Tag Archives: christ

Betraying the Son of Man

Photo posted by U2 on Instagram

Photo posted by U2 on Instagram (https://instagram.com/p/2-ON_VAF1Q/?taken-by=u2)

An interesting bit of news. As Ireland votes on whether to allow homosexual marriage, U2 frontman Bono has come out in favor of a “Yes” vote and was quoted as saying, “Marriage is now an idea that transcends religion.”

So you see, this is how you can claim to be a committed Christian and yet not have to face the scorn of the world for saying that marriage is only between a man and a woman. You just say that marriage has nothing to do with religion.

That may be a coherent line of thinking in the opinion of someone who does not profess to be a follower of Jesus Christ, but it can never be considered “wholesome words” for someone who truly loves God and His Word.

No Christian can ignore the fact that the very first recorded words of a human being are these:

“This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man.” (Genesis 2:23 KJV)

After telling us this, Moses, the founder of Western Civilization (may it rest in peace), immediately comments, “Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” (Genesis 2:24 KJV)

Read the beautiful creation story in Genesis 2 and you will see that marriage was God’s idea. The man-woman bond was reinforced in the Law of Moses and, despite what homosexual activists say, was restated by the Lord Jesus Christ and His Apostles Paul, Peter, Jude, and John in the New Testament.

And U2? The band posted on its Instagram (see photo above) a phrase from Bono’s song, “Pride (In The Name Of Love).” The song, which has a social justice theme, contains a line about Jesus:

“One man betrayed with a kiss…”

I wonder if we’re doing the same.

Victory is Assured

550px-Africa_(orthographic_projection).svg

In an article entitle History in Maps, Philip Jenkins takes a look at the phenomenal spread of Christianity in Africa over the last 100 years. I don’t know if there’s been anything like it in history. Surely it has come at a great cost in tears and blood. But the victory of God is assured. Jesus said that the Gospel of the Kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness, and then the end will come.

The religion which opposes the Gospel in Africa teaches that the end of days will not come until the last Jew is slain – a message of death! But the Christ of the Gospel says the end of days won’t come until every nation has had the opportunity to hear how God became a man (became a Jew, in fact!) to die on our behalf – a message of life!

The victory of the Gospel is assured, as we used to sing:

Crowns and thrones may perish, kingdoms rise and wane,
But the church of Jesus constant will remain.
Gates of hell can never ‘gainst that church prevail;
We have Christ’s own promise, and that cannot fail.

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before!

[Image Credit: Martin 23230 under CC BY-SA 3.0]

It’s Your Turn

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

It’s your turn.

We admire Bonhoeffer and those few like him who spoke out about the Nazi oppression. We read his biographies and quote his many tweetable lines.

Well, Providence (or history if you like) has positioned you here in 2014 and now you have the opportunity, Bonhoeffer-like, to speak out on behalf of those who are oppressed. You are seeing Europe, to say nothing of the Middle East, slide back into the abyss as people will do anything to mollify the rising new majority there, and take only a few tentative steps against its Jew-hatred.

Now that it’s your turn, you have to make your choice. If you choose to defend the Jew and choose to proclaim Christ against the strange bedfellows of suffocating secularism and bloodthirsty religion, then take counsel from Bonhoeffer’s words:

The messengers of Jesus will be hated to the end of time. They will be blamed for all the division which rends cities and homes. Jesus and his disciples will be condemned on all sides for undermining family life, and for leading the nation astray; they will be called crazy fanatics and disturbers of the peace. The disciples will be sorely tempted to desert their Lord. But the end is also near, and they must hold on and persevere until it comes. Only he will be blessed who remains loyal to Jesus and his word until the end.

How to “Reach the World”

earth and sunWorldly thinking and worldly ways can never help the Christian reach the world.

Why?

It’s because the Kingdom of Christ is upside down. It doesn’t work by the principles of this world. It enters this realm as a face full of cold water, demanding that we awaken to our real condition and hear the heavenly summons.

The Kingdom of God, no matter its benefits, is distasteful to Man. Jesus said that the things which are highly esteemed by men are an abomination to God. This is strong language, to be sure, and yet Christ is the King of a Kingdom where God deliberately chooses things that are weak to confound the strong, and picks foolish things to humiliate the wise.

Mighty kings of Earth make golden statues to their own supremacy and boast of “thousand-year reichs,” but the One who really is coming to reign 1000 years took the form of a servant. He washed the dirty feet of those who had pledged to obey him.

Only those who possess that holy, upside-down kind of life and love will thrive in the new kind of world we seem to be entering. It is only the people who truly know their God, as the angel told Daniel, who will be strong and do exploits at the “end of days.”

So do we know Him? Not just in the sense of “being saved,” but knowing His ways, knowing the things He approves and the things that grieve Him? Can we embrace the reproach of Christ and His Kingdom and be willing to be “the Other?”

The apostles of Christ would counsel us that only there, in the embracing of the reproach of Christ, do we find the release of Resurrection Life that we and the world stand in need of:

…I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead. (Phil. 3:8-11)

The danger of rejecting the Spirit’s truth… and gifts

I do not believe the gifts of the Spirit were ever withdrawn from the Church. It is a doctrine without any Scriptural warrant whatsoever.

