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Archive for December, 2009

Why I Love the Church

I love the Church because Jesus loves the Church – even in all her imperfections (Eph. 5:25).

I love the Church because it is the pillar and support of the truth (1 Tim. 3:15) in a world that’s gone crazy, is decaying and can never make up its mind.

I love the Church because the head of the Church – Jesus – was bold enough to refer to Himself as “the way, the Truth and the life” and that He has brought me to the Father and into eternal life, just as He said He would (John 14:6; 17:3).

I love the Church because it has been entrusted with our Lord’s perfect, pure and wholly inspired Word (Ps. 19:7; 2 Tim. 3:16) and by that Word and through the people that make up the Church, I’ve grown greatly as a man, as a Christian and as a husband – in ways I never would have grown.

I love the Church because it’s my family (John 17:21; Eph. 2:19) and in 30 years in this family of God, I’ve been enriched immeasurably and consider myself a very, very wealthy man (spiritually) indeed!

I love the Church because it’s where I’m challenged to grow (Prov. 27:17) and to give out.

I love the Church because as the body of Christ, it brings His good news to the unsaved, giving them eternal life.

I love the Church because it is the greatest force for good in the world (and always has been): caring for the widows and orphans, building hospitals and schools, helping those struck by natural disasters, speaking truth to an evil, corrupt world and not backing down when that same, ungrateful world persecutes her.

These are just some of the reasons I love the Church and will continue to do so!

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In my quite time this morning, one of the chapters I read was Prov. 12:1-10 and v.1 really struck me:  “Whoever loves discipline loves knowledge, but he who hates reproof is stupid.”

One of the things I so love about Scripture is its directness. And yet, this verse is couched in love — because the God who inspired it only desires the best for people.

He always speaks the truth in love (Eph. 4:15).

That Hebrew word translated “discipline” in Prov. 12:1 can be translated “instruction; chastisement; reproof; warning; correction; rebuke.”

We have many in our society that want nothing to do with anyone bringing correction to them.

As a result, they are unaccountable and therefore lack humility. When a person has that mentality, he or she is in trouble, out of God’s will and injurious to others.

I’ve found that welcoming — rather than avoiding — correction has only helped me grow in life.

Friend, how about you: are you teachable? Are you accountable? Are you humble?

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What is the “wrath of God”? Why would a loving, kind, merciful and forgiving God bring wrath upon people?

The answer to that question is actually simple and one we all understand, since we’re created in His image and likeness (this refers to us as moral beings).

When we’re operating at our moral best, we prefer not to mete out punishment until and unless every possible means of mercy have been exhausted.

For example, in our criminal justice system, we desire to have criminals reformed so that they will not be repeat offenders.

But if a repeat offender refuses reform and then one day we (or someone we love) happen to be a victim of a heinous crime from this individual, suddenly we cry out for justice.

If there were no punishment of criminals, our society would be full of anarchy and run by warlords.

It is the same with God. Take the book of Revelation, for example: this is a book of the Bible that most people associate with judgment and they’re correct – partially. In fact, the book of Revelation is first and primary a book of grace.

Repeatedly, God is at work to get people to repent of their sins – through both the “ordinary” preaching of the gospel (in fact, there is really nothing “ordinary” about this, since the preaching of the gospel brings with it the power of the Holy Spirit to enlighten the hearer of his or her condition before God) – as well as through many miracles.

All the while, the people He created for His glory spurn Him, mock Him, ridicule Him and count the life, death and resurrection of Jesus on their behalf as useless.

Meanwhile, they sin with impunity, ruin the lives of others and destroy all that God has called “good.”

At some point, God’s justice, holiness and righteousness must come in and deal appropriately with people who shunned His repeated offers to receive His love, mercy and forgiveness.

I like the way one outstanding biblical scholar puts it: “The wrath of God is a fundamental theme in NT teaching. It is both a present reality (Rom. 1:18) and an eschatological event (Rev. 19:15). It is neither personal vindictiveness nor an impersonal process of retribution that works itself out in the course of history. It is rather the response of [God’s] holiness to persistent and impenitent wickedness” (Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), 163.

One day, the veil will be removed from our eyes so that we can see just how unrighteous and sinful we are compared to the beauty of His holiness, justice and righteousness, which has at its core the purest love imaginable – and for us now, it is really unimaginable.

And then we will acknowledge in truth that this God is what the Bible has said all along: He is worthy of all praise, glory and honor!

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Here’s a question that a young man I used to pastor asked on Facebook last night:

Question of the day: Did Jesus ever ask anyone to write down the words He said?

Here’s my response: Yes, He did: Rev. 1:19.

And John Calvin wisely wrote that whenever God is mentioned without qualification (i.e. “God the Father”) we may always rightly say that the entire Godhead is involved.

Thus, when Paul says that “All Scripture is inspired by God” (2 Tim. 3:16), Jesus inspired all biblical writers.   Indeed, so did God the Holy Spirit and God the Father (2 Pet. 2:21).

This also spells the end of the argument for those who claim Jesus didn’t speak about a particular matter because we don’t find Him addressing it in His direct words from the gospels.

Through His apostles, He addresses all kinds of matters. Does this help?

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“I have not departed from the command of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth more than my necessary food” (Job 23:12).

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Wisdom from Proverbs

“He is on the path of life who heeds instruction, but he who forsakes reproof goes astray” (10:17).

People who are teachable are healthy; people who are not teachable (i.e. they simply will not allow themselves to be corrected) are not healthy.

I have seen this first-hand repeatedly and the sad results that accompany such an attitude…

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From Jer. 15:16: “Your words were found and I ate them and Your words became for me a joy and the delight of my heart. For I have been called by Your name, O LORD of hosts.”

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