All of these devotionals are the result of my own personal reflection on God's word. If you find these devotionals helpful, please subscribe and share them! Thank you for reading!

Thursday, June 30, 2011

2 Corinthians 3:14

"But their minds were hardened. For to this day, when they read the old covenant, that same veil remains unlifted, because only through Christ is it taken away."

In a certain sense, you will never fully understand the New Testament unless you understand the Old Testament.  The Scriptures of the Old Testament find their fulfillment in the new.  Each and every text in the Old Testament is a theological statement about God, whether it be Father, Son, or Holy Spirit. However, you will also never fully understand the Old Testament without the New Testament.

Paul says in this verse that without Christ, there is a veil over the "old covenant", meaning the promises made to God's people Israel (and the entire world through them).  There is truth beyond the original truth and beyond the historical contexts.  Actually, it would be a mistake to read the Old Testament as simply an accounting of the history of the Jewish people.  The Jews did not so painstaking preserve the Scriptures over thousands of years just to have a record of their history.  Rather, what they recorded were God's self revelation through His interactions with his people.  Each and every text is a theological statement, not a historical synopsis.  And without the Spirit of Christ, no one will understand the greater overarching truth of God because Christ is the full revelation of an invisible Father.

So then, just as every text reveals something about Christ, Christ reveals everything about all texts.

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Matthew 18:17

If he refuses to listen to them, tell it to the church; and if he refuses to listen even to the church, treat him as you would a pagan or a tax collector.

At first, it appears as if Jesus is saying to give up on the person, after you've done all that you could.  We naturally interpret it to mean that we judge and condemn him as an outsider because our minds are fallen.

However with the mind of Christ, tax collectors and pagans (nonbelievers) are to be sought after and loved more than those in the church.

Think about it.  How did Jesus Christ treat tax collectors and pagans?  He ate with them (Luke 5:30, Mark 2:17).  He forgave their sins. (Luke 9:1-10) He said to them, "Come, follow me." (Mark 2:14)  Jesus did not abandon or condemn pagans or tax collectors, but sought after them.  He didn't give up on them.

So, if a brother (using the mind of Christ, According to Jesus a brother is a Christian (Mark 3:35) remains unrepentant even after showing him his fault, he is not a Christian until he repents.  However, do not give up on him!  For it is those who are fallen away then deserve most of our attention.  We love them more, not less, when they stray.  For I tell you the truth, there is more rejoicing in heaven over one sinner who repents than 99 righteous who do not need to repent. (Luke 15:7)

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Philippians 1:27

"Whatever happens, above all else conduct yourself in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ.  Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in one spirit, contending as one man for the faith of the gospel"

No matter what, we are in this together.  That is the message Paul is giving us in Philippians.   This is the first command he gives and it is also the most important.  Above all else, do this.  It is a call to unity and to endure together no matter what comes of him, whether he lives or dies in prison.  But why is it so important that the church be unified?

In John 17, Jesus Christ prays for all believers to be one just as He and the Father are one in order that the world would know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.

It is through our unity that Christ proves his divinity.
It is our unity that shows the world that there exists a God in heaven who loves them.
It is our unity that brings about saving faith that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.
It not only saves others, but it saves us as well.

And so not only our salvation but the salvation of the entire world depends on the church standing firm together.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Galatians 3:22

But the Scripture imprisoned everything under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.

What the Old Testament reveals is that we are guilty beyond compare.  Because we know the laws God requires, we are law breakers who do not do them.  God's standards for holiness are so high that breaking even one law breaks all of them. We are prisoners to our own sin, deserving of death for our own wickedness.  If you believe the Scriptures, you also must believe you are a prisoner of war.

But faith sets you apart for salvation.

It is not your works that save you-- it is Christ.  It is not your worship that saves you-- it is Christ.  It is not your joy or your piety that saves you-- it is Christ.  It is not even your faith that saves you-- it is Christ and his faithfulness that brings you up out of the land of slavery.

