The Character of Christ

“Brethren, the Savior’s character has all goodness in all perfection; He is full of grace and truth. Some men, nowaday, talk of Him as if He were simply incarnate benevolence. It is not so. No lips ever spoke with such thundering indignation against sin as the lips of the Messiah. ‘He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fuller’s soap. His fan is in His hand, and He will thoroughly purge His floor.’ While in tenderness He prays for His tempted disciple, that his faith may not fail, yet with awful sternness He winnows the heap, and drives the chaff into unquenchable fire. We speak of Christ as being meek and lowly in spirit, and so He was. A bruised reed He did not break, and the smoking flax He did not quench; but His meekness was balanced by His courage, and by the boldness with which He denounced hypocrisy. ‘Woe unto you, Scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites; ye fools and blind, ye serpents, ye generation of vipers, how can ye escape the damnation of hell?’ These are not the words of the milksop some authors represent Christ to have been. He is a man–a thorough man throughout–a God-like man–gentle as a woman, but yet stern as a warrior in the midst of the day of battle. The character is balanced; as much of one virtue as of another. As in Deity every attribute is full orbed; justice never eclipses mercy, nor mercy justice, nor justice faithfulness; so in the character of Christ you have all the excellent things.”

~Charles H. Spurgeon

Tempted As We, that He Might Free Us From Sin

“Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.
And after fasting forty days and forty nights, He was hungry.
And the tempter came and said to Him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’
But He answered, ‘It is written, ‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.”
Then the devil took Him to the holy city and set Him on the pinnacle of the temple
and said to Him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, ‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.”
Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, ”You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.”
Again, the devil took Him to a very high mountain and showed Him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.
And he said to Him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’
Then Jesus said to him, ”Be gone, Satan! For it is written, ‘You shall worship the Lord your God and him only shall you serve.”
Then the devil left Him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to Him.”
– Matthew 4:1-11

“The sympathy of Jesus is a truth which ought to be peculiarly dear to all believers. They will find in it a mine of strong consolation. They should never forget, that they have a mighty Friend in heaven, who feels for them in all their temptations, and can enter into all their spiritual anxieties. Are they ever tempted by Satan to distrust God’s care and goodness? So was Jesus. Are they ever tempted to presume on God’s mercy, and run into danger without warrant? So also was Jesus. Are they ever tempted to commit some one great private sin for the sake of some great seeming advantage? So also was Jesus. Are they ever tempted to listen to some misapplication of Scripture, as an excuse for doing wrong? So also was Jesus. He is just the Savior that a tempted people require. Let them flee to Him for help, and spread before Him all their troubles. They will find His ear ever ready to hear, and His heart ever ready to feel He can understand their sorrows.
May we all know the value of a sympathizing Savior by experience! There is nothing to be compared to it in this cold and deceitful world. Those who seek their happiness in this life only, and despise the religion of the Bible, have no idea what true comfort they are missing.”
– J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels

“Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, He himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death He might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.
For surely it is not angels that He helps, but He helps the offspring of Abraham.
Therefore He had to be made like His brothers in every respect, so that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.
For because He himself has suffered when tempted, He is able to help those who are being tempted.”
-Hebrews 2:14-18

“Since then we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus, the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession.
For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who in every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin.
Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.”
– Hebrews 4:12-16

Believers, in our humanness we frequently fall to temptation before it ever reaches its full intensity. Jesus never once gave in. Therefore, it follows that He was tempted beyond what any human man has ever been tempted, and withstood it all. Fully God and fully man…conquering sin and death for us, that we may be free to walk in Christ, no longer slaves to sin, but slaves to Christ, receiving spiritual and eternal life.

“There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.
For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death.
For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh,
in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.”
– Romans 8:1-4

Free from sin! Free from condemnation!
Now does this mean we as believers will no longer sin? No. In this world we struggle daily with our flesh and will frequently make mistakes. And yet, Christ’s work in us fills us with a desire to serve Him and to walk in the truth, to serve Him with our whole being. He works in the believer daily, sanctifying and refining him to make him more like Christ. Through His grace and strength, we who were once dead in sin are now able to serve Christ.

