Think About IT: Repentance is Our Friend 

Repentance is a friend that leads to God, and such a friend should always be eagerly embraced.

A friend is someone who always seeks to help us be our best and seeks to bring us closer to God by making us more like Christ. Repentance is such a friend. Repentance brings us to God in salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, and repentance restores the child of God who wanders astray for a time.

“Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord,” (Acts 3:19).

“But when he came to his senses, he said, ‘How many of my father’s hired men have more than enough bread, but I am dying here with hunger! I will get up and go to my father, and will say to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son; make me as one of your hired men.”’ So he got up and came to his father. But while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and felt compassion for him, and ran and embraced him and kissed him. And the son said to him, ‘Father, I have sinned against heaven and in your sight; I am no longer worthy to be called your son….for this son of mine was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.’ And they began to celebrate” (Luke 15:17-21, 24).

Think About IT: Logs before Splinters

Putting splinters before logs is the recipe for Pharisaism.

Religious pride causes us to miss our own glaring failures and turn others’ splinters into logs. Permitting God to reveal ourselves to us as he sees us is the first step in helping others in godly splinter removal. If we fail to do so, our help will be characterized by hypocrisy and harshness rather than humility and gentleness (Matthew 23:23).

Godly splinter removal involves seeing the splinter sins of others through the lens of humility, which emanates from ones awareness of his own sin. Then one can approach the needs of others as a servant, helping them with their own sin.

“Brethren, even if anyone is caught in any trespass, you who are spiritual, restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness; each one looking to yourself, so that you too will not be tempted. Bear one another’s burdens, and thereby fulfill the law of Christ.” (Galatians 6:1–2)

Pharisees use Scripture only in ways that serve to confirm their own superior standing in comparison to other people. Pharisees add to Scripture, selectively apply Scripture to serve their own ends, and avoid Scripture that unmasks their pride. This results in carefully overemphasizing certain select scriptures while ignoring more relevant ones and designing certain extra-biblical behaviors as the evidence of true spirituality.

One of the most humbling aspects of considering the heinousness of Pharisaism is this. Every person has the essence of a Pharisee in his own fallen humanity, the flesh; it skulks in the shadows of every Holy Spirit filled life awaiting the slightest opportunity to subdue our reborn spirit and leadership.

“But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not carry out the desire of the flesh. For the flesh sets its desire against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; for these are in opposition to one another, so that you may not do the things that you please. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the Law.” (Galatians 5:16–18)”

 “Why do you look at the speck that is in your brother’s eye, but do not notice the log that is in your own eye?” Matthew 7:3.

 

Does God Have Two Wills?

Recognizing that the simple and straightforward message of Scripture is that God loves everyone and truly desires for everyone to hear the gospel and be saved by faith in Christ leads some Calvinists like John Piper to postulate that God has a secret will in which He does not desire everyone to be saved.

That is to say, by what we know from Scripture and the good news of the gospel, it appears that God wills that all be saved by faith in Christ, but secretly He wills that His public will, as revealed in Scripture, be superseded by unconditionally electing only some to salvation and choosing to pass over the rest of humanity. Thus, we are to believe that according to God’s revealed will (Scripture), God loves every person and desires that every person be saved (John 3:16; Titus 2:11), but in His secret will He only wills to make salvation actually available to the unconditional elect. Continue reading →

We are Truly God’s Temple

“Do you not know that you are a temple of God and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” (1 Corinthians 3:16)

The church in the New Testament has replaced the sacred Old Testament temple. The New Testament says that Christ’s body is a temple (John 2:19–21), the universal church is a temple (Ephesians 2:20–21), the individual Christian’s body is a temple (1 Corinthians 6:19), and in this verse the local church is a temple of God. The you is plural in this passage, signifying the corporate local body of believers. Consequently, every local New Testament church is a temple of God. Paul uses the word temple, naós, without the article (anarthrous), signifying the quality or essence of the meaning of temple as opposed to a particular location. Continue reading →

Think About IT: Face the Future with Humility, not Confidence

Humility rather than confidence is the proper apparel of security.

In the security of our lives going well, we can often envisage ourselves as acting supremely in future difficulties or if we were suffering the present peril of others.

We should learn from Peter. Christ told Peter of his future denial of Him, and Peter argued that he would not fail Christ in His hour of need. When Peter was with Jesus (life going well), he was confident of his ability to handle the future.

What Jesus knew, and Peter failed to see, was that the future challenges to Peter’s faith would not happen in the security of the present. Peter’s faith would be challenged when Jesus was forcibly taken from Peter’s side, leaving Peter ever so alone. Peter would be encircled by Christ haters, faith would have been subdued by fear and the sun would have given way to the darkness of night. In that crucible of temptation, Peter would fail and weep over his prideful confidence in himself.

Humility and trust are always more suitable than confident predictions.

And again he denied it with an oath, ‘I do not know the man’… And Peter remembered the word which Jesus had said, ‘Before a rooster crows, you will deny Me three times.’ And he went out and wept bitterly” Matthew 26:72, 75.

