Friday, March 28, 2008

The Corruption of Popularity

Jesus begins to more deeply unfold the particulars of His mission on earth, even if His disciples had much to learn about the eternal elements. He tells of His sufferings and of the scribes and elders and chief priests and how they will mistreat Him, and eventually He will be put to death. It is a prophetic narrative than grates against the expectations of His disciples and to be sure they must have been troubled by His words. Could they be real and literal or can we assume they are metaphoric and represent something much different that this story of death and torture? You and I, if we are honest, would have struggled with the same questions and feelings as did those disciples.

Finally Peter could no longer remain silent, and true to form he begins to rebuke the Lord for continuing to teach this prophecy concerning His future. Peter, probably speaking for most of them, assures the Lord that nothing of the kind will happen to Him, not on their watch. Oh yes, Jesus was popular with the disciples and they were at least in heart willing to protect Him from any attack and injury. They loved Him and they had left everything to follow Him, so this death spiral was unacceptable to them and their love for Him.

Now Jesus could have been encouraged by their show of support for Him and He might have relished in His popularity with His closest friends. He may have been swayed by Peter’s suggestion that nothing like that would visit Him. Popularity is very manipulative and can sometimes deceive its object into embracing their accolades to the exclusion of actual truth. It can cause one to embrace their caricature concerning himself and not the truth he knows. A popular figure can lose sight of his mission and espouse the crowd’s mission they are superimposing upon him.

But not Jesus. He not only rejected Peter’s misguided attempt at protection, He invokes the name of Satan so as to manifest the seriousness of Peter’s suggestions and pronouncements. Christ has His mission which began before He spoke creation into being and no one could make Him take His eyes off the joy that was set before Him. The cross and all its eternal sufferings was in His flint set eyes and He was on a journey that would gain the victory upon those Roman planks. And popularity is not only fleeting, it is entirely untrustworthy. The same crowd that shouts “Hosanna” upon His entrance will shout “Crucify Him” before Pilate. That is the nature of popularity, it flies upon the wings of its own interests and its wholly subjective.

So what can we learn from our Lord from that entire story? Let us examine the nuanced deceptions inherent in popularity regardless if it's one person fawning over us with reckless abandon or ten million, the dangers are the same. Many if not most times popularity feeds the less noble elements of our nature and it surely compromises any sense of impartiality. I have found it on this blog when I encouraged comments. The ones who posted agreement cemented my spirit concerning my views and those who disagreed were washed away on the waves of those who expressed appreciative agreement. Along the way I became suspect of my ability to impartially assess my own views and motives and any popularity only inhibited any objective self investigation.

How many of us pastors elicit from our wives an answer to the question, “What did you think of my message?”? Although that may inflate our own view and minister to our self esteem it may not be the most effective and impartial way to get an objective assessment of our messages. And when our wives sometimes do not offer a complete and excited approval of some sermon why are we then slightly injured? Why do we not receive that as a constructive morsel upon which to chew and ask the Spirit to refine us? It's because we desire popularity much more than we desire a dispassionate observation that could help to more spiritually formulate any future service. And if we are wrong and unbiblical in our behavior and/or speech, the popular pool will assure us of our righteousness and thereby blunt the ministry of the Holy Spirit.

The Apostle Paul is another example of one who showed courageous impartiality even at the expense of popularity. Peter had befriended Paul and even supported him in the meeting at Jerusalem. And Peter was the preacher of Pentecost and one of the chief apostles who had lived with the Lord, his approval would be very beneficial to Paul. But soon after that very meeting Paul comes to Antioch and witnesses Peter showing partiality to Jewish believers and separating himself from Gentile believers. What would Paul do upon seeing this? Paul had to know that to cross Peter would be very risky and may hinder his ministry if he fell out of favor with Peter. Peter had great popularity and Paul could bask in that shadow if he so chose.

But Paul was never interested in popularity, his or anyone else’s. Paul takes Peter and openly rebukes him probably before everyone and to Peter’s credit he received it as the wounds of a friend. But the thought of popularity could have easily affected Paul’s judgment concerning this incident and in fact his entire ministry. That, my friends, is rejecting popularity and embracing the ministry of the Holy Spirit. Many things can be compromised by popularity and an acclaim oriented atmosphere. Honesty, humility, grace, objectivity, teach ability, and even truth can be sorely diluted when we rely in any way of the praise and popularity of others.

There is a theology being spread about today that suggests there can be no certainty about anything and of course they are certain about uncertainty. That is foolishness. But is it not healthy to place our hearts and views upon the altar of spiritual inspection so as to insure we are not speaking from the flesh but the Spirit? And this should be done away from the applause of like minded praisers who cloud our minds and ears to the correction of God’s Spirit. Certainty without purification can be entrenched error, but when the certainty of others is an ingredient in our own certainty than how can we know we have arrived at our views discounting the opinion of others, friend and foe alike? We run the real risk that our spiritual tents have been staked by the applause of others and not the careful and vulnerable openness to God’s Word by God’s Spirit.

We all desire approval and popularity, but in matters of the Spirit we must not allow ourselves to be tainted by the observations of others no matter how well intentioned. Fasting and prayer and a broken and contrite spirit must be our classroom where we can have one and only one Teacher. God help us to seek Him like treasure.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Exquisite Proof
Acts 1:3 - To whom also He showed Himself alive after His passion by many infallible proofs...

For over three years the man they called, Yeshua, walked the countryside of Israel and greater Palestine. He had done many works of majesty and wonder, but many had not seen Him and still were unaware of both Him and His claims. And even His closest and most loyal friends could never imagined what His divine mission would entail. Death and humiliation were not the stuff of kings as generally understood, and furthermore no one wanted to risk their own life, they desired to bask in His power. But we know that the road to eternal glory and human redemption led straight through Golgotha, a very strange journey indeed.

Think on this, the sufferings of Jesus bore no outward divine imprint and to the natural eye His death was a mirror of thousands of Jews who died before Him at the hands of the Romans. The blood and sweat had nothing outwardly supernatural, and in fact when He voluntarily succumbed to death many of His hopeful followers became disillusioned. It surely appeared as if this “Yeshua” was nothing more than some kind of prophet in the line of Moses, human and now dead.

