A Foundational Truth

Foundational Truths

Many times, whenever I preach or write on various subjects, someone will invariably say, “why don’t you just preach Jesus? No Old Testament stuff, just preach Jesus.” My answer to them? No one can know Jesus Christ as He really is if you only know Him as the Redeemer of the New Testament. We must preach Jesus as He truly is – all of Him – or we preach another Jesus than the Bible speaks of.

Jesus was Creator before He became Redeemer or Savior. He became our Savior dying on the cross and rising from the grave on the third day because of mankind’s sin. Much, if not all, of that sin is mankind’s rejection of God’s Word, the denial of Him being the Creator. One truly “preaches Christ” when he first of all preaches Him as Creator.

The great message of Christianity is that the just shall live by faith, speaking of them that believe, to the saving of the soul. But what is this saving, living faith? The faith of which Hebrews speaks of is outlined in chapter 11. It is the faith of Abel, offering an acceptable sacrifice. It is Enoch’s faith, pleasing God in obedience. It is Noah’s faith, believing and acting on God’s Word. It is the faith of Abraham, stepping out on God’s promises. But, first of all, it is foundational faith. It is the faith by which “we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear”, Hebrews 11:3.

Any meaningful faith for salvation must be founded on God’s special creation of all things. The saving gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is founded on creation. The very last reference to the gospel in the Bible is found in Revelation 14: 6-7: “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,  Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.”

The angel has the everlasting gospel and its message is for people to worship the One who made heaven and earth and the sea and the fountains of water. The gospel is much more than the cross and the resurrection, it also includes the coming kingdom and God’s great creation. Without creation, the gospel has no foundation and no logical end. The gospel is the good news that Jesus came to save who? Those who were made in God’s image on the earth and who are now marred by sin. What is the end purpose? So that mankind will live with God and enjoy Him forever in His Kingdom. Death first entered God’s finished creation when Adam sinned. Now that Christ is risen, the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul is seeking to assure young Christians at Corinth of the validity of the gospel. He preached to them that which they had believed. In verses 3-11 Paul stresses the witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus. In verses 12-19, Paul says, because Jesus rose from the grave it guarantees a future resurrection to all who have hope in Christ. But then, Paul goes further, In verses 20-28 he says that Jesus’ resurrection restores man’s lost estate, reverses the consequences of Adam’s sin, conquers all enemies of God and destroys death itself. In verses 29-34 Paul says this promise not only gives assurance of eternal life, but strength for godly living and triumph over persecutions and opposition. And then, in verses 35-49, Paul ties it all back to creation.

Everything is tied back to creation. Biological, physical, human – all aspects are discussed. Every individual creation of God has been designed with its own marvelous structure for its own divine purpose, as it pleased God to make it like He did. Since each individual creation is distinct it could not have “evolved” from any other.

I am so amazed at so-called Christians who accept as fact Christ’s resurrection from the dead but not the Genesis record of creation in 6 days. Jesus said, “from the beginning of creation God made them male and female,” speaking of mankind. Not after 18 billion years of cosmic history or 4 ½ billion years of earth’s evolution but on day 6.

Psalm 115:16 tells us the very purpose of earth’s creation was that it should be a home for the children of men. A person cannot believe Christ’s words and reject Moses’. Listen to Jesus in John 5:46-47, “For had you believed Moses, you would have believed Me, because He wrote of Me. But if you believe not his writings, how will you believe My words?” In the book of Revelation, Jesus says, “I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.”

The Apostle Peter, not too long before his martyrdom, wrote a remarkably prophetic passage about the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Listen to the words of 2 Peter 3:3-6,

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers walking after their own lusts saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? Since the fathers fell asleep all things glorifying God continue as they are from the beginning of creation.” For this they willingly are ignorant of – that by the Word of God the heavens were of old and the earth standing out and in the water; whereby the world that was then being overflowed by water perished.”

Scoffers arise, those who dismiss the Bible as fairy tales or myths, denying special creation. They replace sudden, special creation by God with uniformity and evolution. They willingly deny a universal flood. Anotherwords, they will deny the Genesis account of creation and the flood and in doing so deny the truth of John 1:3, 1:10 and Hebrews 1:2 which state that God created the world through Jesus Christ.

Creation is a non-negotiable doctrine. What a person believes about creation, about the origins of the earth and mankind, will influence what they believe about the meaning and purpose of life. So many of the great founding fathers of science knew this. Kepler, Galileo, Pascal, Newton, Boyle, Breuster, Faraday, Kelvin and others believed that they were glorifying God as they probed and discovered His marvelous works.

