eventually the Jews were blamed for the problems of western Europe. Citizens were told that the laws were only temporary and in place for the “well-being” of all people. But I digress for that subject is for another day and another post.

However, the concern that I have is that the British government explicitly detailed what was to close. In the Prime Minister’s announcement, he specifically stated that all church gatherings are now banned!

Everything that was normal is no longer normal.

Local, state, and federal governments, here in America, have declared that we can no longer meet in groups larger than 10. Some are taking it even further and freedoms are being restricted beyond anything we could have imagined possible.

For almost half a century, I have read. I cannot begin to tell you how many books I have read in my lifetime, but I know they number in the thousands. From the Bible to classics to romance to modern day warfare to lawyer or military intrigue, turning pages in a book is a comfort to the soul. Yet, in all of my reading, what I see today seems like dystopian fiction come to life.

However, we in the western world now find ourselves at a crossroad. We are no longer allowed to meet for church in groups of more than 10, and some states in the USA have implemented emergency measures that allow for criminal prosecution for those breaking these new emergency laws.

This last Sunday was the first Sunday that the church where we serve closed down. We got up early and drove toward the building where our local assembly gathers. But, the services would not take place and so we turned around in a park. The day seemed to grow even more gray and dreary and I wondered aloud how much worse things could become. I realized afresh that —

Everything that was normal is no longer normal.

Yet, all that we see happening should not shock true believers. The apostle Paul wrote to a young man right before his own execution. In his short letter, he predicted that tough times would come. In fact, parts of this little epistle read as though Paul pulled his news directly from the front page headlines of 21st century newspapers.

2 Timothy 3:1-4 – “But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”

We who are true believers should remember that difficult or perilous times will come. The Bible is clear that all who will live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution. I am not trying to predict that this is the final days before the time of great tribulation, but it is a possibility. What if through this time, a world leader should arise and promise to give the world a “happy ending?” What if that person were to bring prosperity, but at the cost of losing a few “freedoms”?

The truth is that the world deserves any and all judgment that may come at the hand of a holy and righteous God. We have rejected His ways and His commands for centuries and millennia. Even now in the 21st century, mankind thinks that he has been able to either destroy God or that he has re-created God is his own image.

The world mocks the remnant who have never bowed the knee to Baal. The world mocks those who proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord, and that He will return one day just as He promised.

There are even so-called evangelical churches that no longer believe that Jesus will literally return to this sin-cursed world. It is a world that Romans reminds us cries out for redemption, along with all those who have been redeemed and bought by the precious blood of Christ.

2 Peter 3:1-4 – “This is now the second letter that I am writing to you, beloved. In both of them I am stirring up your sincere mind by way of reminder, that you should remember the predictions of the holy prophets and the commandment of the Lord and Savior through your apostles, knowing this first of all, that scoffers will come in the last days with scoffing, following their own sinful desires. They will say, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation.’”

Like the prophets and preachers of yesteryear, it is important that true Christians proclaim the message of the gospel. Like Paul did to Felix, Festus, and Agrippa, we must preach about righteousness, self-control, and the coming judgment.

Be not deceived, for God will not be mocked. Whatsoever a man sows, the same he will reap. We do not know when the day of judgment will arrive, but when it does, the current pandemic known as Covid-19 will not even be a distant memory to those who live through those terrible days.

Christians, we are called to be like a Bride who is making herself ready for her Bridegroom to appear. Jesus Christ is very much alive and He is coming again. It may be sooner than any of us think. And I know with 100% assurance that He is definitely coming back sooner than the world wishes to believe.

NO LONGER NORMAL should be the battle cry of every true child of God. Through every trial, every tragedy, every pandemic, every death that occurs in this world, and especially at times like we are currently experiencing in March 2020, we should be shouting to everybody who will listen that –

Life is no longer normal!

Whether through Covid-19, an earthquake, cancer, the flu, an accident, or some other tragedy, death is coming. True believers should rejoice that our punishment was born by Christ on the cross of Calvary and there is no fear of any condemnation. For those who are not, we again plead to you to bow the knee to King Jesus before it is too late!

Pastors, if you are not preparing the hearts of your people for the return of our glorious King, then repent and humble yourself before His Majesty. He is coming and we need to live and preach like we actually believe it again!

