Appropriating the Gospel

I have often wondered why some professing Christians show so little progress in the faith while others develop an immediate love for the Word of God and experience the transforming power of the Holy Spirit in a dramatic way.

For example, we met a Chinese woman who became a believer simply because she was curious about why people kept saying “Thank the Lord.” Her curiosity led her to get a Bible and read through the entire thing from cover to cover in a couple of weeks. Raised on evolution in Communist China, she immediately recognized the truth of the creation account in Genesis. Sensing the significance of the Ten Commandments, she committed them to memory. When she came to the Lord’s Prayer, she realized its importance and memorized it as well. She had no one to teach her the fundamentals of the faith, yet she had a natural grasp of the truth just by reading the Bible by herself. She was filled with joy even though her life was full of hardships.

Another woman attended our church for years and accepted the Bible as God’s Word – true in every detail and a trustworthy foundation upon which to build her life. Yet she couldn’t get free from her struggle with depression. She would find temporary relief after receiving prayer from the pastor or other believers, but the depression would always come back.

Then her church hired a new pastor. This woman joined a Bible study led by the pastor’s wife and learned the fundamentals of the faith all over again from another perspective. The truths were the same, but ordered around the sovereignty of God rather than the needs of man. She began to see God with new eyes and suddenly her depression was gone. Now she says she knows it will never return.

Focusing on God

What do these two women have in common? One came to the truth on her own without the aid of the four spiritual laws or some other formatted gospel presentation. She came to Christ by reading the word of God. She learned for herself that the Christian life is not about her but about her Savior. The other one had been exposed for years to the “Therapeutic Gospel” which is taught in the vast majority of Evangelical churches. This is a gospel that centers on meeting the needs of man. Ironically, this gospel was unable to provide genuine healing for her depression. Focusing on herself only made the depression worse. When she focused on God, it went away by itself.

In Philippians 3, Paul says, “I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.” His life was all about developing an increasing intimacy with God. This intimacy was more important than anything else as he acknowledges in the next verse, “For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ.” Later he says that he even rejoices in his sufferings because they bring him closer to Christ, “that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.

You Don’t Choose Christ – He Chooses You

You won’t find many Christians who are genuinely eager to suffer for Christ’s sake in order to get to know Him better. That has something to do with the way they came to Christ in the first place. Many, if not most, professing Christians made a “profession of faith” that included saying a formal prayer or raising a hand at an evangelistic meeting. These folks all believe they chose Christ. But the fact of the matter is that true believers don’t choose Christ. They are chosen by Christ.

The book of Ephesians says that God chose believers before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:4-5), that he redeems them, sanctifies them, makes them His sons, gives them an inheritance, bestows His Holy Spirit on them, and ultimately glorifies them (vs. 3-14). This is all God’s doing and not one bit of our own, not even the faith part. Ephesians 2: 8-9 says, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that (i.e. “faith”) not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” God gave us the faith to believe in Him because we were dead in our sins and incapable of even acknowledging Jesus as Lord. As Ephesians 2:4-5 says, “But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved).

You Have No Part in Your Own Redemption

I only began to appropriate all of the spiritual blessings of belief when I finally realized that I owed my redemption lock stock and barrel to Jesus Christ and God the Father. Suddenly I realized I had nothing to be proud of, no qualifications to commend me for salvation. God in His mercy had chosen me entirely at His own discretion and for His own purposes. I too had suffered from depression for years, even though I had professed faith in Christ. That depression immediately went away and has never come back. I have a new love for the Word of God and a desire to obey it. I want to please Christ more than anything else in the world. And I want to know Him even more intimately by sharing in His sufferings.

So many Christians feel insecure about their salvation. Because they came to Christ on their own, they feel it is solely up to them to sustain their salvation. They don’t realize that the One who justifies them will in no way cast them out. If the Judge Himself justifies them, who can condemn them? (Rom 8:34). Christ is thoroughly able to complete the good work He has begun in them (Phil 1:6). He chose them and He holds them securely. It is not a matter of our ability but His sovereignty.

Those Christians who come to Christ on their own not only have an innate insecurity about their salvation, but they have an inability to trust the Holy Spirit to use the Word of God to save others. For them, evangelism is a matter of man-made method and persuasion. They feel the onus is on them to make the case for Christ. So they try to entice people into the kingdom by lowering the demands of discipleship. They avoid talking about the unpleasant aspects of salvation like remorse and repentance for sin. They try to meet people’s needs as a way to win a hearing for the gospel. But the fact is that the gospel deserves an audience simply by virtue of the fact that it cost God His only Son to purchase our salvation.

Paving the Way for the Gospel?

So many churches waste precious resources of time, money and talent by providing services to people who have absolutely no intention of ever embracing Jesus Christ. Works of mercy are intended for the church first and foremost. Galations 6:10 says, “let us do good to all people, and especially to those who belong to the family of faith.” Jesus healed ten lepers, but only one came back to thank Him. Most of those unbelievers to whom we minister in hopes of  winning a hearing for the gospel will just take what we offer until our patience runs out.

Our church sponsored a family of refugees from Bosnia through a local relief agency for years, helping them find housing and jobs and learning English. When they finally got comfortably established in their new surroundings, they just disappeared. We haven’t heard from them since. The same thing happened with a young Chinese woman who was here on a student visa. She overstayed her visa and then because she knew the church would not approve, cut all connections and moved to Las Vegas (as best we knew). This type of experience is not uncommon.

Works-Based “Faith”

Coming to Christ on your own not only produces insecurity, it results in a “faith” that depends on constant works to validate it. Those who believe it is up to them to “accept Christ” find themselves continually striving to confirm their faith by their good works. That is why some Christians burn themselves out serving others, yet seem so joyless in the process. Sure we should serve our brothers and sisters, but we should also realize that meeting their needs is not entirely up to any one of us individually. Others have gifts of ministry that they can use. We need to find those ways where we can be of best service and major on meeting those particular needs. God is sovereign and fully capable of providing the resources to meet the needs He deems important.


