GOD NEVER LOSES TRACK OF SIN

Technology can’t even keep up with sin and those that commit them.

The other day according to the news an electronic monitoring system run by BI Incorporated maxed out its storage capacity that tracked the location of 16,000 sex offenders, parolees, substance abusers and other offenders leaving law enforcement blind for 12 hours. They questionably detained 140 offenders as well.  This is amazing because apparently the technology can hold over 2 billion records and they are working on expanding the threshold to a monstrous one trillion records.

This is scary stuff.

We no longer have to imagine or limit it to a sci-fi tale about  people having the power to track information about anyone at anytime. It is obvious we have that technology as imperfect as it is.  The idea of locating the whereabouts of incorrigible criminals is not what bothers me-but I wonder what it would be like if the government expands that power to any citizen.  I do not know of Orwellian conspiracies as of yet, but in the name of security freedom can be  lost. The search and seizure of information and the fourth amendment of the U.S. constitution must remain a precious right to us in this country.

I chuckled at the company’s name “BI.” Some of you will remember when we used to say as kids: “Its none of your BI business!”  We used to purposely misspell the word business as “bizness”  to emphasize and intensify the “stay out of my business” idea.  It is not childish to have privacy and we should all be careful, very careful about who knows what about us. Something to think about. 

The BI information grid broke down with this company and the law enforcement with which it works were blind for 12 hours to any criminal activities. 

But God will never stay out your business. He is never blind. He keeps track of sin. There is no right to privacy with him.

The Bible says that, “But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.” (Romans 2:5).

Did I read that right?  People treasuring the wrath of God?

The archaic word treasurest is the Greek word thēsaurizō  and in Latin thesaurizas where we get the word thesaurus. This is not referring to the book we use that groups similar and differing words together. It comes from a  root word that means a place where valuables and riches are stored.  Paul teaches those that refuse to repent and  make an 180 degree turn from thinking about and doing those things that the All seeing and All knowing God hates  despite God’s tender goodness and kindness to them are actually accumulating wrath, adding to God’s anger that will be vented against them one day.  He never loses one byte of information.

I know we do not hear much about God’s anger against sin and there are those who actually teach he does not become angry today. But God witnesses and weighs out sin (Jer 32:10). God says of those who refuse to repent, “Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures? To me belongeth vengeance and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.” (Deut 32:34-35).  He keeps in reserve and under lock and key the sins of men and women who refuse to repent.

In fact, Hosea the prophet said of Israel that,  “The iniquity of Ephraim is bound up; his sin is hid.” (Hosea 13:12). This actually can be translated that his sin has been collected and kept in storage for punishment!  “Ephraim’s wickedness is on record. The record of the people’s sins is safely stored away.” (GWT).

John Calvin states that, “that the ungodly not only accumulate for themselves daily a heavier weight of God’s judgments, as long as they live here, but that the gifts of God also, which they continually enjoy, shall increase their condemnation; for an account of them all will be required: and it will then be found, that it will be justly imputed to them as an extreme wickedness, that they had been made worse through God’s bounty, by which they ought surely to have been improved. Let us then take heed, lest by unlawful use of blessings we lay up for ourselves this cursed treasure.”

Frightening information. But there is hope.

Only Christ can save you from God’s just, inflamed anger against you.  Divine Justice demanded a payment for sin and Christ made that payment on the behalf of his people. It can not be extorted by doing good works, it cannot be ignored by changing the rules.

One day you will stand before God for all you have done and there will be no escape unless you have run with all your might to the only place of safety and the person who can save you-Jesus Christ. He will expunge the record of sin that is against you. He made payment by pouring out his blood, the only one in the universe whose blood was untainted by sin. God only accepts that payment for sin.

He will not be bribed by how much good you do and weigh it against the bad you have done and let you off the hook. No. It cannot and will not happen. Every day he has been kind and merciful to you and you have spurned his love. Put your faith and trust in what Christ has done alone or face the horrible withdrawal of your sins and God’s unbearable justice one day soon.

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DID GOD KILL ADAM?

expulsion1Hamartiology is a theological term that refers to  the study of sin.  Yes, I said the word sin and the word theology. This article will be heavy theology to some by wade through the waters if you can. I am just a student attempting to learn more about our Lord. 

Sin means to miss the mark of God’s standard and perfection. I know it is an unfamiliar word in some circles but it is the most dangerous influence in the universe. The truth about sin is an acquired taste and it is definitely unpalatable to this generation and in times past. Sin is breaking God’s law (1 John 3:4). The Bible calls it the plague of the heart (1 Kings 8:38). People do not, cannot and will not become conformed to the will of God because they are deformed in their nature because of sin. Sin is not just a habit or an illness it is the punishment that  has brought spiritual death. We need to study about the radical depravity of humans because unless we know about the  nature, origin and consequences of sin we can never genuinely worship God for his mighty power to save and free us from its penalty, power and presence. 