Understand this, belief in the Genesis account of creation is necessary for a correct understanding of who Jesus is as the Bible presents Him. To believe in another Jesus, one who did not create the world in 6 days, one who did not create man in His image, one who is not Lord over creation because you believe He was not the Creator, is to send yourself to hell.

Salvation is found in the Jesus of Holy Scripture, not the Jesus of one’s imagination. Salvation is found in believing in Jesus as He is presented in the Bible, not as we wish He was presented. He is either the Creator Lord or He isn’t. You cannot straddle the fence on this issue. The New Testament simply will not allow it. From the Gospels to the letters of Peter, Paul, and John, Jesus is clearly presented as the Creator Lord.

At the beginning, I said that many times I am asked, “Why don’t you just preach Jesus?” I do. I do preach Jesus. I preach Him creating the world in Genesis as part of the Godhead. I preach Him throughout the Old Testament sustaining the world He created. I preach Him in the New Testament redeeming the world He created. I preach Him in Revelation coming back to claim the world He created. What Jesus are you preaching?

 

 

What the Virgin Birth Teaches Us About Salvation

The following is an excerpt from our resource, Dominoes, available from Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dominos-A-Dynamic-Commentary-Jude/dp/1490334610/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1387327369&sr=8-1-spell

The Virgin Birth starts with God approaching humanity, not humankind approaching God. The same is true of salvation. Salvation is God reaching down to man, not man reaching up to God. The fact of Mary being a virgin obviously disqualifies her from any active part in the conception of Jesus. The Bible goes to great pains to tell us that Joseph did not know her sexually until after the birth of Jesus. Just as Mary was acted on by the Holy Spirit to bring forth new life, so in salvation, the Holy Spirit acts upon us and a new life is brought forth.

In the Virgin Birth, all human autonomy was set aside. Joseph was not consulted until Mary is already pregnant. Jesus is not born of a husband’s will or action but by God.  Joseph’s only role is to provide for Mary and the Child after His birth. Mary, through the angel Gabriel, is told that she has been elected by God to be the mother of the Messiah. She is told that God has chosen her. She is told that the Holy Spirit will overshadow her and she will conceive a son. Her permission is never asked. She receives the word and believes but this belief is not of her, but strength given to her by the Lord. She becomes the pattern for our faith.

It is not through our self-will or free-will that we are born from above. We are elected, chosen to salvation just as Mary was chosen, elected to be Jesus’ mother. As she was sanctified through her calling so are we. God sanctifies us. We receive Jesus by faith, belief, but God gives this faith to us, it isn’t produced by our own efforts.

The Virgin Birth is important because it shows the consistency of a Sovereign God who elects things to happen and by His might, what He ordains comes to pass. The sovereignty of God is not merely that He has the power and the right to rule all things, but that God actually does so, without any exceptions at all. God is not a beggar, wringing His hands and pleading helplessly, hoping sinners will decide to choose Him. He is a God who both can save and who does save whom He chooses.

While there are many other aspects of the Virgin Birth that are worth exploring, I trust that just this one part of the doctrine highlights how interrelated they all are. The same holds true about the doctrine of Jesus eternally existing, not coming into existence 2,000 years ago in Bethlehem.

Do you begin to see how interconnected doctrines are? To deny that Jesus was sinless from birth is to deny that He is God because God cannot sin. It is a belief that Jesus was not the Divine Son of God come down in human form but a mere man raised to great heights by the power of God. Such a view misses the whole point of the gospel message. Humanity could not save himself. It took God Himself to extricate us from our sinful state. He did this by sending His Son to be born of the Virgin Mary, to illustrate from day one how this salvation would come about.

Hymn Devotions Day 35 – Praise To The Lord, The Almighty

DAY 35 – PRAISE TO THE LORD, THE ALMIGHTY

             This hymn is packed with doctrinal truth. One could use it to teach a class on the doctrine of God to new believers, taking a stanza at a time. God is King. He is the Creator. It is in Him that we find salvation and abundant life. He is worthy to be praised and adored.

I love the second verse. Can you not see, the writer asks, how God works in our life, gently changing our hearts and minds to desire, to want what is His desire for us? He doesn’t force us to His will, He changes our will to His own. We look and see and wonder, when did I change? When did I stop wanting that? When did I start desiring this? O how smoothly the Spirit of God works His transforming power!

