To venable (verb): To randomly muse upon this and that.

Archive for the ‘Christ Jesus our LORD’ Category

Noah’s Priorities.

So Noah has been cooped up in the ark with a large number of animals and birds and seven other sinners for 320 days. What a relief it must have been to get out from all that smell and noise and all those sinners. In Genesis 8:18-19 we read how they ventured forth onto a cleansed earth. It must have been so clean after all the water had ebbed away. Now Noah is free, but what will he do? We think, “Noah why don’t you go and enjoy yourself? Surely you need a bit of recuperation after what you have been through.” Or we might counsel him and say: “Noah there’s so much to do, you need a home and some food. You’d better get on with it.  You don’t even know when it is going to rain again (!) and if you don’t have any crops all eight of you are going to starve.”

But Noah thought differently so we read in Genesis 8:20 Then Noah built an altar to the Lord and, taking some of all the clean animals and clean birds, he sacrificed burnt offerings on it. “Why are you doing that Noah? There is so much to do and you don’t even know where you are going to get the stuff for the altar”, we might ask. So why did Noah do it?

  • The earth may be cleansed. All may be beautiful. But he realised he was a sinner. 320 days with 7 other sinners had made him very much aware that he was a sinner. We need to know this: Beautiful scenery, beautiful weather, beautiful food, beautiful drinks are all marred by the unbeautiful me. I am a sinner and I need another life to be offered up as a substitute so that I can be acceptable to God. And all these offerings anticipated our Lord Jesus and what He would do.
  • The principle for populating the ark was that all animals and birds went in two by two. But it was different with the clean birds and animals; he took seven of them. He must have pondered why? He was not told why. But, I suggest, he concluded that these must be for sacrifice. He had the example of Abel to guide him knowing that Abel was accepted on the basis of sacrifice. He determined that I only have extra of the clean so that they are to be offered up to God, not just to be there to repopulate the earth. This all indicates to us how God provides f us so that we can worship Him. Don’t forget the Lord’s day is a gift so that we can worship God. And remember above all our Lord Jesus is given so that we can be worshippers. In Him and through Him alone we can worship God. So neither should we miss the provisions of God for worship nor should we reject them.
  • He wanted to start with God. Here was a new start.  He wanted to make sure that he started by honouring God. He said I will not go forth without making sure that God is worshipped and acknowledged. And so He took the offerings and offered them up. How much we have to learn here. We so often feel I am too busy to give time to prayer and reading the Word, but such reasoning is folly. We are always headed for a mess when we adopt that reasoning. We should make sure we start everything by acknowledging the Lord. Every day, every journey, every meeting,  in everything start by bringing it to the Lord.

These motivations governed Noah’s actions as he left the ark. He left the ark with set determinations; nothing would deflect him. It is interesting to note that this would take preparation. The clean animals and birds had to be restrained for example. If he had just let them out they would soon have flown and ran away. Which prompts me to think about how much preparation do I make for the worship time in church.

It is instructive to see what the outcomes of Noah’s commitment were:-

  1. The Lord was pleased, everything in the ensuing verses indicates this. The Lord smelled the pleasing aroma and said in his heart: ‘Never again will I curse the ground because of humans, (Gen. 8:21a).
  2. Noah was blessed. He was now set to achieve what God had called him to, so we read in Genesis 9:1 Then God blessed Noah and his sons, saying to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number and fill the earth.

So Philip. You must learn to put God first. You ignore this at your utmost peril.

 

Are you saved?

To be saved is to be in the most glorious position that anyone could be in. It means we have our sins forgiven; we know Jesus as Lord and Saviour; we know God as our Father; we have eternal life that can never be taken away; we will never go to hell, we will be with our Lord forever, we are in the family of God. We are, to sum up, utterly totally and eternally blessed. And it does not get any better than that!

The Bible talks about being saved. In Ephesians 2:8 Paul tells the Ephesian Christians how it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast (Eph. 2:8-9). But what does being saved involve? It has the idea of being saved from all that is bad and being saved to all that is good. To be a Christian is to be saved from sin, death, hell and condemnation. And we are saved to belong to God. God has saved us for Himself. We are now the Lord’s. He owns us; we belong to Him.

So are you saved? To which you say; “I am just not bothered”? But, how can you have that attitude when the issues at stake are so big? This is a matter of eternity. If you are not saved, you are destined for eternal destruction which, according to the Bible, is a never ending death. Perhaps you might think “it’s not for me”. But the issues face all of us. It is a universal truth that people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgment (Heb. 9:27).