It is no longer time for us to try and remind God of how big we think our problems are in this world. The time has come for us to tell the world how big our God is and always has been!

Only one life
It will soon be past,
And only what’s done
For Christ will last!

Christ our Glory

The last two weeks have been extremely trying. The normal lives we thought we had, along with the comfort and ease, was cruelly crushed beyond recognition. This is particularly true to those in the Western world.

Yet, it may be at this time that the eyes of all true believers needs to be turned away from the cares of the world and refocused on Jesus Christ, who alone is the Author and Finisher of our faith. He is our glory and we, the Bride, are His.

Sovereign Grace Music has another hymn entitled “Christ Our Glory” that I have never heard until the last month or so. These words resonate in light of what we are currently experiencing.

“Our rest is in heaven, our rest is not here
Then why should we tremble when trials draw near?
Be still and remember the worst that can come
But shortens our journey and hastens us home!”

“No hours should be wasted on seeking our joy
And placing our hope in what will be destroyed
We look for a city that hands have not raised
We long for a country that sin has not stained!”

Nothing But Time…

I feel I can truly relate to Keith Green in this song. I feel cold, dry and hardened.

I wonder…if there’s anyone else in this world like me right now.

It seems this virus has slowed everything down to a snail’s pace, and now I have nothing but time on my hands.

I don’t have anymore work. All our contracts have cancelled on us. My wife teaches piano via the internet, and has some students still. But other than that, we are home and not sure how to spend our time.

Our children homeschool so they are still finishing their studies. I do have some work in the workshop to do so that keeps me from going ‘cabin-fever’ crazy, but I have noticed something strange. I am finding that since a lot of the distractions are gone, my thoughts have been drawn to my spiritual life. Or lack thereof anyway.

Anyone else feel the same drawing to things spiritual lately? Anyone else feel deep down that this time of quarantine and social distancing is actually a blessing where God can finally get through because the phone’s not busy?

Our finances will undoubtedly suffer through this trial, but since God is on control of every penny that flows through our life, He is well able to deal with this. We wear masks, wash our hands continually, and keep a safe distance from those around us, yet, all it takes is one lapse from one of us, and bang, we are infected. But yet God is controlling every cell and atom of everything in this world, so He’s also in control of that.

What do I have to worry about? Really…nothing. So my thoughts coast again toward my relationship with my Lord Jesus. This is a glorious time to really get back to that place where me and Jesus were inseparable. Where I yearned to be with Him and learned so much at His feet. Instead I find myself in the kitchen busy and burdened with much.

This period of trial for the human race will end one day. Don’t let this opportunity pass you by. Most of us have nothing better to do anyway. Shouldn’t God get our best instead of our leftovers? Give Him your attention and humbly submit yourself to His will. Curl up at His feet and give Him the time He deserves.

Why then the law?

I’m sure you have run across those who claim Paul was speaking to us in the present tense in  Galatians 3:24 when he wrote that the law was our nanny until we came to faith in Christ. There is a two-fold problem with this understanding: First, the context from the middle of chapter 2 through chapter 5 aligns with the passage in chapter 3 which provides explicit language to clarify Paul’s rhetorical question in verse 19 of chapter 3: why, then, the law? Second, a misunderstanding of the answer to this question can lead to believing just what Paul argued against in this letter.

First, does verse 24 in chapter 3 tell us the law was our nanny until we came to faith in Christ? Here’s how the KJV reads: “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” In case the formatting doesn’t show up, the phrase “to bring us” is in italics, meaning it was added in by the translation team. Read the verse without that phrase: “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith.” The law did not, does not, bring anyone to Christ – the Spirit does that through the proclamation of the gospel! But that phrase was added to make it appear the law carried people to the Lord.

It is clear from the context that Paul is speaking of the Mosaic Law here. As is the case in all the New Covenant passages, the Mosaic Law is spoken of as a unit. We don’t read about this part or that division of the law. Simply the law. We read in Exodus that before Moses went up Mt Sinai to get the second set of tablets, he “came and told the people all the commands of the Lord and all the ordinances. … He then took the covenant scroll and read it aloud to the people.” (Ex 24:3 & 7) And in verse 12 we see YHWH telling Moses “Come up to Me on the mountain and stay there so that I may give you the stone tablets with the law and commandments I have written for their instruction.” All the law and commandments, not just the Decalogue nor everything other than the Decalogue; all the law and commandments. This is what Paul was referring to.

