Thursday, January 28, 2010

II Peter 2:17 Part I-Empty Words

Truth is discriminating. That is an uncomfortable concept in this day and time when the very idea that all things and people are not always equal all the time is considered grounds for excommunication from polite society. And even though some people have the insane idea that we just need to worry more about letting go of our differences in theology and just getting along because unity and love are the highest virtues, the fact is that you can’t have real unity unless your unity is grounded in truth and real love is only love with it is grounded in truth. The fact is people who compromise on the clear truths of God’s word, as Peter says in this verse, have nothing real to offer those searching for truth. They make a lot of sound. Their tongues wag around in their mouths and there’s a lot of sound coming out, but in the end, they’re not saying a cotton picking thing.

As Peter says here, false teachers such as these are “springs without water”. Now, living as he did in the Middle East, Peter would know something about the need for water. If you were in a dry, arid place such as Palestine, you would need to have a source of water to survive. The word translated “springs” refers to something like a river, a source of water (or it could be used for some other liquid) that was gushing and flowing not stagnant like a well. These false teachers have the appearance of being a source of water. I can imagine this as being a picture of the constant flow of words coming out of their mouth. They talk and talk, always promising but never delivering. People come to them, their souls thirsty for the truth. These false teachers have all the attributes one would look for when looking for a spring. They look like the real deal.

In the end, however, they fail to yield what you’re looking for—just like a mirage. Instead of being springs of living water (John 4:14), these spring are waterless. The Greek word “anhudros” (504) is translated “without water”. Such is the teacher who offers false teaching—they offer nothing that quenches the thirsty soul because the soul of man needs the truth and they don’t have it because, as we’ve seen, they reject the word of God. They lead people astray with the promise of life giving truth. However, when that truth does not come from scripture it isn’t truth at all. In much the same way as cotton candy melts in your mouth before you even have a chance to really taste it, there is no substance to their teaching.

False teachers reject, dismiss, or downplay the truths of the Bible. Those who hold fast to these truths are mocked as being “fundamentalists” and even compared to Islamic terrorists. However, the fact remains that there can be no true unity until we separate truth from error. As Christians, we must discriminate—we must reject falsehood and hold fast to the truth. In the end, the truth of the gospel is not ours to edit but rather to proclaim boldly. In contrast, the boldness of the false teachers may look impressive but their empty words only lead to spiritual death.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Albert Mohler-Air Conditioning Hell

On his blog, Albert Mohler writes an essay examining theological liberalism. You should read the whole thing, but I found the following to be probably the most thought provoking portion of the piece:

A new apologetic move is now evident among some theologians and preachers who do affirm the inerrancy of the Bible and the essential truthfulness of the New Testament doctrine of hell. This new move is more subtle, to be sure. In this move the preacher simply says something like this:

"I regret to tell you that the doctrine of hell is taught in the Bible. I believe it. I believe it because it is revealed in the Bible. It is not up for renegotiation. We just have to receive it and believe it. I do believe it. I wish it could be otherwise but it is not."

Statements like this reveal a very great deal. The authority of the Bible is clearly affirmed. The speaker affirms what the Bible reveals and rejects accommodation. So far, so good. The problem is in how the affirmation is introduced and explained. In an apologetic gesture, the doctrine is essentially lamented.

What does this say about God? What does this imply about God's truth? Can a truth clearly revealed in the Bible be anything less than good for us?

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Matthew 7:13-14 Two Roads

One of my favorite poets is Robert Frost. His poem “Two Roads” is really beautiful and in my opinion deeply profound. As we live our lives we make choices and those choices have consequences. Now, some of those choices are pretty mundane and immaterial—Do I wear a bow-tie to work or not? The consequence to that might be that I look like a geek. However, some choices we make have eternal consequences. Jesus, in these last verses, makes plain from the imagery He uses that He has presented His audience with a choice. Will they follow God, recognizing their spiritual bankruptcy and desperately cry out for the righteousness that only comes from faith or will they try the Pharisees brand of “do it yourself” religion and try to make it to God on their own terms.

The scenario couldn’t be more clearly marked out than the choices Christ lays out in these verses. There is a “narrow gate” and a “wide gate”. Christ commands His listeners to enter by the narrow gate. The path to salvation through faith in Christ is narrow. Now matter how many people want to be ecumenical and open minded about how a person can get saved by claiming “It doesn’t matter what you believe”, Christ declares the way to salvation to be narrow. It is narrow because there is one God, one Savior, one Way for a person to be right with God, and one gospel. People do not decide what truth is—God has revealed truth in the pages of scripture. Truth, by it’s very nature, is narrow and specific. If something is true, then anything that does not match that truth is by definition false. Since there is only one truth that saves, the way is salvation is very narrow.

