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IF THE GOSPEL REALLY IS TRUE . . . We Have a HOPE! (Part 8 Final)

I don’t agree with Karl Barth on much, but his question — “Is it true? Is the Christian faith true?” is essential to biblical Christianity. We’ve seen that certain conclusions follow IF Christianity is true. For example, we have a message for the world which is both good news and bad news. Second, we have every reason to challenge other worldviews and religions as to their response to the gospel. Third, if the gospel is true, we have a complete justification to make the Bible our absolute guidebook for life. Fourth, we agreed that we desperately need the people of God, the church. Our fifth conclusion was that we can honestly face the suffering in the world without becoming cynical or callous. We have a theodicy which helps us understand evil and suffering.

Let’s look at a sixth — and final — conclusion and it is this —

IF THE GOSPEL IS TRUE, THEN . . .

We can be biblically hopeful about the future because our God is sovereign. Someone has posted the following on Facebook —

I think that’s a terrific way of thinking about the Christian life! Despite life’s challenges, the follower of Jesus is, in a sense, neither a pessimist nor an optimist. He or she is a realist who is eternally grateful that his cup “runneth over”!
%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%%We have an eternal hope that God will wrap up history, exercise righteous judgment, reward the godly, forever separate the ungodly from His kingdom, and will usher us into an eternity of worshiping and serving our blessed Savior! There is no greater hope, is there?

What might be some characteristics of one who is biblically hopeful? Several occur to me: (1) We will not overestimate man’s abilities to solve his own problems. We will care about our world and cooperate to alleviate man’s suffering, but will recognize that only the Lord can meet a person’s deepest needs;
(2) We will cling tightly to the truths of Scripture and allow its worldview to be our worldview. This means identifying and rejecting the “wisdom of the world” and being determined to stand with God’s people, even when they are suffering;
(3) We will affirm with the Apostle Paul that “our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.” (2 Cor. 4:17) What’s the “them” in that text? Logically, the “them” refers to our troubles, our outwardly “wasting away” (v. 16)

Today’s Challenge: Do a bit of a word study of the term “hope” in the Scriptures. What are several truths you can share with those who read this blog?


 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on June 26, 2021 in gospel

 

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Want to Be Pulled Out of Your Pain?


“I would have pulled Joseph out. Out of that pit. Out of that prison. Out of that pain. And I would have cheated nations out of the one God would use to deliver them from famine.

I would have pulled David out. Out of Saul’s spear-throwing presence. Out of the caves he hid away in. Out of the pain of rejection. And I would have cheated Israel out of a God-hearted king.

I would have pulled Esther out. Out of being snatched from her only family. Out of being placed in a position she never asked for. Out of the path of a vicious, power-hungry foe. And I would have cheated a people out of the woman God would use to save their very lives.

And I would have pulled Jesus off. Off of the cross. Off of the road that led to suffering and pain. Off of the path that would mean nakedness and beatings, nails and thorns. And I would have cheated the entire world out of a Savior. Out of salvation. Out of an eternity filled with no more suffering and no more pain.

And oh friend. I want to pull you out. I want to change your path. I want to stop your pain. But right now I know I would be wrong. I would be out of line. I would be cheating you and cheating the world out of so much good. Because God knows. He knows the good this pain will produce. He knows the beauty this hardship will grow. He’s watching over you and keeping you even in the midst of this. And He’s promising you that you can trust Him. Even when it all feels like more than you can bear.

So instead of trying to pull you out, I’m lifting you up. I’m kneeling before the Father and I’m asking Him to give you strength. To give you hope. I’m asking Him to protect you and to move you when the time is right. I’m asking Him to help you stay prayerful and discerning. I’m asking Him how I can best love you and be a help to you. And I’m believing He’s going to use your life in powerful and beautiful ways. Ways that will leave your heart grateful and humbly thankful for this road you’ve been on.”

– Written by Kimberly Henderson of Prov. 31 Ministries –

 
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Posted by on November 23, 2020 in suffering

 

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Another video clip from John Ortberg: God Working in Different Ways!

The audio isn’t quite synched with the video, but a great challenge here!

 
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Posted by on October 27, 2019 in sovereignty

 

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An Analysis of an Accident!

“WHAT IN THE WORLD AM I DOING FACE-DOWN ON THE GRASS?!” I rolled over and lay on my back for a few minutes to make sure nothing was broken.

I was riding my bike to play tennis, had my tennis bag strapped to the basket on my bike, and decided to turn slightly left off the sidewalk onto an asphalt bike path. I don’t remember much after that.