We cannot find true peace and joy until we come to realize that salvation is the work of a sovereign God who chooses us, redeems us, makes us holy, adopts us as His own children, and provides for us an inheritance that will last forever. None of this is our own doing, so we can neither sustain it or lose it. We can trust God to bring the good work He has begun in us to completion because He cannot fail. If He could, He wouldn’t be God. In Philippians 1:6 Paul says, ” For I am sure of this very thing, that the one who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.”

Posted in Assurance of Salvation, Election, evangelism, new birth, Redemption, Reformed Theology, salvation, sanctification | Tagged , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Technology Proves Ancient Man Was More Intelligent

I have started watching the show “Ancient Impossible” on the History Channel. I am absolutely fascinated by all the technological wonders of the ancient world, some of which cannot even be duplicated today. How did they build structures on such a massive scale with such fine engineering tolerances? How did they move massive blocks of stone without modern cranes and earth moving equipment? How did they form marble into columns and statues without iron and diamond cutting tools? How could the Roman army build a bridge across a two mile stretch of river in just ten days? How could they drill a four mile long tunnel through a mountain starting from both ends and connecting in the middle without laser technology?

For lack of any other explanation, popular science says aliens from an advanced society in outer space gave them a hand. But there is a much more logical explanation and that is that despite their lack of modern technology, the ancients were smarter than we are. If you believe God created man without defect, as He did all creation, then you won’t find these technological marvels so puzzling. Before sin ravaged the human species, man would have had superior mental capacities. Adam and Eve were probably much smarter than Einstein. They just didn’t have the accumulated knowledge base of coming generations upon which to build.

The book of Job was written long before the book of Genesis. In fact, it may have been written before the flood, given the references to prehistoric animals. Listen to this description of a creature called “Leviathan” in Job 41 and tell me if it doesn’t sound like the description of a dragon:

Can you pull in Leviathan with a hook,
and tie down its tongue with a rope?
Can you put a cord through its nose,
or pierce its jaw with a hook?

Is it not fierce when it is awakened?
Who is he, then, who can stand before it?

I will not keep silent about its limbs,
and the extent of its might,
and the grace of its arrangement.

Who can uncover its outer covering?
Who can penetrate to the inside of its armor?
Who can open the doors of its mouth?
Its teeth all around are fearsome.
Its back has rows of shields,
shut up closely together as with a seal;
each one is so close to the next
that no air can come between them.
They lock tightly together, one to the next;
they cling together and cannot be separated.

Its snorting throws out flashes of light;
its eyes are like the red glow of dawn.
Out of its mouth go flames,
sparks of fire shoot forth!
Smoke streams from its nostrils
as from a boiling pot over burning rushes.
Its breath sets coals ablaze
and a flame shoots from its mouth.

Strength lodges in its neck,
and despair runs before it.
The folds of its flesh are tightly joined;
they are firm on it, immovable.

Its underparts are the sharp points of potsherds,
it leaves its mark in the mud
like a threshing sledge.
It makes the deep boil like a cauldron
and stirs up the sea like a pot of ointment,

It leaves a glistening wake behind it;
one would think the deep had a head of white hair.
The likes of it is not on earth,
a creature without fear.
It looks on every haughty being;
it is king over all that are proud” (Job 41)

Here is a creature with armored flesh, rows of shields on its back, powerful limbs, iron jaw, fearsome teeth, flashing eyes and smoking nostrils that breathes out fire and creates a foaming wake as it swims. This is like no other creature scientists have ever found even in the fossil record. So it must be an antediluvian creature of enormous strength and size.

And yet as ancient as his times were, Job describes technologies that include iron working. This is from Job 19:23:

O that my words were written down,
O that they were written on a scroll,
that with an iron chisel and with lead
they were engraved in a rock forever!

In chapter 28 Job describes the mining of gold, iron, silver, copper and precious gems using powerful explosives:

Surely there is a mine for silver,
and a place where gold is refined.
Iron is taken from the ground,
and rock is poured out as copper.

Man puts an end to the darkness;
he searches the farthest recesses
for the ore in the deepest darkness.
Far from where people live he sinks a shaft,
in places travelers have long forgotten,
far from other people he dangles and sways.

The earth, from which food comes,
is overturned below as though by fire;
a place whose stones are sapphires
and which contains dust of gold;
a hidden path no bird of prey knows –
no falcon’s eye has spotted it.
Proud beasts have not set foot on it,
and no lion has passed along it.

On the flinty rock man has set to work with his hand;
he has overturned mountains at their bases.
He has cut out channels through the rocks;
his eyes have spotted every precious thing.
He has searched the sources of the rivers
and what was hidden he has brought into the light.

It is indeed possible that before the flood, technology was advanced far beyond what it was for thousands of years afterwards.

And as for an advanced race of aliens lending a hand? Well, according to the creation account in Genesis, the stars were not created until after plant life. Vegetation was created on the third day and the “lights in the heavens” were created on the fourth day (Gen 1:11-19). So no intelligent life existed anywhere in the universe before Adam and Eve.


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Why Reformed Teaching Divides the Church

I have always wondered why the church has all the same problems as the rest of the world. My son was molested by a missionary, the mission and their supporting churches covered it up. My ex-wife had an affair with her boss (she was the daughter of an American Baptist preacher who thought she could do no wrong). A Christian Education teacher from Wheaton College, my alma mater, was convicted of pedophilia. An alumnus – the former Speaker of the U.S. House and a one-time high school wrestling coach – was blackmailed by a member of his wrestling team for sexual molestation. Another alumnus killed his wife. Christian churches have to do background checks on their workers to protect their children from pedophiles. Average giving is only 4% of income. And pastors struggle with addiction to pornography.

