Like Father, Like Son

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The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love.  He does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities.  For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us.  As a father has compassion on his children, so the LORD has compassion on those who fear him. From everlasting to everlasting the LORD’s love is with those who fear him.  (Psalm 103:8, 10–14, 17, NIV 1984).

When [Jesus] saw the crowds, he had compassion on them, because they were harassed and helpless, like sheep without a shepherd.  (Matthew 9:36, NIV 1984).

My Musings – These verses are loaded!

Compassionate – A sympathetic consciousness of others’ distress together with a desire to alleviate it.  And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.  (1 John 4:14, NIV 1984).  It was more than a desire to alleviate our sinful state that compelled the Father to allow His Son to bear our sin and shame on the cross.

Gracious – Unmerited divine favor given to mankind for their salvation.  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.  (Ephesians 2:8–9, NIV 1984).  Unmerited, not earned.  Not something you can work for.  It is a gift, freely given, freely received, if we are willing to accept it.

Slow to Anger – Lacking in readiness, promptness, or willingness to display His displeasure and judgement.  The Lord is not slow in keeping his promise, as some understand slowness. He is patient with you, not wanting anyone to perish, but everyone to come to repentance.  (2 Peter 3:9, NIV 1984).  When He returns, those who have not repented, who have not accepted Christ will be judged and bear the full weight of His wrath.  But because He is reluctant for this to be the case for anyone, He delays to allow the unsaved more time to consider.

Abounding in Love – Abundantly supplied goodness and kindness.  A steadfast (not subject to change) love.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”  (John 3:16–17, NIV 1984).  It cannot be more abundant than for Him to send His only Son.  It cannot be more steadfast, that when we betray Him in sin, He still loves us enough to redeem us.

As High As the Heavens Are From the Earth – How high do you suppose that could possibly be?  Scientists estimate at least 93 billion light years (and still expanding).

As Far As the East Is From the West – No matter how far east (or west) you travel, you will never reach the west (or east).

From Everlasting to Everlasting – Enduring through all time.  No matter how far back in time you go, there was never a time He did not love us.  No matter how far into the future you go, there will never be a time when He stops loving us.

My Advice – How could you possibly turn away from such love? Why would you want to?

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”

 

 

When In Athens

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While Paul was waiting for them [Silas and Timothy] in Athens. . .he reasoned in the synagogue with the Jews and the God-fearing Greeks, as well as in the marketplace day by day with those who happened to be there. . .Some of them asked, “What is this babbler trying to say?” Others remarked, “He seems to be advocating foreign gods.” They said this because Paul was preaching the good news about Jesus and the resurrection. Then they took him and brought him to a meeting of the Areopagus, where they said to him, “May we know what this new teaching is that you are presenting? You are bringing some strange ideas to our ears, and we want to know what they mean.”  (Acts 17:16–20, NIV 1984).

Paul then stood up in the meeting of the Areopagus and said: “Men of Athens! I see that in every way you are very religious. For as I walked around and looked carefully at your objects of worship, I even found an altar with this inscription: TO AN UNKNOWN GOD. Now what you worship as something unknown I am going to proclaim to you.”  (Acts 17:22–23, NIV 1984).

We should not think that the divine being is like gold or silver or stone—an image made by man’s design and skill. In the past God overlooked such ignorance, but now he commands all people everywhere to repent. For he has set a day when he will judge the world with justice by the man he has appointed. He has given proof of this to all men by raising him from the dead.”  (Acts 17:29–31, NIV 1984).

One night the Lord spoke to Paul in a vision: “Do not be afraid; keep on speaking, do not be silent. For I am with you.”  (Acts 18:9–10, NIV 1984).

My Musings – The thought occurs to me from time-to-time, that readers of my blog might be saying of me “what is this babbler trying to say?”  Especially as I share with my friends and acquaintances on FaceBook that have known me over the years, but have never known me to share my beliefs so openly.  Maybe it’s because social media does seem to give us a degree of boldness that we rarely seem to have in our personal interactions.  You know, those three taboo topics of sex, politics and religion that we are supposed to avoid.

I do try to avoid those first two topics sex (out of a sense of modesty and decorum) and politics (can be way too divisive and polarizing).  But religion…?  I guess I feel a certain sense of urgency as we approach the day that God has set “when he will judge the world with justice,” to proclaim the good news of the Gospel.  To say what I’ve left unsaid for so many years of my life.  To share what I know with others.