So what should they make of some of the subtle and open references that Jesus made concerning His own resurrection? If He now is dead and gone all His words about some kind of resurrection were either wishful thinking or metaphors meaning something quite different. Time would tell and life must now go on without Him. But He had also spoken about redemption and forgiveness and even made some extraordinary overtures during the Passover meal that now seemed to lose the luster that had permeated that upper room. Many had suggested He was one of the prophets and yet Peter claimed He was the Messiah and Jesus Himself blessed Peter’s confession. But He could not be the Messiah being now dead and gone.

He had generated such hope in His listeners and His followers had left all to walk in His steps. So they now faced the prospect that they had left all for nothing. The journey was over and they were now worse off than when they had started, it was all so depressively confusing. They were now sought as trouble makers and followers of the “pestilent fellow”. Do they start over, and if so, with whom as their leader? This definitely was the low point in their lives.

So if indeed Jesus was the Christ, the Son of the Living God, how could He now prove it with a universally accepted proof? Just as there did not seem to be any divine essence to the cross in the natural, Jesus would have to prove His claims by something in the natural, tangible and apparent to the human senses, so there would be no argument about His authenticity. Listen now, and move closer in the Spirit, because Jesus was going to provide an exquisite proof that revealed an incredible victory of life over the victory of death He had just won. Can you process that? In order to substantiate His claims of divine incarnation, He would have to overcome what men had seen as a defeat and do it without removing the eternal victory hidden at the cross. He could not undo what He had accomplished at Calvary, He would have to prove it and Him by something that would reflect gloriously upon the cross and yet defeat a portion of its death.

So on the morning of firstfruits the dead body of Yeshua lay upon that cold slab in Joseph’s borrowed tomb, and all Jerusalem were quickly going about their business to forget Him. But God had a plan, He always does. This plan would take all of history by surprise, only equaled by the surprise of the death of God’s Son. On the day of firstfruits, the celebration of the first harvest, the Son of the Living God would rise from the grave and conquer death forever. And without detracting from His death He added to the victory that was won on that cross, and in reality, He substantiated it and gilded the atonement forever with the revelation of Who He was. Who was that Jew upon that cruel cross? That was the King of Glory, the Eternal Word who has now established His kingdom of the living faithful.

To embrace the cross is to embrace the resurrection and to embrace the resurrection is to embrace the cross. Life and death simultaneously made available by faith to even the vilest of sinners which by definition is every one of us. He died - He lives. We die - we live - in Him. So the victory over death is the same resurrection that substantiates that death, because without a full and complete death there can be no resurrection. Look and see, the King of Life has carried those death wounds with Him and if you look through the eyes of faith you will see the coming entourage of believers who will rise from the dead upon the power of His resurrection. He is the firstfruits and His harvest of life will by faith feed many who will rise up from this earthen death and bear the resemblance of the corn of wheat that was planted for them.

Gather around all you demons of hell, all you angels of heaven, all you scoffers, and all you worshipers and cast your gaze upon the exquisiteness of this proof for which you clamor. It is exhibited not be dossier and not by mere words, no, this evidence is brought forth in the Person of the Risen Christ Himself. Look and admire all you angels, look and fear all you demons. Behold He ever lives as the exquisite proof of His power over death and hell, but look further and see He does not slumber nor rest. He makes intercession for all those who by faith trust and believe in Him as the Lord and eternal proof and by Him they are saved to the uttermost.

Lift up your heads O ye gates, and be ye lifted up ye everlasting doors, and the King of Glory shall come in! And in He has entered and the gates remain open to welcome all His blood washed sons to dwell eternally with Him and worship around His majestic throne. And they, the Bride of this Great Bridegroom, stand as another exquisite proof of all Christ has done. Oh yes, we will forever be His reward and reflect His victory as an everlasting proof that He alone has triumphed.

The unassailable evidence, the exquisite proof that Jesus was the eternal Word and Savior of the world is the resurrection and His glorified Risen body. That is why He did not just rise in spirit, secretly and away from earthly eyes, no, He rose bodily and made an open show over all His enemies and death itself. And the mystery of His eternal body will forever be the exquisite proof that God has triumphed, Jesus has risen, and we are now safe by faith in His victory over death. The Risen Christ Himself is indeed the exquisite proof that will redound to God’s glory for eternity. With every song of worship before His throne we again lift up that which proves Him worthy and us His grateful servants forevermore. His death has conquered sin and His life has conquered death.

the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our God and of His Christ!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Sin of Racism

I personally believe that racism is a scourge and one of the most vilest of sins. It exists in and out of the church and it in no way reflects the character and heart of Almighty God. At its core are two interrelated sins, pride and fear, that mesh together to come forth as racism. I have always had a tender heart for those who suffer at the hands of this vicious sin and when I became a Christian I thought that I would never again see racism exhibited among my brothers and sisters. I was wrong.

I remember the first time I heard a preacher regurgitate a tortured “God set up borders” view of dividing the races. I went home and again searched the New Testament and saw nothing and in reality the exact opposite. I saw a little black boy get saved in a predominantly white Baptist church and I listened as the “pastor” expressed joy in his conversion and at the same time directed him to find a black church in which to worship. What an incredible misrepresentation of all the Christ stood for and taught.

I once heard a “preacher” use the “n” word in the pulpit and hide behind some self serving definition that he claims can apply to any person of any race. Hidden and nuanced references to other races, especially blacks, are common place in evangelical circles. And even among those who reject any overt racism there is still that pesky marriage thing. Tucked into our “pristine” evangelical community lurks a genuine racism that we love to hide if not actually justify. That is the mindset set that we would never approve of our white daughters marrying a black man. Oh yes, we claim they will have trouble with cultural acceptance and other excuses, but in the end there is something inside us that resists that type of inter-marriage.

Let us be honest, deep inside us, nurtured by years of cultural object lessons and the unspoken/spoken words of our parents and leaders, lives a form of racism. It is unchristian and has its roots deeply embedded in secular society and not in Christ. The Scriptures mandate only one commandment when it comes to marriage and that is that both must be believers. There is no social, economic, or racial requirements for a man and woman to be married if they are believers and followers of Jesus Christ.

And do not be deceived into thinking that racism is a white sin, it is not. You will find it alive and well in every race and even within the nuances of each race about each other. It is a horrible sin that dishonors God and causes much pain in adults and especially children. How many times has a child run to his home with tears running down his cheeks, revealing the pain he is feeling after being called a racial epithet? This sin should be preached against more fully and with more vigor in our churches. The reason it is touched on so infrequently and carefully when it is mentioned is because preachers are aware that racism exists in his pews and he is unwilling to completely upset the apple cart. Worse yet, he himself may not yet have repented of his own secret racism.