How can this be if the Holy Spirit is supposed to transform a person at conversion? The simple answer is that many people in the church have never really been converted. Sure they have raised a hand at an evangelistic service or “accepted Jesus as their Savior” or “asked Jesus into their heart” or prayed a simple prayer of salvation, but they have never been reborn by the Holy Spirit. You see, neither Jesus nor any of the apostles ever asked anyone to “accept Christ as Savior” or “ask Jesus into their heart” or follow a four step plan of salvation. They called people to repent and believe.

Repentance is seldom preached in modern churches. Pastors and evangelists are too afraid of scaring people away by confronting them with their sins. So they try to coax them into the kingdom with promises of blessings that only come by renouncing self and giving up everything else to follow Christ.

If pastors and evangelists truly trusted the Holy Spirit to do a work of conviction through the preaching of the Word of God, there would be far fewer people in the pews, but they would all be genuine Christians who live genuine Christian lives.

I am from a Reformed tradition. That means I follow the teachings of the Reformers who recaptured the gospel when they broke away from all the false teachings of the Roman Catholic Church. Reformed preachers and teachers follow the doctrines of Martin Luther and John Calvin, the early church fathers, and the apostles. They believe that all scripture has one unifying message and that message has one meaning – the one God intended it to have.

They get to that meaning by interpreting the Word in light of the language and culture and history of the writers. They don’t take it out of context or interpret it according to their own personal whims.

The techniques employed in personal Bible study and small groups and Bible Study programs today often depend on some popular Christian author’s take on the text. Bible study leaders ask “What does this passage mean to you?” There are no wrong answers. Imagine getting a letter from a loved one and sharing it with family members who all take a different meaning from it. The author would wonder, “Whose letter did you read?” That is essentially what Jesus told the Pharisees when he said, “If you believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote about me.“(Jn 5:46) They misunderstood the Old Testament and it cost them eternal life!

Naturally, personal interpretations downplay the difficult or offensive parts of the Bible in favor of a Jesus who is all love and no judgment. This is a very palatable gospel that makes folks feel good about themselves when they should be feeling the exact opposite. People like this never get around to acknowledging or confessing their sins, yet they fill the pews of big churches all over America.

People often say that Reformed preaching divides churches. That is true. Because it does not compromise the teaching of Scripture, it does drive away the chaff. But it nurtures those who have been genuinely born again and produces the kind of faith that manifests itself in a life of obedience to the Word of God.

Jesus did not compromise the word of God to keep his followers. In fact, after issuing a very difficult teaching, many of his followers left him. In John 6 it says, “When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it? After this many of his disciples turned back and no longer walked with him.” So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?”

Peter’s answer is instructive. He said, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

It is the very words of life that divide the wheat from the chaff. But we need not compromise those words for fear it will drive some of the wheat away as well. For just prior to this Jesus had said, “All that the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never cast out. And this is the will of him who sent me, that I should lose nothing of all that he has given me, but raise it up on the last day.”

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The Fallacy of Seeker Friendly

The church today is filled with people who have “made a decision for Christ” but have never been born again. They have been presented with all the logical arguments for the faith and asked to raise their hand or pray a prayer, but have never really committed their lives to Christ.

These people have been presented with a “gospel lite” that emphasizes the blessings of belief without repentance for sin. Without repentance for sin, there can be no reconciliation to God, and therefore no salvation. Our sins have separated us from Him. They are so grievous that God the Father had to sacrifice His only Son in order to make reparations and restore us to fellowship. When we preach a gospel that does not call for repentance as the first step to believing faith, then we belittle that sacrifice as though it really wasn’t necessary for Christ to go to all that trouble on our account.

The Bible says the heart is desperately wicked, that no man seeks after God, and that only when the Holy Spirit opens our hearts to receive the Word of God and confess our sins can we receive Christ (Jer 17:9, Rom 3:11,Jn 3:7) . None of us has the ability to choose Christ on our own. The Apostle Paul says no one has reason to boast before God because He chose us when we were still at war with Him and dead in our trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1-10). Dead men cannot make choices. Spiritual death cannot produce spiritual life. Spiritual life must come from the source of all life and righteousness and that is Jesus Christ (Jn 14:6).

Some people claim that they chose Jesus Christ. But Jesus says, “You did not choose me, but I chose you“(Jn 15:16). Believers have been chosen in Christ by God the Father from the foundation of the world and are a gift from the Father to the Son (Eph 1:3-8, Jn 17:6). Jesus told Nicodemas, “You must be born from above” (Jn 3:5-8) That means spiritual life does not reside in you.

Many professing Christians believe that confronting a person with their sin will only drive them away from Christ. Obviously, these people do not believe God is capable of drawing people to Himself through the convicting power of the Holy Spirit and the Word of God. Jesus said the role of the Holy Spirit was to convict of sin, righteousness and judgment, not to give a warm, fuzzy feeling of blessing (Jn 16:8). Jesus said that the true believer must sacrifice everything for Him, take up his cross and follow Him (Lk 9:23, Mt 16:24, Mk 8:34).

You can search the scriptures from front to back and you will not find a single seeker friendly message or instance where someone came to faith without repentance. Jesus and the Apostles all began their presentations of the gospel with a call to repentance. John the Baptist and Jesus both said, “Repent, for the kingdom of God is at hand“(Mt 3:2, 4:17; Mar 1:15).  Peter accused the crowd at Pentecost of killing the Son of God. They were so smitten with grief that they called out, “What shall we do?” He told them to repent and believe (Acts 2:22-42). Stephen accused his attackers of killing all the prophets (Acts 6:51-53). He did not plead with them to consider their own spiritual welfare. When Christ encountered Saul on the road to Damascus, He did not appeal to his sense of fairness or compassion. He said, “Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:3-5)

The blessings of spiritual life which false teachers promote are temporal. So people come to Christ for selfish reasons. But the blessings of true faith are eternal – peace with God, adoption into His family, an inheritance with Jesus Christ, and most important, righteous standing before the Judge of the Universe. Jesus said, “In this world you will have trouble” not health or wealth or safety or security. He said the one who comes to Him must deny himself, take up his cross and follow Him (Mat 16:24, Mt 8:34, Lk 9:23). He must forsake father and mother and brothers and sisters (Mt 12:50, Mk 10:29,Lk 14:6). He said the one who suffers for His sake will receive great blessing and honor in the world to come (Mk 8:35).

