Daily Archives: December 3, 2017

December 3: Facing the Storms on the Horizon

Jeremiah 4:19–5:31; Colossians 2:6–23; Proverbs 11:13–31

Having knowledge or insight into a situation and feeling helpless to act upon that information is one of the most frightening feelings we can experience. It makes us anxious, even pained.

Jeremiah 4 describes an experience like this: “My heart is restless within me, I cannot keep silent, for I hear in my inner self the sound of a horn, the alarm of war. Destruction on destruction is proclaimed, for all of the land is devastated.… How long must I see the banner, and hear the sound of a horn? ‘For my people are foolish, they have not known me. They are foolish children, and they do not have insight. They are skillful at doing evil, and they do not know how to do good’ ” (Jer 4:19–22).

How should we react in moments like these? How should we operate? There are no simple answers to these questions. But what is certain is that we must depend on God and His provision over our lives. We must look at the coming storms in our lives and the lives of others and recognize that Yahweh will be at work—regardless of the difficulties we encounter in the process.

Like Jeremiah, we must speak up, but we must root ourselves in Christ as we do so. As Paul writes, “As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, live in him, firmly rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding with thankfulness” (Col 2:6–7). We must thank Christ for His work in us and live as He has asked us to live. If we are called to tell others about the ramifications of their actions, we must always be motivated by Christ’s love. For as the book of Proverbs tell us, “A gossip walks about telling a secret, but the trustworthy in spirit keeps the matter. Where there is no guidance, a nation shall fall, but there is safety in an abundance of counsel” (Prov 11:13–14).

Let our counsel be godly counsel. Let our words be truthful. Let us see that God will guide us in the events we can change and those that we can’t. And let our actions proceed from thankfulness and love.

What storm are you anxious about? How can you depend on God in that storm?

John D. Barry[1][1] Barry, J. D., & Kruyswijk, R. (2012). Connect the Testaments: A One-Year Daily Devotional with Bible Reading Plan. Bellingham, WA: Lexham Press.

December 3, 2017: Afternoon Verse Of The Day

40 And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping. And he said to Peter, “So, could you not watch with me one hour? 41 Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Mt 26:40–41). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.


But when the Lord returned to the three disciples, He found them sleeping. That discovery, though not unexpected, must have added greatly to His grief and distress. No one can disappoint and hurt us so deeply as those we love. Jesus was not surprised, because in His omniscience He was perfectly aware of their weakness and had predicted that it would, that very night, be manifested even in desertion (see v. 31). But that knowledge did not alleviate the pain caused by their not being sensitive enough or caring enough to watch and pray with Him in the last hours of His life.

Just as these same three disciples had slept when Jesus was transfigured (Luke 9:28, 32), they were sleeping at the moment of the greatest spiritual conflict in the history of the world. They were oblivious to the agony and need of their Lord. Despite His warnings of their abandonment and of Peter’s denial, they felt no need to be alert, much less to seek God’s strength and protection. (How we can thank the Lord for the gift of the Holy Spirit, who continually prays for us! See Rom. 8:26–27.)

It was probably after midnight, and the need for sleep at that hour was natural. Jesus and the disciples had had a long and eventful day, and they had just finished a large meal and walked perhaps a mile or so from the upper room to the Mount of Olives. But even the disciples’ limited and confused perception of His imminent ordeal and of their desertion of Him that He had predicted should have motivated and energized them enough to stay awake with Him at this obviously grave time.

In fairness, it should be noted that sleep is often a means of escape, and the disciples may have slept more out of frustration, confusion, and depression than apathy They could not bring themselves to face the truth that their dear friend and Lord, the promised Messiah of Israel, not only would suffer mockery and pain at the hands of wicked men but would even be put to death by them. As a physician, Luke perhaps was especially diagnostic in viewing their emotional state, and he reports that, as we might expect, they were “sleeping from sorrow” (22:45).

But even that reason did not excuse their lack of vigilance. They did not fully believe Jesus’ predictions of His death and of their desertion primarily because they did not want to believe them. Had they accepted Jesus’ word at face value, their minds and emotions would have been far too exercised to allow sleep.

