All posts by Doug

Judge Not That You Be Not Judged Matthew 7:1-6

Don’t Judge Matthew 7:1-2

The Pharisees were used to judging others self-righteously. Jesus said there are problems with that kind of judging. It’s overly critical, always going around with a nit-picking attitude, digging and searching for faults, always suspecting the worst.

What Jesus is talking about is a hasty, unloving, “holier than thou” type of attitude.

Whenever we make a judgment, we do so based on what we have seen and sometimes that’s not enough to provide the whole picture. Human judgment is limited to the information which we put into it and sometimes that isn’t enough to make an accurate judgment.

Searching For Specks Matthew 7:3-5

Bertrand Russell capsulated this hypocrisy when he said, “I am firm. You are obstinate. He’s pig-headed. I have reconsidered. You have changed your mind. He’s gone back on his word.“

We’re not qualified to sit in judgment on others because it’s impossible to  be impartial — we’re influenced by our own imperfections.

When I spend my time pointing my finger at your sin, my attention is distracted from my own sins, and that’s the real danger of judging. We’re all sinners, and we’re to work together as a family to overcome our sins.

Helping Our Brother Matthew 7:5

Suppose a child comes to you with a splinter in his finger. He’s crying, “Please take this splinter out!” What’s the Christian thing to do? Leave the splinter there? No! You take the splinter out. So Jesus was saying there is a place for some discernment in people’s lives. If you see brothers or sisters who have specks in their eyes, you need to help them take it out!

The Right Way To Judge  Matthew 7:6

Some believe that you can’t judge anyone else as being right or wrong and you have no right to condemn the way anyone is living. If you are doing that, you are wrong and that you shouldn’t live that way. Thus they practice the very thing they claim is wrong for others.

First Jesus says, “Don’t judge, don’t condemn.” Then, in the same breath, He says, “Make certain judgments concerning people and behavior.”

How can these two positions be reconciled? The two positions actually complement and limit each other perfectly. In the first statement, as we’ve already seen, Jesus condemns the critical, holier-than-thou, jumping to conclusions sort of judgment that the Pharisees were known for.

In this second statement, Jesus acknowledges the need for making decisions concerning people and behavior that is detrimental to our Christian lives.

Summary:

In Matthew 7:1-6 we have a warning to avoid the extremes of judgment.

We need to be careful not to become harshly judgmental, looking for faults, taking the opportunity to look down on others from our position of self-righteousness.

But neither are we to overlook sin. We need to be able to recognize sin for what it is. Any attempt to overlook or justify sin on any grounds is itself sinful.

In John 8 We come to another story, the story of Jesus and the woman caught in adultery.  Notice how Jesus demonstrates Matthew 7:1-6

Jesus refused to look down on her. He wouldn’t allow the mob to treat her as a thing. Rather He forced the mob to consider their own sin.

But, He didn’t justify her sin. He wouldn’t refer to her action as anything other than sin.

 

What the Bible Tells Us About Hell 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10

There are many concepts out there about the reality of Hell. Some profess to its reality and others claim that there is no such place.  And the tragedy of our time is that most of those who are now living will go to hell.

But we must realize that the same Bible that tells us of this wonderful place called Heaven also tells us about the awful hell below.

Let’s look at some words translated Hell in our Bibles and then let’s talk about this place. There are three Greek words in the text of the Bible that are translated Hell.

  1. The first word translated Hell is Geennan or Gehenna. This word was originally used to describe the Valley of Hinnom, which was a deep and narrow valley in the South of Jerusalem.

The valley called Gehenna, was so called from the cries of the little children who were thrown into the fiery arms of Moloch as the Jews worshipped his idol and sacrificed their children to him.  The faithful  Jews so abhorred the place after these horrible sacrifices had been abolished by king Josiah (2 Kings 23:10), that they cast into it not only all manner of refuse, but even the dead bodies of animals and of unburied criminals who had been executed. Fires were always needed to be burning there to consume the trash and the dead bodies, and so the air was very tainted by the putrefaction.

You can imagine just what a terrible place it  would be as the garbage dump would be crawling with insects and worms feeding and the fires burning.  It’s disgusting to think about.  This is the word the Jesus uses here to describe the place of eternal punishment for the wicked.