The word interpreted “schoolmaster” is the Greek word from which we get our word “pedagogue.” While modern definitions, such as used by the KJV, claim that word means tutor, the ancient definition referred to one who was a slave guardian of his master’s child, to make sure the child was where he needed to be, when he was supposed to be there. He was NOT a tutor or schoolmaster, but one charged with the safety of his charge.

Here’s how several other translations render that verse: “The law, then, was our guardian until Christ, so that we could be justified by faith.” (HCSB) The law of Moses was “our guardian” – whose guardian? Go back to chapter 2 and verse 15: “We who are Jews by birth and not “Gentile sinners”” The law of Moses was a guardian for the Jews by birth – national, ethnic Israel, and not to “Gentile sinners.” Some of the folk in the assembly of saints at Galatia wanted to retreat from the milk of the gospel and embrace the heavy yoke that the council in Acts 15 would overthrow. These were called “foolish Galatians” (3:1), followed up by “Are you so foolish? After beginning with the Spirit, are you now going to be made complete by the flesh?” (vs 3) If the law brings people to Christ, why would Paul call people foolish who wanted to live under it?

This brings us to verse 19 and the question – Why, then the law? And the answer: “It was added because of transgressions until the Seed to whom the promise was made would come.” Even the KJV agrees with this. The law of Moses was given because of transgressions and only until the promised Seed came. Jesus came and did His work of redemption and is with the Father on high. The law as it was given to national Israel, as a binding legal code with sanctions for violations, was only until Christ came. Paul sums up the condition of his kinsmen of the flesh in verse 23: “Before this faith came, we were confined under the law, imprisoned until the coming faith was revealed.” Some translations do not have “this” before “faith.” No matter – the apostle is restating his message from verse 19, explaining why and when the law was given.

The law was added – had not been given before this, not to Adam, not to Abraham – to remain in place until the promised Seed came. And until faith came, for the law granted faith to nobody, Jews were in chains under the law. But when faith came, when the Messiah was glorified, verse 25 tells the good news to those who were in bondage – “we are no longer under a guardian, for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith.” (verse 26)

Now back to verse 22: “But the Scripture has imprisoned everything under sin’s power, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.” This verse does not say “the law has imprisoned everything under/in sin’s power” – it says Scripture has. Scripture tells us the entire creation was cursed when Adam fell. Scripture tells us there is no salvation except in Christ. Scripture tells us creation groans in anticipation of its new birth, when Christ returns to gather His saints on the new earth. We know that everything IS under sin’s power because of sin. Sickness and death stalk each of us. But the promise given to Abraham, that he would be the father of many nations, is incrementally consummated every time one of God’s elect is raised up to new life in Christ Jesus.

This message is given different views in chapters 4 & 5 but the message is the same: present day (in Paul’s day) Jerusalem represented the slavery of the Mosaic Law; freedom from sin comes only in Christ, the heavenly Jerusalem. The law was added until the promised Seed came. Hebrews tells us the religious rites given through Moses served as a copy and shadow of the heavenly things (Heb 8:5). When the fullness of time came, the promised Seed came and conquered sin and death and the shadows, those types found in the law, came to their end.

Why, then, the law? To show the nation of stiff-necked, loop-hole finding, law-loving Jews how wicked they were; to keep them as a nation to display God’s holiness to them and the pagan nations; to make sure they were around when the fullness of time came and the promised Seed arrived. The law was Israel’s guardian until faith came, because Israel could not keep itself. Their history shows that, if left themselves, they were every bit as wicked as the Syrians, or you and me before we were redeemed.

Once the promised Seed came, the guardian is no longer needed. Faith and the promise do not depend on fleshly procreation. By faith we become children of Abraham. Now that Christ has come, the Spirit keeps His people. The law fulfilled its role, its time is past. The covenant based on shadows and types, with fire and threats of punishment for violations of its law has ended. Faith has come in the person of the promised Seed. The law and all the other shadows of the Old Covenant no longer bind anyone with chains but, as the Spirit gives the light of understanding, serve to instruct us about our innate weakness and need for humility before God and fellow man. Just as we read with New Covenant clarity from Jesus, Paul, Peter, and John.