Do not look to heaven to call down eternal blessing through your pitiful prayers, but look to Christ who hears them.  Make no mistake, you are not at all worthy or important except for Christ who makes you worthy and important by the sheer fact that he designates you to be so.  Do not be fooled, for you are nothing until Christ makes you something.  Look to Christ so that he may grant you rest.  Christ is your salvation and there is no other.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Jeremiah 16:4

"They shall die of deadly diseases. They shall not be lamented, nor shall they be buried. They shall be as dung on the surface of the ground. They shall perish by the sword and by famine, and their dead bodies shall be food for the birds of the air and for the beasts of the earth."

God warns Israel not to have children.This verse is why.  During the hardship brought on by the onslaught of war, children are the first to suffer and die. The LORD, the God of Hosts, is going to do the most horrific thing imaginable, that is, give us exactly what we want.

Because we have forsaken the LORD to follow other gods, he has given us over to them.  He will no longer seek after us and his divine favor and protection will no more follow us.  He lets us chase after the false gods of money, lust, fame, and power.  He lets us reap the destruction we have wrought.

But blessed is the man who returns to God!  Blessed is he who God disciplines so that he does not pay the price of his own transgression!  The LORD says, "Return to me and I will return to you" no questions asked.  Once you've tasted the destruction false gods bring you will know that He is the LORD and there is none like him.  As surely as you have gotten yourself into this mess, the LORD has given you a way out.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Ephesians 5:8

"For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord.  Live as children of light..."

Have you ever walked through the valley of the shadow of death?  Paul says you are the shadow.  Death loomed wherever you went.  You were darkness, given over to depraved hearts and minds, and Satan was your lord, the prince of darkness.  You who knew not Christ did the bidding of another.  But now you are light in the Lord.

Where once you were blind, now you see clearly your condition.  Now the the light has come into the world and has exposed what was in the dark.  This light brings life, but these days are evil.  And Satan cannot touch you.  How can he? He only moves about in the darkness, and in the darkest and most remote corners of our heart he wreaks havoc.  But just as a fire holds no shadow within it, so to do the children of the light do what Christ does, the first light.

Paul exhorts us to not just to do and obey, but the realize the truth that we are light.  We are to grasp that reality by living it.  And what does light do?  It exposes wrong doing and speaks the truth in righteousness.  Remember, one candle which lights another loses neither light nor heat.  Embrace your true identity as a child of the light, that light which is God.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Psalms 12:8

"The wicked freely strut about when what is vile is honored among men."

Evil doers are everywhere.  They walk about on the streets going about their business.  They are in your homes, at your workplace, sitting on benches in your parks and serving you the very food that you eat.  What's more is that they go unnoticed, even to themselves for the evil that they do is praised among mankind.

They take vengeance when vengeance belongs to the Lord.  The have premarital sex when sex belongs to the covenant of marriage.  The victimize their brethren in order to make financial gains in business.  They overlook the needs of the poor in order to satisfy their own self-indulgence.  Their hearts lust for violence as they seek to be entertained.  Americans love all these things but they are vile in the eyes of the LORD.

And instead of being filled with grief, we are instead proud!  We encourage practices which seem normal culturally but are in no way God fearing practices.  And so the wicked walk about freely and unrepentant for they do not know what they do.  They feel accepted when in reality they are condemned and if we as the Church live the same way, do we not encourage the same practices?  Do we not condemn ourselves?  But let God judge those outside the church and let your life shine to show men the error of their ways.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Mark 10:21

"And Jesus looking upon him loved him, and said unto him, One thing thou lackest: go, sell whatsoever thou hast, and give to the poor, and thou shalt have treasure in heaven: and come, follow me."

What Jesus tells that man when he asks "What must I do to inherit eternal life?" is not what we would answer to someone asking the question of us.  Most of us would say, pray to ask Jesus into your heart, read the Bible every day, go to church, fellowship, worship, and so on.

Does that mean we think Jesus was not really serious with his answer?  Jesus says absolutely none of those things we would expect.  If we do not take Jesus seriously, should we expect Jesus to take our faith seriously?  This isn't a specific command for one person in particular, and when taken as the answer to the question "What must I do to inherit Eternal life?", this answer seems rather important to salvation.

