What If Your Thought Life Was Live Streamed?

What if someone told you that your every thought from the day you were born has been recorded and will be shown tonight on YouTube Live? And not only that, but a​ ​li​nk to a​ ​website​ ​will be given where all of​ ​your friends and family​ ​can go and view​ ​all of your thoughts about them.

How many people would be angry with you? Everyone? Would you be angry with yourself?

Your thought life reveals the real, unrestrained you. Like most people, you may think you’re good enough to get to heaven and that God won’t send you to hell, but God has seen every one of your wicked thoughts and actions. He has seen every time you’ve broken His commandments, lusting over someone you’re not married to, lying and stealing (no matter how little); He knows every time you’ve carved a false idol of God in your mind, a corrupt god of your own imagination who will turn a blind eye to your sin.

He has heard every time you’ve used His Holy Name in vain, using the name of the One who gave you life in place of a curse word. You wouldn’t do that with Hitler’s name, but you do it with God’s name! The “Lord will not leave him unpunished who takes His name in vain” (Exodus 20:7), and “every careless word that people speak, they shall give an accounting for it in the day of judgment.” (Matthew 12:36)

Be honest with yourself: when you face God on Judgment Day—keeping in mind that He’s seen your every wicked thought and action—will He find you innocent or guilty? If God gives you what you deserve, should He send you to heaven or hell? God has written His law on your heart so you are “without excuse” (Romans 1:18-32); you know it is wrong to lie, to steal, to lust, and to curse because God gave you a conscience to know right from wrong. Your own conscience demands justice.

Imagine a courtroom scene where a child rapist is coming before the judge for sentencing. But instead of giving him what justice demands, the judge lets him go free because the rapist is a “nice guy” who has given to charity and goes to church every Sunday.

You would be outraged, and you should be! Yet most people think the High and Holy God is just like this corrupt judge, and that they can bribe Him with their “good deeds” so that He’ll overlook their sin.

Again, what would you think if the judge said to the rapist, “I’m a very loving judge, so I’ll just let you go free”? You would not think that the judge was loving at all, but that he was corrupt and not worthy to be a judge! Yet most people expect the Holy God who is “the judge of all the earth” (Genesis 18:25) to be just that corrupt with them, and overlook their sin.

Infinite Love and Goodness demand Infinite Justice. Because God’s love and justice are infinite He won’t punish only murderers and rapists, but He’ll punish ALL sin wherever it’s found. That’s why “the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God.” (1 Corinthians 6:9) “No thief, no sexually immoral person, no idolater will enter heaven” (1 Corinthians 6:10), and “all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone.” (Revelation 21:8)

Now the question for you, dear reader, is this: is there any hope for someone like you? Is there any hope for the person who has defied God time and again by rebelling against His will and refusing to love and worship Him? Is there any hope for the criminal who stands guilty in the courtroom of God? Yes there is! There is forgiveness with God!

The Gospel (“good news”) is this: Imagine you are in a human courtroom and the judge finds you guilty, and because he’s just, gives you the maximum fine of ten million dollars. But there is no way you can pay the fine, so you’re about to spend the rest of your life in jail.

​T​hen someone you’ve never met before steps into the courtroom and says, “I’ve sold all my worldly goods to pay your fine.” Your fine has been paid, so justice has been served and you’re free to go! Well, two thousand years ago God became flesh in the man, Jesus Christ, who was born of a virgin, led a sinless life and then suffered and died under the wrath of God on the cross to pay in full the penalty for all your sins. Then He rose again in triumph over all the powers of death and darkness, so that in Him we can have eternal life. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)

But it’s not enough to merely believe “intellectually” in order to be forgiven by God. The Bible says that even the demons believe intellectually! (James 2:19) In order to have real forgiveness, you must repent, as J​​esus Himself said: “unless you repent you will also perish.” (Luke 13:3)

And repentance means turning fully away from your life of sin and turning fully to God, trusting in Jesus Christ ALONE to save you and not your own deeds; trusting in Him as the One who willingly stood in your place on the cross, taking God’s wrath for you; the wrath YOU deserve.

What are you waiting for; don’t gamble with your eternal salvation! “Your life is a vapor” (James 4:14), and you have no way of knowing which second will be your last. “Seek the Lord while He may be found; call upon Him while He is near. Let the wicked forsake his way and the unrighteous man his thoughts; and let him return to the Lord, and He will have compassion on him, and to our God, for He will abundantly pardon.” (Isaiah 55:6-7)

God takes no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but desires for you to turn from your sins and live! (Ezekiel 18:23)

You have a personal invitation from the Lord Jesus Christ Himself: “Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” (Matthew 11:28-29)

This video tract is based upon a slight variation of, “How would you feel if your Thought Life were to be shown on Nationwide TV?” written by Kevin Williams (https://gfmanchester.com/) and Garrett Holthaus (https://lakeroadchapel.org/).

A Call to Repentance (Part One)

Hosea 6:1-6

Come, let us return to the Lord. For he has torn us, and he will heal us; he has wounded us, and he will bind up our wounds. He will revive us after two days, and on the third day he will raise us up so we can live in his presence. Let us strive to know the Lord. His appearance is as sure as the dawn. He will come to us like the rain, like the spring showers that water the land (6:1-3 CSB).

