Thursday, May 17, 2018

Jesus Christ Was Entirely Free From Sin

He committed no sin, neither was deceit found in his mouth (1 Peter 2:22).

The New Testament insists that Jesus was entirely free from sin (John 8:46; 2 Cor. 5:21; Heb. 4:15; 7:26; 1 Pet. 2:22; 1 John 3:5). This means not only that he never disobeyed his Father but that he loved God’s law and found wholehearted joy in keeping it. In fallen human beings, there is always some reluctance to obey God, and sometimes resentment amounting to hatred at the claims he makes on us (Rom. 8:7). But Jesus’ moral nature was unfallen, as was Adam’s prior to his sin, and in Jesus there was no prior inclination away from God for Satan to play on, as there is in us. Jesus loved his Father and his Father’s will with all his heart, mind, soul, and strength.

Hebrews 4:15 says that Jesus was “tempted in every way, just as we are,” though without sinning. This means that every type of temptation that we face—temptations to wrongfully indulge natural desires of body and mind, to evade moral and spiritual issues, to cut moral corners and take easy ways out, to be less than fully loving and sympathetic and creatively kind to others, to become self-protective and self-pitying, and so on—came upon him, but he yielded to none of them. Overwhelming opposition did not overwhelm him, and through the agony of Gethsemane and the cross he fought temptation and resisted sin to the point where his blood was shed. Christians must learn from him to do likewise (Heb. 12:3-13; Luke 14:25-33).

Jesus’ sinlessness was necessary for our salvation. Had he not been “a lamb without blemish or defect” his blood would not have been “precious” (1 Pet. 1:19). He would have needed a savior himself, and his death would not have redeemed us. His active obedience (perfect lifelong conformity to God’s law for mankind, and to his revealed will for the Messiah) qualified Jesus to become our Savior by dying for us on the cross. Jesus’ passive obedience (enduring the penalty of God’s broken law as our sinless substitute) crowned his active obedience to secure the pardon and acceptance of those who put their faith in him (Rom. 5:18-19; 2 Cor. 5:18-21; Phil. 2:8; Heb. 10:5-10).

Adapted from Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs by J.I. Packer

Tuesday, May 15, 2018

God Has Always Been

Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God (Psalm 90:2)

Children sometimes ask, “Who made God?” The clearest answer is that God never needed to be made, because he was always there. He exists in a different way from us: we, his creatures, exist in a dependent, derived, finite, fragile way, but our Maker exists in an eternal, self-sustaining, necessary way—necessary, that is, in the sense that God does not have it in him to go out of existence, just as we do not have it in us to live forever.

We necessarily age and die, because it is our present nature to do that; God necessarily continues forever unchanged, because it is his eternal nature to do that. This is one of many contrasts between creature and Creator. God’s self-existence is a basic truth. At the outset of his presentation of the unknown God to the Athenian idolaters, Paul explained that this God, the world’s Creator, “is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything, because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else” (Acts 17:23-25). Sacrifices offered to idols, in today’s tribal religions as in ancient Athens, are thought of as somehow keeping the god going, but the Creator needs no such support system. The word aseity, meaning that he has life in himself and draws his unending energy from himself (a se in Latin means “from himself”), was coined by theologians to express this truth, which the Bible makes clear (Ps. 90:1-4; 102:25-27; Isa. 40:28-31; John 5:26; Rev. 4:10). In theology, endless mistakes result from supposing that the conditions, bounds, and limits of our own finite existence apply to God.

The doctrine of his aseity stands as a bulwark against such mistakes. In our life of faith, we easily impoverish ourselves by embracing an idea of God that is too limited and small, and again the doctrine of God’s aseity stands as a bulwark to stop this happening. It is vital for spiritual health to believe that God is great (cf. Ps. 95:1-7), and grasping the truth of his aseity is the first step on the road to doing this.

Adapted from Concise Theology: A Guide to Historic Christian Beliefs by J.I. Packer

Monday, May 14, 2018

Book Review: The Moment of Truth by Steven Lawson

Pilate asked Jesus, "What is truth?" (John 18:38). I am sure if we asked that question to many in our culture, you will get different answers. Some will say that truth is whatever you think is true. Others would say truth is what we see and touch while others will say there are is no absolute truth.

Truth is under fire in our church especially in the church. Some will question the truth of God's word in various forms. There are some churches that do not even believe in the truth of God's Word. Can we have truth in this fallen world? Where can we find absolute truth. All of this and much more is what Steven Lawson covers in his latest book, The Moment of Truth.

Lawson reflects upon the very question that Pilate asked Jesus, "What is truth?" Lawson points out that absolute truth can only come for God Himself which He has revealed to us in His Word. Whenever God speaks, He is speaking truth. Notice I mentioned absolute truth meaning is it an unchanging truth yet our culture, as Lawson points out, is tolerant of anything expect someone who claims to have absolute truth.