God’s grace and mercy are given to us daily. He doesn’t leave us on our own to stumble about, He doesn’t leave us at the mercy of the storms of life, He shields and defends us, calming the storms and providing victory over them.

When it seems as if evil is winning. When it looks like the ungodly are prospering, God reminds us that He is in charge. Good will triumph, evil will be judged. We are assured of everlasting rewards, evil of everlasting punishment. The light always overcomes the darkness. It chases away shadows and reveals what is hidden. Nothing can withstand the light of His presence. What fantastic reasons to sing praise to the Lord, the Almighty, our Rock and Captain of our Salvation.

Praise be to You, O Lord. You are almighty. You are all-powerful. You and You alone are worthy to be praised. Thank You, for surrounding me with Your presence each day.

PRAISE TO THE LORD, THE ALMIGHTY by Joachim Neander

Praise to the Lord, the Almighty the King of Creation

O my soul praise Him for He is thy health and salvation

All ye who hear, now to His temple draw near

Join me in glad adoration

 

Praise to the Lord, who o’er all things so wondrously reigneth

Shelters thee under His wings, yea so gently sustaineth

Hast thou not seen, how thy desires e’er have been

Granted in what He ordaineth?

 

Praise to the Lord who hath fearfully wondrously made thee

Health hath vouchsafed and, when heedlessly falling, hath stayed thee.
What need or grief ever hath failed of relief?
Wings of His mercy did shade thee.

Praise to the Lord who doth prosper thy work and defend thee;
Surely His goodness and mercy here daily attend thee.
Ponder anew what the Almighty can do,
If with His love He befriend thee.

Praise to the Lord, who, when tempests their warfare are waging,
Who, when the elements madly around thee are raging,
Biddeth them cease, turneth their fury to peace,
Whirlwinds and waters assuaging.

Praise to the Lord, who, when darkness of sin is abounding,
Who, when the godless do triumph, all virtue confounding,
Sheddeth His light, chaseth the horrors of night,
Saints with His mercy surrounding.

Praise to the Lord, O let all that is in me adore Him!
All that hath life and breath, come now with praises before Him.
Let the Amen sound from His people again,
Gladly for aye we adore Him.

Once Saved – Forever Changed

So many times I get irritated at the debates between friends who are of different theological understandings. You know, the Arminean/Calvinist or Reformed/Wesleyan debates over the doctrine of eternal security (or perseverance of the saints). Why do I get irritated? Because so many people on both sides of the debate miss the whole point of grace. (Of course, most have never read the actual works of John Calvin or Joseph Arminius but that is another subject).

On one side, you have those who say that once saved, no matter what one does or how they live, they are still assured of eternal salvation. On the other, you have the belief that one can remove themselves from God’s protection by their sinful actions. What many people of both camps miss, however, is the change that occurs at salvation. The old has passed away, the new has come. We have been born again, born anew, born from above. What does this mean, practically?

No longer does sin have dominion over us. We can still sin, and we do. We no longer have a life characterized by sin, though. We are no longer under its power nor is it our desire to sin any longer. A person who continues in the same habits of sin with no remorse nor power to stop the sinning has never been transformed into a new creature. He or she has never experienced the new birth, no matter what prayer or ritual they have supposedly made. A life that has been born anew is as different from the old one as a piglet and a puppy are. Oh, both may wallow around in the mud for a little while, but they are fundamentally different and while there may be some similarities they are identifiably different.

Those who believe that the doctrine of eternal security gives a person license to sin miss the whole reality of the transformation the Holy Spirit does in a life. No person born from above has a desire to live a life characterized by actions that would bring shame to their Lord. One cannot, of course, ever become un-born. The metamorphosis is one-way. You are either changed or you are not. The confusion comes from those who claim to be Christian, know the words to say, but whose lives do not match their profession. By their fruit you shall know them. There is a reason why Paul tells the church to examine themselves by the light of Scripture to see if they are really in the faith or not.

I know this doctrine ties in with election, God’s sovereignty and others equally debated. My point isn’t to stir that pot – yet. My point is that God’s transforming power is so awesome, so complete, that it fundamentally changes the nature and character of the one changed and that change is observable and non-revocable. Once saved you are forever changed. If you are not changed, you are not saved. Period. Go back and study the ones given new life by the Spirit – Zacchaeus, Saul of Tarsus, Mary Magadelene and others. That change is what everyone born of God experiences. If you haven’t, contact me and I will be glad to show you how the Spirit can transform your life forever.