Jesus gives a rather practical answer.  The faith he is asking this man to show is not personal saving faith but rather interpersonal saving faith that touches the heart of social concern.  What Jesus is asking for is a radical trust in him and not in possessions.  So no matter how much technology we can cram into our churches, we could do more for not only the world's salvation but ours as well if we only sold it to the poor and followed Him.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Hebrews 12:27

"This phrase, “Yet once more,” indicates the removal of things that are shaken—that is, things that have been made—in order that the things that cannot be shaken may remain."

No matter what happens, God will never change.  Those who are in Christ are unshakeable because they are being held in the hand of the Eternal One.  You who are in Christ are a child of God and nothing in this world can ever change that because it is God who has ordained you for salvation and has adopted you legally to be his child.  At the end of the day and everything is falling apart, rejoice!  Rejoice because you have a Father in heaven who will never leave you or forsake you.

A time is coming soon when heaven and earth will pass away, but the Word of Christ endures forever. (Mt 24:35, Mk 13:31, Lk 21:33)  God's promises to us stand firm forever. They cannot be shaken by anything.  They are the firm foundation on which we build (Mt 7:24).  They never fade and they never falter and in the end they will be all that remain.

Why wait until heaven to enjoy your salvation when salvation has come unto the world?  Everything God creates is made to change.  So even when you are robbed of all that you hold dear and life takes its toll you can still say, "God is my gracious Father because Christ is my faithful husband! Why should I worry?"

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

1 Timothy 6:17-19

"Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment."

We are not to put our hope in the uncertainty of riches, but rather in the certainty of God.  The one who trusts in money may or may not become rich, but the one who trusts in God and his Word will be richly provided for with everything for their enjoyment.  How can we be so arrogant to say, "I have my wealth to provide for all I need.  What need do I have for God?", failing to realize it was God who provided the abundance to begin with?

It is as if a child, upon receiving his monthly allowance, said to his parents, "Now that I have $20, what need have I for parents?"  And when that $20 runs out, to whom does that child return?  It's the story of the Prodigal Son, who after squandering his father's wealth, returns to his father because he needed his help once more.

And praise God that he richly provides for our every need!  Even when we sin, even when we go astray, God provides for us abundantly when we return to him.  God is secure and everlasting, while money is temporary. God is a sure thing, so trust in God, the provision will come.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Romans 9:18-20

Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. One of you will say to me: “Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?” But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? “Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why did you make me like this?’”

Salvation is God's choice.  There is no doubt about that.  However, what people cannot accept is its corollary:  condemnation is also God's choice.

One implication is the question asked in verse 19.  Paul's answer isn't very comforting, even though it is deeply rooted in Old Testament Scripture (Isa 29:16, 45:9, Job 38-42).  How on Earth is God justified to do this?  Is He just a tyrant?

God is God.  Whatever he does, he does out according to his good pleasure.  What pleases God?  Certainly not wickedness!  He is good, holy, and righteous.  He is a God who is for us that none may stand against us.

How do we know this?  Because Jesus Christ is the full revelation of God.  The Scriptures are his divinely inspired self revelation because he is a God who wants to be known for who he is and who he is is perfect, pleasing, and good.  Therefore, we have no need to question God's motives, nor is it our place.  Who can understand why God does what he does?  God is who He says He is and that is enough.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

John 9:41

Jesus said to them, “If you were blind, you would have no guilt; but now that you say, ‘We see,’ your guilt remains."

Sometimes truth is revealed very gradually, and lately one that has become more and more self evident is this dangerous little notion: Ideas have consequences.

God has given us the capacity for  ideas and a means with which to communicate them and conversely enabled in us creativity, imagination, and the ability to dream and hope for the future.  However, we started having the wrong ideas.

We started trusting in our own ideas rather than those of God.  Our own perceptions have taken over and our vision of reality is distorted.  The more we say that "we see", the blinder we become.  We have given up God's vision for our own selfish and blind ambition.  And this is judgment: that those who were blind now see and those who claim to see become blind (v39). God has blinded the hearts of men lest they turn and be healed (Isa 6:9-10) in his judgment.

