An astronaut climbs into the replica spaceship and goes through all the procedures. He does that again and again and again until he knows exactly what to do. The simulator has taught him what he needs to know. Then the day of blast-off comes and the real spaceship is ready to go. But the astronaut demands that the simulator and the real spaceship are joined together for the trip into space.The NASA officials inform him that the simulator cannot fly and every time he climbed into that simulator he was learning about the real spaceship. There is no need for that simulator, and in fact its usefulness and mission are now over.
Some believers are like that astronaut. They want to reach back into the Old Testament and attach it to the New Testament. The Old Testament was just a simulator in which sinners practiced the blood atonement but that was only until the Lamb of God came and shed His blood. There is now no need for the Old Covenant because it has fulfilled its mission which was to teach sinners about the blood atonement. And they rehearsed it again and again and again. But when the real and eternal blood was shed the rehearsal is not necessary.
The simulation is over. The Lamb of God has died.
Redeemer, Creator, Jehovah Rophe,The Strong and Mighty Tower, the Author of faith.
Lilly of the Valley, Bright Morning Star,
Blessed Hope, that’s what You are.
Chosen One of Israel, God’s Holy Son,The Christ and Messiah, Anointed One.
The Living Word of God, Faithful and True,
Jesus, Savior are You.
You save me, delivered me and called me Your own.You now are preparing my eternal home.
You said you’d be with me both now and always,
Jesus, You’re worthy of praise.
One true glimpse of the cross, unimpeded by religion and human dilution and empowered by the Spirit, will break a sinner and remake him in Christ’s image.
We have such a fallen view of God sometimes. This marks the anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing which killed 168 innocent people. Did you read what I just wrote? I said “innocent people”. There are no innocent people in God’s eyes and in truth all are guilty. How could anyone be so cruel and evil as to destroy the lives of these people?Well one day Christ will come and destroy the entire planet and most of its inhabitants. You see, all things must be seen through a divine prism which is the Word of God. We do not rejoice in murder, but we who are His understand things through His truth and not the fallen compassion even God’s enemies can show. True compassion begins and ends with the cross. All others are fallen.
I Pet.5: … Yea, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resisteth the proud, and giveth grace to the humble.6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
We have been so desensitized to the things of the Spirit through this fallen culture that we are blind to much truth. The fallen nature of men refuses humility and loves human exaltation. Many things we deem innocuous are in fact poison to our spirits. Things like competitive sports train us to win, win, win and to be champions and let all the world know it. That seems so benign and yet it subtly and openly trains our hearts in ways that remove any true humility in the Spirit.But we are exhorted to be clothed with humility which seems like an enormous spiritual task. But how many of us truly seek that kind of abject humility so that we are hidden in His likeness and not ours? How many of us really understand what true humility actually is? And if a believer is walking in spiritual humility will he get offended at all about anything, especially any insult or slight to himself?
And the Scripture clearly tells us that God will give more of His grace to those that are clothed in humility. But we live in a culture which has shifted our thought patterns and has sown seeds of fallen fruit. And much of it has become so familiar to us that we no longer investigate many things to see if they are of God because we are numb to all of it. We have been instructed to live completely in moderation, but does that have any effect upon what we buy or we wear or what we eat or where we live? But all that must begin in the heart.
When our hearts are completely surrendered to Him, and when we have purposefully put our flesh to a certain death, then and only then can we please Him. The mindset and heart attitude we call humility pleases God and is a necessary component of worship and all things spiritual. This humility is not confined to how we feel when we understand our redemption although that is at the core. This kind of humility is spiritual power disguised as timidity and graciousness and meekness. It affects every area of our lives because it resides in our hearts and wields God’s power in and through us.
And oh how many infinite reasons we have for being truly humble people. I can truthfully say before God and the Holy Spirit I have absolutely nothing of myself whereof I can offer the slightest boast. Without Christ I am not just worthless, but I am an aggressive enemy who would strut my sinfulness and mock the holiness of my Creator. So here I stand. Washed in the royal blood of God and made a child of the Living Father God. I am a broken man who is so proud many times it pains my heart before Him. Oh Precious Father, help us to see what we cannot see. Help us to understand that which we cannot understand. Teach us, our Father, what it means to walk in the humility which led Christ to walk as a man. Oh my…oh my. How we love you Jesus and how we are in desperate need of Your Spirit to do more of His work and ministry within us. This is no task…it is our living joy.
Rev.13: 8 And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.9 If any man have an ear, let him hear.
Before God said “Let there be light” God knew the cross was waiting. Can you even imagine such a love? It soars way past our feeble definitions of love. No sentimentality or saccharine here. This is a love about which man has never known. None of us would do something we knew would end up causing us great suffering and death. And if we knew it would be for our enemies we would shun the slightest inconvenience.But God spoke into existence the creation He knew would one day demand His Son. We tend to dismiss some of it because after all He is God. And in the back of our minds we know He knew Christ would resurrect. And with that kind of thinking we render the gospel a divine play. But even the slightest hint of that kind of thinking removes the eternal pathos embedded within the cross. You could search and seek and seek and search for all eternity and still you would not understand all of the divine love exhibited in the cross. It is a colossal mystery.