Lawson continues on to address the beauty of the truth that comes from the Word of God and even how the gospel is absolute because of God's declaration of a promised Messiah. Lawson then addresses our culture's war with the truth. Our culture cannot stand because it is not what they want to hear. They want truth that conforms to them. They do not want truth which calls them to conform.

Lawson then exults the church to press on with the truth. Churches must preach the truth even when it is unpopular to do so. Pastors need to preach the whole council of God and stop nitpicking the verses they only want to preach. We must be people of truth who are guided by the truth. In the end, we will all be judged by the truth.

To be honest, my review of this book will not do it justice. I ask you to pick up a copy of The Moment of Truth and be ready to be challenged, equipped, and encouraged.

Thanks Reformation Trust for letting me review this book.

Music Monday: In Prayer by Salt of the Sound

Thursday, May 10, 2018

Defying The World

If you were of the world, the world would love you as its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you (John 15:19).

Christ warns us here about the world’s opposition to Christians. We must learn to despise the world’s envy and hatred and whatever else it tries to do to us. It’s inevitable that the people of the world will hate God and Christ. And because they hate Christ, they will also hate us. Because of this ongoing opposition, we must know how to overcome it. We overcome it by despising the world’s arrogance.

The more we let the world’s arrogance bother us, the more the devil and the world like it. If the devil could make us agonize and worry day and night about the world’s opposition to the gospel, he would have great fun with it and would have to cover his mouth to keep from laughing. The people of the world would only rant and rave longer and louder. They would think they were succeeding because they were making us wail and cry. But if we defiantly ignore them, they become angry, sad, and irritated that their enemies are mocking them to their face—even when their ranting is at its peak.

The devil is extremely arrogant, and so is his bride, the world. So nothing is worse to him than being despised and mocked. When he experiences this and can’t do anything about it, he retreats. Otherwise, he doesn’t stop until he makes us discouraged and exhausted. He urges and pushes so long and hard that one could die of sorrow. But when he sees that we’re determined to hold out against his hatred and that we continue to be cheerful and even mock him, he’ll be the first one to grow tired. He’s so haughty that he can’t tolerate it when we defy him.

Adapted from Faith Alone: A Daily Devotional by Martin Luther

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Talking To Your Kids About Sexual Sin

Whether we want to admit it or not, our sexual sin is all around our culture. It is in our TV shows, movies, music, and even in the magazines at the checkout line. It is also in our mobile devices. If we are not careful, our kids could stumble onto to site or app that they have no business being in.

The church a lot of times has been embarrassed about sex while the culture seems to not blush at any sexual content. The Bible is clear about sexuality and what God desires for His children in the area of sex. Parents, it is our job to discuss with our kids about not only God's design for sex but also for sexual sin. How do we do that?

Let me begin by saying the conversation must be age appropriate. You are not going to say things to a teenager that you would not say to an 8-year-old. This is where discernment comes in and seeking the Lord as you begin talking about sexual sin to your kids. Do not wait till their teenagers. Begin right now and ask the Lord for wisdom as you begin addressing this issue to your children.

As you begin talking with your kids about sexual sin, it is good that you show them what God desires for sex and have them ask questions. Be honest with your kids. I don't recommend dads talking with their daughters because that would become awkward so mom needs to step in. If you are a single dad raising your kids, find a mature sister in Christ that you can confide in that is willing to address these issues with your daughter(s) and the same thing for single moms with their sons, which in this case, maybe one of the elders.

What if you child is engaged in sexual sin? This is probably one of the biggest fears for Christian parents. Many parents have an idea on to handle this issue but to when it happens, they do the exact opposite. The first thing that we should not do if our child has been engaged in sexual sin is not go to them with guns a blazing. Do not march into their bedroom like a maniac because that will cause them to not be open and honest with even though trust has been broken at this point. We must approach our kids with gentleness and confront their sin in grace and truth. It may not be easy but this is the best way for your child to open up about the sin they have committed.

Next, even though they have committed sexual sin, remind them of the gospel. Remind them that God still loves them and has not abandoned them. Yes, there will be discipline, but God discipline those he loves. Parents, remind your kids how much you love them and they are still your child.

I know there are a lot of scenarios when it comes to our kids in dealing with sexual sin that would take a long time to write them. I hope to write more on this topic in the near future. The one thing to remember when addressing sexual sin is God's Word shows us His design for sex. He is the One who created it. He was not embarrassed about it and neither should His children. Parents, do not be afraid to talk about sex with your kids.

Monday, May 7, 2018

Music Monday: Hold Me Fast by Glenna Marshall

Thursday, May 3, 2018

Disagreeing With One Another

For the past few months, I have noticed a disturbing trend on social media. We have lost the ability to disagree with our brothers and sisters in Christ. Does not matter the conversation whether it is Lebron is better than Jordan, which I don't think he is, or if one movie is better than the other. A lot of the disagreements from conversations I have witnessed has been more theological conversations.