Of course the most obvious form of racism in America has existed within the white community toward the black. Oh I know the reverse exists as well, but the white community has been the most egregious offenders. And many times the church was complicit and still today many get nervous over integrated youth groups. I believe the rise and integration of the black community into mainstream society after the Civil War has been one of the most amazing events in America. Think on it, these people were freed and set out with nothing. Where would you go if tomorrow you had nothing? And even if you had nothing, where would you go if your were hated by most of society and at best looked down upon? You had no well off relatives and almost no one desired to lend you and your family a hand. For the most part, that is how the black community began their entrance into American society.

Blacks were murdered and abused, they were treated as castaways, and many whites believed and taught a intellectual inferiority when it came to the black race. In all reality, it wasn’t until the 1960s that black people were encouraged/allowed to vote on any major level. Segregation still existed in the south, and employment segregation still existed everywhere. I stand in amazement and admiration for what the black community has accomplished in a hostile society and I firmly believe that God answered many prayers of the old “negro” believers who enviously had nothing but God. To see an eloquent black man have a legitimate place as a contender for the Presidency of the United States is breathtaking. Regardless of his political views, his candidacy is inspiring to me (even as one who doesn’t vote) because it speaks of so much more than politics. I see progress and I see an achievement against all odds that should please us all.

And is it not even more unique that this candidate’s father was African and his mother was white. I love it when providence takes our sinful noses and pushed them down deep into something. And yes, I truly believe that the influence of Christ’s Spirit through His church, sometimes kicking and screaming, had something to do with this entrance of the black race into mainstream American society. And Obama’s pastor is in bondage himself to racism and when white people hear his caustic and hate laced words the dormant racism begins to rise up anew. The devil’s strategy is multi-pronged.

And so examine your own heart and see if you have allowed racism or prejudice in any form to live. We must, as Christ’s epistles, repent of that sin and view the world as does God as both His church and lost sinners for who Christ died. There is no middle ground, racism is a grievous sin.

Of course I will not vote for Barak Obama, not because he’s black, but because he’s a politician. Grace to all.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Politics - Deception at its Finest!

OK, for those political enthusiasts out there, I will attempt to further enlighten you as to how easily we can be deceived. Barak Obama has belonged to the same church for TWENTY years and his pastor’s name is Jeremiah Wright. He is a hate filled racist that hates white people, hates America, and preaches that Jesus was a black man who was oppressed by rich white men.

Below is the You Tube site with some of his messages, but I warn you, he curses from the pulpit (i.e. sh**) so guard your heart and do not let racism enter into it. Ask yourself this question, “How could Barak sit under him for 20 years and not agree with him? And why hasn’t this come out more forcefully in the press? The Clinton’s will leak this a week before the Democratic Convention and watch the fireworks. I am stocking up on popcorn that week because it promises to be a great spectacle.

Oh well, I thought I might further burst your political bubble. All is vanity and vexation of spirit!

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Requiem for a Bride

Oh for the day of your birth with sprouts of life;
The miracle of deliverance came with sound from heaven
You ran from that room and your fragrance floods the streets;
Your life dies and His life lives.
You became a bride to your Bridegroom
And He washed you in His crimson life, His forever promise.
Like a bird set free you flew the nations with His love;
Many heard His words and joined the divine throng.
Through trials and many fears you were kept by His power
And His words sustained you, His Beloved.
Your marriage draws near and the Bridegroom awaits His bride;
Behold, He comes quickly for you.
But lo, what sight greets our eyes?
A bride who has left her waiting room?
Your mingling grieves your coming Bridegroom
And look, she neither cares nor looks for Him.
Play upon the stringed instruments,
Play with soft and deep minor chords;
Sad and heartfelt melodies that sing of tragedy,
Songs that used to praise now sing of death.
Bow your heads and think of former years;
Remember seasons of life and regeneration,
Years of her Bridegroom’s presence.
Do you not long for days of His praise?
Look deep into your heart and hear
Shouts of praise and tears of joy,
Listen as cries of repentance and bows of worship
Join the homage to this Glorious Bridegroom!
Hear this Bride in former years run to her prayer chamber,
Listen as she meets her Betrothed and washes herself in His Spirit.
These were days when His Bride sought Him continually,
These were days of love espoused eternally.
But watch, slowly she dies...
Ever so slowly she writhes in worldly pain.
Will she look to her Physician or her carnal suitors?
Lastly her chest ceases to breathe and yet her eyes are still open.
And still she blindly seeks her own death.
And now death comes quickly disguised as life,
This Bride causes heaven’s tears
And the Bridegroom Himself calls her to His side with grief.
She is dead now while she pretends to live;
Sing and pray, perhaps she may return,
Until then her effervescence pulls the bed sheets over her death.
Wail and howl and sing with chords of weeping,
This requiem is for her.
Who Would Jesus Vote For?

Who would Jesus vote for?
No one.
His kingdom is an eternal monarchy.

Monday, March 10, 2008

The Cross...Our Dwelling Place

Gal.6:14 - But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord esus Christ...

I have been a Christian for 33 years and have been a student of church history. In that study and experience I have watched as Christianity has ridden upon the waves of culture and morphed due to the whims and discontent of its people and the pressures of the outside world. Like the seasons it runs cycles, focusing on one thing and then another due to different ingredients and variables.

I predict the soon end to the strength of the ”health and wealth” movement because its growth was due in large part to an overall prosperity in America and surely not any reading of the New Testament. When the war in Iraq is brought to an end and the American presence is significantly diminished, then the debt dollars that have fueled this economy will drop out like the bottom of a wet paper bag. When that happens we all will “suffer” financially and it will become harder and harder to maintain that prosperity lie, even in the ears of the most gullible. The government investigations will add to this spectacle.

Even now there are movements taking hold like the purpose driven movement, the emergent church movement, the seeker church movement, and others that will rise and then fall after they strut and fret their hour upon the evangelical stage. I have come to the conclusion that the wandering hearts of believers have been largely responsible for the cyclical nature of Christianity. The new generations reject the status quo as practiced by their parents and they invent some new and exciting flavors of Christianity that will appeal to them and others. And so you have these “waves” of evangelicalism that like the tides come in and out only to make room for others.

There is nothing wrong with some cultural adaptation that both benefits our understandings concerning Biblical truth while simultaneously endeavors to retain the precise nature of that truth. But as time marches on it seems some segments of the church always get bored and discontent with the “same old” teachings about the cross, the incarnation, the resurrection, heaven, hell, and all that “kid” stuff that seems too redundant to keep the attention, much less the worship, of these new and modern Christians. Trouble always ensues when the church grows tired and complacent about the gospel and its meaning.

