Genesis 6:6 | Godly Sorrow

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Does God have regrets? I have regrets but I am not God. Sometimes my regret is over something out of my control. If only I had more information at the time. God is never at a lack of information. I make selfish choices and many times that choice will hurt someone else. This will cause regret but does God make wrong decisions? The Bible states that God is sorry that he made mankind and that shocks me based on who I know God to be. God does not make mistakes. He is not surprised by anything. And God always does the right thing.

By the time we get to Genesis Chapter 6 the creation that God saw as good has become so evil and corrupted that God regrets that he had even made mankind. When I regret something, the underlying thought is that I made a mistake but that is not the case here. Regret is a form of disappointment. God is truly disappointed in the rebellion and evil of men. God is not regretting anything he has done. God is regretting the choices that men are making. He is sighing in sorrow at what we have done to what he created good. But this does not mean that God was wrong or that his plans are not to be accomplished just as he desires.

5 The Lord saw that the people on the earth were very evil. He saw that they thought only about evil things all the time. 6 The Lord was sorry that he had made people on the earth. It made him very sad in his heart. Genesis 6:5-6 ESV

The word used for sorry or regret in other translations means to breath strongly… a sigh. God has reached the end of what he can endure from man’s wickedness. God is prefect so his regret and sorrow are perfect also.

10 The kind of sorrow God wants makes people decide to change their lives. This leads them to salvation, and we cannot be sorry for that. But the kind of sorrow the world has will bring death. 2 Corinthians 7:10 ESV

God’s sorrow and regret is a Godly sorrow that results in a change to the situation. Paul writes that when we in the world have sorrow it leads to death because worldly sorry does not lead to any kind of change. This kind of sorrow is depression and is it any wonder that depression seems to be a common issue for people living in this day and age. God’s sorrow on the other hand results in a change. He has put up with evil from men as long as his just nature will allow and his sorry sad heart signals a change in the situation. Judgment has arrived. Paul goes on to elaborate what Godly sorrow looks like.

11 You had the kind of sorrow God wanted you to have. Now see what that sorrow has brought you: It has made you very serious. It made you want to prove that you were not wrong. It made you angry and afraid. It made you want to see me. It made you care. It made you want the right thing to be done. You proved that you were not guilty in any part of that problem. 2 Corinthians 7:11 ESV

Godly sorrow makes one serious, angry, afraid, it makes one want to do the right thing, and it makes one care. One other thing is that it demonstrates that one is not guilty by being part of the problem. When God saw that the “people on the earth were very evil” it made him sorry with a Godly sorrow.

7 So the Lord said, “I will destroy all the people I created on the earth. I will destroy every person and every animal and everything that crawls on the earth. And I will destroy all the birds in the air, because I am sorry that I have made them.” 8 But Noah pleased the Lord. Genesis 6:7-8 ESV

God’s response to the evil before him is reflected in Paul’s description of Godly sorrow. God got very serious about the evil. God cares deeply about this creation and what is happening to it. God is angry and afraid at the evil that men have perpetrated and God knows that he cannot be made guilty by continuing to allow it to grow. God is not part of the problem caused by men. However, God is the only one who can address the problem. God’s sorrow leads to a Godly course of action that found a way to temper the evil of men.

Noah pleased God and Noah is a precursor to a future salvation found only in Jesus Christ. God’s sorrow at sin and evil lead him to a radical action of love. This is what Godly regret looks like.

6 Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him would not be lost but have eternal life. John 3:16 ESV

Acts 4:12 | Focused Courage

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If asked to describe yourself in one word what word would be used? If others described you what word would be used? At a funeral today for a relative that I did not know as closely as I would have liked there were several words about this person’s life that stood out from those who knew the individual well. Determined, driven, lived for the spotlight were a few. Funerals are a sobering event and I am reminded of the biblical wisdom about funerals.