Don’t get me wrong. I didn’t lose consciousness. I think the bike’s front tire stopped against the lip of the asphalt bike path and I didn’t. I flew over the handle bars and landed on the grass (fortunately). As I slowly got up my left knee hurt and a couple of ribs were very sore. Other than that, I didn’t hit my head and didn’t break anything.

Yes, I rode on to the tennis match and played ’cause I’m a man and not a quitter. But, boy, have I been sore the last day or so.

I, of course, thanked the Lord I hadn’t broken anything. And I believe my guardian angels (yes, it takes more than one for me these days) kept me from getting hurt too badly.

As I thought about my accident, I realized that my initial response was to thank the Lord for the minimal damage I did to myself. Skeptics might say, “Wow, the Lord sure wasn’t interested enough in you to keep the accident from happening!” Or, they might say, “Why drag religion into such a stupid accident?!”

Well, the fact is that we all look at life and its attendant circumstances (and accidents) from a particular worldview. My worldview — and I strive to apply it to all of life — is that the God of the Bible is real and cares about even the small (and occasionally stupid) events that happen to me — His child. And that’s just a better way to look at life. (I’m also thinking seriously of buying a good bike helmet).

 
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Posted by on October 14, 2019 in accidents

 

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A Great Quote from Pastor John Piper: The Purposes of God

 
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Posted by on September 14, 2019 in sovereignty

 

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The Forgotten Third: Developing a Relationship with God the Holy Spirit — The GIFTS of God the Holy Spirit! (Part 2)

In discussing the believer’s relationship with God the Holy Spirit, we are suggesting that some Christians overemphasize Him, while many of us overlook Him. This is to our detriment. We can speak to Him because He is personal and, because He is God, we can (and should) worship Him. Neither of these actions are intended to minimize the primacy of the Lord Jesus, for the Spirit of God’s primary job is to glorify the Lord Jesus.

The various ministries in the church are not all to be performed by professional clergy. The Bible is quite clear that every believer is given gifts by the Holy Spirit which he or she is to use to build up the Body of Christ and to serve a broken and needy world. We’ve looked at the first of the four major passages on spiritual gifts (Romans 12) in our last post. Let’s continue our study by looking at the second of our four passages (Romans 12, I Corinthians 12, Ephesians 4, and I Peter 4), I Corinthians 12 —

There are different kinds of gifts, but the same Spirit distributes them. There are different kinds of service, but the same Lord. There are different kinds of working, but in all of them and in everyone it is the same God at work. Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good. To one there is given through the Spirit a message of wisdom, to another a message of knowledge by means of the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by that one Spirit, 10 to another miraculous powers, to another prophecy, to another distinguishing between spirits, to another speaking in different kinds of tongues, and to still another the interpretation of tongues. 11 All these are the work of one and the same Spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.

12 Just as a body, though one, has many parts, but all its many parts form one body, so it is with Christ. 13 For we were all baptized by one Spirit so as to form one body—whether Jews or Gentiles, slave or free—and we were all given the one Spirit to drink. 14 Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.

15 Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16 And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17 If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18 But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19 If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20 As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

21 The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22 On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23 and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24 while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25 so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26 If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

27 Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it. 28 And God has placed in the church first of all apostles, second prophets, third teachers, then miracles, then gifts of healing, of helping, of guidance, and of different kinds of tongues. 29 Are all apostles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Do all work miracles? 30 Do all have gifts of healing? Do all speak in tongues[d]? Do all interpret? 31 Now eagerly desire the greater gifts.

We realize that this is a lengthy passage, but let’s see what we can learn, not so much about the gifts, but about the Giver, God the Holy Spirit:

1. First of all, it is He who distributes the gifts (v. 4).

2. Although there are different gifts, the same Lord is at work (v. 6).

3. Every believer is given a gift (also known as a “manifestation of the Spirit”) for the common good (v. 7).

4. Several gifts (nine specifically) are listed (vv. 8-10- a message of wisdom, a message of knowledge, faith, gifts of healing, miraculous powers, prophecy, distinguishing between spirits, speaking in different kinds of tongues, the interpretation of tongues). But the point is made that “all these are the work of one and the same Spirit” (vv. 11). The oneness of the Spirit’s distribution is important here.

5. We also learn of His will — He distributes these gifts “just as He determines” (v. 11).

6. The baptizing work of the Spirit is brought up, presumably to emphasize the oneness of the Body of Christ (v. 12). “We were all given the one Spirit to drink” (v. 13).

7. There is no room for jealousy regarding the gifts or for one to feel unnecessary. Why not? Because we need all the body parts to function properly and “God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be” (v. 18). “God” here certainly seems to refer to the Third Member of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit.