I would like to think for most of my readers (if they read it at all), that I am not “bringing some strange ideas to their ears.”   Yet to some, even those quite familiar with the story of Christ, the concept of being “born again” sounds cultish or merely the belief of a fringe group of religious weirdos.  But the term “born again” was coined by Jesus Himself.  Because Jesus said it should make one “want to know what [it] mean[s].”  God does not need to be “an unknown God.”  But He can only be known though “the man He has appointed” by “raising him from the dead.”  We should not think it is strange that the Father appointed the Son to be the only way we can come to Him.

So while I do get discouraged periodically, wondering if anyone is paying attention to what I write, I guess I will “keep on speaking” and “not be silent.”  One never knows who might be listening.

My Advice – But don’t just listen to me.  Listen to Jesus, the Son of the living God.

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Today’s musing was inspired by Lead Teaching Pastor Kevin Rutledge’s sermon on January 19, 2020. Check it out at https://www.fbcsycamore.com/sermons. If you live in or are visiting the area, come and join us Sundays at 10:30 a.m. We’d love to be partners in the Gospel with you.

 

Receipt Required

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For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son.” (John 3:16a, NIV 1984).

Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”   (Hebrews 9:22, NIV 1984).

He was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed. Yet it was the LORD’s will to crush him and cause him to suffer, and though the LORD makes his life a guilt offering, he will see his offspring and prolong his days, and the will of the LORD will prosper in his hand.”  (Isaiah 53:5, 10, NIV 1984).

Because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them. Unlike the other high priests, he does not need to offer sacrifices day after day, first for his own sins, and then for the sins of the people. He sacrificed for their sins once for all when he offered himself.” (Hebrews 7:24–25, 27 NIV 1984).

Whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16b, NIV 1984).

My Musings – Focus on these two words – “so loved.”  Two definitions of so are:

  • To such a great extent – That He would sacrifice His only Son to save us.
  • And for this reason – He sent His Son into the world.

So, such a small word, such a large meaning.

Christ had to come into the word, to become flesh, because  “without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness.”  Only a blood sacrifice will do.  But not just any blood.  The blood of God.

Pierced for our transgressions,” not His.  He was without sin.  He was God in the flesh, who became sin on our behalf.  God willingly crushed Him and caused Him to suffer, exacting the price required to exonerate us and bring us peace with God.

But death could not keep Him in the grave.  God is greater our sin and greater than the death sin brought with it.  He rose from the dead to live forever.  He had already been in existence forever, for He had no beginning.  From Creator, to Savior to High Priest.  A priest is a mediatory agent.  And Jesus is “unlike the other high priests.”  He does not need to keep returning to the Father with sacrifice after sacrifice.  When “He offered Himself,” no other sacrifice was required.  Because so (there’s that word again) “worthy was the Lamb that was slain” that the penalty for all of mankind’s sin past, present and future was paid for.

My Advice – For all of mankind means that “whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  Do you believe?  Your sins have been paid for, but you have to show the “receipt.”

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”

This We Proclaim

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In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters. ”  (Genesis 1:1-2, NIV 1984).

He [Jesus] was with God in the beginning.  Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.”  (John 1:2-3, NIV 1984).

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” (Colossians 1:15–17, NIV 1984).

The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.  He was in the world, and though the world was made through him, the world did not recognize him. He came to that which was his own, but his own did not receive him.” (John 1:14, 10–11, NIV 1984).

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked at and our hands have touched—this we proclaim.” (1 John 1:1, NIV 1984).

My Musings – In the beginning, before any had come into being, God was already there.   He had always been there, because He had no beginning.  In the beginning, before any had come into being, Jesus was already there.  He had always been there, because He was before all things.  He was before all things because He is God (John 1:1).  In the beginning, the Spirit was already there, hovering over the things created.

They created all things. Without them, nothing that was made.  There was no uncaused cosmic big bang from which time, space and matter inexpicably came into existence.  There was no mysterious or coincidental mingling of all the right enzymes, proteins, etc. in the primordial ooze from which the spark of life began.  There was no process of natural selection by which the first spark of life evolved into man.  “The LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.”  (Genesis 2:7, NIV 1984).

In them, all have hold together.  They came into being by them and are sustained by them.  Without their sustaining power, what came to be, would cease be.  And without their regenerating power, the curse of the fall would doom all creation.  That is why Jesus became flesh to dwell among us.  Yet the world did not recognize or receive their Creator and put Him to death.

My Advice – Is good news!  “Yet to all who received him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God— children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a husband’s will, but born of God.”  (John 1:12–13, NIV 1984).  This we proclaim.  It is yours for the receiving.  Be “born of God.”  He created you.  He can create you anew.  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!”  (2 Corinthians 5:17, NIV 1984).  To be “in Christ” is to be “born of God,” to be born again, to become a “new creation.”  Otherwise, “dust you are and to dust you will return,”  (Genesis 3:19, NIV 1984), “just as man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment.”  (Hebrews 9:27, NIV 1984).  Do not face that judgment without being “a new creation.