Religious people in our time have lost their hold on the reality of God, the living God, the God who is there. During the last few years in Christian writings, it has become necessary to revisit the basic teachings about God. For example, in some circles there is growing confusion about the Trinity, and in others there is a denial of God’s knowledge and sovereignty in what is called “Open Theism”. Since the tragic events of 9/11, some have become practical dualists in their theology, wrongly assuming that all good events come from God and all bad events from the devil. As we will see, such ideas shipwreck on the solid rock of this text.

We need the teaching of this text for another reason. This passage is like a ray of sunshine and hope before the storm breaks. Sometimes in the trials of life we lose sight of the mercy and love of God. Hopefully, we still confess the mercy and love of God, but the fog of life obscures the sight and pleasure of God’s wonderful grace to broken people. We become legalistic, wrongly assuming that God only likes people that resemble Mary Poppins— “practically perfect in every way!” The Bible knows of no perfect person but the Lord Jesus, and instead asserts the holiness of Christ and our total need of him. So this passage offers hope to people, regardless of their imperfection. Let us listen to God’s encouraging words.

The Lord Israel urged to repent (6:1-3). Hosea taught the people how to turn back to the Lord in these verses. God was behind this training; he wanted repentance. Hosea willingly joined with the people, both as an example, and a leader, and as one who recognized his own sinfulness, for no one is perfect.

Repentance described. A description is different from a definition. Repentance is defined as a “change of mind or heart.” Genuine repentance produces certain actions that describe how it looks. Two of these are the descriptions we read here.

It is described as the need to return to the Lord (6:1). Israel had abandoned the living God for dead idols. She needed to go back to the true and Living One (Jeremiah 2:13). The deepest truths are often the simplest! Where is the Lord in your life? What practical evidences are there of your interaction with him?

In our family we can point to specific events when we were together and can describe the fellowship that occurred during those times. You can do the same in your family. The same thing happens in the family of God, when people are in a vital relationship with the living God.

Have you wandered away from the Lord? What has come between God and you? Forsake it and return to him! You won’t return to the Lord as long as you hang onto what is keeping you away from him. A desire for “other things” can choke the Lord’s message to you (Matthew 13:22).

It is described as the need to know the Lord (6:3). Observe once again the importance of knowing God! See Jeremiah 9:23-24; John 17:3. God wants a diligent desire. He wanted them to pursue this knowledge. In other words, the Lord wants fellowship or communication.

Repentance encouraged

God encouraged it by a presentation of God’s grace. The Lord uses his kindness to lead people to repentance (Rm 2:4). He wins us by his love. The Almighty revealed himself in three ways.

  • God as Healer. The Lord is able to mend what he has torn.
  • God as Lifegiver. Notice the “third day” mentioned. This might be an allusion to Christ’s resurrection on the third day.
  • God as Renewer. Rain is essential for a proper harvest. In the same way, the life-giving grace of God is able to make them flourish spiritually.

Observe the idea of overflowing grace (Romans 5:20-21). His grace is greater than our sins. When you take care of young children, you find out that they can be messy, especially when they eat! Loving adults reach out to messy children and tenderly clean them. The living God is willing “to get his hands messy” to clean us up and to share life with us. He knows that to some extent, we will always have “messy faces and hands” in this life, but he still loves us!

God encouraged it by a presentation of their need: “that we may live….” Since God has endowed people with life and the ability to make rational judgments, he appeals to us in this way. Will you be able to live before God forever? If not, how will you be able to endure his wrath forever?

Grace and peace, David

Christian, God is a Father to You

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Christian don’t ever forget, despite what other blessings you may see your fellow brethren receive, God is your Father just as much as theirs.

One God and Father

The Bible declares three distinct persons to be God (Father, Son, Holy Spirit), but we need to remember that the Bible gives primacy to the Father. The Bible most certainly exalts Christ, but we can’t forget that God the Father is said to be overall, including Christ.

Like Moth and Lion (Part Two)

Hosea 5:1-15

For I am like a lion to Ephraim and like a young lion to the house of Judah. Yes, I will tear them to pieces and depart. I will carry them off, and no one can rescue them. I will depart and return to my place until they recognize their guilt and seek my face; they will search for me in their distress (5:14-15 CSB).

After exposing Israel’s lack of repentance, failure to do God’s will, and her misdirected ideas, the Lord turned to talk about what awaited his wayward old covenant people.

The Lord God previewed Israel’s punishment. First we see that God will not help the unrepentant (5:6-7). Israel thought she could satisfy God with sacrifices and ritual celebrations. Sort of like the churchgoer who imagines God is pleased when he or she says the Lord’s Prayer, listens disinterestedly to a sermon, and throws a few dollars in the offering plate. God is not held captive by religious ritual, even if it is appointed by him. Grace cannot be earned! It is always a free gift from God (Ephesians 2:8-9), and such grace always comes through the Lord Jesus Christ alone.