The startling events and controversies of the last few days-the institution of the Lord’s Supper, Jesus’ repeated predictions of His suffering and death, the prediction of their fleeing in the time of trial, and the obvious anguish He now experienced-should have provided more than sufficient motivation and energy to keep them awake. But it did not. Had they sought the Father’s help in prayer as Jesus did and as He exhorted them to do, they not only would have stayed awake but would have been given the spiritual strength and courage they so desperately needed.

The disciples’ predicted desertion of Jesus began here, as they left Him alone in His great time of need. His heart must have broken when He said to Peter, but also for the benefit of James and John, “So, you men could not keep watch with Me for one hour?”

Considering the circumstances, the rebuke was especially mild. It was not Jesus’ purpose to shame the disciples but to strengthen them and teach them their need for divine help. “Keep watching and praying,” He implored, that you may not enter into temptation.”

The Greek verbs behind keep watching and praying are present imperatives and carry the idea of continuous action, indicated in the nasb by keep. The need for spiritual vigilance is not occasional but constant. Jesus was warning His disciples to be discerning enough to know they were in spiritual warfare and to be prepared by God to resist the adversary He was warning them of the danger of self-confidence, which produces spiritual drowsiness.

The only way to keep from being engulfed in temptation is to be aware of Satan’s craftiness and not only to go immediately to our heavenly Father in prayer when we are already under attack but to pray even in anticipation of coming temptation. Peter perhaps first began to learn that lesson on this night in the garden. And after serving faithfully as an apostle for many years, he admonished Christians: “sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls about like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Pet. 5:8). He also gave the assurance, however, that “ord knows how to rescue the godly from temptation” (2 Pet. 2:9).

We cannot overcome Satan or the flesh by our own power, and we risk serious spiritual tragedy when we think we can. When a military observer spots the enemy, he does not single-handedly engage him in battle. He simply reports what he saw and leaves the matter in the commanding officer’s hands. In the same way, believers dare not attempt to fight the devil but should immediately flee from him into the presence of their heavenly Father. As our Lord taught, we are to pray for God not to “lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil” (Matt. 6:13).

As Jesus here acknowledges, doing what is right is often difficult, because although the spirit is willing, … the flesh is still weak. Regenerated people who truly love God have a desire for righteousness, and they can claim with Paul that they genuinely want to do good. But they also confess with Paul that they often do not practice in the unredeemed flesh what their regenerated spirits want them to do. And, on the other hand, they sometimes find themselves doing things that, in the inner redeemed person, they do not want to do (Rom. 7:15–20). Like Paul, they discover that “the principle of evil is present in [them],” that there is a law of sin within their fleshly humanness that wages war against the law of righteousness in their redeemed minds (vv. 21–23).

In light of that troublesome and continuing conflict, Paul then lamented, “Wretched man that I am! Who will set me free from the body of this death?” Answering his own question, he exulted, “Thanks be to God through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, on the one hand 1 myself with my mind am serving the law of God, but on the other, with my flesh the law of sin” (vv. 24–25). The only source of victory is the power of Jesus Christ.[1]


40–41 Jesus returns to his disciples—i.e., the inner three—and finds them sleeping (Lk 22:45 adds “exhausted from sorrow”). Jesus’ question is addressed to Peter but is in the plural and therefore includes them all (see comments at 16:16; 26:33–35). Though “one hour” need not be exact, it certainly indicates that Jesus has been praying for some time. “Watch and pray” could be a hendiadys (see Notes); alternatively, it may suggest two components: spiritual alertness and intercession.