And so the church, especially in the west, is in trouble. I personally believe they must run their course with all the accompanying fanfare, and then some more aberrant than these will come running. What is the answer? God. Even if God uses his people to speak against these movements those that need to hear are not listening and many times those who speak against them morph into puffed up gladiators rather than humble servants. The devil has his double edged sword as well. The answer for the “average” believer is to bow down to the King, seek His face through much prayer and His Word, and never allow the shortcomings of others to become our focus and blind us to our own pervasive spiritual failings. We need a massive revival that shakes the foundations of Christ’s church and transforms us all into luminescent followers of the Lord Jesus Christ, powerful in humility, bold in brokenness, strong in weakness, and fully and sacrificially committed to giving our very lives for His gospel and not any other cause or distraction.

A mother robin lights upon her nest to feed her three baby chicks. She looks down and sees that only two babies have their beaks open, so after attempting unsuccessfully to have the third open his beak, she divides the worm into two and feeds those two whose beaks openly beg for food. That is how the Father feeds His children as well. Those whose hearts and ears are open will receive His nourishment and those whose hearts and ears are closed will not.

You my fellow believer must not only open your heart to Him, you and I must ask God for the grace necessary to open it wider and wider with each passing day. Our sustenance does not come from identifying the falling away of others, that must never become our spiritual strength. Our strength is in the Lord and our walk with Him is primarily between two parties, you and Him. When you bring distractions into your prayer time, or worse yet find your prayer time shrinking because of others, that is when we must jettison everything in favor of time with Him and Him alone.

All that is taking place within the church is in God’s hands, and our words, however obedient and corrective, will not stem the tide. This too will pass and our Sovereign God knows and sees all without worry and under His wings do we find spiritual solace. Let the different streams of Biblical thought run from church to church, and let them have, as others in the past have as well, what they believe will satisfy their spiritual hunger. God says to Moses, “What is that which you have in your hand?”. That is the deception, we, like the fictional Dorothy, have always had what we need to return to Christ and find that “there’s no place like home”. The gospel and its centerpiece, the cross, is not some basic teaching from which mature believers move away. No, God forbid, the cross and Christ’s gospel message is that into which we run further and further, bathing our souls and unlocking treasures far beyond what we ever thought possible. And in a majestic and unimaginable mystery, we sometimes come full circle and see that childlike faith in the gospel and its cross is indeed the deepest attainable knowledge in God’s realm of the Spirit.

And after all the Hebrew, all the Greek, all the systematic theology, all the translations, all the types and shadows, all the deep theological discussions, and all the beneficial insights of men and women of God, we wake up again at Golgotha’s resplendence. Look around and see the church running to and fro to discover the latest offering from men’s minds, but can you not see they run past that which they are searching for, the cross. In two thousand years of church history, and in the archives of majestic Old Testament shadows, we have only scratched the surface of the cross in all its glory. Let us not quit our diligent digging to uncover more and more, and as one door of glory opens it reveals ten more doors through which to walk, all of which have the same lock that opens with the same key, the cross. It is the height of arrogant ignorance to move away from the cross at a time in church history when we need to return and cling to it so desperately.

The church cycles its focus and the sheep seem to blindly follow any excitement, but not God’s Spirit. You will not find God’s Spirit dwelling around men’s finances, nor around earthly success, nor around human displays of grandeur, if you truly desire to fellowship and bask in God’s Spirit you must start with Calvary. And surely not a cameo appearance or some tacit acknowledgement, oh no, if that is your plan you will have wasted your time. When you go to the cross be prepared to dwell there, and come expecting no short and convenient season. Come ready to “lengthen the cords and deepen the stakes”. Come ready to be changed. Come ready for illumination. Come ready for pain. Come ready for correction. Come ready for tears. Come ready for wonder. Come ready for majesty. Come ready for worship. Come ready for blood.

Any ministry which has the cross as a sidebar is not a ministry, it is a product of man and does disservice to the glory of Almighty God and His Incarnate Redeemer. And any believer that has placed the cross upon a shelf of past years needs a fresh touch from the crimson drips which can only be found when that cross is again removed from some shelf of doctrinal yesteryear and made alive in our hearts once again. This wounded body upon which we gaze is our only glory, and it is the portal through which all spiritual blessings flow to us, and it renders us as worthless without it. It does not just afford us strength, it is our strength. Not just a hiding place but a dwelling place. Not just forgiveness but justification. Not just death but life. Not just a moment but eternity.

Oh how could we ever leave Him? Leave Him, you say? When we leave the cross we have left Him, the one who brought His redemptive wounds to heaven to make an open show of triumph and to ever tether His glory to that cross. It is unthinkable and breathtaking to see this everlasting milestone upon which God showed Himself most clearly, and then to realize it was without any merit on our part. How do we repay, how can our eyes ever be dry, when we think upon this cross? Away with all theology that is built upon anything but that scarlet tree, away with all of men’s concoctions that teach everything but the cross, it is all vanity and vexation of spirit indeed.

So reject the merry-go-round of church teachings, the cyclical rotation of attempting to satisfy the misguided desires of a carnal church. Return fully to the ancient landmark, that which establishes all other landmarks, and cling to the old rugged cross. The greatest single event in time and before time and after time, the deepest mystery ever presented, and the loftiest expression of divine communication, is and always will be those two ordinary Roman planks upon which the God of all Creation suffers and dies…for the ungodly.

Selah. Selah. Selah…

Saturday, March 08, 2008

This is Not Christ

Kay Warren, Rick Warren’s wife, is a giant in the effort to show help and compassion to the sufferers of AIDS in Africa, and in particular the orphans of AIDS victims some who have the disease. I urge you to read this article which gives some of her speech. Of course many of us have substantive disagreements with Rick Warren on a number of levels, but this issue is not one of them. On one of the discernment blogs, CRN, they referenced this speech by Mrs. Warren. At the end of their selected quote they used that opportunity to take a sarcastic swipe at Rick Warren. This is not Christ.