Better to spend your time at funerals than at parties. After all, everyone dies—so the living should take this to heart. Ecclesiastes 7:2 NLT

The life finished and the life complete is an event that will overtake all people rich or poor. So take to heart that maybe we waste precious time in vain pursuits, selfish ambitions, and pointless unforgiveness. The disciples understood the gravity of a funeral and that knowledge fueled a focused courage. When their lives were done the one word used to describe them was disciple. They embraced Christ the first born of all creation and truly lived the words they shared to all people rich and poor.

12 And there is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:12 ESV

Salvation is an eternal treasure. Money is temporary. Salvation is final success. Liars gain for but a moment’s advantage. Salvation is a secured hope. Sexual lusts apart from God’s design secure lonely despair. Salvation serves the triumphant King of Kings. Politics serves a selfish movement that will eventually fail. The disciples grasped these truths and submitted to the one name under heaven that is in complete control. Jesus is the only name that saves.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God. Hebrews 12:1-2 ESV

Courage is what the disciples demonstrated when they told their jailers that they would obey Jesus and not the jailer. The author of Hebrews drawing from their example tells me a would be disciple to take courage in the name of Jesus. Set aside the politics, the sexual identity, and the selfish ambition that are all fleeting and temporary. Throw off those chains and look to the one name, the one identity, that brings Glory to God and salvation to those who have placed their hope upon his eternal salvation.

16 saying, “What shall we do with these men? For that a notable sign has been performed through them is evident to all the inhabitants of Jerusalem, and we cannot deny it. 17 But in order that it may spread no further among the people, let us warn them to speak no more to anyone in this name.” Acts 4:16-17 ESV

I pray for courage, and wisdom to speak the name of Jesus. There is no other name or identity only Christian. There is no other group to be called into fellowship only fellowship as a Disciple. What will you dear reader do when confronted to speak no more this name? I pray you are running the race now in such way that the answer will be Christ only always.

Acts 2:22 | Message and Mission

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If the message from God to humankind is the good news of the Gospel that Jesus Christ died, was buried, and then is now raised to life then the mission is that each of us at some point in our short lives would repent of sins and be baptized to receive the forgiveness and the relationship that Jesus has secured with his death, burial, and resurrection.

The message is trustworthy. Jesus did not come with mere words. He came with power and authority. Not power and authority like the kind that men crave. He came with power to submit to the Father. He came with power to be humble seeking the best for his creation. And he came with power to serve. The people recognized the authority of Jesus and his message but how?

28 And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching, 29 for he was teaching them as one who had authority, and not as their scribes. Matthew 7:28-29 ESV

What about his words made the message trustworthy and astonishing? If I came and told you that God has spoken to me… that I held the way to be reconciled to God you should rightly question my sanity and my trustworthiness. So what makes Jesus different that he is trustworthy?

22 “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know— Acts 2:22 ESV

God punctuated the words that Jesus spoke with “mighty works and wonders and signs”. Jesus healed the sick, raised the dead, controlled the elements, walked on water, and feed thousands. Peter when preaching the message above notes that the audience listening to him has seen these signs. They were there first hand. Paul when he was on trial notes that none of this was done in a corner but plainly visible across the countryside.

26 For the king knows about these things, and to him I speak boldly. For I am persuaded that none of these things has escaped his notice, for this has not been done in a corner. Acts 26:26 ESV

While the first-hand witnesses are not available to attest and confirm what Jesus said and did these thousands of years later their words and their accounts have been written and captured unchanged. God does not need to proclaim a new message or new revelation because the one that Jesus lived is available in the written form. I can boldly tell others about the good news that Jesus died, was buried, and is now risen (without being called crazy) because I have the written first-hand account of what happened. If you don’t believe me then you also can read and make a judgment for yourself. The Bible is one of the most common printed books in history because the message is recognized as powerful and trustworthy.

The message of Jesus is still going. Thousands of years after the fact people know who he is and believe in his words as well as the mighty works and signs. So, what of the mission? What is the purpose of all this Jesus talk? What is it that Jesus sought to accomplish?

The mission is to make people happy? No, not the mission because people hated him so much they killed him as a common criminal. Hardship, depression, and sadness were left untouched for the moment.

