It's Not About Us

It’s not about us.

The church has duties that far transcend the immediate needs of its members or the world around them.

We have a preeminent duty to be faithful to the Word of God, both written and Incarnate.

We have a secondary duty to be faithful to the men of the past whose faithfulness to the gospel serves us today.

We have a similar duty to be faithful to men of the future–generations yet to be born–to serve them by doing our part to preserve the gospel unaltered and untainted.

If we approach ministry from that perspective, we will incidentally do far more to meet the genuine needs of our members and the world around us.

We simply must transcend this age of selfies and seeker-friendly worship and conduct ourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. God help us to that end.

[COLOR=Blue]~ Pastor Don Green[/COLOR]

December 31, 2013 Bible Reading

December 31

Reading for Today:

Malachi 1:1–4:6

Psalm 150:1-6

Proverbs 30:10-31

Revelation 21:1–22:21

Notes:

Malachi 3:1- My messenger. It was a custom of the Near Eastern kings to send messengers before them to remove obstacles to their visit. Employing a wordplay on the name of Malachi, “the LORD’s messenger”, the Lord Himself announced He was sending one who would “prepare the way before Me.” This is “the voice of one crying in the wilderness” (Is. 40:3) and the Elijah of 4:5 who comes before the Lord. The New Testament clearly identifies him as John the Baptist (Matt. 3:3; 11:10, 14; 17:12ff.; Mark 1:2; Luke 1:17; 7:26, 27; John 1:23).

Malachi 4:2- Sun of Righteousness. While the wicked will be devoured by the heat of the Lord’s wrath, those who fear Him will feel His warmth with healing in His “rays” or “beams” (Is. 30:26; 60:1, 3). The reference is to the Messiah; He is “the Lord our Righteousness” (Ps. 84:11; Jer. 23:5, 6; 1 Cor. 1:30). healing. The reference should not be limited to the physical recovery from the harm done by the wicked (3:5). This sickness is inextricably linked with sin, with healing coming only through the suffering of the Servant (Ps. 103:3; Is. 53:5; 57:18, 19; 1 Pet. 2:24).

Proverbs 31:10–31- This poem offers a beautiful description of the excellent wife as defined by a wife and mother (v. 1). Spiritual and practical wisdom plus moral virtues mark the character of this woman in contrast to the immoral women of v. 3. While the scene here is of a wealthy home and the customs of the ancient Near East, the principles apply to every family. They are set forth as the prayer of every mother for the future wife of her son, and literarily arranged with each of the 22 verses beginning with the 22 letters of the Hebrew alphabet in consecutive order.

Revelation 21:2- New Jerusalem. This is the capital city of heaven, a place of perfect holiness. It is seen “coming down out of heaven,” indicating it already existed; but it descends into the new heavens and new earth from its place on high. This is the city where the saints will live (John 14:1–3). bride. An important New Testament metaphor for the church (Matt. 25:1–13; Eph. 5:25–27). John’s imagery here extends from the third part of the Jewish wedding, the ceremony. Believers (the bride) in the New Jerusalem come to meet Christ (the bridegroom) in the final ceremony of redemptive history (19:7). The whole city, occupied by all the saints, is called the bride, so that all saints must be finally included in the bride imagery and bridal blessing. God has brought home a bride for His beloved Son. All the saints live with Christ in the Father’s house (a promise made before the church began; John 14:2).

DAY 31: What is the Book of Malachi about?

Only 50,000 exiles had returned to Judah from Babylon (538–536 B.C.). The temple had been rebuilt under the leadership of Zerubbabel (516 B.C.) and the sacrificial system renewed. Ezra had returned in 458 B.C., followed by Nehemiah in 445 B.C. After being back in the land of Palestine for only a century, the ritual of the Jews’ religious routine led to hard-heartedness toward God’s great love for them and to widespread departure from His law by both people and priest. Malachi rebuked and condemned these abuses, forcefully indicting the people and calling them to repentance. When Nehemiah returned from Persia the second time (ca. 424 B.C.), he vigorously rebuked them for these abuses in the temple and priesthood, for the violation of the Sabbath rest, and for the unlawful divorce of their Jewish wives so they could marry Gentile women (Neh. 13).