8. The sovereign assembling of the body by the Holy Spirit should not lead to division in the body but “equal concern for each other” (v. 25).

9. Again we are reminded that “God has placed in the church” certain people and gifts. “God” in verse 28 seems to refer to the Spirit of God. The people and gifts mentioned in verses 28-30 are: apostles, prophets; teachers; miracles; gifts of healing, helping, guidance; and of different kinds of tongues. [I find it interesting that three gifts — healing, helping, guidance — seem to be a small category of gifts].

10. Lastly, this same Spirit who disburses different gifts, longs for unity among believers. Several questions are asked in verses 29-30 to show that there are different gifts among the people of God.

The Challenge: What gift or gifts has the Spirit of God given you? How does your gift help you to have “equal concern” for other members of the Body?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
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Posted by on July 16, 2019 in The Holy Spirit

 

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Getting to Know . . . I Samuel! (chapter 26) A Deep Sleep from the Lord!

The Ziphites, the same ones who ratted out David back in chapter 23, do it again! They tell Saul where David is hiding. Saul takes 3000 “select Israelite troops” to search for David.

David sees where Saul and Abner, the commander of the army, are sleeping. Abishai accompanies David and when they get to Saul (who is sleeping), he says to David, “Today God has delivered your enemy into your hands. Let me pin him to the ground with one thrust. I won’t strike him twice!” (v. 8).

David refuses, asking who can lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed and be guiltless? David is confident that the Lord will strike him or his time will come to die or he will go into battle and perish. “But the Lord forbid that I should lay a hand on the Lord’s anointed” (v. 11). They take Saul’s spear and water jug near Saul’s head.

Lest one think that David’s stealthiness was world-class, the text tells us that “the Lord had put them into a deep sleep” (v. 12).

David calls out to Abner, mocking him that he had failed to protect the king (the evidence: the missing spear and water jug). Saul speaks to David and David asks him why he is pursuing his servant.

David asks what the source of Saul’s actions are. “If the Lord has incited you against me, then may he accept an offering. If, however, people have done it, may they be cursed before the Lord!” (v. 19). David describes himself as “a flea” — “as one hunts a partridge in the mountains.”

Saul says he has sinned and acted terribly wrong. David returns Saul’s spear and Saul blesses him. But David does not return with Saul (v. 25).

Some takeaways for me:
1. Don’t let others interpret the will of God for you. Abishai was certain that “God has delivered your enemy into your hands”, but David refused to touch the Lord’s anointed. David’s conscience trumped Abishai’s certainty.
2. Although he will not kill Saul, David nonetheless uses the occasion to plead with Saul to stop pursuing him. David took advantage of the Lord’s action of putting Saul and his soldiers in a deep sleep. [I wonder if David knew that the deep sleep was a work of the Lord?]. God often works “behind the scenes” of what you and I see.
3. Even though Saul repents of pursuing David, David chooses not to trust Saul. Yes, love “believes all things” — but is not foolish and gullible!

 
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Posted by on December 22, 2018 in I Samuel 26

 

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Getting to Know . . . I Samuel! (chapter 22) Safety . . . and the Unspeakable!

David escapes and assembles an “army” of all those who were “in distress or in debt or discontented” (v. 2)! His family comes to David and he gets permission from the king of Moab for his family to stay there “until I learn what God will do for me” (v. 3).

The prophet Gad advises David not to stay in the stronghold in Mizpah but to go to the land of Judah.

Saul learns that David and his men had been discovered and, in his paranoia, chastises the men of Benjamin for their alleged conspiracy against him and his son Jonathan for his friendship with David. Saul thinks David is lying in wait for him (v. 8).

Doeg rats out Ahimelek for praying for David and for giving him provisions and Goliath’s sword. Saul summons Ahimelek and all the men of his family. Saul accuses Ahimelek of conspiracy and Ahimelek defends David. (vv. 14-15).

Commanding his guards to kill the priests of the Lord, they refuse. Saul commands Doeg to slaughter 85 priests and he annihilates the town of Nob (women, children, animals) (v. 19).

Abiathar, one of Ahimelek’s sons, escapes and reports the tragedy to David. David feels he is responsible for the whole family’s death. He then invites Abiathar to stay with him and guarantees his safety (v. 23).

Some takeaways for me:
1. God cares about the three D’s: those “in distress or in debt or discontented”! And He can make an army out of them!
2. There are some incredibly evil people in this world. There are Doegs who will do despicable things! We should not be shocked at the inhumanity and depravity of man.
3. Somehow God’s sovereignty is intimately involved in all this. He detained Doeg who then does the unspeakable. And God allows the slaughter of the 85 priests and the annihilation of the town of Nob.