It is doubtful that “so that you will not fall into temptation” (v. 41) means only “so that you will stay awake and not fall into the temptation to sleep.” Indeed, Jesus’ prediction of their spiritual defection that “very night” (v. 31) should have served as an urgent call to prayer. So now he tells them that only urgent prayer will save them from falling into the coming “temptation” (see comments at 4:1; 6:13). Even in his own extremity, when he needs and seeks his Father’s face, Jesus thinks of the impending but much lesser trial his followers will face. He speaks compassionately: “The spirit is willing, but the body [sarx, ‘flesh,’ GK 4922] is weak.” This is not a reference to the Holy Spirit but makes a “distinction between man’s physical weakness and the noble desires of his will” (Hill; idem, Greek Words, 242). But though compassionate, these words, which doubtless hark back to v. 35, are not an excuse but a warning and incentive (Broadus). Spiritual eagerness is often accompanied by carnal weakness—a danger amply experienced by successive generations of Christians.[2]


26:40–41. Returning to the three disciples, Jesus found them sleeping. He rebuked Peter on behalf of the others, using plural verbs throughout verses 40–41. His question did not expect an answer: Could you men not keep watch with me for one hour? The disciples’ sleeping showed that they were unaware of the spiritual danger and that their guard was down. This time when Jesus commanded them to watch and pray, he was referring to more than staying awake physically. They were on the verge of entering into the temptation to deny and abandon him, and they needed God’s help to stand fast.

Jesus acknowledged their uninformed willingness to remain loyal when he said, The spirit is willing. But they were unaware of how weak their flesh was. Without prayerful dependence on God and continual spiritual watchfulness, the flesh would win at the first moment of weakness.[3]


After the first prayer Jesus returned to the three men who had been exhorted to keep awake: 40. And he came to the disciples and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, So, were you men not able to stay awake with me for a single hour? Sleeping at this hour, probably past midnight, was natural, especially after the exciting experiences in the Upper Room (the washing of the disciples’ feet, the revelation that one of The Twelve was going to betray his Master, the departure of Judas, the institution of the Lord’s Supper) and afterward (“All of you shall become untrue to me,” Peter’s protest, etc.). Nevertheless, these men should have stayed awake. They could have, had they only prayed for strength to do so. Though Christ’s gentle reprimand concerned all three—note the plural—yet it was addressed particularly to Peter, no doubt because in the matter of pledging his loyalty and even boasting about it he had taken the lead. Jesus continues, 41. Keep on the alert and keep on praying, that you may not enter into temptation. The context clearly indicates that here a slightly different meaning must be assigned to the same Greek word that was used also in verses 38, 40. “Keep (or: stay) awake” becomes “Keep on the alert,” or “Remain watchful.” The reason for the change is the clause “that you may not enter into temptation.” A person may be wide awake physically and may still succumb to temptation, but if he remains awake spiritually, that is, if with heart and mind he remains “on the alert” or “watchful,” he will overcome temptation. The temptation for the disciples was to become untrue to Jesus. We already know that they, definitely including Peter, did not remain alert, did not make earnest work of prayer, and therefore did, indeed, succumb to temptation. Jesus adds: The spirit is eager but the flesh is weak. If in this nightly hour Jesus experienced the weakness of his own human nature, hence the need of prayer, we may be sure that this was far more seriously true in the case of the disciples. In the present passage “spirit” indicates man’s invisible entity viewed in its relation to God. As such it is the recipient of God’s favor and the means whereby man worships God. See further on 10:28, including footnote 453 on p. 471. “Flesh,” as here meant, is the human nature considered from the aspect of its frailty and needs, both physical and psychical. See N.T.C. on Philippians, p. 77, footnote 55. Cf. Isa. 40:6; 1 Cor. 1:29; Gal. 2:16. This use of “flesh” must not be confused with that according to which “flesh” indicates the human nature regarded as the seat of sinful desire (Rom. 7:25; 8:4–9; etc.). To the disciples, borne down with sleep, it was a battle between their “spirit” which was eager to do what was right and thus to remain “on guard” against temptation, and their “flesh” which, because of its weakness, was prone to yield to Satan’s desires.[4]