And yet God saw it coming and created us anyway. And Jesus, God manifested in the flesh, came knowing the cross was His destiny. “Oh yes,” you say, “But He knew He would rise again!” You do not have a clue, and until we understand we do not have a clue, we can never touch the hem of the cross garment. It is an impossibility to over emphasize the cross of Jesus Christ. It is an unfathomable treasure of all the mysteries of God’s kingdom. It is the purest expression of God’s love. It is the open revelation of the Divine Being. It is the mystery in which all other mysteries live. It stands apart from created time. Its power is past finding out. It is the place of eternal birth.
But the price was unthinkable. To say the price was high is to diminish the price that was paid. It was there, on Golgotha’s hill, which was created by God Himself, that God Himself suffered and died at the hands of His created enemies. The nails, the hammer, the fists, the thorns, the spit, the spear, the planks, the voices, the eyes, were all created by that writhing Lamb. Can you even dare to ponder it? Can you stop and gaze with your heart’s eye and look upon it? Dare you enter into it looking to understand its life changing love?
Before the worlds were ever made the Lamb created Bethlehem, Nazareth, Galilee, Jericho, Bethsaida, Jerusalem, and yes, Calvary. And then He came and walked among His creation disguised as one of us. And with His face set like a flint He went to Jerusalem seeking and embracing His own death. What is man that Thou art mindful of Him? Golgotha was no surprise. In fact it was the final scene of redemption’s plan. This was in God’s heart before Adam was ever made. Who can know it? Who among us dare to insist we understand all its fullness?
The most wonderful thing the cross can do for us is to break us completely. And when we no longer have any strength of our own, perhaps then we can understand the first portion of an eternal crucifixion whose glory will shine forever and forever. Amen.
Prayerlessness denies the existence of God.
I truly believe the most despicable sin I have committed since I became a believer is when I have not prayed. That shames me to my very core.
Gal.6: 17 From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.
Paul states that he has scars in His service for the Lord Jesus. And given that Paul grows weary of disputes about the law which minimizes the cross. So those scars, received by beatings, remind Paul of whose servant he is and what his calling will always be. The word translated “marks” is “stigma” in the Greek. Those who truly follow Jesus must live with His stigma.We should be kind and loving and humanitarian, but there are unbelievers who are also those things. Jesus must be openly our Lord and that Lordship must be communicated through life actions as well as words. You are in no danger of having His stigma if others do not know Jesus is your Lord. I do not speak of being aggressive and irritating, but we should lovingly communicate Christ to others. How shall they believe in whom they have not heard?
There are things about which we should not get into disputes. I have my own list of things that I consider counterproductive to the gospel. Yes, we should confront serious error, but certain arguments do not promote Christ and His gospel. You will not hear me argue about the rapture or the creation day or many other incidentals. They seem to promote clashes which most times lead nowhere.
But Paul refers to the Lordship of Christ and how his service to his Master has had consequences even in his own body. Paul lives with the stigma of Christ. But please know that having that kind of stigma takes more than just a church membership or a baptism certificate or taking certain moral stands. It even takes more than just lip service or handing out tracts. To walk in His shadow and with His stigma takes much prayer…much prayer. It means you are walking in the Spirit and your heart and mind are being controlled by that Spirit.
That path is not easy. It does not open up just because we desire it to be open. In fact we can be kind and polite and generous and yet not be walking in the Spirit and therefore His stigma is absent. This is the fine china of a spiritual life. This must be our hunger, our pursuit, and our unquenchable thirst daily. It must be our very life. And we can never know His stigma while we are still alive. We must die. We must die. We must die. And He then must rise up from our death and live through us. That is no small task and few there be that seek it and fewer still there be that find it.
Jn.19: Then Pilate therefore took Jesus, and scourged him.2 And the soldiers platted a crown of thorns, and put it on his head, and they put on him a purple robe,
3 And said, Hail, King of the Jews! and they smote him with their hands.
This was the Creator of the Universe. There He is…shamed and mocked and scorned like some pitiful fool. Like some pitiful fool. And yet it was for pitiful fools like you and like me He stands there and takes, no embraces, the beating and the insults and the mock laughter. And the Spirit is there recording it so all can see it forever. And He, the Lamb of God, knows it will be recorded forever.They punched Him. The spit upon that wondrous face. They plucked His beard. They whipped Him. They dressed Him as a mock king. It was unfair. It was inhuman. It was tragic beyond words even in the natural. And yet in the spirit realm the angels looked with horror! They can never really understand the depth of what happened here, and without the Spirit neither can we. But when that Spirit enters your being and makes you a child of God you become more and more aware of what happened and who it was for which Christ endured such things.
