Wednesday, June 24, 2009

End of this Bible School Term

Tomorrow the Bible School term ends. It has been a good term.

At our prayer meeting this afternoon one of the students had a word of knowledge, It is the second one he has had this term. The first one was for sore eyes, which was something that mom was having at that time. This time he felt someone was having knee pains, and it was one of the students. It is wonderful to see them begin to flow in the gifts.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The Promise of the Name of Jesus

Mat. 1:21 “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins."

The name Jesus was chosen by God to be given to the Christ-child because of its meaning, which is “Jehovah is salvation.” Christ was the salvation of Jehovah for God’s people not from their natural enemies as the Jews at the time expected, and as the Old Testament Joshua (same name) had done, but from the far worse internal and spiritual enemy of us all – our own sins.

Notice this text does not say Christ would save us from hell, or only from the consequences and penalty of our sins. Too often that is all we deal with these days. Christ does free us from the penalty of our sins, but if that is the extant of our salvation than it is a mockery of all that is good and just. Imagine if you would, a man who is a murderer, he is pardoned, set free and absolved of all the responsibility for his past actions. He would probably think that is great! However his neighbors might desire to be saved from such a salvation!

It is essential to have a clear idea of what sin is or we will not be truly thankful for our deliverance which has been provided in Christ. There are some sins which almost everyone condemns, however other sins are viewed in a more favorable light, depending much on the cultural and religious background of the viewer.

When a person can ask how God can send a “good person” who is not a Christian to hell, it shows that that person does not really grasp sin. Imagine that there is a certain terrorist organization. This organization needs funding to fight the lawful government of its own nation. To get the funding and support of the people, it establishes various charitable institutions (this actually isn’t as farfetched an illustration as you might think; some terrorist organizations really do this). People may not know the purpose of the organization, and might consider it to be their friend. However in the eyes of the law, it is an enemy, not because of its charitable deeds, but because the purpose of the supposed good deeds is actually to undermine the greater good of the land, and to set up its own regime. Thus the very good things it does only increase its odiousness and culpability in its rebellion and the misery which that rebellion brings on all around it.

When a man trusts in his own good works to justify himself in the sight of God, or uses philanthropic deeds to minimize the guilt his conscience feels, he is acting in rebellion to God. He is in an active state of war against the One who formed him and who has the lawful right of rule over him. Anything he does other than admitting his rebellion and submitting to God only increases the punishment of his crimes, because these things are merely covers he uses to plot further rebellion.

When man is confronted with his own rebellion, he often tries to point to others to justify himself. One story I have heard was of a missionary who had recently translated part of the Scriptures into Cherokee and read the Sermon on the Mount to a chief with the hope that the chief would allow more preaching in his tribe. Asked if he did not think this book was good the chief replied, “this is a good book, I wonder why the white people’s lives are not better when they have so good a book.” Anyone reading the Sermon on the Mount is struck by the wonderfulness of it, but it is beyond what we are capable of in ourselves. What do we do? Do we acknowledge our faults, or do we point at other’s failures to place ourselves in a good light. There are far too many hypocrites in the church, however, my pointing out hypocrisy and the sin of others does not excuse me from the bar of God. To trust in my failure being common is the same as seeing other motorists speeding and trusting that because they are doing it, I can do it. See if that logic will get you out of a ticket when you are pulled over.

In First Corinthians, the apostle Paul having just finished a list of behavior which will keep us out of heaven says, “And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” The most beautiful part of this verse is the past tense. Such WERE some of you. It shouldn’t be necessary for me to write this, but in this evil age I must, notice he did not write, “such are some of you.” Christ is able to save unto the uttermost. He is able to save the vilest of sinners. He will save them, not only from the eternal misery of hell, but also from the the sting of death – sin. Praise be to God!

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Add on to Yesterday’s Post

This morning I thought of a third way in which the Church completes Christ. We are the crown of His glory, even as a virtuous woman is a glory to her husband (Prov. 12:4; Prov. 31:23; 1 Cor. 11:7). When we arrive in heaven we receive crowns so that we may cast them at the feet of the One who really did all the work, and Christ is glorified not only by His Church, but through His Church. Praise God!

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Thoughts on Ephesians 1:22-23

"God has put all things under His feet, and has appointed Him universal and supreme Head of the Church, which is His Body, the completeness of Him who everywhere fills the universe with Himself" (Weymouth NT).

The main thing I would like to look at form these two verses is the final phrase. Referring to the Church as the completeness (or fulness) of Christ. It is a extremely remarkable statement. The Church is to be that which completes Christ.

This is not stated in a sense that God stands in need of man or in debt to man somehow. Rather, God has chosen to create man and give man the privilege of entering into a relationship with Him whereby God's plans and purposes are willingly fulfilled in them and through them.

The church is called to complete Christ, to be His fulness in two ways.

Firstly, the church is to complete the work of Christ. The earthly ministry of Christ finished after His ascension but His work remains to be done. When John and Peter went to the tomb on the day of the resurrection, they saw the cloth which had covered Christ's head folded and placed to one side, however the cloth which wrapped His body was left as it was (John 20:7). This shows that the Head had finished His work, but the body still has work to do.

The apostle Paul could say that he was filling up or completing the sufferings of Christ on behalf of His Church (Col. 1:24). In a sense this is completing the work that Christ accomplished on Calvary, He died to present to Himself a glorious Church, and sometimes a portion of His church suffers with Him for to help accomplish perfection in the whole.

Secondly, the Church is to be His bride, and to bring completeness to Him in the same way as a bride does to a Husband. To enter into His joy and sorrow and share His thoughts, feelings and emotions.

