Friday, January 11, 2019

The Word

Thank you to those of you who took the time to leave feedback on my last post (you know who you are). Though I have some Harley performance related posts in the works, this one is a slight variation on the format (with different content) of my last post.

And for those who prefer to read rather than listen, here is the text of the above multimedia presentation:

For today's text I would like to go to what I believe to be one of the most glorious, and informative, and profound places in the Bible, though there are many texts that fit that description.  This one is found in the Gospel of John chapter one.

John 1: 1-14

This text is just loaded with information about the person of Jesus Christ, and in fact it is one which most plainly teaches us about the deity of Christ.  This book, penned by the apostle John begins with a phrase that points us right back to the first book of the Old Testament. The Gospel of John starts out with, "In the beginning was the Word".  The book of Genesis starts with, "In the beginning God".  And note that by only the third verse of Genesis, the three persons of the Trinity have been revealed.  

Gen 1:1-3 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.

Clearly when the book of Genesis says "the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters," it is referring to the Holy Spirit.  Not so obvious without the book of John is that when God spoke those first words of command, "Let there be light," the word which was spoken is somehow eternally linked with the person we call Jesus. It is tempting to say that when God the Father speaks, what comes out of his mouth is Jesus Christ, who is the Word of God.  But that paints a picture that is not quite right either, because the Bible elsewhere informs us that God the Father is a spirit, not a being with physical features like a mouth. 
Perhaps the definition from Strong's Concordance of the Greek which is translated as “the Word” here in John 1 would be helpful.  It suggests that especially when used with the article "the," "the Word" can be understood as "divine expression."  The book of Hebrews seems to support that understanding.  It says this in chapter 1: "God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets,  Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;   Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power,"

I find this last phrase here in Hebrews intriguing.  It says upholding all things by “the word of his power.”  Not “by the power of his word”, as we might expect it to say, but rather by the word of his power!  I even went so far as to consult several other Bible translations of this phrase from the book of Hebrews and they all agree.  Upholding all things by the word of his power. But if we consider that definition from Strong’s Concordance that I mentioned a moment ago, it becomes a little easier to grasp. So, if we were to paraphrase it, it might go something like this: [Jesus], being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, upholding all things by the divine expression of his power.

Of course, the interrelationship between God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, which we refer to as the Trinity, can sometimes be a bit confusing, but I think it is often the case that we make it more confusing than we need to.  In the simplest form it is that Jehovah God is one being or one thing, but three persons.

As RC Sproul has said, the doctrine of the Trinity as found in the Bible is something we can apprehend, even if we cannot comprehend it. In other words, we may not be able to completely understand it or comprehend it, but we can apprehend it or see it clearly taught in the Bible.

On the other hand, as we contemplate the Triune God of the Bible, we might admit along with the Psalmist, " Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it."

But there is a great deal more to be found in this text at the beginning of the Gospel of John. Toward the end of our text, it says of this Jesus, The Word, "as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name."   So I would ask you, have you received Christ?  Do you believe on his name? 

You might ask, "how does one receive Christ?"  The text goes on to clarify that those who received him "were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."  So, it’s not something in your bloodline that you inherited from your parents.  It’s not something by the will of the flesh, such as doing some physical thing, and it’s not even by your own will such as having the willpower to be a good person.  No, it is by the will of God, and in fact the answer as to how we might receive Christ Jesus is right there in the text: “Believe on his name.” 

This believing on his name involves believing what Jesus has revealed of himself in the holy scriptures, but it is more than that.  Some translations use the phrase believing in his name, some like the one I just read use believing on his name, and some literal translations use the phrase believing into his name. All of those translations are attempting to convey the sense that this believing is much more than just your mind accepting the facts about Jesus.  It has to do with trusting him and putting that trust into action. We often call this faith.

The name Jesus itself is also important to our understanding of what we are to believe on.  If you trace the meaning of the name Jesus back to its Old Testament roots you find that it is the same name as Joshua which means Jehovah (or Yahweh) saves.  The fact that God saves, or Jesus saves is what we need to believe on or into. 
Nothing we can do will save us from the guilt of our sins or from the penalty for our sins. We cannot make up for past bad deeds by doing good things.  God does not have a scale with your good deeds on one side and your sins on the other with your eternal destiny dependent on which way the scale tips. 

The Old Testament prophet Isaiah tell us this: But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

So you see, if there was such a scale, your good deeds would have to go on the same side as your sins, condemning you.  Only the righteousness of Christ can tip the scale in your favor, and that righteousness is counted as yours when you believe on Him!

Only the death of Jesus Christ can pay the penalty for our sins to keep us from condemnation, and only His righteousness can earn us a place in heaven.  But just as important, only His resurrection from the dead can confirm for us that God the Father found his sacrifice to be acceptable.  That is what we need to believe on to receive Jesus

Thursday, December 20, 2018

Something a Little Bit Different ...

