Have you noticed that heretics only seem to care what God says in His word when they are,
Eisegeting the text to support their pet heresies, or false teacher.
Telling you not to judge them/their heresies/their teacher.
Telling you that you can never truly know the truth, so their teacher’s teachings are true. You just haven’t matured enough yet to get them.
Telling you that you are the one causing division, and not seeking peace, and unity.
When they are playing the martyr for everyone to see.
When they are playing the Pharisee card on you.
They arm themselves with the typical list of verses like arrows in a quiver to shoot your way when you expose them. We’ve all seen the verse torn out of context with a brand new meaning attached to it that it never had in context. Purgatory for instance, when you call it out there will be someone who cites 1 Corinthians 3:12-15. When they are telling you not to judge them they pull out the old trusty Matthew 7:1-2. Get ready for a mind blower. You can’t know the truth because, Isaiah 55:6! Here is the big unity one folks, 1 Corinthians 1:9. I love it when they apply this one to themselves, Matthew 10:20. You can basically take any verse that speaks negatively about Pharisees, and apply them willy nilly to your theological foes. They are basically get out of jail free cards for many different losing positions because the person on the receiving end is a legalistic meany!
One thing you’ll notice if you look into their eisegetical abuses is that the scriptures they cite often times refute the point they are trying to make when you honestly read them in context. Don’t expect to get them to change their minds when you demonstrate that. Many of these folks are so concretely convinced that it will take a miracle from God to open their eyes, and ears. If you run in to that situation, the quicker you realize it the better. Then you can pray for them, and stop arguing. Please don’t say, “I’ll pray for you.” in that snarky tone of voice. Just pray for them without telling them.
They don’t want to hear what God says in His word if any of what you are quoting takes away from what they are teaching. They use the Bible to attempt to shut up attacks against their heresies, or golden calf of a teacher. Being a Reformed Baptist, I get called a heretic, and have many of these things said about me. I don’t accuse someone of heresy lightly. Heresy is more than heterodoxy. Heresy is when you are teaching something that negates one of the primary articles of faith. Heresy is heterodox, but not all heterodoxy is heresy. A false teaching that doesn’t address one of the primary articles of faith is heterodox. If a person teaches that Jesus was not God incarnate, they are teaching a heresy. If a person teaches that Jesus was solely a man, they are teaching heresy. If a person teaches that you should go to Church on Saturday, they are teaching a false teaching, but it isn’t heresy.
We have all been in groups on social media where we have encountered horrendous abuses to God’s word. Due to my Bible reviews, I’ve been in many groups that were supposed to be solely about the material features of a particular Bible. I don’t know how many times some actual heretic has come in, dropped a heretical statement on the sly, and then when people like myself mention that they are teaching heresy, and need to stop, they play it off as if they were actually asking something else. Due to the rules of the group, I, or people like me get scolded by the admins. Well, I am shrinking my presence in those groups. My echo chamber is getting smaller. One day it might be so small that there is no echo, it will only be the sound of one man’s voice. I hope it won’t be mine, but that of Christ, from His word. Remember, Salvation is of the Lord. Repent of your sins, and trust solely in Christ for your justification. Persevere in the Faith, and we’ll be with Christ in eternity. Sola on my brothers, and sisters!
In Exodus 21:32, we read that if your ox gores a slave belonging to someone else to death, you are to pay the owner 30 shekels of silver. (“If the ox gores a male or female slave, the owner shall give his or her master thirty shekels of silver, and the ox shall be stoned.”) This section of Exodus is dealing with remuneration for losses, and legal consequences for personal injuries. A slave was not an important person. More than likely, this was a laborer. The price was not inconsequential, but it was not extravagant either. As you’ll come to see, it was definitely nowhere near enough to match the exceeding value of Christ, and His kingdom.
In Matthew Chapters 26, and 27 Judas arranges with the chief priests to betray Jesus to them, and caries out the betrayal. He does all this for the price of a slave, 30 pieces of silver. Matthew 26:14-16, “Then one of the twelve, named Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests and said, “What are you willing to give me to betray Him to you?” And they weighed out thirty pieces of silver to him. From then on he began looking for a good opportunity to betray Jesus.” Matthew Chapter 26:20-25, “Now when evening came, Jesus was reclining at the table with the twelve disciples. As they were eating, He said, “Truly I say to you that one of you will betray Me.” Being deeply grieved, they each one began to say to Him, “Surely not I, Lord?” And He answered, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl is the one who will betray Me. “The Son of Man is to go, just as it is written of Him; but woe to that man by whom the Son of Man is betrayed! It would have been good for that man if he had not been born.” And Judas, who was betraying Him, said, “Surely it is not I, Rabbi?” Jesus said to him, “You have said it yourself.””
In Mathew 26:31 He refers to what He had revealed to the prophet Zechariah in Zechariah 13:7, “Awake, O sword, against My shepherd, against the man who is My Companion,” declares the LORD of Hosts. “Strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered, and I will turn My hand against the little ones.” Since Christ is citing this about Himself in the book of Matthew we know that the verse in Zechariah is a prophecy about Him. The same consequences of the shepherd being struck are mentioned also in the New Testament scriptures. Mark 14:27, 28, “Then Jesus said to them, “You will all fall away, for it is written: ‘I will strike the shepherd, and the sheep will be scattered.’ …” Matthew 26:56, ““But all this has taken place to fulfill the Scriptures of the prophets.” Then all the disciples left Him and fled.” John 16:32, “Look, an hour is coming and has already come when you will be scattered, each to his own home, and you will leave Me all alone. Yet I am not alone, because the Father is with Me.”
As well as a shepherd Christ is the suffering servant, and the sacrificial lamb, of Isaiah chapter 53.
The Suffering Servant
1Who has believed our message?
And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed?
2For He grew up before Him like a tender shoot,
And like a root out of parched ground;
He has no stately form or majesty
That we should look upon Him,
Nor appearance that we should be attracted to Him.
3He was despised and forsaken of men,
A man of sorrows and acquainted with grief;
And like one from whom men hide their face
He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.
4Surely our griefs He Himself bore,
And our sorrows He carried;
Yet we ourselves esteemed Him stricken,
Smitten of God, and afflicted.
5But He was pierced through for our transgressions,
He was crushed for our iniquities;
The chastening for our well-being fell upon Him,
And by His scourging we are healed.
6All of us like sheep have gone astray,
Each of us has turned to his own way;
But the LORD has caused the iniquity of us all
To fall on Him.
7He was oppressed and He was afflicted,
Yet He did not open His mouth;
Like a lamb that is led to slaughter,
And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers,
So He did not open His mouth.
