Archive for December, 2010

Robert Mounce, writing in his commentary on the book of Revelation concerning Rev. 16:5-6, says the following concerning God’s justice and His love for humanity:

“All caricatures of God which ignore his intense hatred of sin reveal more about man than about God.   In a moral universe God must of necessity oppose evil.  Far from undermining his righteousness, the love of God has made possible through the cross the redemption of unrighteous man.”[1]

Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), 295

[1] Robert H. Mounce, The Book of Revelation (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1977), 295


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I’ve been enjoying, once again, an extremely gratifying study through 2 Corinthians.  And yet again, I come away marveling at Paul’s unequivocal devotion to Jesus – not for what he can get from our Lord – but simply for who He is.

 Paul experienced what seems to be an unrelenting amount of suffering (see 2 Cor. 1, 4, 6, 11-12).

But in addition to the above, he also had to prove (again) his own apostolic authority and even his own genuineness to a church that had been deceived by false teachers, who for their own gain attempted to turn the Corinthians away from Paul.

Paul’s example of following Jesus – not matter what the cost – has always inspired me to stay free from the subtle trap of serving Jesus for what He can do for me.  In our society, we understand the “what have you done for me lately” mentality, don’t we?

 Somehow, our subtle theology tells us that if God really loves us, all will go our way; all will be well with us.  But this is nothing short of heresy; the Bible promises nothing of the sort! 

 Indeed, the devoted follower of Jesus can expect His blessings to overflow him (e.g. Ps. 23:6; 2 Cor. 1:3-6), but along with those blessings are the ongoing promises of suffering (2 Cor. 1:3-9; 4:7-12).

 When things don’t seem to be going our way, how easily we lose sight of the greatest blessing of all – our salvation – not to mention God’s Word, His presence, His Church and so much more. 

 We lose sight of His everyday providences – the “little” ways that He demonstrates His faithfulness to us.

 Beloved, have you fallen into the subtle trap of attempting to create your own theology that runs counter to the plain teaching of Scripture – a theology that insists upon a life free from trials, trouble, disappointment and pain? 

Have you fallen into the great satanic trap that we call “self-pity”?  Let us cultivate a lifestyle of praise, a lifestyle of devotion to His Word to keep our hearts right before Him and a lifestyle of prayer, so that we can remain close to Him and be victorious over the subtle trap.

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Do you enjoy sin? Are you involved in compromise in any way against what you know is not right?

Does the allure of the things of the world have a hold on you? If you can answer “yes” to any of the above questions, you’re living in self-deception. Below is God’s gracious warning to you. 

I call it a gracious warning because He speaks the truth to us in love and because He knows the consequences we’ll face if we choose to rebel.

Instead, He has (and He is) something far, far better for you!  Here is Jeremiah 2:19 (New American Standard):

Your own wickedness will correct you,
         And your apostasies will reprove you;
         Know therefore and see that it is evil and bitter
         For you to forsake the LORD your God,
         And the dread (awe, reverence) of Me is not in you,” declares the Lord GOD of hosts.

Now, why not heed the word of the Lord from Deut. 30:19-20 (New Living Translation) instead?

“Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live! 20 You can make this choice by loving the Lord your God, obeying him, and committing yourself firmly to him. This is the key to your life.

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Gregory of Nazianzen (321-390) an Early Church Father, was Archbishop of Constantinople, known as the “Trinitarian Theologian” and along with Basil the Great and Gregory of Nyysa was one of the three Cappadocian Fathers (prominent theologians of that time who lived in what is now modern-day Turkey and who were highly influential in articulating sound theology in the Early Church of the fourth century).

He wrote the following of Jesus:

“He hungered, but He fed thousands; He was wearied, but He is the Rest of them that are weary; He was heavy with sleep, but He walked lightly over the sea; He prays, but He hears prayer.

“He weeps, but He causes tears to cease.  He asks where Lazarus was laid, for He was Man; but He raises Lazarus, for He was God.  He is sold and very cheap, for it is only 30 pieces of silver; but, He redeems the world.

“As a sheep He is led to the slaughter, but He is the Shepherd of Israel, and now of the whole world also.  As a Lamb He is silent, yet He is the Word [of God].  He is wounded, but He heals every disease.

“He dies, but He gives life…”

The quiet miracle of Christmas – the incarnation of God the Son – is that unlike any religion now or in history, God Himself enters into our world, becomes like us and offers us His solution to our greatest problem – our alienation to Him.

That solution is reconciliation to Himself through the life, death, resurrection and ascension of Jesus, God the Son.

And once we’re reconciled to Him and daily learn to walk closely with Him, we can then truly live in reconciliation with others.  And it is then – and only then – that we become type of people we were created for (Phil. 2:1-11).

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“It would be difficult to think of a single person who has affected human history more profoundly than Jesus of Nazareth.  This alone would make the study of him significant.  Yet this is not the primary reason he is studied.  He is not studied as Alexander and Napoleon would be studied, for their enormous power or political sway over millions.

“His influence is not outwardly measured in terms of worldly power (John 18:36) but remains uncoercive, person-to-person, spiritual, subtly transforming, inconspicuous.

“The closer we make him the object of our study, the more we become aware that he is examining us.

“How is it plausible that two thousand years ago there lived a man born in poverty in a remote corner of the world, whose life was abruptly cut short in his early thirties, who traveled only in a small area, who held no public office, yet whose influence appears greater than all others?

“How is it that one who died the death of a criminal could be worshiped today by hundreds of millions?”[1]

[1] Thomas C. Oden, The Word of Life, Systematic Theology: Volume Two (Peabody, Mass: Hendrickson Publishers, 1987), 3-7.

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