God told Israel that he would become their enemy (5:8-14). He would be like the silent destroyer. He would quietly bring ruin and decay like moth and rot do. Would you have ever imagined God picturing himself as a moth or rot? At times, the only thing that will gain our attention is shocking language. The Lord would be the ferocious predator. He would roar and attack like a bold lion, from whom there is no escape. Believers like the picture of God as a lion, boldly ravaging his enemies. But here, his enemy is Israel, his people! An uncomfortable thought! In either picture, God wanted Israel to have an “authentic meeting” with the living God. The Lord wants us out of our comfort zones to really meet him.

God declared Israel’s only escape (5:15). He corrected their wrong attitude. Israel had thought she could play religious games with the living God. “The Lord will forgive; that’s his job. Just bring him a few sacrifices once in awhile.” In our day people assume that they’re okay if they say a few “Jesus words”, even if they don’t really know him as risen Lord and Savior. However, the Lord solemnly said that he would withdraw from them, until they repented. Israel needed to have a proper fear of God and love for God.

He clarified the right way back to his favor. They needed to admit their guilt. The first step back to God is to confess openly that you have a serious problem, that you have offended the true and living God. They needed to confess their sin; that is, to take God’s side against their rebellious acts. Has this ever happened in your life?

They needed to turn to the Lord earnestly. God does not want us to play games with him. He wants a sincere, deeply-felt repentance from the core of our being (what the Bible calls the heart.) Forsake your old idols and look toward him. He wants us to seek Him, not merely His gifts. The only way back to the living God is through the Lord Jesus Christ. And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved (Acts 4:12 ESV; cf. 1 Timothy 2:5).

It is time to seek the Lord!

Grace and peace, David

Praying for the Salvation of Lost Loved Ones

As much as we long for our lost loved ones to be saved, we can’t forget that God doesn’t owe them salvation, or owe us to give them salvation. But as we come on that basis, we can take great courage that God may very well be pleased to answer that prayer.

Excerpt from the full sermon, “Everyone and No One“.

Like Moth and Lion (Part One)

Hosea 5:1-15

Their actions do not allow them to return to their God, for a spirit of promiscuity is among them, and they do not know the Lord… When Ephraim saw his sickness and Judah his wound, Ephraim went to Assyria and sent a delegation to the great king. But he cannot cure you or heal your wound (5:4, 13 CSB).

What is your view of God? What do you think he is like? No, this is not an exercise in allowing your imagination to run wild. The essence of idolatry is inventing a god from human imagination. Instead, I am asking what you know of God’s revelation of himself in the Holy Scriptures. God has communicated understandable and adequate truth about himself for life and godliness. Since he is God and our Maker, he is quite able to do this.

We should not be content with a minimal acquaintance with the Lord, for he is our Creator and Judge. What do you know of the One to whom you will give an account for your actions in this life? Can you provide others with an accurate picture of the Lord of the universe?

Old covenant Israel could not. The people that were called to be his witnesses could not even give an accurate testimony to themselves of God’s true nature, what he expected of them, and the way to find him. God’s prophet Hosea calls them back to the basics of spiritual reality, for in the spiritual realm, few things are as deadly as deception.

God exposed Israel’s lack of repentance. Here we observe a problem of the heart (5:4). Remember that the heart means the entire inner person, including the mind, emotions and will. It is the seat of your personality. Think of the importance of the motives of the heart. Here we encounter the deepest spiritual and psychological level of a person (Ezekiel 14:1-11; Hebrews 4:13). As we have seen, they pursued prostitution, whether sexual or spiritual, from their innermost desires. They did not know the Lord. Notice how the Holy Spirit keeps on emphasizing this point! Lack of knowledge of God is the empty space in the heart of a mere professor of religion. Such a person goes through the routine of worship without a personal relationship with the Lord. The true Christian knows the Lord (John 17:3; cf. 1 John 5:20; Hebrews 8:10-12).

God exposed their problem of performance (5:4). There are two ways of looking at this.

  • The sinner is held prisoner by their sins. He or she cannot run away from their master. They are slaves to sin, though they suppose themselves free (Romans 6:15-20).
  • The sinner’s mere profession to saving grace is betrayed by his or her actions (Romans 2:1-29). Before we judge others, we must first judge ourselves (Matthew 7:1-5).

A problem of misdirection (5:13)

Israel knew she had problems. When invading armies gather on your borders, it is hard not to notice.

Many Americans see our nation’s problems: escalating debt, troubling trade issues, increasing violence, deep, political hatred, the scourge of “new” diseases (HIV, Lyme’s, Autism, Alzheimer’s), declining literacy, and an entire litany of abuse (sexual, physical, substance, pornography, gambling). Not many can dare with a straight face to call this a golden age.

Israel decided to turn to her enemy for help! How deceived! Will one who seeks your destruction heal your sores? Yet they vainly hoped that Assyria would help them.

Israel turned to what was ineffective. Assyria would not have been able to help in any event, because Israel’s problem with God was beyond Assyria’s resources. (Recall that Assyria was the “superpower” of the day.)