In contrast, if one chooses to go on the other road, they will have plenty of company. This gate is “wide” and the way is “broad”. It’s an easier path and a popular one. There are “many who enter through” this gate. If someone wanted to go along with the crowd and be accepted, this would be the way to go but there is a catch. While the road is easy since it is unencumbered by all that sticky doctrine and truth, the final destination is “destruction”. The word “destruction” does not mean annihilation or that the person is going to cease to exist. Rather, it is the same word that is translation “perdition” when speaking of Judas Iscariot—it means “ruin” or “waste”. There is a final destination for those who choose to reject the narrow path offered in the Bible that leads to salvation. It is to be utterly ruined with no hope of recovery. It is a sad state where a person suffers forever and ever with no relief for all eternity. The way looks easy and comfortable. In truth, it is easier and more comfortable than taking up a cross daily to follow Christ and choosing to work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. However, the wide road must be rejected. To choose that path has eternal, soul damning consequences.

In contrast, the road that leads to life is “narrow”—there isn’t a lot of wiggle room. This will not be the popular path because there are only a “few who find it”. However, this way leading to life includes days of persecution, grief, testing, ridicule, and mistreatment—and that’s just from the folks who call themselves Christians to say nothing of how the world will react.

However, the choice Christ makes is clear. Choose the easy way. Relax if you want to. Take it easy, friend, and you will seal your eternal doom. If you want to save your life, if you want to follow Christ as a disciple be prepared for a hard road. The perils of the life of faith are not for the faint of heart and they are certainly not for those who refuse to enter eternal life by the only means possible—faith in the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

Monday, January 25, 2010

II Peter 2:15-16 …and my money on my mind

When I was a child, I used to watch the show Bewitched. One of the characters on there was Darren’s boss, Larry Tate. Sometimes Darren would come in with an advertisement for a client and after the presentation Larry would say “That is the worst idea I’ve ever heard.” The client, however, would say he really liked it and immediately Larry would change his tune to something like “That’s just what I was thinking, sir”. For Larry, his only concern was getting the client to sign an advertising contract and he would say whatever was necessary to get it. Now, Larry was a harmless comedic character but in church you can and sadly do see people who will sell their integrity to say what some people want to hear. They will compromise on what God’s word teaches or what is right and prudent in order to tickle peoples ears to keep the dollars flowing in. In much the same way, Peter warns the believers to whom he wrote about false teachers and the natural outcome of their greed.

First of all, observe that their greed has caused them to abandon sound, biblical doctrine. At some point, they made a decision in the past to hold to beliefs and practices that contradicted the clear teaching of God’s word. This choice they made now has lasting effects on their lives because they have “forsaken the right (straight, morally correct) way”. There is true doctrine and false doctrine. These men chose to reject true doctrine for reasons that we will see soon. The effect of this choice is for them to have abandoned the way of salvation and righteousness and turned to the way of damnation with eternal consequences for their soul.

Secondly, notice that their greed has corrupted their ability to discern. Peter writes that they have “gone astray”. The verb is in the passive voice in the Greek which means, essentially, that these men were led astray—by their lusts, their greed, and ultimately by Satan. The lure of worldly acclaim and wealth are powerfully attractive. Given the choice between service to the one true God and the abuse and persecution that goes along with that, these men chose the easy way. They decided to say things that people wanted to hear to attract a fawning and well paying crowd. Instead of a life of integrity standing for the truth, they chose the life of a sell out. They chose to follow the money and, in their mind, they may not even realize their error.

God, however, knows their error and, as Peter points out, it’s not one that He hasn’t seen before. Peter compares these men to Ballam who “received a rebuke [from] a mute donkey, speaking with the voice of a man”. We read this story in Number 20 where Ballam was approached by enemies of the children of Israel who wanted him to curse them. Some have questioned what exactly this way of Ballam that the false teachers have followed was. I believe, because Peter mentions the episode with the donkey, we should think carefully through that episode.

