Monthly Archives: May 2013

Talk face to face? How quaint! – 2 John 1:12

Though I have much to write to you, I would rather not use paper and ink. Instead I hope to come to you and talk face to face, so that our joy may be complete ( 2 John 1:12).

It is easy in our digital age to have most of our interaction with people be through blogs, Facebook, texts, etc. Unfortunately, that has led to some people only listening to sermons through Itunes or watching a worship service on a video screen. This is not how Christ built his church to function.

The apostle John used the technology available to him, pen and ink, as needed. But he also understood that we should desire to meet face to face with our brothers and sisters in Christ so that our joy may be complete.

So, this Sunday be in the Lord’s house with other believers to share in worship and in fellowship. Isn’t that what you hope to be in doing in heaven for eternity? If so, why would you choose to not do it now?

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An important distinction – Malachi 3:18

While the idea of universal salvation is rapidly invading our churches these days, the Bible repeatedly talks about a distinction between two groups of people. For example:

Then once more you shall see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between one who serves God and one who does not serve him (Malachi 3:18).

And this is not merely an Old Testament idea. Jesus, likewise, declares that there are only two groups of people in this world:

When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left (Matthew 25:31-33).

Jesus then goes on to proclaim two vastly different destinations for those two groups of people. For the righteous sheep who serve God:

Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world (Matthew 25:34).

And for the wicked goats who do not serve him:

And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life (Matthew 25:46).

One can find many a preacher and teacher who will deny these clear teachings. But following them puts your eternal destiny in jeopardy.

 

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Filed under Christian Life, Salvation

Are you asking the right question? – Acts 16:30

Joseph Smith asked the wrong question in his first vision. The wrong question is “which church should I join?” The right question is “what must I do to be saved?” (Acts 16:30). The Bible not only gives us the right question, but it immediately points us to the answer:

Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved (Acts 16:31).

and expands upon the answer in numerous places including:

For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith (Romans 3:23-25).

So, are you asking the right question?

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Filed under False Religions, Salvation

How have you loved us? – Malachi 1:1-2

The book of Malachi begins:

The oracle of the word of the LORD to Israel by Malachi. “I have loved you,” says the LORD. But you say, “How have you loved us?” (Malachi 1:1-2).

When reading this I was struck by the absurdity of the question, “How have you loved us?” For the nation of Israel to ask such a question would be the ultimate in spiritual blindness. They alone were the nation selected by God to have his favor bestowed upon them. They were given the Scriptures, given his protection and even given loving discipline by their loving Father.

Unfortunately, I am almost constantly like that in my own relationship with God. I grumble about…well, just about everything at times. Certainly, to the ears of God, that must sound like, “How have you loved me?” I am like the older son in the parable of the prodigal (Luke 15). Forgive me, Lord God.

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His/him not theirs/them – Revelation 22:3-4

No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants will worship him. They will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads (Revelation 22:3-4).

This is one of those texts that probably only makes sense if we understand that there is one God in three persons (Father, Son and Holy Spirit). In this text, the Lamb is figurative language of Jesus, the Son. There is a throne of God and of the Lamb, yet the personal pronouns, ‘his‘ and ‘him‘, are all singular. If the Lamb and God were completely distinct, then these verses would have used the personal pronouns ‘theirs’ and ‘them.’

While the Trinity may be a somewhat difficult concept to grasp, the language of the Bible leaves us no other conclusion than there is only one God. Yet, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are all identified as God. Thus, we arrive at the understanding of the Trinity. It should really come as no surprise to us as finite, created beings that we cannot fully grasp the concept of an infinite, uncreated being.

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What a maroon! – Deuteronomy 1:30-33

The LORD your God who goes before you will himself fight for you, just as he did for you in Egypt before your eyes,  and in the wilderness, where you have seen how the LORD your God carried you, as a man carries his son, all the way that you went until you came to this place.’ Yet in spite of this word you did not believe the LORD your God,  who went before you in the way to seek you out a place to pitch your tents, in fire by night and in the cloud by day, to show you by what way you should go (Deuteronomy 1:30-33).

Often when reading through this early period in the history of the Hebrew people, it is easy to think, “My these people were really dense!” Here we have Moses reminding them of the numerous miracles they had witnessed:

  • During the Exodus from Egypt (i.e. the plagues, the Passover)
  • In the wilderness (parting of the Red Sea, manna)
  • The pillar of fire by night to guide them
  • The cloud by day to guide them

Surely all of these things should have been sufficient to convince these people that God was both real and absolutely in control. I read this and think to myself (in my best Bugs Bunny voice), “What a maroon!” But then, I look back at the years I spent ignoring the evidence for God in both his creation and in his Word. Years growing up reading Discover magazine about the amazing wonders of nature and being convinced by these secular sources that these all came about by random chance. Not to mention the years of knowing the obviousness of my own sin, despite the best efforts of my conscience to suppress that knowledge. Looking back, I can only think, “What a maroon!”

Yet, it only serves to remind me that faith is a gift from God. Unless he replaced my heart of stone (and my brain of cold oatmeal), I would have continued in ignorance and rebellion to the day I died. Left to my own abilities and my own desires, I would have died in my sin. But God did not leave me to my own abilities and my own desires. Praise God for saving a maroon like me.

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Filed under God, Salvation

Did the gates of hell prevail against the church? – Matthew 16:16-18

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (Mormons) teaches that there was a great apostasy after the time of the apostles. After this supposed complete apostasy of all believers, the true Christian church ceased to exist on the earth until it was restored by Joseph Smith less than 200 years ago. However, this teaching of the LDS church contradicts the promise of Jesus Christ himself:

Simon Peter replied, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” And Jesus answered him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven. And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. (Matthew 16:16-18).

Jesus stated that he would build his church and the gates of hell would not prevail against it. So, either Jesus was wrong and his church was destroyed or the LDS church is wrong and there never was an apostasy. I am going to stake my eternity on the promise of Jesus. Shouldn’t you?

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