READ Mark 9:42-48  The word hell is the word Gehenna.  Jesus wishes us to see just how terrible hell is.

2.  The second word translated Hell is Hades.  An example of  this is found in Matthew 16:18 “And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.”

The word Hadou or Hades is “the unseen world.” It is not so much a place as it is a state of being.  Of course there is no possible way we can completely comprehend this concept, so we accept the fact that someday, unless Christ comes before you die, you wil be here and will know for yourself what it is really like.

Hades is the place where all the souls of the dead are to be found, whether good or bad.  It is where we await the Final Judgment.  There is one “part” (an inaccurate term, but the only one I can use to get across the idea) where the good are found and another “part” where the wicked are to be found.

But now, having said all that and having drawn that distinction, we need to realize that it is an actual place, and not much different from our final resting place either in heaven or hell.

There is just no way to really convey the dreadfulness of this place.  It is beyond our human comprehension.  But let me assure you that just one second in this place would convince anyone that he should flee to God at once.

Another verse that uses the word Hades is in Acts 2:27, it lets us know that Jesus was there for a short time after His death and before His resurrection.

And one of our favorite verses of hope and security also involves Jesus as He speaks to the thief on the cross.  He says in Luke 23:43 “And he said to him, “Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise.”   Paradise is what Jesus calls the part of Hades we all want to be in.

3. The third word translated hell is what the Greeks and the Bible call Tartarus.

READ 2 Peter 2:4-10    The word hell in verse 4 is Tartarus.

Tartarus is a place of punishment for the spirits of the wicked dead, the other side of Hades, the opposite of Paradise. So Hades, often translated Hell, is the place everyone goes after death, awaiting the judgment.  And we will be there either in Tartarus or paradise.

Remember the story of the rich man and Lazarus from Luke 16?  The rich man ends us in Hades, being in torment.  He was in Tartarus. What is Hell like?

  1. It is a place of Torment. There are no words in any language to adequately describe this torment. The Scriptures use the example of fire to try to covey the idea.  The figure is a good one. If you have ever sustained a burn, you know how painful it can be.  If you can, try to remember that pain.  Then try to imagine what it would be like to be burned over every square inch of your body.  And then finally, try to imagine what it would be like to be “burning up”–to have your soul eternally “on fire,” always burning, but never consumed.

Just thinking about this place will drive you insane.  The want of relief, the desire to even have one drop of water is so great and yet, there is no way out once you are there.

2. It is a place of memory. In a way, even more hideous than the fact that this is a place of torment, is the fact that this is a place of memory.

There are people today who claim that there is no soul, no eternal part of man.  How we would wish that to be true if we were in hell. But the truth is that after death, one is very conscious and very aware–of where you are, of all that is happening to us, and all of this is eternal.

Your spirit, or maybe we could call it your mind, when it is released from the flesh will gain in its capacity to understand.  We will be in tune to the Omniscient and Omnipresent Mind of God (a wonderful situation if you are in the realm of the saved, but a horrid situation if you are in the realm of the doomed).

Again looking to the story of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man was able to recognize Abraham, a man he had never seen before.  He still had his memories, he remembered his brothers and their  plight on earth.  And these memories will never fade.  Memories that will continue to haunt us unmercifully.

“Why didn’t I do that?”  “Why did I go there?”  “What was I thinking?”

Memory for the saved must be one of their greatest blessings.  You can almost hear the praises and blessing as they give all glory to Jesus the Christ and God the Father.

3. It is a Permanent Place. Of course, all of this would be bearable if there were any hope at all of relief.  If we could know that in a thousand years, or a million, or a billion, that there would be an end, then we could stand it one way or another.  But this is not the case.  This is the most permanent place.

Don’t believe those who tell you that they can get you out.  That they can pray you out or be baptized for you to get you out of Hell.  This is a place that shall never end–and those in it today will be in it tomorrow and they will be in it a hundred million years from now and a hundred million years from then.   What a terrible thing people do when they tell others to “go to hell.”  What an awful thing to wish upon another creature.

Now is the time to be concerned about Hell.

Until it happens we will never know just what a surprise it will be to die.   We have so many plans. We are counting on doing so many things, and then–we are dead.  Whether we like it or not, our work is done.

Are you concerned about your soul?  Are you concerned about your children? your neighbor? your friend?  Is there anyone who means anything to you?