But praise God now that the Truth has been revealed to us, God in Christ, so that all who look upon him and believe be saved (v37-38).  No longer do our hearts sit blindly in judgment, but we have been shown our sin.  There is, now, therefore, no excuse for anyone to not be in Christ unless their eyes are still blinded by God.  Yet, Christ is being made manifest by his Church so that no man may have an excuse to be condemned.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Romans 9:3

"For I could wish that I myself were cursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, those of my own race, the people of Israel. Theirs is the adoption as sons; theirs the divine glory, the covenants, the receiving of the law, the temple worship and the promises."

To ask for this, means to ask for a life apart from Christ, eternally cut off from the Father.  Paul is willing to give up his salvation.  This is crazy.

But what if Christianity isn't about getting into heaven? If it's not about the eternal reward at the end of the long race?  If it's not about entering into the Kingdom of God and having your name written in the book of eternal life?  From the looks of it, it's about saving everyone else but yourself, and risking life and limb to do so.

Jesus is the first among many heroes.  Paul followed suit and many other martyrs even up to this day are dying for the sake of Christ and the gospel.  Why?  Because it is not their salvation they are after, but that of the world.  Christians are heroes.

For Paul, eternal life was on his list of things that could be sacrificed for the sake of his ministry.  He was never in it for himself, but for the love of Christ.  And we all know that Christ was not in the world for himself, but descended solely for us. Crazy? Yes.  Truth?  Absolutely.  Gospel? 100%.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Philippians 1:29

"For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,"

Paul says what many Christians today don't want you to hear because Paul is not ashamed of the gospel.  I mean the entire gospel, not just the good parts you tell your non-christian friends in hopes you might trick them into "faith".  What good is it to "save" someone through deception lest they come to believe the entire gospel is a lie once they realize the truth.

What does Paul say?  That not only is salvation a gift, but so are the sufferings we endure for his name.  A gift.  Because God likes to see his children suffer?  Far from it!  Those who suffer together strive together with one spirit and one mind for the faith of the gospel (v27).  We suffer with Christ because we are in Christ and no servant is greater than his master (John 15:20).  Our suffering together brings us into greater unity.

We are one Body and Christ is our head (Eph 4:15-16) because we are united in hardship.  So we rejoice in our suffering (Rom 5:3-5) because through them we know we are in Christ when we suffer for his sake and the sake of the gospel (Rom 8:17).  It is when we stand firm together despite suffering that is a sign to us of our salvation despite it appearing to the world that we are being destroyed (v28).

After all, those who lose their lives for Christ will save them (Mark 8:35), the one who is not ashamed of Christ, Christ will not be ashamed of him (Mark 8:38), and all who have left mother and brothers will not fail to receive a hundred fold what they have left, and with them persecutions (Mark 10:30).  Don't be afraid to tell people the truth of the gospel, all of it, for half a gospel produces half a Christian with half of a salvation.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Acts 9:4-5

He fell to the ground and heard a voice say to him, “Saul, Saul, why do you persecute me?”
“Who are you, Lord?” Saul asked.
“I am Jesus, whom you are persecuting,” he replied.

Curiously, Jesus tells Saul that he is persecuting him when clearly it says in verse 1 Saul is persecuting the Church of the Lord's disciples who called themselves "The Way".  Jesus makes no distinction between the persecution of his Church and of himself for the Church is his body.  

Jesus Christ has made his will and the will of the Father known. Because there exists a holy God, there is a holy church.  Because there is one God, there is one church.  Because God is universal, so too is the church universal (catholic).  And because the Father sent his Son to do this work through the sanctifying Spirit, so too does Christ send us to be his body in the world animated by His Holy Spirit. We believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic church because we believe in one, holy, catholic, and apostolic God.