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”

 

 

In His Son

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And this is the testimony: God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life”  (1 John 5:11–12, NIV 1984).

My Musings – This is an extremely simple, direct and efficient description of salvation.

  • Given – Salvation is not something earned or something we possess independently.  It is a gift from God.
  • In His Son – It is only available through believing and receiving Jesus Christ.  Don’t look for it anywhere else.  It’s not there.
  • He Who Has The Son – If you have Christ in you, you have eternal life.
  • He Who Does Not Have The Son – If you do not have Christ in you, you do not have eternal life.

My Advice – What must I do to have eternal life? Follow the instructions.  If you do, you will.  If you don’t, you won’t.  Simple. Direct. Efficient.

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”

Think You’re The Worst?

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Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his unlimited patience as an example for those who would believe on him and receive eternal life.”  (1 Timothy 1:15–16, NIV 1984).

My Musings – Paul had good reason to believe he was “the worst” of sinners, for in a previous verse (v.13) he listed some of his offenses (“blasphemer and a persecutor [of Christians] and a violent man“).  If you need any evidence that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, you need look no further than Paul.  And this should be an encouragement to anyone that believes they are beyond saving.  For is God can save the “worst of sinners” He can certainly save you and me, or anyone “who would believe on him and receive eternal life.

My Advice – Typically, it is not a good thing to be made an example. In Paul’s case it was good, not only for him, but for all who might think that they are the worst.  And that includes you.  If you are among those who believe they are beyond the grace of God, think again.  If Paul could be saved, so can you. This “is a trustworthy [able to be relied on] saying that deserves full [complete] acceptance.”  Why not accept Christ now?

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Want to become a Christian? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”

Trustworthy Sayings

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Here is a trustworthy saying:  If we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us; if we are faithless, he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.  (2 Timothy 2:11–13, NIV 1984).

My Musings – This is an interesting passage, containing four couplets, each beginning with the word “if.”  What makes it interesting to me, is that the word “if” is typically the introduction to a conditional clause (if a certain condition is true, then a particular result happens), which it is in the first three couplets, but not the last one.  This should cause the reader to question why that is so, because it begs an explanation, which is given in the text.

If we died with Him, [then] we will also live with Him – “I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.” (John 3:3, NIV). “Unless” also forms a conditional clause.  As with most conditional clauses, we would like to substitute our own conditions (good deeds, live a “good” life, don’t commit any “mortal” sins, etc.), but we cannot.  We must “die” with Him (accept His sacrifice on the cross on our behalf) in order to live (be born again) with Him.  We cannot be born again, if we have not “died.”  We die so we will not perish. It sounds like an oxymoron, but it is not.  “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”  (John 3:16, NIV 1984).

If we endure, [then] we will also reign with Him – John 3:16, cited above, is not a conditional clause.  Whoever believes has eternal life.  It cannot be eternal if it can be lost.  So this conditional clause must mean something else.  “Well done, my good servant!” his master replied.Because you have been trustworthy in a very small matter, take charge of ten cities.”  (Luke 19:17, NIV 1984).  How we live (endure in) this life, does not determine if we will live with Him in the next.  It determines how we will reign with Him in the next.

If we disown Him, [then] He will also disown us – This clause stands in juxtaposition to the first clause.  We can either die with (be owned by) Him, or die without Him by disowning Him. “Whoever acknowledges me before men, I will also acknowledge him before my Father in heaven. But whoever disowns me before men, I will disown him before my Father in heaven.”  (Matthew 10:32–33, NIV 1984).  If we disown Him, we will never see the Kingdom of Heaven. To make sure we do not misapply this clause, that having once genuinely accepted Christ we can later disown Him and lose our salvation, the final unconditional clause is added.

If we are faithless, [nevertheless] He will remain faithful – There will be times in our Christian walk that our “enduring” will be less than stellar.  We will be unfaithful at times.  But God’s faithfulness to His promise “whoever believes in Him shall not perish” is unconditional.  He cannot be unfaithful. “Because God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear to the heirs of what was promised, he confirmed it with an oath. God did this so that, by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have fled to take hold of the hope offered to us may be greatly encouraged. We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”  (Hebrews 6:16–19, NIV).  As Christians, our identity is in Christ, God’s “one and only Son” and  “he will remain faithful, for he cannot disown himself.

My Advice – Die with Him so you can live and reign with Him.  Then live a life worthy of the calling.

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Want to become a Christian (die with Him)? See my blog series “The Born Again Experience.”
Want a closer walk with Christ (endure with Him)? See my blog series “Got Spiritual Milk?”