Ballam agreed to go, but only speak the words that God gave him concerning Israel as he was instructed by God. However, on the way the next day, his donkey began to behave strangely and injured Ballam. When Ballam began to beat the donkey, the donkey spoke (notice Peter affirms this not as metaphorical but actual speech) and tells Ballam there was an angel of the Lord blocking the way that would have killed him. Since Ballam had been told to go, the angel of the Lord must have been sent because Ballam had purposed in his heart overnight to say what the enemies of Israel wanted him to say rather than what God wanted him to say. He repented and of course we read of the blessing he pronounced on Israel later in Numbers. I believer the point Peter makes here is that these false teachers are motivated in what they say by what the people want to hear.

We see that all the time in churches today. The largest church in America is “pastored” by a man who tells the tens of thousands of people there every Sunday that the Christian life is about living with a positive attitude and that God will only do good things for His children. Christians need only to “name it and claim it” to have health, wealth, and success. Persecution is not part of the equation and repentance is not needed. Other pastors may boldly claim from their pulpits “This church stands on the teaching of the Bible. We will never have a woman in a leadership position over a man” and then turn around and have a woman lead music because they don’t have anyone else handy. They may say with pride how folks used to be in the building but skipping out on teaching ministries in the church by hanging out elsewhere on campus but they put a stop to it. However they may turn a blind eye to it when people with influence do the same thing so as not to upset folks who might in turn leave the church and take their money with them

The fact is, when a pastor is more concerned about money that he is integrity, he can and often times will bend rules and ignore biblical doctrine. This can lead as Peter addresses here someone who commits wholesale treason and abandons the faith, thereby demonstrating they were never truly redeemed in the first place. Just as in Peter’s day, it is imperative that we as true believers hold to solid biblical doctrine and demand that those who teach and preach do the same. While faithfulness to the word of God will bring persecution, it will lead people to a saving knowledge of Christ. The salvation of souls and the glory of God is worth a little persecution in this life, wouldn’t you agree?

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Exposition of Hebrews: Part 3

A good friend of mine, Doug Searle, has been teaching verse by verse through the book of Hebrews. The notes for the study are on his blog here. I have been greatly encouraged and hope you will be too.

Part three can be heard in two parts: (1) and (2)

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Matthew 7:13-28 Make Your Choice

I used to love Choose Your Own adventure books when I was a kid. For those not familiar with them, they were books that would present a choice for you to make in the book that would affect the story. For instance, they might say something like "If you choose to stay with the princess turn to page 74. If you choose to chase the villain, turn to page 32." You would turn to those pages and continue reading from there. In a very real sense, we're faced with those kind of decisions everyday and the choices we make affect our lives. Of course, we have to consider the providence of God and the fact that He knows the end from the beginning yet somehow we are responsible for the consequences of our choices. As we begin to study this last section of the Sermon on the Mount, I believe it would be a good time for us to consider the choice that Jesus presents here in what is essentially an invitation at the end of this masterful sermon.

Observe, in verse 13 and 14, we see two gates (small/wide) and two ways or paths (broad/narrow). In verses 15 through 20, Jesus says there are two trees and two different kinds of fruits. As we read on in verses 21 through 23, we notice that there are two responses by people to Jesus, those who insincerely call Him "Lord" as opposed to the unmentioned but implied group who are sincere in their affirmation of His Lordship. We see, in verses 24-27, that there are two builders, two houses, and two different results of the storm on the two houses.

Do you get the feeling that Jesus was trying to make a point?

The specifics of each of these situations are worth studying on their own but it is instructive to note that the general theme of this section is that there is a choice to be made and there is not an equal outcome to each of those choices. There is a good and a bad--a right and a wrong and we are responsible for what we choose. You can't escape the fact that being a Christian, choosing to follow Jesus as a disciple, means choose to not follow you own will, ideas, and feelings. In fact, a disciple of Christ denies himself or herself and follows the Lord.

There are not many ways to heaven. There are not many truths. You and I have, in these verses, a choice to make. Shall we be faithful to Him who called us, or try to get to heaven our own way?

Make your choice.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Phil Johnson-The Neo Liberal Stealth Offensive

Phil Johnson has an article published over at the 9Marks blog that you simply MUST read called The Neo-Liberal Stealth Offensive. I'm giving you a short preview below but you have to click here and read the whole bloomin' thing. It's that good.

The gospel's most dangerous earthly adversaries are not raving atheists who stand outside the door shouting threats and insults. They are church leaders who cultivate a gentle, friendly, pious demeanor but hack away at the foundations of faith under the guise of keeping in step with a changing world.

Historic evangelicalism has two clear distinctives. One is a commitment to the inspiration and authority of Scripture. The other is a conviction that the gospel message is clear and non-negotiable.

