Don't reject Him

Luke 7:28-30: "For I say to you, among those born of women there is not a greater prophet than John the Baptist; but he who is least in the kingdom of God is greater than he.” 29 And when all the people heard Him, even the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John. 30 But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him."

Here we have God's revealed will, which man can reject and keep from coming to pass. The will of God is that all men should come to repentance. The Pharisees and scribes rejected this, when it was put before them in the person of Jesus Christ.

When Jesus commends to you a person or a practice in His Word, agree with Him and obey, or you are rejecting the will of God for your life.

What repentance looks like

So the people asked him, saying, “What shall we do then?” - Luke 3:10

Reading this verse made me realize something about repentance. Sincere repentance can be seen by a desperate search for what to do next. "What shall we do then?"


Peace on earth

Isa 57:18-19 - “I create the fruit of the lips: peace, peace to him who is far off and to him who is near,” says the LORD, "And I will heal him.”

Luke 1:79 - "To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Luke 2:14 - "Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, goodwill toward men!”

At the cross of Christ, God reconciled us to Him, making peace through the blood of Jesus. This is our rock, our anchor and our hope, when the waves of doubt, suffering and conflict make peace seem far away. The peace was already won there.

As we celebrate the Lord’s Supper now, our peace with one another is important. Resolve to speak with that person you are tempted to be bitter toward. Ask God to forgive your sins as you forgive the sins of others against you. Then go extend forgiveness. Work to make Christ’s personal peace with you, a corporate reality among all His people.

And this ritual meal is meant to point forward to the complete peace we will enjoy in glory. No tears, no doubts, no struggle against sin, only joyful service and peaceful fellowship. Peace on earth, and goodwill toward men.


More Christmas in March

Our hymn of the month is Hark the Herald Angels sing, and Charles Wesley penned such rich truth in it. Let’s take a look at verse 2.
Christ by highest heav'n adored Christ the everlasting Lord!
This means the angels in heaven worship Christ. Everything and everyone men and angels alike, were made through Jesus and made for Jesus.
Late in time behold Him come Offspring of a Virgin's womb
This means not that Jesus was late for an appointment, but that God let a lot of time go by between making and keeping His promises, to give us time to repent and believe Him, to grow in obedience and to teach our children, grandchildren for generations to trust Him.
Veiled in flesh the Godhead see Hail the incarnate Deity
This means as John says, that though no one had ever seen God, God the Son has made Him known. If you have seen Me you have seen the Father, Jesus told Phillip. God put on flesh, veiling His deity though it was always there. Thomas rightly worships, “My Lord and my God!”
Pleased as man with man to dwell Jesus, our Emmanuel
God came to live with us – Immanuel means God with us. And He was pleased to. Jesus wasn’t walking around disgusted with us all the time. He came to us in our sin and weakness to lovingly pull us out of it. Do the same for others with compassion instead of disgust.
Hark! The herald angels sing "Glory to the newborn King!"
So listen to the angels give glory to the infant in the manger, who is the promised King of God’s Kingdom.


Spouse as friend

This is from Remy Wilkins, on an email list. I thought it was good and he gave permission there to pass it on.

"One of the things that gets lost in the headship emphasis is the role of
friendship in marriage. Whatever else can be said about a husband that leads
with a list of rules, we can add that he isn't a friend to his wife.

"I know in talking with N______ that when he hears talk of Jesus the friend he
gets a case of robust willies, but it is important to maintain both the
friend and family bond in Christ. This is because the bond between friends
isn't as strong as the bond between family. The familial bond can take all
sorts of abuse and can even be ignored for long stretches of time and still
exist, but the friend bond is conditional and thus more fragile. Cares must
be taken with a friend.

"At some point the talk of the church being a family and you don't get to
pick your family isn't helpful. Family is family, but friends take work.

"In a broken marriage it is a benefit to rely on the family aspect to begin
the repair, but it can be a burden too. For a marriage to be repaired it
must be repaired as friends. To try and fix it out of some arcane duty to
family or some bit of headship theology won't cut it....

"Churches that over-emphasize the family aspect end up with warlords whose
solution to every problem is submission. Churches that over-emphasize the
friend aspect end up with a bunch of church hopping swingers looking for the
most accommodating club. Both aspects must be maintained; Jesus as Brother,
Jesus as Friend, husband as head, husband as friend."

Contempt and vindication

Anatomy of Peace by Arbinger Institute: Book Cover
"As painful as it is to receive contempt from another, it is more debilitating by far to be filled with contempt for another" (pg 96).