The failure of our day is the ongoing human failure to recognize the depth of our problems. We have serious issues with God that the resources of American “superpower” cannot address and that tweaking our thinking with postmodern “insights” knows nothing about. May the Lord of all step into our lives in mercy and power.

Grace and peace, David

Reflections on 2 Corinthians 3 – Part 4

Surpassing, Transforming Glory

So what is Paul saying in his use of the Exodus incident in relation to the new covenant?
In our session with Dr Gary Williams, referred to in Part 1, we looked at the comparison between the experience of Moses at Sinai and that of Peter, James and John on the mountain upon which they witnessed Jesus’ graphic transfiguration. Mark records that episode thus:

” After six days Jesus took Peter, James and John with him and led them up a high mountain, where they were all alone. There he was transfigured before them. His clothes became dazzling white, whiter than anyone in the world could bleach them. And there appeared before them Elijah and Moses, who were talking with Jesus. Peter said to Jesus, “Rabbi, it is good for us to be here. Let us put up three shelters—one for you, one for Moses and one for Elijah.” (He did not know what to say, they were so frightened.) Then a cloud appeared and covered them, and a voice came from the cloud: “This is my Son, whom I love. Listen to him!” Suddenly, when they looked around, they no longer saw anyone with them except Jesus. As they were coming down the mountain, Jesus gave them orders not to tell anyone what they had seen until the Son of Man had risen from the dead. They kept the matter to themselves, discussing what “rising from the dead” meant.” (Mark 9 vs 2 – 10)

There are many similarities. Peter, in his second letter, refers to this also:

” For we did not follow cleverly devised stories when we told you about the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ in power, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. He received honor and glory from God the Father when the voice came to him from the Majestic Glory, saying, “This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.” We ourselves heard this voice that came from heaven when we were with him on the sacred mountain.” (2 Peter 1 vs 16 – 18)

It is not insignificant that Peter refers to this location as ‘the sacred mountain’. We can only imagine the stunning (and terrifying) impact these events had upon the onlookers. Dr Williams drew our attention to the fact that both incidents are restricted in their revealing, and following, their is some kind of concealment commanded. Moses veils his face. The disciples are commanded not to tell anyone what they have seen until after the resurrection. I will come back to this. Let us first note that in both we have:

  • The revealer of the glory
  • The observer(s) of the glory
  • The receivers (ultimately) of the glory

 With Exodus 34,

  • The revealer is God Himself
  • The observer is Moses
  • The receivers are the Israelites

In 2 Corinthians 3, Paul draws his parallel thus:

  • The revealer is Christ – He ‘radiates’ this splendour in such a way as to radically alter His appearance – even His clothes. He is the source.
  • The observers are the Apostles
  • The receivers are the Corinthians (and beyond, all those who receive the Apostolic witness)

Therefore we see plainly that Paul’s ‘we’ in this chapter is the Apostles, the eye-witnesses to Jesus.As John says:

“We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John1 vs 14)

We have noted before, but let me say again, that the giving of the Law on Sinai, and the incident in Exodus 33 where Moses asks to see God’s glory are distinct. Previous to the great sin of the golden calf incident, the stone tablets, with the Law inscribed, had been given with no reference to attendant glory. We conclude that it is not the Law itself which is glorious. The glory attends the Law, it is not synonymous with it.

Unveiled Communication

Now we can clearly understand the impact of what Paul is saying. In their preaching of the Gospel, which also comes with glory, the Apostles are unlike Moses, who veiled his face. The Apostles deliver and pass on to their hearers  the glory they have beheld in the revealed Person of the Son of God WITHOUT obscuring the full vision of those who receive it – such is their boldness. Although Paul was not on that mountain, as an Apostle, he too has been a party to the same vision of the resurrected Lord. Thus his apostleship is being substantiated.

What did Moses hide?

The question arises as to what it was that Moses did not want the Israelites to see. We have seen that they glimpsed the glory of the radiance in his face as he communicated with them after he had spoken with God. But when he had finished doing so, he veiled his face until he next entered the Tent of Meeting to stand before God again. The result was that the Israelites were not allowed to ‘look steadily’, or ‘gaze intently’ at him. Their examination of this phenomena was not allowed to continue. Paul says that this was …

“to prevent the Israelites from seeing the end of what was passing away.” (2 Cor 3 vs 13)

And this is where many have concluded that it was the radiance which ‘was passing away’. But why would Moses merely wish to hide from them the fact that the radiance was fading? What purpose would this achieve?

It is more probable that what Paul is referring to as ‘transitory’ is, in fact, the whole of the old covenant. When Christ came, the complete order would be fulfilled and exceeded by the new covenant, instituted by God’s Son. How could Moses, at God’s direction, be heard to construct an intricate system of worship, priesthood and law, for the governance of God’s old testament people in His given land, when all of it would ultimately give way to something far greater, with any degree of authoritative substance? Thus God directs that this eventual outcome would not be revealed to the Israelites until their covenant was at an end. In a similar way, the disciples of Jesus are not to pass on what they observe on the mount of Transfiguration until the full disclosure of the meaning of Jesus’ death and resurrection is made – only then would that revelation be fully meaningful. Only then would it achieve its given purpose. This was its ‘telos’ – its end. And, as in Romans 10 vs 4, ‘telos’ can mean ‘goal’ – ultimate purpose:

“Christ is the culmination(telos) of the law so that there may be righteousness for everyone who believes.”