The book of Genesis records that God created our planet in six 24 hour periods or days (Gen. 1-2). God created human beings in his image and breathed life into them (Gen. 1:26; 2:27).  Adam was a man who had a body which served as an earthly exterior and he was given “the breath of  lives” and given a spirit and soul or heavenly insides. God made a garden paradise for them to live in (Gen 2:8).

Grace or Work in The Garden

Certain theologians insist that adhering to the belief that God and Adam had a covenant of works-based on the obedience of Adam to God’s command as a test of whether you really have pure doctrine.  But John Murray says,

“Towards the end of the 16th century the administration dispensed to Adam in Eden, focused in the prohibition to eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, had come to be interpreted as a covenant, frequently called the Covenant of Works, sometimes a covenant of life, or the Legal Covenant. It is, however, significant that the early covenant theologians did not construe this Adamic administration as a covenant, far less as a covenant of works. Reformed creeds of the 16th century such as the French Confession (1559), the Scottish Confession (1560), the Belgic Confession (1561), the Thirty-Nine Articles (1562), the Heidelberg Catechism (1563), and the Second Helvetic (1566) do not exhibit any such construction of the Edenic institution. After the pattern of the theological thought prevailing at the time of their preparation, the term ‘covenant,’ insofar as it pertained to God’s relations with men, was interpreted as designating the relation constituted by redemptive provisions and as belonging, therefore, to the sphere of saving grace.”  (John Murray, Collected Writings of John Murray: 4, Studies in Theology, “Covenant Theology,” (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 1982), pp. 217-18).

But there is too much evidence of  grace and mercy in the Garden of Eden  as God condescended to the first couple.  Adam was not left to himself without help and and just because his decisions or his will were unfettered from evil desires does not mean he did not need God’s life and communion. He was made to fellowship with God.  Because Adam fell was he more dependant on God for mercy?  I do not think so. Adam needed God’s presence and life just in his glorious state of perfection as well.  God was the Creator and He was still the created. Eventually, we see the root of his sinful pride was that he did not want to depend on God alone. But Adam, holy and innocent as he was stood out as a specimen of the Sovereign grace of God. His wife was a gift by grace. His home, work and title were all gifts of grace.  He owed his very existence to God’s grace!   The biggest problem with the Covenant of Works is that it misconstrues God’s dealings with Adam. Does God legally deal with Adam on the basis of his works and obedience and then make another covenant of grace later that deals with us in mercy apart from our actions?   What did Adam fall from anyway? It was an awful apostasy and breakdown from the life, love and communion he had with God.  He fell from grace!

Wanted: Adam Dead or Alive

Adam was  promised life for obedience and threatened death for disobedience.  He has to obey God or he could not enjoy fellowship with God. As many preachers point out that he was free to eat from every tree except that one. The emphasis was on God’s grace and Adam’s status. Adam was a representative or federal head of all human beings (Rom. 5:12-19; 1 Cor. 15:22, 47).  There is a biblical implication that God made a covenant with Adam but it was because of grace and steadfast love (Hosea 6:6-7). Then our first parents disobeyed God (Gen 3).  When he disobeyed things changed. When Adam sinned he died spiritually (Ezek. 18:20; Eph. 2:5) and He became a slave to sin (Romans 6:16; 2 Peter 2:19) and the sin he sinned and the death he died was transmitted to all of humanity (Rom. 5:12). Simply put, total depravity means human beings are dead in sin and sold out to its power. Death and total depravity are synonymous.

The idea of God giving Adam the death penalty for his crime had somehow slipped our minds.  But it is clear as day. God’s justice and mercy are woven through the tapestry of scripture. God sentenced Adam to slavery to sin and spiritual death. Was God unrighteous to enforce this penalty as Creator and Lawgiver? His perfection, holiness and justice are limitless! He hates sin. All sin is against God (Psalm 51: 4).  This must never be forgotten. Adam countered God’s goodness, kindness and glory with violating his law! Adam was made for God’s glory and to serve him and Adam betrayed the God of heaven with what R.C. Sproul refers to as “cosmic treason.” Adam deliberately rebelled against God and defected to serve Satan and his lies. That is why God inflicted capital punishment upon him and sentenced him to death, “in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die!” (Gen 2:17).  God takes vengeance upon Adam and repays him to the face for his deed with spiritual and eventually physical death and also slavery to the sin Adam loved so much (Deut 7:10; Rom 12:19).