40–41 When Jesus returns to the three disciples, he finds that they are sleeping and that he has received no support from them. They seem oblivious to what he is going through despite the indication of his anguish in v. 38. καθεύδοντας, “sleeping,” here and in v. 43 is a culpable act (unlike in 25:5), especially after the command of v. 38 (see Daube for the view that sleeping violated the fellowship of the Passover community [ḥăḇûrâ]), and becomes a metaphor in the NT for moral failure (cf. 1 Thess 5:6–7; Eph 5:14). Thus the rhetorical question to Peter conveys a rebuke (addressed to all the disciples as the plural form of the verb indicates), underlined by the reference to μίαν ὥραν, “one hour.” γρηγορῆσαι μετʼ ἐμοῦ, “watch with me,” corresponds exactly to the command of v. 38 (see Comment there). For a second time the command to “watch” (γρηγορεῖτε) is given, but here it is linked with προσεῦχεσθε, “pray.” Now the focus is not upon watching μετ ̓ ἐμοῦ, “with me,” but upon the need for vigilance in the future, threatening situation of the disciples. That is, they are to “watch and pray” (again plural verbs) so that they might not enter into testing. The lesson of Jesus’ experience is thus applied to the disciples. Accordingly, the command to “watch” (γρηγορεῖν) becomes a standard feature in ethical catechism in the NT (in the sense of spiritual preparedness; cf. 1 Cor 16:13; Col 4:2; 1 Thess 5:6; 1 Peter 5:8; see Lövestam, Spiritual Wakefulness in the New Testament), as does the command to pray (cf. Eph 6:18; 1 Thess 5:17; 1 Peter 4:7). The reference to praying so as not to enter testing recalls the petition of the model prayer in reference to the great eschatological trial (6:13). (The experience of Jesus’ own testing in the context of testing to be experienced by the disciples brings to mind Heb 2:18; 4:15). If Jesus’ experience in Gethsemane underlines the truth that τὸ μὲν πνεῦμα πρόθυμον, ἡ δὲ σὰρξ ἀσθενής, “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak,” how much more will this be the experience of the disciples in the struggles that await them. This logion points to the tension between the inner person, the center of volition, and the outer person, the bodily flesh with its more obvious inherent weakness (for the spirit flesh distinction, see 1 Cor 7:34; 2 Cor 7:1; cf. Rom 8:4–17; Gal 5:17, where, however, flesh is contrasted with the Holy Spirit; for comparison with Qumran, see Kuhn).[5]


26:40, 41 Returning to the disciples, He found them sleeping. Their spirits were willing; their flesh was weak. We dare not condemn them when we think of our own prayer lives; we sleep better than we pray, and our minds wander when they should be watching. How often the Lord has to say to us as He said to Peter, “Could you not watch with Me one hour? Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation.”[6]


[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1985). Matthew (Mt 26:39). Chicago: Moody Press.

[2] Carson, D. A. (2010). Matthew. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Matthew–Mark (Revised Edition) (Vol. 9, p. 610). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[3] Weber, S. K. (2000). Matthew (Vol. 1, p. 442). Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers.

[4] Hendriksen, W., & Kistemaker, S. J. (1953–2001). Exposition of the Gospel According to Matthew (Vol. 9, pp. 918–919). Grand Rapids: Baker Book House.

[5] Hagner, D. A. (1998). Matthew 14–28 (Vol. 33B, pp. 783–784). Dallas: Word, Incorporated.

[6] MacDonald, W. (1995). Believer’s Bible Commentary: Old and New Testaments. (A. Farstad, Ed.) (p. 1303). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.

Advent week 1: On the importance of HOPE

Honor Christ in the coming days

Derived from the Latin word adventum, meaning arrival or coming, the Advent season should be a time to gather with family and celebrate the arrival of Christ. We hope each weekly video inspires continued devotion, prayer, and celebration for our Savior’s arrival and sacrifice.

 

“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.” Romans 15:13, ESV

Each week this advent season, we hope to inspire you and your family to have conversations about each topic, what it means to each of you, and how it relates to your relationship with Christ.

Please feel free to click video image above, or go to this link to play this week’s video and begin this year’s advent journey.

