Confused View of Atonement

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Introduction

The doctrine of atonement has been the center of theological debates since the years following the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Many theories have been developed over the last two thousand years drawing many biblical facts to come into question. The depiction of the crucifixion of Christ that is told in the four Gospels, as well as prophetic writings in the Old Testament, has been documented with enough information that supports the truth pertaining to the how of the atonement. Looking through the many historical events in Theology leading up to the present day, we see a presence of liberal theology based on moral and social ideologies rather than looking with the proper hermeneutic at what Scripture actually tells us. Within many liberal and even conservative evangelical communities, we are seeing how this type of liberal theology and moral theory has distorted the truth of the atonement Weakening the actual definition of atonement by their views, the new modern outlook on the atonement has been widely popularized and many denominations and churches are openly welcoming the nonviolent atonement movement.

Throughout Scripture, atonement is explicitly defined and discussed from the Old Testament to the New Testament writers. From Genesis, the first book in the Bible, we see in the Old Testament which shows the very first example of atonement occurring after the fall where an animal sacrifice was required and made by God to cover the nudity of both Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:21). This requirement shows that God who is just must deal with sin in His manner providing a way of payment for the sin Adam and Eve fell into. In order for God to cover Adam and Eve from their shame there had to be a death or shedding of blood to “cover” the sins committed by Adam and Eve which having their eyes opened drove them into that shame of their nudity.

Atonement Defined

In Exodus, we see the Israelites being set free from their bondage in Egypt. In the Passover, Moses was instructed to communicate to God’s people to sacrifice an animal wiping the blood of the sacrificial animal on the doorpost to escape the impending death from the judgment that God was placing on Egypt (Ex. 12:5-7). The significance of the lamb without blemish stated early in the Old Testament will serve as the model for the ultimate sacrificial lamb Jesus Christ. Also of great significance is the use of blood. The blood spilled by the lamb and wiped on the doorposts depicts the sacrifice as a bloody act. The illustration of the sacrificial lamb here in Exodus shows the death of the body and bloodshed in order to escape the punishment of death.[1] In the Levitical Law, stated in Leviticus as given to man by God instructed man of the act of sacrifice (Lev. 16). The broken relationship between God and man required an act in order to reestablish that strained relationship and this was explained in Leviticus. Though sacrifices did not atone for all sins, the Day of Atonement ritual was designed to do so.[2]

In the Old Testament, the word “atonement” is used in many English translations taken for the manuscripts in that were documented in Hebrew. The Hebrew word “kipper” אֲכַפְּרָ֖[3] is the verb form that is defined as to cover over or propitiate and where the noun form of atonement is “kipporet” כַּפֹּֽרֶת is defined as propitiatory. The first uses of the word atonement are found in Exodus 25 where Moses was referring these words as to make an offering or the subject being an offering. The word propitiation is defined in theological terms as God’s wrath satisfied towards sinners.[4] The atonement is one of a propitiatory nature in which God’s wrath is satisfied by the offering that was made.

The nature of the atonement described in Scripture must be defined with the proper hermeneutic by Scripture with the proper authorial intent to establish the correct foundational understanding so it can serve to be the basis of truth in contrast to the theories that will be discussed. Atonement is the work Christ did in His life and death to earn our salvation.[5] This is a broad definition of atonement but there are several important terms that are related to atonement to fulfill the true definition by Scripture. Penal atonement pertains to the satisfaction of the wrath of God against sin. This is seen in the Garden with Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:13-19), as mankind has fallen into the world system and has been blinded (Eph. 2:2; 2 Cor. 4:4). Substitutionary is defined as Christ being a substitution for sinners to die in their place to cover their sins (Jn. 10:11; Mark 10:45). This is based on the Old Testament sacrificial system of animal sacrifice that was made for their transgressions. Christ’s blood was the propitiation of sin so that God would be just in His punishment of sin. Christ was the sacrifice on our behalf (2 Cor. 5:21) that He gave up Himself (Luke 22:19). So we can deduce from Scripture that the atonement is a substitutionary penal atonement which was the Lord Jesus Christ dying on our place for us a shameful death, bearing our curse, enduring our pain, suffering the wrath of his own Father in our place.[6] Another term for penal substitution is vicarious atonement where Christ was the vicar or a substitute for another who are His elect.

Various Views on Atonement

Throughout theological history, there have been many liberal and conservative theological scholars involved in the debates over what exactly happened on the Cross. The biggest concern that astonishes many past historians and those of our current era, is the question of the violence of the atonement and the misunderstanding of “penal substitutionary atonement”.Theologians have gone outside the Scripture to develop their theories and have replaced the truth of Scripture with personal insight. The evangelical community alone has within it many who hold to the various theories that were developed in the previous generations. Hence, the conundrum or enigma we find ourselves in today.

If we look at the history of the theories of atonement we will find a vast array of opinions that differ in their views causing serious implications to the reasons for the atonement driving a wedge, per se, between many theological camps. If one is to study what some of these theories they contend one will be able to see how the originators influenced many denominations and even the evangelical church today with deep-rooted fallacies on the doctrine of the atonement. All views are based on their personal understanding of the New Testament documentation and rendering of imagery or conceptual metaphors they have come to believe.[7] The history of the church and the changing historical and social atmosphere outside the church have also influenced these viewpoints to find its place in historical theology. Theories of atonement include Christus Victor, ransom theory, satisfaction theory, penal substitution, moral influence, moral government, scapegoat and vicarious repentance. Acknowledging the vast amount of theories that exist today, it is troubling to think that many will have their theology shaped by one of these theories. The various views are discouraging knowing the many false implications that indeed rob the truth that Scripture has documented from God Himself.

One such popular non-violent theory is the Christus Victor theory. This theory contends with the ideology that the atonement of Christ was required to pay a sort of ransom to the devil. Since the fall, Adam and Eve drove humanity into the devils’ dominion. Christ was the Victor against evil and God reconciles the world to Himself.[8] The Gustaf Aurlen’s publication of Christus Victor in 1931 coined the term and with it drew much attention in the church communities.[9] The Christus Victor view is rooted in the incarnation and how Christ entered into human misery and wickedness and thus redeemed it. Prior to Gustaf’s publication, the ransom theory was regarded the dominant theory for almost a thousand years. The Christus Victor theory is seen as a non-violent view of the atonement in many camps. Viewing the atonement through these lens distorts the very message of the Cross and what is truly required for the propitiation. This ideology fails to follow Scripture. It follows the societal worldview of violence during certain eras clouding their mind where they cannot make the connection with the true meaning of atonement. It is a man-made theory of atonement not based on any proper hermeneutical basis.

Growth in appreciation of the Christus Victor theory in Western civilization has been influenced by the moral model or the Moral Theory whose views on sin and evil have become shallow.[10] As social movements are popularized in society the view of the substitutionary atonement is taking a back seat, if you will. with the Protestant denominations incorporating personal and even spiritual dimensions to define the atonement. This unclear reasoning influenced by the world’s opinion has created a wrong anthropological view. It is as if humanity has been relieved of its true nature.

In 1961, there was a publication named Deceit, Desire and the Novel written by Rene Girard. Girard was a French historian, philosopher of social science in the tradition of anthropological Philosophy. This book had introduced a theory that has impacted the view of atonement. This ideology is called “mimesis” or better understood as imitation. This pertains to human actions and how imitative acts happen between people. Gerard believed that violence in society could be better understood by studying the patterns of humans. Gerard argument is that humans are competitive rivals who mimetically imitate one another because we seek the same goal, object or agenda. We do not know what to desire so we watch other people and imitate their desires.[11]  Seeing how the philosophical influence of Girard’s theories on doctrines of the Bible has shaped many of the beliefs of today’s theologians is alarming.

Girard’s theory has aided in reinforcing the nonviolent atonement theory. Citing that rivalries in relationships developed by the imitation of one another, they become so intense that murder spreads throughout the whole community.[12] As the mimetic rivalries escalate, to the point of irresolvable conflict the only solution is to redirect their violence against a separate victim, the scapegoat. The communities find reconciliation as the transfer all their hostilities on the one victim going from an all against all to an all against one. Girard’s view of Romans 1 about God’s wrathful judgment, he describes it not as God’s judgment as much as it is a result of human action upon themselves. The Cross was necessary for exposing mimetic violence ending inherent judgment on the violent structures of life. Jesus was the outsider, the marginalized and the victim. Girard, prior to his death, continued to write many publications supporting his view of Mimesis and developing a wrong view of God which has had a rather large impact on theology and Christian circles dividing denominations. His false views are shown over these works beg to ask “what kind of God is He if he is violent” quickly running to the popularized version of God stating that God is loving and merciful, how could He be violent?