As over two millennia of Old Testament history since Abraham concluded, none of the glorious promises of the Abrahamic, Davidic, and New Covenants had been fulfilled in their ultimate sense. Although there had been a few high points in Israel’s history, e.g., Joshua, David, and Josiah, the Jews had seemingly lost all opportunity to receive God’s favor. Less than 100 years after returning from captivity, they had already sunk to a depth of sin that exceeded the former iniquities which brought on the Assyrian and Babylonian deportations. Beyond this, the long-anticipated Messiah had not arrived and did not seem to be in sight.

So, Malachi wrote the capstone prophecy of the Old Testament in which he delivered God’s message of judgment on Israel for their continuing sin and God’s promise that one day in the future, when the Jews would repent, the Messiah would be revealed and God’s covenant promises would be fulfilled. There were over 400 years of divine silence, with only Malachi’s words ringing condemnation in their ears, before another prophet arrived with a message from God. That was John the Baptist preaching, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand!” (Matt. 3:2). Messiah had come.

From The MacArthur Daily Bible Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Bibles, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville, TN 37214, www.thomasnelson.com.

http://www.gty.org/resources/devotionals/daily-bible

Our Sympathetic High Priest

Our Sympathetic High Priest

[COLOR=Red]”Assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the descendant of Abraham. Therefore, He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For since He Himself was tempted in that which He has suffered, He is able to come to the aid of those who are tempted” (Heb. 2:16-18).

In his letters to Timothy, Paul counseled and encouraged his young associate about many things–his health, his critics, his moral and spiritual warfare. His counsel is well summed up in these words: “Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, descendant of David” (2 Tim. 2:8).

Like Timothy, we need to be reminded of Christ’s humanity, especially when life becomes particularly tough. Then we can pray, “Lord, You know what You endured while You were here. I’m going through it now.” We can be sure He knows and will encourage us.

Jesus came not only to save us but also to sympathize with us. He experienced what we experience so He could be a “merciful and faithful high priest.” After all, “we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Heb. 4:15).

Jesus felt everything we will ever feel–and more. Most of us will never know the full degree of any given temptation because we usually succumb long before we reach it. But since Jesus never sinned, He took the full measure of every temptation.

Ours is not a cosmic God, powerful and holy, but indifferent. He knows when we hurt, where we are weak, and how we are tempted. Jesus is not just our Savior, but our loving Lord who sympathizes with us. Rejoice in the greatness of His love for us.

Suggestion for Prayer:

Ask God to remind you of your need of Him at all times, not just when times are tough.

For Future Study:

Memorize 1 Corinthians 10:13 for quick recall whenever you are faced with any trial.

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.[/COLOR]

http://www.gty.org/resources/devotionals

What Is The Effect of the God-Centered Gospel?

What Is The Effect of the God-Centered Gospel?

Posted on December 30, 2013

by Mike Ratliff

1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. 4 And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete. (1 John 1:1-4 ESV)

Most, if not all, of the contention that I have experienced in this ministry has to do with people’s demand to be “justified” on their own terms. For instance, one fellow angrily told me that the genuine gospel was to do good works, to feed the hungry and minister to the homeless. Another one insists that all he has to do is love God and love everyone and that is how he experiences “salvation.” There are others who insist that Christians are to live the Gospel rather than being concerned about preaching the message of it. Are these valid forms of the Gospel?

Dr. James White wrote that the heart of the Gospel is “Justification. He said, “The word [Justification] should bring to mind “the gracious act of God the Father through the perfect work of Jesus Christ whereby I have been pardoned and made right before God!” It should be a personal word, a thrilling word, a word filled with rich meaning. For many, by God’s grace, it is. And by that same grace, it always will be.”1

Martin Luther wrote, “[Justification is] the chief article of Christian doctrine. To him who understands how great its usefulness and majesty are, everything else will seem slight and turn to nothing. For what is Peter? What is Paul? What is an angel from heaven? What are all creatures in comparison with the article of justification? For if we know this article, we are in the clearest light; if we do not know it, we dwell in the densest darkness. Therefore if you see this article impugned or imperiled, do not hesitate to resist Peter or an angel from heaven; for it cannot be sufficiently extolled.“2

When the Gospel is preached biblically, God-Centered rather than Man-Centered, then those God supernaturally regenerates will believe. They have saving faith. (Ephesians 2:1-10) As a result God justifies them.