And thus those who try and frustrate the interests of the Church try and frustrate the interests of God.  For this reason they will fail, for no one frustrates the will of God.  Therefore as the Church, we seek not our own interests, but the interests of God and his interest is in the salvation of mankind to the glory of His name.  So here we remain until the Lord calls us home.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Genesis 40:8

   Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God?” 

 Do not interpretations belong to God?  Scripture must be read prayerfully and interpreted with a humble spirit.  We must first admit to ourselves that we know nothing and only then can we be open to the teaching God through his word.  We must be sure we interpret with the Holy Spirit, the author or the Word.  But should it not be that Scripture interprets us?

The Word of God is not simply some ordinary object to be studied and picked apart.  It has all power and authority to direct our lives.  It is the power of God for the salvation of all who believe.  It is his word and our guide.  It is a lamp for our feet and a light for our path.  It is the self revelation of God to the world.

And who can say they understand the word of God unless the Spirit himself reveals the truth in the words?  You can read the Bible and gain nothing from it because only spiritual minds understand spiritual truths.  Only God reveals himself to whom he wills and so all true interpretations belong to God.  Anything else is a distortion towards destruction.  God is inerrant in His Word and thus any addition or subtraction is an imperfection and sacrilege.  To wield the Word is a frightful thing, sharper than any sword and more impactful than any cannon.  Handle with care.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

John 14:31

"But the world must learn that I love the Father and that I do exactly what my Father has commanded me."

Jesus's mission is clear: to reveal the Father in heaven in all His glory unto a desperate and sinful world.  If Jesus did not love the Father, who then could know him?  If Jesus did not do as the Father commanded of him, to who, then, would the Father be revealed? If Jesus were not holy, no one would be able to see God the Father in him (Hebrews 12:14).

And should we not imitate Christ? (Eph 5:1)  If Christ is not revealed through us then Christ is not in us and if he is not in us how can we be sanctified?  The world must, and I repeat MUST learn that Jesus Christ loves the Father and obeys his commands.  How else can it be saved?

We too, must show the world our love for the Father and our obedience (which comes from faith) and loyalty to His Commands.  We obey his good, perfect and pleasing will because there is honestly no better will to follow.  Sure we could go our own way, but because we are not God, our will is less than optimal.  Once we submit our will to that of the Father, how can we help but be blessed and be a blessing to the nations (Gen 12:3) through Christ our King, the Son of David and true Seed of Abraham?

Monday, June 13, 2011

Matthew 17:20

"He replied, "Because you have so little faith. I tell you the truth, if you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, 'Move from here to there' and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.""

Two men came to a frozen lake and although seeing the "thin ice" sign, walked out onto the lake anyway.  The first man said, "Let us walk boldly for this ice will not break!" while the second said with a quiver in his voice as he reluctantly stepped forth, "I don't know if this ice is going to hold."  Which one had faith?

They both did.

In the end, both of them walked out onto that lake, one rather blindly and the other cautiously.  They didn't fall in because ultimately it was not their faith that supported them but the object of that faith, the ice.  We are not asked to believe blindly but to come and see for ourselves.  Had the ice given way, the first man would have proven to be foolish, not that he isn't already a fool.  It is better to test and discern God's will than to rush in blindly where angels fear to tread.

So I tell you the truth, it does not matter how much faith you have (even as small as a mustard seed), but who you have faith in.  Nothing will be impossible for us because we believe in a God for whom nothing is impossible.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Hebrews 12:14-15a

"Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.  See to it that no one misses the grace of God..."

God is most clearly shown in holiness for He is Holy.  If our lives do not point to the Lord, that is to the Holy One in our midst, who can see the invisible God?  Jesus Christ, the image of the invisible God who lives in us through the Holy Spirit, is the one who makes us holy.  To live holy is to live incarnationally as the salt and light of the earth.

And so we also see to it that no one misses the grace of God for unto us a new righteousness has been revealed.  Because of Jesus Christ, all have free access to the throne of God.  Those who resist grace do so because they do not recognize grace.  Grace is irresistible save for the act of God himself which makes men have eyes but never seeing and ears but never understanding lest he turn and be healed.  They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.

