The most amazing aspect of Jesus’ ministry is not that He loved the sinner while hating the sin; or loved those who hated Him. After all, we shouldn’t really be amazed at anything Divinity can do because God is God. When I am amazed at God I am looking at him through my sinfulness. What amazes me the most about Jesus’ ministry is how many immoral sinners loved Him because He loved them. Understand, Jesus didn’t have the cross – not yet – to say to the sinner, “See how much God loves you!” Jesus just had His life which said, “See how much God loves you!” I want to live that life!
“I want to be wrong.” Jeremiah prophesied the destruction of Jerusalem and a 70 year exile. Hananiah prophesied it would only last 2 years. Jeremiah responded saying “Amen! May the LORD do so” (Jer.28:6). Jeremiah wanted to be wrong. In bible class last night someone said the problem too many have is they want to be right. I think on a list such as this we should all want to be wrong. Such an attitude keeps at bay the thought “I’ve heard all the arguments before already.” It also keeps at bay answering without thinking. If we want to be right, first we have to want to be wrong.
Levels of Acceptance – Years ago I read a study on the three levels of accepting truth: Intellectual, Personal, Universal. When a sinner studies baptism and accepts the truth, the first stage is intellectual. Unfortunately we all have seen sinners stop there. They know baptism is when we accept God’s grace, but they will not apply. The next stage is personal which is when a sinner breaks down the barrier that keeps them from applying what they know on a personal level. They act and are baptized, accepting mercy through faith. The last stage is universal wherein they accept if this is true for me then it is true for everyone. This final acceptance takes time for some, while others immediately see the logical truth. What is the applied action to accepting the universal application? In the example of baptism it is evangelism. As to why some Christians never preach the good news of grace, one answer is they have stopped the logical progression of the application of truth: 1) It is true; 2) If it is true, then it is true for me, so I act; 3) If it is true, and it is true for me, then it is true for all, so I act. “Therefore, those who had been scattered went about preaching the word” (Acts 8:4). What level of truth have you accepted?
The word of the LORD also came to me saying (Jer.17:1).
This phrase, “the word of the Lord” is found in 255 Bible verses; 51 of those verses are in Jeremiah.
Pardon my “wondering around….” But…
1) I wonder…Do we say it enough that we are preaching God’s words, and not our own?
2) I wonder…But then again, we must ask ourselves if we are preaching God’s words more than our own?
3) I wonder…When quoting scripture, would the impact be great if we said, “And the Holy Spirit said through Paul…” rather than saying, “And Paul said….”
4) I wonder…When the word of the Lord comes to us, are we ready to accept the bad as well as the good? Are we willing to accept both equally as the word of the Lord? The following “word of the Lord” had to be hard to take at first and maybe at last.
5) I wonder…Have we lost the awe that comes from hearing that we are hearing the word of the Lord?
How messed up was Jonah? Most people become depressed and disappointed because their expectations are not met. But not Jonah. He became depressed and disappointed with God because his expectations were met (Jonah 4:1-3). How messed up is that?! Thankfully, that means if God could use Jonah, God can use a messed-up me. (from the sermon: Depression – We Are Not Alone).
Advice for weak Christians who think they are strong: You have a lot of company because self-delusion is the easiest lie to believe. Your company even includes the illustrious Jeremiah the prophet. Not normally would we think of Jeremiah being weak; but notice how God describes Jeremiah after one of his complaints: “If you have raced with runners and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses? If you stumble in a peaceful land, what will you do in the thickets of the Jordan?” (Jeremiah 12:5 (HCSB)). So who is the weak Christian who thinks they are strong? Every one of us who gets spiritually tired and beaten by today’s evil competition. We won’t see how strong we are – or are not, and need to be – until this peaceful land of ours becomes antagonistic to Christians. We are already seeing races being won by Satan’s runners. Soon Satan will have us running against his horses. The advice God gives Jeremiah is not welcomed but is needed. We can’t see how strong we need to be until we first are willing to see how weak we have been. Only then can we through God become strong.
One of the powerful aspects of Jeremiah’s book is when he records God asking questions. Check out the questions in chapter 5 (some are repeated showing divine frustration): Why should I forgive you? Should I not punish them for these things? Should I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this? Do you not fear Me? Do you not tremble before Me, the One who set the sand as the boundary of the sea, an enduring barrier that it cannot cross? Should I not punish them for these things? Should I not avenge Myself on such a nation as this? But what will you do at the end of it?
While these questions are a powerful testimony by themselves, they are directed at the nation of Judah and can seem non-threatening to us. So lets ask this question – What questions would God ask us, our church, and our country? It is harder to feel comfortable when we aim God’s questions at ourselves.
Can what we believe doctrinally change what we believe is the gospel? Recently I read the gospel is defined as the “deity, death, and resurrection of Jesus.” Notice anything missing? Unlike Paul’s description of the gospel (1 Cor.15:4), this gentleman (and rightfully respected scholar) left out Jesus’ burial. Many treat it as superfluous, and I suggest why is because they do not believe baptism is both immersion and essential to salvation. So they just emphasize the Divine Jesus was crucified and resurrected. Is Jesus’ burial incidental or important? Notice what is said in the very first sermon after Jesus’ death, burial and resurrection: Acts 2:27 – “because You will not leave me in Hades or allow Your Holy One to see decay.” Jesus’ body was not only killed and resurrected, it was protected from decay in the tomb. God worked while Jesus rested. In baptism, God works on us too (Col.2:12). Of course, if you believe you are saved without obeying Jesus’ command (Mark 16:16); and if you believe baptism isn’t a burial (Rom.6:4); then you too can let what you believe doctrinally change what is the gospel.
Can a biblical doctrine become our idol? One reason God did not want graven images made to honor Him is there is no singular image that captures all of God. In fact nothing can since even Jesus is both lion and lamb. To emphasize one aspect of God into an image limits God. The same is true for God’s doctrines. When we want to make God only or mostly love or grace we limit God. When we want to make God only or mostly righteous or wrathful, again we limit God. Just as a graven image reduced God to that person’s favorite attribute, we can make our favorite doctrines about God into our idols. When we isolate God, then we turn against those who have chosen another idol.
A statement is axiomatic if it needs no proof because it is true by the definitions of the words themselves: A servant is not above his master; water is wet; etc. Denial comes when people willingly ignore the obvious which is becoming the new legal norm: Men are no longer only males; marriage is no longer only between males and females. Denying the axiomatic truth did not begin recently but it almost always is driven by the desire to make immoral choices. The entire Bible begins with an axiomatic statement which supplies additional information: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” Earth being created is axiomatic because it is matter and matter itself decays and therefore is not self-existent. Since matter is not self-existent it must have had a beginning. The Bible supplies who began and created – God. Denying both of these is driven by the immoral desire to be our own Lord and master. So in the end the servant becomes greater than the master but only in a purposely delusional mind where definitions do not matter and nothing is true unless we want it to be true. It is axiomatic such is not a rational world.