No need to “un-hitch” the Old Testament from our faith – all of it is from God for us. We belong to heavenly country which has different laws; given by the same God but intended for a people with hearts of flesh, not stone; people who, having been loved by God can and will love Him and one another. No need to tell one another, “know the Lord” for we all know Him. The Mosaic Law was chains for a people who needed to be told “know the Lord.” We in the New Covenant are not that people. We can see the law did not restrain national Israel from doing evil. So God gave His Spirit to will and equip us to do what is pleasing to Him.

Not under the yoke of law, which could not save nor can it lead us to Christ; it can only condemn. Therein is the danger of wrongly interpreting this passage.

New heart, new mediator, new priesthood, new covenant, new law from the new Lawgiver.  That’s the difference being in the New Covenant makes.

Till He Bids, I Cannot Die!

794020aec716849670e193a16b65c4a6

(Samuel Davies, “The Nature and Universality of Spiritual Death”)

Psalm 121
“My help comes from the Lord, the Maker of heaven and earth.
He will not allow your foot to slip; your Protector will not slumber.
The Lord protects you; the Lord is a shelter right by your side.
The sun will not strike you by day, or the moon by night.
The Lord will protect you from all harm; He will protect your life.
The Lord will protect your coming and going, both now and forever!”

God is the guardian and deliverer of His people!
From how many dangers has He preserved us!
From how many calamities has He delivered us!

Dangers, distresses and deaths crowd upon us–and surround us in every age and every place! The air, the earth, the sea, and every element–are pregnant with numberless inlets of pain and death ready to seize and destroy us!

Sickness and death swarm around us! Nay, they lie in ambush in our own constitution, and are perpetually undermining our lives–and yet our divine Guardian preserves us for months and years unhurt, untouched. And how many ‘salvations’ of this kind has He wrought for us! Salvations . . .
from accidents,
from sicknesses,
from pains,
from sorrows,
from death!
Salvations from seen and unseen dangers!
Salvations in infancy, in youth, and in maturer years!

These things we cannot deny, without the most stupid ignorance, and an atheistic disbelief of divine Providence.

Sovereign Ruler of the skies,
Ever gracious, ever wise,
All my times are in Your hand,
All events at Your command!

His decree, who formed the earth,
Fixed my first and second birth;
Parents, native place, and time,
All appointed were by Him.

He who formed me in the womb,
He shall guide me to the tomb.
All my times shall ever be,
Ordered by His wise decree!

Times of sickness, times of health;
Times of poverty, and of wealth;
Times of trial, and of grief,
Times of triumph, and relief.

Plagues and death around me fly;
Till He bids, I cannot die!
Not a single shaft can hit,
Till the God of love sees fit!

(John Ryland)

Psalm 91:3-7
“Surely He will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. He will cover you with His feathers, and under His wings you will find refuge; His faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. You will not fear . . .
the terror of night,
nor the arrow that flies by day,
nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
nor the plague that destroys at midday.
A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you!”

Worse Than Covid-19

Before you read any further, stop and take note of the time.

Write it down if you have to in order to remember. It is important because the next week is going to change the lives of millions.

1,209,600

This is the approximate number of people who will die from something worse than Covid-19. The coronavirus has nothing on this disease. There is no human cure or government intervention that can change what is going to happen. Not one single medical mega-corporation will ever find a cure to this deadly disease.

In fact, the number above is a close representation of the number of people who died since this exact time last week and the week before.

The Spanish Flu took the lives of approximately 50 million people in the three years between January 1918 and December 1920.

This disease I speak of is even worse.

The Black Plague or Bubonic Plague that ravaged the world from 1347-1351 took the estimated lives of 25-200 million.

But the disease I speak of is even worse.

If you had paid close attention to the news, you would still have missed the reality that in the last eight weeks, almost 10 MILLION people have died around the world. This is more than the population of New York City, New York. It is more than the population of Mexico City, Mexico. Actually, the approximate number of people who have died from this disease is the same as the population of Seoul, South Korea.

From March 17, 2020 until March 17, 2021, approximately 63 MILLION people will die from this ancient disease.