View of Michael Hardin

Looking at Christus Victor, we can clearly see how this movement caused many to see God the Father as some evil governmental ruler where He is trying to prevent evil by violent measures and actions. As Christianity continues to clash with culture, it can be seen in the works of Michael Hardin in his publication “The Jesus Driven Life”. Hardin states, “Just as Hebrews 10:5-8 says, this coming was not to be a sacrifice but was the opposite, it was anti-sacrificial. Jesus did not come to fulfill the logic of the sacrificial system (either Jewish or pagan) but to expose it and put an end to its reign in our lives.”[13]

Hardin cuts way short of the passage to support his translation leaving out verses 9 and 10 which are the main points that highlight the ineffectiveness of the old covenant system which was being been replaced by the new covenant which will accomplish the propitiation once and for all.[14]

Hebrews illustrates the atonement clearly describing the graphic details allowing us to grasp the actions that were delivered to Christ on our behalf. In the tenth chapter and verse twenty, it states that “by a new and living way He inaugurated for us through the veil which is His body”(Heb. 10:20). The word for “new” is πρόσφατον which carries the meaning of something newly killed.[15] This describes that Christ’s death as the veil was torn which was His body and was torn so that we would have access to the Holy of Holies (Matt. 27:51). The veil in the Old Testament Tabernacle was the object that was placed between man and God in His holy place in the Temple (Heb. 9:3). Christ symbolizing the veil was torn or ripped in two signifying the removal of the old way making a new way so that access to God through His death might be available by His death. This graphic representation describes the violent nature of the work on the Cross.

Making Scripture the source of all truth is the proper presupposition. Many of the issues surrounding false views of biblical doctrine are credited to not having the proper view of Scripture. The differences in the theories of atonement are based on flawed biblical interpretation. Not having the presupposition that the Bible is all truth and infallible creates a scenario that will negate any truthful conclusions on doctrines in the Bible. Many have and will continue to develop theological theories outside the Word of God. This problem has plagued proper theological understanding and shows no signs of slowing down. But there must be a presupposition on the violence of the Cross by Scripture and not by man-made assumptions based on social or moral thinking of Western society. As Hardin and many other nonviolent theorists elude to making God out to be a cosmic child abuser who allowed His Son to die for others, there must be a proper Christology formed by proper exegesis. A skewed presupposition will result in a skewed theology.

View of Joel Green

These views of nonviolent atonement as derived from social perspectives and not following the proper contextual analysis of Scripture. Many believe that the context of what is pertaining to the atonement through deep historical criticism As per the nonviolent theorists, the violence of the eras shaped the theology of the penal substitutionary atonement. As the Western cultural thinking has been shaped by freedom, the effectiveness of the false ideologies is thriving. Looking through history we see the violence-stricken cultures of the past and their view on the atonement. It is imaginable to see where those holding a nonviolent atonement can support their views of nonviolent atonement by social or moral influences.

Joel Green, the Dean of the School of Theology and New Testament professor at Fuller Seminary and a well-published author, has written several publications on the view of the Moral Theory and Christus Victor. In his opinion on the substitutionary penal atonement, Green is adamant about his disagreement with this doctrine of atonement. Green develops his view on atonement outside the Scriptures and more so by humanity and their worldview. Green states “one image or model of the atonement is simply inadequate to communicate all that God has done and continues to do on the Cross”.[16] He makes mention that we need to see the atonement in another light stating “that it has less to do with exegesis and historical theology and more to do with the cultural narrative in the West and its emphasis on individualism and mechanism.[17] Green also believes that the legal language of Scripture has been derived from the Western view of the judicial system.and has hampered the true view of atonement.

Green’s prejudicial use of Scripture to support his theories are common among those developing their own theology. The liberal theologians are usually looking for what is not in Scripture and implementing their interpretations instead of looking at what is in Scripture and following it. Dr. Farnell states it clearly “methodology determines theology and an unorthodox methodology will produce an unorthodox theology. Green uses several verses to prove his nonviolent theory in the way the New Testament writers portray Christ, such as how Paul and John refer to Jesus not using the term sacrifice. Paul, using (1 Cor. 5:7), calls Christ the Passover Lamb. John in his Gospel uses the term the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (Jn. 1:29; Jn 1:36; Rev. 5:6). The list continues as Green uses this technique to draw attention away from the truth. Using these verses, is it possible to look at these without any reference to the Old Testament? The Old Testament is explicit in the explanation of the atoning work of the Messiah in the Law, the psalms and by prophetic authorship.

Looking at Green’s use of Paul’s and John’s language omitting any vocabulary that would make any claims to the penal substitutionary atonement, we can see where Paul depicts Christ as an offering and a sacrifice (Eph. 5:2). Paul also describes Christ as our Passover being sacrifice where Paul uses the Passover ritual which was a sacrificial system that was celebrated since the exodus from Egypt. Green summarizes this verse including verses 1-13 as a whole telling that Paul’s allusion is that the Corinthians are set apart from the bondage of sin a distinct people of God. In Romans 8:3 Paul tells of how God offered His Son, speaking of Jesus, as an offering for sin in that for all Christians are considered by God to have fully met the law’s demand because of Christ’s obedience on our behalf.[18] Paul also expresses Jesus Christ as a servant to the Jew first then to the Gentiles. For Green to take this view is to say that he cannot make the connection from the Old Testament to the New Testament. The practices or rituals that were given in the Old Testament pertaining to sacrifice for atonement are seen in the New Testament. Wondering why such an intelligent scholar such as Green can make this simple deduction but most likely refuses to do so since it does not fit his ideology. His view on the use of “blood” in the Pauline texts ( Rom. 3:25; Eph. 1:7; 2:13; Col. 1:20) should be understood symbolically that the execution of Jesus was not markedly bloody.[19] He also makes the assumption that in these texts that Paul speaks of the efficacy of the terms as an exchange where sin and death were transferred to the sacrificial victim, following the nonviolent view supported by Girard’s mimetic theory of Jesus being a victim of an angry Father.Green believes that the metaphor here is more an economic (exchange) rather than penal (satisfaction).Joel Green asserts “that penal substitution “divorces Jesus’ life from the passion event, as though the only significant thing about Jesus was his death. Jesus was born in order to die.”[20] Green speaking on the penal substitutionary view says, “it neglects what we know historically, fails to account for the nature of the witness of the New Testament itself, diminishes the significance of the incarnation, and unacceptably truncates the portrait of faithful human life as the imitation of Christ.”[21]

Proper View of Atonement

Looking at Scripture properly with the correct hermeneutics, we will be able to form a sound argument for penal substitutionary atonement. In the Old Testament, it is depicted in the fall in the Garden where Adam and Eve were tempted, sinned and disobeyed God, (Gen 3:1-24). The fall caused all humanity to be cursed with death as to the consequence of their sin against God (Rom. 6:23). All humanity was given a verdict of guilt and assumed the debt due to the original sin by Adam. As humanity in their wickedness continued to sin and by their disobedience, God’s judgment and wrath were imputed to mankind except for Noah and his family (Gen. 6). This course of action taken by God pouring out His wrath on all the earth by the flood shows His might in a violent partaking.

By God’s perfection of love, He made a way of escape from death by the sacrificial system He supplied for all mankind. Looking at Exodus we see the Passover which required a spotless sacrificial lamb to be slaughtered and the blood to be wiped on the doorpost of each Hebrew dwelling to escape God’s judgment and death on Egypt (Ex. 12:7-13). This signifies that there was a requirement of blood to be spilled and a death. The initial atonement model was given by God displaying an atoning power to this ritual.[22] Passover was commanded to be observed annually where the sacrificial system was still in place in remembrance of the freedom from the bondage from Egypt of God’s people. The sacrificial system became a part of the Israelites life embedded in the lives of the generations that followed.

The Levitical sacrificial system has expanded the ritual that was first shown in Exodus. There was a burnt offering and a fellowship or peace offering (Lev. 1:3-17). There was also the sin offering (Lev. 4:1-35) and the guilt offering (Lev. 5:14-6:7). In each offering, there were similarities in each instance. The animal had to have no blemish representing moral purity. There had to be the placing of hands on the animal’s head showing identification with the victim and the transfer of sins penalty. There had to be death as a required punishment for sin. The sprinkling of blood on the altar by the priest had to be done representing the life of the victim. Finally, the burning of the animal to send the fragrance to God as a pleasing sweet aroma. All this was executed to restore the relationship between God and man to propitiate God’s wrath. The term atonement used in the Old Testament was associated with bloodshed. It was a violent partaking where the death of an animal was certain to pay the ransom. God ordained this system in His love to restore man to Himself. A just and holy God cannot allow sin to go without penalty. Although the sacrificial system was a ritual that paid for sin it did not allow for salvation. The Old Testament salvation was still obtained by faith. These practices were moralistic but not salvific.

The Old Testament view of the Cross can be seen in Psalm 22 as David, the writer depicts the crucifixion. Some have labeled Psalm 22 the “Psalm of the Cross” since it has many references to the execution but more so the crucifixion. This psalm is not one of David’s pain but of Christ. In the days of David, there was no crucifixion taking place so it was a foreign act to him. This makes one think that David’s message here is a prophetic picture to illustrate the suffering to be endured by Jesus as He pays for our sins on the Cross making this not only prophetic but also messianic.[23]

In Isaiah 53, the prophetic depiction of what was to come in regards to Christ and the Cross were given in great detail. Verses (1-3) speak of His suffering as is noted in the third verse, we see the symbolism of Christ illustrated as being despised and forsaken by men who suffered for our transgressions. The verse also tells of Christ as being a man of sorrow knowing grief. To gain a greater understanding of the impact of this passage a look at the word for sorrow in the Hebrew original text is מַכְאֹב or “makav” which takes the meaning or sorrow or full of pain.[24] The verse gives a future view of what happened during Passion week where Jesus Christ was despised as an unwanted man not important enough that the nation did not esteem Him.