The mission is a political order? No, not the mission. The disciples his own followers wanted him to kick Rome out of Jerusalem. Judas believed in that future so much that when he realized Jesus was not going to make it happen he sold Jesus out for money. Jesus left oppressive governments untouched for the moment.

The mission is social justice? No, not the mission. Jesus an innocent died unjustly at the hands of corruption. Jesus did not free slaves or reform criminal justice and he did not end hunger, sickness, or war. He left the curse, the result, of our sin upon the world untouched for the moment.

What then did Jesus accomplish? What is the mission? Peter answers that when he speaks at the dawn of the church relaying what God’s spirit put on his heart.

37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” Acts 2:37-39 ESV

The message of Jesus is forgiveness and relationship with the creator God. The mission of Jesus is to see that we his children respond to what he accomplished. Repent, turn away, from rebellion and selfishness. Turn toward God acknowledging the authority that he holds because of his trustworthy words and actions and you will be given the gift of restoration and fellowship with him established through the Holy Spirit. Count on it as a promise for his mission will be accomplished and this moment of grace from God to all who accept him is on target.

Creation, Laws, and Christ

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God, the maker of heaven and earth is present and draws men and women to himself. He is drawing people to himself because in our rebellion we have distanced ourselves from His perfect holiness. But God made a way and He…

4 desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 5 For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, 6 who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time. 1 Timothy 2:4-6 ESV

The knowledge of truth God wishes is for all people to know Him. Understanding God’s desire from the following facts may lead to a restored relationship with God. These truths while boiled down to the following statements here does not mean an easy answer and there is no simple prescription when it comes to God because each person is unique in how they react to these truths. In fact, Jesus claimed few people will navigate this narrow road.

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Matthew 7:13-14 ESV

To know God and reconcile with Him the following three key truths must be understood, believed, and embraced. Each of the following facts are progressive and many reading this may find each successive truth more difficult to agree with but Christianity and salvation require all three.

Where there is a Creator there is a creation.

Creation is an irreducible truth it is not an accident or a random occurrence. The humanist champions of science worship the order and the repeatable laws that make up the scientific method. But those same worshiper’s state that random nothing created the perfect order of science. An atheist worldview is such an odd paradox. And truth be told most people assume and accept some type of Creator be him personal or impersonal.

20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. Romans 1:20 ESV

Where there is a Law there is a Law Giver.

Accepting a Creator is an easy first step with religions and people the world over finding peace with this truth. Where the specific truths of Christianity become complicated and many find objection is in man’s relation to the law. The scientific method assumes natural laws are in effect. Force and friction are mathematically measurable. Violating those laws of nature will not allow society to create the combustion engine. In the same way God of the creation has put in place laws of human nature and violating those laws causes death and failure of the engine, our body and soul. The well-known Ten Commandments are a perfect representation of God’s laws and the recognizable effects of their violation. Do not steal, or lie, or kill. Also worship God and God alone are examples and yet people break these laws and know in their heart what they have done is wrong. All men and women have fallen short of God’s standard (be honest) and Paul writes the penalty is death. Sinners (you and me both) deserve death because all have broken the laws of God. Each person has a broken fellowship with the Creator and He sits in judgment on our crimes.

28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless. 32 Though they know God’s righteous decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them. Romans 1:28-32 ESV

Where there is Christ there is Salvation.

While most people accept “god” in the first truth about creation few agree with the second point that they have broken the laws of God and are therefore guilty sinners deserving of death and punishment. As stated in the intro being Christian is not an easy road. Sadly, people in a dwindling percentage agree and accept the second truth about sin and law breaking. Because of that even fewer will listen for the final truth the best truth of the three which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. Jesus resurrected from death and Peter’s first Christian sermon on the day of Pentecost in Jerusalem more than 2,000 years ago states the final key perfectly. If you accept God and you acknowledge you are a sinner breaking God’s laws then listen now to the greatest news ever told.