“What then? Are we to sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means!
Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness?
But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed, and, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness.
I am speaking in human terms, because of your natural limitations. For just as you once presented your members as slaves to impurity and to lawlessness leading to more lawlessness, so now present your members as slaves to righteousness leading to sanctification.
For when you were slaves of sin, you were free in regard to righteousness.
But what fruit were you getting at that time from the things of which you are now ashamed? For the end of those things is death.
But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves of God, the fruit you get leads to sanctification and its end, eternal life.
For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”
– Romans 6:15-23

“No temptation has overtaken you that is not common to man. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tempted beyond your ability, but with the temptation he will also provide the way of escape, that you may be able to endure it.”
– 1 Corinthians 10:13

‘Tis a wonderful truth! 🙂

Joy in Difficulty

Why is it that we as believers in Christ so often tend towards some frustration with God when we go through some kind of trial…or when we bear His loving discipline…or experience persecution. We somehow feel that He isn’t being “fair” to us; we think, “why me? Why can’t He just make things a little easier”? Our flesh recoils at hardship, but we must realize…
…It is through trials that His spiritual blessings become more clear to us, that His mercies and love become more dear to us, and His strength fulfills itself so perfectly in our weakness as we come to a deeper realization of our utter dependency on Him. It is through His discipline that we see His great mercy and love as He forgives our every sin and tenderly refines us to be more like Christ, rather than punishing us with an eternal hell, as we deserve. It is through the pain of persecution that we see and experience the joy of being counted worthy to suffer for Christ and are drawn ever closer to Him, as the world sees the solid resoluteness of our faith. Oh, how unworthy we are to do so, and yet in His great mercy He counts us worthy to suffer for Him. What a wonderful, precious relationship with God grows out of our trials, the persecution we face, and His discipline in our lives! Our Father is so completely perfect, so completely in control, that every single difficulty we encounter, no matter how terrible, evil, fearful, or grievous, He will work out for our good. Think of the murder of Christ; the most atrocious act a human mind could ever imagine or commit, and yet God had purposed that for the greatest good that would ever come to us, the salvation of our souls from an eternal hell. Rather than showing that God is somehow responsible for the evil act of murdering Christ (or that God endorsed sin), the crucifixion shows how perfectly He is in control and how He took the most evil act human nature could devise and through it brought forth His eternal plan of grace and mercy in the gospel of Christ, the good news that would spread to all the nations. Christ, the Son of God, in a human body, nailed to a cross…dying in our place for our every filthy sin. Christ, conquering death for us by rising from the grave. How then can we not trust Him? How can we not lean upon Him in our difficulties? How can we not rejoice to be counted worthy to suffer for His sake? Oh, believer, look to Christ!

Unto You Will I Cry, O Lord

“Unto You will I cry, O Lord my rock! Do not be silent to me—lest, if You be silent to me, I become like those who go down into the pit.”
~Psalm 28:1

“A cry is the natural expression of sorrow, and a suitable utterance when all other modes of appeal fail us; but the cry must be alone directed to the Lord, for to cry to man is to waste our entreaties upon the air. When we consider the readiness of the Lord to hear, and His ability to aid, we shall see good reason for directing all our appeals at once to the God of our salvation. It will be in vain to call to the rocks in the day of judgment—but our Rock attends to our cries.
‘Do not be silent to me.’ Mere formalists may be content without answers to their prayers—but genuine suppliants cannot. They are not satisfied with the results of prayer itself in calming the mind and subduing the will—they must go further, and obtain actual replies from heaven, or they cannot rest; and those replies they long to receive at once, they dread even a little of God’s silence.
God’s voice is often so terrible that it shakes the wilderness; but His silence is equally full of awe to an eager suppliant. When God seems to close His ear, we must not therefore close our mouths—but rather cry with more earnestness; for when our note grows shrill with eagerness and grief, He will not long deny us a hearing. What a dreadful case would we be in—if the Lord should become forever silent to our prayers!
‘Lest, if You be silent to me, I become like those who go down into the pit.’ Deprived of the God who answers prayer, we would be in a more pitiable plight than the dead in the grave, and would soon sink to the same level as the lost in hell. We must have answers to prayer—ours is an urgent case of dire necessity; surely the Lord will speak peace to our agitated minds—for He never can find it in His heart to permit His own elect to perish.”
~ Charles Spurgeon, Morning and Evening

The Rise and Fall of Nations — And the Immovable God

“Well,” I think to myself, “here I am again”, as I sit here musing, kicked back with my Bible and my laptop.   I can hear the sound of fireworks in the distance as my thoughts try to decipher themselves into words.   Tomorrow is the 4th of July, the birthday of my country, the United States of America.  It also happens to be my birthday.

July 4th holds some of my best childhood memories.   My dad would be off work for the day.  We would often get together with family…go for a swim in the pool or the lake, have a cookout, and shoot off some fireworks after dark.  It was a day I looked forward to every year.  

 

But over the past few years, that childhood perspective has begun to change, and while those memories are still dear and I do look forward to spending the day with friends tomorrow, this year, as the night grows late and I sit here in the quiet, my thoughts take a different turn. 

 

I think of how I love my country.  I think about her founding fathers…I think about the men who have died over the past two centuries defending her liberty…I think about the faith, courage, toil, and blood that originally built and defined her despite her imperfections.