With the advent of the seeker-sensitive movement, however, evangelicals began to be influenced by a new species of entrepreneurial leaders who marginalized those core doctrines by neglect. Most of them didn't overtly deny essential biblical truths; but neither did they vigorously stress or defend anything other than their own methodology.

1. They recklessly follow the zeitgeist.
2. They want the world's admiration at all costs.
3. Their "faith" comes with an air of intellectual superiority.
4. They despise doctrinal and biblical precision.

Now, go read the whole thing. You won't be sorry.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Exposition of Hebrews-Part 2b

A friend of mine, Doug Searle, who is the Director of Administration at Community Bible Church in Nashville, is teaching a study through the book of Hebrews called Privilege & Perseverance-A Study of the Book of Hebrews. That link to his blog has all the handouts used in the class as well as the MP3's of the lessons. Let me encourage you to take advantage of this excellent series of verse by verse studies in the book of Hebrews taught by someone who really loves the Lord and is a great encouragement to me.

The audio for part 2 of this lesson is here. I posted part 1 of this lesson yesterday.

I pray that you are encouraged.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Exposition of Hebrews-Part 2a

A friend of mine, Doug Searle, who is the Director of Administration at Community Bible Church in Nashville, is teaching a study through the book of Hebrews called Privilege & Perseverance-A Study of the Book of Hebrews. That link to his blog has all the handouts used in the class as well as the MP3's of the lessons. Let me encourage you to take advantage of this excellent series of verse by verse studies in the book of Hebrews taught by someone who really loves the Lord and is a great encouragement to me.

Lesson two was taught in two parts. Part 1 is here. I'll post part 2 tomorrow.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Matthew 7:12 Keeping It Simple

I was a band director for about 5 years. For two of those years, I had a marching band. Now, most band directors will stay up late during band camp writing their drills for the half time show. They’ll try to show how creative and innovative they can be. Many times, the first song will consist of 20 or 30 sets that the kinds have to march to on the field. In any of the shows that I charted, I don’t think we had twenty sets for all 4 songs combined. I had a philosophy called “KISS” which stood for Keep It Simple, Stupid and the “Stupid” was me. Sure, people wrote more complicated and interesting shows but the kids in my bands didn’t have to work nearly as hard and the show was much easier to clean without all of the clutter. In theology, we can get very cluttered sometimes. Does regeneration precede faith? Is the gift of tongues still in operation today? These and other important questions can and should be wrestled with but not at the expense of living as God has called us to live as salt and light in this world. To that end, Jesus gives us very simple, very directed instruction here in this verse that we should all take to heart.

Observe that this teaching in verse 12 is comprehensive. Jesus says “In everything”. He doesn’t say “When at church” or when “When you’re around your friends”. Christians who only behave as Christians when they’re being watched are called hypocrites and rightly so. I was working at a Sears once and a pastor of a local church came in to buy a dryer. He was quite simply very rude to me. I asked him “Aren’t you the pastor of suchandsuch church?” Almost immediately, his demeanor changed. I imagine that you would probably have stories that are similar that you have seen as well. If we are truly new creatures in Christ it should affect every area of our lives. We should live differently. What Jesus has described in the Sermon on the Mount is a supernatural righteousness that can only be explained by the indwelling, transforming power of the Holy Spirit. When Jesus says “In everything, therefore” what He means is “Based on the truths I’ve revealed that a person cannot produce true righteousness themselves but must beg God to transform them, you must realize that the evidence of a transformed life will be total. Since you’re going to be a new creation with a living heart of flesh replacing your dead heart of stone you will live differently all the time. The fruits of this transformation will be evident if you are truly transformed”.

Also, we should take note that what Jesus prescribes here for believers is preemptive. You see, the teachers of the law taught that you should treat people the same way they treated you. In fact, most of us have that as an instinct within us, don’t we? If someone is rude or hateful to us, we naturally want to respond in kind. However, Jesus teaches just the opposite here. He teaches us that we should “treat people the same way [we] want them to treat [us]”. If we want people to be kind and patient with us, then that is how we should treat other people. Children are taught a version of this in elementary school—“To have a friend, be one”. If we are unkind, unloving, and un-Christlike in our dealings with people, not only are we not living as a true witness to the love of God who, despite our sinful heart, is infinitely loving and patient with us, but we also can expect that same kind of treatment from others. Of course, we can expect persecution when we witness for Christ so obviously this doesn’t guarantee that we will be treated well. What it does guarantee is a faithful, consistent Christian witness.