You know that the Messiah died on the cross for all of us.  He was willing to take the punishment, to bear the separation from the Father, to suffer emotionally and physically too.  He is a wonderful Savior.

And surely if you want to respond to His call, you too can be a part of the saved.

And surly if you share His love with others there will be others who will want to be saved.

Summary:

The conditions of salvation are simple.  Trust in the sacrifice of Jesus. We call that Faith

Repent of your sins.  Change your mind about who you are and what you are about.

Confess Jesus as Lord with your lips unto salvation.

Submit to Baptism where the blood of Jesus washes you clean.

Live in faith until you too die.

 

To those who once came to Jesus but have gone astray, we are told to come back to Him in repentance, confession and prayer.  This sounds so simple and yet many will not do even this to escape Hell.

Hell is not a resort, a reform school or a playground.  Hell is a place of punishment.  Do everything you can to never go there.

Providence: The Examples of Joseph and Esther

 

Scripture makes several promises to God’s faithfulness that, if true, require that God is still at work on behalf of His children today.  Notice the following promises.

Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you”

Matthew 10:29-31 “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? and not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.  But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore: you are of more value than may sparrows”

Remember when we took our time and looked at Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

I Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man.  God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”

Hebrews 13:5-6 “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

The lesson today centers around two main characters in our Bibles.  They both lived during a time where the Israelite nation were facing possible extinction, and both times the people were saved. In each of these events God does not use miraculous means to save the people.  What happens can best be described as providential.

Providence and Joseph

As we first look at the life of Joseph we acknowledge that some miracles were involved. Joseph’s prophetic dreams and his ability to interpret the prophetic dreams of others were miraculous.   This event was miraculous because it could not have occurred naturally.  In this case we go beyond “perhaps” to certainty because Scripture tells us God worked behind the scenes to make things happen.

READ Genesis 50:20

Let’s trace the story of Joseph.  As things stand in chapter 50 Joseph was second in command only to Pharaoh in Egypt, and was in charge of distributing the large storehouses of grain that he had been accumulating.  There is a widespread famine just as Joseph had miraculously predicted by interpreting Pharaoh’s dream.

Before Joseph could be the dream interpreter he was to meet a butler and a baker in prison.  Here again he interpreted dreams of these men which soon took place. But Joseph was forgotten and let in prison.

If Joseph had not been in prison, the butler would not have known to recommend him to Pharaoh.  As one consider it, it is quite unusual that the butler was reestablished as Pharaoh’s butler after he was released.  But if he had not been, he would not have had the opportunity to tell Pharaoh of Joseph, who had correctly interpreted his dream. But if he had not been restored, the butler would not have had the opportunity to tell Pharaoh of Joseph, who had corrected interpreted his dream.

Joseph would not have been in prison had it not been for Potiphar’s wife.  She lied about him and accused him of rape when it had been her failed attempts to seduction that made her husband Potiphar put him in jail.  We wonder, why was not Joseph killed for this crime?  Could it be that Potiphar had faith in Joseph to the amount that he doubted his wife’s story, but to save face he had him interned?  The overall effect of Joseph’s character and integrity, which had so impressed Potiphar before likely had an effect on the situation.  (Genesis 39)

Joseph would not have been in Egypt had it not been for his brothers having sold him into the caravan of traders. And had they not arrived at the time when Reuben was away he probably would have been pulled out of the pit and sent home.  (Genesis 37)

And Joseph would not have been in this circumstance had he not shared with his brothers and father his dreams.  And perhaps his dreams would not of had the same effect if he had not received the status of “favorite son” and the multi-colored coat.

A whole set of remarkable events, some would say coincidence-some good, some related to the integrity of Joseph, some related to the evil of others–all worked together to put Joseph in position to save his family from the famine.

But what was Joseph thinking as he lived these events? Was he surprised that no one came and saved him from the Ishmaelite traders? After many months working for Potiphar did he think no one cared.  WE get a glimpse into his mind in Genesis 41:51, 52 when he names his sons.  “Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh. “For,” he said, “God has made me forget all my hardship and all my father’s house. The name of the second he called Ephraim, “For God has made me fruitful in the land of my affliction.”