John Wesley, who certainly had no axe to grind in the debates surrounding modern Pentecostalism, said in a personal journal entry in 1750,

“I was fully convinced of what I had long suspected, 1. That the Montanists, in the second and third centuries, were real, scriptural Christians; and, 2. that the grand reason why the miraculous gifts were so soon withdrawn, was not only that faith and holiness were well nigh lost; but that dry, formal, orthodox men began even then to ridicule whatever gifts they had not themselves, and to decry them all as either madness or imposture.”

The wide-scale renewal of spiritual gifts in the early 1900’s may well have been a gracious offering from the Father to all the churches to participate in the fellowship of the Spirit as it was enjoyed in Early Church life. Rejection by the more “mainstream” parts of the universal Church seems to have brought, over time, a number of consequences.

1. Blatant apostasy on the part of groups which ostensibly believed the Scriptures. Thus, the Episcopal Church has a homosexual bishop; the largest Lutheran body in the U.S. has also voted to allow non-celibate gays as clergy.

2. Ongoing rejection of the gifts by cessationist groups (i.e. those who believe the gifts have passed away) persists, though much progress has been made. While this is not a scientific study by any means, my own recent encounters with cessationists convince me that many do not even know what the Scriptures say on these matters. One brother said that the tongues-speaking Paul spoke of in 1 Corinthians 14 was not to God but “a god.” He said this could be demonstrated from any lexicon!  Sadly, the arguments of cessationists seem to be filled with straw men and caricatures, thinking that the pretenses and outlandish practices of some are representative of all who believe in spiritual gifts.

3. Groups which already stood in opposition to Biblical truth are further hardened. The Roman Catholic Church, which had its own pleasant charismatic renewal, saw it degenerate in our opinion into Mariolatry and subjectivism. Now in the news we see that body promulgating documents which call for the establishment of a world Authority. Are they now ready to play a part in world history which would not have surprised Calvin or Luther? Alas, largely rejecting the Spirit and the Word, Calvin and Luther’s heirs are powerless to raise an alarm.

In all these cases, rejecting the reality (and the voice) of the living Spirit has caused instead the spirit of slumber – or worse – to come upon established Christendom. We watch them completely fall away from the Word, and mock and patronize the spiritual children of their forebears in Africa and Asia as primitives. All that remains for them now is to accept the substitute the clever enemy of our souls will soon offer them – a man to embody their hopes and lust for godhood.

Why?

The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth, and sent to lead us into all truth. To reject Him when He comes spotlighting a truth is to grieve Him – and to lose Him is to cause our house to be left to us desolate.  The Presence of the Spirit, welcomed and cultivated in their midst, would have honored the Word He authored and pointed them to the Christ of Scripture, not the faux Christ of our own invention.

This alone can keep individuals and entire church Communions from coming under judgment with the world, which judgment is soon to come.

God gets to choose

What are the end times really about?

Earthquakes? Famines? Arguing about what the Mark of the Beast will be?

No, the real issue of the last days is God’s choice. Can the human race deal with the fact that God gets to choose?

God’s choices set up the conflicts of the last days; your responses to them determine where you stand.

(1) Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?
(2) The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,
(3) “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”
(4) He that sitteth in the heavens shall laugh: the Lord shall have them in derision.
(5) Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.
(6) “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.”
(7) I will declare the decree: the LORD hath said unto me, “Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.”

(Psalms 2:1-7, KJV)

What does the Second Psalm tells us about the controversies of the end of days?

1. God gets to choose His Man.  The spirit of antichrist which drives the final rebellion of this age refuses to submit to God’s choice of Jesus of Nazareth as the Christ.  The world in opposition to God repeats the language of the parable, “We will not have this Man to rule over us.”

2. God gets to choose His people. Verse 1 tells us the heathen (goyim) are angered. Today the nations are furious at the idea that the God of Gods might have a particular plan for one people. The nations can be assured that He will keep his covenant promises to His ancient people, Israel.

3. God gets to establish the standards of behavior for the human race. The final antichrist is the Man of Lawlessness – he leads the nations to throw off the restraints of the God of the Bible, and the Christian religion in particular (verse 3). God’s response to this and to their rejection of Messiah’s government is to laugh.

4. God gets to choose His place. All places belong to God, but He has and will again choose to manifest His glory in Zion. In verse 6, He says that whether the nations like it or not, His Messiah-King is installed on Mount Zion in Jerusalem.

As we move deeper into the last days, you can know if you are flowing with God’s heart by whether you agree with Him on these established and eternal purposes.

God has chosen His own Man, His own people, His own laws, and His own place.

Do you agree that God gets to choose?

Notes on Psalm 2: Kiss the Son

1  Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?

2 The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,

3 “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”

4 He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision.

5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.

6 “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.”

7 “I will declare the decree; the LORD has said to me, ‘Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.

8 ‘Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.

9 ‘Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’”

10 Be wise now therefore, O you kings; be instructed, you judges of the earth.

11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in him.