We must be clear then that salvation is the most wonderful thing and we should be bothered about it. All of us should consider this matter. Given all this, the question now arises how can I be saved? A jailer from Philippi was once concerned about these issues and asked Paul and Silas “what must I do to be saved?’ They replied ‘Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:30b-31a). This means we must repent of our sins, which are the great hindrance to our believing, and trust ourselves to Jesus Christ who died to take away the sins of all who believe. If you have done this then you are saved! Praise God!

So are you saved? To which you say; “I am just not sure”? You are asking; how can I know I have believed? How can I know I am saved? One way to test where we stand is to answer the following question in your heart before God who knows all things. The question is: What is it that makes you sure you are going to be in heaven with Jesus. If your answer stresses that it solely on this basis of what Jesus Christ has done for me through His dying for my sins and being raised that I might be right with God, then you are making the confession of a saved person. If you say it is because I was born in Britain, born with Christian parents, have lived a good life, never harmed anyone, or done lots of good things then you are making the confession of someone who is not saved, but rather is destined for hell.

But, we can further test ourselves by looking at what is in our lives. This is because when we become Christians our lives are changed. The scripture says If anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: the old has gone, the new is here! (2 Cor. 5:17). One of the key things that happens upon salvation is that the Holy Spirit comes to dwell in us. This being the case every Christian should be knowing something of the fruit of the Spirit in their life. The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23b).

Moreover, we have the book of 1 John in the Bible which is a treatise on what the life of a saved person looks like. From this book we learn that a saved person: hates sin, depends totally on Jesus, loves fellow Christians, loves the commands of God and wants to obey them, wants to live in a righteous way, does not want to follow the selfish ways of the world, views Jesus as the Christ of God revealed in flesh as a man and looks for the Lord’s return. Are you such a person? If you can say that these are the general desires of your life then you can know that you are saved.

So are you saved? This is the biggest question you can ever face in your life. On it hangs your whole eternity. What matters in the end is whether or not you now Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. And if you do know the wonder of this blessing of eternal salvation, should you not be telling others about this great salvation and great Saviour.

Taken from the Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of May 2013.

Adam And The Gospel.

We can never fully grasp the immensity of the cataclysmic events that unfolded in Genesis 3. We begin the chapter with a harmonious earth beautifully ordered, with man and woman taking their place obediently in their realm before God. We end the chapter with sin on the march, all creation under judgement, everything bearing the marks of the curse and man barred from the garden of Eden.

In the midst of all this chaos we find there is gospel hope. There is hope of a better day. It first comes with the promise in v15 and is found in these words of the Lord God to the snake (Satan).

And I will put enmity
    between you and the woman,
    and between your offspring and hers;
he will crush your head,
    and you will strike his heel.’

The seed of the woman, Jesus Christ, will have His heel struck and so will be brought to the cross. But in that cross He will crush the head of Satan and render him powerless.

This is the only bright word amidst the devastation, ensuing from the fall, that was all around him. And yet in v20 we read Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living. Logic would determine that he must call her the mother of all the dying, because that is what prevailed all around. There was no life in sight. And yet, hanging on to the promise of v15, he, in faith, declared her to be Eve. He asserted that God would bring life through the crushing of Satan. Thereby he named her to be the mother of the living. This is amazing faith.

In v21 we see two further critical ingredients of the message of the gospel. In v7b we read how, consequent to the fall,  Adam and Eve realised that they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. However, this was to no avail in being a proper cover. In v21 we read how God made garments for them. Before the fall there was no need of any garments because everything was pure and there was no shame. The fall brought shame and Adam and Eve knew they needed to be covered up. The need for coverings, whether they be fig leaves or skins, testify to the fact of mankind in sin. The wearing of garments by ourselves is a continued reminder that we are sinners. The coverings are an ongoing testimony to the reality of sin and us being sinners.

We also learn in v21 that the giving up of the life of another is necessary for a suitable covering to be made so that we can be acceptable with God. The coverings of v7 prove to be useless because they were man-made. But then the God-made (and provided) coverings of v21 were entirely sufficient. In the providing of these garments we see a foreshadowing of the ultimate giving up of life and shedding of blood to provide a covering for others when our Lord Jesus died on the cross. There he provided a coat of righteousness to all who believe.

So there is the gospel. The promise, faith, sin and the substitutionary offering. All this reminds us of our need of Christ and the provision of salvation in Christ.