Those who object to confronting unbelievers with their sins are trying to win people to Christ by appealing to their natural desires. But people’s natural desires are sinful. They seek to serve self first. So if there is nothing in it for them, they will not come to Christ. Those who begin by confronting others with their sin are trusting the Holy Spirit to do a work of conviction in the hearts of those to whom God has already chosen to impart spiritual life. Those who respond to this kind of appeal can only do so because the Holy Spirit gives them new life. Those who make a “decision for Christ” based on some spiritual benefit offered to them may or may not be genuinely converted.  People who come to Christ under their own power, by their own reasoning, or to get all the benefits of spiritual blessings misunderstand the gospel. Many if not most of them have never been born again. Most are not willing to sacrifice anything for the One who gave Himself for them. Many never come to the place of genuine remorse for their sins and repentance. The first time they come under pressure for their faith, they buckle. It is these people of whom Christ spoke when He said, “Depart from me for I never knew you.” (Mt 7:23)

Today the church looks little different from the world. The divorce rate is about the same. Church staffs have to do background checks on those who work in children’s ministries to eliminate pedophiles. Many men and even some pastors struggle with pornography. People are unscrupulous in their business dealings and make a practice of lying and stealing. Giving averages only 4% of income. Pastors don’t encourage believers to give generously out of gratitude for all God has given them. Instead they tell people not to give if they are visitors or unbelievers. Sanctuaries are built with all the comforts and conveniences of modern theaters or auditoriums just to attract people who won’t accept less. Worship is dumbed down for the seeker instead of being offered in reverence and awe to a holy God. Messages are filled with personal anecdotes instead of a thorough and serious exploration of the biblical text from a grammatical and historical perspective. And this is why people are not attracted to the church. It is because church is no different from the rest of society. It is redundant, a waste of a beautiful Sunday morning. People are offended not because someone has called attention to their sins, but because when they look at Christians, they see a bunch of unregenerate reprobates trying to pass themselves off as followers of Jesus Christ.

Posted in Apologetics, evangelism, False Teaching, Lukewarm Church, new birth, Reformed Theology, Repentance, salvation | Leave a comment

Who Does Jesus Choose?

In John 15:16 Jesus says to his disciples, “You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.” In his High Priestly prayer in John 17 Jesus says, “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word” (John 17:6). In his letter to the Ephesians, Paul says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him” (Eph 1:3). And in the book of Romans he quotes the Old Testament passage that says, “For He says to Moses, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion” (Ex 33:19).

From these and other  passages theologians have developed the doctrine of election. That is the idea that those of us who come to Christ do not do so of our own will, but are drawn by the Holy Spirit according to the will of God the Father. Another part of that doctrine says that God’s call cannot be resisted. If the Father has chosen us, we cannot say “No.” Furthermore, those who are not chosen are beyond the mercy of God and utterly hopeless. Paul expresses this idea when he says with respect to Jacob and Esau, “And not only this, but there was Rebekah also, when she had conceived twins by one man, our father Isaac; for though the twins were not yet born and had not done anything good or bad, so that God’s purpose according to His choice would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls, it was said to her, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” (Rom 9:9-13)

So, whether or not we receive mercy is entirely God’s choice. But on what basis does God the Father make that choice? Paul is clear that His determination is not based on merit. His purpose in choosing some and not others is to show His holiness in judging sin on the one hand and His mercy in providing salvation on the other. For instance, God made Pharaoh rebel against him so that he could demonstrate his mercy by miraculously delivering the Israelites from bondage, “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I raised you up, to demonstrate My power in you, and that My name might be proclaimed throughout the whole earth” (Rom 9:16-17). People naturally object that God is not fair in extending to some an opportunity that he refuses to others, “You will say to me then, “Why does He still find fault? For who resists His will?” Paul counters,On the contrary, who are you, O man, who answers back to God? The thing molded will not say to the molder, “Why did you make me like this,” will it? Or does not the potter have a right over the clay, to make from the same lump one vessel for honorable use and another for common use? What if God, although willing to demonstrate His wrath and to make His power known, endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction? And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory” (Rom 9:19-23)

We find throughout scripture that God does not choose according to our standards. He typically chooses the weaker over the stronger, the lesser over the greater, and the younger over the older. For instance, the disciples were shocked when Jesus told them that it is more difficult for a rich man to enter the kingdom of heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. They thought that since the Old Testament promised blessings to those who follow God and curses to those who don’t, rich people should be the first to enter the kingdom.

In the same passage where Paul makes the case for election, he quotes the words of the angel who promised Rebekah that she would bear twins, “The older will serve the younger.” Just as it is written, “Jacob I loved, but Esau I hated” (Rom 9:12-13). Joseph, the youngest of Jacob’s children, was chosen to preserve his family and their descendants. David, the youngest son in his family, was chosen over his brothers to be the King of Israel and forefather of the Savior.

Rahab, Bathsheeba and Ruth were the only women listed in the lineage of Jesus Christ. Rahab was a prostitute, Bathsheeba was an adulteress, and Ruth was a Moabite, a tribe cursed by God. Jesus associated primarily with the lower strata of society – tax collectors, prostitutes, Samaritans, and day laborers like fishermen. He usually veiled his identity, even telling demons to remain silent when they proclaimed him the “Holy One of God.” But he openly revealed himself as Messiah to the woman at the well, a person who had two strikes against her. She was a lowly female and a despised Samaritan. The first person to whom he revealed himself after his resurrection was a woman from whom he had cast out seven demons – hardly a paragon of virtue.