‘You are justified only when God the Father, based upon the meritorious work of Jesus Christ in your place, declares you to be so upon the exercise of the gift of faith. This faith is directed solely to the God who “justifies the ungodly” (NASB). To be justified means to be declared right with God by virtue of the remission of sins accomplished by Jesus: Christ’s righteousness is imputed to the believer, and the believer’s sins are imputed to Christ, who bears them in His body on the tree. Justification is from beginning to end a divine action, based upon the mercy of God the Father and the work of Jesus Christ the Son.’3

After a new believer is justified by faith, God sanctifies them. What is sanctification? Sanctification is to be removed from sin, to become separate from it. Both Justification and Sanctification are actions of God’s free grace. All who are justified will also be sanctified. The act of removing a believer from sin is God making each believer experientially holy and conformed unto the image of Jesus Christ. They are made more like Him through spiritual growth by and in the grace and the knowledge of Christ. We clearly see the uniqueness of Justification and Sanctification in the following passage.

1 Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2 ESV)

This passage tells us that our Justification is the grounds and basis of our peace with God. That means that is clearly a past action in relation to our Sanctification. Justification is a declaration by God that happens once and is done forever. However our Sanctification is what we experience for the remaining length of our lives.

As a result of genuine salvation, which is the result of the working of the God-Centered Gospel, believers, having been declared righteous by God, are now able to fellowship with Him. Here is part of the passage I placed at the top of this post.

3 ὃ ἑωράκαμεν καὶ ἀκηκόαμεν, ἀπαγγέλλομεν καὶ ὑμῖν, ἵνα καὶ ὑμεῖς κοινωνίαν ἔχητε μεθʼ ἡμῶν. καὶ ἡ κοινωνία δὲ ἡ ἡμετέρα μετὰ τοῦ πατρὸς καὶ μετὰ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ. 4 καὶ ταῦτα γράφομεν ἡμεῖς, ἵνα ἡ χαρὰ ἡμῶν ᾖ πεπληρωμένη. (1 John 1:3-4 NA28)

3 that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you too may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:3 ESV)

Genuine believers, having been justified by faith, have fellowship with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. The word fellowship in v3 above translates the Greek word κοινωνία or “koinonia.” This word literally means “partnership” or “participation.” This would be impossible without God’s declaration of righteousness for He is Holy and perfectly Righteous while we are imperfect and sinful people as the result of the fall. (Genesis 3) Therefore, the effect of the Gospel in salvation is Justification, which enables and establishes a relationship between God and people who are now new creatures by His grace. They are actually joined together in Christ by faith as the sons of God. Notice the fellowship starts between God and those whom He saves then it joins together all believers as sons of God in Christ.

Sadly, there is a rampant problem in the church of the 21st Century. It has departed sound doctrine and has melded marketing techniques with a man-centered gospel. This “other” gospel starts with people and their need to “go to heaven.” Since there is no mention of the need for sinful people to be justified in order to be reconciled to God who is Holy, people are told to pray a sinner’s prayer and become part of a local “church” then be religious. Since the gospel they hear is man-centered it is powerless to save anyone. Why? There is no need of grace in the man-centered gospel. It is all a matter of will power. It is a decision. It is an act of man’s will. Salvation is seen as a reward for making that decision. There is no mention of being reconciled to God nor is sanctification given any emphasis. Because of this and the fact that repentance is never mentioned in the man-centered gospel, these unregenerate professing Christians or nominal Christians have no spiritual power to become removed from sin.