 

 

Only One Way.

Our Saviour Jesus said I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me (John 14:6). In this statement Jesus asserts that he is the only way to God. Implicit in what he says is the conviction that all other theories, all other philosophies, all other gurus, prophets messiahs, all other whatever DO NOT lead to God.

This assertion by our LORD sets Him in direct confrontation with the world in which we live. The common understanding in the world is that all roads lead to God. According to such a view it is up to you to choose the religion that you feel comfortable with. Normally, this is the religion that you have been brought up in. If you were brought up as a Muslim, then that is what you stick with and that applies to all other religions. If the religion teaches about God and living a good life, it is seen as being good enough.

Regrettably, though, it is not good enough! And we can say that because our Saviour said that He is the only way. We need to be very clear on this. If you choose another way, other than Jesus, then you are set on a way that does not lead to God. Jesus says He is the only way to God, all other ways do not lead to God. We need to repeat this in order to make it absolutely clear because the consequences are immense. This is because all other ways lead ultimately in one direction and that is to eternal hell. The LORD, in the Sermon on the Mount, urged His hearers to “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it” (Matt. 7:13-14). The broad road is like a many laned highway. Each lane representing a religion or a guru or a philosophy. But each, being part of the same road, carries you to the same destination. And that destination is destruction. We are then beginning to see, that we need to be very very careful regarding the choices we make in respect of our religion or our way of life. To go in the wrong direction does not just matter for this life, but for eternity. It is not just a matter of sincerely following a religion and believing that that is good enough. Sincere is not enough.

We have established that Jesus is the only way to knowing God. It is only He who leads to us enjoying and knowing eternal life. However, we need to be sure that we are following the right Jesus. Many say that they are followers of Jesus. It is observed in the 2011 census for England and Wales 59.3% described themselves as Christian. But of these how many are truly following the Christ of the Bible? There are many Christs, but there is only one true Christ and He is the One revealed to us in the Scriptures.

One Jesus who most people are happy to align with is the Jesus who is a good teacher. The one whose teachings lead to healthy lifestyles and a better society is the Jesus many are happy to accept . To such a Jesus many give some vague affiliation to Him and His ways. But this misses the point concerning who Jesus is and why He came. Truly He is a good teacher; in fact He is the greatest teacher. However, He did not come just to teach decent people to live decent lives. Rather, he came to save sinners. Jesus once said to some religious people I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance (Luke 5:32). His teachings lead us to repentance which in turns leads us to Christ as Saviour. Remember the glorious message of the angels to the Shepherds when Jesus was born that a Saviour has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord.(Luke 2:11b). Let us be clear Jesus teachings do reveal our sin; and our sin needs to be repented of and taken away. It is Jesus the Saviour who is able to take away our sins and rescue us from them.

Having found that Jesus is the only way to God and that Jesus is the only Saviour, we must guard ourselves against complacency. The LORD once said Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him.” (John 3:36). However, many profess to know Him, but do not actually know Him. On another occasion The Lord said to a large crowd “Why do you call me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do what I say? (Luke 6:46). We need to examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves (2 Cor. 13:5a). If our lives show, by our desire for righteousness and to please God, that we have been transformed then we can be assured we truly belong to Christ and have eternal life. If not we need to repent and come to the LORD so as to be find eternal life in Christ.

Finally, we need to refute the teaching that accepts Christianity as being just one religion which is of equal value to all others. Our LORD’s statement that He is the only way to God means that either Christianity is the only true religion and all others must be rejected as dangerous error, or Christianity is wrong and it must be rejected. This can be said because:

  • If what Jesus said is true then all others ways are not true and do not lead to life and do not lead to God. All other religions are false and leading people astray and ultimately to destruction.
  • If what Jesus said is not true then he is a liar and no liar should be trusted to bring the true way to God. If such was the case (and it certainly is NOT!) Christianity should be dismissed for being based on falsehood.

In the society in which we live, the claim to have Jesus as the only Saviour is likely to lead us into more and more opposition. This is because people increasingly take the view that each one religion or way of life is as good as the next. We must stand firm on this teaching. If we fail to resist the challenge then the whole superstructure of our faith begins to collapse. To know God through Christ is priceless! Let us urge others to similarly embrace the only Saviour and never forget that Jesus said I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.

(Taken from Feltham Evangelical Church newsletter of February 2013)

 

Giving or Getting.