In fact, if we truly wish to live a life pleasing to God, Jesus give us in this verse a simple, easy to remember, way to do so. We don’t have a list of rules that we have to memorize. If we are treating people the way we want them to treat us, we will not sin. In fact, we will be living completely consistent with God’s entire revelation in scripture. Jesus says if we do this, we will be living as revealed in “the Law and the Prophets”—the Old Testament. Of course, since nothing in the New Testament contradicts the Old Testament, our lives will be consistent with that revelation as well. If we live as Jesus called us to in this verse, we won’t violate the commands of God in scripture.

Of course, we know we won’t live that way all the time. We’re going to sin and as Christ has taught in the Sermon on the Mount, God’s demand for perfect righteousness isn’t graded on a curve. What this teaching should do, therefore, is not just inform us as to how we should live but it should also drive us to our knees in repentance when we fail. Thankfully, we serve a God who is merciful and forgives us when we sin.

Monday, January 11, 2010

II Peter 2:14 “Got my mind on my money…”

One of my favorite pastors was Dale Haynes at Dutton Baptist Church. I served under him as minister of music for about a year and was constantly amazed at what a humble man that he was. He didn’t view the ministry as something that the church owed him but rather was a true servant and always seemed to me to be cognizant of the privilege he had of serving the body of Christ and studying the word of God. However, I can’t say that every pastor I’ve ever known has been like that. I’ve known a pastor who lives a very extravagant lifestyle on the backs of hardworking people and feels that he, by golly by gum, deserves what he’s being paid. His attitude is contemptible and in my opinion makes him unfit for the pastorate. In much the same way, we see in the last part of verse 14 that Peter tells us about the all consuming covetousness of the false teachers he has been warning about. To be sure, they don’t serve the people in sincerity but rather they see the ministry as an easy way to make a buck.

First of all, observe with me that the problem is one at the core of their very beings. Peter says the issue runs as deep as their “heart”. Now, when Peter or other folks living when he did talk about the heart, they don’t mean the thing in your chest that pumps blood. Greek speaking people thought of the heart as the seat of the intellect. We would probably use the term “mind” if we were to make the same sort of statement today. This is willful behavior, in other words. They can’t claim “What was I thinking” because the fact is they are thinking while they sin—it comes from their heart.

Notice further the extent to which they sin has corrupted them. Peter tells us that they have taken their heart (mind) and that it is now “trained in greed”. The word translated “trained” is the root of the word “gymnasium”. It meant to exercise vigorously and is in the perfect tense which means it denotes an action that has been completed in the past with ongoing effects. The false teachers made a conscious choice and exerted effort to commit to the path they are on. It was not coincidence or accident that led them to where they are but rather they made the choice and put forth the effort to “train” their heart.

Now, those who have put forth the effort to train themselves to teach and preach God’s word are to be commended and it is right for us to share material blessings with our pastors. Certainly there are occasions where a pastor can and should be allowed to devote his time to full time study and ministry. However, that is a privilege, not something the church owes someone. Further, it should always cause a minister to feel a great sense of gratitude and thankfulness for the privilege to serve full time. That thankfulness is the exact opposite of the attitude that Peter records here in this verse. As we see, these false teachers have a “heart trained in greed”. The word greed signifies that they are interested in acquiring more and more without regard to what they need. They seek to enrich themselves on the back of those who work hard for their money. Again, the attitude is what Peter points out that is contemptible here. A person being paid a large salary is not in and of itself wrong. I mean, there are rules as to what a church can pay its pastor set by the IRS. But within reason, it’s not the amount of money that creates the problem but rather the heart attitude that says “I deserve what I’m being paid and I want more regardless of what I actually need”. These false teachers have a sense of entitlement and are greedy—always wanting more.

Finally, we see what this wicked attitude reveals about these men. Peter tells us they are “accursed children”. They may live high on the hog now, prepaying their mortgage, driving fancy cars, living in houses far nicer than the homes of any of their congregants, all the while teaching false doctrine and living sensual lives of sin. There will be a day of reckoning, however. God may be mocked for a time but He will not be mocked forever. There will come a day where it will be clear to everyone that these false teachers did not speak for God and are not His children but are rather “accursed children” who will be punished in the fires of hell.