Think About IT: Faithfulness Tomorrow is to Fail Today

The call to be faithful concerns today only.

No one can live faithfully in the near or distant future. For example, one cannot walk in faith tomorrow, or even an hour from now because faithfulness exists only in the moment.

People may desire to live out their lives being faithful to God, and therefore concern themselves with being faithful to grow today for today and tomorrow; however, no one can be faithful tomorrow because faithfulness happens in the present, and when one is seen to be faithful tomorrow, tomorrow will be today.

Only God’s directions today that concern future opportunities, obligations, or trials can be objects of faithfulness because then God has made, at least, preparation for them a matter for the day.

For example, if God reveals today an opportunity or a future assignment that He has for you, then that becomes a matter of faithfulness for the moment.

Thinking about what will come is if you will, meddling in God’s business, whereas being faithful to him today is the business he has entrusted to us. Faithfulness is a now word. It is all about what is happening rather than what might happen. Let his mild rebuke and reminder to the apostles to leave the future to the Father and concern themselves with the present serve us in the same way.

“So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, ‘Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?’ He said to them, ‘It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth.’” (Acts 1:6–8).

Think About It: Resurrection is Impossible without Death

As the prophets of old before Him, Christ promised that He would rise from the dead. That is a celebrative and uplifting promise. However, the truth is, He also predicted His death. His death was the worst of all deaths because His death was a ransom for the sins of the world. He died swathed in the unmitigated wrath of God’s righteousness. Embedded in every claim or promise regarding His glorious resurrection is the face of death; the fulfillment of His resurrection is pedestaled upon the darkness of death.

This truth of experiencing the resurrection is also true spiritually for Christians. Christians surely want to walk in and experience the power of the resurrection of Christ, but seldom do we feel an equal desire to die with Christ.

Christ’s embracement of the resurrection meant equally embracing His death, and the same is true for us. Resurrection without death is impossible!

Christ called us to die before we could live. “And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:38).

Paul reminds us that in this life, dying to self is not a one-time experience because the flesh is enlivened by the things of this world. He said, “I die daily” (1 Corinthians 15:31).

His prayer was an example of wanting to walk in the fullness of our Lord Jesus. “That I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Philippians 3:10).

Praying for resurrection power and life without embracing dying to self and being conformed to Christ’s death is simply another deceptive attempt at living for Christ from the energy of positive thinking, a tawdry imitation of the Christian life.

Praying Against Bitterness

Oh Lord please, I beseech you, guard my heart, and mind. Guard them from pondering ingratitude, betrayals, arrogant religious talk, and others’ self-righteousness lest I become what you loathe. For to ponder such can only lead to dying from within as the root of bitterness’s fecundity produces growth that chokes the Word in my life and makes repentance seem so distant and hard, producing ungodly talk and self-defense.

Please dear Lord, let my thoughts be spent not upon such that leads to bitterness. Rather may my meditations hover in the rays of your grace and love, which leads to praising you and walking with you. May bitterness be overcome with blessing and anger with thanksgiving. May hurts from others be subdued by my contemplation upon your undeserved goodness to me each and every day.

I pray the very same for those whom I hurt through my own thoughtlessness and insensitivity. Grant them not to be tempted by my failures, but only by your grace drawn more closely to you.

“Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice” (Ephesians 4:31).

“See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled” (Hebrews 12:15).

 

Think About IT: The Greatness of Great Loyalty

Great loyalty stands as a beacon of life and is most clear in the storms of disloyalty.

Ordinary loyalty is characteristic of the many and the good times, but Great loyalty alone survives and shines during the dark tempest of disloyalty of the many. For it is in the gales of disloyalty by those in whom you placed your trust that the genuine loyalty of nobles rescues you from an avalanche of the despair of isolation, loss of camaraderie, and support unleashed by the disloyalist.

If not for Great loyalist’s doughtiness in the face of the disloyalty of the ordinary, one would stumble headlong into the tomb of impenetrable loneliness.

Our Lord Jesus knows the pain of disloyalty. “And He answered, “He who dipped his hand with Me in the bowl is the one who will betray Me” (Matthew 26:23).

Yet, he is the quintessence of Great loyalty, for he said, “I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you” (Hebrews 13:5).

May our lives reflect toward others the Great loyalty of our Lord Jesus rather than the ordinary loyalty of Judas.

Think About IT: The Bondage of Want

Christians must always remember whom we are to love and what we are to like.

The difficulty in giving up the comforts of this life should remind Christians to be modest in our acquisitions of them, lest we find ourselves choosing financial bondage rather than separating from them.

Extra comforts and opportunities in this life can be a blessing indeed, but if one’s heart is unguarded, what begins as an extra blessing can soon be possessed as a strong emotional narcotic, which is only overcome by a degrading and destructive financial collapse.

Seeing physical blessings as temporary blessings can safeguard against our propensity to become so accustomed to their presence that we shun willful uncoupling from them until they are forcibly taken.

Modest acquisitions safeguard against future deprivation.

“Do not love the world nor the things in the world. If anyone loves the world, the love of the Father is not in him” (1 John 2:15).