36 Let all the house of Israel therefore know for certain that God has made him both Lord and Christ, this Jesus whom you crucified.” 37 Now when they heard this they were cut to the heart, and said to Peter and the rest of the apostles, “Brothers, what shall we do?” 38 And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. 39 For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.” Acts 2:36-39 ESV

They Followed Jesus Anyway

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The Resurrection of Christ is real and we know it to be legitimate based on the reaction from His followers. Most of the disciples and many of the close associates of Christ died unnatural deaths proclaiming a risen Jesus. If a resurrected Jesus was simply a plot hatched by these disciples then what are the odds that they would give up worldly advancement only to most likely die for that lie? The reason conspiracies are untrue or fail to get off the ground if they might have been true is that the more people involved the more likely it is that someone will break and give up the lie. Now a resurrected Jesus alive and meeting with his followers was no isolated event. Jesus over many days and weeks appeared to hundreds of people.

3 For I delivered to you as of first importance what I also received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures, 5 and that he appeared to Cephas, then to the twelve. 6 Then he appeared to more than five hundred brothers at one time, most of whom are still alive, though some have fallen asleep. 7 Then he appeared to James, then to all the apostles. 8 Last of all, as to one untimely born, he appeared also to me. 1 Corinthians 15:3-8 ESV

With this many people involved in a conspiracy how could it last? There is no tradition that any of the disciples rejected the gospel, but there is tradition that they died for this gospel. In the Gospel of John there is an interesting exchange between Peter and Jesus relating to the future hardships and death that Peter would encounter for Christ. After Jesus told Peter that he would die, Peter asked Jesus about John. John the author of this narrative with some years between the conversation and the time of recording the history seems to interject an understanding that the disciples knew they were going to be martyred for the gospel and some most likely had already seen that end.

Peter turned and saw the disciple whom Jesus loved following them, the one who also had leaned back against him during the supper and had said, “Lord, who is it that is going to betray you?” When Peter saw him, he said to Jesus, “Lord, what about this man?” Jesus said to him, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!” So the saying spread abroad among the brothers that this disciple was not to die; yet Jesus did not say to him that he was not to die, but, “If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you?” John 21:20-23 ESV

Jesus also warned the disciples that by following him they would pay a price, that they would not be popular, and he even uses the word “hate” to describe how the world would feel about them. Even today Christians die for proclaiming a risen Jesus and celebrating Easter.

19 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. 20 Remember the word that I said to you: ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours. John 15:19-20 ESV

Much of what is listed here is tradition, but with any tradition there is a foundation of truth even if the exact details have been lost. I believe it is safe to take away that many of the original followers of Christ died teaching and preaching about Easter.

Simon (Peter)

Church tradition holds that Peter was crucified upside down by the Romans around 65 AD. He requested to be crucified upside down because he felt unworthy to die the same way as Jesus.

[Jesus speaking to Peter] Truly, truly, I say to you, when you were young, you used to dress yourself and walk wherever you wanted, but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will dress you and carry you where you do not want to go.” John 21:18 ESV

Andrew (Peter’s Brother)

Church tradition holds that Andrew was crucified around 69 AD.

James (Son of Zebedee brother of John)

Luke in the book of Acts records how James was killed along with other followers by Herod around 44 AD.

About that time Herod the king laid violent hands on some who belonged to the church. He killed James the brother of John with the sword Acts 12:1-2 ESV

Saul (Paul)

Church tradition holds that Paul was imprisoned with Peter and then eventually beheaded around 65 AD.

James (The brother of Jesus)

James was one of the leaders of the church in Jerusalem (Galatians 1:19) and the church tradition holds that he was thrown from one of the higher walls of the temple. When his attackers realized he survived the fall they had him beaten to death with a club (gotquestions.org).

*Revised and Edited. Originally published on Human Effort in April 2014.

Why did Jesus Need to Die?