I am going to try something a little different here, and I would like your feedback on it, whether that be positive, negative, or indifferent. But first a short explanation.

When I began reading blogs, years ago, that medium had not yet peaked in its popularity.  I like to write and wanted to share both the Gospel of Jesus Christ as well as some of the knowledge pertaining to Harleys that I have stumbled upon over time, so I took the leap and started my own blog. One thing I noted when reading various blogs, was that often a long post would be difficult for me to fit into the time I had to spare.  I would like to think that was not primarily due to a short attention span on my part, still, I always tried (sometimes not so successfully) to keep my own posts to a "readable" length.

But as time went on, and computer and internet access speeds increased, blogging began to fall by the wayside for most people and videos became much more popular.  Along with this, I discovered that I was able to listen to debates, lectures, and sermons online in my shop while I work.  Just as many shops have a radio playing in the background during working hours, I often have "select" audio from the internet playing.

So, here is my thought.  What if I were to provide something similar?  So with no further introduction here is my audio message which I titled, Christmas Future: The Coming Messiah.

And I really would appreciate your feedback; even if it is to point out that I have a perfect voice for silent films...

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

A Day of Thanks, But Who Do We Thank?

Thanksgiving Day 2018.  We are only three short years away from the 400th anniversary of the Thanksgiving celebration on which those that followed are modeled after.  In the fall of 1621, 53 Pilgrims celebrated their first harvest in the New World, joined by about 90 Native Americans. Soon after the birth of the United States, our first President, George Washington, declared a “National Day of Thanksgiving and Praise.”  Though various states had official “Thanksgiving” proclamations and holidays set aside at different times, it was not until Abraham Lincoln declared a “National Day of Thanksgiving” in the midst of the Civil War, that it became widely popular.  Finally, in 1941 Congress made it official by way of legislation declaring Thanksgiving as a National holiday.

While the Thanksgiving meal has always been a major focal point of the day, in some ways even that misses the original point.  For some, the emphasis is on stuffing the bird and then stuffing themselves, with nary a thought to anything else, unless it be football and the shopping binge to follow.  But for others, a comely tradition has developed in which each one gathered at the table tells of something they are thankful for. A fine method of focusing attention on our blessed condition to be sure, but still somewhat prone to missing the point. 

If we are giving thanks, to who or what are we doing so?  In this increasingly secular society in which we live, the question is not rhetorical.  So, who do you thank on this Thanksgiving Day? 
If you consider yourself an atheist, sharing the worldview of famous atheist Richard Dawkins, then you might be thankful to the universe which he describes as having “… no design, no purpose, no evil and no good, nothing but blind pitiless indifference.”  If you count yourself among these, then God calls you a fool (Psalm 14:1 among other places) and It would seem pointless for you to be thankful.

Or perhaps you offer your thanks to “mother earth” for the bounty she has bestowed upon you.  Do you think the earth (who, I hate to break it to you, is not your mother) hears and accepts your praises? Thanking a mute idol puts you in little better position than the one who rejects the knowledge of a Sovereign Creator altogether (Romans 1:18-25). In fact, that earns you the same title of fool (God’s description, not mine).

But, you say, can’t a person just be thankful for things without directing that thankfulness toward a particular being or object?  I suppose, but it is an exercise in empty discourse. Words of thanks aimed to no one, in praise of no one, and that give glory to no one, is the epitome of mouthing words but saying nothing.

So, this Thanksgiving Day, won’t you give your thanks specifically to the LORD God in Heaven, who has blessed you with life, liberty and sustenance; the One who created the world and all that is in it, which you are able to enjoy each day?

Friday, November 16, 2018

Sickness on Parade

This is really disturbing, and yet, unless you prefer to stroll along in naivety, aka blissful ignorance, it is worth watching.  Every man of good conscience (a species in short supply today) is already aware that recently America has been on the path of attempting to overtake Sodom and Gomorrah on God’s all time top ten list of places that deserve his wrath to rain down upon, but this may reveal that you still have been underestimating the level of depravity.

WARNING:  Some of the footage presented in this video is not for the faint of heart. I feel confident that said footage was included not merely for shock value (though it is shocking) but rather as a defibrillator to the American conscience. I WISH that it could be simply ignored until it goes away, but it seems to be growing like a cancer, and I am not sure that this cancer is other than of the terminal variety.  But, also like cancer or heart disease, it is probably better to be aware than to continue imagining that all is well with the world.

Top 5 Ways Leftists Sexualize Kids

Incidentally, its interesting that the conclusion reached in this commentary are eerily similar to those I recently presented in post titled "Slippery Slopes and the Letter P".