Many men serve the church faithfully and serve out of a love for God and for His people. However, there are those who bring shame to the cause of Christ by using the church as nothing more than a get rich quick scheme. Those who do so and peddle false doctrine will not escape the punishment of God—count on it.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Even More Bible Exposition

You know, it's like my Granny Blackmon used to always say, "You can never get too much Bible Exposition". Actually, she never said that, but she should have, cause it's true. Fred, over at the blog Hip and Thigh, must think so as well, because he does so much of it. He did a series called Gleanings from Job a few years ago that was REALLY good. He has started a new series in the book of Daniel called, as you might guess, Gleanings in Daniel that is equally stellar I am sure. Check it out. While you're at it, check his blog out. You'll be glad you did.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Matthew 7:9-11 The Perfect Example of a Father

I have an admission that will not surprise anyone who knows me. I am selfish, irritable, grumpy, ill-tempered and difficult to get along with. As such, I really make a lousy father. I want to be good but the fact of the matter is I’m really not—at least, not like my kids deserve. However, even with my failings they would probably rate me as a good daddy. They’re too young to really understand it when I’m short with them or to read my irritation when they ask me for something and sometimes I just really don’t want to get up to get it because I’m being lazy.

One day, though, I know they will see those chinks in my armor. I’ll no longer be Super-dad. They will see me as the sinful, impossibly broken man that I am. It is my hope that they will realize that my failures as a father are a result of sin and that they will see that there is a perfect heavenly Father who never sins. Perhaps, as Jesus points out in these verses, the contrast between their all too human dad and the omnipotent, all loving, patient, kind Father in heaven will give them a new appreciation for His mercy and grace.

Parents love and care for their children. I mean, there is just something unexplainable about the love that you feel when you hold your child for the first time. You want to do good for them. You want to give good things to them. It is true that there are those who abuse their children and mistreat them but that is the exception, I believe, and not the rule. Therefore, Jesus asks a question and assumes the answer He would get when He says in verses that a parent whose child asks for bread will not give that child a stone or substitute a snake for a fish. First of all, that would represent not just a complete disregard for what the child actually asked but would actually demonstrate the intent of the parent to hurt the child. No good parent does that. Even the psychotic ones wouldn’t admit to it out in public.

Now, with that in mind and on the heels of His exhortation that we pray to God and go to Him with our needs, He makes His point. We, each and everyone one of us, are “evil” from the tops of our heads to the tips of our toes. We have times where we don’t want to get up and get the child what they are asking for when they’re hungry or tired. That’s the sinful part of our self—the part that says “My comfort on this couch is more important that what my child is asking for”. We can all relate to that. Most all of us have never done anything that would qualify as abuse but we have all been selfish or irritated with our children. We know that when scripture says “There is none righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10) that we ourselves are living proof of that text. In Genesis, we can insert our name for the word “his” when it says in Genesis 6:5 “every intent of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually”. When Jesus says “If you then, being evil”, He nails every one of us without exception.

He acknowledges that we, as parents, try to do right. We take care of our children as best as we can and we “give good gifts to them” even in our sinful state. We’re not perfect but by and large parent care for their children. If we’re impossibly wicked, and we are, and we do good to our children then Christ draws a contrast that should startle all of us as we ponder its implications. Our “Father”, who is God, is perfect and holy whereas we are fallen and sinful. He is “in heaven”—above all things, eternal, and separated from all sin.. We’re here on this earth, finite, temporal, and surrounded by the pollution of sin. If we give our children good things when they ask, Jesus says, God, by His very nature, will certainly not fail to give us good things when we ask Him.

Therefore, when we feel the tug of sin on our hearts, when we become continually aware of how far short of the mark we fall, and we pray to God “Please, forgive me. Change me from the inside out. Conform me to the likeness of your Blessed Son” we can know that God will hear and answer our prayer. When we pray to Him for the things we need to live, we can be confident that He will give us what we need. The fact that we fail our children should grieve us and drive us to repent and live as we are called. However, even in our failings we can be encouraged by the contrast of our fallen nature and the perfection of our heavenly Father who always responds in love to His children.

Monday, January 4, 2010

Exposition of the book of Hebrews

A friend of mine, Doug Searle, who is the Director of Administration at Community Bible Church in Nashville, is teaching a study through the book of Hebrews called Privilege & Perseverance-A Study of the Book of Hebrews. That link to his blog has all the handouts used in the class as well as the MP3's of the lessons. Let me encourage you to take advantage of this excellent series of verse by verse studies in the book of Hebrews taught by someone who really loves the Lord and is a great encouragement to me.

Lesson 1 is in two parts. (Part 1) (Part 2)

After all, who can get too much verse by verse bible exposition, huh?