5 Καὶ ἔστιν αὕτη ἡ ἀγγελία ἣν ἀκηκόαμεν ἀπʼ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἀναγγέλλομεν ὑμῖν, ὅτι ὁ θεὸς φῶς ἐστιν καὶ σκοτία ἐν αὐτῷ οὐκ ἔστιν οὐδεμία. 6 Ἐὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετʼ αὐτοῦ καὶ ἐν τῷ σκότει περιπατῶμεν, ψευδόμεθα καὶ οὐ ποιοῦμεν τὴν ἀλήθειαν· 7 ἐὰν ἐν τῷ φωτὶ περιπατῶμεν ὡς αὐτός ἐστιν ἐν τῷ φωτί, κοινωνίαν ἔχομεν μετʼ ἀλλήλων καὶ τὸ αἷμα Ἰησοῦ τοῦ υἱοῦ αὐτοῦ καθαρίζει ἡμᾶς ἀπὸ πάσης ἁμαρτίας. 8 ἐὰν εἴπωμεν ὅτι ἁμαρτίαν οὐκ ἔχομεν, ἑαυτοὺς πλανῶμεν καὶ ἡ ἀλήθεια οὐκ ἔστιν ἐν ἡμῖν. (1 John 1:5-8 NA28)

5 This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. 6 If we say we have fellowship with him while we walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth. 7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus his Son cleanses us from all sin. 8 If we say we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. (1 John 1:5-8 ESV)

The Greek word for “light” here is φῶς or “phos.” This word refers to light that is not kindled nor put out by men such as the light of the Sun. In a spiritual sense it refers to joy and peace with God. To walk in God’s light is to live one’s life in fellowship with Him thereby being Spirit-filled and walking in repentance. The Greek word for “darkness” here is σκοτία or “skotia.” It means dimness or obscurity. It carries with it the idea of unhappiness or ruin. In a spiritual sense it refers to the consequences of sin. To walk in darkness, therefore, would be to continue in sin and suffer its consequences.

With whom do genuine believers who have been justified by faith and are being sanctified enjoy fellowship? They walk with God in His light so they fellowship with Him, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. They also have fellowship with other genuine believers. These practice the truth because the truth is in them. On the other hand, there are many who profess some form of salvation, but who are walking in darkness because they are unregenerate and, therefore, the truth is not in them.

The fruits of genuine saving faith declare whether the believer is joined in God. God is the essence of purity and light and will not have fellowship with those who lie in their sin and the walk in the resultant darkness. The genuine believer who is walking in the light will not be looking for loopholes to see how far he or she can go in a certain direction and it not be called sin. No, they are walking in repentance and that means they are moving in the opposite direction from their past sins. They seek holiness and purity in their lives because that is the nature of God to seek our sanctification. On the other hand, a Soul that is enslaved to the flesh will do the opposite. The nominal Christian may want to be justified, but that desire is that it be on one’s own terms. They want to know how far they can go down paths of darkness and it not be called sin.

The effect of the God-Centered Gospel is new life in those whom the Lord touches with His grace. Justification creates fellowship with God and other believers while sanctification results in them walking in the light down the narrow path of repentance. There will be good fruit produced by it. On the other hand, the Man-Centered Gospel only leaves people in darkness, but fooled into believing they are on the road to heaven.

Soli Deo Gloria

1James R. White, The God Who Justifies (Bloomington: Bethany House Publishers, 2001), p. 31.

2From his exposition of Galatians 2:11 in What Luther Says: An Anthology, Vol 2, ed. Ewald M Plass (St. Louis: Concordia Publishing House, 1959), p 705, entry 2200.

3White, Ibid p 73

http://mikeratliff.wordpress.com/2013/12/30/what-is-the-effect-of-the-god-centered-gospel/

December 30, 2013 Bible Reading

December 30

Reading for Today:

Zechariah 13:1–14:21

Psalm 149:5-9

Proverbs 31:1-9

Revelation 20:1-15

Notes:

Zechariah 13:7- My Shepherd,…the Man who is My Companion. God spoke of the True Shepherd, that mighty Man who is His intimate associate; thus He identified Christ as His coequal, affirming the deity of Christ (John 1:1; 10:30; 14:9). Strike the Shepherd. In 11:17, it was the worthless shepherd who was to be struck; now it is the Good Shepherd (12:10) whose death was designed by God from before the foundation of the world (Is. 53:10; Acts 2:23; 1 Pet. 1:18–20). sheep…scattered. Jesus applies this prophecy to the disciples who defected from Him after His arrest (Matt. 26:56; Mark 14:50), including Peter’s denial (Matt. 26:33–35, 69–75). the little ones. The same as the “poor of the flock” (11:7). The reference is to the remnant of believers, among the Jews, who were faithful to the Messiah after His crucifixion. Turning God’s hand “against” them could mean they would suffer persecution, which they did (John 15:18, 20; 16:2; James 1:1), or it could be translated “upon” and refer to God’s protection of the faithful.