 

But as I look back over the years I also see her slowly dying…spiraling into a grave of ever deepening sin, apathy, ignorance, laziness, debt, dependence, and increased restriction on the liberty of her people.  I look around me and see denial of any and all truth, and increased hostility towards God and His people.  I see a country cluttered with corrupt, spiritually lazy churches full of false doctrine and lenience towards sin…willing to bend the truth, to distort the gospel in order to cater to a corrupt society.

 

Came across this quote the other day, and I found it to be profoundly relevant.   Alexander Tyler, in 1787, wrote:

 

“The average age of the world’s greatest civilizations from the beginning of history, has been about 200 years.  During those 200 years, these nations always progressed through the following sequence:

 

From bondage to spiritual faith;

From spiritual faith to great courage;

From courage to liberty;

From liberty to abundance;

From abundance to complacency;

From complacency to apathy;

From apathy to dependence;

From dependence back into bondage.”

~Alexander Tyler, “The Fall of the Athenian Republic”

 

Rather accurate summary.

Our nation will be 237 years old tomorrow. 

And we are obviously on the downward slope.  (If you don’t believe me, turn on the news and watch for a while.  In fact, you don’t even have to do that; just look around you.)

 

Sobering is it not?

 

Folks, it’s nothing new.  It’s the cycle of nations.  At some point, this country will collapse.  (Even if Christ comes back before it falls, it’s still going to fall before Him…because His kingdom will be a kingdom over all the earth…just saying.)

 

Now, do not mistakenly think that I am implying that all genuine Christians in the U.S. should just throw up their hands, abandon all churches, politics, and society and go hide in a bunker somewhere because the United States is just following the same old path of every other nation and there is nothing we can do about it so who cares.  (I have come across this type of discouraged attitude more in recent months…and have been guilty of it myself at times.)

No.  That’s not what we’re called to do.  We are called to preach the gospel, to fight for the truth, to glorify God on this earth, and to do so wherever and in whatever walk of life God has placed us.  That is our mission.  And that mission won’t change until Christ comes back, no matter what physical administration may be over us at the time.

 

Believer, is that not a comforting thought?  Our God does not change.  Our mission as His children does not change, and He gives us the grace and strength to accomplish what He would have us do.  He is sovereign over every king and nation that has ever existed and ever will exist, and He has promised to return and set up His kingdom…and He will.  If you are a believer in Christ, your status of salvation in Christ, a child of God, is secure and unchanging…you are a permanent citizen of an eternal kingdom that cannot and will not be shaken.   And Christ will be glorified above all.  Because He said He will.

 

Scripture has much to say about this…all throughout.  It would took a very, very long blog post to bring out every Scripture that applies (I’d have to post the entire Bible actually; I recommend you go read it for yourself rather than me attempt to type all of that), but there are some passages I would like to point out.

 

Psalm 2 and Psalm 46 in particular have stood out to me concerning this subject.  I’ll post them here for you.

 

“Why do the nations rage, and the peoples plot in vain?

The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together,

Against the LORD and against His anointed, saying,

‘Let us burst their bonds apart, and cast away their cords from us.’

He who sits in the heavens laughs; the LORD holds them in derision.

Then He will speak to them in His wrath, and terrify them in His fury, saying,

‘As for Me, I have set My King on Zion, My holy hill.’

I will tell of the decree:  The LORD said to me, ‘You are My Son; today I have begotten You.

Ask of Me, and I will make the nations Your heritage,

And the ends of the earth your possession. 

You shall break them with a rod of iron,

And dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.’

Now therefore, O kings, be wise; be warned O rulers of the earth.

Serve the LORD with fear, and rejoice with trembling.

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.”

~ Psalm 2

 

Puts things in perspective, does it not?

Kings, rulers in the earth, coming together against the LORD, shaking their sinful fists in His face and saying that they refuse to submit to Him, and what does God do?  He laughs.  Divine contempt followed by divine wrath at their sin and rebellion.  And then He speaks of His Son, who will shatter the nations of the earth and set up His eternal kingdom.   A warning is given…serve the LORD; fear Him.  Fear God.

 

And then…the Psalm concludes with “Blessed are all who take refuge in Him.”  Such a wonderful statement to wrap up this Psalm!  Believers, Christians, you are those who take refuge in Christ.  You are blessed.  He is God; He is in control.  Nothing can touch you unless He allows.  The nations of the earth will be in turmoil; they will shake their fists at God; do not let it affect your rest in His sovereignty, His righteousness, and His eternal plan.

 

Another Psalm:

 

“God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble.

Therefore we will not fear though the earth gives way,

Though the mountains be moved into the heart of the sea,

Though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble at its swelling.

There is a river whose streams make glad the city of God,

The holy habitation of the Most High.

God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved;

God will help her when morning dawns.

The nations rage, the kingdoms totter; He utters His voice, the earth melts.

The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress. 

Selah.