Arthur Pink comments that man, “is like a murderer in the condemned cell awaiting execution…he is dead vitally, without a single spark of spiritual life. Thus he is totally dead to God and holiness, cast out of His favor, without any power to recover it.”  That is total depravity in a nutshell. Adam was put to death by God.  He was executed for his crime. The day he ate he died inside and he sat on death row until he died physically. The payback of sin is death (Romans 6:23).  Human beings are so entrenched in sin they cannot produce anything that is equal to God’s standard for heaven.  The heart and will are dead. This does not mean he cannot feel guilt or is unable to discern right and wrong. This does not mean they cannot make day to day decisions or feel affection for others. What this means is that men are incapable of loving God in and of themselves and in their mind hate the truth of God are defiant against it. In everything humans do is tainted with sin. This truth should humble us.

A Love-Hate Relationship

God was angry at Adam for what he did.  American Christianity will avoid talking about God’s wrath or deny God has anger at all.  They think  it portrays God having some fault or blemish in his character. But he detests, loathes and has an aversion to evil and hates sin. God does not separate that anger toward those who live in sin either. People will say that God’s wrath was an Old Covenant issue, not in the New Covenant. Ridiculous! Right now God’s wrath is revealed from heaven (Rom. 1:18).  There is a day of wrath coming (Mt 3:7; Luke 3:7; Rom 2:5). For people who do not believe in Christ God’s wrath is upon them (John 3:36), they are ominously called “the children of wrath” (Eph. 2:3).

God does love righteousness and hate iniquity (Ps. 45:7; Heb. 1: 9). Let us be clear: God’s hatred for sin and the God’s passion for justice  are divinely foreign and transcend human emotions and affections. He does not love as we love, he does not hate as we hate-He is perfect love and perfect holiness! Many people point out that God is love (1 John 4:8) but He is not all loving and all forgiving. He also is holy and just. There are scriptures that teach God hates the unrepentant reprobate (Hosea 9:15; Ps. 5:5; 11:5; Lev. 20:23; Prov. 6:16-19; Mal. 1:3; Rom. 9:13)!  Does this shock you? How could this be? I know it is a lot to think about. We have always been taught that God does not hate anyone.   The Bible teaches this in contradiction to much preaching today. This is the most difficult truth for anyone to swallow because the majority of people especially church goers under spin doctor preaching or pop theology want unconditional acceptance from God no matter what they do. God giving people over to their desires such as Romans 1:18-32 is another truth that sours in their spiritual stomachs.

They also think in humanistic terms because what they do is not as bad as others. Notice the comparison they use, “not as bad as others.”  We hate (tolerantly, politely and sometimes angrily) those who commit awful crimes. The molester, child abuser or murderer are an object of hostility, abhorrence and revulsion. Whereas we know we should not take the law in our hands but when justice is served upon awful criminals, molesters, murderers-we loathe them and want to see justice served.  Those who we appoint to represent us and to deal with crime, are called God’s servants,  “an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer.” (Rom 13: 4). But God’s wrath is free from anything tainted by sin and what are the sinful actions of we human beings contrasted with the thrice Holy God of the universe? Where angels since eternity involuntarily past spill out and never grow weary of crying out, “Holy, Holy, Holy, Lord God Almighty!” (Rev. 4:8).  What sin ticks God off? All sin  whether in thought, word or deed (James 2:10). Even taking a piece of fruit in the Garden angered him, because He commanded Adam not to do it.

Christ is the Only Hope For Sinners

In Genesis chapter three Adam and Eve were unable to clothe themselves, hide themselves, excuse themselves and unable to save themselves. The flimsy leaves of their self righteousness could not clear them of their deeds (Isaih 64:6). I believe that God acted in mercy toward the elect first parents by slaying the animal and clothing them with animal skins. Sin had to be punished and at the same time he wanted to save his creation! But how could he justify the ungodly without violating his own laws (Prov 17:15)? Only Jesus, the eternal Son of God was the only One who could save them.  His sacrifice was the only act that could save us. For Adam and Eve, Abel and others those who saw the shadow of the cross across their path were saved retroactively (Heb. 10:1).

Christ removes spiritual death and the last enemy to be destroyed has already been dealt a death blow (1 Cor 15:26).  The God-man was the perfect once-for-all sacrifice (Heb 10:10). King Jesus, the Lord of glory (1 Cor. 2:8) left his throne above to come and die in the place of sinful men, to satisfy a God who was offended at the despicable acts of man. This was a type of what the predicted “seed of the woman” would do (Gen 3:15). He would be sacrificed to appease the anger of  God. That is the meaning of the word propitiation and atonement. Only in Christ can we be saved from God’s wrath (Rom. 5:9; 1 Thess. 1:10). 