Zechariah 14:3, 4- His feet will stand on the Mount of Olives. To prevent the eradication of His remnant, the Lord will personally intervene to fight against the gathered nations. Just as He fought for His people in the past, so He will do in the future as the ultimate Warrior-King. Jesus will literally return to the Mount of Olives, located east of the Kidron Valley, just as the angels announced at His Ascension (Acts 1:11). When He does, there will be a tremendous topographical upheaval (perhaps an earthquake), a phenomenon not uncommon when God announces His coming in judgment (Mic.1:2–4; Nah.1:5; Rev.16:18–21). The reaction of people is given in Revelation 6:15–17.

Revelation 20:5- first resurrection. Scripture teaches 2 kinds of resurrections: the “resurrection of life” and “the resurrection of condemnation” (John 5:29; Dan.12:2; Acts 24:15).The first kind of resurrection is described as “the resurrection of the just” (Luke 14:14), the resurrection of “those who are Christ’s at His coming” (1 Cor. 15:23), and the “better resurrection” (Heb. 11:35). It includes only the redeemed of the church age (1 Thess. 4:13–18), the Old Testament (Dan. 12:2), and the Tribulation (v. 4). They will enter the kingdom in resurrection bodies, along with believers who survived the Tribulation. The second kind of resurrection, then, will be the resurrection of the unconverted who will receive their final bodies suited for torment in hell.

Revelation 20:12- standing before God. In a judicial sense, as guilty, condemned prisoners before the bar of divine justice. There are no living sinners left in the destroyed universe since all sinners were killed and all believers glorified. books. These books record every thought, word, and deed of sinful men—all recorded by divine omniscience. They will provide the evidence for eternal condemnation. Book of Life. It contains the names of all the redeemed (Dan. 12:1). judged according to their works. Their thoughts (Luke 8:17; Rom. 2:16), words (Matt. 12:37), and actions (Matt. 16:27) will be compared to God’s perfect, holy standard (Matt. 5:48; 1 Pet. 1:15, 16) and will be found wanting (Rom. 3:23). This also implies that there are degrees of punishment in hell (Matt. 10:14, 15; 11:22; Mark 12:38–40; Luke 12:47, 48; Heb. 10:29).

DAY 30: What is the Millennium?

In Revelation 20:2, Satan is bound for “a thousand years.” This is the first of 6 references to the length of the millennial kingdom (vv. 3,4,5,6,7). There are 3 main views of the duration and nature of this period:

1) Premillennialism sees this as a literal 1,000-year period during which Jesus Christ, in fulfillment of numerous Old Testament prophecies (e.g., 2 Sam.7:12–16; Ps.2; Is. 11:6–12; 24:23; Hos. 3:4, 5; Joel 3:9–21; Amos 9:8–15; Mic. 4:1–8; Zeph. 3:14–20; Zech. 14:1–11; Matt. 24:29–31, 36–44), reigns on the earth. Using the same general principles of interpretation for both prophetic and nonprophetic passages leads most naturally to Premillennialism. Another strong argument supporting this view is that so many biblical prophecies have already been literally fulfilled, suggesting that future prophecies will likewise be fulfilled literally.

2) Postmillennialism understands the reference to a 1,000-year period as only symbolic of a golden age of righteousness and spiritual prosperity. It will be ushered in by the spread of the gospel during the present church age and brought to completion when Christ returns. According to this view, references to Christ’s reign on earth primarily describe His spiritual reign in the hearts of believers in the church.

3) Amillennialism understands the 1,000 years to be merely symbolic of a long period of time. This view interprets Old Testament prophecies of a Millennium as being fulfilled spiritually now in the church (either on earth or in heaven) or as references to the eternal state. Using the same literal, historical, grammatical principles of interpretation so as to determine the normal sense of language, one is left with the inescapable conclusion that Christ will return and reign in a real kingdom on earth for 1,000 years. There is nothing in the text to render the conclusion that “a thousand years” is symbolic.