Richard Hays, in his excellent book “Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul”, argues strongly for this:

And, in his paper entitled
“Did the Glory of Moses’ Face Fade? A Re-examination of katargeo in 2 Corinthians 3:7-18”,
William Baker makes a powerful argument for the view that the word normally translated ‘fade’ in many translations should really be rendered  ‘obscured’. His summary:

“The translation of katargeo as “fade” in 2 Cor 3:7-18 has little justification outside biblical literature or within it. Most scholars have abandoned this translation as inaccurate. Yet, it persists in modern Bible versions. Examination of the lexical evidence finds no support for this translation nor does reexamination of the Exod 34:19-24 context that the word is intended to describe. Moses’ face does not diminish in its glory; it is merely blocked or “rendered ineffective” by the mask. Finally, examination of 2 Cor 3:7-18 reveals that a translation of “hinder “or “block” best accounts for Paul’s understanding of the Exodus situation within his own purposes.”


The ‘Same Veil’

Paul takes the picture further. He goes on to say that beyond Israel’s experience in the wilderness, even to current times, when Moses is read, there is the same failure on the part of the readers to be able to perceive and understand what it is saying. The ‘blindness’ persists. Now, however, the veil is not over the face of Moses, it is over the heart of the reader – of course, it must be so after Moses had died. But it is ‘the same veil’ – in other words, it operates in exactly the same manner. In Christ, it is removed – those Jews who believe in Him are then able to perceive that all of that former covenant pointed to Him. So, just as when Moses enters again into the very presence of the living God, he removes the veil, so it is that in Christ (what claim, there, to His divinity!) the veil is removed. Whereas the unbelieving Jew cannot see the glory of Christ in the writings of Moses, the believing Jew has full disclosure of all that this means. Another quote from William R Baker’s paper ” Did the Glory of Moses’ Face Fade? “:

” Even Jews, Paul says, who have been shut off from the full glory of the Lord since Moses donned the veil, will find the freedom to gain full access to God when they come to belief in Christ. This, Paul says in 3:12, is the message he preaches “freely,” or “boldly” (parrhsia), since he is not encumbered by a veil as was Moses. He preaches this message across the board which makes his ministry, though based on the same glory of God as Moses’, superior to his. What was denied Israel by Moses’ veil in Christ has been opened wide to all people. A personal relationship with God himself is now available to all. This is Paul’s gospel”

Surpassing Glory 

Paul draws magnificent conclusions from all this. First is an a fortiori argument – from a lesser to a greater:

If the ministry that brought death, and was transitory came with glory, then …
… how much greater glory must attend the ministry that brings righteousness, and is eternal.

He acclaims:

“For what was glorious has no glory now in comparison with the surpassing glory.”

Undeniable, is it not, that the revealing of the Son of God from heaven must be accompanied and attested by all the radiant glory of which creation is capable. So much so, that Paul says compared to this, what went before is as nothing. Like comparing a candle flame to the sun. ‘We beheld it’, the Apostles cry – ‘we ourselves were eyewitnesses’. We saw it with our own eyes, it was displayed before us with unremitting majesty. The Voice of the Father acclaimed Him. And, at the end, death could not contain that glory. It burst forth from His tomb to shine as an everlasting light. Paul likens this to Moses standing before the divine, holy throne. As he had once requested ‘Show me your glory’, and that revelation had changed his face for the remainder of his life to reflect what he had witnessed, so it was that the Apostles had viewed surpassing glory, and were thereafter emanators of that same glory before all who would approach with a heart of faith.

Transmitted Glory!

Now we can see precisely what Paul is saying. the ‘we’ to which he refers is the ‘we’ of the Apostles, who personally and directly saw this latter, surpassing glory in the face of Christ. 

“For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” made his light shine in our hearts to give us the light of the knowledge of God’s glory displayed in the face of Christ.” (2 Corinthians 4 vs 6)

It is this Apostolic witness which Paul regards as the new covenant equivalent of the radiance emanating from the face of Moses. And of this greater glory, he says,

“We are not like Moses”

For whereas Moses veiled his face when he came from surveying that lesser glory, before those to whom he spoke, the Apostles do not. Here it is – the nature of that new glory …

“… the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4 vs 4)

And what the Apostles do, in their Christ-appointed ministry is to plainly set forth their witness, unveiled – unlike Moses. There is neither dissemination nor distortion. If there is a failure to apprehend, it is caused by the blindness of heart due to unbelief:

“And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4 vs 3,4)

The veil is no longer over the face of those to whom the glory was revealed. It is now over the hearts of those who do not perceive.