Jesus Christ came into this world for lawbreakers and sinners (1 Tim. 1:15) and they can only be saved by the power of the Spirit of God drawing them to foot of Calvary’s cross (John 6:44).  Jesus died saying, “Father forgive them!” (Luke 23:34) in making covenant in his blood (Heb 13:20). he not only made the covenant but he  was the Covenant (Isaiah 42:6)  and he sealed these people as he died for them to give them eternal life (Eph4:30).  Jesus could look at  the people given to him by the Father and say, “because I live ye shall live also.” (John 14:19).  The last Adam was a life giving spirit (1 Cor 15:45) who came and resurrected the lost souls of his elect people by his own resurrection.  He is the first of the harvest of the resurrection (1 Cor 15:23). Jesus will resurrect human beings from their graves notonly physically (John 5:28) but he gives new birth to those whom he breathes on and speaks life to (John 3:5; 20:22; Eph 2:1, 5). He will give life, eternal life to believers, those ordained to eternal life (Acts 13:48).  He sees people in their dead condition and he says, “Come forth!” (Luke 11:43). 

Notice what Jesus says, “For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.” (John 16:27). “Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it.” (Eph 5:25).  Jesus loves us, he comes as God’s answer not ours. He died in love for his church, “having loved his own which were in the world, he loved them unto the end.” (John 13:1). He stooped down to wash their sins away and to remove the reason for God’s wrath against them!  He loves the justified sinner (John 14:21). The blood of Jesus Christ washed their sins away (Rev. 1:5). He lavishly, abundantly poured out the riches of his grace and forgiveness “in love” upon his own, those he has saved (Eph 1:4-7). We are rooted and grounded in that love (Eph3:17) and Christ is the sole hope of salvation.

Must God Kill Us?

Some of you bristle still at the fact that God executed Adam for his crimes and sentenced him to return to the dust. But there is a death we all must die that is not physical. It is through the conviction of the Holy Spirit that the Word of God must kill us (John 16:8; Heb 4:12).  God says to Israel, “I cut you in pieces with my prophets, I killed you with the words of my mouth; my judgments flashed like lightning upon you.” (Hosea 6:5NIV). Real biblical preaching  puts to death the pride of humans and exalts God! That is where surrender to God comes in the form of repentance. Why?  Repentance is the death to self that we all must die so that we come alive in Christ clothed in his righteousness not the tattered rags of our self righteousness. We must take up our cross and follow Christ.  Adam’s flimsy leaves, and taking cover behind the tree of his sins could not cover his sin.  Like him we cannot hide. All the church of today offers with its self improvement, motivational psycho-gospel  leaves us red faced and ashamed in the presence of the God whose piercing gaze cannot be bribed with the good works of man.  Humans must take on the robe of Christ and hide behind or in the rugged wood of the cross of Christ! 

Let me finish with the words of Charles Spurgeon:

“This downcasting and slaying is good for us. We take a deal of killing, and it is by being killed that we live. Many a man will never live till his proud self is slain. O proud Pharisee, if you are to live among those whom God accepts, you will have to come to the slaughterhouse and be cut in pieces as well as killed. “This is dreadful work,” saith one, “this dividing of joints and marrow, this spiritual dismemberment and destruction.” Assuredly it is painful, and yet it were a grievous loss to be denied it.  Alas, how many are so good and excellent, and strong and wise, and clever, and all that, that they cannot agree to be saved by grace through faith. If they could be reduced to less than nothing it would be the finest thing that ever happened to them. Remember what Solomon said might be done with the fool, and yet it would not answer–he was to be brayed in a mortar among wheat with a pestle,-pretty hard dealing that, and yet his folly would not depart from him. Not by that process alone, but through some such method, the Holy Spirit brings men away from their folly. Under his killing operations this may be their comfort that, if Jesus Christ rose literally from the dead (not from sickness, but from death), and lives again, even so will his people. “

The Mud and Water of the Gospel

healing_of_the_blind_man_jekelNotice that beautiful phrase: “And Jesus passed by.” Did you see it? Oh how I long for you to see him passing by you right now. Jesus the Messiah, God in the flesh, the same one Moses saw when, “the LORD passed by before him, and proclaimed, The LORD, The LORD God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth.” (Ex 34:6). Jesus passed by this man, stopped what he was doing and stooped down to help him. 

 

There were many beggars, many blind people but he did not stop for them. But he stopped for this man! Why? Grace! The Sovereign grace of God! He says, “I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion.” So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” (Rom 9: 15-16ESV). Will Jesus pass by you? Will he see you  and where you are at and help you with his presence and power? There are those in the church who wonder why they do not experience more of the presence of God.  Like Jeremiah we feel like God is a visiting guest staying only for a night (Jer. 14:8). I think we need the mud and water of the gospel!