So as we live holy as God is Holy, we continue to shine the light of the world that was brought forth from the virgin's womb and begotten of the Father through the Holy Spirit.  It is this light which opens the eyes of men that the scales might fall off.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Matthew 1:1

"The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham."

The New Testament and the gospel begin with the most seemingly unremarkable of ways.  However, it could not have begun more appropriately.  It says three things:  Jesus is the Messiah, Jesus is the son of David, and Jesus is the son of Abraham.

Jesus is the Christ, the coming Messiah promised to the people of God.  The LORD has once again heard the sufferings of his people and their groans of agony under the oppressive reign of the Roman empire and of Herod.  The Gospel begins with a declaration which no one has spoken before, that the Christ has come and his name is Jesus, "God saves".

Jesus is the Son of David, the promised and everlasting king in his line.  He is the hope of God's everlasting kingdom and the fulfillment of God's covenant with David.

Jesus is also the Son of Abraham, his Seed through which God will bless every nation.  In the Old Testament, Abraham and David are the greatest hopes for the Jewish people and are symbols of God's promise.  Jesus is the embodied faithfulness of God.  Matthew starts his Gospel with a threefold statement of promise and fulfillment.  After years of anticipation, the messiah has finally come!  God has not forsaken his promises and he has not forgotten us.  This sentence points back to the entire Old Testament and you will never fully understand the New Testament until you understand what comes first.

Friday, June 10, 2011

Matthew 27:12-14

"When he was accused by the chief priests and the elders, he gave no answer.  Then Pilate asked him, "Don't you hear the testimony they are bringing against you?"  But Jesus made no reply, not even to a single charge--to the great amazement of the governor."

The Almighty creator of heaven and earth stands before human authority and he says nothing.  With just a word he can heal the centurion's servant and raise a dead girl back to life, and he says nothing.  The unknowable and unquestionable God is questioned and he makes no reply.  What is going on?

When Job makes his accusations, God responds in force to clear His name.  When Habakkuk makes his complaints to God, God answers.  But now God stands accused and yet he says nothing.  Is our God guilty?  Has he been caught in wrong doing?  Far from it. This time He isn't just out to clear his name, but ours as well.

Jesus Christ died on the cross not to receive punishment for wrong doing but in order to be just and the one who justifies us.  Jesus could have spoken up and cleared his name, but who then would clear ours, we who also unwittingly stand accused?  The death he died he died for all so that whoever might live in him be raised with him unto eternal life.  He kept his mouth shut not for his sake, but for ours.  He was silent and we stand amazed.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Genesis 42:15-16

Pharaoh said to Joseph, "I had a dream, and no one can interpret it.  But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it."
"I cannot do it," Joseph replied to Pharaoh, "But God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires."

Joseph's entire life is defined by integrity and humility.  He never thinks of himself as more than he is.  He is more careful to be pure than to be thought pure, as was the case with the Potiphar's wife.  And so even as he was considered the least of all his brothers, so now will he become the greatest.  Because he was humble?  No.  Because God was with him and gave him success in all that he did.  Humility is the attitude that allows God to do what God does naturally.

Joseph understands that if it were not for God, he could do nothing in this situation.  And rather than take credit for something he could not actually do, he gives the credit to God.  This is humility, the ability to acknowledge one's own position in relation to God.

If a man were to give you a compliment, do not let it go to your head and inflate your ego.  Rather thank God who gives you all things.  After all, you did not make yourself. 

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Deuteronomy 29:29

"The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law."

Our very knowledge of God is bounded by only the extent to which he has revealed himself to us.  There are many great mysteries far too great for above our comprehension.  What he has revealed is all we needed to know for our salvation and benefit.  More importantly, God's truth as it is revealed through God's Word (both the Incarnate Christ and the Scriptures) belongs to us and our children.

God in the fullness of his revelation is a God for us purposed in Jesus Christ.  Theology, therefore, is just a restatement of what God has already said of himself.  We know nothing unless God reveals it, for the secret things are his.  Theology is synonymous with "Christianity" because Christ is the image of the invisible God and the fullness of God in Man.  So every Christian is a theologian for Christ is revealed to each one.