Source: http://jashow.org/advent/

Lifestyles of the mega-rich pastors with estates and private jets: You’ll be shocked to see who is among them (OK it’s Beth Moore)

The End Time

I know that we’re all familiar with the ridiculous extravagance of some of the word of faith preachers. Kenneth Copeland, Jesse Duplantis, Creflo Dollar, Joyce Meyer and Joel Osteen with their jets and mansions and vacation homes and gold commodes and the like. Occasionally when someone comments on their over-the-top lifestyles of these supposed men and women of God, especially the private jets, replies often veer to the extreme in defending their purchase and use for a ‘ministry’. Duplantis said he needed the plane so he could work. Copeland said the same, the private plane is his sanctuary. They agreed they could talk to God better and there would not be distractions of people coming up to them asking for prayer. They needed the plane so they could work. Remember these reasons later. For work.

Can you picture Paul spending ministry money to hire this palanquin, the Lear Jet of…

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The One Genuine Cure for Legalism and Antinomianism

We are not related to the law directly as it were, or the law in isolation as bare commandments. The relationship is dependent on and the new fruit of our prior relationship to Christ. In simple terms, just as Adam received the law from the Father, from whose hand it should never have been abstracted (as it was by the Serpent and then by Eve), so the new-covenant believer never looks at the law without understanding that his relationship to it is the fruit of his union with Christ.

Antinomianism takes various forms. People do not always fit neatly into our categorizations, nor do they necessarily hold all the logical implications of their presuppositions. Here we are using “antinomianism” in the theological sense: rejecting the obligatory (“binding on the conscience”) nature of the Decalogue for those who are in Christ. Antinomianism, it was widely assumed in the eighteenth century, is essentially a failure to understand and appreciate the place of the law of God in the Christian life. But just as there is more to legalism than first meets the eye, the same is true of antinomianism.

Opposites Attract?

Perhaps the greatest misstep in thinking about antinomianism is to think of it simpliciter as the opposite of legalism.

It would be an interesting experiment for a budding doctoral student in psychology to create a word-association test for Christians. It might include:

  • Old Testament: Anticipated answer → New Testament
  • Sin: Anticipated answer → Grace
  • David: Anticipated answer → Goliath
  • Jerusalem: Anticipated answer → Babylon
  • Antinomianism: Anticipated answer → ?

Would it be fair to assume that the instinctive response there at the end would be “Legalism”?

Is the “correct answer” really “Legalism”? It might be the right answer at the level of common usage, but it would be unsatisfactory from the standpoint of theology, for antinomianism and legalism are not so much antithetical to each other as they are both antithetical to grace. This is why Scripture never prescribes one as the antidote for the other. Rather grace, God’s grace in Christ in our union with Christ, is the antidote to both.

This is an observation of major significance, for some of the most influential antinomians in church history acknowledged they were on a flight from the discovery of their own legalism.

According to John Gill, the first biographer of Tobias Crisp, one of the father figures of English antinomianism: “He set out first in the legal way of preaching in which he was exceeding jealous.”

Benjamin Brook sets this in a larger context:

Persons who have embraced sentiments which afterwards appear to them erroneous, often think they can never remove too far from them; and the more remote they go from their former opinions the nearer they come to the truth. This was unhappily the case with Dr. Crisp. His ideas of the grace of Christ had been exceedingly low, and he had imbibed sentiments which produced in him a legal and self-righteous spirit. Shocked at the recollection of his former views and conduct, he seems to have imagined that he could never go far enough from them.

But Crisp, in keeping with others, took the wrong medicine.

The antinomian is by nature a person with a legalistic heart. He or she becomes an antinomian in reaction. But this implies only a different view of law, not a more biblical one.

Richard Baxter’s comments are therefore insightful:

Antinomianism rose among us from an obscure Preaching of Evangelical Grace, and insisting too much on tears and terrors.

The whole scale removal of the law seems to provide a refuge. But the problem is not with the law, but with the heart—and this remains unchanged. Thinking that his perspective is now the antithesis of legalism, the antinomian has written an inappropriate spiritual prescription. His sickness is not fully cured. Indeed the root cause of his disease has been masked rather than exposed and cured.