Brothers and sisters, we must not take every opportunity to make our points, especially presented in sarcasm and on the backs of the AIDS orphan’s issue. Mrs. Warren was sharing her heart and challenging others as well. What would legitimize this as a place to use this as another opportunity for sarcasm and theological points? Are we all so saturated with outward and inward expressions of compassion around the world that we feel justified in standing upon our unassailable humanitarian soapbox and malign even a call for compassion? It is unseemly and repugnant and in my view relegates someone’s ministry as flawed regardless of how doctrinally sound they are. And Mrs. Warren gladly attached her name to her speech while the article at CRN was anonymous. Typical.

One can be doctrinally sound in their systematical theology and yet be a heretic in their methodology and tone. Self righteousness is heresy in its truest form and all who build upon that foundation are sounding brass and tinkling cymbals whose theological houses are structurally unsound regardless of how many "solas" one seems to profess. We neither weep for suffering AIDS orphans or their parent’s souls; we neither weep for people in bondage to the gay lifestyle or their parent’s heavy hearts; we neither weep for deceived preachers or the people who follow their deception; but let someone like Kay Warren make an impassioned plea on behalf of the colossal tragedy in Africa and it becomes a heartless platform for another verbal missile at her husband while conveniently ignoring the issue she referenced entirely.

Here is a quote from her speech:

‘How many times can you pursue the American dream before you find it’s hollow? Ladies, how many pairs of shoes can you own? Gentlemen, how many gidgety gadgety things can you own before you reach a point where it just doesn’t satisfy your soul? Why not choose to be ruined for something of eternal value?’

It’s a shame preachers don’t say something like that once in a while. Let us not always ride the stallion of doctrinal sentry duty, let us sometimes climb down from our great steeds and humbly acknowledge in love when someone with whom we disagree says something of value. Thank you, Mrs. Warren, we needed that…

Friday, March 07, 2008

Faith Works by Love

Gal.2:20 - ,I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Gal.5:6 - For in Jesus Christ neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision; but faith which worketh by love.
Gal.5:22 - But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith,
Eph.1:15 - Wherefore I also, after I heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus, and love unto all the saints,
Eph.3:17 - That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love,
Col.1:4 - Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,
I Thess.5:8 - But let us, who are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for an helmet, the hope of salvation.
I Tim.1:14 - And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus.
I Thess. 1:3 - Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;
I Tim.6:10 - For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
II Tim.1:13 - Hold fast the form of sound words, which thou hast heard of me, in faith and love which is in Christ Jesus
Phile.1:5 - Hearing of thy love and faith, which thou hast toward the Lord Jesus, and toward all saints;

There can be no authentic faith without authentic love. Love is the foundation, the activator of our faith and that which showcases spiritual faith itself. It is difficult to define this love much less practice it. The church has so lost touch with the love of God that it is the most miniscule of issues. How many watchman speak correction to the church about our love quotient? The subject of love is not only overlooked, it has been comfortably redefined so we all can feel good about it and move on. Keeping yourselves in the love of God, says the brother of our Lord. What does that mean?

Does it mean we can love God and His Word with all our hearts and let the chips fall where they may as far as any exhibition of “love”, whatever that is, concerning our brethren in Christ and indeed the lost brethren in Adam? Look at all the verses I listed, and there are more, and see how intertwined faith and love are. It could not be more obvious that our Lord, the God who is love, is telling us something in no uncertain terms. Let us be honest, there is more Scriptural documentation for love than there is for the Trinity, male only pastors, and a host of other issues that we all stand aggressively firm about. So why does love get such a back seat?

Again, why does love get a back seat? Listen carefully, I am convinced it is much easier, infinitely easier, to espouse certain doctrinal issues that require no behavioral substantiation than something like love that is far greater than just words. Anyone can believe in the Trinity, it takes no life actions. The same for a menu of doctrines that are basic and Biblical but are limited to the defense of the faith, but there is no greater doctrine than love, both loving God, the first commandment, and loving everyone else, the second which Christ said is tethered to the first. And yet love is scarcely dealt with doctrinally much less pervasively and much less accurately exhibited.

Let’s examine the second commandment to love our neighbors in greater detail. Look out, now, there may be some turbulence ahead and the pilot has turned on the “no pride” sign. What does it mean to love our neighbor as ourselves, and how does that translate into actions in our lives. I guess the first step comes from within. We can never really know, much less show, God’s love to others until we first really…uh…well…love them. Wow, what a revelation! The only way I can love people is to first love them in my heart. Who knew? But this is not easy because we are an unloving people at heart and we spread our love very thinly, usually only among those who love us or those to whom our love comes naturally.

Love is not a truth we believe, it’s something that must be done. No one says “I believe in breathing” and never breathes, that is death. And we cannot say, “Oh yes, I am Biblically fundamental, I believe in love. Go ahead, ask me any questions about it and I’ll tell you what I believe”. That is as hollow as it gets, something akin to exhibiting jumping through words. Love is doing, but of course doing isn’t always love, but the two are one.

So as we filet our inner man wide open we might notice that he believes in the fundamental doctrines of the faith as prescribed by the church, but…oh my…where is the love? I am not speaking of loving someone’s soul and hating their guts, no, that isn’t Christ’s love. The love we are looking for is that sacrificial love, unconditional love, love that does not draw its strength from the object but from the source. And if we feel the pain of honest inventory, the next question is how do we rectify that woeful situation? OK, now we are entering thick theological woods that have very few human footprints to follow and no well worn paths. Get out the machete and prepare to bleed.

What would be the first step in the journey to pursue God’s love in our own hearts? I would imagine we would have to define it as God defines it before we can press toward it and that can only come through God’s Word. When we begin to move from our definitions of love and seek to know God’s definition we will become uncomfortable. The “lay down your life” kind of love is not just inconvenient, it goes against every carnal molecule in our bodies of sin. Romans gives us a clear example when Paul says that “Christ died for the ungodly”. And in fact, the Lord loved His enemies and proved that love in giving His own life for those same enemies. Wow, there’s a novel concept, giving your life for your enemies. That cannot possibly mean what it implies, can it? I mean I should sacrifice my life, my will, my honor, my comfort, and my reputation for my enemies? That not only goes against what I feel it goes against what the church has taught and manifested.

The church has castigated liberal democrats, spoken harshly against Muslims, mocked Bill Clinton, disrespected doctrinal opponents, criticized all types of lost sinners, and used some “conservative” platform as an excuse to drain itself of everything but the most miniscule element of God’s love, just enough to love like the world loves and call it “God’s”. So when we compare God’s love as explained in His Word and lived by the Incarnate Word we see how embarrassingly deficient is our brand of so called “love”. Throw that love away and reach for the love of God, but you may have to reach further than you ever dreamed. This love hurts and is passed through selfless humility.