8By oppression and judgment He was taken away;
And as for His generation, who considered
That He was cut off out of the land of the living
For the transgression of my people, to whom the stroke was due?
9His grave was assigned with wicked men,
Yet He was with a rich man in His death,
Because He had done no violence,
Nor was there any deceit in His mouth.
10But the LORD was pleased
To crush Him, putting Him to grief;
If He would render Himself as a guilt offering,
He will see His offspring,
He will prolong His days,
And the good pleasure of the LORD will prosper in His hand.
11As a result of the anguish of His soul,
He will see it and be satisfied;
By His knowledge the Righteous One,
My Servant, will justify the many,
As He will bear their iniquities.
12Therefore, I will allot Him a portion with the great,
And He will divide the booty with the strong;
Because He poured out Himself to death,
And was numbered with the transgressors;
Yet He Himself bore the sin of many,
And interceded for the transgressors.
Zechariah 11:7-14 “7So I pastured the flock doomed to slaughter, hence the afflicted of the flock. And I took for myself two staffs: the one I called Favor and the other I called Union; so I pastured the flock. 8Then I annihilated the three shepherds in one month, for my soul was impatient with them, and their soul also was weary of me. 9Then I said, “I will not pasture you. What is to die, let it die, and what is to be annihilated, let it be annihilated; and let those who are left eat one another’s flesh.” 10I took my staff Favor and cut it in pieces, to break my covenant which I had made with all the peoples. 11So it was broken on that day, and thus the afflicted of the flock who were watching me realized that it was the word of the LORD. 12I said to them, “If it is good in your sight, give me my wages; but if not, never mind!” So they weighed out thirty shekels of silver as my wages. 13Then the LORD said to me, “Throw it to the potter, that magnificent price at which I was valued by them.” So I took the thirty shekels of silver and threw them to the potter in the house of the LORD. 14Then I cut in pieces my second staff Union, to break the brotherhood between Judah and Israel.”
In context we see this is referring to Israel, and Judah. God is no longer going to shepherd them, but as it refers to Christ prophetically we see Him as the shepherd sold for 30 pieces of silver. There is a sarcastic mocking tone to this as 30 pieces of silver is an insult. It shows how little Israel, and Judah valued God’s shepherding, and how little the Jews would value Christ, and His shepherding. The money is ultimately thrown to the potter in the house of the LORD.
Matthew 27:1-10, “1Now when morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus to put Him to death; 2and they bound Him, and led Him away and delivered Him to Pilate the governor.
3Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, 4saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to that yourself!” 5And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself. 6The chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the temple treasury, since it is the price of blood.” 7And they conferred together and with the money bought the Potter’s Field as a burial place for strangers. 8For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. 9Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “AND THEY TOOK THE THIRTY PIECES OF SILVER, THE PRICE OF THE ONE WHOSE PRICE HAD BEEN SET by the sons of Israel; 10AND THEY GAVE THEM FOR THE POTTER’S FIELD, AS THE LORD DIRECTED ME.”
We can see the fulfillment of the prophecy in Zechariah 11 in Matthew 27. There are a few possible explanations as to why in Matthew he says the prophecy came from Jeremiah instead of Zechariah. One of those reasons is that it is a literary device referring to the more commonly known major prophet who mentions a field that the prophet was commanded to purchase, or it could be the way that the Old Testament was formatted in that time. The scrolls would have been referred to by the name of the prophet that was the beginning of the scroll even though it contained the writings of the minor prophet as well.
By comparing these sections of scripture, it is evident that Christ is the Messiah, the shepherd, and He is the suffering servant. The low value that was placed on Him was an insult. That insult comes from impenitent, rebellious, proud, and wicked hearts. For those who are being saved the exceeding value of Christ, and His kingdom are beyond measure. As God says in Matthew 13:44-45, “44The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field. When a man found it, he hid it again, and in his joy he went and sold all he had and bought that field.
45Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls. 46When he found one very precious pearl, he went away and sold all he had and bought it.” The Apostle Paul wrote this in his epistle to the Philippians 3:7-8, “7But whatever things were gain to me, those things I have counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8More than that, I count all things to be loss in view of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them but rubbish so that I may gain Christ, …” 1 Peter 2:6-7, “6For this is contained in Scripture:
“BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A CHOICE STONE, A PRECIOUS CORNER stone,
AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”
7This precious value, then, is for you who believe; but for those who disbelieve,
“THE STONE WHICH THE BUILDERS REJECTED,
THIS BECAME THE VERY CORNER stone,””
Christ Jesus, God in the flesh, the God man, hung in our place on the cross, punished for our sins as if they were His, bore our guilt and shame, was pierced, and bled… The just wrath of God was poured out on Him, His Son to atone for those He chose in eternity past. This should humble us. This time of year when we celebrate Jesus’ birth, let’s remember why He came into the world this time, and think on how He will come again in the future.
While talking with a friend I hadn’t seen in a long time, it came to light that he and his family are no longer Baptists, but have joined the Messianic Jews. This seemed odd to me as I would assume that they would be in the Hebrew Roots movement as they are not Jews, but nonetheless the conversation continued. He used a few scriptural references to prove his points, but upon further examination, it seemed to me that the references he made actually prove his points to be false. It is a matter of having a framework of presuppositions to provide context by which to interpret the scriptural references cited. From my perspective, which I obviously think is correct, he is wrong, but from his perspective I am wrong. We talked for a bit longer, and agreed to disagree. Neither of us swayed the other.
He insisted that the New Testament scriptural references to food that Jews would eat excluded the foods that were unclean in the Old Testament. I conceded that to a Jew who was not a Christian, and even early converts, pork probably was not on the dinner plate, but I did not agree that pork is still of limits. He also insisted that we are still under obligation to follow all of the laws. He made no distinction between, the moral law, the ceremonial law, and the royal law. To that, I simply asked, “Do you make a booth outside your house and live in it for a week? Do you sacrifice animals in the temple, on the altar? Do you pay a temple tithe?” Of course we know the answers to those questions demonstrate an inconsistency in praxia.
In Mark chapter 7 we read about Jesus chastising the Pharisees. He is telling them that having dirty hands and eating with them doesn’t defile you, but He is also saying that the food that goes in doesn’t defile you, as well as saying that ceremonial washings don’t help you.
Mark 7:1-23 “1The Pharisees and some of the scribes gathered around Him when they had come from Jerusalem, 2and had seen that some of His disciples were eating their bread with impure hands, that is, unwashed. 3(For the Pharisees and all the Jews do not eat unless they carefully wash their hands, thus observing the traditions of the elders; 4and when they come from the market place, they do not eat unless they cleanse themselves; and there are many other things which they have received in order to observe, such as the washing of cups and pitchers and copper pots.) 5The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, “Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?”