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Death is such an ugly business. Especially brutality and murder. Outside of the voyeuristic obsession moviegoers seem to have with death most people push the aging and sick off to the sides of society. Personally, to my good fortune and shame, I have never spent time in a hospice for those who are dying. Those that deal with death in these settings daily as a part of their job must have special insight into the moments between life and death. On one hand, I would like to experience and understand on the other I shudder at the emotional weight of such finality. When relatives, loved ones, and even pets die it is a heart wrenching emotion for those left to carry on. Even when the death is expected and drawn out the emotion of the situation can be overwhelming to even the most stoic of persons. I fall into that category. I do not want to deal with death unless necessary and even then, emotions must be held in check. Why would God allow such an unnatural evil to invade our space and our all too short of lives on this earth? The short answer is “grace and mercy” because of sin life is cutoff otherwise we would all be cursed to live forever in our sins not unlike some miserable vampire forever without purpose and without fellowship with our Creator. But why would God need Jesus to die to secure salvation for me? What does God need from Jesus? The author of Hebrews addresses this in an interesting way.  

16 For where a will is involved, the death of the one who made it must be established. 17 For a will takes effect only at death, since it is not in force as long as the one who made it is alive. Hebrews 9:16-17 ESV

The author is explaining to the Jews of his day that Jesus is a new covenant replacing the old covenant where priests sacrificed goats, bulls, and sheep to cover the sin of the peoples. No longer will those sacrifices be needed because their fulfillment was completed in the death of Jesus on the cross. But what is interesting is that he uses the contract of a will to describe the process. God could have just given us a room in his house, or given his creation a large sum of credit to fix the problem of sin. However, that credit and that place to stay would not make us whole it would only make us dependent. God wanted creation to be his children, sons and daughters, we were made to be family to the king. God resolved the issue by putting on the flesh of a man, becoming Jesus, and then being killed so that he could give the creation an inheritance of life, fellowship, and restoration of a curse removed. The only way to make us whole was his death so the will and inheritance could take effect.

27 And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, 28 so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him. Hebrews 9:27-28 ESV

God loves his creation and as members of that creation he is calling us to an inheritance that only can be provided through Christ. When we stand at judgment will it be in our own sin or the perfect blood of Jesus?

“the Way”

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Early on in the life of the Church it was not yet called Christian, Protestant, Catholic, Baptist, Evangelical, Pentecostal, or Reformed. It was simply known as “the Way”. Saul, before becoming Paul, wanted to round up the members of the “the Way” and later after conversion Paul caused problems for entire regions as a member of “the Way”.

19 About that time there arose no little disturbance concerning the Way. Acts 19:23 ESV

I like the name “the Way” for the early church because it is so perfectly descriptive of the purpose and point of life. In the Greek, the word used to describe the local church is properly understood to mean simply a road, journey, or a traveled way. It can be used in metaphor as course of conduct or method of thinking. Those outside and inside the early Church referred to this newly formed group as “the” way, road, and course of conduct. Not “a” way but “the” way. They were making a statement that the path ahead is definitive and final with no other options being true. The reason this is so perfectly descriptive is that Jesus himself spoke of salvation as a journey not a status. Jesus also used the exact same word to describe this choice in journey.

13 “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. 14 For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. Matthew 7:13-14 ESV

We are all journeying in this life on some road or way of thinking. Jesus made special care to note that His way is narrow and difficult. The way of the world however is wide open and easy, but it leads to destruction. Life is hard and people make bad situations worse with bad choices. Sometimes I am amazed at how fast those bad choices spiral out of control.

24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life. Genesis 3:24 ESV

When our founding parents were moved out of paradise “the way” to life and fellowship with God was cutoff. Our rebellion against our creator keeps us all headed for destruction and broken before a perfect and Holy God. Jesus has come to make a way for creation to return to our natural state of fellowship with our Creator.

3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. 4 And you know the way to where I am going.” 5 Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” 6 Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. 7 If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” John 14:3-7 ESV

The beauty of this journey and way is that if one would stop running and listen there is a guide who knows the way and is ready to show the way. More He is the way. Through Him is truth and life. What was once blocked and guarded because of rebellion has been opened and made possible by the perfect obedience of Christ.

