Happy New Year

HAPPY NEW YEAR!!

We truly pray that this will be a year when you come to know Christ, if that is not true of you yet, and that it will be a year when you come to grow in your knowledge of Him if you already do.

Children of God have the great comfort of knowing that they have been predestined to be conformed to the likeness of Christ. By coming to Christ, you can know it too.

Romans 8:29 – For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.

That growth into Christ’s image begins now as we behold the great glory of the Lord – the Gospel.

II Corinthians 3:18 And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

4:1 Therefore, having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart. 2 But we have renounced disgraceful, underhanded ways. We refuse to practice cunning or to tamper with God’s word, but by the open statement of the truth we would commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God. 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God. 5 For what we proclaim is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord, with ourselves as your servants for Jesus’ sake. 6 For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

May your 2014 be a wonderful year of this growth into Christ through the Gospel. Allow nothing to slow you down in this glorious pursuit.

Here are a few more texts related to the thing that is forefront of our minds on New Year’s day – time. God bless you all.

Ecclesiastes 3:1 – For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
2 a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
3 a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
4 a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
5 a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
6 a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
7 a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
8 a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.

Psalm 90

1 Lord, you have been our dwelling place
in all generations.
2 Before the mountains were brought forth,
or ever you had formed the earth and the world,
from everlasting to everlasting you are God.
3 You return man to dust
and say, “Return, O children of man!”
4 For a thousand years in your sight
are but as yesterday when it is past,
or as a watch in the night.
5 You sweep them away as with a flood; they are like a dream,
like grass that is renewed in the morning:
6 in the morning it flourishes and is renewed;
in the evening it fades and withers.
7 For we are brought to an end by your anger;
by your wrath we are dismayed.
8 You have set our iniquities before you,
our secret sins in the light of your presence.
9 For all our days pass away under your wrath;
we bring our years to an end like a sigh.
10 The years of our life are seventy,
or even by reason of strength eighty;
yet their span is but toil and trouble;
they are soon gone, and we fly away.
11 Who considers the power of your anger,
and your wrath according to the fear of you?
12 So teach us to number our days
that we may get a heart of wisdom.
13 Return, O Lord! How long?
Have pity on your servants!
14 Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love,
that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.
15 Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us,
and for as many years as we have seen evil.
16 Let your work be shown to your servants,
and your glorious power to their children.
17 Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands!

Philippians 3
12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

Jude
24 Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, 25 to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

No Hunger, No Thirst

John 6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.

Whatever this utterance by Jesus means it cannot mean that the true believer will never have spiritual wants or desires. It cannot mean that he will never doubt. It cannot mean that he will not experience times, perhaps even lengthy times of doubt and fear and feelings of an empty soul. Can it? No, it cannot. It means that once a person has truly come to Christ, they will not look elsewhere for their spiritual sustenance. It means, as Carson says in his commentary on this verse, that “there is no, longer that core emptiness that the initial encounter with Jesus has met”. There will be doubts. There will be times of great emptiness of heart. But they will not result in abandoning Christ for other things or other people. The feelings of emptiness of soul will cause one to flee to Jesus Christ, not abandon Him. God Himself uses such seasons of emptiness to bring us to a joy in Christ that makes it all worthwhile. Jesus will never be the reason for desiring other. Jesus Christ satisfies. And the child of God in his darkest days, struggles to get back to no one else but Christ himself.

This seems to be where so many of us miss it. While claiming to hang on to Christ we seek out other philosophies or techniques, or psychologies to help find contentment, inner peace, untroubled souls. We imbibe the values of the culture and wonder why the thirst that Jesus said would not come – comes.  It appears that we believe that Jesus can get us to heaven but we need more than Him before we get there; other than Him, better than Him, more than Him, to find a satisfying life.

No.

Jesus Christ is the only way to God. He is the only way to God after we die and enter into His presence. And He is the only way to God before we die and seek to live a life that has meaning and purpose and peace of soul and mind. It sometimes looks like we want to keep Jesus as our ace up our sleeve just in case He was right about how to have eternal life while at the same time not finding that He is sufficient for us in the hurly burly of everyday living. Of course, we will not, or cannot bear to, abandon Him completely. So we keep “believing” in Him for the big story at the end, while putting our faith in what Paul called “empty deceit”, “human tradition” and “elemental spirits of this world” (Colossians 2:8).