6And He said to them, “Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written:
‘THIS PEOPLE HONORS ME WITH THEIR LIPS,
BUT THEIR HEART IS FAR AWAY FROM ME.
7‘BUT IN VAIN DO THEY WORSHIP ME,
TEACHING AS DOCTRINES THE PRECEPTS OF MEN.’
8“Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men.”
9He was also saying to them, “You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition. 10“For Moses said, ‘HONOR YOUR FATHER AND YOUR MOTHER’; and, ‘HE WHO SPEAKS EVIL OF FATHER OR MOTHER, IS TO BE PUT TO DEATH’; 11but you say, ‘If a man says to his father or his mother, whatever I have that would help you is Corban (that is to say, given to God),’ 12you no longer permit him to do anything for his father or his mother; 13thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that.””
14After He called the crowd to Him again, He began saying to them, “Listen to Me, all of you, and understand: 15there is nothing outside the man which can defile him if it goes into him; but the things which proceed out of the man are what defile the man. 16[“If anyone has ears to hear, let him hear.”]
17When he had left the crowd and entered the house, His disciples questioned Him about the parable. 18And He said to them, “Are you so lacking in understanding also? Do you not understand that whatever goes into the man from outside cannot defile him, 19because it does not go into his heart, but into his stomach, and is eliminated?” (Thus He declared all foods clean.) 20And He was saying, “That which proceeds out of the man, that is what defiles the man. 21“For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed the evil thoughts, fornications, thefts, murders, adulteries, 22deeds of coveting and wickedness, as wellas deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride and foolishness. 23“All these evil things proceed from within and defile the man.”
Stephen preached about the cessation of the sacrificial system, and temple system, immediately preceding his martyrdom. That is why they killed him. He was preaching Christ as the fulfillment of these shadows and types. With His fulfillment of the sacrifice, He made a way for men from all nations and tribes to be the Church. The picture of clean Israel against a pagan backdrop, would be replaced with Peter rise up and eat! The picture of clean and unclean food is analogous to the people, and the analogy does not negate the truth behind it that also applies to the food, as we can see in 1 Timothy.
1 Timothy 3:14-1 Timothy 4:1-5
“14I am writing these things to you, hoping to come to you before long; 15but in case I am delayed, I write so that you will know how one ought to conduct himself in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and support of the truth.
16By common confession, great is the mystery of godliness:
He who was revealed in the flesh,
Was vindicated in the Spirit,
Seen by angels,
Proclaimed among the nations,
Believed on in the world,
Taken up in glory.
1But the Spirit explicitly says that in later times some will fall away from the faith, paying attention to deceitful spirits and doctrines of demons, 2by means of the hypocrisy of liars seared in their own conscience as with a branding iron, 3men who forbid marriage and advocate abstaining from foods which God has created to be gratefully shared in by those who believe and know the truth. 4For everything created by God is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with gratitude; 5for it is sanctified by means of the word of God and prayer.”
Here we read Stephen’s testimony,
“ 8And Stephen, full of grace and power, was performing great wonders and signs among the people. 9But some men from what was called the Synagogue of the Freedmen, including both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and Asia, rose up and argued with Stephen. 10But they were unable to cope with the wisdom and the Spirit with which he was speaking. 11Then they secretly induced men to say, “We have heard him speak blasphemous words against Moses and against God.” 12And they stirred up the people, the elders and the scribes, and they came up to him and dragged him away and brought him before the Council. 13They put forward false witnesses who said, “This man incessantly speaks against this holy place and the Law; 14for we have heard him say that this Nazarene, Jesus, will destroy this place and alter the customs which Moses handed down to us.” 15And fixing their gaze on him, all who were sitting in the Council saw his face like the face of an angel.
2And he said, “Hear me, brethren and fathers! The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran, 3and said to him, ‘LEAVE YOUR COUNTRY AND YOUR RELATIVES, AND COME INTO THE LAND THAT I WILL SHOW YOU.’ 4“Then he left the land of the Chaldeans and settled in Haran. From there, after his father died, God had him move to this country in which you are now living. 5“But He gave him no inheritance in it, not even a foot of ground, and yet, even when he had no child, He promised that HE WOULD GIVE IT TO HIM AS A POSSESSION, AND TO HIS DESCENDANTS AFTER HIM. 6“But God spoke to this effect, that his DESCENDANTS WOULD BE ALIENS IN A FOREIGN LAND, AND THAT THEY WOULD BE ENSLAVED AND MISTREATED FOR FOUR HUNDRED YEARS. 7“ ‘AND WHATEVER NATION TO WHICH THEY WILL BE IN BONDAGE I MYSELF WILL JUDGE,’ said God, ‘AND AFTER THAT THEY WILL COME OUT AND SERVE ME IN THIS PLACE.’ 8“And He gave him the covenant of circumcision; and so Abrahambecame the father of Isaac, and circumcised him on the eighth day; and Isaac became the father of Jacob, and Jacob of the twelve patriarchs.
9“The patriarchs became jealous of Joseph and sold him into Egypt. Yet God was with him, 10and rescued him from all his afflictions, and granted him favor and wisdom in the sight of Pharaoh, king of Egypt, and he made him governor over Egypt and all his household.
11“Now a famine came over all Egypt and Canaan, and great affliction with it, and our fathers could find no food. 12“But when Jacob heard that there was grain in Egypt, he sent our fathers there the first time. 13“On the second visit Joseph made himself known to his brothers, and Joseph’s family was disclosed to Pharaoh. 14“Then Joseph sent word and invited Jacob his father and all his relatives to come to him, seventy-five persons in all.15“And Jacob went down to Egypt and there he and our fathers died. 16“From there they were removed to Shechem and laid in the tomb which Abraham had purchased for a sum of money from the sons of Hamor in Shechem.
17“But as the time of the promise was approaching which God had assured to Abraham, the people increased and multiplied in Egypt, 18until THERE AROSE ANOTHER KING OVER EGYPT WHO KNEW NOTHING ABOUT JOSEPH. 19“It was he who took shrewd advantage of our race and mistreated our fathers so that they would expose their infants and they would not survive. 20“It was at this time that Moses was born; and he was lovely in the sight of God, and he was nurtured three months in his father’s home. 21“And after he had been set outside, Pharaoh’s daughter took him away and nurtured him as her own son.22“Moses was educated in all the learning of the Egyptians, and he was a man of power in words and deeds. 23“But when he was approaching the age of forty, it entered his mind to visit his brethren, the sons of Israel. 24“And when he saw one of them being treated unjustly, he defended him and took vengeance for the oppressed by striking down the Egyptian. 25“And he supposed that his brethren understood that God was granting them deliverance through him, but they did not understand. 26“On the following day he appeared to them as they were fighting together, and he tried to reconcile them in peace, saying, ‘Men, you are brethren, why do you injure one another?’ 27“But the one who was injuring his neighbor pushed him away, saying, ‘WHO MADE YOU A RULER AND JUDGE OVER US? 28‘YOU DO NOT MEAN TO KILL ME AS YOU KILLED THE EGYPTIAN YESTERDAY, DO YOU?’ 29“At this remark, MOSES FLED AND BECAME AN ALIEN IN THE LAND OF MIDIAN, where he became the father of two sons.