As the passage continues, verses (4-9) speak of His penal substitutionary atoning death. It is remarkable to see what unfolds in the fourth verse where to actions of God upon His Son were foretold. Isaiah 53:4 states, “Surely our 1griefs He Himself abore, And our 2sorrows He carried; Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken, Smitten of God, and afflicted.” This verse shows that Christ would be taking upon Himself our griefs, which are our infirmities and sorrows spoken of as Christ’s healing power. In the New Testament, the Gospel of Matthew references Isaiah 53:4 about the healing ministry work of Christ (Matt. 8:16-17). The healing ministry has a view of how illnesses are the direct cause of sin. In the second portion of the verse, we see how the people viewed Christ as the descriptive word used is “stricken” which carries a deeper meaning in the Hebrew text as being touched and afflicted pictured as He was sickened or better translated to be touched violently. The rendering of this word  נגע [25]“naga”, has a nature of action that describes fierce and brutal treatment. Adding to the punishment picture, with the use of “smitten” of God, Isaiah uses נכה[26] “nakah” which shows a drastic picture of one being beaten or struck in the head. Rounding out the verse is the term afflicted or humiliated. The violence of this scene is clear and also being cross-referenced in the New Testament writers. The point that the people saw Christ as stricken has New Testament implications where they believe that Christ was carrying His own sins denying His innocence (Matt. 27:24; Luke 23:4, 14, 22; Jn. 18:38).

The climax of the passage pertaining to the violent substitutionary penal atonement is found in verse five in Isaiah. Verse five is very clear on the atonement of Christ and how this was completed. With violent language with terms such as pierced through, crushed for, chastening for and His encouraging. All terms used for the description of violent actions acted upon another. Tagging along these violent terms is the language of the reasoning behind the actions. Our transgressions and our iniquities are terms which describe the need, the requirement or the propitiation for sin. The penal propitiation, the payment or punishment of crimes committed resulting in the restoration of mankind to God is explained in this verse. It is the use of these terms that were carried over to the New Testament writers to describe the activities that surrounded the crucifixion of Christ (Rom. 4:25; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 9:28; 1 Peter 2:28, 3:18).

In verse six the term “fall” in the English translation does not give a good rendering of the Hebrew word פגע “paga” as it should be translated as to let something hurt someone. As this verse unfolds where it tells of how all of our sins that were placed on Christ by God taking the full weight of all believers’ sins upon the Son. In verse eight, there is another descriptive word in English “stroke” where the stroke was due as it is written should be understood as afflicted and tormented. As Isaiah brings the prophecy to an end, inspired by the Holy Spirit, Isaiah tells of how all the anguish and suffering that Jesus endured our behalf satisfied God’s wrath. The payment was accepted in full. A once for all sacrifice was satisfied and justified (Isa. 53:11).

The New Testament is vivid in its description of the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Cross-referencing the Old Testament time and time again the writers of the 26 books of the New Testament are referencing the violent act of the blood that was spilled on our behalf. Looking at the word “blood”, it is used three times more than the word cross. It is a vital ingredient of the sacrifice. The author of Hebrews goes into graphic detail about the sacrifice of Jesus using the word “blood”, Jesus’s blood, in 15 verses in Hebrews (2:14; 9:7, 12, 13, 14, 18, 20, 21, 22; 10:19, 29; 12:24; 13:12, 20)  . The death of Christ was a sacrifice and this sacrifice was tailored from the Old Testament sacrificial system that was a bloody scene.

Conclusion

The New Testament writers were well versed in the Old Testament writings and looked upon these vital inspired Scriptures as the support to what they had witnessed in the life and crucifixion of Jesus Christ. As the prophecy in Isaiah 53 comes to an end, the complete salvific plan of God is revealed as it came to pass in the New Testament. The crucifixion was violent and bloody as depicted in the Levitical sacrificial systems. It is this system that was carried out in the ritual manner which was prophesied in the Old Testament. The animal sacrificial system was not volitional, where the animals decided to be sacrificed but it was the volition of Christ to knowingly suffer the agonizing punishment that He knew was to come as per the Old Testament sacrificial system.

The atoning work of Christ on the Cross was penal and substitutionary. It was marred by violent actions. God’s wrath was poured out unto Him, with the weight of all sins committed by His elect, to bare. There are many scholars today that have taken the truth of Scripture and distorted the writings arriving at false conclusions of the atonement. By means of poor hermeneutics, exegesis and historical criticism a plethora of scholars has veered off the path of truth. They cite that we cannot assume that the penal system of the New Testament mirrored the Old Testament ritual sacrifices to the letter. They also hold to their view that how the Western world views the judicial system influences their understanding of the atonement leading to the penal substitutionary atonement. view. More philosophical and scientific analysis ideologies have crept into the Liberal theology mainstream causing the symbiotic relationship between the two worlds of study to produce unbiblical views. The influence of these scholars and theologians has made its way into the church and biblical teaching institutions which has damaged many minds producing bad theology.The greatest concern for the church today how this wrong view will continue to gain traction in liberal theology circles but more so, in the Evangelical community.

 

 

Bibliography

Abbott-Smith, G. A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament. Forgotten Books, 2016.

Aulen, Gustaf. Christus Victor: An Historical Study of the Three Main Types of the Idea of Atonement. Translated by A. G. Herbert. Eugene, Or: Wipf & Stock Pub, 2003.

Baker, Mark D., and Joel B. Green. Recovering the Scandal of the Cross: Atonement in New Testament and Contemporary Contexts. 02 edition. Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic, 2011.

Bartlett, Anthony. Cross Purposes: The Violent Grammar of Christian Atonement. 1 edition. Harrisburg, Pa: Bloomsbury T&T Clark, 2001.

Boice, James Montgomery. Psalms Voume 1: Psalms 1-41. Pbk. Ed edition. Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Books, 2005.

Demarest, Bruce, and John S. Feinberg. The Cross and Salvation: The Doctrine of Salvation. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2006.

Grudem, Wayne. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Leicester, England : Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 1994.

Hardin, Michael, Walter Wink, Brian McLaren, Brad Jersak, and Tony Bartlett. The Jesus Driven Life: Reconnecting Humanity with Jesus. Second edition. Lancaster, PA: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015.

Holladay, William Lee. A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament: Based upon the Lexical Work of Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner. Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans Pub Co, 1972.

Jeffery, Steve, Michael Ovey, Andrew Sach, and John Piper. Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution. Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2007.

Jr, John F. MacArthur. Hebrews: New Testament Commentary. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1983.

Koehler, Ludwig, and Walter Baumgartner. The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, 2 Volume Set. Translated by M. E. J. Richardson. Study Guide edition. Leiden ; Boston: Brill Academic Pub, 2002.

Lane, William L., John D. W. Watts, and Ralph P. Martin. Hebrews. Edited by David Allen Hubbard and Glenn W. Barker. S.l.: Zondervan, 2017.

MacArthur, John, ed. NASB, MacArthur Study Bible, Bonded Leather, Black. Updated edition. Place of publication not identified: Thomas Nelson, 2006.

MacArthur, John, and Richard Mayhue, eds. Biblical Doctrine: A Systematic Summary of Bible Truth. Wheaton, Illinois: Crossway, 2017.

New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition by D. A. Carson/R. T. France/Alec Motyer/Gordon J. Wenham (Eds.) (29-Apr-1994) Hardcover. Revised edition edition. IVP, 1994.

Sanders, John, ed. Atonement and Violence: A Theological Conversation. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2006.

“Violence and Religion: Cause or Effect?” The Hedgehog Review. Accessed November 13, 2017. http://www.iasc-culture.org/THR/THR_article_2004_Spring_Girard.php.

Waltke, Bruce K., and Charles Yu. An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach. Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2007.

[1]Mark 14:22-24 mirrors this idea where Chrst offered Himself in body and blood as the new covenant

[2] Steve Jeffery et al., Pierced for Our Transgressions: Rediscovering the Glory of Penal Substitution (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2007), 43

[3] William Lee Holladay, A Concise Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament: Based upon the Lexical Work of Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Eerdmans Pub Co, 1972), 163

[4] Bruce K. Waltke and Charles Yu, An Old Testament Theology: An Exegetical, Canonical, and Thematic Approach (Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 2007). P. 382

[5] Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Leicester, England : Grand Rapids, Mich: Zondervan, 1994). P. 568

[6] Jeffery et al., Pierced for Our Transgressions, 21

[7] John Sanders, ed., Atonement and Violence: A Theological Conversation (Nashville: Abingdon Press, 2006), viii

[8] Gustaf Aulen, Christus Victor: An Historical Study of the Three Main Types of the Idea of Atonement, trans. A. G. Herbert (Eugene, Or: Wipf & Stock Pub, 2003), 4

[9]Aulen,.20

[10] Sanders, Atonement and Violence, 90

[11] “Violence and Religion: Cause or Effect?,” The Hedgehog Review, accessed November 13, 2017, http://www.iasc-culture.org/THR/THR_article_2004_Spring_Girard.php.

[12] Sanders, Atonement and Violence, 130

[13] Michael Hardin et al., The Jesus Driven Life: Reconnecting Humanity with Jesus, second edition (Lancaster, PA: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform, 2015).