Transforming Glory

 “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3 vs 18)

 But for those who see, there is the vision of all of the wonder of what God shows them, through the Apostolic witness, and …
… this reception, this view of Him, has the effect of transformation. It changes the observer to make them not only a reflector of that glory, but a ‘likeness’ of its source. We become like Jesus, even as we gaze. This privilege, this wonder is not reserved for the Apostles only. ‘We ALL’ are affected thus – the Apostles themselves, and those who see the radiance of the gospel light through them.

The Apostolic Word

It remains for us to mark what this means for us, who do not share the Apostolic age. The Apostles are no longer with us – how is this process now active? There is only one conclusion, is there not? That which they did once in their very persons is now done through their written works – the inspired word of God. Here is what now comes direct to us ‘from the Lord, who is the Spirit’. In it, we gaze upon the surpassing radiance of this infinitely greater glory. Through it, and our absorption of it, our meditation upon it, we receive what those blessed men were appointed to transmit to us. In it, we see His face and gaze upon that incredible beauty. And by it, we are being transformed into His likeness. Not by any given law. But by the Lord ‘who is the Spirit’. And we are exhorted to ‘open wide our hearts’ to them, even as they have opened wide their hearts in all they have written, in God’s wonderful word, our Bible.

Purity (Part Two)

Hosea 4:10-19

Occasionally, people become interested in the environment, usually when there is some “health scare” or someone suggests putting a landfill for toxic waster in their immediate area or they watch a video about environmental disasters. Suddenly everyone becomes an environmentalist… for two weeks or a little more! “We must keep our land or air or water pure!” But our subject of purity is hardly one that will excite much interest in our time.

Previously, we considered the Biblical concept of covenantal purity, as seen from God’s design in creation and God’s law (his word).  As God made man and woman to commit to a covenantal relationship with each other and to remain faithful to each one in the marriage relationship, so God has called his people into a covenant relationship with him, and we are to be faithful to the Lord. In both cases we need a high “marriage esteem”.

Hosea wrote about Israel’s violation of covenant purity. He set forth Israel’s transgressions.

  • Israel was unfaithful to the Lord (4:10-13). Israel was married to the Lord in the old covenant, but they were turning away to false gods. To grasp the foolishness of their action, read Isaiah 44:9-20, where idolatry is graphically exposed. They had a spirit, a heart desire for prostitution. This was deep within them, influencing their inner person. Their core was in terrible shape.
  • Israel was deeply involved in sexual immorality. The pagan religions of their day practiced sexual immorality as part of their worship. They believed it was a way to seek favor from their gods (4:13-14). Note the equal treatment of men and women before God’s law. Males throughout history have tried to hide their sexual sins by setting up a low standard for males and another, purer standard for females. The living God has no part in such foolishness and hypocrisy.

Israel’s judgment: God abandoned his people to her sins.

First, Israel’s place of worship, Bethel (“house of God”), was renamed Beth Aven (“house of wickedness”, 4:15). God rejected any pretense that they worshipped him. People in our time need to realize that much of what they call the worship of God is really empty worship, because worship that is not in conformity with the Scriptures is empty worship (Matthew 15:7-9). To worship in conformity with human traditions is empty worship. To worship while condoning sexual immorality is empty worship (Ephesians 5:3-7).

Second, God rejected Israel (also called Ephraim, after the prominent northern tribe) by abandoning her to the idols she had chosen to love. Let them deliver her from the coming whirlwind of judgment (4:17-19)!

  • The word in verse 17 is chilling! How hopeless is someone’s situation when God abandons that person to his or her sins!
  • Notice carefully that physical troubles failed to move people to repentance. The drinks might be gone, but the spirit of prostitution in the heart is deeply seated. After the Black Death of 1347-1350, also called the Great Mortality, people did not live in a godly and holy manner. They might have become religious, but their lifestyle was wicked. Do not expect judgment to reform the western world. Our only hope is a new great awakening.
  • The only expectation for unrepentant people is judgment. A whirlwind would sweep the northern kingdom of Israel away.

God warned Judah to stay clear of Israel’s guilt (4:15). Building your house near a toxic waste site is a poor idea, regardless of how cheap the land is. People have been making human life cheap by pursuing cheap religion and cheap sex. Why not invest in something really worth having, instead of what makes you cheap and useless and empty?

Consider our current crisis. We must understand how deep our problems actually are.

Spiritually, since the 1960s, there has been a growing fascination with eastern religions among Americans. The greedy and the pleasure-seeking and those longing for physical wholeness have heard them promise peace and prosperity without consideration. However, a careful look at the poverty and degradation of the east would have disclosed the emptiness of their promises. Now what should we say about the American evangelical? If the Lord has designed us for a covenant relationship with him, our covenant Lord, do people sense this? Do we know what this means?

For example, a married woman is concerned about how she can please her husband (1 Corinthians 7:34). Since the church is married to Christ, we should be showing such love to him. Are we? Or has the church become a woman separated from her professed husband, more concerned about her career than her husband? Think on Colossians 2:19.