How do I emulate in human behavior and speech the humble love as expressed in the Incarnation? I am pretty sure we don’t even wish to know which, by Biblical definition, means we operate outside the faith realm. Love and faith - faith and love. Please put a little faith on our plates, Lord, but hold the love…

Tuesday, March 04, 2008

Interpreting Scripture

I Cor.2:13 - which things we also speak, not in words taught by human wisdom, but in those taught by the Spirit, combining spiritual thoughts with spiritual words. (NAS)

God has given His precious Word to mankind with the express purpose of more accurately revealing Himself and unfolding an understanding of His glorious redemption through His Risen Son. But let us be honest, men have taken God’s Word and twisted it into tortured theologies while still claiming they were teaching what God’s Word was saying. Some are abject heresies while others are different but still teach the authentic core of the gospel truth. But there must be some guidelines, some structure that keeps our interpretations well within the parameters of Biblical truth without removing the sacred and spiritual essence. I contend that most wrong theology that claims the Bible as its source is a matter of flawed methodology in interpreting Scripture itself. It is not enough to say “You are wrong!”, we must show why a teaching is in error.

The basic and imperative rule of Scriptural interpretation is that Scripture must interpret itself. All Scripture is inspired of God, and if God inspired His written revelation then He surely was able to preserve it as well. So we must embrace all 66 books as having divine meaning and direction for sinners and that these are the building blocks that are used by the Holy Spirit to illuminate God’s truth as well as God Himself. Anything less than that view is like a loose thread that when pulled begins to unravel the other securely woven threads and ultimately ruin the entire garment. Many so called theologians are doing just that today with the perfect garment of Scripture. Brother Roloff used to say with Solomon, “If it’s new it ain’t true!”. If some teaching is not a further revelation of some established truth and it seems out of line with what we’ve already learned and in fact undermines what we thought we knew, then run from it.

It is getting easier and easier to find new and exciting revelations today that are leading millions astray, taught and presented by careless men who dissect the Scriptures as if they were some human stories that could have many different meanings. Their basis for these new and spurious teachings are quotes from some rabbi from a few millennia ago, and many now have been energized by pressing God’s Word in the vice of rabbinical understandings. Do no be deceived, God’s Word cannot be compressed by any religious structure and indeed many of the rabbinical understandings were human constructions and not meant as prisms through which all Scripture must be viewed. In fact, the church operates now in the “times of the Gentiles” and for the most part the bride of Christ is a Gentile ethnically. These new “rabbinical” teachings seem so deep and intellectual but they are misguided attempts to interpret the New Testament through the understandings of men who for the most part had not the Holy Spirit.

Is it not somewhat curious that the theologians of old, men of deep spiritual lives like Wesley, Whitefield, Spurgeon, and thousands of others, used no tortured ethnic guideposts in their unfolding of Scripture? I would not say that these new and improved theologians were operating out of bad intentions and motives, I will, however, claim they have been mislead and are in turn misleading others. The cultural surroundings in New Testament times can be edifying to the Scriptural understandings, but they would be further illuminating rather than a wholesale change. To have a knowledge of the place that bread held in Jewish lives helps deepen our understanding of Christ’s words, “I am the Bread of Life.”. But that additional knowledge must build upon and enhance the clear meaning that Jesus was the Life Giver and was using bread as an object lesson and looking glass into who He was and is.

Let us now step further into the methodology concerning Scriptural interpretation. The basic premise is that Scripture is its own interpretive instrument and that there is no private understandings such as Joseph Smith, Mary Baker Eddy, Charles Taze Russell, or any other so called “prophet” who come with new revelations. We must have the heart of Luther who said, “Unless you can convince me from Scripture…” because in the end it does not matter what some theologian said in the first century and in fact many in the embryonic church are quoted as Roman Catholic authorities. Many Protestants who convert to Roman Catholicism do so based upon some notion of apostolic succession and the writings of the early fathers. The early church fathers are no more or less authoritative than your Sunday School teacher and holding them up as divine conduits is idolatry and even reflects the structure that the Roman Church itself embraces.

The same is true for Wesley and Luther and Calvin, all just men with feet of clay who have no more of the Holy Spirit than do we ourselves. Please do not base your theology on the teachings of men, use those teachings as divine prods to search the Scriptures to see whether these things are true. The majority of professing believers never experience the absolute glory of discovering the treasure held in God’s Word, like baby wolves they are content to ingest the regurgitations of other men. If you or I agree in totality with Wesley or Calvin or Spurgeon or any one man we probably have been lulled into receiving another man’s labors without reaping the rewards of our own spiritual study.

So if Scripture must interpret Scripture which Scriptures are the starting point, the foundations of understandings? If someone says “Leviticus” he is mistaken and all his teaching will reflect that initial error. The same will be for anyone who constructs his interpretations on faulty foundations, he will run the risk of tainting all of his teachings and instructing others to do likewise. That doesn’t mean his teachings won’t be exciting and mind tingling and inspiring, they may well be all that and more, but they are still wrong. Wrong teachings many times make us feel good and even inspire us to make outward changes in our lives that seem to substantiate those teachings, however, many Americans have converted to Buddhism and been freed from drug addiction and many interpret that as substantiating the “truth” of Buddhism. So just because someone gets excited about the Scriptures does not translate into substantiating his view of truth as proven.

Of course the Holy Spirit is the Teacher, but if a student doesn’t follow instructions he may well be lost quickly if he and the teacher are not on the same page. So the beginning point, the complete revelation, is the New Testament. If someone was marooned on an island for the rest of their lives and just before being shipwrecked you could throw either the Old Testament or the New Testament to him, which would you throw out to him as you left him? Come on, no ifs, ands, or buts it is clear that we would want the New Testament in his hands because without the New Testament the Old Testament is worthless for those living this side of the cross. Even those who minister to Jews use the OT which they espouse and lead them to see that the New Testament is the interpretation of, for example, Isaiah chapter 53, otherwise that religious Jew still believes that the man of sorrows is Israel and never understands that God is foreshadowing the Messiah. You see, the New Testament is that which is foundationally indispensable to Scriptural interpretation.