[14] Hardin reduces the passage in order to tailor his assumption

[15] G. Abbott-Smith, A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament (Forgotten Books, 2016), 388

[16] Mark D. Baker and Joel B. Green, Recovering the Scandal of the Cross: Atonement in New Testament and Contemporary Contexts, 02 edition (Downers Grove, Ill: IVP Academic, 2011), 238

[17] Baker and Green, 42

[18] New Bible Commentary: 21st Century Edition by D. A. Carson/R. T. France/Alec Motyer/Gordon J. Wenham (Eds.) (29-Apr-1994) Hardcover, Revised edition edition (IVP, 1994). Accordance Software

[19] Baker and Green, Recovering the Scandal of the Cross, 77

[20] Accessed November 13, 2017. http://www.etsjets.org/files/JETS-PDFs/53/53-3/Williams_JETS_53-3_pp_579-599.pdf

[21]  Ibid 580

[22] Bruce Demarest and John S. Feinberg, The Cross and Salvation: The Doctrine of Salvation (Wheaton, Ill: Crossway, 2006), 169

[23] James Montgomery Boice, Psalms Voume 1: Psalms 1-41, Pbk. Ed edition (Grand Rapids, Mich: Baker Books, 2005), 191

[24] Ludwig Koehler and Walter Baumgartner, The Hebrew and Aramaic Lexicon of the Old Testament, 2 Volume Set, trans. M. E. J. Richardson, Study Guide edition (Leiden ; Boston: Brill Academic Pub, 2002).Accordance Software

[25] Koehler and Baumgartner.

[26] Koehler and Baumgartner.

 

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1 Kings 13 “No Excuses”

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If you have ever read 1 Kings 13, you will know the story of the “man of God” and King Jeroboam.  The man of God came as a messenger of God to deliver a message to the King Jeroboam.  Verse 3 says “he gave a sign the same day, saying, “aThis is the 1sign which the LORD has spoken, ‘Behold, the altar shall be split apart and the 2ashes which are on it shall be poured out.’”  When Jeroboam stretched out his hand to the man of God it was still or frozen in place and he could not move it and the altar split as the man of God said it would..  After pleading with the man of God to ask God for restoration of his arm, it was.  Jeroboam was so pleased he invited the man of God to his house but the man of God was given a command from God in the following verses:

8 But the man of God said to the king, “If you were to give me half your house I would not go with you, nor would I eat bread or drink water in this place. 9 “For so it was commanded me by the word of the LORD, saying, ‘You shall eat no bread, nor drink water, nor return by the way which you came.’” 10 So he went another way and did not return by the way which he came to Bethel.  

Given this command from God, the man of God did so and was obedient to God’s command and went on his way.  As the chapter moves ahead, we see the man of God meets with and old prophet in verse 11 who heard about the deeds that the man of God had done in Bethel.  The old prophet invites the man of God to his home and eat bread.  The man of God replies with the command that he received from God in verses 8-10.  The old prophet devised a trick or a lie to get the man of God to his house by telling him that he had a revelation from an angel in verse 18 that he was to bring back the man of God to his house.  The man of God fell for the lie and joined the old prophet in his house.

The word of the LORD came to the old prophet telling him of the demise for breaking the command God had given him.  After hearing this, the man of God had got on a donkey and departed only to find a lion waiting for him on the road and killed him.  The donkey did not run off in fear nor did the lion devour the man of God into pieces but only slayed him and all three were on the road, the dead, the lion and the donkey.

As the chapter continues, the old prophet retrieves the body and tells his sons to bury him in his grave and when the time comes for his departure to bury him in the same grave as the man of God.  After hearing this, Jeroboam, who had seen for himself the grace that God bestowed him restoring his arm from before, did not change his evil ways and continued to do what was evil in the eyes of the LORD.

 No Excuses

The point here that we see with the man of God has been seen all throughout the Old Testament and the New Testament record.  We can go as far back as the fall in the Garden where Adam and Eve were the first humans to disobey God’s commands (Gen. 3).  Following the next generation with Cain and Able (Gen. 4).  We can follow along in Genesis and see the progression of disobedience leading to the flood and Noah (Gen. 6:9-8:22).  Throughout history, man has rebelled against God and those have suffered dearly and the lost who never came to faith and repentance perished.  As for those who had faith but did not follow the commands of God and His Law were dealt with swiftly and God, being perfect, just and right, must hold to His standards which at times results in punishment of those He loves.

But in this case, the man of God was told a lie by the old prophet.  It was not his fault, he just followed the lie.  In today’s times, we are faced with so much information via all media devices and most this information is full of lies.  Even if we tune into most Christian programs on the TV, radio or internet, there is still a danger to what we find putting into our heads.

We must be very careful what we watch and listen to and who we listen to.  The local pastor, as well meaning as he is, may not be properly trained to deliver the proper rendering of God’s Word.  Even for salvation, the wrong Gospel is out there being preached all day long to people seeking Jesus.  Although most those seeking Jesus might be wanting to follow for the wrong reasons, there are those who genuinely are seeking to follow Him to establish a relationship and avoid the eternal hell that awaits the unbeliever.  That is why we need to be like the Bereans who searched Scripture to see of what they were being told was true (Acts 17:11).  Do not be lazy and just take anyone’s word for it, test them.  We must rely only on God and what His Word tells us.

Romans 1:20 tells us that man is without excuse.  God has revealed Himself in general revelation with all He has created all around us.  So, belief in God and Christ is required.  When the lost come to face judgment, and are face to face with God, there will be no excuses that God will listen to for not having faith and coming to repentance from their sins.  We cannot give excuses that we heard a false Gospel from a shady preacher or we were lied to by a heretical denomination of false religion all together.  The man of God was lied to by an old prophet and suffered greatly just by not following God’s command.

We must guard ourselves from attacks from the adversary.  Satan is working hard and as we see society in its current state, he has plenty of listeners following false teachers or not following at all.  We must be saturated in the Word of God and search for truths for ourselves working on our relationship with Christ following as He has commanded us to do.  There are no excuses as we seen in His Word.

Psalm 1:4-6

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Psalm 1:4-6
The wicked are not so,
But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
5 Therefore the wicked will not stand in the
judgment,
Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.
6 For the LORD knows the way of the righteous,
But the way of the wicked will perish.

 

Introduction
As we look at the last 3 verses of Psalm 1, we must keep in mind what the first three verses have revealed to us. In the first verse, God’s Word showed us what the blessed person or a child of God is not to be doing with regards of seeking wisdom from the wicked. The regression or downward spiral begins with the advice that has been given to
the believer from an unbeliever then it begins to corrupt the believer’s thinking finally bringing him to be just as the unbeliever. We then saw how the believers has peace and joy delighting in the Word or Law of the Lord.  Finally, we saw how the believer was once a tree malnourished in a land of famine as the landscape of Israel to be transplanted in Christ who provides all the nourishment for growth and fruitfulness as he comes to faith in Him.
We now see in the final three verses, the contrast of the blessed in the life and death of the wicked. The process of what is to come for the wicked is shown to us here. See the contrast between the believer and the wicked:
The Blessed:                                                         The Wicked:
His Warning (vs. 1)                                             The Physical Destruction (vs. 4)
His Peace and Joy (vs. 2)                                   The Judicial Demise (vs. 5)
His Life (vs. 3)                                                     The Penalty of Death (vs. 6)

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Conclusion

This Psalm was put in this place as the first Psalm in order to start off the Psalter (whole book of Psalms) in a way that glorifies God.  It also serves as a general outlook for the whole Psalter and the Bible.  Contrasting or comparing the two ways of life, Psalm 1 shows us the outcome for the believer and the wicked non believing rebel.

As believers, we need to realize what an amazing gift that has been given to us through Jesus Christ.  May we never forget the price that was paid for this gift.  We must also find our delight as being Christians by staying in God’s Word daily and love His Law.   Not that we are in bondage to the Law but that we study His Word.  We find wisdom that we are seeking in God’s Word.  Scripture is the water and nutrients we need to sustain a Christian life and to bear fruit.

For those who do not believe in Christ or have not come to faith, your path has been written is detail here.  The life that the unbelievers are living now is their best life, although hollow and empty, it s all they have.  The worst is yet to come for them.

The truth spoken of here in Psalm 1 are the 2 detailed outcomes for the two lives that either believe by faith or those who refuse to believe.  These are the “Blessed and the Condemned”.

May I ask you today, which one are you?

Psalm 1:1-3

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Psalm 1:1-3

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,
Nor stand in the path of sinners,
Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!
But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.
He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.

What does it mean to be blessed or to have a blessed life?  What is it saying when we read the Bible and see blessed is the man, blessed is he or however the term, blessed is used.  We will be looking at Psalm 1 verses 1-3, which will shed some light and answer this question.

 Introduction:

When we discuss the whole book of containing all the Psalms, we call this the psalter.  Old Testament, is comprised of 39 books which were broken into 5 sections dividing the Word of God into books pertaining to their use.  The first 5 books were what is known as the Pentateuch.  The Pentateuch contains Genesis, Exodus, Levitcus Numbers and Deuteronomy.  The focus of these books, also called the Law, was exactly that.  It was the Laws that God gave His people through the writing of Moses.  The next section was known as the 12 books of History.  Following this would be the 5 books of poetry, wisdom and praise.  The next 5 books were the Major Prophets and winding the Old Testament up with the Minor Prophets in the final 12 books.

With a short look at the history of the Old Testament, we have a picture of how these books play into the history of God and His people.  If we look at the books that make up the Psalms, or the Psalter, they are characterized as Poetic but we see all the different types of genres of literature in the Bible.  Such as Historical Narrative, Gospel, Apocalyptic, Epistle, Prophecy, Psalms and the Law.  We will see that the Psalter is divided into 5 different books.