Matthew was a despised tax collector, an agent of the occupying Roman government who collected revenue on their behalf from his subjugated countrymen. Yet Jesus called him to be one of his inner circle. Matthew was so thrilled that he held a banquet in Jesus’ honor and invited his fellow tax collectors. The religious leaders did not approve. They asked Jesus why he associated with such riffraff. Jesus replied, “It is not those who are well who need a physician, but those who are sick. I have not come to call the righteous but sinners to repentance” (Lk 5:31-32). Jesus held up the humble tax collector who prayed, “God, be merciful to me, the sinner!‘ as an example of righteousness rather than the Pharisee who boasted in his religious credentials (Lk 18:13).

In Matthew 11:25-26 Jesus said, “I praise You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and intelligent and have revealed them to infants.  Yes, Father, for this way was well-pleasing in Your sight.” Paul tells the Corinthian believers, “For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised God has chosen, the things that are not, so that He may nullify the things that are, so that no man may boast before God” (1 Cor 1:26-29). 

One of the main criticisms of the doctrine of election is that it leads to pride. The exact opposite is true. If you have been chosen, it is not because you were the pick of the litter. It was not because you had anything special to offer. It was not because you were more worthy than anyone else. It was precisely the opposite. God chose you because you were weak, flawed, and worthless in order to display the greatness of his mercy. So if you are like me and sometimes wonder if you will be standing at the back of the throng of worshipers in heaven looking at Jesus from a distance because of all the wonderful saints obscuring your view, you need not worry. Christ loves you and cherishes you not for your own worth or accomplishments but because you are a gift from the Father to him. As he said in his high priestly prayer in John 17, “I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word. Now they have come to know that everything You have given Me is from You; for the words which You gave Me I have given to them; and they received them and truly understood that I came forth from You, and they believed that You sent Me. I ask on their behalf; I do not ask on behalf of the world, but of those whom You have given Me; for they are Yours; and all things that are Mine are Yours, and Yours are Mine; and I have been glorified in them” (Jn 17:6-11) .

You are a gift from the Father to the Son. Just as you cherish a gift given to you from one you love, so Jesus cherishes you as a precious gift from his Father. The Father and the Son  share all things. Because you belong to them, they also belong to you. Whatever they share with each other you share with them. What that includes you cannot possibly imagine because you have never had a glimpse of the glories of heaven or of God the Father and his Son. But one day you will. Nothing could be more humbling than the thought that all this was given to you when it was utterly beyond your reach. Those who do not receive grace are simply getting what we all so richly deserve.

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Amazed By Jesus

The other day my wife and I went to the mattress store. The saleswoman began telling us about her clairvoyant abilities. She claimed she had predicted the sex of her first child and even how tall he would be. She also told us that after only one encounter with a very charming potential business partner, she had a strong impression that he was underhanded and warned her husband not to do business with him. The man eventually defrauded her husband. She also said that her dog became extremely agitated when her daughter brought a friend home. The young lady had a practice of communicating with the dead and the dog could sense the spirits around her. This woman is a modern mystic.

I told her that as Christians we can have discernment between good and evil through the Holy Spirit, but that is different from clairvoyance. As for communicating with the dead, that is strictly forbidden in the Bible. Her thought was that the prophets got their information from dead spirits. I told her it was the Holy Spirit who inspired them and she said, “I love Jesus. I think He was absolutely amazing!

Jesus was absolutely amazing, but not because He was a mystic. His actions and words prompted fear, astonishment, and amazement in people because of His divine power and authority.

There are many passages in the book of Mark that describe the troubling and even terrifying effect Jesus had on people. Words such as “amazed,” “overcome with amazement,” “astonished,” “exceedingly astonished,” “astonished beyond measure,” “alarmed,” “afraid,”  “terrified,” “astounded,” “marveled,” “filled with great fear,” “marvelous in our eyes,” and “came in fear and trembling,” are used to describe people’s reactions to Him. (Mar 1:21-27, Mar 2:1-12, Mar 4:35-41, Mar 5:1-20, Mar 5:24-33, Mar 5:35-42, Mar 6:2, Mar 6:45-52, Mar 7:31-37, Mar 9:2-8, Mar 9:14-15, Mar 10:23-26, Mar 10:32-34, Mar 11:15-19, Mar 12:13-17, Mar 15:1-5, Mar 16:6-8).

So what were the circumstances surrounding these events and what types of responses did all this astonishment and fear produce? Well, it certainly wasn’t a sort of benign admiration. In one case, the assembled crowd was so frightened that they asked Jesus to leave immediately. This was when Jesus cast out a legion of demons from a possessed man and commanded them to enter a herd of two thousand swine that then went squealing over a cliff and into the sea. The man who had been healed wanted to follow Jesus, but Jesus sent him back to his own village to proclaim what He had done for him (Mar 5:1-20).

People were also astonished at Jesus because he spoke as though He had first-hand knowledge of Old Testament events, personal connections with people like Moses and Jonah, and held counsel with God Himself. The fact that He performed miracles and cast out demons authenticated His words (Mar 1:21-27, Mar 6:2). Because of the power of His words, His fame spread far and wide.

In the second chapter of Mark, people flocked to Jesus bringing their sick and disabled friends and relatives. The press of the crowd was so great that those bearing a paralyzed man on a stretcher could not get near enough to touch Him. So they went up on the roof of the home Jesus was in and cut a hole big enough to lower the man into the room. Seeing their faith, Jesus pronounced the man’s sins forgiven. The religious leaders in the crowd considered this blasphemy since only God can forgive sins. So Jesus proved his authority over sin by healing the man right in front of their eyes. The people responded in amazement and gave glory to God. (Mar 2:1-12)

In the fourth chapter of Mark, Jesus and the disciples got in a boat to cross the sea of Galilee. Jesus went to sleep in the stern even as a great storm threatened to capsize the boat. The disciples, afraid for their lives, woke Him and asked Him to do something. Jesus rebuked the wind and waves and a dead calm immediately ensued. Mark says the disciples “...were filled with great fear and said to one another, Who then is this, that even the wind and the sea obey him?” (Mar 4:35-41).