It is interesting that God chose to form Eve from a part of Adam. He could have created her ex nihilo, but He did not. Perhaps that was to show a parallel between the first and second adam, who both have brides formed from themselves. We become the Bride of Christ by receiving His nature which is imparted at the new birth. We truly are partakers of Christ's divine nature in a real way, just as Eve was a very true partaker of Adam's flesh.

When we truly catch a vision of our need to complete Christ's work and to enter into His life, it will change how we view what we do in church. The Church is called to far greater things than we realize and unless we set our goals high we will miss the goal. If we are truly to complete Christ's work and fulfill His desires for fellowship too much of the things we do in church actually inhibit rather than promote this, because the focus is more on what makes us happy than what pleases Him.

May we truly be that which completes Christ and brings joy to His heart!

Tuesday, June 02, 2009

Another Bible School Term Begins

Today was our first day of this four week term. We have 25 students here now, which is pretty good for the first day. We may have some others show up tomorrow. It is good to see our returning students and also good to meet new ones.

Dad is teaching this week on the Tabernacle of Moses. Next week I will be teaching on Faith using the book "Pillars of Faith." Now that we have a waterpump again, the water situation should be a little better than last term.

On the whole things are fine here, and I am looking forward to teaching next week.

Monday, June 01, 2009

The Parable of The Great Supper (Luke 14:15-24)

“And when one of them that sat at meat with him heard these things, he said unto him, Blessed is he that shall eat bread in the kingdom of God. But he said unto him, A certain man made a great supper; and he bade many: and he sent forth his servant at supper time to say to them that were bidden, Come; for all things are now ready. And they all with one consent began to make excuse. The first said unto him, I have bought a field, and I must needs go out and see it; I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I go to prove them; I pray thee have me excused. And another said, I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come. And the servant came, and told his lord these things. Then the master of the house being angry said to his servant, Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in hither the poor and maimed and blind and lame. And the servant said, Lord, what thou didst command is done, and yet there is room. And the lord said unto the servant, Go out into the highways and hedges, and constrain them to come in, that my house may be filled. For I say unto you, that none of those men that were bidden shall taste of my supper.”

It is my belief that this parable refers primarily to the marriage supper of the Lamb. If you study the parables of the Lord carefully especially His parables which refer to the marriage supper (The Ten Virgins), it becomes apparent that not all believers will be at the wedding feast. Also there will be varying positions at the feast, the virgins, the friends of the Bridegroom, and the bride.

This parable specifically deals with qualifications to be a guest at the feast. These would also be prerequisite qualifications to be part of the bride.

We see first that many are invited, but they refuse. In a different though similar parable in Matthew 22, verse 18 says that those bidden were not worthy. They judged themselves unworthy, by their bad response to the invitation.

Here we see three basic reasons people will not be at the marriage supper of the Lamb.

1. An inordinate love for material possessions

The first man had just bought a field and his pleasure in possessing it was greater to him than any benefit he could gain from leaving it to attend the supper. There are many Christians, whether consciously or unconsciously, who choose this very choice. If your best life is truly what you have now, then you have no reason to desire the marriage supper of the Lamb. Indeed, you cannot with any sincerity pray, “even so come quickly, Lord”, because it would destroy all your earthly prosperity which you now enjoy. One could even argue quite plausibly, that if you really do have your best life now, than since heaven is infinitely better than the best the earth can offer, it means you are not headed there. The wicked can have their best life now, because no matter how difficult their life is here, it is a picnic compared to what awaits them in the hereafter. However, no matter how glorious or good, or blessed our life here is as a Christian, we have a better more glorious life awaiting us in heaven. If we focus on the fleeting earthly one, we might just miss the eternal one.

2. An inordinate preoccupation with business

The second man wanted to test his yoke of oxen. He was a classic workaholic. His only satisfaction in life came from his work, he had just obtained the new equipment his business needed to really expand and he could not wait a single minute to begin to use it. God commends hard work, but not as an end to itself. It is not the work we do, or even the quality of it per se, but the one for whom we work that sanctifies a work. If we work to feel a sense of accomplishment and achieve a sense of self-worth, we are on shaky ground. If, however, our hard work is done unto the Lord, He is our source of self worth. Really, all three of these wrong responses come down to the issue of idolatry and finding our sense of belonging and self-worth in something other than God.

3. An inordinate love for human companionship

The last man in the parable placed human affection above the invitation to the supper. This as the other two previous excuses is a perversion of that which God created as good, through making a god out of it. Humans were created as social creatures and there is no blessing like a godly family stirring each other up to follow the Lord. This power when used in the opposite way is extremely detrimental. The very blessing of human fellowship, then becomes a snare and a trap. It is well known that cults usually gain and manipulate people through a sense of belonging and acceptance. If we seek the praises of man instead of the praises of God, we will assuredly not taste of the supper.

I think one of the best examples of a couple that chose to put God first comes from the early days of the China Inland Mission. Hudson Taylor had only very recently begun the mission and had been offered 2 free passages to China on which he was going to send two men. One of them backed out at the last minute. He needed someone to use the ticket and the only man available was George Crombie, who was going to be married shortly to Anne Skinner, they had then planned to make the voyage on their honeymoon. In those precarious days, there was no telling how long she would have to wait to follow him if he went or even any guarantee that they would ever see each other again in this life. When they saw the telegram, Anne said to George, “Go, George and let the world see that you love the Lord Jesus more than me.” He left and God made a way for her to follow him a couple of weeks later.

It is no mere coincidence that this parable is immediately followed by Christ’s command to count the cost. If we are to be blessed to eat bread in the Kingdom of God, we must not allow any of these three things which are in themselves good to have an inordinate place in our hearts, lest they rob us of the eternal blessing.