Only later in chapter 50:20 that we read earlier do we realize that Joseph finally understood what was happening to him.  God had a hand in these “coincidences,” overruling the jealous brothers intent and using even their sinfulness to accomplish His purposes.  The providence of God worked for the good of god’s people in the life of Joseph.

Providence and Esther

The key verse in this set of circumstances is found in (READ) Esther 4:14. “For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish.  And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a times as this?”

To give a quick overview of the book we first notice that the King, King Ahasuerus was in conflict with his Queen, Queen Vashti. She refused to allow herself to be paraded in front of a lot of drunken men and so she was quickly removed from her position.

King Ahasuerus then is advised to find a new Queen.  And so all of the beautiful young virgins are gather together into a harm in Susa where the king would then “interview” all of these women until he found one suitable to be the Queen. From this process a new Queen was chosen, a Jewish maiden named Esther.

Esther has a cousin named Mordecai.   Mordecai who was also in the Persian empire because his family had been taken away into captivity.  This man Mordecai that a favorite prince of the King (Haman) has made a plot to destroy the Jews who lived in Persia.  So he goes to Esther and encourages her to influence the king and stop the slaughter.

A series of events take place where the man Haman, the prince who has the king’s ear, goes from most favored to the subject of the kings wrath.  While this is happening, the events lead not to a day where the Jews will be destroyed, but to a day when the Jews can defend themselves and destroy their enemies.

Despite the fact that no mention of God or of any explicit act of God is mentioned in the book of Esther, there are inspired indications that God’s providential hand was at work. When Mordecai was sending word to Esther, pleading with her to intervene, he sent this word:

“Do not think to yourself that in the king’s palace you will escape any more than all the other Jews, For if you keep silent at this time, relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews from another place, but you and your father’s house will perish. And who knows whether you have not come to the kingdom for such a time as this?” Esther 4:13, 14

Mordecai was aware of the promises God had made to the Jews since the time of Abraham and of the steadfast love of God that ensured His promised would be kept.  Somehow in God’s providence, the Jews would be spared to fulfill their role and bless all the families of the world through the promised Messiah.

God has at times saved His people in miraculous ways.  We are reminded of the time when in Isaiah 37 the angel of the Lord struck down 185,000 in the camp of the Assyrians.  There was nothing left for Sennacherib king of Assyria to do but to depart and go home after such a miraculous defeat.

In the narrative of Esther is was through a string of remarkable “coincidence” that we say were not coincidental but providential, relief came to the Jews.  We see a king who cannot sleep reading how Mordecai saved him from assignation.  There is Haman falling into the lap of Esther pleading for his life at the “right moment” for the king to see.  God was working and as Mordecai said, “relief and deliverance will rise for the Jews” (Esther 4:14).

Summary:

For us today, God is still keeping watch above His own. Any one of us at any time could be in a situation that could call for a faithful, effective action on our part to bring about God’s will for His church.  Who knows whether we may have come to the kingdom for just such a

Providence: The Promise of Good

Providence, refers to God’s seeing what we need before we need it—and then providing for that need.
Romans 8:28 is the key verse today.

Certainly God Loves Us
James 1:17 “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change.”
God has granted us “precious and very great promises” 2 Peter 1:4
Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”

We Know” Romans 8:28
Many of us have experiences that validate this promise.
Romans 8:28 does not say that God made me get sick, be in a car accident, or lose that job. Bad things happen for a variety of reasons.
“Time and chance happen to them all” Ecclesiastes 9:11

For Those Who Love God
God has “saved us and called us to a holy calling, not because of our works but because of His own purpose and grace, which He gave us in Christ Jesus before the ages began” 2 Timothy 1:9
Romans 8:28 is not a promise, therefore, that everything always works out great for everybody. It is a specific promise of something God does for His faithful children.

All Things
These words immediately precede a panoramic description of redemption from God’s perspective: Read verses 28-30
Nothing that can happen to a faithful child of God is beyond the power of God to cause or to produce a blessing. So I believe that we can apply “all things” to “all things.”

Work Together
It may take a comprehensive view of many events over several years to see clearly how things have worked together for good.
Patience is great, it is a virtue. We need to learn to wait and see what the Lord has in store for us. Certainly it will all work together for us.