30“After forty years had passed, AN ANGEL APPEARED TO HIM IN THE WILDERNESS OF MOUNT Sinai, IN THE FLAME OF A BURNING THORN BUSH. 31“When Moses saw it, he marveled at the sight; and as he approached to look more closely, there came the voice of the Lord: 32‘I AM THE GOD OF YOUR FATHERS, THE GOD OF ABRAHAM AND ISAAC AND JACOB.’ Moses shook with fear and would not venture to look. 33“BUT THE LORD SAID TO HIM, ‘TAKE OFF THE SANDALS FROM YOUR FEET, FOR THE PLACE ON WHICH YOU ARE STANDING IS HOLY GROUND.34‘I HAVE CERTAINLY SEEN THE OPPRESSION OF MY PEOPLE IN EGYPT AND HAVE HEARD THEIR GROANS, AND I HAVE COME DOWN TO RESCUE THEM; COME NOW, AND I WILL SEND YOU TO EGYPT.’
35“This Moses whom they disowned, saying, ‘WHO MADE YOU A RULER AND A JUDGE?’ is the one whom God sent to be both a ruler and a deliverer with the help of the angel who appeared to him in the thorn bush. 36“This man led them out, performing wonders and signs in the land of Egypt and in the Red Sea and in the wilderness for forty years. 37“This is the Moses who said to the sons of Israel, ‘GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN.’ 38“This is the one who was in the congregation in the wilderness together with the angel who was speaking to him on Mount Sinai, and who was with our fathers; and he received living oracles to pass on to you. 39“Our fathers were unwilling to be obedient to him, but repudiated him and in their hearts turned back to Egypt, 40SAYING TO AARON, ‘MAKE FOR US GODS WHO WILL GO BEFORE US; FOR THIS MOSES WHO LED US OUT OF THE LAND OF EGYPT—WE DO NOT KNOW WHAT HAPPENED TO HIM.’ 41“At that time they made a calf and brought a sacrifice to the idol, and were rejoicing in the works of their hands. 42“But God turned away and delivered them up to serve the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, ‘IT WAS NOT TO ME THAT YOU OFFERED VICTIMS AND SACRIFICES FORTY YEARS IN THE WILDERNESS, WAS IT, O HOUSE OF ISRAEL? 43‘YOU ALSO TOOK ALONG THE TABERNACLE OF MOLOCH AND THE STAR OF THE GOD ROMPHA, THE IMAGES WHICH YOU MADE TO WORSHIP. I ALSO WILL REMOVE YOU BEYOND BABYLON.’
44“Our fathers had the tabernacle of testimony in the wilderness, just as He who spoke to Moses directed him to make it according to the pattern which he had seen. 45“And having received it in their turn, our fathers brought it in with Joshua upon dispossessing the nations whom God drove out before our fathers, until the time of David. 46“David found favor in God’s sight, and asked that he might find a dwelling place for the God of Jacob.47“But it was Solomon who built a house for Him. 48“However, the Most High does not dwell in houses made by human hands; as the prophet says:
49‘HEAVEN IS MY THRONE,
AND EARTH IS THE FOOTSTOOL OF MY FEET;
WHAT KIND OF HOUSE WILL YOU BUILD FOR ME?’ says the Lord,
‘OR WHAT PLACE IS THERE FOR MY REPOSE?
50‘WAS IT NOT MY HAND WHICH MADE ALL THESE THINGS?’
51“You men who are stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears are always resisting the Holy Spirit; you are doing just as your fathers did.52“Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who had previously announced the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; 53you who received the law as ordained by angels, and yet did not keep it.” 54Now when they heard this, they were cut to the quick, and they began gnashing their teeth at him. 55But being full of the Holy Spirit, he gazed intently into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; 56and he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened up and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” 57But they cried out with a loud voice, and covered their ears and rushed at him with one impulse.58When they had driven him out of the city, they began stoning him; and the witnesses laid aside their robes at the feet of a young man named Saul.59They went on stoning Stephen as he called on the Lord and said, “Lord Jesus, receive my spirit!” 60Then falling on his knees, he cried out with a loud voice, “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” Having said this, he fell asleep.
Christ’s fulfillment of the shadows, and types represented in the Patriarchs, ceremonies, and sacrifices, is inexpugnable. Anyone citing the false accusation against Stephen as evidence that we must keep all the laws of the Old Testament demonstrates their complete lack of understanding of the sermon Stephen preached and was killed for by men who were seeking to be justified by their own righteousness. Can your righteousness surpass that of the Pharisees?
Are you having a difficult time with understanding justification? Do you wonder if you have done enough to demonstrate that you are saved? Do you question whether you are good enough, if there is enough evidence of your faith to be true? Do you tend to be legalistic with yourself? One of the dangers of, “navel gazing” (self-examination) is that we become self-absorbed, we lose proper perspective. We begin to filter incoming information through a set of rules that constantly look at ourselves, and our performance, or lack thereof.
A filter is thing that removes particles from a stream, while allowing the rest of the particles to continue on to their destination. This can be a data stream, electrical stream, light stream, basically anything that flows. As we perceive information streaming in through our senses, we employ filters based on our cumulative view of the world (word view). When that view is built on a solid foundation of objective truth, it will lead us to proper understandings of what has happened, is happening, and will happen. We will filter out the untrue, and allow the truth to continue. When our filtration system is built on a false worldview, we filter out some truth, and we look at the world and ourselves through a lie.
God has given us His word, and like Him it is truth. We on the other hand, are fallible creatures, prone to accepting lies. Even with the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and His illumination of the Word of God for us, and to us, we still get things wrong. This is yet another example of God’s grace towards His elect, we don’t have to get it all right, all the time, from the word go. None of us die with all the answers in perfect comprehension. In a sense, even the most spiritually mature Christian you know, will die with notions about God and His word that aren’t perfect.
Our works are tainted, our thoughts are tainted with sin and imperfection. If you are relying on either of those to get some kind of assurance that you are in, then you are going to find your faith shaken on a regular basis. Let’s look at Galatians 3 for a moment together.