Of course the early apostles relied heavily upon the Old Testament accompanied by their new revelations as how those Scriptures speak of Christ, about which they had been ignorant until now, but they certainly were in a transitional phase of Scriptural interpretation. God surely did not just “download” everything they would need to know concerning this New Covenant, and Peter and James especially made some serious mistakes early on. But does a new believer come immediately equipped with deep Scriptural understandings or must he grow in the knowledge and grace of Christ and His Word? So it is with the church, she was birthed at Pentecost with a zeal about Jesus but had to grow and mature in God’s grace and truth. God chose Paul to teach more extensively concerning all the connected gospel truths and subsequently Paul wrote most of the New Testament and was used as the teaching lynchpin of ecclesiastical truth.

So, the New Testament revelations that incorporated the Old Testament shadows are the solid foundations for interpreting all Scripture. Think on that for moment, if there is no foundation, no point at which to reference, then anyone can interpret anything as they see fit. Someone can claim God still desires stoning if he rejects New Testament guidance. Take a seed in your hand and tell me what kind of seed it is. Then take a flower in its bloom beside the seed and suddenly the flower explains and reveals the seed, does it not? The Old Testament had the seed and wrote what God said but having not seen the Incarnation bloom as of yet, they remained ignorant of the eternal implications of the seed they were trusting faithfully. And on Pentecost the Holy Spirit through Peter watered that seed and the flower of the Lord Jesus bloomed in their hearts and it all suddenly made sense.

The 11th chapter of Hebrews recounts all the great men and women of faith. Abel, Enoch, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, David, Rahab, and many others are listed as examples of great faithfulness. Wow, what a list! The Scripture says they were stoned, afflicted, tormented, went homeless, imprisoned, and suffered greatly while still remaining faithful. What a testimony to God’s grace and their faithfulness! But look how God closes that chapter:

Heb.11:39-40 - And these all having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise. God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.

Can you not see it my dear friends? We as New Testament believers confirm and complete the Old Testament saints. The New Testament Scriptures are actually the interpretation of the Old, never the reverse. That is why when men use the Old Testament as their home base they can alliterate anything they desire especially when they isolate it from the New Testament. If the New Testament doesn’t teach, reveal, complete, or fulfill some truth taught or hinted at in the Old Testament then we have the wrong interpretation. Go ahead, read the Old Testament and the only reason they mean anything to you is because you are subliminally and overtly drawing from the reservoir of New Testament knowledge already active in your spirit. In reality, the Old Testament is a confusing story of Israel and certain men and women who have no relevance to me and my life when untethered from the New Testament and absent the Spirit’s teaching chiefly through those 27 books of illumination.

We must rightly divide the Word or we end up with all kinds of confusion and an amalgam of doctrinal teachings that combine the Old Testament and the New Testament in a subjective and unguided way. That is why, for instance, men teach with conviction that babies that die go to heaven primarily based upon David’s words about the death of his child with Bathsheba. But the New Testament does not teach anything about it so these assumptions may or may not be true, but without teaching on the subject we can only guess from an Old Testament narrative quote. But that is exactly what some do with the Scriptures, they reach into the Old Testament, cull out some quote or narrative, and make that doctrinally authoritative. And behold, we have every wind of doctrine.

Now let us distill it a little finer as it pertains to Scriptural interpretation. The actual manual for church teaching are the epistles. It is somewhat fashionable today to rely heavily on the gospels as church teachings and place Paul in a subservient role, but all Scripture has its authority and its place in the framework of that authority. Jesus washed the disciple’s feet and said that they should do what He had done, so why doesn’t your church wash feet every month? It is because the teaching epistles do not teach feet washing as a literal and demonstrative doctrine along the lines of, for instance, the Lord’s Supper, so we can glean from them that Jesus was teaching the principle of humility which is taught in the epistles.

That is why it so wrong to teach something from the Old Testament and apply to it something that is not found in the New Testament. Just recently a preacher taught that the Song of Solomon was in essence a sex manual for married couples. It is interesting that God could place that manual within dogs but humans have to learn it? This form of “teaching” is not only disgusting, it is wrong hermeneutically on every level. If the New Testament does not teach about sex except for the chronological morality as it pertains to marriage, then what people say about the Song of Solomon is wrong. There are many such pieces of erotic literature in the secular world so there must be a spiritual reason why this was included in Holy Writ. Well, how do we know what God is saying to His people through the Song of Solomon?

The answer is still the same, the Old Testament must be interpreted through the lens of the New. So since the Song of Solomon deals with love there are only a few types of love dealt with in the New Testament. The Lord loves His church, the Lord loves His follower, the believer loves his Lord, the Father loves His Son, the Son loves His Father, and of course marital love. To suggest that the Song of Solomon was a course in eroticism for the western church is as viable as believing the Earth is flat and is a startling and sad revelation of how Scripturally ignorant we have become. In reality these kinds of “tours” are meant to pad both the fame and the fortune of the preachers who hold them, and in fact they do both very well. But that is not how we must interpret Scripture.

Perhaps something I have shared either made sense or at least made you think about questions you have had about the swirling teachings today that, let’s face it, cannot all be right. If so, I challenge you to dig deep in the Word and see some of the principles I’ve laid out. And take some of those weird teachings and see if they are consistent with these principles of Biblical interpretations. I may write about this again, but for now I pray you will not only not be led astray but you will undergird your walk with Christ with a diligent seeking of God’s truth and at the end, He who IS Truth.

Monday, March 03, 2008

He Has Abolished Death

II Tim.1:10 - But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Savior Jesus Christ, who has abolished death and has brought life and immortality to light through this gospel.

Think of that, our Lord and magnificent Savior has abolished death through His gospel work. The common fear every human has is the fear of death, and yet for the believer Christ has abolished it. Jesus said, “I AM the resurrection and the life, he that believes on me though he were dead yet shall he live!”. Death is not just the cessation of breathing or heartbeats, death is this entire world.

I Jn.2:17 - And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

This world is dying, sometimes slowly but many times rapidly. All who hold to this world are clinging to and enjoying a death bed stranger, a continuing corruption that indeed corrupts all those who touch it. We in this part of the world are seeing a deception and are being enticed with death. This death, the death that inhabits this world, sometimes appears as entertainment, and sometimes as love, and sometimes as money, and sometimes as success, and sometimes as religion, and many times as something to be desired. And yet, regardless of its thin veneer of attraction, it is still death. Death to the soul, death to the emotions, death to faith, and death to any productive journey in pursuing to know Christ and His glory more deeply.