On another occasion Jesus sent the disciples off in a boat while He stayed behind to pray. In the middle of the night as they were struggling to make headway against a stiff wind, He came to them walking on the water. They were terrified because they thought it was a ghost. Jesus assured them it was Him and then stepped into the boat with them. The wind immediately died down. Mark says the disciples were “utterly astounded” even though this was the second time Jesus had calmed a storm (Mar 6:45-52).

Later on in the same chapter a crowd was pressing in on Jesus when a sick woman  came up behind Him and touched the hem of His garment. He suddenly felt power go out from Him. Turning around, he said, “Who touched me?” His disciples said, “What do you mean? People are crowding all around you!” The woman, trembling in fear, came forward and Jesus told her to “go in peace” because she had been healed (Mar 5:24-33).

Again in the same chapter Jesus overheard some people telling a ruler of the synagogue who had come seeking help not to trouble Jesus because his sick daughter had passed away. He told the man, “Do not fear, only believe,” and then accompanied him to his home. There he dismissed the mourners and took the man and his wife with Peter, James and John into the room where the little girl lay lifeless. He told her, “Little girl arise,” and she got up and started to walk. Mark says those who witnessed the event “were immediately overcome with amazement” (Mar 5:35-42).

In Mark chapter seven Jesus healed a deaf man who had a speech impediment. Mark says the assembled crowd was, “astonished beyond measure, saying, ‘He has done all things well. He even makes the deaf hear and the mute speak'” (Mar 7:31-37).

Peter, James and John were Jesus’ inner circle.  Whenever he wanted to manifest Himself in some extraordinary way, He would leave the others behind and take just the three of them along. Just days before His crucifixion, He took them to the top of a mountain where He was suddenly transfigured so that He shone with a brilliance that must have almost blinded them. Suddenly Moses and Elijah appeared alongside Him and spoke with Him.  Mark says the three disciples were terrified (Mar 9:2-8).

Upon returning to His disciples, Jesus encountered a crowd embroiled in controversy with them. Without explanation, Mark says, “And immediately all the crowd, when they saw him, were greatly amazed and ran up to him and greeted him.” In all likelihood, Jesus still had an “afterglow” like the one Moses had after speaking with God on Mount Sinai.

In the tenth chapter of Mark, a wealthy young man approached Jesus with a pointed question, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Jesus said to him, “You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, Do not commit adultery, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Do not defraud, Honor your father and mother.” The young man, seeking to justify himself, said, “Teacher, all these I have kept from my youth.” Jesus said, “You lack one thing: go, sell all that you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” But the young man couldn’t comply because he was too attached to his wealth. So he went away full of sorrow. Turning to his disciples, Jesus said, “Children, how difficult it is to enter the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God“(Mar 10:17-31). Mark says the disciples were “exceedingly astonished” and said to Jesus, “Then who can be saved?” Jesus was turning their whole understanding of salvation on its head. The Old Testament taught that temporal blessings accompany obedience and curses come with rebellion. Turning that axiom around, it made sense to them that anyone who had temporal blessings also had eternal life. But Jesus was telling them the converse was not always true and it troubled them greatly.

Continuing on in the same chapter, Jesus set out for Jerusalem knowing that he would be betrayed by Judas, condemned by the Jewish leaders and sentenced to an excruciating death by Pilate. But He wasn’t dragging His feet. He was marching very deliberately, driven by a powerful resolution to fulfill the Father’s eternal plan to redeem mankind by offering Himself up as a sacrifice for sins. He was walking ahead of the disciples, leading the way. They were the ones dragging their feet. Mark says simply, “And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid” (Mar 10:32).

The very first thing Jesus did when He got to Jerusalem was to provoke a confrontation. He went straight to the Temple and began to drive out the money changers who had set up shop in the courtyard so they could convert Roman coins to Jewish shekels for payment of the temple tax. He also overturned the tables of those who sold pigeons for  poor people to offer as sacrifices. Mark comments, “And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy him, for they feared him, because all the crowd was astonished at his teaching” (Mar 11:15-19).

The religious leaders hated  Jesus because He had a way of humiliating them in front of the crowds. So they frequently concocted schemes to trap Him with His own words. Having watched Him cleanse the Temple of money changers, they sent a contingent to ask Him whether He supported Roman taxation. He said to them, “Bring me a denarius and let me look at it. And they brought one. And he said to them, Whose likeness and inscription is this? They said to him, Caesar’s. Jesus said to them, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s.’” And Mark said, “And they marveled at him” (Mar 12:13-17).

The chief priests finally got their hands on Jesus and brought him before Pilate to stand trial. Mark describes the scene this way, “And the chief priests accused him of many things. And Pilate again asked him, Have you no answer to make? See how many charges they bring against you. But Jesus made no further answer, so that Pilate was amazed” (Mar 15:3-5).

So they crucified Jesus and buried Him in a tomb sealed and guarded by Roman soldiers so that no one would come and steal the body and then claim He had been resurrected. But after three days, Jesus arose. When three women went to anoint the body, they found the tomb open and an angel sitting where the body had been laid. He said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has risen; he is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter that he is going before you to Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you.” And Mark says, “they went out and fled from the tomb, for trembling and astonishment had seized them, and they said nothing to anyone, for they were afraid” (Mar 16:6-8). And that is where the story ends in the original manuscripts, with three women fleeing in terror from an empty tomb. Verses 9-20 were later editions added to make a more natural conclusion, but Mark’s original intent was to leave the reader with a strong impression of the unsettling nature of the Man who came from heaven to earth to conquer sin and reconcile men and women to their Creator.