 
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Posted by on December 13, 2018 in I Samuel 22

 

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Getting to Know . . . I Samuel! (chapter 19) Friendship, Rescue, and Sovereignty

It’s good to have a good friend, isn’t it? Especially if your good friend’s father is the King of Israel and he wants to kill you! Jonathan knows that Saul wants David dead and seeks to intervene by asking his father, “Why would you do wrong to an innocent man like David by killing him for no reason?” (v. 5).

Saul swears that he will not kill David, and once more David is able to serve in Saul’s court. David has a great victory over the Philistine forces. “But an evil spirit from the Lord came on Saul” and David barely escapes being pinned to the wall by Saul’s spear (v. 10).

Saul sends a hit squad to David’s home to kill him in the morning, but David is warned by Michal his wife (v. 11). She puts an idol in David’s bed, saying that David is ill. Saul asks that David be brought to him on his bed of sickness, and Michal’s ruse is discovered (v. 17). She lies and says that David threatened her.

David flees to Samuel telling him all that Saul had done. Saul is informed that David is at Ramah and he sends men to capture David. But there is a group of prophets there prophesying with Samuel as their leader. We read that “the Spirit of God came on Saul’s men, and they also prophesied” (v. 20). This happens to three groups of soldiers sent by Saul.

Finally, Saul goes himself, “but the Spirit of God came even on him, and he walked along prophesying” (v. 23). We read, “He stripped off his garments, and he too prophesied in Samuel’s presence. He lay naked all that day and all that night.” (v. 24). We are then told, “This is why people say, ‘Is Saul also among the prophets?’”

Some takeaways for me:
1. God uses people sometimes to protect His people. He uses Jonathan’s friendship and Michal’s creativity to keep Saul from killing David.
2. Saul’s anger and jealousy do not respond to reason. People are not always reasonable.
3. God can send even evil spirits to do His will. In Saul’s case, this evil spirit assists Saul in his hatred of David and his wanting David dead!
4. In the final analysis, God is sovereign! Saul uses three groups of soldiers to capture David, but each is overcome by a spirit of prophecy. And even Saul, when he goes himself, prophesies and lies naked for 24 hours!

 
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Posted by on December 10, 2018 in I Samuel 19

 

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Getting to Know . . . I Samuel! (16:1-13) A TIME TO MOVE ON!

We’ve seen in I Samuel 15 that King Saul disobeyed a clear and direct command from God to annihilate the Amalekite people, including their animals! Saul is then rejected as king by the Lord. Samuel mourns this turn of events, and the Lord commands him to stop mourning (v. 1)! There is a time to mourn and there is a time to get on with the Lord’s business!

The Lord sends Samuel to Jesse of Bethlehem to anoint one of his sons as king. Samuel understandably fears a reprisal by Saul. The Lord gives Samuel a plan — a plan to have a worship service and to invite Jesse to the sacrifice (v. 3).

The Bethlehem elders tremble when they see Samuel, asking if he was coming in peace. Samuel consecrates Jesse and his sons at the service (v. 5).

Samuel then goes through (in his mind) the selection process, seeing Eliab and thinking, “Surely this is the Lord’s anointed” (v. 6). The Lord says to Samuel, ““Do not consider his appearance or his height, for I have rejected him. The Lord does not look at the things people look at. People look at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart.” (v. 7). [Remember that Saul’s height was one of his impressive features when he was anointed king].

A second son, Abinadab, was presented to Samuel who then said, “The Lord hasn’t chosen this one either” (v. 8). Then Shammah passes by and is rejected. Seven of Jesse’s sons pass by Samuel and are rejected. “Are these all your sons?”, Samuel asks Jesse.

“There is still the youngest, tending the sheep,” Jesse said. Samuel asks that he be sent. When David arrives, the text says, “He was glowing with health and had a fine appearance and handsome features.”

The Lord commands Samuel to anoint David who promptly obeys. We read that, “from that day on the Spirit of the Lord came powerfully upon David.” (v. 13).

Some takeaways for me:
1. There is a time to mourn. And some of us do precious little mourning. But there is also a time to move on and do the Lord’s work!
2. Like King Saul, we can trust our evaluative processes too much. Samuel’s sense of which son of Jesse should be anointed was not the Lord’s will. We should use the best powers of judgment the Lord gives us, but tentatively, realizing the Lord may have other plans.
3. I need to long that the Spirit of the Lord would come powerfully on me to do the work that He has set out for me. The same goes for you, my friend.

 
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Posted by on December 3, 2018 in I Samuel 16

 

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