For Good
What we might define as good and what God might define as good may not always be the same. We might be thinking of what is good in the short run, whereas God might be working toward our eternal good.
Romans 8:28 is a promise made by a God “who never lies” (Titus 1:2). He will fulfill it.
This verse makes sense, but only to those who are called according to His purpose.
Summary:
When calamity somehow turns out to bring unexpected blessing, we can “perhaps” attribute it to the providence of God. But whatever may be true in an individual instance, “we know that for those who love God all things work together for good” Romans 8:28

This verse makes sense, but ONLY to those who are called according to His purpose.  While all are called, not everyone will receive the free gift of Grace.  When we answer the call, we become one who receives this great Promise of Good.

 

Himself He Could Not Save

Read Matthew 27:39-43 before your read the blog.  

The Scene at the Cross

 “And those who passed by blasphemed Him, wagging their heads and saying, ’You who destroy the temple and build it in three days, save yourself! If you are the Son of God, come down from the cross.’” (Matthew 27:39-40)

 “If he is the King of Israel, let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe Him. He trusted in God; let Him deliver Him now if He will have Him; for He said, ’I am the Son of God.’” (Matthew 27:42-43)

 “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do.” (Luke 23:34)

“Likewise the chief priests, also mocking with the scribes and elders, said, ’He saved others; himself He cannot save.’ (Matthew 26:41-42)

Jesus Could Not Save Himself

“Do you not think that I cannot now pray to my Father, and He will provide me with more than twelve legions of angels?” (Matthew 26:53)

That’s one of the great paradoxes about salvation! He saved others, but to do that, He couldn’t save Himself.

It was His love for us that held Him there.

“For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” (Luke 19:10)

“Without shedding of blood there is no remission.” (Hebrews 9:22)

“….You were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold….but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.” (I Peter 1:18-19)

The Mystery of Christ

“He was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities; the chastisement of our peace was upon Him, and by His stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned, every one, to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all.” (Isaiah 53:5-6)

Jesus knew what it meant to have people misunderstand His motives and lie about Him, to have His friends turn on Him and His best friend to deny Him three times, to stand up and say three times, “I don’t even know the man.” He moved into our smelly, stinky situation and He took our sin, our frailty, our weakness upon Him and He carried it to the cross.

We Cannot Save Ourselves

“If anyone desires to come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.” (Matthew 16:24)

“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” (Galatians 2:20)

Summary

The love that Jesus showed us through His death is difficult to understand. But it is a death that deserves our full commitment in return. The question I raise as we close the lesson this morning is this: how will you react to the one who loved you so much?

He saved others, but He couldn’t save himself. That was true because He died for you. Won’t you make up your mind that you’re going to live for Him?

 

Freewill and Providence

The Silent Sovereignty of God Part 2

Freewill and Providence

Defining Providence

The concept of providence presumes that God is still at work in the world He created.  The word “provide” is at the root of the word “providence.”  God does provide good things for His people, and His loving care is always behind His every action.  I Peter 5:7 “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

God’s Intentional Will

(Example) “So it is not the will of my Father who is in  heaven that not one of these little ones should perish” (Matthew 18:14).  God’s “intentional will” is what He specifically desires and wills, therefore, works to accomplish.

Job suffered many losses and cruelties, but unlike some people today, “In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong” (Job 1:22).  Let us be careful not to charge God foolishly by speaking of the will of God in ways that imply God intentionally wills calamity or hurtful evil.

God’s Circumstantial Will

One result of Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden was a curse on woman, on man and on the ground.  It was not God’s intentional will that sin enter the world, but it was His circumstantial will that sinful humanity not live forever in a world infected with sin and its consequences.  So disease, calamity and death entered the world as God’s circumstantial will.

Circumstances changed with the introduction of sin into the world, a change not in accord with God’s intentional will but brought about by the rebellion of His freewill creatures.

God’s Ultimate Will

God’s omnipotence does not mean that everything that happens is His will in the sense of His intention. It does mean that neither we nor all the powers of hell can ultimately defeat Him.

The Freedom to Choose

God created us male, female and with the right to choose (Genesis 1:27).  It is logical to conclude that He gave us freedom to choose good or evil so that we may love and have fellowship with Him because we want to, not because we have to.  He did not impose His will on us.  Although omnipotent, He chose to limit Himself in that way.  We are not robots.  Our lives are not predetermined by fate or karma–or even by God.