People who “believe” in Jesus and yet find that Jesus does not satisfy their thirst, will be very reluctant to admit that such is the case. Some will say that they have not abandoned Jesus, but only the traditional ways that a system has built around Him. They will say the church has destroyed the real Jesus. They will say that the system, the organization, the unbiblical traditions that the church has built up over two thousand years has masked, or hidden or even destroyed what true Christianity is all about. But for all the ways some of those accusations may be true, it does not explain why, in their quest for the real Jesus, they are still thirsty.

I have made no secret of the fact that I have suffered with depression for most of my life. My mother was seriously mentally ill and all of her progeny managed to inherit various aspects of her mental state. I thirst for mental and emotional well being. I have no time for those who believe that mental health is the one thing that all believers are guaranteed to have simply because they are believers. That is a lie. It hurts people and causes untold grief to real believers who think that their mental struggles are because of counterfeit or inadequate faith in Jesus Christ. Sometimes medication is necessary. Sometimes we will find help from people who do not know Christ. Sometimes medicine and psychiatry can do some good – sometimes. But none of that means that we should be looking to the religions, philosophies, and values of the world to find something that the sovereign Saviour of the whole created order cannot supply.

The Bible thoroughly equips us for every good work. We are born again by the living word of God and it is sharper than a two edged sword that cuts even with the ability to divide soul and spirit. The God who supplied that is not telling us that we can find true inner peace and contentment in philosophies that deny Him.

Jesus-satisfies-the-soul. “Well”, the response echos back, “He hasn’t satisfied mine”. And of course we are meant to believe that this is Jesus’ fault. The understanding is that if we keep up our end of the bargain, then He must keep up His. I believe, now why isn’t He coming through? But we do not come to faith in Christ with the understanding that He must now give me what I really want. Jesus is the goal, and for those who have Him as their goal He is very satisfying. But if our goal is peace of mind, or money, or health and wealth or a sense of purpose or any number of even good things, then Jesus just becomes an avenue for getting what really matters to us. That is not saving faith. That is God denying, self destroying, idolatry, disguising itself as faith. It is putting the sovereign Creator of all that is, the God Man, the Saviour of the world, the judge of all things, in the same category as a ticket to your favourite band or sports event. The goal is the band. The ticket is what gets us to the band. We will regard that ticket with great reverence but only because we need it to get to what really matters. Is Jesus our ticket? Yes, in a sense, Jesus is the ticket. He is also the fare that buys the ticket. But most of all, He is the event. And until we realize that and come to value Him above what He can do for us in terms of the temporal blessings of life, we will have great hunger and great thirst and when we encounter texts such as John 6:35, we will be perplexed. When Jesus is the prize at the end of the race and when,  in all of life’s struggles, we keep our sights set on Him as we run the race, we will find Him very satisfying. Set your sights on anything else and Jesus will be an obstacle that gets in the way of the real prize. And there will be great emptiness of soul. The souls of those who claim to have Jesus but do not, will be more empty than even those who reject Him altogether. It cannot be otherwise. At least those who reject Christ have their lives in order enough to chase after what they want without pretending that they want something else.

The Gospel is not just about getting to heaven later on. It is about having our sins forgiven and living a life of worship. That worship starts now even while we wrestle with sin and all kinds of troubles. It will continue in the eternal state without sin and troubles. And both here and now, and there and then, we will find Jesus very satisfying, never hungering or thirsting.

One of Many Who Will Be Like Jesus

Roman 8:28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.

Romans 8:29-30 tell us why everything works out for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose (verse 28). Why does everything work out for good? Because He foreknew us and then He predestined us, and then He justified us, and then He glorified us. In other words, if verses 29 and 30 are not true then verse 28 cannot be. Verse 28 is true because what is stated in verses 29-30 is true.

Why does God tell us this? Why are we told that God foreknows us, predestines us, justifies us and glorifies us? Did God inspire the Apostle Paul to write this so that we would fight about the meaning of foreknowledge or predestination or calling? But that is what we do isn’t it? More fights and acrimony over these words than almost anything else in the whole Bible among true believers. But we are not told these things to make us fight. We are not told these things to make ourselves look down on those who have difficulty with it or do not believe it. We are told this so that we will see just how it is that we can know, beyond the shadow of a doubt, why those in Christ are not, will not, and cannot ever be, condemned. We are told these things because they are absolutely crucial to understanding why it can be said of us that there is now therefore no condemnation to those who are in Christ. What we, as believers are to do with Romans 8:29-30 is not argue with it. We are meant to rejoice in this, find comfort and hope in it and rest in the God who told it. Continue reading “One of Many Who Will Be Like Jesus”