 

Oh, I would like to pray like Elisha, “O LORD, please open the eyes of these people that they may see the son of Man, Jesus Christ walking in the midst of his church” (see 2 Kings 6:15-17; Rev. 1: 12, 13). There are people that do not realize that Jesus is passing your way! Throughout your life he lifted you to his cheek. Like a doting parent he taught you how to walk, leading you gently by the hand but you did not know or even care he led you through life with gentle cords of kindness and love (Hosea 11:1-4). Ah we are truly God chosen frozen! We need a fresh anointing of the Holy Spirit! In our services have we forgotten that Jesus is walking down the aisle moving through every seat, touching people at the altar who are praying!  He says he desires the works of God to be seen in our lives! All it takes is some gospel mud and water!

 

Ah, but we want Jesus Christ to come to us on our terms! We want something that will blow us up, shake us up, and fire us up! At one time God told Elijah, “Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the LORD. And, behold, the LORD passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before the LORD; but the LORD was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but the LORD was not in the earthquake: And after the earthquake a fire; but the LORD was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice.” (1 Kings 19:11-12).  The Lord was not in the show! He was in a whisper, a gentle sound of quiet stillness! Ah, that is where we miss it! The man in our story was not deaf! He could hear the words of the still, small calming voice of the Savior! This man was not blown up, shaken up, or fired up! But after some spittle, a little mud, and washing his face in a pool he could see!  But the voice of Jesus is so powerful a whisper can make all the difference. Do you hear his whispers?  By God’s grace you may not see everything that is being told you tonight but you can hear it. All it takes is some mud and water of the gospel!

 

“He saw a man blind from birth.” Jesus saw this man and he sees those who are lost in darkness. The blind man did not once ask Jesus for sight! This shows again salvation is not finding God or knowing God but God finding us and knowing us (Gal 4:9)! You have not been looking for him because you have no eyes to see! How helpless people are without Christ! The Bible says they are “without strength” (Rom 5:6) to repent (Prov. 5:22), have faith (Mt. 13:58) and pray (Isa. 64:7),  it is like they are curled up in a fetal position unable even to help themselves! They cannot even purse their lips to whisper a prayer for what they really need! But Jesus saw him!  He sees you are the very person he has been looking for to put his forgiving love on display. Dr. Jesus only comes for the sick, not the healthy!  But just one look from Jesus, “Then the eyes of the blind shall be opened, and the ears of the deaf shall be unstopped.” (Isa. 35:5).

 

We are clear that the context of the story is that this man or his family’s sin did not bring this blindness upon him, but this scripture is a case and point for those who are spiritually blind. “Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart.” (Eph 4:18). This man was born into a world of darkness and those who do not know Christ are living in complete spiritual blindness.  Many of you have taken the life God has given you and live a life of blindly sinning against him. You cannot even find him because you have no eyes. But the Alpha and Omega, The beginning and the End, the First and the Last, he who is “Everything” has passed your way tonight, and he is looking for you. He has eyes that penetrate the thickest darkness and can restore sight in this simple place of prayer by the simple mud and water of the gospel.

 

The most brilliant light cannot be seen by a corpse. You cannot see the beautiful shadow of the Son of God if you are dead in trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1). The Bible says that there is a darkness that is so dark it can be felt (Ex 10:21-23).  It is a gloomy thick darkness that chokes the atmosphere of your life. “A land of darkness, as darkness itself; and of the shadow of death, without any order, and where the light is as darkness.” (Job 10:22). Do you have a spiritual pulse? Oh it is the work of God to pass by you in this dead condition and he will say, “Live!” (Ezek 16:6). Even now if in your heart you are saying, “Let me live!” there is already a spiritual pulse in your life. Even now you are coming to life by the presence of Christ and the simple mud and water of the gospel!

 

Then it is amazing grace that God has shown you to hear Jesus whisper your name.  To hear the sweet voice of Jesus whisper in your ears as He says, “As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world! I must work the works of him that sent me, night cometh when no man can work.”  Christ’s life and ministry were like the sunrise that blossoms into a noon time sun on the whole world and his death would be like the sunset and then night. The Father set a time for Jesus to come who arose like “the Sun of righteousness with healing in his wings” (Mal. 4:2).

 

Oh that is the mercy of God if you can hear his voice even now! I pray he will speak the word to your heart. You cannot run from his smiling face, His face full of pity and compassion for you. He can find you wherever you are at this very moment. The word of God, the Bible, is living and powerful and that is why God is talking this way to you at this moment. He can speak the word “Let there be light!” and that light can penetrate into the darkest life in less time than it takes to say those words! 

