Sunday, October 11, 2015

Mark 10:45: "For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life to liberate many people.”

Coming, as it does, at the climax of a series of statements leading up to it and actually demanding it, this verse is secure against all efforts to make a gloss out of it, malignant skepticism having assailed it repeatedly, its authenticity having "been denied on various grounds." See Cranfield for a thorough and most convincing refutation of skeptical fulminations against this text. We need not concern ourselves with denials regarding this verse, since they are not founded upon logical premises nor supported by any true scholarship, being in lack but the natural reflexes of the unbeliever's inherent bias against truth.

And what a truth is here! This is truly one of the most magnificent declarations in holy Scripture. Its teachings include the following:
(1) This verse gives the ground of the principle uttered in Mark 10:43, "Whosoever would become great among you, shall be your minister." Secular notions of rank and privilege are forbidden in God's new Israel on the grounds that such rankings are out of harmony with the Saviour's own mission to humanity.

(2) "And to give his life ..." The words thus translated were understood by the Jews as applicable to martyrs, and they indicate the voluntary nature of Christ's atoning death. People did not take his life, except in a limited sense, for Jesus gave his life as a ransom for men (John 10:17,18).

(3) "A ransom ..." The Greek word thus rendered denoted the ransom of a prisoner of war, or of a slave. The Old Testament use of the word in the Septuagint (LXX) meant the money a man paid to redeem his life which was forfeit because his ox had killed someone (Exodus 21:30), the price paid for the redemption of the firstborn (Numbers 18:15), or the money by which the next of kin ransomed an enslaved relative (Leviticus 25:51)[41] Thus, the vicarious nature of our Lord's death is eloquently proclaimed by the use of "ransom" by the Saviour in this verse.

"For many ..." This is the same word Paul used in Romans 5:15, and it refers not to any restricted number but to all the millions of every generation who will receive salvation through Jesus Christ. Cranfield said the word carries the meaning of "all."

(5) In this verse, as McMillan noted, "Jesus established himself as the greatest, not because he was the mastermind of some organization, but because he, in his self-sacrifice, gave the greatest gift."

(6) Cranfield, Sanner, and many others have seen in this verse from the words of Jesus the presentation of himself as the suffering Servant of Isaiah 53, Jesus' words having a clear connection with Isaiah 53:10,11. Sanner said, "This great passage shows clearly that Jesus knew himself called to fuse in his own destiny the two roles of the Son of man (Daniel 7) and the Servant of the Lord (Isaiah 53)." --Coffman's Commentary

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Is 49:23: Kings shall be your foster fathers, And their queens your nursing mothers; They shall bow down to you with their faces to the earth, And lick up the dust of your feet. Then you will know that I am the Lord, For they shall not be ashamed who wait for Me.”

We claim Isaiah 40:31, “But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” 
We all love and quote this verse.  But have you ever heard anyone speak from or quote Isaiah 49:23,  “For they shall not be ashamed that wait for me.”  This is a powerful verse!
This verse proves that if we don’t get rash and get out ahead of God, and are willing to walk with Him through even the worst set of circumstances, we will not regret it.  God knows how to make it worth our while.   --Pastor Crane


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Matt 4:19: “Come, follow me,” Jesus said, “and I will send you out to fish for people.”

It is well known that Christ consistently used the expression “follower.” He never asks for admirers, worshippers, or adherents. No, he calls disciples. It is not adherents of a teaching but followers of a life Christ is looking for.

Christ understood that being a “disciple” was in innermost and deepest harmony with what he said about himself. Christ claimed to be the way and the truth and the life (Jn. 14:6). For this reason, he could never be satisfied with adherents who accepted his teaching – especially with those who in their lives ignored it or let things take their usual course. His whole life on earth, from beginning to end, was destined solely to have followers and to make admirers impossible.

Christ came into the world with the purpose of saving, not instructing it. At the same time – as is implied in his saving work – he came to be the pattern, to leave footprints for the person who would join him, who would become a follower. This is why Christ was born and lived and died in lowliness. It is absolutely impossible for anyone to sneak away from the Pattern with excuse and evasion on the basis that It, after all, possessed earthly and worldly advantages that he did not have. In that sense, to admire Christ is the false invention of a later age, aided by the presumption of “loftiness.” No, there is absolutely nothing to admire in Jesus, unless you want to admire poverty, misery, and contempt.