That is the combined population of: Tokyo, Japan; Jakarta, Indonesia; Beijing, China; New York City, New York; and Sao Paulo, Brazil!

Here is the worst news anybody in the world could ever read. Forget all of the statistics. This disease has a 100% mortality rate to anybody who contracts it. The news channels, magazines, government organizations, and not even the United Nations wants to talk about this because it is so scary.

Tragically, the news DOES get worse.

Everybody in the world has the disease and there is NOTHING that can be done about it from a human perspective. My friend, you have the disease in your body and you may not even know it. However, it is not a respecter of persons. I have it on perfect authority that you and I WILL die from this disease, although we do not know when death will visit us.

The symptoms are horrible and at the heart of each symptom is the brutal reality that the underlying issues are too blatant, gross, and vulgar to even print. The symptoms of this disease grow worse with each passing day, but are so subtle at times that the overwhelming majority of the world will never stop to think about what is happening in their body.

The disease I am speaking of is SIN.

Sin is a curse that has come upon all of mankind through the disobedience of Adam and Eve. Regardless of what modern psychology, humanistic philosophies, or even government mandates may try to dictate, they cannot stop the 100% mortality rate from taking place.

The effects of sin are evident all around for those with eyes to see. What seems like tragedies, illnesses, terrorist activities, natural disasters, and rampant disease are all the result of sin entering the world.

Further, because the disease of sin has entered the world, there is an even greater problem. Man has been separated from a holy God. God cannot bear to look upon sin and yet, man thinks he can become like God. This is the lie that has been the longest in existence and it comes from Satan.

Satan blinds the eyes of men, women, and children around the world. He does not want them to see the wonder of who God is. He does not want them to hear the good news that there is but one escape from this dreadful disease that has killed more people than all the wars and plagues to ever befall mankind.

Satan wants people to think that they can believe what they want, do what they want, live how they want, and then eventually die with no fear of eternity.

The Bible is clear though that there is a time that is appointed for ALL to die, and after death will come the judgment.

YOU CANNOT ESCAPE! The ravages of this death stare at you every day in your bathroom mirror, but you are ignoring them. Yet, they will not go away. Your flesh will decay until your body becomes dust in the grave.

But, there is a beacon of hope. It does not require hoarding toilet paper or food supplies. It does not require that you self-quarantine yourself in your home and hope for a better day.

The ONLY beacon of hope that you can escape is found in Jesus Christ ALONE. The Bible says ALL have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. Further, it proclaims that the wages of your sin is death.

Tired of the bad news, then hearken to the words of the apostle Paul in Romans 5:8, “But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

Do you realize what this means?

For those who place their faith in Christ alone and plead to God for mercy, He will not reject them. He will grant forgiveness to those who ask for their sins to be forgiven. His love will and does extend to all who realize that Christ is the only escape.

John 3:16, 17 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.”

The ravages and effects of your sin will still end your life one day. It may not be this month, this year, or even this decade. But death is still coming and it comes to all.

However, for those who become true believers in Jesus Christ have the promise that there is NOTHING to fear when death comes. We will pass from this life into eternity where we will forever be with the Lord.

If your name has been written in the Lamb’s Book of Life, then rejoice in this truth.

Romans 8:1 “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”

Today is the day of salvation though. Tomorrow may be too late. Over the next week, another 1,209,600 people will pass from this life into eternity and you may be one of that number. The results for those without Christ will be far worse than Covid-19, the black plague, or anything found in a chemical warfare lab.

Come to Christ while there is still time. Do not worry about the effects of Covid-19 if you have a right relationship with God.

If you are a true believer in Jesus Christ, then rejoice and lift up your eyes for our redemption draws near. Our Lord is, has been, and always will be sovereign and in control of this world. If we get sick, or grow old, or die in an accident, death has been swallowed up in victory because Jesus Christ died, was buried, and rose again so that we too can have the eternal hope that we will be raised to newness of life when this life is over.

Covid-19 Virus and It’s Implications For the Christian

This is quite the world we’re living in right now. Talking with my family on occasion regarding the various ‘Apocalypse’ style scenarios one could live through and how best to navigate them, one never really thinks he’ll actually find himself in that sort of trial.

But here we are. The Covid-19, or more commonly called ‘Coronavirus’ is sweeping the earth and many have been affected and many more will be before this is all over.