Galatians 3 :: New American Standard Bible (NASB)
Faith Brings Righteousness
1 You foolish Galatians, who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified? 2 This is the only thing I want to find out from you: did you receive the Spirit by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith? 3 Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh? 4 Did you suffer so many things in vain—if indeed it was in vain? 5 So then, does He who provides you with the Spirit and works miracles among you, do it by the works of the Law, or by hearing with faith?
6 Even so Abraham BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS. 7 Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham. 8 The Scripture, foreseeing that God would justify the Gentiles by faith, preached the gospel beforehand to Abraham, saying, “ALL THE NATIONS WILL BE BLESSED IN YOU.” 9 So then those who are of faith are blessed with Abraham, the believer.
10 For as many as are of the works of the Law are under a curse; for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO DOES NOT ABIDE BY ALL THINGS WRITTEN IN THE BOOK OF THE LAW, TO PERFORM THEM.” 11 Now that no one is justified by the Law before God is evident; for, “THE RIGHTEOUS MAN SHALL LIVE BY FAITH.” 12 However, the Law is not of faith; on the contrary, “HE WHO PRACTICES THEM SHALL LIVE BY THEM.” 13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us—for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE”— 14 in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Intent of the Law
15 Brethren, I speak in terms of human relations: even though it is only a man’s covenant, yet when it has been ratified, no one sets it aside or adds conditions to it. 16 Now the promises were spoken to Abraham and to his seed. He does not say, “And to seeds,” as referring to many, but rather to one, “And to your seed,” that is, Christ. 17 What I am saying is this: the Law, which came four hundred and thirty years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by God, so as to nullify the promise. 18 For if the inheritance is based on law, it is no longer based on a promise; but God has granted it to Abraham by means of a promise.
19 Why the Law then? It was added because of transgressions, having been ordained through angels by the agency of a mediator, until the seed would come to whom the promise had been made. 20 Now a mediator is not for one party only; whereas God is only one. 21 Is the Law then contrary to the promises of God? May it never be! For if a law had been given which was able to impart life, then righteousness would indeed have been based on law. 22 But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin, so that the promise by faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those who believe.
23 But before faith came, we were kept in custody under the law, being shut up to the faith which was later to be revealed. 24 Therefore the Law has become our tutor to lead us to Christ, so that we may be justified by faith. 25 But now that faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor. 26 For you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus. 27 For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free man, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to promise.
Galatians 3 makes it clear that it is not our obedience to the law that makes us just, but rather our faith in Christ. Do you want some assurance? Believe in Christ and His work. Trust Jesus alone, and don’t mix in your ability to know more than someone else, or do more. Because neither of those things actually satisfy the law. The law is intended to be impossible to satisfy so that you are driven humbly to your knees before Jesus with no defense left but Him crucified, resurrected, and ruling for eternity. Repent of sin, and trust the Savior.
“21For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. 22But if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me; and I do not know which to choose. 23But I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better; 24yet to remain on in the flesh is more necessary for your sake. 25Convinced of this, I know that I will remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy in the faith,26so that your proud confidence in me may abound in Christ Jesus through my coming to you again.
27Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; 28in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for them, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God. 29For to you it has been granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake, 30experiencing the same conflict which you saw in me, and now hear to be in me.”
Paul, while in prison for preaching Christ crucified, wrote this for the Church in Philippi, “For to me, to live is Christ.” Then in v.22 explains what that means, “if I am to live on in the flesh, this will mean fruitful labor for me;” His life was for the glory of God. He was living, and working to produce fruit. We know this to mean increasing the Kingdom of God by means of the gospel of Christ, the preaching of the word of God, and the teaching of the word of God. Paul had reason to want to depart this life. He says, “I am hard-pressed from both directions, having the desire to depart and be with Christ, for that is very much better;” Consider from 2 Corinthians 11 how he was suffering for the gospel, and how even now he is imprisoned for it. “…in far more labors, in far more imprisonments, beaten times without number, often in danger of death. 24Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes.25Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. 26I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; 27I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. 28Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches…” This was from Paul after being criticized over his Apostleship by the Jewish believers who were welcoming false apostles, but were opposed to Paul due in part to his lack of eloquence. Paul had suffered for his Lord. Jesus was His master, and he loved Him. For him to stay and work was fine, but you can truly understand why he would also want to be with his merciful God. Paul instructs the Church in Philippi to, “…conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ…” in v. 25 and explains why in v. 26, “so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with on mind striving together for the faith of the gospel; in no way alarmed by your opponents—which is a sign of destruction for the, but of salvation for you, and that too, from God…” As the Church today, we should also follow Paul’s instructions to conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. In our testimony to the lost, as we live it out, If it be God’s will, they will also see that we have been, “granted for Christ’s sake, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake,” If we suffer for Christ’s sake we will share in the suffering of our brother Paul as well as our Lord Christ Jesus, and all martyrs, to this age and beyond until the return of Christ. Maranatha!
you been waking up still exhausted, and forcing yourself forward
through the drudgery of your morning, and work day? Do you feel
despair, hopelessness, and futility? Have you ever thought to
yourself, while at the brink of tears, “I can’t do this anymore.
I can’t keep going to that place, it is killing me a bit each time
I go.” Are the only things that keep you going, the thoughts of
your obligations to your family, some moral code you learned as a
kid, or a, “someday I’ll retire.” Kind of attitude? You’re
not alone. All of us have been there, are there, or will be there in
the future. It is not uncommon to mankind for us to feel this way,
and have these thoughts. I’m not making excuses for them, just
explaining that it happens.
don’t like to hear it, but the reason we feel this way, and have
these thoughts is that we are responding sinfully to God’s
righteous judgment, and punishment of original sin. God told Adam
what his punishment would be in Genesis 3:17-19,
Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of
your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you,
shall not eat from it’;
is the ground because of you;
toil you will eat of it
the days of your life.
“Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you;
you will eat the plants of the field;
By the sweat of your face
will eat bread,
you return to the ground,
from it you were taken;
you are dust,
to dust you shall return.”
punishment that God righteously, and justly applied to Adam, also
applied to all his progeny. All mankind is under a curse due to sin,
but there is hope in the second Adam, Jesus Christ.
But the free gift is not like the transgression. For if by the
transgression of the one the many died, much more did the grace of
God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abound to
the many. 16 The gift is not like that which came through the one who
sinned; for on the one hand the judgment arose from one transgression
resulting in condemnation, but on the other hand the free gift arose
from many transgressions resulting in justification. 17 For if by the
transgression of the one, death reigned through the one, much more
those who receive the abundance of grace and of the gift of
righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.