God’s Plan For YOU

He plans for you to be saved from sin. Consider I Timothy 2:3,4 and 2 Peter 3:9

He plans for you to glorify Him.  Consider I Corinthians 6:19, 20.

He plans for all the redeemed to be “holy and blameless” before Him.  Consider Ephesians 1:4

Many are looking for some sort of nudge or feeling today.  However, supernatural guidance was not the norm even for the Apostles

Consider I Thessalonians 3:1-2. “We were willing.” “We thought it best” (NASB).  “We decided” (ERV).  How was their decision made?  They thought it best.  They had good reasons for that thought.  They were concerned about their converts’ endurance under persecution.  They decided sending Timothy was the best means for meeting their concerns.

Consider also Philippians 2:25-26

More Than ONE Right Choice

Even in regard to marriage, while there are certainly moral choices to be made and immoral choices to be avoided, within the range of Christians eligible to be married, Paul made it clear that we are free to decide even whether to marry as well as whom to marry. Under certain conditions, one choice is “good”; under different conditions, the other “is better” (I Corinthians 7:8, 9)

Making Wise Choices

Wisdom is not the same as specific information.  James (1:5) did not promise that God will whisper in our ears or give us an unmistakable emotional nudge to tell us which job offer to take or which of diverging paths to follow.

Wisdom may be defined as the ability to make good use of the knowledge we possess.  “Common sense” is another good name for it.

Summary

In those areas where there is no divine command or moral principle involved, the Christian is free and responsible for his or her personal choices.  Any decision made within the moral will of God is acceptable to God.

When we love and obey God, it will be because we want to rather than because we have to or are pre-programmed to do so.

 

 

Providence

This video will help you better understand Providence.  To see more video’s on Providence check out www.video.wvbs.org/access and search for Providence.

Providence Part One
The Concept of providence presumes that God is still at work in the world He created. The word “provide” is at the root of the word “providence.” God does provide good things for His people, and His loving care is always behind His every action.
I Peter 5:7 “casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you.”

Matthew 6:33 “But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you”
Matthew 10:29-31 “Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? and not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore: you are of more value than may sparrows”
Romans 8:28 “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.”
I Corinthians 10:13 “No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
Hebrews 13:5-6 “Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we can confidently say, ‘The Lord is my helper I will not fear; what can man do to me?”

The Miracles of God
The Apostle John’s favorite word for miracle is his gospel was “sign.” Biblical miracles were events that could not have occurred naturally: a withered arm immediately restored, a man born blind given immediate sight, a dead person raised. John’s word “sign” reminds us that miracles had significance. They signified something. Specifically, they demonstrated conclusively that the person working the miracle had the approval of God in what he said or taught.

Providence: Beyond Miracles
Now here is where it gets tricky. Providence cannot be as certainly known to be God’s work as is restoring a withered arm. Providence, therefore, cannot be a sign of God’s approval as in raising someone from the dead. Miracles are a “sign” of God’s endorsement. God’s providential working is not obvious enough to serve as such a sign.
God is Always Good

God’s providential care does not always work in ways we think best. Sometimes circumstances we might never think of as providential may actually serve a providential purpose.

God is always good, but we may not always understand His ways. Consider the death of a child; Shadrach, Meshack and Abednego; or consider Job. God is good.
Read Hebrews 11:32-35 (1284)
God is good. But what about verses 36-38?
Keep reading…verses 39-40
Even in death, torture and seeming defeat, God was providing and blessing. Some providential actions of God are not apparent until the after-life.

We can confidently say today: “Our God whom we serve is able. But if not, by the providence of God, we will be victors either way.”

Providence is “Perhaps”
“Glad to see you. Will you be at church Sunday?” “Yes, if I’m not providentially hindered.”
Personal choices and Satan hinder us. But could it be providence also? James 4:13-16 (pew Bible page 1291)
Can I not also be hindered by God through His providence?
God is in Control
Proverbs 16:9 “The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps”
Proverbs 19:21 “Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the LORD that will stand.”
Proverbs 27:1 “Do not boast about tomorrow, for you do not know what a day may bring.”
We have to realize that we are not in control. And what James says in 4:13-16 is not so much something that we have to say all of the time, but we do need to be reminded that God is in control; not us.