Truly, because of the illumination of the Holy Spirit, we can know God in the same way God knows himself, if only in miniature.  And yet, even with all this revelation, it is but the tip of an infinite God for we still say with all sincerity, "Oh, the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments and his paths beyond tracing out!" (Rom 11:33)

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Revelation 3:15-16

"I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either one or the other! So, because you are lukewarm—neither hot nor cold—I am about to spit you out of my mouth."

I have heard these words preached twice in my life.  The first time I was a teenager in Catholic Mass and the message went something like this, "God wants you to be so completely for Him or completely against Him.  Those who are lukewarm he will vomit out of his mouth (i.e. reject as something vile)."  I said to myself, "If God is this divisive, then I will be against him.  I do not know him well enough to be for him."

The second time I heard the message, I was a young man who had just received Christ in college and joined a new church.  It went like this, "God wants you to be useful.  Cold water is good for some things and hot water is good for others, but there really is no use for lukewarm water."  The message was healing.  It was gospel.  This is the difference in proper study of God's word.

So my friends, be careful of every single word you say.  Think theologically.  Think about what exactly it is you are saying about God lest you speak lies and slander His holy name by which you are saved.  You never know who might be listening lest you cause one of these little ones to stumble.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Hosea 2:23

"I will show my love to the one I called 'Not my loved one' I will say to those called 'Not my people', 'You are my people' and they will say, 'You are my God'."

Originally this verse is taken in the context of the election of Israel over all other nations, however now all who were non-elect have access to this God who takes for himself a people to worship him eternally because Christ. God's purpose for us, then, is for us to realize the glory he has given us in causing us to be elect in Christ. 

And this realization is not a "choice". We don't choose to recognize if our houses are on fire or not. We could deny the reality but our houses will burn down regardless. Our job as Christians is to tell of this glory and grace that all might recognize the world as it truly is.

Everything God does is so that he might be revealed to us as God. God has, throughout history, revealed himself through Human instrumentality. He has revealed himself through the history of the Jewish people as preserved in the Old Testament and through the humanity of Jesus Christ, the image of the invisible God, and now through his Church, the Body of Christ in the present age. He lifted us up out of our sin. Once you realize the totality of the grace you have been given, you will be brought to faith by God.

Sunday, June 5, 2011

1Corinthians 12:13

"For we were all baptized by one Spirit into one body--whether Jews or Greeks, slave or free--and we were all given the one Spirit to drink."

The Holy Spirit bind us to Christ just in the same way as it binds the Father and the Son together in the trinity.  It is through the spirit that we can be in Christ just as he is in the Father and the Father in Him (Jn 17:21)Because of this, we are no longer independent beings but interdependent, our identities being grounded in the Holy Trinity and in the Church, the Body of Christ.

The Church is the product of Jesus's work and is a continuation of his present ministry through the presence of the Holy Spirit.  We belong to Christ and are bought with his blood (Col 1:16-20).  Christ is the first born of the Church, its head, and priestly mediator who enables peace and fellowship with God through reconciliation.

It is inseparably linked to the Holy Spirit which binds us and animates us.   The Church is not a club, but an image of the inter-relatedness of the Trinity.  It is an eschatological community but not Christ's ultimate goal and is distinct from the kingdom of God.  The Church's mission is to bear witness and be a witness to Christ in the present day.  We are the new Temple where God dwells; a living, breathing, and moving temple that goes to the people instead of having them come to it.

Saturday, June 4, 2011

Genesis 6:6

"The LORD was grieved that he had made man on the earth, and his heart was filled with pain."

Did God fail?  Was his creation a mistake to regret?

In order to determine if God failed, we must first determine what God set out to do in the first place.

If you say "God failed to create mankind without sin", you would be in error for we were created good and perfectly. If you say "God failed to create mankind without the capacity to sin", you are also in error not because mankind has no capacity to sin, but because that is not what God purposed to do in the first place. You cannot fail in that which you did not even try to do.