From The MacArthur Daily Bible Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Bibles, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville, TN 37214, www.thomasnelson.com.

http://www.gty.org/resources/devotionals/daily-bible

Satan's Conqueror

Satan’s Conqueror

[COLOR=Red]”Since . . . the children share in flesh and blood, He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil; and might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to slavery all their lives” (Heb. 2:14-15).

To be free to live with God and share in all His blessings, someone had to shatter Satan’s death grip on us. Sin is what gives Satan his powerful hold on us, but the power itself is death.

Satan knew that God required death for us because of sin. He knew that all died in Adam–that death became a certain fact of life. And he knew that men, if they remained as they were, would die and go out of God’s presence into hell forever. So he wants to hang onto men until they die because once they are dead, the opportunity for salvation is gone forever.

To wrest the power of death from Satan’s hand, God sent Christ into the world. If you have a greater weapon than your enemy, then his weapon is useless. You can’t fight a machine gun with a bow and arrow. Satan’s weapon is death, but eternal life is God’s weapon, and with it Jesus destroyed death.

How was He able to do it? He rose again, proving He had conquered death. That’s why He said, “Because I live, you shall live also” (John 14:19). His resurrection provides the believer with eternal life.

Nothing terrifies people more than the fear of death. But when we receive Christ, death in reality holds no more fear for us since it simply releases us into the presence of our Lord. We can say with Paul, “To me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain” (Phil. 1:21). Rejoice that you have placed your hand into the hand of the conqueror of death, who will lead you through death and out the other side.

Suggestion for Prayer:

Ask God to give you a greater realization that He has conquered death to help you live life more fully to His glory.

For Further Study:

Read 1 Corinthians 15:50-58. How are we to live our lives based on what we know about death?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.[/COLOR]

http://www.gty.org/resources/devotionals

December 29, 2013 Bible Reading

December 29

Reading for Today:

Zechariah 10:1–12:14

Psalm 149:1-4

Proverbs 30:32-33

Revelation 19:1-21

Notes:

Zechariah 12:10- I will pour. God, in His own perfect time and by His own power, will sovereignly act to save Israel. This was prophesied by other prophets (Ezek. 39:29; Joel 2:28–32) and by the apostle Paul (Rom. 11:25–27). Spirit of grace and supplication. The Holy Spirit is so identified because He brings saving grace and because that grace produces sorrow that will result in repentant prayer to God for forgiveness (Matt. 5:4; Heb. 10:29). look on Me whom they pierced. Israel’s repentance will come because they look to Jesus, the One whom they rejected and crucified (Is. 53:5; John 19:37), in faith at the Second Advent (Rom. 11:25–27). When God says they pierced “Me,” He is certainly affirming the incarnation of Deity—Jesus was God.

Revelation 19:11- heaven opened. The One who ascended to heaven (Acts 1:9–11) and had been seated at the Father’s right hand (Heb. 8:1; 10:12; 1 Pet. 3:22) will return to take back the earth from the usurper and establish His kingdom (5:1–10). The nature of this event shows how it differs from the Rapture. At the Rapture, Christ meets His own in the air—in this event, He comes with them to earth. At the Rapture, there is no judgment—in this event, it is all judgment. This event is preceded by blackness—the darkened sun, moon gone out, stars fallen, smoke—then lightning and blinding glory as Jesus comes. Such details are not included in Rapture passages (John 14:1–3; 1 Thess. 4:13–18). white horse. In the Roman triumphal processions, the victorious general rode his white war horse up the Via Sacra to the temple of Jupiter on the Capitoline Hill. Jesus’ First Coming was in humiliation on a colt (Zech. 9:9). John’s vision portrays Him as the conqueror on His warhorse, coming to destroy the wicked, to overthrow the Antichrist, to defeat Satan, and to take control of the earth (2 Cor. 2:14). Faithful and True. True to His word, Jesus will return to earth (Matt. 24:27–31). makes war. This startling statement, appearing only here and 2:16, vividly portrays the holy wrath of God against sinners (Ps. 7:11). God’s patience will be exhausted with sinful, rebellious mankind.