 

He whispers to you “Awake thou that sleepest and arise from the dead and Christ shall give thee light.” (Eph 5:14). The word that he speaks is like, “a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts!” (2 Peter 1:19).  That dark place means, “A parched, squalid, dirty, dark, neglected murky” place (Vincent)! Oh like the first star in the morning he will rise into the darkest night of your life- that is the beginning of what we call illumination (Heb 10:32). It is a special work of God that imbues (soaks and make a soul rich) in the light of salvation (Thayer). In a moment that midnight darkness will see at first the glimmer of the bright and morning star Jesus Christ and as he comes closer your soul will be turn into a noonday of mercy and grace. Only then can you really say, “I was blind but now I see!” It is all because of the Mud and Water of the Gospel! 

 

The text goes on to say, “When he had thus spoken, he spat on the ground, and made clay of the spittle, and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And said unto him, Go, wash in the pool of Siloam, (which is by interpretation, Sent.) He went his way therefore, and washed, and came seeing.”  There are many interpretations about the clay and spittle. He created eyes in him like when God created Adam from the dust of the ground (Gen 2:7). I especially like what ancient Christian father taught, “For he spat in a human fashion, yet his spittle was charged with deity, for therewith he caused the eyes of the man born blind…to receive sight” (Athanasius). 

I think if Jesus used some kind of medicine the religious people would have started selling it on their cable networks! But the simplicity of the spittle, clay and pool are found in the preaching of the gospel!  The gospel offers life from the dead and sight for those who will respond to his voice! All the motivational speaking, relevant preaching cannot give life like the ancient message of the Bible. It is never out of date.  Sometimes gospel spittle, smearing some gospel mud, and telling people to get to the gospel pool is what it takes! Because it shows that the power is not in the mud and the water but in Christ! God is the Savior not us! 

 

Jesus ordered that blind man to wash in the pool of Siloam, Shiloam or Shiloh. It was a mikvah or a ritual bath designed for the purpose of ritual immersion in Judaism. Isaiah reproaches the men of his time, that they despise the softly flowing waters of Siloam and preferred the rapid and impetuous streams of the world (Isaiah 8:6). They want loud entertaining religious shows not quiet cleansing pools. What is the sense of being religious if you are stained or defiled with sin! Christ wants to cleanse you from sin!

 

The mikvah also points to the bridal bath.  Paul refers to the bride of Christ the church and that Christ died for he “That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word.” (Eph 5:26). This is a type of going to that pool and washing yourself in the Word of God, you hear it and read it and it washes and cleanses you from sin (John 17:17). When Christ commanded him to go and wash when he washed he found out that, “The commandment of the Lord is pure enlightening the eyes!” (Ps 19:8). 

 

The meaning of Siloam is Sent. It refers not to a pool but the Sent One of which the Bible says, “The sceptre shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shiloh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be.” (Gen 49:10).  It is not where you are sent but who is sent to you. True Christian faith is not just being sent to something or somewhere but it is God sending Christ to us-it’s the theme of the entire Bible. At this moment, we pray that the Lord Jesus Christ would come and make your life a new creation. He is simply coming to you using the mud and water of the gospel to open your eyes!

Faith Has No Drawbacks

LoveNow the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back, my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.” (Hebrews 10:38). The writer of Hebrews tells us that the Christian life is marked by the quality of faith. The person who has faith in Christ will never be at a disadvantage or come short. This is not a white knuckled attitude of positive thinking, forced repetitious confessions, but a calm trust in God. Faith is unrelenting obedience that places its confidence in God despite circumstances.

 

But sadly there are those who draw back or shrink back. This “is a picture of lowering the sail on a sail boat (RWP). These people attempt to get where they’re going on their own power and start paddling. They will eventually take on water and sink. Scripture says that these people, “concerning faith have made shipwreck.” (1 Tim. 1:19). They end up in ruins and the wreckage of their lives is horrifying.

 

The Bible teaches us that we should be filled with the Spirit (Eph 5:18 ) or unfurl the sails of our faith and let the wind of the Spirit of God guide us and supply us with his power to live for Jesus. We are saved by grace through faith (Eph 2:8 ) and we do not depend on anything to save us except what Jesus Christ did on the cross. We live by faith as Christians and we do not live our lives in reaction to gas prices, stock market indexes and global economy. Throw away the paddle of unbelief and live by faith in God and his promises. God says, “My soul shall have no pleasure in him.”  The person who does not have faith will be subject to God’s disapproval and wrath. No one likes a coward, especially God. Unbelief and spiritual cowardice are serious crimes against heaven (see Rev. 21:8). Faith has no drawbacks.