  1. The Book of Psalms is then subdivided into five smaller books:
  2. Book I: 1-41 David’s conflict with Saul 1-41
  3. Book II: 42-72 David’s kingship 42-72
  4. Book III: 73-89 The Assyrian crisis 73-89
  5. Book IV: 90-106 Introspection about the destruction of the temple and the Exile 90-106
  6. Book V: 107-150 Praise and Reflection on the Return and the new era 107-150

 

Since we are looking at a portion of Psalm 1, we should get a general idea about the whole book and its characteristics.  We know that there are 150 books in the Psalms written by David, Moses, Solomon, the sons of Korah, sons of Asaph, Ethan and Ezrahite as well as several other authors who are unknown.

While praise and prayer characterize the Psalms as a whole, they may be categorized as: Praise Historical, Relational, Imprecatory, Penitential, and Messianic.

Psalms are written as poems, songs, expression of worship, prayer and praise.  Psalms serve as doxological writings which are to give God praise and there are praises to God in the end of each Psalm. By reading the Psalms, we begin to see the true perfections of God.

The Theological Principle of Psalms: The Lord, who sovereignly rules the universe, will establish His just rule on the earth in and through his people whereupon the righteous will prosper and the wicked will suffer.  Psalm 1 is the preview of this truth.

Vs. 1.  The Word of the Wicked

What we see here in the very first Psalm is the contrast between the righteous and the wicked.  The Psalmist writes this to show the cause and effect of following and not following God’s will.  It is interesting the note here that in the Hebrew text, the first word in this Psalm is asher which begins with “a” meaning happy and it finishes with the last word “tobed” which begins with the letter “t” meaning perish being the last letter in the Hebrew alphabet. This style of writing is called an Acrostic.  So we see the style of the writer here who writes with some organization with respect to the alphabet order also apparent in the meaning of the words which begins with a positive note of blessed to a negative note of one perishing.

Psalm 1, is the beginning of the Psalter but it was not the first Psalm written.  The first actual Psalm ever written was by Moses, Psalm 90.  Some scholars say this took place while Moses was in the wilderness during the 40 years.  It is also the only Psalm attributed to Moses.  But as it was developed, the Psalms were structured with some sort of organization by a thematic system.  The first 2 Psalms are in Book 1 and these 2 directly are in tune with the righteousness of God.  We will look at Psalm 1.  This Psalm is a Psalm of wisdom.

Let’s look at the first verse.

How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked,

Nor stand in the path of sinners,

Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!

The first word, asher, has a meaning of happiness or blessedness.  This is used as a particle to describe the man or subject in the phrase.  This describes the man as being happy or having blessing.  We must ask ourselves, what is the author trying to communicate to us?  We must always ask ourselves, the what and the why.  So why is the man blessed?  It says that the man is blessed who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked.  We will see why he is blessed as we unpack this verse.

What is the counsel of the wicked?  The word counsel carries the meaning of advice or counsel.  But we need to dig deeper here to fully understand what the intent is.  The counsel here is telling of what advice one receives such as anything that will have influence on that person.  Prov. 12:15 says that a wise man listens to counsel.  Prov. 19:20 says listen to counsel and accept discipline, That you may be wise the rest of your days.  So when we say counsel we automatically assume it means wisdom is found in counsel.  This verse says that the blessed man does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, meaning that the blessed man is to steer clear of the advice of the wicked.

The blessed man should never seek counsel from the wicked.  The wicked described here are those who do not know God and are living by their own worldly standards.  The wretched society outside of the kingdom of God cannot produce anything that is advantageous to a follower of God.  Their advice would be full of ungodly and sinful lusts which they believe brings them happiness.  The only advice or counsel that can come from the ungodly will lead to destruction.

Man, is blessed by not adhering to any advice given by the wicked.  This is a visual concept we have here is of anyone not listening or plugging their ears but more so that it is ignoring or a flat out disassociation with anyone who is not walking with the Lord.  Anyone outside of the kingdom should not have a place with us if we are seeking wisdom.

The wicked mentioned here describes the idea of something loose and unstable without restraints.  When it is said as being loose, it refers to someone with no morals or no boundaries of morality.  There is nothing that keeps them in line.  Therefore, the wicked are doing whatever they feel openly and freely.  There are no guilty feelings.  This behavior is direct rebellion against God.  No just lost souls but those who hate God and openly shake their fists at Him.

The only counsel we walk in should be found only in the Word of God or those who are walking with God.  God has given us His Word in order for us to walk uprightly and to bring Him honor and glory.  Walking or proceeding in the advice from the ungodly will only lead to misery, robbing us of any blessing or happiness we once had in close fellowship with God.

The text continues by saying that the blessed man does not stand in the path of sinners.  First we had “walk” now we have “stand”.  What does this mean?  There seems to be a progression of action here.  Walking now standing?  Stand here in the Hebrew is “amad” simply meaning stand firmly.  It is good to note here the progression as we looked at before.  The walk has turned into a stand, a firm stance.  We see that influence ungodly counsel.  We see as one walks in the poor counsel that was given and received, the behavior or natural tendency is to stand firmly in the path of sinners.  One has begun to show the traits of a sinner by taking the wicked counsel and developing patterns and habits of a sinner.

The path spoken of here is defined as the way, the road or the journey.  The wicked counsel has caused the believer to first walk then to stand in the path or way of the sinner.  The believer is on the same road as the wicked sinner.  Their conduct, behavior and habits are being modeled after the wicked.  They went from thinking like the world by taking worldly advice to the point they are now appearing like the world.

The adjective sinner describes the one who has gone against God, gone wrong, missing the goal or the target.  The target that is missed is belief in God and following His way.  Sinners are those who refuse to acknowledge God and the work of Christ that ensures all believers salvation and righteousness added to their account.  It is a conscious decision that sinners have made to act in regression and rebellion against God.

Now we see the progression has now matured into sitting in the seat of the scornful.  Walking, standing and now sitting.  The use of sitting here describes as one who sits, who dwells, to remain to stay or to tarry.  A sense of comfort has taken place in the believer’s mind.  There is a sense of contentment.

Pastoral Comment:  As we see today in many or most churches, is a complacency a status quo by so the believers.  As the world continues to spiral out of control with the loss of most all morality, believers are caving into what the world deems as the truth.  Post modernism has crept into churches and filled the minds of church goer producing a tolerant, weak, all-inclusive mentality that works in the world but does it fit with God’s Word?

The word scoffer tells of one who mocks, derides, one who scorns.  Truly, we see the one who is constantly complaining about God and His ways.  It is not only a verbal rejection but an outward display of their life filled with hate and anger.  These are those that we may encounter as believers, who ridicule our beliefs by way of comments or actions. This scoffer is the one who is drowning in their own misery but refuse to leave it by following Christ.  They love their sin so much they would rather live with so much misery and hate towards a God who loves them, then turn away from their sins and place their faith in Christ and be filled with joy and peace.

This shows us the true digression of a believer.  If we do not guard ourselves continually, we can be influenced by the world and the wickedness in it.  We must stay in the Word of God to be able to defend ourselves for the wiles of the devil (Eph. 6:11).  We have all we need in His Word to equip ourselves against the world system.  It begins with the mind.  We must protect what we put in it.  We must be reading the right things.  We must be watching the right things.  We must be in fellowship with the right people.  Believers cannot associate for any length of time with unbelievers.  We must reach out to them to fill the Great Commission but we but we need to have safe limits.  What we put in our hearts reaches our hearts.  From the heart, we then act.  If our minds are filled with wicked counsel, we will be filled in our hearts with sinful intentions which we will play out in wicked and evil actions or behavior.  Walking pertains to our minds, standing pertains to our hearts and sitting pertains to our feet or how the pattern manifests itself.

Ephesians 4:17-19 is laid out in parallel and perfect sync with Psalm 1:1.

So, what can we do to possibly avoid this scenario from happening to our own walk with God?  The only wise counsel comes from God’s Word.  We see exactly how one can protect themselves from this pathway of destruction and misery.  Now we can see why he is blessed.

 Vs. 2 The Word of God

But his delight is in the law of the Lord,
And in His law he meditates day and night.

In verse 2, we see that “his delight is in the law of the Lord”. The word delight also has the meaning of taking delight in, desiring, longing, taking good pleasure in.  God’s children are marked by their desire to learn more and more about God each day.  There should be a hunger being naturally developed in all believers.  This longing only takes place as they are in the Law of the Lord.  The Law of the Lord spoken of here is speaking about the torah which in Hebrew means Law.  The torah is the Word of God.  It was used for instruction and teaching of the Laws of God which are used to guide men by the authoritative principals found within God’s Word.

We know that the Bible is God’s Word.  God inspired writers by the ministry of the Holy Spirit to pen His Words to be given to man.  These words were God breathed, theopnuestos.  All Scripture is insured by God and profitable for teaching, reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness.” (2 Tim. 3:16).  It is our delight that is found when we are engaged in the law of the Lord or the Word of God.  Godliness is a standard that cannot be made by man but it must be the standard that God had revealed to us that we only find in His Word.

Establishing the hunger or delight for His Word can only be done by having the self-discipline to do so.  Having someone who can disciple you is priceless.  The church leader is responsible for the overall care for the flock and it is his duty to feed the flock with God’s Word.  Teaching God’s Word allows the sheep to grow.  Poor instruction, preaching and teaching will keep the flock immature, starving and malnourished.  Just as human life, spiritual growth requires the same necessities.