That’s fine, and I’m not really concerned about the virus, because we as a family are already very clean and do more than most people to keep it that way. I am more concerned with society as a whole and how the Christian will be regarded after everything calms down.

I hear about how companies, governments, sports teams and just about every institution out there is closing down and cancelling events and that means a whole lot of money and business down the drain.

I see myriads of people in the stores fighting over toilet paper and food, and can only imagine it getting worse.

Here’s the scenario I see: Lock-down of our towns and cities. Businesses close, schools close, no one is allowed to go to work but some, only some will be able to telecommute. Most will not have enough money to pay their bills, and after their credit cards have been maxed out, most will either walk away from their homes, declare bankruptcy or worse.

We as a family own a janitorial business, and just today, our biggest contract was cancelled on us. What is going to happen when more and more businesses we cater to, close their doors? We won’t have work either. My wife teaches piano and has been scrabbling to set up online lessons for those who are too afraid to leave their homes anymore. Yes, it’s getting that bad. This, if it works, will be our only source of income. It won’t be much, but if we are not allowed to leave our homes, what good will it do?

We saw images in China where food was being hoisted up on ropes to people who were trapped in their homes. Can this sort of thing happen in Canada? I wouldn’t be surprised.

Yet, with all the trials and tests we, as a people, and we as Christians are facing now, we have to remember that God is sovereign. He is supreme and He is in control of this virus and the implications surrounding it. Its invention/discovery didn’t catch God by surprise. He’s not losing sleep, wringing His hands in worry. He is in control of this! God is not a worried and tense bystander downing Rolaids and milk trying to calm His ulcers. He is the majestic God of all, King of heaven and earth and is moving His chess pieces across the board where He wants them to go. Not one thought, word or action from the whole of mankind is beyond His control (Proverbs 16). Not one death escapes His notice. Not one germ is allowed to proceed unless He gives it permission.

How does this apply to us as Christians? We read in various places in Scripture where God promises us protection through trials, yet we also see where He allowed His children to suffer horribly. Psalm 23 and 91 come to mind where we can derive great comfort knowing that God will take good care of us. We read in Proverbs where He controls everything from the big to the small. From turning the king in the direction He wants him to go, to the rolling of the die. Everything that happens in this world of ours is under His constant control. EVERYTHING! Not most things. Not the big stuff. But everything.

We can count on God to guide us through the valley of death. We can trust that He will open His arms to us when we run for cover and need His sanctuary. We can rely on the fact that no matter how big the giants of life are, God is the biggest giant of all!

Yes, we may suffer. We are told in Acts that the road to heaven is paved with many tribulations. The narrow way is losing its elbow room, and we as His children are feeling the pressure.

As we see inevitable changes to society and how things are run, where do we put our trust? If we are forced to live in a cashless society and most business is run online, then what? Then we trust in God and adapt.

As the store shelves empty, as our so called freedoms wain, and as society inches closer to a one world government run by an all-seeing computer generated dictator, we will continue to give and sacrifice as God calls us to. We will continue to love and serve, pray and forgive and live out this life of Christ to the best of our ability.

If this virus leads to us being persecuted and martyred for God’s glory then so be it. It won’t be nice to live through, but it will bring us to our Lord’s protective side early.

 

Sanctification by the law – where is that found?

I’ve looked and looked and don’t find any New Covenant context teaching telling us to go back to Moses. Everything I have found shows me otherwise.
Take Romans 12, for example. First chapter after a bunch of theology, including a bunch of “law” talk. Much encouragement for the saints to walk a certain way and not a hint of law-keeping, other than the exhortation to not take vengeance but leave that to God.
What we see is a continual teaching to live by the grace of God, be transformed by renewing your mind, be humble. In the section on body-life Paul tells us how to love one another with specific teachings – but no law-keeping.
Here’s the bottom line: The Mosaic Law and other laws like it (found in many Fundamental fellowships) are intended for those who are unregenerate. What we are taught in Romans 12 is fit only for those indwelt by the Holy Spirit, who wills and equips us to do what pleases the Father.
While all Scripture is for our edification and benefit, the law of the Old Covenant was for those in that covenant. The Law of Moses does not and never has bound people outside that covenant community.
If you are in Christ, there is a better law, fit for a spiritual people. We have a covenant built on better promises, mediated by a better priest, with a new law meant only for the saints.
Rejoice! God’s grace was sufficient to save you and by it He is sufficient to renew your mind and sanctify your soul until Christ returns or He takes you home.