Some of them stem from baptism to racial reconciliation. One person on Twitter asked if his followers believer in Old Earth (the earth has been around of millions of years) or Young Earth (meaning the earth has been here for thousands of years). When one person responded that he believed in a Young Earth, the person who asked the question, flew off the digital handle. If you haven't figured it out, the person asking the question in believed in an Old Earth Creation.

Christians should always agree on the essential doctrine of the Bible such as salvation and the Trinity. Christians have others beliefs that may not seem essential meaning they are not heretical but left for interpretation. For example, baptism. We have those who believe that baptism is for believers only (credo Baptist), which that is what I believe along with many in the Baptist church, and we have those who believe that believers and their children should be baptized (paedo Baptist), which is what Presbyterians believe. This is an important doctrine, but the mode is still up for debate. Sadly, the baptism debate on Twitter has gotten out of hand at times where it almost looks like everyone is about to hit one another with a chair.

Christians are called to speak the truth in love. What about when we disagree? To clarify, I am not talking about confronting a brother or sister who is in sin. Yes, we need to confront that person as Matthew 18 shows us. The issue I am addressing is our disagreements over non-essential doctrines.

The first thing we need to remember is a disagreement among believers does not mean they are attacking you even though there are some believers that sound like they are. We need to not take it personally if someone disagrees with us. We need to be patient. Maybe they do not understand our point of view on the matter, which is why there needs to be healthy dialogue. For example, I think, in my own opinion, the reason why the church has such a hostile view toward alcohol is that the church has not had some healthy dialogue about the matter. They have seen the effects it bring to someone a decided that anyone who takes a drink is in sin without looking at what the Bible says about it.

Another thing we must do is listen to the other person. Don't shut them out. Maybe you are wrong about a particular matter as it relate to the Bible. Hopefully, they will be willing to do the same thing and maybe they will be convinced if they are wrong. What if you and the other person are not convinced, then continue to love one another as brothers/sisters in the Lord.

Finally, we need to always go to the Lord for wisdom on how to address this person. Remember, I am not talking about sin, which we should seek the Lord in confronting a brother or sister who is living in sin. We should always seek wisdom from God in addressing what we believe whether to another believer or a non-believer. In this case, we should seek wisdom when there can be no common ground in this issue.

I realized this might difficult for some of you when it comes to disagreeing with someone because you want to get your point across. I get that. I know I have in the past been vocal about things I believe and when someone disagrees with me, I have reacted wrongly, which is one of the reasons I stay clear from baptism debates. All they do is produce hurt feelings. Some do personally attack you, which is why I have said, they have gotten out of hand.

I pray when we interact with one another whether online or in person, we always do it in grace and truth.

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Book Review: How The Nations Rage by Jonathan Leeman

When it comes to politics and the church, you usually see one of two extremes. You see one church that is engaging to politics where the pastor addresses voting for a certain candidate and making sure the right policies get voted one. The other extreme is one church that just withdraws from the political landscape. They have nothing to do with politics which also includes their discussions with one another.

While the church is a holy nation unto God itself (1 Peter 2:9) that does not mean we should not care about the politics of a nation especially here in the United States of America. It also means we can be faithful Christians as we engage politics whether by how we vote or express our political view. Jonathan Leeman's new book, How The Nations Rage: Rethinking Faith and Politics in a Divided Age, is a perfect book for such a time as this as we continue to see heated political discussions inside and outside the church.

Leeman wrote that while the political landscape of our country has changed for the past few years, the church has not. We still worship the same Savior and still have the same citizenship even though the nation we live might see us as a blemish in society. The church is still committed to be law abiding citizens as long as it does not conflict with God's Word.

Leeman goes on to say that we must invest our political hopes in the church above all. Does that means the church takes over the culture at large? What Leeman is saying is what Scripture says about our true citizenship. All who are in Christ are citizens of heaven, God's kingdom. We are ambassadors to the people in every nation we live and each church is an embassy representing the Kingdom. We are sojourners and exiles on earth and waiting for a Savior to appear to take us home. When we become a believer the most important thing about us is not our gender or race, but our union with Christ. Leeman goes on to say that our baptism testifies that we are united with Christ and we should represent Christ's "righteousness, justice, and love everywhere we go."

The rest of the book is a reminder of what the church is to be in the culture. Yes, we should be involved in politics and not put our head in the sand. The church is called to represent the Kingdom, as mentioned above, regardless of what nation we live in. There is nothing wrong with being patriotic in the nation we live in, but we should be patriotic for the Kingdom because in the end, that is where our citizenship truly lies.

Every year there are books that every Christian must read because it covers the difficult cultural issues of our day. How The Nations Rage is a book the most important book Christians need to read this year.

Thanks Booklook Bloggers for letting me review this book.