And yet this can never be completely surrounded by a human mind. And it is that very mystery which enlightens our hearts again and again and again. The sufferings of Christ must never get stale and relegated to dust filled doctrines. His sufferings must penetrate our hearts again and again and again. It is those wounds and that mocking which have our names written all over them. I can see just how wicked I was when I see just how punished He was. And somehow the Spirit feeds me another sliver of illumination about His love. It is a glorious journey to point your heart toward Christ and understand again and again and again just how He suffered and bled and died. That is our redemption. That is our life. That is His glory…forever. Selah and amen.
Of what use is preaching by men whose consuming purpose is to gain fame and prosperity and to make and keep disciples of their own? Much of western Christianity is a multi-level marketing scheme no different than Amway or Herbalife. But many churches are more successful than some of these secular companies.
Rom.10: 13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.14 How then shall they call on him in whom they have not believed? and how shall they believe in him of whom they have not heard? and how shall they hear without a preacher?
15 And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!
How can sinners be saved under the preaching of another Jesus and another gospel? There is more to this modern day compromise than just an earthly deception. Men like Joel Osteen and thousands like him are drawing men to a false gospel headed by a false Christ and in so doing men’s souls will be damned. Paul calls them “false apostles, deceitful workers” and the Spirit says:Gal.1: 8 But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.
9 As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.
This is very strong language in the Greek. It indicates God reserves a special damnation for false preachers of a false gospel. I have no human words to convey to you the severity about which the Spirit speaks of these men and their self serving gospel. We show love to sinners, but to men and women of this ilk we rebuke soundly and with the harshest of terms. A sinner can only be saved through faith, but when that faith is placed upon sinking sand that sinner will perish as will the person to whom he listened. We are seeing a literal sea of people who are believing a false gospel and following ministers of Satan. Of Satan, you ask?
II Cor.11: 13 For such are false apostles, deceitful workers, transforming themselves into the apostles of Christ.
14 And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.
15 Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works.
This, my dear friends, is no difference of opinion or some minor doctrinal squabble. This cuts to the very core of redemption and its consequences are eternal. The Spirit Himself calls these men and women “ministers of Satan”. Can there be any more serious accusation? He does not say compromisers or double minded or worldly. No, He calls them the very ministers of Satan. And they operate with smiles and positive speeches and messages that uplift the human condition and they insist that within every person there is a great reservoir of goodness. It is a lie from the very pit of hell and it deceives men’s hearts and damns their souls. Is that too harsh for your sensibilities? Well then you must take it up with Paul, or better yet question the wisdom of the Spirit. I think you dare not enter into those dangerous waters.
And so we have church building bursting at the seams. And we have membership rolls growing exponentially. And we have large and accomplished church staffs. And we have professional music ministries. And we have polished oratorical thespians. And we have local banks thankful for the billions they hold in church loans. And we have pew dwellers who love their church and their country. It is all so wonderful to the natural and religious man.But when we uncover all the fluff and activity and earthly power we will find another Jesus and another gospel. Can it really be possible that Satan has come and sown so many tares among the wheat? Can it be possible that Satan has manipulated the entire western ecclesiastical construct to this extent? Can it be possible that men’s hearts have been so deceived that they desire the things of this world and still believe they are following Jesus? Can it be possible that so many nice and charming men and women are workers of iniquity?
Well there is only one way to evaluate those questions. Hold up the mirror of the Word – all of it – and see if the western church is even attempting to adhere to it. Do not read their statement of faith and be satisfied with things they know will please those who are looking for such things. Listen to their words and look at their lifestyles. Remember, when a man speaks from both sides of his mouth in truth he is only speaking from one side. His and not God’s.
Once you have seen His beautiful face, and once you have been touched by His wondrous grace, your heart may be prone to wander sometimes, and the cares of this world may choke your spiritual air sometimes, and the flames of your fire may become embers sometimes, but if you have seen Him and have been changed by Him you…can…never…forget.
I Cor.1: 17 For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.18 For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
19 For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.
20 Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
21 For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.
The preaching of the cross has become blasé in today’s fast paced – church growth atmosphere. It may find a spot amidst the statement of faith, but is it the core of the pulpit? You see, the cross demands the believer to slow down and leave this world and meditate and envision and gaze and embrace that event and the Figure which is central to it. The cross never elicits a desire for money and material things and individual human power and that is why it continues tom drift silently into the background of the church as a whole.Watch the secular television shows have some famous preacher and they will discuss gay marriage and abortion and President Obama and Israel but the cross remains uninteresting and without discussion. It is a downer for today’s upbeat culture which thrives on dreams and positive thinking and human achievement. And the Sunday gatherings are designed to uplift the human spirit and make people want to come back because they feel good as they leave. Introspection? Contrition? Repentance? Or a deep and heart rendering vision of the Messiah as He writhed in pain for our sins?
You may as well resign yourself that if you desire the Spirit to do that kind of ministry in your heart you must seek it personally or through other outlets than church. Sad, but true.