The word for meditate is hagah.  This verb has a meaning of someone groaning or moaning.  Uttering under their breath.  It is a process of the repetition of an idea over and over again almost talking out loud the point.  We must meditate just as this has been described.  In this prescription, it also gives us the time frame we should be meditating on God’s Word.  Looks to me as twice a day.  Day and night.  Is this a few minutes in the morning and at night?  I believe it is instructing us to meditate all day and all night if possible.  It takes the idea of taking every last drop of truth for each passage of God’s Word.  As a cow chewing cud.  Cows have four stomachs and when they chew whatever they are eating, they transfer the food from each stomach so to fully digest every last drop of nutrition from the cud.  If we meditated on a passage all day and night till we laid down to sleep, the idea of what God’s Word told us would take on a clearer dynamic and have a long and lasting impact on our lives.  Our delight would only grow and our devotion to Him would deepen. We need to approach the study of God’s Word in the same sense as the digestion process of a cow.  Meditate on it as Joshua said:

This book of the law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it; for then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have success.  Joshua. 1:8

 Vs. 3 The Word of Life

 He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water,
Which yields its fruit in its season
And its leaf does not wither;
And in whatever he does, he prospers.

 

He is like a tree.  The view of a Christian is given here as being like a tree.  The tree is a metaphor for the walk of a believer.  Think for a minute the characteristics of a tree.  The tree symbolizes stability.  But what is interesting here is that the writer uses the symbol of a tree.  Why?  He does so because the terrain of Israel was rugged and rocky, the tree symbolizes life and a blessing.  Jeremiah 17:5-8 gives an almost exact rendering of this picture of a tree telling of it physical strength where it draws its life giving source from the streams that flow beside it.  Trees are slow growing and in this slow growth, its structure becomes solid and the foundation is set in deep rooting.  Plants are frail and do not have deep strong roots such as a tree and grow fast and are short lived.  Illustrating the growth of Christian using the tree, we can develop a mental image of strength, vigor and growth.

Firmly planted by streams of water that produce fruit in its season.  The word planted in Hebrew is shatal and is translated as transplanted.  The proper rendering of shatal should be transplanted.  Planted does not exhibit the true nature of Christians but transplanted does.  Being transplanted gives a greater detail of something that was once in a specific place being uprooted and transferred to another more desirable place.  This is exactly what happens in salvation.  We were once occupying a dead empty non-fruitful environment but when we came to faith God, by His grace, He transplanted us to an environment, which is in Christ that is more adequate for strength, growth and fruitfulness.  In Christ, we have all we need for growth, He is our strength and the fruits we display are of Him by way of growing in submission, obedience and the knowledge of His Word.  If there is root there will be fruit.  Being firmly planted in Christ is like the tree by the streams firmly planted and growing deeper and deeper only producing rich and plentiful fruit.

We can see the fruits of the Spirit in Galatian 5:23.  It is an impossibility that the fruits of the Spirit can be replicated by our own abilities.  As Christians we should be displaying these fruits naturally.  Just as any fruit bearing plat, complete dependency on the nutrients is the only way the fruit can grow or even be produced.

Using an agriculture illustration.  Fruit bearing plants require water and nutrients to produce fruit.  In the case of a Christian, the nutrients or fertilizer and water is the Word of God.  No tree can even survive without water and nutrients.  Neither can a Christian survive without the Word of God.  If the fruit bearing tree receives ample amount of nutrients it grows and produces fruit just as the Christian.  With proper nutrients trees can fend off attacks from insects and diseases and are able to weather bad climate changes.  The well fed Christian can also do the same when they are experiencing adversities in their life.  The Word of God gives strength and ability to overcome bad circumstances just as a well fed tree.  The fruit of a well fed Christian will grow greater and will be able to be seen by those around them.  This is the character of Christ on display.  The key to the fruit is the root and the nutrients which is God’s Word.  Concerning the fruit, the tree does not bear fruit for itself.  It produces fruit for others.

John 15:1-7 describes God as the vinedresser, Jesus as the vine and believers as the branches.  This illustration tells of how God continues to prune and trim away branches so the vine is producing good fruit.  The branches that are not producing fruit are then cut off and thrown away and burned.  Obedience to Christ results in fruit bearing.  Those who do not will not produce fruit.

And its leaf does not wither.  Producing deep roots, producing fruit are signs of a healthy tree.  Saying that the leaf does not wither reaffirms the good health of a tree.  Leaves wither and fall off trees when the tree does not have adequate water and nutrients in the tree. The point being, the strength of the tree is shown here.  Trees often shed leaves from the older and weaker branches but this is done only to send the energy to the newer branches and leaves which will continue to produce fruit.

In that all he does he prospers.  Trusting in the Lord you are transplanted in Christ.  The Word is the nutrients and water that are required for growth.  All this is producing deep roots which produce good fruit.  The prosperity that is spoken of here does not intend that a Christian will always be prosperous but as the fruit is produced by season, so is the prosperity.  There are times that God will use circumstances that do not feel like prosperity and are painful.  There are seasons when we experience pain.  If we look back at the illustration Jesus gave us in John 15, we see that God does prune and trim and even cut off.  For a season, we may experience some pruning and it hurts.  But we need to keep our focus on what is happening and why it is happening.  No matter what we may be experiencing, no matter how tragic it may be, God is in control.  God is doing a work in us so that we may be able to glorify Him.  The prosperity comes not in the way of money or material things, that is not what is discussed here but the prosperity is our growth in Him.  As we grow we will experience the fruits of the Spirit.  This is joy in our lives.  Our healthy walk with Christ, our provisions being met by God, the joy that we have every day knowing one day we will be in glory worshipping Him, the opportunities we have to share the Good News to a lost soul, these are indicators of our prosperity.  It is not measured by material things.

 

 

Closing and Application:

-Psalm 1 verses 1-3 are packed with a treasury of truths in a Christian’s walk.  We see the awful effects of one who does not follow wise counsel.  There is a regression we see of falling back into the old sinful way of living and thinking leading to destruction and misery.

This is the pathway to destruction

 

 

-We see the pathway to joy and happiness.  Through careful study and mediation of God’s Word we can gain the wisdom that He has given by His Word.  We can align our prayers with His will.  We can draw a close and intimate communion with the Father.

This is the pathway to Joy and Happiness

 

 

-We see what a Christian life looks like.  The illustration of the tree shows us if we are properly feeding from God’s Word and drinking the water of the fresh streams we have been planted by, we will grow producing fruit and able to be witnesses for Christ.  Through the process of God’s pruning in our lives, we must be obedient and submissive to His work so that we can bear much fruit for others to see and enjoy, this is how Christians prosper in their lives.

This is the pathway to Life

John 1:1-18 Study Notes PDF

Click link to see PDF Bible Study Notes.

John1

John1:1-18
Title: The Nonnegotiable Truth: His Deity
Proposition: Jesus Christ the Word
Jesus Christ the Light and Life
Jesus Christ the Rejected and the Received
Jesus Christ the Glory and Grace

 

The importance of understanding proper doctrine and theology is not for the sole purpose of learning more about God but it also serves the purpose to learn more about you and what your life is to reflect and represent as a follower of Christ.  This study of the Gospel of John will open your eyes and mind to see the full meaning of the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Taking this walk through this book at a reasonable pace (verse by verse) will allow us to paint a picture in our minds of the life and ministry of Jesus Christ.  Please meditate on these verses as you study them and pray the verses daily and finally submit to the working of the Holy Spirit and allow him to illuminate the Word of God in a way you can understand it.

Gospel of John:  Different vantage point of the life of Christ.

Matt Mark Luke were the Synoptic Gospels.  Included accounts of healing, miracles, eschatology discourse, exorcising of demons and Narrative Parables.  John did not.

4 accounts do present Christ as the Son of Man and the Messiah (Mark 2:10; Jn. 1:51)

Son of God, God in human Flesh (Jn. 1:34; Mark 1:1)

Four refer to Christ as the Savior who came to save his people from their sins (Matt. 1:21; cf Jn. 3:16)

The author was the apostle John.  Never mentioning his name in his writing, John did however made mention of himself as “the disciple whom Jesus loved” (Jn. 21:20).

John was the only author of the Gospels to state his purpose: “But these things have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name” (Jn. 20:31).

The Gospel of John, was written to convince the readers of the true identity of Jesus Christ and present Him as God incarnate (vs. 1:1, 14; 8:23, 58; 10:30; 20:28).

John also was the author of the epistles of John and Revelation.  He was also nick named the apostle of Love since he used that word 80 times in his writings.

The New Testament allows us to see the fulfillment of what was spoken of in the Old Testament.

God’s sovereign plan of redemption which was promised in the books of the Old Testament had fulfilled these prophecies to the exact precise manner which were recorded in the New Testament.

Jesus, fully God and fully human incarnate in human flesh, was the necessary sacrifice that saves those who believe and repent.

It is in this book that John wrote, by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that God lowered Himself to our level to give us the truth by which man can be saved.

 

Click here for rest of PDF: John1

 

Under the Influence

Homeless

As I drive in LA, I see so many homeless people and lost and it makes me wonder if these people are under the influence of drugs, alcohol or demons.  Most are suffering from substance abuse  or illnesses brought upon themselves by the consequences of sinful behavior which ended up as addiction finally to have destroyed the brain and physiology of the body.  For almost a year now, I have been seeing these people.  Most are all talking to themselves and keeping conversations as if they are talking to somebody we cannot see.