 

All I know is God calls us to act in faith not fear.People are easily moved and confused by the news, but who has believed the report of the Lord (Isaiah 53:1)? What concerns me is that it seems many professing Christians are unprepared for the hard times ahead. They are restless as they are faithless. Christians will go through difficult times. Preaching about people suffering and the necessity of going through trials requires that I have to give some Christians a spiritual Heimlich maneuver because they choke on the meat of the Word. But I have to speak about it.

 

We as Christians are told our faith will be tested by fire (1 Peter 1:7) and we will go though fiery trials (1 Peter 4:12). Nothing strange is happening to you. God’s purpose is to press your life into the mould or image of Jesus Christ (Rom 8:29). Being a child of God does not prevent trials, nor should it. God works through adverse circumstances to gradually change us into the image of his Son. Christ learned obedience by the things he suffered (Heb. 5:8). You are becoming identified with Christ and his sufferings in order to bring praise and glory to God. Faith has no drawbacks.

 

From my studies of the scriptures I find that the true followers of Christ can thrive in times of affliction, hardship and pain. The Bible says of the children of Israel, “But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew.” (Exodus 1:12). Trials are not unfortunate circumstances-they test the mettle of our lives by training and discipline. A black smith is gets his title due to the fact he uses black metals like iron. The word “smith” comes from the word smite or hit. He heats the metal and works in a low lighted area so he can see the color of the metal as he tempers it. He heats that metal to a bright glowing orange and hammers it, then plunges it into a cold bucket of water. He will discover after just a couple of attempts at tempering the metal whether it will last or end up as scrap.

It says Joseph “was sold for a servant: Whose feet they hurt with fetters: he was laid in iron: Until the time that his word came: the word of the LORD tried him.” (Psalm 105:17-19). In the Hebrew it says, “His soul came into iron” or “iron entered his soul!” In his hardship he glowed with the heat of heaven’s blacksmith and when the process was over he saved the world of that day. His chosen ones will do exploits (Dan 11:32) because they have been tempered by the Heavenly blacksmith in the iron furnace of affliction (Deut 4:20). He learned that faith has no drawbacks.

For some of you the worst part is that you are in the dark about what is going on. Like the blacksmith shop, you world is dark around you.  But without his work you will never make it.  God asks you today, “Who is among you that feareth the LORD, that obeyeth the voice of his servant, that walketh in darkness, and hath no light? Let him trust in the name of the LORD, and stay upon his God.” (Isaiah 50:11). The dark times are the times we are confused, aimless and feeling useless. God seems to put dense fog in front of us and slows us down. We ask, “What do you want me to do Lord?” God says, “Nothing…only believe…all things are possible to him that believes.” People here right now are in a place where they can do nothing but trust. Be confident that God is at work in your life despite the darkness and that true faith expects that He is true to his promises and “performeth all things for you.” (Psalm 57:2). One old sage says, “There are blessings which we cannot obtain if we cannot accept and endure suffering. There are joys that can come to us only through sorrow. There are revelations of Divine truth which we can get only when earth’s lights have gone out. There are harvests which can grow only after the plow has done its work.” Without tribulation we have no ability to endure, we will be weak and unusable.

I hear preachers today talk about abstract faith not concrete faith. Abstract faith is a shortened version and theoretical version of faith. They don’t tell you the whole story. Concrete faith is a solid tangible faith. Churches cheer-lead people about how God will save them from all their trials. But we can rejoice “when we run into problems and trials, for we know that they help us develop endurance. And endurance develops strength of character, and character strengthens our confident hope of salvation.” (Romans 5:3-4NLT). It is the same faith that sees deliverance from trial and the same faith that sees deliverance in trial. Faith has no drawbacks.

“Though I walk in the midst of trouble, thou wilt revive me: thou shalt stretch forth thine hand against the wrath of mine enemies, and thy right hand shall save me.” (Psalm 138:7). The Hebrew wording there is “As I go on in the middle of trouble he will revive me.” When you decide to go through it is then he will revive you!  In your trouble you must decide that if you cannot be delivered from it you will go on despite it. That is when he refreshes you and gives you new strength. God’s people have many problems and are not immune to trials because they are Christians. Most of us know that when God did not save us from hardship, pain and trouble he saved us in it, “He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.” (Ps. 91:15)! No matter how hard, no matter how long it takes I know that faith has no drawbacks!

Tried and true Christians are like oak trees, “lofty, strong, and magnificent, distinguished for uprightness, justice, and right standing with God, the planting of the Lord, that He may be glorified.” (Isaiah 61:3AMP). God equips us by the storms. Some storms are sudden, unexpected crushing defeats, bitter disappointments. Others storms start slow and then overwhelm us. His tree will make history. God may shake your branches and let the rain beat down on you but by the time he is done your roots will be deep and you will stand stronger and more powerful by his grace. While those who refuse to believe are like windblown dust the person of faith, “shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.” (Ps. 1:3).