Mistakes were Made Fault is Found

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Why is this world so messed up? There are some truly evil things, people, and circumstances that make any caring person angry. Life is hard and many make bad choices that compound the difficulty of life. If God made everything then one can naturally look toward this Creator and ask the question. “Why!?” Why is life so hard, so short, and miserable for so many? Why can the evils around the world of people murdering other people continue? What God are you doing to fix the mess?

Mostly the answer to these questions is found in an understanding of the nature of the fall and curse brought on by man’s rebellion. Essentially this world is temporary and the imperfect nature of this world is a direct result of men choosing to live selfish lives. The Bible is the story of God’s personal intervention into His creation to draw people to himself. Personally, I have struggled to understand why God would need a “new” testament in His plans to restore the relationship with mankind. Did God make a mistake with the “old” testament?

6 But as it is, Christ has obtained a ministry that is as much more excellent than the old as the covenant he mediates is better, since it is enacted on better promises. Hebrews 8:6 ESV

Obviously, the ministry of Christ is superior to the old testament laws and sacrifices. Why it is “enacted on better promises” I will leave for another discussion, however for now the question is was the old way a mistake. Did God make a mistake?

7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, there would have been no occasion to look for a second. Hebrews 8:7 ESV

The author of Hebrews seems to indicate that yes, the Old Testament had a fault so God did make a mistake. His laws, prophets, and priests where not sufficient so he needed a do over. But that idea that the first covenant had a fault is not consistent with a God who is all knowing and perfect. God can’t make mistakes because if he did then he would cease to be God.

The mistake however was not on God’s part. In the same way that the evil of men and the nature of life on this world being cursed is not God’s fault so too is the fact that the Old Testament’s fault is not God’s mistake. The author of Hebrews clarifies where the fault falls…

8 For he finds fault with them when he says: “Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will establish a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, 9 not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt. For they did not continue in my covenant, and so I showed no concern for them, declares the Lord. Hebrews 8:8-9 ESV

The mistake is on “them” the people when they did not continue following the perfect plans that God laid out. God who saved the people from slavery and provided for them a perfect religion and God to worship rejected him. They followed their own ways and chased after gods of stone and hedonism. The fault was the rejection by the people of the perfect religion and relationship with God.

God made no mistake. Through the law, God showed people why their relationship with Him is broken. The Old Testament proves that on our own we cannot and will not meet His perfect standards.

19 Now we know that whatever the law says it speaks to those who are under the law, so that every mouth may be stopped, and the whole world may be held accountable to God. 20 For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin. Romans 3:19-20 ESV

Jesus being “enacted on better promises” comes to earth. Jesus being God in the flesh completely fulfills the Old Testament covenant on our failed behalf. Jesus, who is God, lives a perfect life. The better promise that Jesus is founded on is his giving us credit for the perfect life he lived by imparting Jesus into our hearts. We will know who God is at our very core.

10 For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my laws into their minds, and write them on their hearts, and I will be their God, and they shall be my people. 11 And they shall not teach, each one his neighbor and each one his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest. 12 For I will be merciful toward their iniquities, and I will remember their sins no more.” Hebrews 8:10-12 ESV

My prayer: Father my hope is in you. My prayer is that you would place your law and your ways into the mind and heart of all people, men, women, and children that draw near to you. I pray that you would ready us all to draw near to you. Thank you Father for allowing us to know you, to fellowship with you, and for remembering our sins no more. In the name of Jesus, I pray.

Rejecting Jesus

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Jesus, who is God, understands rejection. Jesus was rejected while on earth to the point that people demanded that his life be ended. That is the ultimate rejection. Jesus who promised salvation to restore the relationship of mankind with God is rejected every day even thousands of years later. Imagine pouring love and creativity into something and then have that creation tell you “no”.