There is only one genuine cure for legalism. It is the same medicine the gospel prescribes for antinomianism: understanding and tasting union with Jesus Christ Himself. This leads to a new love for and obedience to the law of God, which he now mediates to us in the gospel. This alone breaks the bonds of both legalism (the law is no longer divorced from the person of Christ) and antinomianism (we are not divorced from the law, which now comes to us from the hand of Christ and in the empowerment of the Spirit, who writes it in our hearts).

Without this both legalist and antinomian remain wrongly related to God’s law and inadequately related to God’s grace. The marriage of duty with delight in Christ is not yet rightly celebrated.

Ralph Erskine, one of the leading Marrow Brethren, once said that the greatest antinomian was actually the legalist. His claim may also be true the other way around: the greatest legalist is the antinomian.

But turning from legalism to antinomianism is never the way to escape the husband whom we first married. For we are not divorced from the law by believing that the commandments do not have binding force, but only by being married to Jesus Christ in union with whom it is our pleasure to fulfill them. Thomas Boston himself is in agreement with this general analysis:

This Antinomian principle, that it is needless for a man, perfectly justified by faith, to endeavour to keep the law, and do good works, is a glaring evidence that legality is so engrained in man’s corrupt nature, that until a man truly come to Christ, by faith, the legal disposition will still be reigning in him; let him turn himself into what shape, or be of what principles he will in religion; though he run into Antinomianism he will carry along with him his legal spirit, which will always be a slavish and unholy spirit.

A century later, the Southern Presbyterian pastor and theologian James Henley Thornwell (1812–1862) noted the same principle:

Whatever form, however, Antinomianism may assume, it springs from legalism. None rush into the one extreme but those who have been in the other.

Here, again, is John Colquhoun, speaking of the manifestation of this in the life of the true believer:

Some degree of a legal spirit or of an inclination of heart to the way of the covenant of works still remains in believers and often prevails against them. They sometimes find it exceedingly dificult for them to resist that inclination, to rely on their own attainments and performances, for some part of their title to the favor and enjoyment of God.

If antinomianism appears to us to be a way of deliverance from our natural legalistic spirit, we need to refresh our understanding of Romans 7. In contrast to Paul, both legalists and antinomians see the law as the problem. But Paul is at pains to point out that sinnot the law is the root issue. On the contrary, the law is “good” and “righteous” and “spiritual” and “holy.” The real enemy is indwelling sin. And the remedy for sin is neither the law nor its overthrow. It is grace, as Paul had so wonderfully exhibited in Romans 5:12–21, and that grace set in the context of his exposition of union with Christ in Romans 6:1–14. To abolish the law, then, would be to execute the innocent.

For this reason it is important to notice the dynamic of Paul’s argument in Romans 7:1–6. We have been married to the law. A woman is free to marry again when her husband dies. But Paul is careful to say not that the law has died so that we can marry Christ. Rather, it is the believer who was married to the law who has died in Christ. But being raised with Christ, she is now (legally!) free to marry Christ as the husband with whom fruit for God will be brought to the birth. The entail of this second marriage is, in Paul’s language, that “the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”

This is the sense in which the Christian’s relationship to the law is that of being an “in-law”! We are not related to the law directly as it were, or the law in isolation as bare commandments. The relationship is dependent on and the new fruit of our prior relationship to Christ. In simple terms, just as Adam received the law from the Father, from whose hand it should never have been abstracted (as it was by the Serpent and then by Eve), so the new-covenant believer never looks at the law without understanding that his relationship to it is the fruit of his union with Christ.

Bunyan saw the meaning of Romans 7. An “inclination to Adam the First” remains in all of us. The believer has died to the law, but the law does not die. The law still exists to the believer. But united to Christ the believer is now able to fulfill the law of marriage and bear fruit!