Sexually, our people accept and approve of sexual immorality that opposes God’s design and God’s laws. Such immorality is not an alternative lifestyle but rebellion against God. We must know what is contrary to God’s purposes and reject it. God’s purpose is our holiness. When I go to Citizen’s Bank Park in Philadelphia, I want to watch a major league baseball game. I do not want to watch people acting silly who are dressed in clown suits, who hit a volleyball with a broomstick and run the bases backwards. Neither does God want to watch us make a mockery of his worship and human life.

What is the way out? First, there must be repentance, a change of mind. We must understand that what we believe about God determines our moral character. God cannot be treated with contempt. He does punish people by letting people experience the depths of their rebellion against God (Romans 1:24-27).

Second, true repentance produces reformation. We must practice pure devotion to the Lord. This includes recognition of his ruling providence, instead of luck or astrology. It also means the pursuit of sexual purity (1 Corinthians 6:13b-20).

The only way to purity is through Jesus Christ and his shed blood. Today is the day to have Christ purify your heart and life.

Grace and peace, David

Do You Know What You Really Believe?

It is when the fierce winds of trials and suffering come that people often ask themselves what they really believe. What do you believe about Jesus Christ? When you are being shaken, where do you run to? Is Christ a sure foundation for you even when the bottom is falling underneath you? Or do you have to run to other things for refuge?

Excerpt from the full sermon, “No Longer Children“.

Purity (Part One)

Hosea 4:10-19

They will eat but not be satisfied; they will be promiscuous but not multiply. For they have abandoned their devotion to the Lord. Promiscuity, wine, and new wine take away one’s understanding (4:10-11 CSB).

What we believe about God and the world directly influences how we live. We all live according to our worldview. Whether it is true or false, we make choices that we suppose are consistent with our basic presuppositions. For example, if you believe that good nutrition is crucial for your health, your diet will show it.

However, most people will not (or do not) consider that their doctrine of God affects their ethics and morals. They mistakenly assume that people can believe whatever they want about God and still maintain respect for human life, human rights, and some measure of order in society. God’s word reveals that doctrine, especially what we believe about God, produces moral or immoral conduct. When people reject God, they enter onto a dark path that leads to the oppression and abuse of others.

Let’s think about the Biblical concept of covenantal purity. First’ God’s design in creation was to demonstrate the glory of purity.

  • As a spiritual being, God made people for his pleasure. He made us to display his glory as a personal, sovereign being (Genesis 1:27-28). Mankind would honor God by faithfulness to God, as shown by fulfilling God’s purpose. God has designed you and me for worship, fellowship, discipleship, service, and mission. This is not a list that you can check one or two that sound interesting. Every Christian is to do all five.
  • As a physical and sexual being, God made the woman out of the man to be man’s helper and companion. God created male and female to join together to glorify God in love (Genesis 1:27; 2:18-25). Any rivalry and strife between the sexes arises from our rebellion against God, because what God has designed is very good (Genesis 1:31). Therefore, if males and females pursue the pleasure of God together, they will have harmonious relationships.

Now if you are going to work on a project with other people, what must you do? Communicate! Communicate in planning, in working, in project updates, in encouragement, in correction, etc.

Some of us might need more organized communication in our marriages and families—and our churches.

Second, God’s law (instruction, revelation of his will) reinforces this idea.

  • Spiritually, God requires us to honor God exclusively and faithfully. This is set forth in the first great commandment, to Israel in the first four commands of the law, and to us in the example of Christ and the repetition of the first three commands of the law covenant, in the Lord’s Supper, and in many commands to keep our minds focused on the Lord (Colossians 3:1-4). God by his grace has put us into a covenant relationship with our covenant Lord, Jesus Christ. The Lord calls us to relate to him by faith and love (1 Thessalonians 5:8) wholeheartedly and exclusively (1 Corinthians 6:17; cf. Romans 7:4).
  • Sexually, God requires us to honor him by only having sexual relations within the bond of a marriage covenant between one man and one woman (Deuteronomy 5:18; 1 Corinthians 6:12-20; Ephesians 5:3). Sexual relations between a man and a woman married to each other are very good. God is not against sexual desires and relations. God created both! But he also ordered marriage between a man and a woman as the proper expression of both.

We need a high “marriage-esteem”. It is very good! Why would you want anything else? We need to remember that Christ’s people are related to him as his bride (Ephesians 5:25-32). We need to hold our spiritual relationship to the Lord of all as very precious.