"Although nothing I can do in the present can take away the
mistreatment of the past, the way I carry myself in the present
determines how I carry forward the memories of those mistreatments.
When I see others as objects, I dwell on the injustices I have
suffered in order to justify myself, keeping my mistreatments and
suffering alive within me. When I see others as people, on the other
hand, then I free myself from the need for justification. I therefore
free myself from the need to focus unduly on the worst that has been
done to me" (pg 104).

So when you worship the Lord...

"What we do when we are dressed casually we treat casually, because we are bodies and souls, not just souls."


Idealism and character

If you are not an idealist by the time you are twenty, you have no heart, but if you are still an idealist by the time you are thirty, you have no head. – Randolph Bourne

Live everyday like it’s your last because someday you’ll be right. – Unknown

The true test of character is not how much we know how to do, but how we behave when we don’t know what to do. – John Holt

HT Randy Booth


On sola scriptura

First, I would really recommend the book - Shape of Sola Scriptura.
Recommending a non-canonical book at this point carries no irony. It's true that at one level we are submitting to the church's authority regarding what Scripture is canonical and what isn't. This does NOT deny sola scriptura. It does deny the modern distortion of SOLO scriptura. This says there is NO authority besides Scripture. There is a legit church authority, but it doesn't entail denying sola Scriptura. Scripture is the ultimate authority but we should also listen carefully to how the church interprets Scripture. It's like we are 19, the church is our mother, and the Word is our Father. Hopefully they say the same thing, but occasionally they don't, and then hopefully mom defers to dad. When she doesn't and insists on her way, there's a functional divorce, which has resulted in Rome and Orthodoxy, in my book. The 19 year old is stuck having to sort it out himself. Sola Scriptura does not cause division. Churches who insist on having absolute authority do. Rome excommunicating Luther was the point of division, not Luther arguing too much, or leaving Rome, which he didn't until they kicked him out. Another way of saying this is that Protestants aren't the sectarians. Rome and EOO are. Leaving the truth and following corruption is the problem, not refusing to follow those who do.

My fear is that in seeing legit church authority to which to submit, we think Scripture is thus subordinate to the church, which is by no means true. The church recognizes what is already true - which writings are canonical. It does not make them so. In the same way, the church is very helpful in interpreting Scripture - many helpful commentators, etc - but the church can't decree an interpretation of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, or the veneration of icons. It doesn't create truth but recognizes what's in Scripture.

There are real Christians in the Roman and Orthodox churches. I go as far as to call them churches. Unsound churches. Erring brethren. (I think this is similar to Rome's wording about Protestants.) But Protestants who leave Protestantism to go to them seriously endanger their souls, leaving clearer truth for error. Both churches functionally teach (by what they ask of adherents more than by their words) that faith is not solely in Christ, but in the church, veneration of Mary or icons, etc. So it is not easy for them to trust Christ alone, following the church.


More good Chesterton, on Movies

“It is time we start making some good religious movies. But until then, it is important that we put each movie—like any work of art—to the test: Does it give honor and glory to God? Does it teach us anything eternal? Does it move us to want to change our lives? Does it make us thankful? Does it help us love God better? Does it help us love our neighbor more? Does it make us want to help our neighbor? If it doesn’t do any of these things, it has wasted our time. And that’s what hell is: wasted time.”

GK Chesterton

HT - Randy Booth

Things I missed in Scripture

On the feast of firstfruits
Leviticus 23:14 - "You shall eat neither bread nor parched grain nor fresh grain until the same day that you have brought an offering to your God..."

Timing of this feast is unclear to me, but it was to be on Sunday (vs 11). Many say it was the day after the feast of Unleavened Bread, which started the day after Passover. In the year Jesus died, this makes a very clear pattern: Passover on Thursday night/Friday, when Jesus died as our lamb, Unleavened Bread on Friday night/Saturday when the sinless seed was planted in the ground (entombed), Firstfruits on Sunday when Jesus came up out of the ground the first crop, resurrection alive to God. He is our firstfruits, 1 Corinthians 15:20 tells us.

But what I missed before was verse 14, above. Israel was not to eat bread until they offered the firstfruits sacrifice. When they were to begin refraining from bread isn't clear, but I see now why some Christian traditions fast from Good Friday until Easter Sunday morning.

After all, we are all one loaf, one body (1 Cor 10:17), and when one part of the body suffers, we all suffer.