“Who are you that you are afraid of man who dies, and of the son of man who is made like grass?” (Isaiah 51:12)
Reading through the gospels, watching the interaction between the religious bigshots as they bully the Lord Jesus Christ–imagine that!–and suddenly, we are brought up short by noticing the prominent role fear played in the lives of these people. Consider…
–“Herod feared the multitude” (Matthew 14:5). Ah, a good reminder that tyrants always fear their subjects. Always.
–“The Pharisees feared the multitude” (Matthew 21:46). And so do religious bigshots fear their people.
–King Herod feared John the Baptist (Mark 6:20). Wickedness fears righteousness because it cannot understand it, cannot control it, can’t intimidate it, and cannot silence it. God’s faithful people must never lose sight of this for one minute.
Him we preach. –Colossians 1:28
–No one has been to Heaven except the One who came from there. John 3:13. How clear is that? He is the One who knows.
–No one can come to God the Father except through Jesus. John 14:6. How clear is that? He is our Mediator.
–No one can know God unless Jesus reveals Him to them. Matthew 11:27. How clear is that? He is the Revealer.
–There is no other name under Heaven given among men whereby we must be saved. Only Jesus. Acts 4:12. How clear is that? He is our Savior.
“Never man spake like this man” (John 7:46).
Somewhere around the house I have an old book with the wonderful title of “657 of the Best Things Ever Said.” It’s just one person’s opinion, of course, and it might not surprise you to know most of the quotes are silly.
As beauty is in the eye of the beholder, doubtless it’s true that the “best things ever said” is also arbitrary.
With one exception.
Literally hundreds of millions of people across this world agree with the judgement of those early Galileans that “No one ever spoke like Jesus.”
Our Lord spoke a solid one thousand mind boggling things never heard before on Planet Earth, all of them surprising and wonderful and memorable. And, let’s be honest, many who heard Jesus also found His words provocative, offensive, and even blasphemous.
When Jesus stood to preach, no one was bored.
“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.