What then, is the difference between an admirer and a follower? A follower is or strives to be what he admires. An admirer, however, keeps himself personally detached. He fails to see that what is admired involves a claim upon him, and thus he fails to be or strive to be what he admires.

To want to admire instead of to follow Christ is not necessarily an invention by bad people. No, it is more an invention by those who spinelessly keep themselves detached, who keep themselves at a safe distance...--Søren Kierkegaard

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Gal 5:4: You have become estranged from Christ, you who attempt to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace.

Christ will not be the Saviour of any who will not own and rely upon him as their only Saviour. Let us take heed to the warnings and persuasions of the apostle to stedfastness in the doctrine and liberty of the gospel. All true Christians, being taught by the Holy Spirit, wait for eternal life, the reward of righteousness, and the object of their hope, as the gift of God by faith in Christ; and not for the sake of their own works. The Jewish convert might observe the ceremonies or assert his liberty, the Gentile might disregard them or might attend to them, provided he did not depend upon them. No outward privileges or profession will avail to acceptance with God, without sincere faith in our Lord Jesus. True faith is a working grace; it works by love to God, and to our brethren. May we be of the number of those who, through the Spirit, wait for the hope of righteousness by faith. The danger of old was not in things of no consequence in themselves, as many forms and observances now are. But without faith working by love, all else is worthless, and compared with it other things are of small value. --Matthew Henrys

Christ is become of no effect unto you,.... Or "ye are abolished from Christ"; or as others by an "hypallage" read the words, "Christ is abolished unto you"; for by their seeking for justification by their own works, it was all one to them as if there was no Christ, and no righteousness in him, and no salvation by him; they had nothing to do with him, nor he with them:
whosoever of you are justified by the law; that is, who sought to be justified by their obedience to the law, or who thought they were, and trusted in themselves that they were righteous; for otherwise, by the deeds of the law, no flesh living can be justified:
ye are fallen from grace; that is, either from that grace which they professed to have; for there might be some in these churches, as in others, who were only nominal Christians, and formal professors; who had declared they saw themselves lost and undone sinners, destitute of a righteousness, and professed to believe in Christ alone for righteousness and strength, but now trusted in themselves, and in the works of the law: or from the scheme of grace in the whole of man's salvation, which will admit of no mixture of works; either it is one or the other, it cannot be both; wherefore by their taking on the side of works, they showed that they had entirely dropped the scheme of grace: or else from the Gospel of the grace of God, from whence they were removed, through the influence of false teachers; particularly the doctrine of free justification by the grace of God, through the righteousness of Christ; which was entirely set aside by their seeking to be instilled by the works of the law; and from this they might be said to be fallen, who were on such a bottom.  --Gills Exposition

fallen from grace—Ye no longer "stand" in grace (Ro 5:2). Grace and legal righteousness cannot co-exist (Ro 4:4, 5; 11:6). Christ, by circumcision (Lu 2:21), undertook to obey all the law, and fulfil all righteousness for us: any, therefore, that now seeks to fulfil the law for himself in any degree for justifying righteousness, severs himself from the grace which flows from Christ's fulfilment of it, and becomes "a debtor to do the whole law" (Ga 5:3). The decree of the Jerusalem council had said nothing so strong as this; it had merely decided that Gentile Christians were not bound to legal observances. But the Galatians, while not pretending to be so bound, imagined there was an efficacy in them to merit a higher degree of perfection (Ga 3:3). This accounts for Paul not referring to the decree at all. He took much higher ground. See Paley's Horæ Paulinæ. The natural mind loves outward fetters, and is apt to forge them for itself, to stand in lieu of holiness of heart.