This lead me to think deeper of what is really happening here.  Is this mental illness or some sort of demonic possession or control.  Being a Christian, I have to eliminate the obvious, mental illness.  I do not believe in the psychological communities development of illnesses that each of the several camps, whom all have different views on theories of illnesses, have come up with over the last few decades.  Although, I do feel that there are organic developments that effect the brain and other functions of the body that might cause the reaction of some of the psychological illnesses they proclaim.  So what is left?  Demonic possession and control.  The Bible says that we are to be sober minded, alert and under self-control (1 Peter 1:13, 1 Peter 5:8, Titus 2:6).  In 1 Peter 5:8, it even states that the devil, our adversary, is like a roaring lion seeking or on the prowl, looking for who he can devour.

My fascination with what I am seeing lead me to start watching videos of people under the influence of drugs to get a grasp of their actions so I may see a direct correlation to the bizarre behavior I see daily.  As I sat in shock as I was watching many videos of addicts on a wide assortment of drugs displaying some really bizarre behavior, it started to make sense to me and it was like a flood gate rushing in my head.

I will begin by using alcohol as my starting point.  Seems harmless compared to heroine right?  Think again.  When you drink a beer of a glass of wine, the alcohol begins to work in your brain.  It begins to make you feel relaxed, which is a top excuse for drinkers anyway but that is the moment where you lower your inhibitions.  It may not lead to a night of drinking till the wee hours of the morning but your mind has been compromised.  Your guard has been let down.  Your judgement is impaired to make proper decision especially godly decisions.  As Peter wrote, you must be sober minded.  This is an imperative that needs attention.  Be focused at all times.  We must protect our minds.  One little slip and your well on your way to so bad decision making which is driven by your pride.  Once pride takes over your mind there is no room for Biblical thinking and all the actions that we are supposed to bring honor and glory to God shifts positions and then we become the center of our focus and attention.

So I am putting this together and it occurs to me that as the consumption of alcohol and or drugs increases, there is an effect that is in direct proportion that the more you use the more your inhibitions are lowered.  Once the person has reached addiction, they have thrown almost all cares to the wind and their selfish addiction or habit has become their desire and the only one.  They become slaves to whatever they have become addicted to.  That is the consequence of sin.  The damaging effects of alcohol and drugs goes hand in hand with demonic influence and possession.  Can a Christian become a victim to addiction?  I believe they can.  A consequence of sinful behavior.  But they cannot be demon possessed.  The Holy Spirit is dwelling in them and demons cannot occupy that space where God dwells.

With almost all inhibitions gone, they have opened up themselves to be invaded by the adversary and under the influences of demons.  The voices that they hear and the invisible people they talk to, I believe, are real.  It has been said countless times that it is an invisible war and the war is for the mind.  Sadly, they have become empty shells of human carcasses.  It is so disturbing to see this played out.  They cannot seek help because they are in bondage and under the influence of demons.  It is a debilitating process and looks like it is not slowing down.  With the introduction of new types of drugs like flakka, where people are just loosing total bodily control and basically turning into flesh eating zombies.  The devil is hard at work influencing the minds of people into destruction because he know that a time is coming where Christ will return and he is hard at work at taking away as many souls for the church body as he can.  Satan is so prideful, although he knows the Word of God, he does not believe it.

So the next time you are thinking a glass of wine or a beer or champagne won’t hurt?  You better weigh it out.  All it takes is one slip and your life can have really impactful ramifications.  Like taking your eyes of the road and sending a text or a tweet, only takes a second and you could be dead.

 

The devil is crafty in that the process takes time and you cannot see it happening.  It begins so subtle with a little enticing offer to let your guard down to taste it and you get away with it.  This process begins to build your case to justify your self-centered actions.  This holds true will all sinful actions.  You start believing the lie as it is planted in your head by media or the influence of lost acquaintances.  Then you justify it then you nurture it into action.  Then it becomes who you are.  You have bought into the oldest trick the devil has and that is deception.

Therefore, we must keep our minds clear and be sober minded.  We have an adversary who is like a lion, roaming the streets looking for who he can devour.  We need to paint that image in our heads that there is a lion loose on the streets looking to kill us.  It is a difficult thing to turn away from trying to satisfy your desires and fall for the temptations that might be laid in front of you daily.  1 Corinthians 10:13 says “No temptation has overtaken you but such as is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure it.”  We all go through the same temptations.  Nobody has special designed desires apart for anyone else but God is there and assists us with this in that we do not fall for the lies of the devil or our own prideful desires.  We have been given the truth.  Our Great God has developed a way of escape for us.  When tempted we need to run from sin and run to His Word and in prayer ask for the strength to overcome this temptation.  Any sinful act no matter how small is too much because it will eventually lead to the end and destruction.

 

In Christ <><

Comparatively Speaking

It is normal in today’s society to compare yourself among the others in the crowd.  Either by looks, material possessions, who you are associated with or color of your skin, there are criteria and worldly standards in which all are used to compare one another with. Christians today, have fallen into this trap to the point far greater than those in the last few generations.  As Christians see themselves far better than the lost in society, they have distanced themselves farther from those who need Christ the most.  Sadly, these Christians are isolating themselves within their own circles.  Comparing Christians to the Pharisees whom were the elite among God’s chosen race, most have taken on this persona and don’t even know it.  But speaking of comparison within the Christian community, Christians are building themselves up by comparing themselves up into this false sense accomplishment in a sort “one upping” one another by the exterior behavior they display.  They have taken from one from society’s page and have been comparing one another by their exterior actions, words and even fashion only to show that they indeed have not done as they expected by God in pleasing and bringing the honor that is deserved to Our Great Lord.

As I was reading Ephesians 4:1, I took into every word and meditated on them and it drew me to the conclusion that as Christians we have must maintain a higher standard than anything that can be approved by man or what society may deem as good and acceptable.  When Paul, wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit in Ephesians 4, he said in the first few words “Therefore I, the prisoner of the LORD”, showing his position in relation to Jesus Christ.  The biggest issue today in Christianity is a wrong view of God and a wrong view of man.  You cannot bring God to man’s level nor can you take man up to God’s level.  As a Christian, you are basically  slave and have been bought for a price (1 Cor. 6:20).  You now belong to Christ, you are His captive prisoner.  The standard has been set by Him and how you are to handle yourself is in Scripture and there are no standards of which this world can ever claim that can be to the level God requires of His own.  The Bible dictates your position not the world.  Paul goes on and says that he “implores you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling”.  The Greek for the word for implore, is in the present tense and an imperative meaning, it is a command that action needs to be taken and needs to be taken seriously.  The imperative is not meant to be a suggestion nor an idea that you “should” do something but it is a direct order that God has demanded upon you to act on.  God’s design for your life is set in  Scripture and what is best for you has been delivered in the writings of His Word.

So what are you suppose to be taking seriously?  Your walk.  Apostle Paul continues in the verse saying how we are to conduct ourselves as Christians when he said “in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called”.  The worthy manner has to be an outward behavior that is pleasing to God on display for His glory.  It is your faith shown in times of good and times of trouble on display to the world.  The sole purpose is to show the world what Christ did on your behalf for your undeserved salvation by God’s grace.  It is not supposed to be a popularity contest but a master and slave type of relationship where your top priority in this life on earth is honoring God in all you do.

The calling which Paul described here is the calling for your salvation by God.  It is the predestination of those He has elected to be His.  He has predestined and called us before the foundations of the world (Eph. 1:4).  God called you for a reason and that is to bring Him glory.  Grasping the magnitude of this might be a challenge for our miniscule finite minds but if you can just imagine the undeserved love, mercy and grace that God extended to us who He calls His own, you might have a greater desire to shape your life in a fashion that allows God the receive all the glory and not ourselves.

This is this basis that all Christians are to be compared by, within the church body and in the world.  It is His standards that we Christians must all adhere to.  We are called to look at ourselves regularly to see if we are in the faith (2 Cor. 13:5), “Test yourselves {to see} if you are in the faith; examine yourselves! Or do you not recognize this about yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you–unless indeed you fail the test?” 

Nothing that is man made holds any weight to the standards that The Creator, Our God Almighty desires for all of His own.

 

In Christ <><

Lies: The New Truth

 

th0TZ0K1BI

Living and working in the Los Angeles area, my wife and I get the opportunity to drive around town everyday and we do see some interesting things but for the most part we see things that are pretty depressing to see.  The things we see are still somewhat of a shock to us but it seems that desensitizing has settled in America and nothing seems to be shocking anymore.

The Apostle Paul, by the influence of the Holy Spirit, wrote about these times and what was to come and America is headed down that path.  2 Timothy 3:2-4 says ” 2For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, 4treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God.”  Knowing that this was written to show a glimpse of the future, gives Christians the hope of things to come.  We are to have a watchful eye and be aware of what is happening in our surroundings (1 Peter 5:8).  We see, day-to-day, Scripture being played out before our eyes and what is happening in America is a visible and clear shift or role reversal.  Lies are the new truth.