Revelation 19:20- beast was captured, and…the false prophet. In an instant, the world’s armies are without their leaders. The beast is Antichrist (13:1–4); the false prophet is his religious cohort (13:11–17). cast alive. The bodies of the beast and the false prophet will be transformed, and they will be banished directly to the lake of fire (Dan. 7:11)—the first of countless millions of unregenerate men (20:15) and fallen angels (Matt. 25:41) to arrive in that dreadful place. That these two still appear there 1,000 years later (20:10) refutes the false doctrine of annihilationism. lake of fire. The final hell, the place of eternal punishment for all unrepentant rebels, angelic or human (20:10, 15).

DAY 29: What is the [COLOR=Red]“marriage of the Lamb” in Revelation 19:7–9 about?[/COLOR]

Hebrew weddings consisted of 3 phases: 1) betrothal (often when the couple were children); 2) presentation (the festivities, often lasting several days, that preceded the ceremony); and 3) the ceremony (the exchanging of vows). The church was betrothed to Christ by His sovereign choice in eternity past (Eph. 1:4; Heb. 13:20) and will be presented to Him at the Rapture (John 14:1–3; 1 Thess. 4:13–18). The final supper will signify the end of the ceremony. This symbolic meal will take place at the establishment of the millennial kingdom and last throughout that 1,000-year period (21:2). While the term “bride” often refers to the church, and does so here (2 Cor. 11:2; Eph. 5:22–24), it ultimately expands to include all the redeemed of all ages.

“And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen,…the righteous acts of the saints” (v. 8). Not Christ’s imputed righteousness granted to believers at salvation, but the practical results of that righteousness in believers’ lives, i.e., the outward manifestation of inward virtue.

“‘Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!” (v. 9). This is not the bride (the church) but the guests. The bride doesn’t get invited; she invites. These are those saved before Pentecost, all the faithful believers saved by grace through faith up to the birth of the church (Acts 2:1ff.). Though they are not the bride, they still are glorified and reign with Christ in the millennial kingdom. It is really differing imagery rather than differing reality. The guests also will include tribulation saints and believers alive in earthly bodies in the kingdom. The church is the bride, pure and faithful—never a harlot, like Israel was (see Hos. 2). So the church is the bride during the presentation feast in heaven, then comes to earth for the celebration of the final meal (the Millennium). After that event, the new order comes and the marriage is consummated (21:1, 2).

From The MacArthur Daily Bible Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Bibles, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville, TN 37214, www.thomasnelson.com.

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He Who Sanctifies

He Who Sanctifies

[COLOR=Red]”Both He who sanctifies and those who are sanctified are all from one Father; for which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, ‘I will proclaim Thy name to My brethren, in the midst of the congregation I will sing Thy praise.’ And again, ‘I will put My trust in Him.’ And again, ‘Behold, I and the children whom God has given Me'” (Heb. 2:11-13).

From our own perspective and experience, it is difficult to think of ourselves as holy. Sin simply is too much a part of us in this fallen world. In thought and practice we are far from holy, but in Christ we are perfectly holy.

We may not always act holy, but because of our faith in Christ we are perfectly holy in God’s sight. Just as a child may not always act like his father, he is nonetheless still his son. We are holy in the sense that before God, the righteousness of Christ has been applied and imputed on our behalf through faith. We were made holy through His sacrifice and have become “those who are sanctified.”

“By one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14). We are as pure as God is pure, righteous as Christ is righteous, and therefore entitled to be called His brothers because we now share in His righteousness.

The Sanctifier and sanctified now have “one Father,” and the Sanctifier “is not ashamed” to call the sanctified His brothers. What an overwhelming truth!

The practical experience of a Christian’s life in this world includes sin, but the positional reality of his or her new nature is holiness. “In Him [we] have been made complete” (Col. 2:10). Yet practically we have a long way to go. So the overriding purpose of our lives is to become in practice what we are in position. Now that we are Christ’s brothers and God’s children, let that be all the motivation we need to live like it.

