Thursday, August 02, 2007

What Else Matters?

Was Jesus resurrected from the dead, never to die again?

If so, then He ought to be worshipped, for He has overcome the greatest human enemy - death.

If not, the apostle Paul understands the implications. 1 Corinthians 15:14-19 says, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith. More than that, we are then found to be false witnesses about God, for we have testified about God that He raised Christ from the dead. But He did not raise Him if in fact the dead are not raised. For if the dead are not raised, then Christ has not been raised either. And if Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins. Then those also who have fallen asleep in Christ are lost. If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men." Paul goes on in v32. "If the dead are not raised, 'Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.'"

"But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead" (v20). What else matters?

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Ezekiel's Calling

After seeing a spectacular image of the glory of God, Ezekiel was harkened by the title, son of man. This title brings to our attention his frail humanity in the light of God's infinite sovereignty. Jesus preferred this title for Himself as well. Perhaps it reminded Him constantly of His role in the Covenant of Redemption He had made with the Father and Holy Spirit.

Notice the order of events in what Ezekiel says in verse 2 of chapter 2: "As He spoke to me, the Spirit entered into me and set me on my feet, and I heard Him speaking to me." He spoke to Ezekiel, the Spirit entered Ezekiel, and Ezekiel heard Him. Ezekiel was regenerated by the Spirit in order to hear the word of God. Compare 1 Corinthians 2:14.

Next, we see that Ezekiel is called to preach to his own countrymen, people who speak his own language. He is told that they will not hear him. Had he gone to foreign lands, to people who did not speak his language, they would have heard and understood. But not this stubborn people to which he belonged. We have, from this passage (Ezekiel 2:3-7), an interesting application for missions today.

Finally, Ezekiel was given a scroll to eat. It was the word of God, and it was as sweet as honey in his mouth. Just as food serves to satisfy our physical appetite, so the word of God satisfies our spiritual appetite - if indeed our spirit lives. We were dead in our trespasses, but God made us alive. Has God made you alive in order to feed on His word and find satisfaction?

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Exclusive Claims

Uncommitted Christians and non-believers might suggest that Jesus was a great guy, a man of compassion and sound moral values, someone who cares enough about others to help them receive whatever they truly want out of life. This is perhaps farther from the truth about Jesus than those who despise Jesus outright.

Several times in John 8, Jesus makes statements that make it impossible to get warm fuzzies and happy feelings about Him. He'll either make you furious, and you'll call Him a demon-possessed lunatic, or you'll be humbled and fall before Him by faith and trust completely that His words are true. He is indeed God in bodily form, as He claims. Consider these verses:

v24 - If you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be [or that I am He], you will indeed die in your sins.

v34 - Everyone who sins is a slave to sin.

v42 - If God were your Father, you would love Me.

v47 - He who belongs to God hears what God says. The reason you do not hear is that you do not belong to God.

v51 - If anyone keeps My word, he will never see death.

v54-55 - My Father, whom you claim as your God, is the One who glorifies Me. Though you do not know Him, I know Him.

v58 - Before Abraham was born, I am!

Monday, July 30, 2007

Judges: A Political Campaign

The book of Judges is filled with horrific tradgedies and rashly-made poor decisions. It is a time period not unlike our own. Covering a 350-450 year span of history between Israel's conquest of the Promised Land and Samuel's prominence as the spiritual/moral leader of the nation (approximately 1450-1050 BC), Judges was written around 1005 BC, during King David's rise to the throne in the aftermath of King Saul's suicidal demise.

Whoever wrote Judges continually reminded his audience that the terrible events came to pass as the people did what was right in their own eyes. They repeatedly broke their side of the covenant that God had made with their fathers - and the author offers a reason: they had no king.

As Judges winds down, infamy is spread over the tribe of Benjamin, and specifically the city of Gibeah, from whence King Saul had come. Saul's son, Ish-Bosheth, was reigning over a portion of the nation while David led the other portion, namely Judah. Thus, the purpose of this political assault against Saul's tribe and hometown was to support King David as the one, rather than Saul's son, to whom the nation should turn to deliver their nation once for all. It would be like bashing former President George Bush in hopes of getting current President George W. Bush out of office.

The thought was that a king would unite the nation and aid the people in keeping the law that Moses had given them from the Lord. And they were right. The nation turned to David - perhaps as a result of the campaign of the Judges campaign speech - in hopes that he was the one they needed. David was a man after God's own heart, but he was merely a type of the true King, the King of kings, who reigns on the throne of David forever as the Lord of lords. His name is Jesus, and the book of Judges rightly points us to Him as the keeper of God's covenant.