But Christ has abolished death for His followers if we will walk in His life and reject this world. Yes we are in this world but we are not of this world. It is when we consider ourselves part and parcel of this carousel of death, enjoying its delicacies and participating in its deception, that we lose the power of Christ’s life. What a disaster and what a colossal loss when we trade the glory of the Risen Christ and His life for the unproductive death of this world. The Word says that:

I Jn.2:15 - Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

No man can serve two masters, he will love one and hate the other. So if we love this world we cannot love God. And the love of this passing death manifests itself in both the sins of the flesh and sins of the spirit. Oh precious saint of Jesus, do not get swept away in the tidal wave of modern Christianity that claims to have a foot in the world and one in Christ, that is death. Oh it may seem alluring and it may appear that many who live such careless lives are actually enjoying this world and all that is has to offer, and they may even testify that the world’s water is great so come on in, but they are deceived unless God is a liar. God has said this present world is death and He cannot lie!

Now some new and exciting teachings have rejected the rapture of the church, the tribulation period, and the visible second coming of the Lord Jesus. They say that this world will continue to get better and better which is in direct contradiction of God’s sure Word. This world cannot get better, it is dead. The western church has so compromised that she could no longer endure the tension between her lifestyle and the dictates of God’s Word, so the church took God’s Word and twisted it to accommodate her hedonistic lifestyle and taught the sheep that God was well pleased. God’s own church put on the serpent’s skin and told God’s people to eat of any and all forbidden fruit and indeed there is now nothing forbidden to God’s bride. God’s own bride has spoken with the forked tongue of the adder, testing the world’s air and slithering toward its fleshly delights. And preachers and teachers have signaled to the flock to follow them to the land of death.

But we have forgotten how glorious suffering can be for God’s people, and fasting from this world gives us strength and brings praise to our Father. Is it inspiring to read of modern preachers that curse and tell disgusting jokes and have multiple tens of thousands in the bank to lavish upon their hedonistic lifestyles? God has never been impressed with those who claim His voice without sacrifice. If the Fox’s Book of Martyrs was restricted to America’s Christians the book would never have been written. Peruse the Christian bookstore and see the multitude of books that teach how you can have what this world offers while any books that teach the glorious praise of suffering have long since gone out of vogue. We are in love with death and have called it life and more abundant.

Why? We have taken our eyes off the Lovely One, the Author and Sustainer of all Grace, and we have looked upon this world and its attractive offers. Have we forgotten how this world was killing us before we met the Master? Have we returned to the pigpen only this time dressed as the Christian life? The prodigal is now the faithful, the backslider is now insightful, the false teacher is now deep, and the worldly and careless believer is now free in Christ. This is not the death abolishing Jesus, this is the man made caricature who bears no resemblance to the One who calls us to leave this world and “Follow Me”. And the visible church certainly enjoys the poisons of this world but she has rejected the eternal nectar that is given to those who continually seek to lose their lives to find His and His alone.

Stories and testimonies of saints in former years seem like a dream and so alien to anything to which this generation can relate. John Wesley once began a fast because his brother Charles purchased a new couch and John thought his brother was sliding into worldliness. How archaic and legalistic, right? Maybe so but God used John Wesley to shake continents for Christ and perhaps millions of souls will be found in heaven because of this “legalist”. I believe it is easier for God to break us of legalism than apathy and worldliness. Away with it all, it is death and like the Nazarite we should not even touch it lest it keep us from our Beloved and His throne room!

Oh come my brethren, let us walk humbly and filled with awe and grace before our Mighty Master and Lord. We must find no fulfillment in this world but in our Savior alone. Learn of Him and bow to His yoke which is easy and gives us the rest our souls seek. Jesus must have the preeminence in everything we do and think. Who is this One who has the power to abolish death itself?

Jesus. The Death Abolisher and the sum total of all spiritual truths. God is a spirit and yet chose to present Himself as a man, indeed a God man. Just that thought consumes the mind with wonder and head shaking depth. The question that must be answered was asked of this God man Himself when He asked, “Who do men say that I am?’. Notice how the Lord so wisely constructed that sentence with the obvious “I AM” included within the question itself. That question has so many eternal implications and yet the disciples only recognized the very surface of Jesus’ question about other men. They replied that some said He was John the Baptist, or Jeremiah, or one of the prophets. What an easy way out and how colloquial the conversation when it should have been addressed with the infinite truth about which He spoke.

But then Jesus puts aside the verbal shotgun and now fires the rifle. It is no longer who do men say that I am but who do YOU say that I AM. That is the line of eternal demarcation that divides the living from the dead, heaven from hell. The greatest deception ever foisted upon religious people is not that Jesus doesn’t exist, it is that salvation comes through good works. Not only is that an evil teaching, it demeans the Risen Christ and mocks His sacrifice as incomplete. Any sinner who so desires salvation must believe that Jesus is the Christ, and that He has completely and thoroughly paid the price for whosoever will believe upon Him. There is no middle ground, no accommodating any debate, and certainly no room for any of the works of men regardless how they are viewed as “good”.

Notice Jesus did not say “What have you done?”, no, He asks who do you say that I am. This is what confronts us, who is Jesus? Is He the one who abolished death and has preserved our life hidden in Christ with God or is He the thrower of this party we call the “world”? Is Jesus the “toast of the town” or is He the powerful Risen Master who triumphed openly over death and made a show of his enemies and indeed abolished death??? Which, my friends, is He? Does He sit on the right hand of the Father or does he descend to accommodate the believer’s flesh? Is Jesus the Exalted and August Son of the Living God or is He the informal guest who provides a hedonistic spread to satisfy the carnal desires of His worldly church?

The world ignores His cross and seeks pleasures rather than His sufferings, and this is what His people embrace? Who, like Paul, desires to know the fellowship of His sufferings in this hour? Who bows to the less and lives without murmur in the midst of spiritual content? Who closes their eyes at night with a song of deliverance on their heart simply for the privilege of knowing Christ? And when the waves are high and the sea troubled, and when the praises of men cannot be found, and when the body groans with affliction, and when friends and foes assail you, and when fortunes disappear, who then can kneel before the Great Christ and with tears streaming down fevered cheeks say with trembling hearts and lips,

“Thank you my Beloved Savior and Lord, I will never die because You have abolished death for me. I continue to exist in this vapor as per Your will, but I feel not the sting of death and I will never see the grave’s victory. Take me, my Lord, and do what pleases Thee and use my life here to one day glorify You before the angels of God. What do I care for this world of death, I am a living soul walking through a graveyard disguised as a party but with You alone do I find life.
You, Jesus, You alone have abolished death.
You, Jesus, You alone are who I seek…