Suggestion for Prayer:

Thank the Lord for His sanctifying work on the cross, which enables you to be holy.

For Further Study:

Read Romans 1:16. Based on what God has done for you through Christ, can you wholeheartedly echo Paul’s statement?

From Drawing Near by John MacArthur Copyright © 1993. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, IL 60187, www.crossway.com.[/COLOR]

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The Biblical Pastor

“The Biblical Pastor is a man who is not commissioned by other men. Therefore he should never extort them, become a slave to their perceptions, attempt to please them above God, soften his stances to be accepted by them, nor fear them. He is to be their under shepherd, commissioned by the Lord Jesus Christ and a servant among them. He is to unleash the Holy Scripture upon them, with plainness of speech, boldness, love in Christ and accept their wrath with unwavering resolve, if they should reject the One who commissioned Him. He is not to play with the enemies of the cross, nor be a man after his own celebrity. He is to warn those enemies that the King is coming to repay them if they do not repent.”

~ Doron Gladden

December 28, 2013 Bible Reading

December 28

Reading for Today:

Zechariah 7:1–9:17

Psalm 148:7-14

Proverbs 30:29-31

Revelation 18:1-24

Notes:

Zechariah 9:1–8- This oracle features a series of judgments announced against the nations surrounding Israel (vv. 1–7), with deliverance promised for His people (v. 8). Most understand this to be a prophecy of the victories of the famous Greek conqueror, Alexander the Great, given approximately 200 years before he marched through Palestine. He provides an analogy of Christ returning to judge the nations and save Israel at the end of the Great Tribulation (Matt. 24:21).

Psalm 148:14- the horn. Refers in general to the strength and prosperity of the nation, which became the cause of praise for Israel. This suggests that Israel enjoyed better times than in the past, e.g., during David’s and Solomon’s reigns or after returning from the Babylonian captivity. A people near to Him. Also “My chosen [people]” (Is. 43:20) and “His special treasure” (Ps. 135:4).

Proverbs 30:29–31- three things…majestic in pace,…four. The 3 creatures and the king all picture wise, stately, and orderly deportment. Each offers a glimpse of the Creator’s power and wisdom (Job 38:1–42:6) and illustrates the dignity and confidence of those who walk wisely.

Revelation 18:24- blood of prophets and saints. The religious and commercial/political systems embodied in Babylon will commit unspeakable atrocities against God’s people (6:10; 11:7; 13:7, 15; 17:6; 19:2). God will avenge that slaughter of His people (19:2).

DAY 28: If Zechariah 9:9 refers to the First Advent of Christ, how does v. 10 relate to that?

“Behold, your King is coming to you;…riding on a donkey” (v. 9). Unlike Alexander the Great, this King comes riding on a donkey (Jer. 17:25). This was fulfilled at Christ’s Triumphal Entry into Jerusalem (Matt. 21:1–5; John 12:12–16). The Jews should have been looking for someone from the line of David (2 Sam. 7; 1 Chr. 17). Four elements in this verse describe the Messiah’s character: 1) He is King; 2) He is just; 3) He brings salvation; and 4) He is humble.

Zechariah moves to the Second Advent of Christ and the establishment of His universal kingdom in v. 10. “His dominion shall be ‘from sea to sea.’” Not characterized by bloodshed, the Messiah’s rule will be a kingdom of peace in which weapons of warfare will be destroyed or converted to peaceful uses (Is. 2:4; 9:5–7; 11:1–10; Mic. 5:2, 10–15), and peace spreads from the Euphrates River (the terminus of civilization) to the world.

The two advents of Christ are here compressed as though they were one as in Isaiah 61:1–3 (Luke 4:16, 21). Verse 9 refers to His First Coming and v. 10 is His Second. Old Testament prophets didn’t see the great time period between the two comings. The church age was a “mystery” hidden from them (Eph. 3:1–9; Col. 1:27).

From The MacArthur Daily Bible Copyright © 2003. Used by permission of Thomas Nelson Bibles, a division of Thomas Nelson, Inc, Nashville, TN 37214, www.thomasnelson.com.

http://www.gty.org/resources/devotionals/daily-bible