God’s word is like a magnet

I really loved the clear imagery of this quote from a book I started to read over the weekend:

God’s word is like a magnet: it draws and attracts God’s children, while repelling those who are not His. It is in this sense that God’s word supplies a crucial, polarizing test  among those who claim to be the followers of God (Michael Beasley, The Fallible Prophets of New Calvinism, loc. 481).

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Holiness That Leads to Hatred – Matthew 12:13-14

My wife and I are currently reading through The Holiness of God with our oldest son. Reading good  Christian books together has been a good way for us to stimulate our thoughts and our discussions. Reading this book has definitely been making me spend more time pondering the holiness of God and how it does and should impact my faith and worship. Last night as part of our reading, we hit the following quote:

Holiness provokes hatred. The greater the holiness, the greater the human hostility toward it. It seems insane. No man was ever more loving than Jesus Christ. Yet even His love made people angry. His love was a perfect love, a transcendent and holy love, but His very love brought trauma to people. This kind of love is so majestic we can’t stand it (The Holiness of God, R.C. Sproul, p. 67).

In the Bible, we see this hatred of Jesus holiness in any number of places. In one example, Jesus lovingly heals a man’s withered hand:

Then he said to the man, “Stretch out your hand.” And the man stretched it out, and it was restored, healthy like the other. But the Pharisees went out and conspired against him, how to destroy him.  (Matthew 12:13-14).

Now, you can argue that the Pharisees hatred for Jesus was based on a number of issues, but a big part of it was their hatred for Jesus’ holiness. As Sproul argues elsewhere in his book, the Pharisees had a superficial, fake holiness. Jesus had a real holiness. Until Jesus came along, the Pharisees may have appeared holy to the others around them. But, when Jesus arrived on the scene with his transcendent, perfect holiness, the holiness of the Pharisees was exposed for the empty facade that it truly was.

I wonder how I would react if confronted directly with God’s holiness. Would I fall at his feet and worship like Thomas (John 20:28), beg for him to go away from me, the sinner, like Peter (Luke 5:8), or conspire as to how to destroy him like the Pharisees? How would you react? The one thing the Bible makes perfectly clear, we cannot be indifferent once confronted with the holy, holy, holy God.

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The Only Way Into His Presence?

In everything, what does he say? Give thanks because this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. That step of obedience–to give thanks in everything for everything. That’s how he opened the door for me through everything to step into his presence. Enter into his presence for there is fulness of joy. The only way into his presence is through those gates of thanksgiving (transcribed from lecture given by Ann Voskamp, best-selling author of 1000 Gifts).

Does that sound like the Christian gospel? Do we gain access to God by our obedience and our thanksgiving? While being thankful for God and to God is admirable, Ann Voskamp has turned it into a false gospel of work’s righteousness. How obedient and how thankful must we be to have access to God? Are you being thankful enough?  The Bible clearly contradicts Voskamp’s false gospel:

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25).

As the book of Hebrews teaches us, we draw near to God through Jesus who is the high priest of the new covenant. A covenant that is not based upon our obedience or our thankfulness, but is based solely on faith in his finished work on the cross.

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6).

Similarly, Jesus directly taught that we gain access to God through him, not through our obedience or our thankfulness. This is just a quick look at a portion of Voskamp’s false teaching. You can listen to a full critique of Voskamp’s message and a portion of her book over at the January 16, 2014 podcast from Chris Rosebrough’s Fighting for the Faith. I highly recommend it to help you discern the dangerous false gospel presented by Voskamp.

 

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High-Def Sins – Hebrews 4:13-16

A few months ago while I was in Seoul, I noticed a peculiar form of censorship on the Korean TV programs. All cigarette smoking was blurred out. You could see a person move their hand up to their mouth. You could see the smoke when they exhaled. The only thing you could not see was a clear image of the actual cigarette held between their fingers. I would imagine that every Korean child over the age of 5 can tell you what the person on TV is doing despite the blurred image. I failed to see the benefit in altering the television programs in this way.

blurred_cigaretteIt did get me to thinking that how we try to hide our personal sins is probably akin to Korean TV censorship of cigarette smoking. We like to think that we are successfully hiding our sins. And, sometimes we are able to hide them—but only from other people.

And no creature is hidden from his sight, but all are naked and exposed to the eyes of him to whom we must give account (Hebrews 4:13).

God sees past our vain attempts to hide our sins. Our attempts at hiding them are far less effective than even the ridiculous pixelating of Korean TV. Our sins are not hidden or even slightly blurred. Rather we are left naked and exposed to the judge of the universe in all of our ultra-high definition wretchedness. In the book of Revelation, those who do not have their sins forgiven are described as calling on the mountains to fall on them and hide them from the all-knowing God.

Thankfully, for those who have put their faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins, our sins are not merely blurred out, but removed as far as the east is from the west. The very next verses in Hebrews chapter 4 provide the comfort we so desperately need after reading verse 13.

Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession. For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin. Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).

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When Old Words Become New

Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; unite my heart to fear your name. (Psalm 86:11).

toothThis past Sunday, a friend at church described her recent discovery of a teaching in Proverbs that contradicted both her own beliefs and what the world regularly teaches. There were three aspects of this brief conversation that really stood out to me:

  1. Her joy and amazement in learning something new from the Bible after studying it for years. She even happily remarked that Proverbs is one of her favorite books, but that she had missed this teaching for so many years.
  2. Her willingness to throw aside her old beliefs and happily grab on to God’s teaching.
  3. Her openness in sharing this event.

Now, this was not a major shift like moving from a false gospel to the true, live saving gospel. This was merely a little nugget she had discovered in a single verse of Proverbs. It would have been so easy for her to simply keep quiet, think this was not a major discovery worth sharing, or perhaps be too embarrassed to admit she had held some wrong ideas in the past.

neon_signBut her willingness to share her joy in this new discovery was a great encouragement to me. To hear her passion about God’s word provided motivation for me to continue to study Scripture. There are so many similar nuggets just waiting for me to find! To see how easily she cast away falsehood to grab onto God’s truth was inspiring. And it was a neon sign reminding me why God’s saints should join together in worship, study and fellowship each Lord’s day.

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God’s Intercession

In the book of Hebrews we read of Jesus’ work of intercession:

Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them (Hebrews 7:25).

In the book of Romans we read of the Holy Spirit’s work of intercession:

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.  And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God (Romans 8:26-27).

Now this is a topic that deserves a lot more attention than I am going to be able to give it today, but how amazing is that two persons of the Triune God are making intercession on the behalf of Christians! Jesus’ intercession is for our justification. The marks in his hands and feet are what give me the ability to draw near to God through him. While I may now be counted righteous before God, I am not actually righteous. So, the Holy Spirit intercedes for me as I bring my prayers and my needs to God. I do not know what to pray, I do not know how to pray and I do not know the will of God. The Holy Spirit takes care of that and intercedes for me.

Jesus and the Holy Spirit interceding for me! It is their works of intercession that give me assurance of my salvation and confidence to draw near to the throne of grace. And is yet another of the countless reasons I will give thanks to the Triune God forever.

I will extol you, my God and King, and bless your name forever and ever. Every day I will bless you and praise your name forever and ever. Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable (Psalm 145:1-3).

 

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Such a High Priest – Hebrews 7:26

For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens (Hebrews 7:26).

crosses3Many religions have high priests, but only Christianity has a high priest who is perfectly holy, innocent of any  and all wrong doing, unstained by the sinful nature we inherit from Adam, separated from sinners by his righteous life, and exalted above everything in heaven and on earth. To him, and him alone, we must look for our salvation.

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