Forgiveness in the Age of Rage

The Bible has a great deal to say about forgiveness. The world, and even many in evangelicalism, justify their anger. As MacArthur notes, anger is fueled by psychology and narcissistic self-centeredness. Our churches today are now even telling their members that in order to extend forgiveness to others that true believers have to forgive themselves.

Further, preachers intone that it is a necessity to forgive yourself for your own sin or shortcomings. This is a dangerous teaching that quickly borders on heresy for it leads to the teaching that we have to forgive God.

Forgiveness is necessary in order for true believers to portray the Christ by which we are named. He forgave us when we were unloveable and did not deserve to be forgiven. To NOT forgive is to make ourselves to better than Christ.

Dusty Bibles Lead To Dark Souls

bible-dust-read-me-6-29-15(“Pleasant Readings for the Home” Author unknown)

A traveler one day called at a cottage to ask for a drink of water. Entering, he found the parents cursing and quarreling, with the children trembling and crouched in a corner. Wherever he looked, he saw only marks of degradation and misery. Greeting the family, he asked them, “Dear friends, why do you make your house like Hell?

“Ah, Sir,” said the man, “you don’t know the life and trials of a poor man! Do what I can–everything goes wrong!”

The stranger drank the water, and then said softly (as he noticed a Bible in a dark and dusty corner), “Dear friends, I know what would help you, if you could find it. There is a treasure concealed in your house–search for it.”

And so he left them.

At first the cottagers thought it a jest, but, after a while they began to reflect. The whole family tried to find the “treasure”–but in vain. Increasing poverty brought only more quarrels, discontent, and strife.

One day, as the woman was thinking upon the stranger’s words–her eye fell on the old Bible. It had been a gift from her mother, but since her death long ago–it had been unheeded and unused.

A strange foreboding seized her mind. Could the stranger have meant the Bible? She took it from the shelf, opened it, and found the verse inscribed on the title-page, in her mother’s handwriting, “The law of your mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.” It cut her to the heart. “Ah!” thought she, “this is the treasure which we have been seeking!” How her tears fell fast upon the pages!

From that time she read the Bible every day, and taught the children to pray–but without her husband’s knowledge. One day he came home, as usual, quarrelsome and in a rage. Instead of meeting his angry words with angry replies–she spoke to him kindly and with gentleness. “Husband,” said she, “we have sinned grievously. We have ourselves to blame for all this misery, and we must now lead a different life.”

He looked amazed. “What are you talking about?” was his exclamation.

She brought the old Bible, and, sobbing, cried, “Here is the treasure. See, I have found it!”

The husband’s heart was moved. She read to him of the Lord Jesus, and of His love. She continued to read the Scriptures daily, as she sat with the children around her, thoughtful and attentive.

So time went on.

It was a year later that the stranger returned that way. Seeing the cottage, he remembered the circumstances of his visit, and thought he would call and see this family again. He did so, but he would scarcely have known the place–it was so clean, so neat, so well ordered. He opened the door, and at first thought he was mistaken, for the family came to meet him so kindly, with the peace of God beaming upon their faces.

“How are you, my friends?” said he.

Then they recognized the stranger–and for some time they could not speak. “Thanks, thanks, dear Sir–we have found the treasure which you spoke of! Now the blessing of God dwells in our house–and His peace in our hearts!”

So they said–and their entire condition, and the happy faces of their children, declared the same more plainly!

The Fragrance of Suffering

Behind a Frowning Providence, He Hides a Smiling Face

“Ministers never write or preach so well, as when under the cross.”

– George Whitfield

I don’t know why, but I’ve always gravitated toward those who’ve endured suffering—far and above those whose lives are generally considered perfect.

Whenever I’m in the presence of anyone who’s been forever altered by a life of suffering, I am inexplicably drawn to them. They are beautiful and they possess a depth to their souls that causes them to stand out in the midst of everyone around them—a depth that only profound suffering can produce. Even more precious to me among those who’ve suffered, are those who understand that their suffering wasn’t for nothing, but was for a greater purpose.