Grace and peace, David

Fan Into Flame Your Gifts

You can stir gifts up. Now it may be true that you’ve only got a certain amount, but let me tell you this, Scripture says, “For this reason I remind you…” – this is Paul speaking to Timothy – “fan into flame the gift of God which is in you through the laying on of hands.” This is a picture of fire. Fan into flame – literally. Listen, we’ve all been camping. We’ve been around a bonfire somewhere. You know what happens. This is a picture of a fire that begins to go low. I grew up with a fireplace. I grew up camping. We all know. Listen, somebody comes along to a fire and pours a cold bucket of water on it. Yeah, that is bad for a fire. And we know that the devil – he labors to quench all that is of God that’s in us. But I’ll tell you, there’s another way to let a fire go out. Just don’t do anything. Just ignore it. Just don’t tend to it. Think about it. You’ve got a fire. What does it need? Typically – I grew up with a fireplace – we had a shovel. We had a poker. We had a brush. Why? What were those things for? Well, to get the ashes out. Stir it around. It’s like what Christ has done is He’s given you this burning hot coal. It’s for us to make fire rage. You’ve seen the fire where there’s embers down there. Yeah, there’s heat. There’s energy. But there is a place to fan it. There’s a place to blow on it. We had bellows. You could blow on it, but for some reason somebody gave us bellows. You get air on there. You need kindling. You know what you want to do with that coal (incomplete thought) You know where the kindling is. It’s found in people. Go around and touch it on people. Go try to be a help to people. Go try to be an encouragement to people. Go serve people. Give to people. Pray for people. Try to use whatever it is in your capacity to build up other people, to strengthen other people, to help the health of our church, to make people more Christlike, to encourage people in their worship, to encourage people’s faith, to stir up one another to love. Go do that. To try to stir up people’s passion for missions or try to stir up people’s passions for souls through evangelism. Do those things! Touch people with that ember that you have. See if it won’t ignite. Sometimes when a fire’s going down, what it needs is you know you’ve got pieces of the log that are outside the fire that if you just kicked them over into the fire, the thing would stir up. Is the fire going out? Well, stir it around. Change some things. Make some effort here. Blow on it. Get rid of the ashes. That’s why we have the shovel. You’ve let the ashes build up too high. Get them out! Leave it where it’s just the hot coals and the logs that are on fire. Take away the things that tend to put the fire out, that tend to cause this thing to dampen down and diminish in light and heat. Get rid of it. Listen, you want to exercise gifts? Be where God’s people are. Be in the prayer meeting. Be in the small groups. Be in each other’s lives throughout the week. Brethren, one of the things you don’t want to do is say, well, we go to church on Wednesday. We go to church on Sunday’s. That’s not the life of the church. That’s not the life of the church that you’ll find in the book of Acts. We want the life of the church that’s found in Scripture – not traditional Christianity in the United States. If you have a gift, there’s no reason that you only should be using the gift on Wednesday and Sunday. You need to be using that gift all through the week in whatever way possible. I know you work, school, all these things. Everyone of us has to sort this out. But you want to know one of the ways to get the fire burning and to fan into flame the gift that you have is to get out there and seek to use it. It’s kind of like a lawn mower. Have you ever noticed if you don’t use your lawn mower, then when you finally want to go use it, it doesn’t start? One of the best ways to keep your lawn mower operating is to keep using it. Same with cars. We tend to use our cars all the time, so we don’t really think about it, but just let a car sit for too long. You’re going to come back probably the same thing will happen. It won’t start. There’s lots of things that the more you use them, the more it keeps them usable. Be intentional. Listen, this grace is real that Christ has given to you. Don’t despise that. You say, if Christ has given me a grace, well, then, I’m going to use it. And I’m going to fan it into flame as much as I possibly can. And look, you only get to live once. Why in the world if some thirty-fold, some sixty-fold, some a hundred-fold, why are you going to settle for thirty-fold? Oh, because I want to watch the TV. I want to watch that show. Okay… We all have to make decisions, and I’m not saying there’s not a time to relax; there’s not a time that we need some R&R; there’s not a time to get to the mountain and get away. I recognize there’s a need for that. But brethren, if such things exist in Scripture that some are thirty-fold and some are a hundred-fold, why would you not press to be a hundred-fold? You only get to live once. Our works follow us Scripture says. Why settle for minimal realities with regards to this usefulness? Christ has given you something. Use it. Be faithful. Be faithful. Don’t grow weary in well-doing. You only get to live once. And we don’t have a whole lot longer to go. Here we’re at another year, another mile marker. You don’t have centuries and centuries to live. And even if you did, you shouldn’t be squandering the time. Your time is going fast. You only have one life to live. And if you’re Christian, you’ve been given a grace. And you’re expected to use it. Common good. And when you don’t, you damage all of us. It’s a very selfish thing when you don’t do it. I know some are shy. Some are uncomfortable. Some are socially backward. So what? Even if you’re socially backward, you could pray for this church. You could pray. You could pray. Some have a gift of faith that causes them to lay hold on God and pray all the more. Some can give and it’s not really in the limelight at all. It’s all done very secretly. But whatever your gift is pour yourself into it. Pour yourself out for one another. Grace is given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Use it, brethren. Use it to equip this church. Use it to build up this church. Use it for the common good of this church. Father, I pray You’d help us as we launch out into this new year. Make us ever more fruitful. Lord, give us many who on that day will shine, Lord, like the sun in the very firmament, in the kingdom of our Father who will have, Lord, they’ll have borne a hundred-fold. Give us many like that. Hundred-fold Christians. Lord, please don’t let this American life, don’t let the riches, don’t let the comforts, don’t let the wealth make us all into ten-fold Christians when hundred-fold could be a reality. Oh, we would have rather been born in India if that’s what this culture will do to us. Help us, Lord. Help us with all of our riches to be rich in good works towards the poor across this world. I pray this in Christ’s name, Amen.