We live in a “getting” world where people live for what they can get. One manifestation of this is in relationships. The attitude is that while a relationship is benefiting me I will invest time and energy in it. However, when I no longer gain benefit then I ditch that friend, spouse or whoever.

Our faith though is a giving faith. At the heart of God’s operations, in grace, toward mankind is the giving of His Son (see John 3:16). For the godly, who by definition have their lives modelled on God, every situation should provoke a godlike reaction. Such a reaction is driven by the thought ‘what can I give?’, not ‘what can I get?’.

In Philippians 2 we find lots of giving. Let us observe such:

  • In vv 1-4 we see a people giving themselves to each other for the benefit of each other.
  • In vv 5-11 we see the Saviour giving Himself into this world and then giving Himself to the cross for our salvation.
  • In vv 12-18 we have people giving themselves to God, that they might give themselves together for the benefit of one another. And thence their lives would be given for the benefit of the world.
  • In vv 18-25 Paul is giving Timothy to the Philippians in order to benefit the Philippians.
  • In vv 26-30 Paul writes giving Epaphroditus for the benefit of the Philippian church and Epaphroditus then giving himself for the Philippians’ benefit to the extent that he nearly died.

Every true example of giving is, of course, modelled upon the most perfect example of giving, that of Christ our Lord. And as His life is lived out through us there will emerge aspects of Philippians 2 giving in our lives. And that will lead to joy in being in the way of Christ.

Oh Lord may I seek to be a giver and not a getter.

The New Song.

It is great when you study the Word with others to receive insights that effect your soul’s condition from those contributing. Recently, when studying Isaiah 42:10-17 a sister about mentioned about the new song in v10.

The new songs will only be on our lips when there is an awareness of the Lord who has been revealed to us. Isaiah 42:1-9 gives us a revelation of the true servant of the Lord who is our Lord Jesus. In vv 1-4 He is described and in vv5-9 He is addressed. Then in v10 you hear the call to sing a new song to the LORD.

It is so important for this to grip our beings. We need to constantly have a new song on our lips. That song will be fresh and a delight to our Father in heaven. However, its newness and freshness depend upon us having a living knowledge of the Servant of the Lord.

If we are relying on an old experience of Him we will not have a new song. We may have some form of song, but it will not be new and fresh. How this reminds us that we need to have a vibrant devotional life. Please see here for some thoughts on Personal Devotions.

The Lord Does Not Want Our Sympathy.

There is a pathetic kind of teaching that can develop concerning our Lord Jesus. It reveals Him to be a good man who tried His best to help people and get some followers, but was misunderstood and treated badly. We are thereby urged to have pity on Him. And we will best express our sympathy by becoming His follower. After all someone who was undeservedly treated so badly will be cheered up by having some who will seek to honour Him.

However, we have to assert very firmly that Scripture does not present to us a Saviour who warrants our sympathy. Rather revealed to us is One who demands our submission.

In John 6 many adherents decided that the implications of the teaching of our Lord Jesus were too demanding (see v60). Accordingly they went off and left Him (see v66). They said that His message was hard; it was too much for them. It is interesting that the Lord made no pleas to them to get them to come back. He did not make any pleas for sympathy. These people knew His call upon their lives and would not submit to it. Sympathy was not the issue; submission was. And they would not submit.

Similarly in Luke 23:27-31 we read:

A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him. Jesus turned and said to them, ‘Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children. For the time will come when you will say, “Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore and the breasts that never nursed!” Then

‘“they will say to the mountains, ‘Fall on us!’
    and to the hills, ‘Cover us!’”

For if people do these things when the tree is green, what will happen when it is dry?’

Initially here we see women who were lamenting over the Saviour as He headed to the cross. Sympathy was oozing from them. The Lord responds to this by urging the women to think about their own plight. They should be thinking about their situation. And their situation involves the judgement which is anticipated for Jerusalem as they reject their Messiah. Implicit in this is a desire that they would consider their ways before God. The Lord was not so much interested in their evident sympathy. Rather, he urged them to consider their lives in the light of the future judgment. In pleasant and stable “green” circumstances the Messiah was rejected and was to be crucified. That would lead to the dry days of chaos and devastation.

The question is whether they, even though they had sympathy would continue to flow with the world’s way that would lead to the devastation consequent upon the rejection of Messiah. Or would they repent and embrace the Lord’s way which brings blessing through the Messiah who was about to die and to return to life to bring salvation.

So let us remember the Lord does not wnat our sympathy; He demands our submission

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