19 Open for me the gates of the righteous; I will enter and give thanks to the Lord. 20 This is the gate of the Lord through which the righteous may enter. 21 I will give you thanks, for you answered me; you have become my salvation. 22 The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; 23 the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes. 24 The Lord has done it this very day; let us rejoice today and be glad. Psalm 118:19-24 NIV

Psalm 118 a worshipful song that foretells a rejected Jesus pivots on the idea that Jesus is rejected “the stone the builders rejected” but yet the song continues the refrain “his love endures forever”.

Psalm 118 is a worship song where a worship leader would shout “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good;” and a reply from the worshipers would be “His steadfast love endures forever.”

2 Let Israel say, “His steadfast love endures forever.” 3 Let the house of Aaron say, “His steadfast love endures forever.” 4 Let those who fear the Lord say, “His steadfast love endures forever.” Psalm 118:2-4 ESV

God has taken this rejected stone and made it the cornerstone of salvation. This stone is the key to restoring the relationship between God and man forever. The Psalmist sings “it is marvelous in our eyes” to see what the Lord has accomplished. Both Jesus and his Disciple Peter quote from this song when speaking to the elite privileged people, the builders, of the day.

42 Jesus said to them, “Have you never read in the Scriptures: “‘The stone the builders rejected has become the cornerstone; the Lord has done this, and it is marvelous in our eyes’? 43 “Therefore I tell you that the kingdom of God will be taken away from you and given to a people who will produce its fruit. Matthew 21:42-43 NIV

Jesus angers the Pharisees by telling them that he is the rejected stone and that the kingdom of God will be built on him and not on the power and ambition of their leadership. Peter when charged by the local court of disturbing the peace tells them plainly that their authority and power has come to an end.

10 then know this, you and all the people of Israel: It is by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified but whom God raised from the dead, that this man stands before you healed. 11 Jesus is “‘the stone you builders rejected, which has become the cornerstone.’ 12 Salvation is found in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved.” Acts 4:10-12 NIV

Peter tells the ruling elite that they can’t create a healthcare plan perfect enough to replace the cornerstone they rejected. Trump can’t save, Hillary can’t save, ObamaCare can’t save. Government cannot save for there is only one name under heaven “by which we must be saved” and that name does not start with president or senator. That name is the name of the rejected cornerstone “Jesus”.

Jesus leading up to his acknowledgment as the rejected cornerstone tells a parable about rejection. It is a parable of two brothers and how they treat their father.

28 “What do you think? A man had two sons. And he went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work in the vineyard today.’ 29 And he answered, ‘I will not,’ but afterward he changed his mind and went. 30 And he went to the other son and said the same. And he answered, ‘I go, sir,’ but did not go. Matthew 21:28-30 ESV

The first Son rejects his father when asked to work in the vineyard. The second son promises to work in the vineyard but never goes. Jesus understands rejection because all men have rejected him either to his face or through lies. The Psalmist sings “Oh give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; for his steadfast love endures forever!” (Psalm 118:1 ESV) and that is who Jesus is. The Lord’s love endures in spite of all the rejection we have sent his way. The good news is that we have an opportunity to be like the first son who because of Christ being the cornerstone foundation changes his mind to be obedient to his father. What a joyous blessing that day will be for the first son when returning home from the vineyard. He will be reconciled in righteousness to the father. Jesus provides that opportunity to all of us who have rejected him. The only question then is will we respond to that invitation?

 

Jesus Brings a Sword

king

Churches should be compassionate and that compassion follows from the example of Jesus who is the head of the church. Jesus came to save the lost and show compassion to those in need. Likewise the Church must be suffering servants of the community. Showing grace through acts of kindness and service to those in need. Most understand this and are rightfully quick to criticize churches that fail in this duty.

On the flip side is Government. Many want Government to replace the church. They want Government to be compassionate and serving the community. The problem however is that Government has a unique authority to bring wrath and Governments have always had the authority to kill and to imprison. Try not paying your taxes and you will by force of the sword be made to pay. Just look to the example of actor Wesley Snipes if there is any doubt. Putting men in charge of compassion through the arm of government will never end well.