So did God fail when he realized how wicked humanity was through Sin? Well what was his original intention? For mankind, to create us in His image and give us free dominion over all the Earth so that we might walk with the Lord. 

Had God wiped out all of humanity during the flood, then yes, he would've failed. Had sin and Satan had the final say in keeping us in eternal separation from God, then yes, God would've failed. However, we still remain and the truth of the matter is that we Christians are those who now walk with God and have dominion over and against Satan, being remade into His image. How? Through Jesus Christ's redemptive work on the cross, he has humiliated Satan and rescued us from his domain. It is because of the truth of Jesus Christ that I can tell you with confidence that despite Genesis 6:6, God has not failed to do what he set out to do.

Friday, June 3, 2011

Genesis 18:25

"Far be it from you to do such a thing--to kill the righteous with the wicked, treating the righteous and the wicked alike.  Will not the Judge of all the Earth do right?"

Abraham is not pleading to change God's will.  The story wasn't written to give an account of history but as narrative theology.  This is a righteous God, who for the sake of ten righteous people, would not wipe out the entire wicked city.  Because of ten righteous people, the entire cities of Sodom and Gomorrah would be spared even though everyone but those ten were wicked.  That is the scope of the grace of God.

However, "there is no one who is righteous, not even one... All have turned away, they have together become worthless.  There is no one who does good, not even one." (Ps 14:1-3; Rom 3:10,12)  We should've become just like Sodom.  We should've wept just like Gomorrah.  So why do we rejoice?

Because there was and is a Righteous One in our midst.  For the sake of one righteous man, God had spared the entirety of the world.  It is because that Righteous One dwells with us through the power of the Holy Spirit that our cities are spared.  And not only does this Righteous One dwell with us, he is only present because God himself sent him so that he might spare us.  That is the scope of the grace our Lord Jesus Christ.  This is the present reality we live.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Romans 3:25

"God displayed [Jesus Christ] publicly as a Mercy Seat through faith in His blood. This was to demonstrate His righteousness, because in the forbearance of God He passed over the sins previously committed;"

 We have a public mercy seat for the forgiveness of sins, but not everyone realizes what it is.  They see it clearly, but they do not understand it because it is not of this world, but now that this mercy seat has been revealed, there is no excuse not to come to it other than a failure to recognize it for what it is, that is a failure to recognize the goodness of the revealed Christ because it is foolishness to the wise and incomprehensibly foreign sinful man.

This is why we Christians must lead others to the mercy seat and testify to it's goodness.  The grace is publicly available to all and is not resisted but simply not understood as grace.  God's sovereign work is not recognized and is his basis for judgment because now that there is no condemnation in Christ, there is no justification for remaining condemned.  The world must be brought to recognize Christ and confess that He is Lord and He is for them.  They only need to come to the mercy seat empty-handed.

This is the good news that we take part in sharing: That God has elected himself for suffering and damnation and that God has elected us for salvation through Christ.  Salvation has come to all men, so come to salvation!

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Isaiah 45:22-23

"Turn to me and be saved, 
     all you ends of the Earth; 
     for I am God, and there is no other.  
By myself I have sworn, 
     my mouth has uttered in all integrity 
     a word that will not be revoked: 
Before me every knee will bow; 
     by me every tongue will swear"

God is self existent and self sufficient.  God has life in and of himself.  Everything God does is an act of grace because God does not have to do anything.  He is perfect and content as he is and everything he does is thus "for his good pleasure".  (Eph 1)  God can never fail, and thus his grace never fails.

At any given moment, we are always already immersed in God's grace, our own existence a manifestation of it.  However we do not realize it just as a fish does not understand that it is wet.  There is only One God by which we can be saved for only one exists and as surely as the LORD lives, he is God over all people.  It is only when we recognize and confess grace through the revelation of God that we are brought to faith by God and thus salvation.

He swears by himself because there is nothing greater to swear by.  He is who He is and the only prerequisite for his being is his being the great unchanging "I AM"  God's existence is an essential characteristic.  He cannot "not be" for he is existence in and of itself.