Archive for October, 2014
“Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of the prophecy, and heed the things which are written in it; for the time is near” (Revelation 1:3).
Some miss the intent of the book of Revelation with their insistence that it is best interpreted by events depicted in the morning paper or the evening news. If such were the case, then no generation until our own could have understood or obeyed the book ( a contradiction to the assumption of 1:3). While originally penned to a literal seven churches in literal Asia Minor, the message is no less clear to us today. He is coming again. Be ready!
“However, let us keep living by that same standard to which we have attained” (Philippians 3:16).
While the teachings of the apostles would serve as the theological foundation for the early church, it is the compilation of their inspired writings that would become the canonical standard for the church today. To deem the bible as canonical—the standard and measuring stick for all matters of faith and practice—is to ascribe authority to the sacred text. If it is truly authoritative then it becomes for us the touchstone and the lens through which we understand and view everything else. It establishes a standard for living that does not change with “new moralities” or the latest trends of culture.
“In the day of prosperity be happy, but in the day of adversity consider God has made the one as well as the other so that man will not discover anything that will be after him” (Ecclesiastes 7:14).
How often we are guilty of measuring the quality of our faith by present circumstances—if things are favorable then God must be happy with us; if things are unfavorable then God must not be pleased and has withdrawn his blessing. It reflects a very Americanized and self-absorbed perspective. The redemptive work that God is accomplishing in his created order is more than our finite minds could ever understand and, certainly, cannot be understood nor measured by whether or not you are having a good day. Such judgments and determinations must be checked by a more patient spirit of “wait and see.”
“Be on the alert, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong” (1 Corinthians 15:13).
Considering the issues that Paul has addressed within the life of this young congregation—sexual immorality, lawsuits, intimacy in marriage, matters of conscience, and theological error regarding corporate worship, and the exercising of spiritual gifts—it’s little wonder that his final admonition is to embrace a more intentional and watchful approach in living the faith. We must “keep our heads on a swivel” if we are to anticipate and see those things that would seek to knock us off balance and lead us astray.
“You have heard that the ancients were told…but I say to you” (Matthew 5:21,27,31,33,38,43).
To correctly interpret how he would fulfill the Law and not abolish it (v.17), Jesus offered six familiar law commands, and his heightened interpretations, as an example that must be applied to the entirety of the law code. Instead of lowering the bar of responsibility, he raised it. Such is the nature of grace. It requires more of us than the Law ever could. To say, “I’m no longer under the law, but under grace” is but a “spiritualized” excuse to justify disobedience in a particular area of one’s life.
“Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for Us?’ Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!’” (Isaiah 6:8).
Having seen the glory and experienced the forgiveness of a redeeming God, Isaiah could not help but offer himself as a servant of the Lord. Are you willing? The Lord describes to Isaiah a people who are spiritually indifferent, insensitive, eyes dim, ears dull, whose cities and lands are headed for devastation and desolation. Are you still willing?
“It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer’; but you are making it a robbers den” (Matthew 21:13).
A church building stands as a powerful, symbolic reminder that God’s people are to be a gathered people; a praying people that assemble under spires and in sanctuaries to worship; be inspired, and challenged to fulfill the Great Commission. Tragically, some make the house of God into a sanctuary of their own godlessness. For these, like thieves guarding their lair, church becomes the place they hide the preciousness of their own preferences; likes and dislikes. They disparage so as to drive people away or to keep others from entering. Because of greed and selfishness they rob others of grace; they steal from others the opportunity to experience and express the mercies of God in ways that depart from familiar and idolized structures.
“The stone which the builders rejected, this became the chief corner stone; this came about from the Lord, and it is marvelous in our eyes” (Matthew 21:42)?
The biblical writers often utilize language from the building trades to depict what God is seeking to build and accomplish. In this construction process, one can vividly recognize the conflict between Divine intentions and human desires; the foundational mission of God’s Kingdom and the superfluous preferences of men. Christ is never an addition to our lives but the very corner stone of our existence. As The Cornerstone, his presence determines what is added and what fits in this life we are seeking to live for him.
“For if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live” (Romans 8:13).
Life lived according to the flesh is one that stands in opposition to God’s will; puts confidence in human achievement, the things of this earth, and a delusional belief that human effort and token religious expressions can accomplish righteousness. Life according to the Spirit is a fruitful display of the Spirit’s indwelling. This contrast is best seen in Galatians 5:19-26.
“So also is the resurrection of the dead. It is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body” (1 Corinthians 15:42a, 44).
Popular cultural thought, best-selling accounts of near-death-experiences, and even a movie would have us believe that the afterlife is some disembodied, vaporous, gaseous, existence; that the life to come is akin to a bird escaping from its cage; that the soul is finally freed from the body. This is but a perpetuation of Greek philosophy; Platonic thought and, worse still, heretical Gnostic dualism that views all matter as evil and only the spirit as good. Paul’s corrective teaching is that resurrection we anticipate is a bodily resurrection; a body fit for eternity.