Thursday, 27 April 2017

Christ the King

“But his citizens hated him, and sent a message after him, saying, We will not have this man to reign over us.” (Luke 19:14)
In this parable, the nobleman who had gone into a far country to receive his kingdom is a picture of Christ in the interim between His first and second comings. The “citizens” of His Kingdom, however, refuse His Kingship. Nevertheless, He is the King, and when He returns, those “enemies, which would not that I should reign over them” (Luke 19:27) will be slain. How much better to accept Him now!
The first title ascribed to Him was “King of the Jews” (Matthew 2:2). Long before that, however, He was King of creation. “For God is the King of all the earth, . . . a great King above all gods. . . . The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land” (Psalm 47:7;95:3, 5).
He is also King of redemption, providing salvation for the world He created. “For God is my King of old, working salvation in the midst of the earth” (Psalm 74:12). “[The Father] hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins” (Colossians 1:13-14).
He is not only King of all the worlds, but also King of all the ages. He is “my King of old” and also “King for ever” (Psalm 10:16). He is “the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God” (1 Timothy 1:17).
He is “King of saints” (Revelation 15:3), the “LORD of hosts, my King, and my God” (Psalm 84:3). Indeed, He is “the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords” (1 Timothy 6:15). Therefore, let His citizens say: “Blessing, and honour, and glory, and power, be unto him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb for ever and ever” (Revelation 5:13).

Wednesday, 26 April 2017

Ancient Times

“I have considered the days of old, the years of ancient times.” (Psalm 77:5)
The Bible provides for us a fascinating perspective on the passage of time. Three thousand years ago, the psalmist was reflecting on God’s ways in even earlier times and was seeking to understand God’s ways in his time. Each new generation seems to think that it is the “new wave,” leading the world out of its past darkness into a new age of enlightenment.
There is need for scientific research, of course (in fact, this is implied in the “dominion mandate” of Genesis 1:26-28), but we need to keep in mind that true science is really “thinking God’s thoughts after Him.” The results of our scientific “discoveries” should always be to glorify the Creator and to draw men closer to Him, not lead them away from Him.
The same is true of history. We are merely the children of ancient patriarchs, and our moral natures are the same as theirs, all contaminated by inherent sinfulness and the need for divine salvation. God dealt with them as He does with us, so that every later generation needs to study and learn from the generations of ancient times and from God’s inspired histories of them in the earliest books of the Bible—especially Genesis, as well as Exodus, Job, and other ancient books. “For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
God is the same today as He was in Eden, on Mount Ararat, in Babel, and Canaan, and Sinai, and Calvary. “Lord, thou hast been our dwelling place in all generations. Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever thou hadst formed the earth and the world, even from everlasting to everlasting, thou art God” (Psalm 90:1-2). 

Tuesday, 25 April 2017

The Spirit and the Word

“But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.” (Romans 8:9)
As we see in our text, the Holy Spirit indwells every one who is a true believer, a child of God. Each believer is born again through “the engrafted word, which is able to save your souls” (James 1:21), for “faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17).
But the role of the Spirit of God and the Word of God in our salvation only begins the Christian’s relationship to them, for we are enjoined to “be filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18) in the same sense that a drunkard is filled with and controlled by wine, and to “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom” (Colossians 3:16). These two entities equip us to be effective representatives of Him here on Earth.
Note, however, that in both of these passages the immediate results of such controlling input are the same. “Speaking to yourselves in psalms [primarily the Old Testament psalms] and hymns [songs of praise directed to God] and spiritual songs [a generic word for song, but here ‘spiritual’ songs], singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:19), and “teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord” (Colossians 3:16). A Spirit-filled Christian, knowledgeable in the Word, just can’t quit singing!
Nor can he stop “giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20; see also Colossians 3:17).
May we always manifest the work of the Spirit and the knowledge of the Word by our thankful hearts and the songs on our lips.

Monday, 24 April 2017

The Works of the Lord

“Praise ye the LORD. I will praise the LORD with my whole heart, in the assembly of the upright, and in the congregation.” (Psalm 111:1)
The first phrase of this majestic psalm of praise, “praise ye the LORD,” translates the compound Hebrew word hallelujah. The psalm in its entirety boasts about the works of the Lord (i.e., Jehovah) in various realms.
The psalmist promises to praise the Lord with his entire being, wholeheartedly extolling His works. He will do so in two spheres. First, in “the assembly of the upright,” where “assembly” refers to an intimate circle of friends of like faith. Secondly, in the larger “congregation” called together for that purpose.
The next three verses identify some of the praiseworthy acts of God, each verse employing a different word for “works.” The word translated “works” in verse two usually refers to God’s “great” handiwork in creation, well suited for careful study (i.e., “sought out”), bringing “pleasure” to all those who recognize that “the heavens declare the glory of God” (Psalm 19:1). (Incidentally, this verse two of Psalm 111 is inscribed on the entrance to the famous Cavendish Physics Laboratory in Cambridge.)
The word for “work” in verse three implies an ongoing practice and carries the connotation of His providential acts. He reigns in righteousness, honor, and glory over all His creation.
Finally, the phrase “wonderful works” (v. 4) usually refers to God’s great redemptive acts on behalf of His people Israel (vv. 5-6, 9), as well as all those who put their trust in Him (see Psalm 107:8,15,21, 31, for example). Surely “the LORD is gracious and full of compassion” (v. 4).
“The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom: . . . his praise endureth for ever” (v. 10). 