Come behold the works of the LORD,

How He has brought desolations on the earth.

He makes wars cease to the end of the earth;

He breaks the bow and shatters the spear; He burns the chariots with fire.

‘Be still, and know that I am God.

I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!’

The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our fortress.

Selah.”

~Psalm 46

 

This Psalm provides a stark contrast between the chaos and flux of the earth, and the immovable security of the city of God.  Who is part of the city of God?  His people.  Members of an eternal, immovable kingdom.  “God is our refuge…therefore, we will not fear…God is in the midst of her; she shall not be moved.”  (emphasis added)   Raging, unstable, earthly governments vs the power and stability of God.  My favorite verse in this Psalm brings it to a climax, “Be still, and know that I am God.”  This statement seems to be addressed to both non-Christians and Christians, telling the non-believers, “Cease your raging and see who I am.  I am God”, and to believers…comfort:  “Be still.  Do not worry.  I am God.  I am sovereign.  I will be exalted.  You are my people and you shall not be moved.”

 

Recently, I’ve been studying through the book of Daniel.  Challenging but rewarding in every way.  Chapter 2 has a good bit to say on this subject, through the prophecy revealed by God in Nebuchadnezzar’s (the king of Babylon) dream.  I’ll post the dream for you.

 

“You saw, O king, and behold, a great image.  This image, mighty and of exceeding brightness, stood before you, and its appearance was frightening.  The head of this image was of fine gold, its chest and arms of silver, its middle and thighs of bronze, its legs of iron, its feet partly of iron and partly of clay.  As you looked, a stone was cut out by no human hands, and it struck the image on its feet of iron and clay, and broke them in pieces.  Then the iron, the clay, the bronze, the silver, and the gold, all together were broken in pieces, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, so that not a trace of them could be found.  But the stone that struck the image became a great mountain and filled the whole earth.”

~Daniel 2:31-35

 

Now if you stopped there, you would probably be thinking, “Wow, what was this guy eating before bed…”

 

But in the following verses, Daniel goes on to tell Nebuchadnezzar the meaning of the dream, (as it was revealed to Daniel by God).  He expresses that the different parts of the statue represent different kingdoms as they progress through history, and that one day God will set up a kingdom on earth that will destroy all those other kingdoms…that He will set up a kingdom that will never be destroyed.   

 

If you are placing all your hope for salvation in Christ, you are secure.  You are a citizen of His eternal kingdom, you have eternal spiritual life in Him, and one day your king, Christ, will return to earth and set up His unshakable, immovable kingdom. 

If you are not trusting in Christ, be warned, for you have no solid foundation, and you will be swept along with the chaos and tumult of earth, and your sin will condemn you to an eternal hell apart from God. 

 

Think about it.

 

The hour is late and I must conclude…so, Christians in the U.S., on this July 4th…even as we spend time with friends and family, even as we gratefully remember the sacrifices made for our liberty…as we look around us and perhaps wonder how much longer our country will last…remember…   Nations will change and fall…our God does not change and His perfect kingdom stands forever.

 

 

 

A Weighty Privilege

“And Jesus came and said to them, ‘All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.
Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,
teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.'”
~ Matthew 28:18-20

“We must never forget that we are stewards charged with taking the gospel to every person of our generation. It is a weighty privilege! The person who is truly committed to the cause of Christ in the Great Commission never has to search for a reason to live or die. Our search for significance ends with the upward calling of God in Christ and our commission to take the Gospel to the ends of the World.”
~ Paul Washer

Keep Us, Lord

“If the grace of God should leave the best Christian, there is enough of sin in his heart to make him the worst of transgressors. If left to yourselves, you who are warmest for Christ—would cool down like Laodicea into sickening lukewarmness! You who are sound in the faith—would be white with the leprosy of false doctrine! You who now walk before the Lord in excellency and integrity—would reel to and fro, and stagger with a drunkenness of evil passion.
Like the moon, we borrow our light; bright as we are when grace shines on us, we are darkness itself when the Sun of Righteousness withdraws Himself. Therefore let us cry to God never to leave us. ‘Lord, take not your Holy Spirit from us! Withdraw not from us Your indwelling grace! Have You not said, ‘I the Lord do keep it; I will water it every moment—lest any hurt it, I will keep it night and day’? Lord, keep us everywhere. Keep us when in the valley—that we murmur not against Your humbling hand. Keep us when on the mountain—that we wax not giddy through being lifted up. Keep us in youth—when our passions are strong. Keep us in old age—when becoming conceited of our wisdom, we may therefore prove greater fools than the young and giddy. Keep us when we come to die—lest, at the very last, we should deny You! Keep us living, keep us dying, keep us laboring, keep us suffering, keep us fighting, keep us resting, keep us everywhere, for everywhere we need You, O our God!”

~ Charles Spurgeon