The only authority that has the moral right to kill is Government. The death penalty through a court system and also in war are two examples where Governments can take life legally and morally. No Church, citizen, or individual has that right. Jesus while familiar to many as a compassionate Church leader is much less familiar as Jesus the just King wielding the authority of death. Jesus is a King and ruler of a government entity of which we are all subjects. Jesus has the right to wage war and execute a death penalty as His perfect justice sees fit. Jesus welding a sword is a shocking realization to many but this idea is introduced in the Old Testament and then continued by John in his apocalypse vision of the returning Jesus. John writes…

11 Then I saw heaven opened, and behold, a white horse! The one sitting on it is called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he judges and makes war. 12 His eyes are like a flame of fire, and on his head are many diadems, and he has a name written that no one knows but himself. 13 He is clothed in a robe dipped in blood, and the name by which he is called is The Word of God. 14 And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses. 15 From his mouth comes a sharp sword with which to strike down the nations, and he will rule them with a rod of iron. He will tread the winepress of the fury of the wrath of God the Almighty. 16 On his robe and on his thigh he has a name written, King of kings and Lord of lords. Revelation 19:11-16 ESV

John’s vision of Jesus may be shocking to the modern reader but not to those at the time John wrote this apocalypse. The Jewish elite were afraid Jesus had come overthrow Rome, and thereby overthrow their power. That is the reason they had him killed. The Disciples hoped that Jesus had come to overthrow Rome and set up each of the Disciples as rulers in this new kingdom. But Jesus told them that his time to rule had not arrived. Upon realizing that Jesus would not make the Disciples powerful rulers in this current life Judas walked away and betrayed Jesus for silver. Jesus had come not as king but as priest to testify to the truth of God and to reconcile men to God. Jesus came to save the lost to provide a window, a window we live in right now, of mercy and grace to submit to the Creator. However that window will close at some unknown date in the near future. At that time Jesus will return and the name will be written on him “King of Kings”. This vision that John has prophesied was also revealed to others. King David writes in song…

The Lord says to my Lord: “Sit at my right hand” Psalms 110:1a ESV

David is the king of all Israel. How odd it would be for him to say the “The Lord says to my Lord” when David is the king and lord of an earthly kingdom. David answered to none other than God so who would this other Lord be that David called Lord? David answers the question just a few verses later.

The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind, “You are a priest forever after the order of Melchizedek.” Psalms 110:4 ESV

Melchizedek is a mysterious figure that is revealed in Genesis. Abraham the kingly patriarch of the promised nation of Israel interacted with Melchizedek. Abraham a man like David who answered to no one but God pays tribute to another Lord at the successful conclusion of a battle.

18 And Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine. (He was priest of God Most High.) 19 And he blessed him and said, “Blessed be Abram by God Most High, Possessor of heaven and earth; 20 and blessed be God Most High who has delivered your enemies into your hand!” And Abram gave him a tenth of everything. Genesis 14:18-20 ESV

Abraham is the chosen of God to be the father of a priestly nation call Israel. Abraham encounters a man named Melchizedek who is described as “priest of God Most High”. King David tells us that this Lord of Lords sitting at the right hand of God will also be a priest modeled after this mysterious high priest of God. This Lord of Lords will also be High Priest. David is singing about a King who is also a Priest.

Jesus with his sword of Government is coming. We already have witnessed and are living in the opportunity to embrace the Priestly Refuge of this King but when he comes to establish the Kingdom where will we stand?

10 Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned, O rulers of the earth. 11 Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling. 12 Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled. Blessed are all who take refuge in him. Psalms 2:10-12 ESV

Are you president of the United States? Are you a czar of Russia? CEO of a corporate entity? Master of your home? It does not matter “Kiss the Son” and “rejoice with trembling” all will bow before this Lord and this king. David sings that this Lord is “a priest forever”. His compassion is never ending for those who are saved. He has the authority to both save and kill. Take hold of this promise today while you can and draw near to the perfect Lord of Lords and Intercessory Priest of God.

22 This makes Jesus the guarantor of a better covenant. 23 The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them. Hebrews 7:22-25 ESV