In William Cowper’s hymn, God Moves in a Mysterious Way, he penned this verse:

“Judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust Him for His grace; behind a frowning providence He hides a smiling face.”

A fragrance of suffering permeates those who’ve experienced great pain, loss, and trials, and is far more attractive than that of those whose lives have been defined by happy, clappy superficiality (and this is especially true when it comes to those who occupy pulpits).

Continue reading here.

Turn Your Eyes – Hymn of Praise

The theme at Truth In Grace this last couple of weeks has been to focus our eyes away from the world and our sin. We need to set our affections on things above which ultimately is the Lord Jesus Christ. He alone is our glory and our prize.

True believers should long for the day when we will see Him, the Author and Finisher of our faith, but we will do so without tears, sin, or death to stain our eyes, hearts, or souls.

A Canker Into The Very Core of Your Spirituality!

Untitled(Octavius Winslow)

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.” Romans 12:2

Heavenly-mindedness can only be maintained by the strictest vigilance. It is a delicate and fragile flower, susceptible to every variation of the spiritual atmosphere. Guard against that which checks its growth.

Many are not aware how much . . .
worldly amusements,
light conversation,
foolish jesting,
novel reading,
carnal music,
unfit the heart for communion with God, and lessen the tone of its spirituality.

Close communion with mere nominal religious professors is particularly to be avoided. Much more injury to spiritual-mindedness accrues from intimate friendship with such, than from those who assert no pretensions to a religious character; as with the one we are apt to be less on our guard than the other.

Avoid the world’s amusements–they will eat as a canker into the very core of your spirituality!

“Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world” is a prohibition which should never be absent from the eye of a traveler to the heavenly city.

Are not heaven’s attractions many and powerful?

How rich is heaven! Why, then, should not our thoughts be there? Oh! shall not our hearts be more where our most precious treasure is, where our holiest and dearest hopes center, and where we ourselves shall shortly be?

“Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things.” Colossians 3:1-2

Winning the Battle Against Sin – Part 1

Every true believer fights against what remains of the human nature. Just because we have been given a new heart by God does not mean that we can be sinless as some teach. Until we are glorified and forever with the Lord, we will battle daily against the things that plague us.

John MacArthur’s new series should prove to be a great encouragement to us. It is our intention to post the next parts over the weeks to come.

The 1970 Asbury College Revival

On Tuesday, February 3, 1970, in the Hughes Auditorium on the campus of Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky, during the college’s regular chapel service, which was scheduled to last only 50 minutes, a revival broke out that continued non-stop for 185 hours. Though the revival officially ended at about 3 a.m. on Wednesday morning, February 11, there would be intermittent outbreaks from time to time during chapel services for several weeks after that date.

On Tuesday morning, February 3, 1970, at 10 a.m., with one thousand students present, the chapel service started. The students who had made a high commitment to prayer were in attendance with great expectation that something was going to happen. They even mentioned to one another that they could sense the presence of God. Some of the students had even stated prophetically the night before that the revival was imminent.

Asbury’s academic dean, Custer Reynolds, was scheduled to speak that morning. When he came to the microphone he indicated that he did not feel led to speak, so he briefly gave his testimony, then gave an invitation for students to share about their own personal experiences in their relationship with God.

Dr. Clarence Hunter then opened the altar for anyone who wanted to come and pray. Immediately hundreds of students rushed to the front, kneeling at the altar four to five deep. Spontaneous singing broke out. The presence of the Lord was so real that all other interests seemed unimportant.

Throughout the auditorium, students knelt, not only at the altar, but at their seats, in the aisles, and anywhere they could, to confess their sins and get their hearts right with God.

Several hundred students gave their lives to Christ that day.

At the time the chapel service was to end, the bell sounded for students to go to their classes, but everyone ignored it. Academic Dean Custer Reynolds then approached the microphone and said that classes were cancelled.

Many students were lined up, intending to testify of how God was working in their lives. Many were overcome by their emotions, and with tear-filled confessions, they acknowledged sins they had committed against others that were present, and they publicly asked for forgiveness. Reconciliation began to take place between those who previously had been at odds.

Students continued to publicly pray, sing, and give testimonies, with some students even singing their testimony.