The Second Psalm is quite famous and is the most quoted psalm in the New Testament because of its connections to Jesus. It is referred to in the New Testament as a Psalm of David.

This Psalm describes the Lord God fighting to uphold the rule of David and his Kingdom. However, it is more properly a prophecy of the rejection of the Messiah and mankind’s opposition to the rule of God in Christ. Whereas Psalm 1 deals with Man’s personal righteousness or unrighteousness, this Psalm deals with Man’s obedience or disobedience to God’s government – namely His choice of Jesus as the Messiah.

The Psalm has been said to be divided into four sections or stanzas of three verses each. Each stanza tells a part of the story and goes towards the whole. We can examine the Psalm more easily this way. We will also understand it better if we see that there are three different voices speaking here: (1) the heathen nations; (2) the LORD; and (3) the anointed king.

 

1 Why do the heathen rage, and the people imagine a vain thing?

2 The kings of the earth set themselves and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against his anointed, saying,

3 “Let us break their bands asunder, and cast away their cords from us.”

A.  This Psalm begins with a question – the writer is amazed that the heathen can imagine something so ridiculous and futile.

B. The heathen here are the Gentiles; in other words, they represent the non-Jewish world which is opposed to Israel’s God and Israel’s King. The “people” means the nations of the world and really means the same as the “heathen.” This is an example of the side-by-side statements that made up much Hebrew poetry.

C. The nations are raging against God in a futile gesture, for no one can resist God’s Power. They plan to overthrow God and His Anointed One, which in the Hebrew is Messiah, or Christ. The Book of Acts tells us that this was literally fulfilled by the opposition of men to Jesus: And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, “Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is; who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, ‘Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ.’ (Acts 4:24-26)

D. There is also a fulfillment of this verse to be found in the future, as all the nations of the unsaved, unbelievably, will deliberately stand in opposition to Christ at the end of this age. This is the final manifestation of the spirit of antichrist, which works to inspire hatred of Christ so that men may enjoy sin: And I saw the beast, and the kings of the earth, and their armies, gathered together to make war against him that sat on the horse, and against his army. (Rev. 19:19)

E. The reference to bands and cords indicates that they do not wish to be held under the dominion of the King any longer; His way of life is contrary to their flesh. As in the Revelation, these nations know that they are consciously rebelling against the God of Heaven and His Son. We are seeing the beginning of this today, where the Gospel is spreading in many nations but there is also a great falling away in many nations which have served Christ as least in word for many centuries. Where they once at least gave Him lip service, now they will give Him no honor at all.

 

4 He who sits in the heavens shall laugh; the Lord shall have them in derision.

5 Then shall he speak unto them in his wrath, and vex them in his sore displeasure.

6 “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion.”

A. In this stanza, the Lord reacts to their speech with mocking laughter. In the vernacular of today, we would say that God said, “Give me a break!” How feeble our efforts to mock God and deny His sovereignty must appear to Him who spread out the heavens like a curtain.

B. Violent atheism is making a comeback. Recently people were videotaped intentionally blaspheming the Holy Spirit perhaps in an effort to show that there is no God. From God’s vantage point in the heavens, all of our hard speeches against Him are puny and insignificant.

C. When God speaks, He makes a declaration they do not want to hear, one which vexes them: that He has installed His King on Zion’s Hill – whether anyone likes it or not.

D. Two things irritate the nations: first, that God has the right to make whomever He wishes to be King; and, second, that His King is connected with Zion. The Devil has inspired men to hate the Jewish people as well as the Jewish Messiah.

 

7 “I will declare the decree; the LORD has said to me, ‘Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee.

8 ‘Ask of me, and I shall give thee the heathen for thine inheritance, and the uttermost parts of the earth for thy possession.

9 ‘Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’”

A. Now the Messiah speaks, and tells of God’s installing Him as King! The Church sees verse 7 as being connected to the Resurrection. It was this event that demonstrated to all Creation that Jesus was the Son of God and God’s instrument to rule over everything He had created.

B. In verse 8 the Son is invited to pray that he may have the inheritance the Father wishes to give Him – to rule the nations. It is not incorrect to pray this in our day in a spiritual sense; for Christ would rather rule over men’s hearts.

C. God has promised the Son (verse 9) that one day His Kingdom will be the only one and there will no longer be any opposition to His Rulership!

 

10 Be wise now therefore, O you kings; be instructed, you judges of the earth.

11 Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish from the way, when his wrath is kindled but a little. Blessed are all those who put their trust in him.

A. The Psalmist, who is also serving as the narrator of these events, steps back into the conversation and now begins to give advice to the kings, based on the heavenly conversations he has heard.

B. First, they must learn to serve the Lord with reverent fear. They must also worship Him with trembling at His majesty.

C. They must also kiss, or do homage to the Son, lest God be angry that they have refused His choice of a Messiah. The smallest kindling of God’s wrath against these rebels would destroy them.

D. Finally, there is another Beatitude: those who would actually trust in Him will be blessed by Him. Even in the strongest of warnings there is an invitation to worship and to experience the kindness of the LORD!