As we see the decay continue of what was once a nation with some decent morals, we are reminded daily in social media, TV and radio how far we have drifted away for what was defined a wholesome and good.  Morality is no longer important to this society.  What is more important is self, money, boasting, etcetera just as it was written by Paul.  The things that are the norm and acceptable to this society were once never even talked about outside seedy and perverse circles.  What is in the open was once hidden to back alleys and behind closed doors.  Homosexuality was hidden and had its place in obscure places in certain parts of town.  Pornography was peddled in dark off the beaten path shops on the edge of town.  Strip club type clothing was left in the club.  All this was hidden from the daylight.  But as we see on all social media platforms, radio, TV and even in the streets in broad daylight this has become the norm.  This is what has become acceptable today, a great lie.

As this culture continues to destroy itself by going against God in complete rebellion, what we will see is a complete role reversal of good and evil.  Satan has found a good ground to war with, postmodernism and the media.  Throwing out any foundations of truth where each person’s view is acceptable to one another, Christianity will continue to be persecuted since it finds it’s foundation in truth.  Satan’s oldest trick in the book still works today and it seems it is wroking well.  Destortion of the truth is what he does and does it ever so descretely.  With the thrust of this lie that society has fallen for, Christianity will continue to be pushed out of the center of our society.  It will be pushed back into the dark alleys where once the immorality of man once dwelt.  Out of sight is where the “haters of good” want God to be.  This is no surprise to us believers because once again it was written.  2 Timothy 3:12 “Indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will be persecuted.”  To follow Jesus there is a price you will pay.  Matthew 10:22 “You will be hated by all because of My name, but it is the one who has endured to the end who will be saved.  So is it any surprise this is all happening?

We are spiraling out of control at an alarming rate today and it will only continue to gain ground.  Can God stop this?  Of course but I do not believe it will happen.  As other nations in history have fallen, they all have the same common denominator, they turned their back on God and lived by their own way allowing all forms of immorality to become the normal way of life.  This was true for each and every one of them.  In the Old testament God, in His perfect justice, destroyed nations that did not follow Him, He exiled His own people for idolatry.  Like today, they were complete followers of idols that they have made. Today, be it money, cars, sex or even your children, anything that takes the number one spot in their life that is not God becomes their idol.  God is very clear as He stated many times even in the Ten Commandments that “You shall have no other gods before Me.” (Exodus 20:3, Deuteronomy 5:7).  Since God is holy and perfect, He cannot allow sin to go unpunished.  There will come a time, as it has been shown in the past, that God will leave them to their own ways, which leads to destruction (Romans 1:24, Psalm 81:12).        

No matter what this society may become or how awful and immoral it might be, as Christians we have nothing to fear or worry about.  Persecution will happen, it is not an “if” but a “when.”  They can never stop the Gospel and even if we are forbidden to worship publicly, we will still endure for Christ’s sake.  It will be more difficult as the days progress but if we stay diligent to His Word that He gave us, we can have the confidence in knowing that we are on the winning team.  We know the outcome and we even know the score.  We get it!

Please pray for the lost who are dwelling in darkness and have no hope for eternity.  Reach out to them and give them the hope we have been given by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  Bring them the truth and cloud their minds which are full of the deception and lies that are being peddled as truth.  They need it now!

In Christ <><

He Died for Him

cross2

Sunday will be celebrated as Easter throughout the world.  It has been on my mind what the whole process of Christ’s death, burial and resurrection really signify.  I know that it was for our salvation that the prophecies of these things had to come to fruition in order for God’s plan of redemption to be true.  But did Christ die just for us?

 

The plan of redemption from God was an ultimate sin sacrifice being made on our behalf.  Throughout the Old Testament we see the books of the Law, the “Torah”, or the Pentateuch, the 5 books, showing sacrificial systems to be implemented and practiced by the Jews for the atonement of sin.  The practice that sin carried a price and sacrifice was to cover that sin.  The Law dealt with every aspect of morality and life and the circumstances of judgement when these Laws were broken.  For the many years that passed until the arrival of Jesus, the Jews had taken these Laws and corrupted them by implementing their own spin on the Law in order to make themselves appear on the outside as holy and acceptable to God but on the inside they were full of dead men’s bones (Matt. 23:27).

 

God’s plan required a sacrifice of a pure lamb with no blemishes.  God sent His Son Jesus into the world and was the perfect man who knew no sin and was without blemish.  Jesus was tempted in all ways of man is but He did not fall to it as Adam did.  Romans 5:12, Therefore, just as through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men, because all sinnedSince Adam fell into sin, we have all inherited the sin curse and fallen away from God.  The sin requires a sacrifice and atonement of blood to be made on our behalf by the perfect sacrificial lamb.  2 Corinthians 5:21,   He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in HimChrist was made sin and carried the full weight of sin on our behalf.  He carried every man’s sin that has ever been committed and the sins to come.  Knowing and seeing this in its reality, we need to keep this in mind of why He went to the Cross.  He died for us who believe and repented of our sins.  The punishment that we deserve was placed upon Christ to bare for us.  This concept is alien to us and we cannot fully understand the magnitude of why Christ did this for you and I.

 

But He did not do it for us.  That is the outcome but Christ died for His Father.  Christ died to show His obedience to God.  Christ came to earth to save men not to judge (John 3:17).  He came down to do the will of His father who sent Him (John 6:38).  It is an act of pure submission and obedience that Christ went to the Cross and died.  When Christ said “why have you forsaken me”, shows for a glimpse how God turned His back on His Son who became sin for a moment having to be filled with the sin of the world.  God separated Himself from Christ because God hates sin and cannot even bare to look at it, so He turned away and inflicted the full weight of the judgement we all deserve upon Christ, His only Son.  And God so loved (John3:16).  He loves the ones who believe and repent of their sins that God made His Son, Christ, be the recipient of all the wrath God had for us.  Jesus did this for His Father and God’s plan for our redemption was then reality.

 

Resurrection Sunday, Jesus fulfills final prophecy and all the prophesies in the Old Testament concerning Christ were true.  As believers, we know the victory we have in knowing Christ defeated death at the Cross and the truth of His resurrection and we rejoice in this truth.  It is the plan of God to save His people and it was carried out by the obedience of His Son Jesus Christ who is still interceding to the Father for us (John 17).  He is doing all of this for His love to the Father and His love to those God gave him.  He is the Great Shepherd and we are His sheep.

 

He died for His Father and He died for you!

 

In Christ <><

Pray for Belgium

Belgium

Prayers to Brussels.  Many lost and even believers do not understand why God, who is a God of love, can allow these types of things to happen to innocent people.  There has to be an understanding of what God’s Word says about these violent crimes acted out in society.  The plain truth is that we live in a very broken and perverse world full of people who have turned their back on God from the very beginning.

 

The issue had started all the way back to the fall in the garden where Adam and Eve had fell for the deception of the devil or the “serpent”.  The fall caused man to be separated from God as the punishment for the rebellion Adam and Eve showed when they disobeyed God.  All they had to do was listen to God.  Inherently we have all been rendered as sinners to God suffering the consequences of sin resulting in separation from Him and judgement.  This separation has left us to our own way and judgement will reign on those who will not repent and come to Christ.  As much as we all have rebelled against God, we all deserve the penalty of death.  For the wages of sin is death (Romans 3:23).   So the question is not why did these poor people die but why haven’t we died?

 

God has shown His patience for thousands of years.  He has shown His patience and love towards the nation of Israel over and over in the Old Testament by giving them every chance to repent of their sins and come to Him.  But as stubborn as they were and still are today, they refused Him and turned their backs on Him causing judgement to fall upon them.  The cycle over and over and over, again and again and again they sinned, God was patient, they continued to sin, God reigned judgement to them, they repented and they were restored only to get complacent and sin again starting the whole cycle again.

 

What we are seeing in today’s society is the result of a broken world careening to the edge of the cliff where God not only has taken the back seat but has been left out of the car completely.  There is no fear in God anymore since anyone can get away with blaspheming His Word, His Son and Himself without consequences visible.  God will not let this go unpunished and He will pour His wrath upon them when they are face to face in judgement.  God is being so patient with us that He is allowing all the evil to happen in hopes of bring as many people to Himself before the day of Jesus Christ.  There is a day coming that His offer will not be available anymore. 

 

Sad to say for those who have not repented nor believed at this point are at the hands of God in the day of judgement.  The current status of our world is no surprise for believers because as history tells us in the Bible, all this has happened before.  The future for Christians is bright and there is no worry because they know this is temporary and are just pilgrims passing through.  God has shown His love towards us that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).  How much does God have to show His love for those to believe?  He sent His only Son to die for us (John 3:16).  He made Him that knew no sin the become sin on our behalf (2 Corinthians 5:21).  Christ was sent to die for all sinners and bear the weight of all their sins in order to show those who believe in Christ and repent will be made righteousness in Him. 

 

The sadness that fills our hearts with the current condition of all the evilness we see must not be take away for the truth that God is in control and loves us.  Man chose long ago that sin was more desirable than a perfect world God had offered.  We are seeing the story playing out as the God’s Word was written.  There is coming a day where all this evil will be put away in its final resting place, the lake of fire and those who are His will be in the new earth and new heavens where all is perfect and sin free.  We must maintain joy knowing that this evil world will pass and the peace and love that is to come is beyond anything our finite little minds can grasp.

 

Please pray for those in Belgium and pray that God will be glorified by those brother and sisters in Christ can show the love of God to those who are lost and to come by and support those in Christ.  As Christians we have everything to look forward to but the lost only have judgement to look forward to.  Pray!

 

In Christ <><