So then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to
all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted
justification of life to all men. 19 For as through the one man’s
disobedience the many were made sinners, even so through the
obedience of the One the many will be made righteous. 20 The Law came
in so that the transgression would increase; but where sin increased,
grace abounded all the more, 21 so that, as sin reigned in death,
even so grace would reign through righteousness to eternal life
through Jesus Christ our Lord.”
as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.”
must be in Christ for this to apply. Simply put, we must be born
again, repent of our sins, and trust in Christ’s work on the cross
to justify us with God. When we have done that, we will have the
righteousness of Christ imputed to us, and we are in Christ. Jesus
told Nicodemus what it meant to be born again in John chapter 3,
Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the
Jews; 2 this man came to Jesus by night and said to Him, “Rabbi, we
know that You have come from God as a teacher; for no one can do
these signs that You do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered
and said to him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born
again he cannot see the kingdom of God.”
Nicodemus *said to Him, “How can a man be born when he is old? He
cannot enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born, can
he?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is
born of water and the Spirit he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of
the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not be amazed that I said to you, ‘You
must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes and you hear
the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is
going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Nicodemus said to Him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus
answered and said to him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and do not
understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of
what we know and testify of what we have seen, and you do not accept
our testimony. 12 If I told you earthly things and you do not
believe, how will you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No
one has ascended into heaven, but He who descended from heaven: the
Son of Man. 14 As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even
so must the Son of Man be lifted up; 15 so that whoever believes will
in Him have eternal life.
“For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,
that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.
17 For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world,
but that the world might be saved through Him. 18 He who believes in
Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already,
because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of
God. 19 This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world,
and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds
were evil. 20 For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does
not come to the Light for fear that his deeds will be exposed. 21 But
he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds may
be manifested as having been wrought in God.””
the Apostle explains what it looks like to be born again in 1 Peter
Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ,
those who reside as aliens, scattered throughout Pontus, Galatia,
Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, who are chosen 2 according to the
foreknowledge of God the Father, by the sanctifying work of the
Spirit, to obey Jesus Christ and be sprinkled with His blood: May
grace and peace be yours in the fullest measure.
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according
to His great mercy has caused us to be born again to a living hope
through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to obtain
an inheritance which is imperishable and undefiled and will not fade
away, reserved in heaven for you, 5 who are protected by the power of
God through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last
time. 6 In this you greatly rejoice, even though now for a little
while, if necessary, you have been distressed by various trials, 7 so
that the proof of your faith, being more precious than gold which is
perishable, even though tested by fire, may be found to result in
praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ; 8 and
though you have not seen Him, you love Him, and though you do not see
Him now, but believe in Him, you greatly rejoice with joy
inexpressible and full of glory, 9 obtaining as the outcome of your
faith the salvation of your souls.
As to this salvation, the prophets who prophesied of the grace that
would come to you made careful searches and inquiries, 11 seeking to
know what person or time the Spirit of Christ within them was
indicating as He predicted the sufferings of Christ and the glories
to follow. 12 It was revealed to them that they were not serving
themselves, but you, in these things which now have been announced to
you through those who preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit
sent from heaven—things into which angels long to look.
Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix
your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the
revelation of Jesus Christ. 14 As obedient children, do not be
conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance, 15
but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all
your behavior; 16 because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I
If you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to
each one’s work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your
stay on earth; 18 knowing that you were not redeemed with perishable
things like silver or gold from your futile way of life inherited
from your forefathers, 19 but with precious blood, as of a lamb
unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ. 20 For He was
foreknown before the foundation of the world, but has appeared in
these last times for the sake of you 21 who through Him are believers
in God, who raised Him from the dead and gave Him glory, so that your
faith and hope are in God.
Since you have in obedience to the truth purified your souls for a
sincere love of the brethren, fervently love one another from the
heart, 23 for you have been born again not of seed which is
perishable but imperishable, that is, through the living and enduring
word of God. 24 For,
FLESH IS LIKE GRASS,
ALL ITS GLORY LIKE THE FLOWER OF GRASS.
THE FLOWER FALLS OFF,
BUT THE WORD OF THE LORD ENDURES FOREVER.”
this is the word which was preached to you.”
to sin, we will survive by toiling, and in that toil is inherent
suffering. Daily survival for mankind, whether you are in a
technologically advanced society, or one where finding clean water is
a daily challenge, will not be easy, pleasant, or comfortable all of
the time. If it isn’t the physical struggles to survive against an
untamed environment, the elements, and wildlife, it is the often mind
crushing struggle against the busy, disconnected, overthought, modern
lifestyle. We have subdued parts of the Earth, and brought things
that make modern life easier physically. We have sewer systems,
agriculture, housing with heating and cooling, clean water, schools,
hospitals, light by night, and so on. These advances make life
easier physically, but our physical struggles are replaced with new
ones. It is impossible to escape the curse of the fall, but we are
commanded to strive against human suffering, and the challenges of
is easy for us, looking back, to see Adam’s sin, but do we see our
own? Can we see how our pride in possessions has caused us to
forsake God for idols? Can we see how our family can become an idol?
Can we see how our intellectual musings can be idolatrous? In our
hubris, and pride at what we have done in conquering the Earth, we
miss that we have left God behind, and become the gods of our own
small castles of sin and rebellion.
can be done? How can we be content in this life? There is hope for
our sinful responses to God’s justice. That hope is in Christ. If
we have been regenerated by the Holy Spirit, repented of our sins,
and trusted in the perfect atoning work of Christ, we will no longer
be subjects of the flesh, and the sin that is in it. We will become
servants, slaves of Jesus. He has given us the power to subject the
flesh to righteousness, for the glory of God.
Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the
things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set
your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. 3
For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4 When
Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed
with Him in glory.
Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to
immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts
to idolatry. 6 For it is because of these things that the wrath of
God will come upon the sons of disobedience, 7 and in them you also
once walked, when you were living in them. 8 But now you also, put
them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech
from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside
the old self with its evil practices, 10 and have put on the new self
who is being renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of
the One who created him— 11 a renewal in which there is no
distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised,
barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in
So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a
heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience; 13
bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a
complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also
should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is the
perfect bond of unity. 15 Let the peace of Christ rule in your
hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful.
16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom
teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and
spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17
Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord
Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.
Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19
Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. 20
Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is
well-pleasing to the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not exasperate your
children, so that they will not lose heart.
Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not
with external service, as those who merely please men, but with
sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, do your
work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, 24 knowing that
from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is
the Lord Christ whom you serve. 25 For he who does wrong will receive
the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without
For I do not want you to be unaware, brethren, that our fathers were
all under the cloud and all passed through the sea; 2 and all were
baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea; 3 and all ate the
same spiritual food; 4 and all drank the same spiritual drink, for
they were drinking from a spiritual rock which followed them; and the
rock was Christ. 5 Nevertheless, with most of them God was not
well-pleased; for they were laid low in the wilderness.
Now these things happened as examples for us, so that we would not
crave evil things as they also craved. 7 Do not be idolaters, as some
of them were; as it is written, “THE PEOPLE SAT DOWN TO EAT AND
DRINK, AND STOOD UP TO PLAY.” 8 Nor let us act immorally, as some
of them did, and twenty-three thousand fell in one day. 9 Nor let us
try the Lord, as some of them did, and were destroyed by the
serpents. 10 Nor grumble, as some of them did, and were destroyed by
the destroyer. 11 Now these things happened to them as an example,
and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the
ages have come. 12 Therefore let him who thinks he stands take heed
that he does not fall. 13 No temptation has overtaken you but such as
is common to man; and God is faithful, who will not allow you to be
tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will
provide the way of escape also, so that you will be able to endure
Therefore, my beloved, flee from idolatry. 15 I speak as to wise men;
you judge what I say. 16 Is not the cup of blessing which we bless a
sharing in the blood of Christ? Is not the bread which we break a
sharing in the body of Christ? 17 Since there is one bread, we who
are many are one body; for we all partake of the one bread. 18 Look
at the nation Israel; are not those who eat the sacrifices sharers in
the altar? 19 What do I mean then? That a thing sacrificed to idols
is anything, or that an idol is anything? 20 No, but I say that the
things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to demons and not
to God; and I do not want you to become sharers in demons. 21 You
cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the cup of demons; you cannot
partake of the table of the Lord and the table of demons. 22 Or do we
provoke the Lord to jealousy? We are not stronger than He, are we?
All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things
are lawful, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own
good, but that of his neighbor. 25 Eat anything that is sold in the
meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake; 26 FOR
THE EARTH IS THE LORD’S, AND ALL IT CONTAINS. 27 If one of the
unbelievers invites you and you want to go, eat anything that is set
before you without asking questions for conscience’ sake. 28 But if
anyone says to you, “This is meat sacrificed to idols,” do not
eat it, for the sake of the one who informed you, and for conscience’
sake; 29 I mean not your own conscience, but the other man’s; for
why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience? 30 If I partake
with thankfulness, why am I slandered concerning that for which I
Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the
glory of God. 32 Give no offense either to Jews or to Greeks or to
the church of God; 33 just as I also please all men in all things,
not seeking my own profit but the profit of the many, so that they
may be saved.”
only know work to be toil, but one day in eternity with Christ our
labor will be joyful. We will do His will only, and not sin. Sinful
temptations will be gone. Groaning under the curse of toil will be
over. For those who are in Christ, we will be with Christ forever.
What we do here, we must do to our best ability, and with the motive
of bringing glory to God, the one who made us, and who saves us. We
must labor for our own sustenance, and provide for our neighbors
deficiency. Not because government mandates it. That would be
unjust, but rather out of the new heart. With this in mind let us
subject the unredeemed fleshly complaints, to what we know about God,
and our hope in eternity with Christ. Let us live as though we are
already there, loving, forgiving, and working, all for the glory of
Psalms 103:1-2 (NASB Strong’s) Praise for the Lord’s Mercies. A Psalm of David. Bless the Lord, O my soul, And all that is within me, bless His holy name. Bless the Lord, O my soul,And forget none of His benefits;
As David exhorts his soul to bless the Lord, we have to ask ourselves what it means to bless God. When we think of blessing a person often ideas of gifts or deeds to benefit them come to mind. What can one give to God, the Creator of all things, who knows all things perfectly? The error with that notion is that God is a man to be blessed as a man, but He is not as we all know. To bless the Lord means to speak well of Him. To extol His attributes. We can see in the following verses that is exactly what David does. He also exhorts the angels and all of creation to do so as well.
In verses 3-5 the psalmist asks five rhetorical questions to motivate the hearer (his soul) to recognize the Lord God. The answer to all five questions is obviously God.
Psalms 103:3-5 (NASB Strong’s) Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases; Who redeems your life from the pit, Who crowns you with lovingkindness and compassion; Who satisfies your years with good things, So that your youth is renewed like the eagle.
God pardons his iniquities. God heals his diseases. God redeems his live from the pit. God crowns him with lovingkindness and compassion. God satisfies his years with good things so that his youth is renewed like the eagle.
In verses 6-19 we see the psalmist bless the Lord. He lists ways God is in His attributes, and how He is towards man, His creation in light of those attributes. You see when God blesses us, it is for our benefit. He doesn’t speak well of us to bless us. He involves us in relation to Him.
Psalms 103:6-19 (NASB Strong’s) The Lord performs righteous deeds And judgments for all who are oppressed. He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the sons of Israel. The Lord is compassionate and gracious, Slow to anger and abounding in lovingkindness. He will not always strive with us, Nor will He keep His anger forever. He has not dealt with us according to our sins, Nor rewarded us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, So great is His lovingkindness toward those who fear Him. As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us. Just as a father has compassion on his children, So the Lord has compassion on those who fear Him. For He Himself knows our frame; He is mindful that we are but dust. As for man, his days are like grass; As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, And its place acknowledges it no longer. But the lovingkindness of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him, And His righteousness to children’s children, To those who keep His covenant And remember His precepts to do them. The Lord has established His throne in the heavens, And His sovereignty rules over all.
The closing verses not only exhorts the angels to bless God, but also all of creation, and is a restatement for conclusion of the exhortation at the beginning.
Psalms 103:20-22 (NASB Strong’s) Bless the Lord, you His angels, Mighty in strength, who perform His word, Obeying the voice of His word! Bless the Lord, all you His hosts, You who serve Him, doing His will. Bless the Lord, all you works of His, In all places of His dominion; Bless the Lord, O my soul!
We should likewise bless the Lord from the depths of who we are in Him. Let us speak well of God in reverential awe of who He is, what He has done, and what He continues to do in space-time, and eternity.
This section is about how the materials of the tabernacle were typological representations of Christ.