Jesus was amazing. He was terrifying. He was astonishing, astounding and marvelous. Some people ran from Him. Others ran to Him. Still others begged Him to leave. His disciples stayed with Him even though He continually frightened them and dragged them into the most terrifying situations. Some people held Him in awe and marveled at His authority and power. Others considered Him a threat and resolved to eliminate Him. But no one thought He was just a good man with an important message to share. You either hate Him or love Him, but you cannot remain indifferent.

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Bored With the Bible

The Christian Church is awash in heresies today. There is the “Word of Faith/Apostolic Reformation Movement” that teaches that there is a power and authority available to believers that exceeds even that of Jesus Christ. Bill Johnson, one of the chief proponents of this movement believes “that there will be a great end-time revival that will be initiated by an “Elijah generation” that shall transcend all other generations of Christians in regard to their ability to do great works of power.” (1) According to Ken Silva of Lighthouse Trails, a website dedicated to exposing false teaching, “Johnson is firmly against careful scholarship based on sound exegesis of Scripture. To him, such study is likely to bring one into bondage and spiritual death.”  Best-selling Christian author Joyce Meyer also promotes this teaching. We just became aware that one of the missionary families we support is deeply involved in this movement. We recently told them we are discontinuing their support because they are spreading false doctrine.

There is the “Spiritual Formation Movement.” Dallas Willard, a popular advocate of this movement, says, “Spiritual formation is not all by the Holy Spirit …there’s always more involved. We have to recognize that spiritual formation in us is something that is also done to us by those around us, by ourselves, and by activities which we voluntarily undertake …There has to be method.”(2) Mr. Willard teaches something called “Soul Keeping,” a doctrine that is more  mysticism than sound Biblical doctrine.  We had to leave a small group that began incorporating his teaching into our meetings via a video series produced by a former megachurch pastor from Willow Creek Church named John Ortberg.

Contemplative Spirituality,” also draws upon mystical practices to induce altered states of consciousness. Although its origins derive from from the ancient occult world, it is  often wrapped in Christian terminology. It teaches that God is all (pantheistic) and  at the same time is in all (panentheistic).“(3) Probably the most well-known advocate of contemplative spirituality is Sarah Young. Her book Jesus Calling is one of the best sellers of Thomas Nelson, a highly respected Christian publisher.  Inspired by two English women who wrote a book called God Calling in 1930, Sarah Young began employing their techniques to record the voice she heard speaking to her during devotions. The problem was that the two English women were practitioners of the occult. God Calling is a collection of channeled messages presented in the form of a daily devotional. The words the authors heard were not from Jesus, but demons. Many of the words Sarah Young has recorded directly contradict the teaching of scripture.(6) Other well-known proponents of contemplative spirituality are Rick Warren, Brian McLaren, Tim Keller and Beth Moore.

Lectio Divina is a form of Contemplative Prayer that employs techniques used in Buddhist mantras to empty the mind of extraneous thought and center on one word from a Bible passage in order to produce an altered state of consciousness.  Bill and Kristi Gaultiere, co-founders of Soul Shepherding, Inc. popularized this practice in their award-winning weekly Soul Talks Podcast and on their popular website

According to Lighthousetrails, “Lectio divina plays a significant role in leading people toward full blown meditative practices…by introducing a “presence” [that] is not God’s presence.” This same practice is also used in Ashtanga Yoga, part of the New Age Movement.

The “Emerging Church Movement” promotes a form of mysticism called “interspirituality,” or the uniting of all religions into one. Interspirituality denies that Jesus Christ is the only way of salvation (4). Donald Miller, author of Blue Like Jazz, which has sold over a million copies, says, “You cannot be a Christian without being a mystic.”  He dismisses rigorous study of theology as “charting God on a grid,” and commends mantra meditation and Buddhism.

Circle Making” is an occult practice based on a myth about a Jewish man named ‘Honi’ who was summoned by the elders of Jerusalem in the first century B.C. to pray for rain. As the story goes, he drew a circle around himself  in the dirt and begged God to end a three year drought. At first only a few drops fell. Then, in response to more urgent pleadings, a torrential downpour washed over the earth. Finally, the downpour subsided to a steady rain that soaked the earth and filled the cisterns. Anne Graham Lotz employs this occult practice in her appeals for spiritual revival.(5)

False doctrine has been incorporated into the very discipleship ministries of many evangelical churches in the form of Alpha Courses. Nicky Gumbel, vicar of the Holy Trinity Church Brompton, the largest Anglican church in England, founded this program. His church was a center of the “Holy Laughter Movement” that originated in Toronto under  Eleanor Mumford. When she “invited the Holy Spirit to come” at a  home meeting in England that Gumbel attended in 1994, he had an experience “like massive electricity going through my body.” He immediately introduced the movement to Holy Trinity. There he prayed, “Lord, thank you so much for all you are doing, and we pray you’ll send your Spirit,” and one of those present fell to the floor and began laughing like a hyena.(7)

Even Bible Study Fellowship, a staple of evangelical Bible study, has been influenced by false teaching. Members report that leadership has resorted to the “there are no wrong answers” approach to Bible interpretation and that resources like the Jesus Calling Devotional have been added to the list of recommended readings.(8)

These are just some of the heresies that are being promulgated by some of the most well-known names in evangelical circles. Christian bookstores promote their products and small groups devour them. At the same time, it has become increasingly difficult to find orthodox Christian literature on the shelves of Christian bookstores. Ask for the section on Reformed Theology or works by John Calvin, Martin Luther, or any of the great Puritan preachers and you will be met with a puzzled look. I posed this question on a recent visit to a clerk at the local Family Christian Book Store. After a long pause she said, “Now isn’t that an interesting question. I don’t think I’ve ever been asked that before.” She then proceeded to check her computer and said that the books were available on the website but there were none in the store.