The Principle of “Perhaps”
When Paul learned that Onesimus had run away from Philemon, a brother in Christ whom Paul had converted during his stay in Ephesus, Paul wrote to Philemon that he was sending Onesimus back, no longer as a slave but “as a beloved brother”. Paul told Philemon, “For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever”. It seemed God’s hand was behind it all. Paul, at least, thought that likely. But the most he would say about it was “perhaps” (15)

To escape the command to kill all male Hebrew babies, Moses’ mother put him in a reed basket at the edge of the river. His sister Miriam, was charged to stay nearby. Moses was found by Pharaoh’s daughter, who accepted Miriam’s offer to find a woman of the Hebrews to nurse him. So Moses was nourished by his mother and evidently taught by her about the Lord. Providence? Undoubtedly? At least, perhaps.

Summary:
Ephesians 5:15, 16 “Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil.”
As you do that, God’s providential care will be with you, regardless of whether you recognize it in particular instances.
More soon; “Perhaps”

 

Have You Seen His Glory

As we finish our survey of John, let us look to the spiritual truths of John to see His Glory.

Have You Seen His Glory?  A Wrap Up of the book of John

John’s gospel is unique among the Gospels because it is different in its very nature.  John helps us see the spiritual realities that transcend the events being reported on.  When the eternal Logos of God became flesh, the “disciple whom Jesus loved” proclaimed, “We have seen his glory (1:14) While no person has ever seen God, the author says, ‘The only God, who is at the Father’s side, he has made him known.” (18)

Jesus told Philip “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father” (14:9).  What does this mean?

As we have looked at the Gospel of John, certain statements point to spiritual realities about Jesus.  The Logos made flesh is “the true light, which gives light to everyone” (1:9). So there is light as we know it, and there is “true light” that only Jesus brings.  There is water that comes from Jacob’s well and the “living water” of the Holy Spirit that only Jesus can give.  Unlike food that perishes,” Jesus is the “bread of life” and the “true bread from heaven” (chapter 6).

To His apostles, He explained He is the “true vine” and they are the branches (15). In each of these cases, the mundane reality of light, or bread or water or vine is only a reflection of the ultimate spiritual reality that is the glory of the incarnate Word.

Many analogies in this gospel help us see the glory of Jesus.  In 1:51, Jesus told Nathanael that he would see the “angels of God ascending and descending on the Son of man.” The language is the same of Genesis 28:12, where the angels of God are ascending to heaven and descending from heaven on Jacob’s ladder.  When we see His glory, we realize Jesus is the ladder that enables God and man to connect with one another.

In John 2, Jesus saved the day at the wedding by changing the water into wine and providing what was needed to carry on the wedding feast.  The master of the feast told the host that most people serve the better wine first and save the inferior wine until later in the feast, but he “kept the good wine until now” (2:10).  Is there a spiritual message in those words?  Is John trying to tell us that the law (the inferior wine) may have come through Moses, but grace and truth have finally come through Jesus the Christ? (1:17)

When Jesus spoke to Nicodemus about being born anew, He spoke of something spiritual.  Nicodemus wondered how it could be possible to enter again into the womb and be born.  Jesus countered with “That which is born of flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” (3:6)  Those who receive Jesus are “children of God” (1:12) or “born again” (3:3) or “born of water and the Spirit” (3:5).  Jesus is the bringer of a new birth, which transcends physical birth and regenerates the soul of man.

Read with me in I John and read 2:29; 3:9; 4:7 and 5:1-2

When Jesus cleanses the temple, He said, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.” The Jews were confused and said, “It has taken forty-six years to build this temple, and will you raise it up in three days?”  John explains that Jesus was really speaking of “the temple of his body” (2:19-21).  Only after the resurrection did His disciples remember this saying of Jesus. “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up,” and the scripture ? Zeal for your house will consume me” (Psalm 69:9).  What is the “temple of his body” that Jesus raised through the redemptive work of His death and resurrection?  Does John refer here only to the resurrection of Jesus’ physical body or to the building of the new temple, His body, the church?  When we “see his glory,” do we see Jesus as the destroyer of the old temple and the builder of a new one?” Certainly something spiritual is being said.