People need to return to the simple, concrete faith that says. “Lord I believe you!” If it means my death I do not care for I have sworn an allegiance to the King of Kings! As you resolve to go on, as you decide no matter what comes and say, “Behold, God is my salvation; I will trust, and not be afraid!” (Isaiah 12:2) as you declare, “I will go in the strength of the Lord GOD.” (Psalm 71:16) it is then he will refresh your spirit, invigorate your mind and regenerate your body by the same spirit that raised Christ from the dead and dwells in you (Rom 8:11).

We are “to build up our most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit, keep ourselves in the love of God, and wait anxiously for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Jude 20, 21). We are to build our faith by praying according to the Holy Spirits wishes. Notice how prayer and the experience of God’s love are vitally linked. We should constantly think of the love of God and firmly believe. We should be waiting with eager anticipation of Christ’s mercy. God loves whom he wants to love. “We love Him, because He first loved us” (1 John 4:19). In trial some people are like Israel that said “the Lord hated us.” (Deut 1:27). That is unbelief in its worst form. You must know he loves you!

Arthur Pink says, “God did not love us because we loved Him, but He loved us before we had a particle of love for Him. Had God loved us in return for ours, then it would not be spontaneous on His part; but because He loved us when we were loveless, it is clear that His love was uninfluenced…God’s love for me, and for each of “His own,” was entirely unmoved by anything in them. What was there in me to attract the heart of God? Absolutely nothing. But, to the contrary, everything to repel Him, everything calculated to make Him loathe me—sinful, depraved, a mass of corruption, with “no good thing” in me.” No human standard of love can measure the breadth, length, depth and height of God’s love. I believe that he loves his own.

But now because of the Holy Spirit I believe that he loves me. Despite my trials I must believe he loves me. Despite the glowing iron of my soul where I feel I cannot bear my hardships anymore, I believe he loves me. Despite the storms and my soul swaying back and forth where my strength seems tested beyond its ability to endure, I believe that he loves me. When there dark all around me and I cannot see him who my soul loves, I will not lose hope because the sun of righteousness will arise with healing in his wings and I believe that he loves me. I must keep myself in the love of God and build up my faith by spirit empowered prayer because faith has no drawbacks.

Sola Fide

Faith Alone Saves“The just shall live by faith” (Romans 1:17; Gal 3:11; Heb. 10:38).

The whole biblical truth of being saved by faith in Christ and by God’s grace alone thrills my entire being. It teaches that salvation, the securing of ones soul to spend eternity in heaven in the presence of God is based on faith all by itself in what Jesus the Christ did in his death, burial, resurrection, ascension and exaltation. 

Most people forget this truth flowed from the Old Testament. In Habbakuk chapter two, a prophet troubled by the terrible times in which he lived was yelling out to God for answers.  He so prayed boldly he scared himself, for he knew at any moment that he was going to hear from the awesome God so he braced himself for the answer. 

The answer came with Sovereign grace! God replied that he wanted him to write his answer in letters so large that everyone can read and make it so plain that everyone can understand it. This vision of the future may seem slow in coming but it is steady and sure  and he says this: “The just shall live by faith” (Hab. 2:4).  Glory to God. Others may live with their bloated self ego in religious activities not knowing where they stand for God and only basing their relationship to him on the basis of what they do for him, but the just, soul made right with God by embracing the glorious transaction that took place on the cross is made right with God and lives all their life in light of God’s promises.  The writer of Hebrews reiterates this, “For yet a little while he that shall come will come and not tarry. Now the just shall live by faith: but if any man draw back my soul shall have no pleasure in him. But we are not of them that draw back unto perdition but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.”  (Heb. 10:37-39).

They believe to the saving of the soul! We do not have to dumb down the scriptures and present the some “gospel for dummies” but, oh that we in plain large letters in our preaching would make plain the doctrine of justification by faith. This is what Martin Luther called the “wonderful exchange” that Christ took our place and became our sin and we became his righteousness. It is our hope and we cannot please God in anything that we do because we fall so short of the glory of God that salvation is unfathomable and impossible to achieve by ourselves.

But like Abraham in Genesis 15:5-6 we are told to gaze at heaven, even beyond those stars and see the infinite gap between us and God and believe his promise of salvation procured by God the Son. That we would simply trust in the God who cannot lie that heaven and eternity have been opened up to those who embrace this promise. “For the promise is unto you, and to your children and to all that are afar off, even as many as the lord our God shall call.” (Acts 2:39).