So what is it that drives the proliferation of false teachers and the sale of books that promote false doctrine? Many of these heresies spring from a desire for spiritual power and authority or for a sense of mystery and awe that people are not getting from reading the Bible. Sarah Young said it best when explaining why she was drawn to the practice of channeling, “I knew that God communicated with me through the Bible, but I yearned for more.”

God’s Word is Deeply Satisfying

In the Psalms, David expresses his absolute delight in God’s law:

I long for your salvation, O Lord, and your law is my delight.” (Ps 119:174 )
If your law had not been my delight, I would have perished in my affliction.”(Ps 119:92 )
Your testimonies are my delight; they are my counselors.“(Ps 119:24)
but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.”(Ps 1:2)
Let your mercy come to me, that I may live; for your law is my delight.”(Ps 119:77)
I delight to do your will, O my God; your law is within my heart.”(Ps 40:8)
“...their heart is unfeeling like fat, but I delight in your law.”(Ps 119:70 )
Your testimonies are my heritage forever, for they are the joy of my heart.“(Ps 119:111)
Lead me in the path of your commandments, for I delight in it.”(Ps 119:35 )
Oh how I love your law! It is my meditation all the day.“(Ps 119:97 )
In the way of your testimonies I delight as much as in all riches.”(Ps 119:14)

Why does David find such satisfaction in God’s Word? It starts with his habit of meditating on the law day and night and storing it in his heart (Ps 1:2; 40:8; 119:111; 119:97;). That produces a sensitivity to the voice of the Holy Spirit as it uses God’s Word to prompt him toward obedience (Ps 119:70;119:24;Ps 40:8;119:35). David’s obedience, in turn, gives him strength to endure hardship, patient longing for God’s salvation, indescribable joy as he experiences God’s intervention on his behalf, and a deeply satisfying life free from longing (Ps 119:92; 119:174; Ps 119:14).

In Psalm 19 David describes the blessings of obeying God’s law:
The law of the Lord is perfect, reviving the soul; the testimony of the Lord is sure, making wise the simple; the precepts of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the Lord is pure, enlightening the eyes; the fear of the Lord is clean, enduring forever; the rules of the Lord are true, and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, even much fine gold; sweeter also than honey and drippings of the honeycomb. Moreover, by them is your servant warned; in keeping them there is great reward.”(Ps 19:7-11)

God’s law revives the soul, imparts wisdom, gives joy, produces understanding, and warns against sin. For those reasons, it was David’s most precious treasure.

The Apostle Paul also found the fulfillment of his deepest longings in God’s Word. In Romans 11:33 he says, “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!”

Paul devotes much of the book of Ephesians to describing the “mystery” of the gospel, “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace, which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.”(Eph 1:7-10)

Paul is grateful that he has been given the privilege “to preach to the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ, and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”(Eph 3:8-10)  And his prayer for the believers is “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him, having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe.” (Eph 1:17-19)

Missing Inspiration From The Holy Spirit

How could the Word of God be so exciting and mysterious and delightful to David and  Paul and so uninspiring to many professing Christians that they feel compelled to seek mystery and power and authority by other means?

One answer is in Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians, “that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him.” It is the Holy Spirit that provides the insight to understand the mystery of the gospel in all its glory. Those who pursue another gospel do so because they have never really been born again. They may have come forward at a rally or raised a hand at a revival meeting or said a prayer in answer to a gospel invitation, but they have never received the Holy Spirit because they have never repented of their sins. So they cannot comprehend the riches of God’s grace in providing forgiveness and redemption and adoption and sanctification. And they cannot thrill at the prospect of God uniting all things in heaven and earth under the authority of Christ because they do not know the wonder of his rule in their own hearts. They have never experienced release from bondage to sin or the freedom to pursue righteousness through the empowering of the Holy Spirit. They do not know how exciting it is to feel God’s favor, to be free from fear of judgment, to know that when they finally stand before God they will not have to face condemnation.

These people cannot comprehend the magnitude of God’s grace because they have never really sensed the magnitude of their own sins. Lacking a sense of remorse, they cannot know the inexpressible joy that comes from having the heavy burden of their sins lifted. If you have ever escaped a near fatal accident, you can understand to some degree the sense of relief and elation just to be spared to live another day. This is nothing compared to the joy that comes from knowing that Jesus Christ has borne God’s judgment against sin on our behalf. This is where the sense of mystery and awe begin. And it never ends because we will be in Christ’s debt for all of eternity.

Missing Inspiration From The Word of God

Both David and Paul loved God’s Word. They believed it, they trusted it, and they clung to it. They had no doubts as to its total veracity and reliability. Because they loved it, they spent time studying it and meditating upon it. Doubt as to the truthfulness of God’s Word robs it of its power. James says the one who doubts is like the waves of the sea tossed to and fro. That man will receive nothing from the Lord. “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.  But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (James 1:5-8). Jesus said, “ For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished. Therefore whoever relaxes one of the least of these commandments and teaches others to do the same will be called least in the kingdom of heaven, but whoever does them and teaches them will be called great in the kingdom of heaven” (Mt 5:18-19).

There are many nominal Christians today who believe some parts of the Bible but not others. Others believe it all, but consider obedience optional in some cases. Still others distinguish between “salvation issues” and the rest of the Bible. Others are not willing to sacrifice their lifestyles to follow Christ. Many professing Christians have chosen to discount the very parts that provide the sense of awe and power and mystery that they seek elsewhere – the creation, the miracles and the coming return of Christ in power and glory. The Holy Spirit will not grant understanding to one who has reservations about the truth of God’s word or who fails to obey it. That person will never be able to comprehend “…what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and what is the immeasurable greatness of his power toward us who believe“(Eph 1:19).

There is no lack of awe and mystery in the pages of the Bible for those who believe it and obey it without reservation. They will be led by the Holy Spirit into an understanding of the riches of their glorious inheritance and the immeasurable greatness of God’s power that will satisfy their deepest longings. But those who discount parts of the Bible for their own selfish reasons will never find that sense of mystery and awe no matter how hard they try.


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