Thus grace, not law, produces what the law requires; yet at the same time it is what the law requires that grace produces. Ralph Erskine sought to put this in verse form:

Thus gospel-grace and law-commands
Both bind and loose each other’s hands;
They can’t agree on any terms,
Yet hug each other in their arms.
Those that divide them cannot be
The friends of truth and verity;
Yet those that dare confound the two
Destroy them both, and gender woe.
This paradox none can decipher,
That plow not with the gospel heifer.

So, he adds,

To run, to work, the law commands,
The gospel gives me feet and hands.
The one requires that I obey,
The other does the power convey.

Head and Heart

This is a fundamental pastoral lesson. It is not merely a matter of the head. It is a matter of the heart. Antinomianism may be couched in doctrinal and theological terms, but it both betrays and masks the heart’s distaste for absolute divine obligation, or duty. That is why the doctrinal explanation is only part of the battle. We are grappling with something much more elusive, the spirit of an individual, an instinct, a sinful temperamental bent, a subtle divorce of duty and delight. This requires diligent and loving pastoral care and especially faithful, union-with-Christ, full unfolding of the Word of God so that the gospel dissolves the stubborn legality in our spirits.

Olney Hymns, the hymnbook composed by John Newton and William Cowper, contains the latter’s hymn “Love Constraining to Obedience,” which states the situation well:

No strength of nature can suffice
To serve [the] Lord aright;
And what she has, she misapplies,
For want of clearer light.
How long beneath the law I lay
In bondage and distress!
I toil’d the precept to obey,
But toil’d without success.
Then to abstain from outward sin
Was more than I could do;
Now, if I feel its pow’r within,
I feel I hate it too.
Then all my servile works were done
A righteousness to raise;
Now, freely chosen in the Son,
I freely choose his ways.
What shall I do was then the word,
That I may worthier grow?
What shall I render to the Lord
Is my enquiry now.
To see the Law by Christ fulfil’d,
And hear his pard’ning voice;
Changes a slave into a child,
And duty into choice.

We are dealing here with a disposition whose roots go right down into the soil of the garden of Eden. Antinomianism then, like legalism, is not only a matter of having a wrong view of the law. It is a matter, ultimately, of a wrong view of grace, revealed in both law and gospel—and behind that, a wrong view of God Himself.

Taken from The Whole Christ by Sinclair B. Ferguson, © 2016, pp. 155–162. Used by permission of Crossway. Sinclair Ferguson’s new companion teaching series is also available hereThis article is used with permission.

The post The One Genuine Cure for Legalism and Antinomianism appeared first on The Aquila Report.

December 3: Penetrating the Box

“God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, in these last days has spoken to us in His Son” (Heb. 1:1–2).

✧✧✧

Man can’t discover God on his own; God must reveal Himself to man.

Since the beginning of time, man has deceived himself by thinking he can discover God through various religions. But in reality, man lives in a box enclosed within the walls of time and space. God is outside the box, and man senses He’s there but can’t get to Him. Each new religion is but another futile attempt to penetrate the walls of the box and catch a glimpse of God.

Man’s only hope is for God to enter the box, which Hebrews 1:1–2 declares He did—first by letter (the Old Testament), then in person (in Jesus Christ). Regarding God’s Word David said, “The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me, and His word was on my tongue” (2 Sam. 23:2). Jeremiah added, “The Lord stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the Lord said to me, ‘Behold, I have put My words in your mouth’” (Jer. 1:9). Of Christ, the Apostle John said, “The Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth. … No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him” (John 1:14, 18).

The irony of people thinking they can discover God on their own is that apart from the Holy Spirit’s leading, no one really wants to find Him. They merely want to add a cosmic good luck charm to their lives or to satiate their guilty consciences. Paul said, “There is none righteous, not even one; there is none who understands, there is none who seeks for God” (Rom. 3:10–11, emphasis added).

God could have left us in our sin and ignorance, but He penetrated the box and revealed everything we need to know in order to have redemption and fellowship with Him. What a privilege we have to study His Word and live by its principles! Be diligent to do so each day.

✧✧✧

Suggestions for Prayer:  Praise God for granting you the ability to appreciate His Word.