 I have had people point to Galatians 5:4 and say, "Doesn't Paul say that at least some of the Galatian Christians had fallen from grace? And, if they could fall from grace, so can we today."
How did they take the verse out of context?
We would agree that the book is addressed to Christians (Galatians 1:6,9; 5:1).
We would also agree that some of the readers had fallen from grace (Galatians 5:4) and some were on the verge of doing so (Galatians 5:2).
We would even agree that it is possible for believers today to fall from grace. The text clearly does not limit this falling to the Galatian Christians only. Any Christian who reverts to seeking to be justified by law has fallen from grace (Galatians 5:4).
The problem is in the conclusion we draw, not in the premises. The whole issue here is what falling from grace means. Does it mean that the believers in question have fallen from their positional standing in grace? If it does, then Paul contradicts himself because in other passages he clearly states that is impossible (cf. Romans 8:38-39; Ephesians 1:13-14; 4:30; Colossians 2:13-14; 1 Thessalonians 5:10; 2 Timothy 2:13). Since scripture is God's Word, it cannot contradict itself. Thus, whatever Paul meant by falling from grace he did not mean falling from one's position as a child of God.
Is there not another obvious alternative, one which fits the context and Pauline and biblical theology perfectly? Falling from grace means that a believer who reverts to pharisaical thinking and practices has fallen from a present experience of grace. While our position in the grace of God is secure, our experience of His grace is not.
If a believer today is unwittingly duped into joining a works-salvation cult, he will cease to experience God's grace until he leaves the cult. In fact, if a believer joins any group, cult or otherwise, which teaches that we must produce good works in order to maintain our salvation, he will cease to experience grace. Even the linking of assurance to the quality of our lives can lead a believer to fall from a daily experience of grace.
Falling from grace is a real problem today. May we proclaim the gospel and assurance clearly so that we can help people begin anew or continue to experience God's grace in their daily lives. --Bob Wilkin

I Thess 5:9-10: God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him.

Wrath is coming. God’s wrath — God’s anger — is coming.
  • Jesus said in John 3:36, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”
  • Paul wrote in Romans 2:5, “Because of your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath when God’s righteous judgment will be revealed.
  • And then again in Romans 5:9, “Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”
So the word of God is utterly honest and realistic about the future of the world. God’s wrath is coming. Most of the people your neighborhood and workplace — perhaps some of you — give this little thought. You may think, this is so utterly outside their view of the world that they could never believe it.
Do be so sure. Paul says in Romans 1 that everyone you know, and everyone you meet, knows God at some deep level (Romans 1:21), but they have suppressed that knowledge (Romans 1:18). They even know — deep down at some suppressed level — that they break God’s law, and that wrath is coming. Romans 1:32, “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.”
You may think that believing in the coming judgment and wrath of God is unintelligible to your modern friends. But think again. In fact, it is written on their hearts by God himself. They know. And they need to hear — even if they don’t admit it at first — there is a way of escape. Which Paul gets to in just a moment.
Back to verse 9: “God has not destined us for wrath.” What then? “But to obtain salvation.” Not destined for wrath, but destined for salvation. What makes this word so encouraging in the moment of crisis is the absolute certainty with which it speaks. Not: you might reach salvation. Not: You might escape wrath. Not: Maybe you are destined for that happy future. But: You are destined — you are appointed — for salvation. This decision in heaven has been made. The appointment has been set. It is firm. And it is unchangeable.  --John Piper

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Luke 18:22-25: So when Jesus heard these things, He said to him, “You still lack one thing. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow Me.”

23 But when he heard this, he became very sorrowful, for he was very rich.

24 And when Jesus saw that he became very sorrowful, He said, “How hard it is for those who have riches to enter the kingdom of God!  