The woman at the well came to draw water.  Jesus told her that if she knew His true identity she would ask Him and He would give her living water.  The woman, marveling that Jesus would even speak to her remarked that He had no bucket to draw with.  Jesus says, “Everyone who drinks of this water will be thirsty again, but whoever drinks of the water that I will give him will never be thirsty again.  The water that I will give him will become in him a spring of water welling up to eternal life” (4:13-14)  Only Jesus can give us the heavenly water that quiches the thirsty soul.

Read John 7:37-39

John has been concerned with two things in the Gospel of John. He is building our belief in Christ as the Son of God but also through a stronger faith in Christ to have a more abundant life.

John points us that as we draw closer to Christ in faith then our lives begin to be greatly blessed. He is the source of real life.

This gives us a good picture of better understanding who Jesus Christ really was and what was He offering us.  He is saying that what He can do for you is something you should have.

In John 5, Jesus found a lame man beside the pool waiting with other hopeful sick people for the therapeutic value of the waters.  Jesus asked the man a simple question, “Do you wish to be healed?” (5:6).  The word translated healed means healthy as opposed to being sick. Throughout the passage this word is repeated in various phrases.

Who made you well?  How did you get well?  Jesus said to the man “See, you are well  Sin no more, that nothing worse may happen to you. (5:14). Does this mean that all who are without Jesus are fundamentally and spiritually sick?  Does it mean that only Jesus, the Great Physician, can truly heal one’s soul and make one well?

In John 6, Jesus fed the 5,000 men in the desert with five loaves and two fish. They pursued Him across the sea, seeking more bread.  Jesus says, “Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of man will give you.” (6:27)  The He explained, “I am the bread of life, whoever come to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst” (35) Jesus is the “true bread from heaven. (32) We must keep coming to Jesus and trusting in Him to get the food that sustains the soul!

Jesus encountered a man blind from birth, having lived his entire life in darkness. Right before Jesus opened the man’s eyes, He said, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.  (9:5) When the man received his sight, the opponents of Jesus wanted to know who opened his eyes and how they were opened.  The blind man told them that the man called Jesus made clay and put it on his eyes, and after he washed, he could see!  Later the man said, ‘Whether he is a sinner I do not know.  One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see” (9:25).

At the end of this account, Jesus explained, “For judgment I came into this world, that those who do not see may see, and those who see may become blind.” (9:39)  All who are without Jesus are blind.  They cannot see the world and life as they truly are. Only Jesus, the light of the world can open our eyes so that we can truly see things as they are.

John’s gospel speaks of life and death in terms of both shadow and spiritual reality. Jesus called dead Lazarus from the tomb.  Dead Lazarus heard the voice of the Son of God when He called, “Lazarus, come out!”, and Lazarus come to life.

Earlier in the book, Jesus said, “An hour is coming and is now here, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live” (5:25)  Jesus is the resurrection and the life.  Jesus said, “Whoever believes in me, though he dies yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die” (11:25, 26).  All who don’t have Jesus are dead.  Only those who hear His words and believe in Him come to life. These people have “passed from death to life.” Even physical death cannot take their spiritual life away from them (5:24).

When Jesus hung on the cross, we are told that the Scripture was fulfilled that said, Not one of his bones will be broken” (19:36). That passage, however, is part of the cooking instructions for the Passover lamb.  “It shall be eaten in one house; you shall not take any of the flesh outside the house, and you shall not break any of its bones” (Exodus 12:46).  The spiritual reality we see in the incarnate Word is that He is the “Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world” John 1:29.

If we simply look at the bare facts of the events in the life of Jesus, then we never see His glory.  Jesus is Jacob’s ladder, the bridge between heaven and earth.  He is the good wine God has saved until now.  Jesus is the destroyer of the old temple and the builder of the new.  Jesus is the bringer of new birth.

He is the living water that quenches the thirsty soul.  He is the only Physician who can truly make people well.  Jesus is the true bread that satisfies the hunger of the soul.

Jesus is the light of the world that opens the eyes of all who are blind and frees them from stumbling through life in the darkness.  Jesus calls the spiritually dead to life.  He is the true vine to which the branches must be connected in order to bear fruit.  He is the way to the Father’s house, the truth about everything, and the bringer of life.  He is the Lamb of God who takes away our sin and the King of kings who rules us forever!

When you begin to see His glory, you will forever be changed.

John 20:30-31 “Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; but these are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name.”

Have you seen His Glory?