“How long will you keep us in suspense? If you are the Christ, tell us plainly.”
Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in my Father’s name, these bear witness of me. But you do not believe because you are not of my sheep. My sheep hear my voice and I know them and they follow me….” (John 10:24-27).
If Jesus Christ is not the God-man, then we’re out of business and the universe is in the dark.
Nothing is more basic to the Christian faith and everyone’s hope than His deity.
Theological liberals like to say Jesus never claimed to be God, that this claim was put in HIs mouth by Christians who came later.
What fun they have with the story of Jesus.
“No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him” (John 1:18).
“Let’s see now. How shall I put this?”
That’s our problem.
Try this sometime. You have an image in mind of a person you have thought up. Now, find someone with some art ability and describe your creation to the point that they sketch him/her exactly as you envision them.
Good luck with that.
It’s almost impossible.
And yet, this process goes on all the time. Here’s the way it works….
A friend contacts me. “Will you illustrate my book?” I hem and haw, give non-answers (“Well, tell me what you have in mind.” “What exactly do you need?” “When do you need it?” “How many drawings will it be?”), and look for ways–true confession–to get out of doing it.
Tackling such an assignment is guaranteed to age you prematurely, disappoint the other party, and leave everyone frustrated and exhausted.
Conspirata is a sequel to Robert Harris’ novel Imperium, which chronicles the rise of Cicero in ancient Rome. Harris is a great novelist, and he sticks to the facts and to the actual speeches of Cicero as much as possible–which is what make this book so valuable. You feel you know these people afterwards.
Conspirata tells of Cicero’s consulship in which he ruled over the Roman Empire for a brief period, his work as a senator, and his brilliance as a lawyer and orator. It’s impossible to recommend this novel too highly; I loved it.
I was struck by the conditions in Rome at this time (the story begins in 63 B.C.). Keep in mind that this was the most civilized and progressive society known to western man at the time. We still speak of “the glory that was Rome.” It was glorious, but only to a point and depending on the strata of society you occupied.
Into this world, Jesus Christ was born. Into this culture the gospel came. To these people, God sent a Savior.
Read what Robert Harris said about these people and think, “Man, did they ever need a Savior!”
…and they shall never perish….” (John 10:28)
(What follows is not Baptist doctrine. This has nothing to do with denominationalism. This is about the Bible. It’s about the clear teaching of Jesus. Thank you.)
Can you unfry an egg? Can you uncook a casserole? Return a house to the trees it once was? Can you be unborn and stop being your father’s child?
After being saved, coming to know Christ and being genuinely forgiven and accepted and transformed by the Holy Spirit of God into something far different from what you were, you cannot undo that.
Once saved, always.
Once saved, always that. Once saved, always safe.
To say otherwise, and to preach it as gospel, might be something akin to insulting the Holy Spirit.
It might be. Certainly, it’s worth giving this some serious thought.
My friend and her husband have been trying to find the church where the Lord wants them. She sent me a message.
But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness…. (Galatians 5:22-23)
“Would the gentleman from North Carolina please yield the floor?”
“The gentle lady from California makes a good point.”
The U.S. Senate may be the last place in this country where people are recognized as being gentle. It’s a nice trait. “Gentle” means you are not bombastic, not mean-spirited, not rude or unkind or harsh.
My goal is to become more gentle in this life.
Various translations make this “kindness” and “goodness.” Same difference, I suppose, although there is something about “gentleness” that weighs heavily on my mind.
Did you hear about the preacher who was protesting a “gay and lesbian pride” march winding its way through the French Quarter? According to the reports, the minister was preaching to the participants in harsh and condemning tones. At one point, a woman decided that this angry man of God (we’ll give him the benefit of the doubt) needed a hug. So, she stepped out of the crowd, walked over to him, and kissed him.
“Hence, let us go out to Him outside the camp, bearing His reproach” (Hebrews 13:13).
Ministers considered “cool” by the world should be wary.
It’s a trap.
Let those outside the faith–i.e., friends and admirers with no appreciation for Scripture, no knowledge of the call of God, no gratitude for the blood of Jesus, or no concept of the direness of their own situation–compliment the preacher on his coolness, and it can be a form of quicksand.
“I’m not much of a church-goer, pastor, but I love watching you preach.” “You’re not like all those other preachers–fat and bald and loud. You’re handsome and slim and cool.”
Woe to the minister who eats up such a compliment.
“Some of the scribes were sitting here and reasoning in their hearts, ‘Why does this Man speak blasphemies like this? Who can forgive sins but God alone?’ When Jesus perceived in His spirit that they reasoned thus within themselves, He said to them, ‘Why do you reason about these things in your hearts? Which is easier, to say to the paralytic, ‘Your sins are forgiven you,’ or to say, ‘Arise, take up your bed and walk?’” (Mark 2:6-9).
One of the most helpful courses I took in college was logic. The ability to think clearly and rationally about complex issues is a wonderful asset for anyone.
It helps me to realize our Lord Jesus Christ was nothing if not logical. Jesus clearly loved logic. (That probably provokes a “well, duh” response from readers. The Lord Jesus not only loved truth, He claimed to be Truth itself!)
Again and again in Scripture Jesus shows Himself the Master of logic as He lays the issues before His hearers in orderly fashion and asks them to think about them rationally.
“And they sang a new song, saying, ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and to open its seals, for You were slain and have redeemed us to God by Your blood…” (Revelation 5:9).
John was surely fascinated by the sights and the sounds of that heavenly vision.
First, a quartet…
At first, John was treated to a heavenly quartet. The four angelic beings–were they seraphim?–of Revelation 4:7-8 burst into song, calling out, “Holy, holy, holy, Lord God Almighty. Who was and is and is to come!”
Eat your heart out, Bill Gaither. No quartet ever sounded so heavenly.
And then we read, “They do not rest day or night, saying (this)” (verse 8).
Imagine that. An endless song.
Either seraphim must be amazing singers or the Lord’s patience is boundless to enjoy the same song over and over, forever.
One great evidence of the lostness of mankind is that people rarely look up from their daily lives to ask, “Where is all this headed? What is out there? Where are we going?”
I sit on my deck and watch the birds swarm around my feeders. I keep them stocked and am delighted the birds love what I provide. But never once has a bird looked up to indicate an appreciation for my efforts. They are so like people it’s not funny. We take everything for granted.
In a 1965 sermon, Billy Graham tells of the time when Robert Ingersoll, well-known atheist of the 19th century, was addressing an audience in a small town in New York. The orator forcefully laid out his doubts concerning a future judgement and the reality of hell.
At the conclusion, a drunk stood up in the back of the room, and said through slurred speech, “I sure hope you’re right, Brother Bob. I’m counting on that!”
Is this vile world a friend to grace, to lead me on to God? (Isaac Watts)
God’s children keep getting surprised.
On a state or secular college campus, the atheistic professor has complete freedom to spout his religious views without protest from the students or interference from the dean. Let a Christian instructor relate his personal story to inform the students of his worldview so they can better understand where he’s coming from, and he’s harassed and soon out of a job.
At a convocation of students on the average secular campus, freedom of speech and the First Amendment are championed. Let a student stand and own up to being a follower of Jesus Christ who attempts to live by the Bible, and he/she is hooted down.
Ironic, isn’t it, the hostility that those of a secular bent have toward belief in Jesus Christ.
It’s more than just a prejudice, however. It’s a full-blown hatred.