For Further Study: Read 1 Corinthians 2:6–16, noting how natural (unregenerate) people respond to divine revelation.[1]

 

[1] MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1993). Drawing Near—Daily Readings for a Deeper Faith (p. 350). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Books.

December 3: GOD’S PROMISE WILL OUTLIVE MAN’S VIOLENCE

Ye therefore, beloved, seeing ye know these things before, beware lest ye also, being led away with the error of the wicked, fall from your own stedfastness.

2 PETER 3:17

Those who still read and trust their Bibles in the midst of the nuclear age have found a great truth and a message the rest of the world does not know: after the warlords have shot their last missile and dropped their last bomb there will still be living men inhabiting this globe!

After the world has gone through the meat grinder of Armageddon the earth will still be inhabited by men; not by biological freaks, but by real people like you and me. If the world can escape annihilation only by adopting the ethics of Jesus, as some think, we may as well resign ourselves to the inevitable explosion, for a huge block of the earth’s population is controlled by Communists whose basic ideology is violently anti-Christian and who are determined to extirpate every trace of Christianity from among them. Other large blocks are non-Christian and grimly set to remain so.

The West, it is true, pays lip service to Christianity, but selfishness, greed, ambition, pride and lust rule the rulers of these lands almost to a man. While they will now and then speak well of Christ, yet the total quality of their conduct leaves little doubt that they are not much influenced by His teachings.

All this being true, still we Christians can sing at the foot of the threatening volcano. Things have not gotten out of hand. However bad they look, the Lord sitteth king forever and reigneth over the affairs of men![1]

 

[1] Tozer, A. W., & Smith, G. B. (2015). Evenings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

December 3: LET US TAKE IT PERSONALLY

Lord, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us.

Isaiah 26:12

 

What a difference it makes when we humans cease being general and become pointed and personal in our approach to God! We then come to see that all that God did was for each of us.

It was for me that holy men spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. For me Christ died—and when He arose on the third day, it was for me. When the promised Holy Spirit came, it was to continue in me the work He had been doing for me since the morning of the Creation!

So, I have every right to claim all of the riches of the Godhead in mercy given. What a blessed thought—that an infinite God can give all of Himself to each of His children!

He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one He gives all of Himself as fully as if there were no others.

All that He is and all that He has done is for us and for all who share the common salvation.

 

Thank You, Lord, for all that You have done for me. That You are a personal, caring God is so unlike other religions. Father, glorify Yourself among the nations of the world today.[1]

 

[1] Tozer, A. W. (2015). Mornings with tozer: daily devotional readings. Chicago, IL: Moody Publishers.

December 3: To Speak in Parables

He spoke many things to them in parables.—Matt. 13:3a

The parable was one of the staple teaching tools the Lord Jesus used to convey spiritual truth in an understandable way. The word parable contains the idea of placing something alongside something else to make a comparison. In this way, Jesus would place a moral truth alongside a physical example that people could more easily grasp. By this common form of Jewish teaching, He used a common object or practice to elucidate an intangible truth or principle.

From His earliest teaching sessions, Christ used graphic analogies to instruct on divine truth. He likened believers to salt and light in this world (Matt. 5:13–16), pointed to the example of the birds and flowers concerning life’s essentials (6:26–30), and said Christians must build on the rock-solid foundation of Scripture rather than the loose sand of human philosophy (7:24–27). These and other illustrations contain clear meanings. They resonate with listeners. And they served the purpose of setting the stage for Jesus’ use of full-fledged parables.

Parables and other symbolic and figurative communication methods, when correctly understood, are genuine friends of the student of God’s Word. They make abstract truths more concrete, interesting, easier to remember, and easier to apply to life. Those were always the goals our Lord envisioned as He related any parables, such as the series of kingdom parables.

ASK YOURSELF

 

What can we learn from Jesus’ teaching style to help us improve our own spiritual Communication, whether in formal lessons and sermons or simply in the ordinary vehicles of conversation?[1]

 

 

[1] MacArthur, J. (2008). Daily readings from the life of Christ (p. 346). Chicago: Moody Publishers.