Historically, we may admire the fruit of God’s grace working in the hearts of His redeemed so that they willingly offered the required materials. Their offering was so spontaneous and full (see 35:21-29) that we are told, “And they spake unto Moses, saying, the people bring much more than enough for the service of the work, which the Lord commanded to make. And Moses gave commandment, and they caused it to be proclaimed throughout the camp, saying, Let neither man nor woman make any more work for the offering of the sanctuary, so the people were restrained from bringing. For the stuff they had was sufficient for all the work to make it, and too much” (36:5-7). But behind the historical we are to look for the spiritual, and behold here a lovely type of the voluntariness and joy of the Lord Jesus, who freely and gladly became flesh, thus providing God with a perfect Sanctuary as He tabernacled among men! “And this is the offering which ye shall take of them; gold, and silver and brass; and blue, and purple, and scarlet, and fine linen; and goats, and rams’ skins dyed red, and badgers skins; and shittim wood; oil for the light, spices for anointing oil, and for sweet incense; onyx stones, and stones to be set in the ephod, and in the breastplate” (v. 3-7). Each of these articles tells forth one of the manifold perfections of Christ. The gold, His Divine glory. The silver, the redemption which He wrought and bought for us. The brass, His capacity to endure the wrath of God against our sins. The blue, His heavenly origin. The purple, His royal majesty. The scarlet, His earthly glory in a coming day. The fine linen, His holiness made manifest by His righteous walk and ways. The goats’ hair, His atonement. The rams’ skins, His devotedness to God. The porpoise skins, His ability to protect His people. The shittim wood, His incorruptible humanity. The oil for the light, His Divine wisdom. The spices, His fragrance unto God. The precious stones, His priestly perfections. We do not now offer proofs for these definitions nor enlarge upon their blessedness, as, God willing, each one will come before us for fuller consideration in the articles to follow. With the above verses should be compared Exodus 38:24-31, where the Holy Spirit has given us the respective weights of the gold, silver and brass. Careful students have estimated there would be fully a ton and a quarter of gold, which at modern value would be worth upwards of one hundred and seventy-five thousand pounds, or eight hundred and sixty thousand dollars, but allowing for present day purchasing values, worth much more. Of silver there would be fully four tons and a quarter, and worth forty thousand pounds or two hundred thousand dollars. Of brass (more likely, copper) there was also over four tons. In addition, there were the textile fabrics, blue, purple, scarlet and fine twined linen, besides goats’ hair, rams’ and badgers’ skins, and large quantities of shittim wood, the amounts of which are not recorded. Last, but not least, were the precious stones for the breastplate of the high priest. All of this indicates the great costliness of the Tabernacle. At modern values its materials would be worth at least a million pounds or five million dollars. How this, in type, told of God’s estimate of Christ; how it shows us the Father saying, This is My Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased!
We tend to compare human volition with that of God’s. I believe this is what causes so much confusion when it comes to understanding sovereign election, and man’s culpability. We hear comments like, “If God decides who gets saved, and who doesn’t, then it doesn’t matter what I do. We are just a bunch of mindless robots.” Now we know that we are not mindless robots, and our choices have consequences. We also know from scripture that God says we are culpable for our sins. We also should know, that we as finite, cursed, creatures, can’t know perfectly the attributes of God. We can only know them as much as we are made able to know them. That isn’t to say that our knowledge is insufficient for our spiritual needs, it is simply something we must acknowledge before moving on.
I’m not going to go into great detail in this article, as I do think the subject needs deeper, and more thorough treatment. I plan on writing a larger paper, or book on the topic later. I’m only going to use a few attributes in this example. Also, please keep in mind that even though there are attributes that were communicated to us in our creation by God, making us in His image, those attributes cannot be directly compared to them as found in God, as He is incomparable, having no analogous being.
God’s will is informed by His sovereignty, omniscience, and beneficence, to only name a few of His attributes. How do you think those qualities affect His determining compared to the enslaved, ignorant, malevolently informed wills of human beings? You see, the will of man cannot be rightly compared to that of God’s. In eternity past, when God created everything out of nothing, and determined all things, He did so with perfect rights, as owner/Creator. He did so with perfect knowledge of everything in all times and places, and even of all things not constrained by space-time. Finally, He did so with perfect goodness, love, and justice, these all being informed by all of His other perfections/attributes.
When man makes a decision it is informed by his enslaved nature. He is a slave to sin unless he has been born again. Then he is a slave to Christ Jesus. Those two facts make an eternity of differences. His will is also informed by his ignorance. Man can only consider what he reasons that he knows, when making a decision. If we consider this honestly, we would admit that compared to God’s omniscience our knowledge is incomparable. They belong in different categories. Our wills cannot operate independently apart from our sinful flesh, even when we are born again, due to our residence in the unredeemed flesh.
Since these two wills operate in different conditions, one being eternal/timeless, and the other being confined to finite, unfolding time, and space, the experience of these wills is very different. I can experience the situation that requires a response, the reasoning through the known options, make a decision, and experience the consequences of my decision as they unfold in my temporal, material, experience of life as a creature. This doesn’t in any way negate the reality of God’s volition in eternity past. I, as a result of God’s will in eternity past experience my life as He has determined it.
I know this seems impossible to people. We are stuck many times trying to compare things that are not in the same categories. By looking briefly at how different the two wills are, we should be able to accept that there is an aspect of ignorance in our reasoning due to our nature as creatures, that can’t justify fully how we can have a personal volition, and that God can determine all things, without there being a conflict. Our experiences as creatures are real. We are culpable for our sins. We do make choices in the construct in which we reside. Outside of that small, finite, dark, construct exists the full, luminescent, glorious truth of God. He is sovereign, omniscient, and good. We can trust those attributes as we experience the temporal, and eternal consummation of His will.
Romans 9:6-33 (NASB Strong’s) But it is not as though the word of God has failed. For they are not all Israel who are descended from Israel; nor are they all children because they are Abraham’s descendants, but: “ through Isaac your descendants will be named.” That is, it is not the children of the flesh who are children of God, but the children of the promise are regarded as descendants. For this is the word of promise: “AT this time I will come, and Sarah shall have A son.” And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated.”
What shall we say then? There is no injustice with God, is there? May it never be! For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate MY power in you, and that MY name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth.” So then He has mercy on whom He desires, and He hardens whom He desires.
You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles. As He says also in Hosea,
“I will call those who were not MY people, ‘MY people,’
And her who was not beloved, ‘beloved.’”
“And it shall be that in the place where it was said to them, ‘you are not MY people,’
There they shall be called sons of the living God.”
Isaiah cries out concerning Israel, “Though the number of the sons of Israel be like the sand of the sea, it is the remnant that will be saved; for the Lord will execute His word on the earth, thoroughly and quickly.” And just as Isaiah foretold,
“Unless the Lord of Sabaoth had left to us A posterity,
WE would have become like Sodom, and would have resembled Gomorrah.”
What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, just as it is written,
“Behold, I lay in Zion A stone of stumbling and A rock of offense,
And he who believes in Him will not be disappointed.”