25 For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”

Based on the simple reading of the text, there shouldn’t be any confusion about what it means to pass a camel through the eye of a needle (the reference also appears in Matthew 19:24 and Mark 10:25). And yet I’ve witnessed pastors do all sorts of exegetical gymnastics to explain away the clear meaning of Christ’s words—not only in my original Australian congregation, but throughout Europe and America, as well. What at first glance seems like a straightforward hyperbolic illustration has been twisted, contorted, and explained away through eisegesis and iffy archeology.
The explanation usually goes something like this: Christ wasn’t referring to the eye of a literal needle—that would be preposterous. Instead, He was talking about a narrow entrance into the city of Jerusalem, a gate known locally as “the eye of the needle.” This gate was so small that a camel could only be brought through with great difficulty, squeezed through on its knees—which depicts how we humbly need to come to the Lord.
That explanation can be quite compelling—after all, humility is necessary—as long as you don’t read the next two verses of Luke’s gospel: “They who heard it said, ‘Then who can be saved?’ But He said, ‘The things that are impossible with people are possible with God’” (Luke 18:26-27).
Christ’s words make the point of His illustration abundantly clear. He can’t mean that the rich man can only attain salvation through humility—getting a camel to stoop and squeeze through a narrow gate might be challenging, but it doesn’t require divine intervention. In context, His point is unmistakable: Manufacturing your own salvation is just as impossible as threading a massive beast of burden through the eye of a sewing needle. Apart from the intervention of the Lord, it cannot be done. - Cameron Buettel

Saturday, September 12, 2015

James 4:13: Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow we will go to such and such a city, spend a year there, buy and sell, and make a profit”;

Look at this man and you’ll find out what was wrong with him. He left God out of his plans altogether. He’s not consulting with God. He’s not seeking the will of God. He’s like so many here in this auditorium this morning. Your worship life is one thing, your business life is another thing. You’ve divided your life into the secular and the sacred. And so you come to church and worship, and then you plan your life as if there were no God. And the biggest fool is not the man who says there is no God; the biggest fool is the man who says there is a God and then doesn’t live like it. --Adrian Rogers


Sunday, September 6, 2015

Hosea 8:4: They set up kings, but not by Me; They made princes, but I did not acknowledge them. From their silver and gold They made idols for themselves— That they might be cut off.

They have set up kings, but not by me,.... Not by his authority, order, and command; not by asking advice of him, or his leave, but of themselves, and of their own, accord: this refers to the case of Jeroboam their first king, after their separation from the house of David, and from the tribes of Judah and Benjamin; for though his becoming king of Israel was according to the secret will of God, and by his overruling providence; yet it was done without his express orders, and without asking counsel of him, or his consent, and of their own heads; and many of his successors were conspirators, and set up themselves with the consent of the people, to the dethroning of others, and upon the slaughter of them, as Shallum, Menahem, Pekah, and Hoshea: the people of Israel had no right to choose a king for themselves; the right was alone in the Lord; it was he that chose, appointed, and constituted their kings, Deuteronomy 17:15; thus Saul, David, and Solomon, were chose and appointed by him, 1 Samuel 10:24; it was not the person of Jeroboam chosen God disliked; but their taking it upon them to choose and set him up without his leave;   --Gills Exposition

 They have set up kings, but not by ME - God Himself foretold to Jeroboam by Ahijah the prophet, that He would "rend the kingdom out of the hands of Solomon, and give ten tribes" to him, "and" would "take" him, "and" he "should reign according to all that" his soul desired and" should "be king over Israel" 1 Kings 11:31, 1 Kings 11:37; and, after the ten tribes had made Jeroboam king, God said by Shemaiah the prophet to Rehoboam and the two tribes, "Ye shall not go up, nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel; return every man to his house, for this thing is from Me" 1 Kings 12:22-24.

Yet although here, as everywhere, man's self-will was overruled by God's will, and fulfilled it, it was not the less self-will, both in the ten tribes and in Jeroboam. It was so in the ten tribes. For they cast off Rehoboam, simply of their own mind, because he would not lessen the taxes, as they prescribed. If he would have consented to their demands, they would have remained his subjects 1 Kings 12:4. "They set up kings, but not by or through" God, whom they never consulted, nor asked His will about the rules of the kingdom, or about its relation to the kingdom of Judah, or the house of David. They referred these matters no more to God, than if there had been no God, or than if He interfered not in the affairs of man. It was self-will in Jeroboam himself, for he received the kingdom (which Ahijah told him, he "desired") not from God, not requiring of him, how he should undertake it, nor anointed by Him, nor in any way acknowledging Him, but from the people. And as soon as he had received it, he set up rebellion against God, in order to establish his kingdom, which he founded in sin, whereby he made Israel to sin. --Barnes Notes