Sunday, 23 April 2017

The Godhead

“For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” (Colossians 2:9)
The term “Godhead” occurs three times in the King James translation. Each time it translates a slightly different Greek noun, all being slight modifications of the Greek word for “God” (theos, from which we derive such English words as “theology”). It essentially means the nature, or “structure,” of God, as He has revealed Himself in His Word.
The first occurrence is in Acts 17:29: “We ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device.” Men have been guilty throughout the ages of trying to “model” the Godhead, but this leads quickly to idolatry, whether that model is a graven image of wood or stone or a philosophical construct of the human mind.
What man cannot do, however, God has done, in the very structure of His creation. “The invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead” (Romans 1:20). His tri-universe (space, matter, and time, with each component unique in definition and function, yet permeating and comprising the whole) perfectly “models” His triune nature (Father, Son, Holy Spirit—each distinct, yet each the whole).
This analogy can be carried much further, for this remarkable triunity pervades all reality. The tri-universe is not God (that would be pantheism), but it does clearly reflect and reveal the triune nature of His Godhead.
The last occurrence of the word is in our text. Although we cannot see the Godhead in its fullness, that fullness does dwell eternally in the Lord Jesus Christ. All that God is, is manifest in Him. “And ye are complete in him” (Colossians 2:10). 

Saturday, 22 April 2017

Joy in the Christian Life

“These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” (John 15:11)
The word “fun” is never mentioned in the Bible, and “entertain” is used only in reference to being hospitable. Such activities as “reveling” and “playing” receive nothing except condemnation in the Scriptures (with the exception of little children at play).
Yet, there is growing emphasis today in many churches and parachurch organizations on providing “entertainment” and “fun times” for their members—especially for teenagers and young adults. This is the way to reach them and keep them for the Lord, so they say. Perhaps so, but one wonders why neither the Lord nor the apostles nor the prophets ever told us so. Is this a program kept in reserve by the Lord just for the young people of this generation?
Actually, Christians can have something far better, more effective, and more lasting than fun and entertainment. In Christ, they can have heavenly joy! “A merry heart doeth good like a medicine,” the Bible says (Proverbs 17:22), where the word for “merry” is more commonly translated as “joyful” or “rejoicing.”
While the Bible never mentions “fun,” it has many references to “joy” and “rejoicing.” Here are just a few. “Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of my heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts” (Jeremiah 15:16). “Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory” (1 Peter 1:8). “For the joy of the LORD is your strength” (Nehemiah 8:10).
We must remind ourselves continually that the Lord Jesus daily, through His words, shares His joy with us, “that [our] joy might be full.” 

Friday, 21 April 2017

Where Are the Nine?

“And Jesus answering said, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the nine?” (Luke 17:17)
Ten lepers, hopeless and incurable, came to Jesus, begging for His help, and He miraculously healed them. All 10 should have fallen down to worship and thank Him, but only one praised God and thanked Him for His marvelous deliverance.
We are at first amazed at such ingratitude, until we realize that not more than 10 percent of even those people who know about Christ ever stop to give Him thanks for His innumerable blessings—life, freedom, food, shelter, health, family, and especially easy access to the Bible and His gracious offer of salvation—far greater in value than the gift of special healing received by the 10 lepers.
The thankful leper received a much greater gift than the others. “Thy faith hath made thee whole” (Luke 17:19). They had received an outward cleansing of the body, he an inward cleansing of the soul! These words spoken by Christ are found four other times in the New Testament (Matthew 9:22; Mark 5:34;10:52; Luke 8:48), plus two times where the word for “made whole” is translated “saved” (Luke 7:50;18:42). This word (Greek sozo) occurs many other times. For example: “He is able also to save them to the uttermost that come unto God by him” (Hebrews 7:25).
Ten lepers were healed, but only one was saved, and the proof of his salvation, received through genuine faith in Christ, was his gratitude, giving glory to God. The primary evidence of being “filled with the Spirit” (Ephesians 5:18) is that the one so controlled by God’s regenerating Spirit will be “giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 5:20). Those who are not thankful to their saving Lord are the 90 percent who have not been made whole.