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?

 

 

Wednesday Book Reviews – 5-star Day

These Are The GenerationsThese Are The Generations by Eric Foley
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Simply amazing. The story is both warming and frightening, inspiring and challenging. To understand what the central characters are going through is impossible in the West unless one has traveled to countries that repress Christianity. I have and can vouch that stories like these are not uncommon. What is uncommon, is the magnitude of faith demonstrated. Pastor Foley is to be commended for relating this account as well as for his work on behalf of persecuted and forgotten Christians across the globe.

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Today's Gospel: Authentic or Synthetic?Today’s Gospel: Authentic or Synthetic? by Walter J. Chantry
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It was startling to think that this was first written in 1970. It is so relevant and fresh that it could have been penned today. Although written as a book, it could have very well been a series of sermons. It is one of the best expositions of Mark chapter 10 that I have read. If you like David Platt’s Radical, you might be surprised to read this book and see the same things being said thirty years earlier. I heartily recommend this as a good read

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The Irresistibleness of Grace

Many objections have been voiced to me over my belief of irresistible grace. As I listen to the objections, I now realize that there is a complete misunderstanding on the part of my readers who object. Their arguments seem to go along the lines of “so, you believe God will drag some people kicking and screaming into heaven?” What they fail to see is the foolishness of their understanding of grace.
Grace is given to those who do not deserve it, in fact it is given to those who deserve the opposite. The Bible describes mankind as spiritually dead, blind to His glory and light. When God brings salvation to a human soul they are enlightened and see God in His glory for the first time. Their natural response is to gravitate to His glorious light. They are drawn as irresistibly to it as a moth is drawn to a light or a dog to bacon.
It isn’t that they are trying to resist and failing against their will – it is that they are so attracted to the holy pureness and love of God that they run to Him in response to His bringing of new life.
Perhaps it is because of a faulty understanding of salvation that people get confused. Humans do not decide to become “saved”. They are dead, spiritually. Dead people cannot respond to anything. I worked for some years at a funeral home. I took care of many dead people. None of them responded to any stimulus. They showed no initiative. In fact, they just laid there, staring unblinkingly at nothing. That is how the Bible describes people spiritually. Unresponsive, uncaring, unfeeling people who cannot come to God for salvation. So God comes to them and gives them a new heart. He “quickens” or makes the soul come alive. As this new life is imparted, the soul sees its Creator and responds in faith to the One who has just resurrected it. We respond just as Lazarus did. Laying in the tomb, cold, unfeeling, dead, Lazarus heard His Lord call him to life and the response was instantaneous. This is irresistible grace. This is why Scripture says we are saved by grace, through faith — not by faith through grace. Grace come first.

Wednesday Book Review

Each Wednesday I will try to review a Christian book or two. They may be fiction or non-fiction. I am eclectic in my tastes so the books will run a wide gamut. If you are an author and would like a review of your book posted here, contact me. Today, I have two books to review. The first is The Air We Breathe by Christa Parrish. This review has also been posted on Goodreads. The Air We BreatheThe Air We Breathe by Christa Parrish
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I received a copy of this book to review from Bethany House. Since this isn't my normal genre to read, I wanted other eyes to look at it also, so my wife was elected. This way, I wouldn't let my biases get in the way. Chrita Parrish writes a book that is full of rich detail, interweaving the stories of three individuals masterfully. The plot line was well thought out and the story kept our attention. The book elucidated many Christian values. Personally, I would have liked a clear gospel presentation given but since the goal of the book wasn't to use it as a witnessing tool, I can't quibble. It is easy to see why this author has won the ECPA Christian Book Award for Fiction more than once. I recommend it as a good read.

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The second book is called God on the Streets of Gotham: What the Big-Screen Batman Can Teach Us About God and Ourselves by Paul Asay
God on the Streets of Gotham: What the Big Screen Batman Can Teach Us about God and OurselvesGod on the Streets of Gotham: What the Big Screen Batman Can Teach Us about God and Ourselves by Paul Asay
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Well written and thought provoking. I went into the book a bit skeptical, even though I am both a minister and a comic book collector. With Batman being my favorite hero, I was apprehensive about him being forced into some Christian role model/hero. No worries. An extremely engaging book well worth your time to read - it will even give you a lot to think about

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Orphan Adoption and Theology – an article

A very good article written on adoption and theology. There is a link at the end of the article so you can go to the original posting. Ta Ethne supports the work of Together for Adoption in mobilizing the Christian world for global orphan adoption. Please take the time to read this well-written article and check out their website.

Occasionally, when people hear about Together for Adoption’s emphasis and stress upon theology, they sincerely ask, “Do we really have time to study the theology of adoption when there is so much to be done for orphans now?
Isn’t it enough that Scripture commands us to care for orphans? Shouldn’t we just do it?”
If we think of theology merely as information about God, as the mental collection of facts about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, then this question is legitimate. But if by theology we mean a real knowing of God, an ongoing and growing relational engagement with God, the question loses its teeth. Yes, theology necessarily involves information about God. Scripture is full of it. But theology is never merely information.
In Matthew 11:27 Jesus says, “All things have been handed over to me by my Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the Son and anyone to whom the Son chooses to reveal him” (emphasis mine). Believe it or not, Jesus is talking about theology here. If you think about it, theology did not begin with the creation of man. It has always existed in the eternal mutual knowing of the Father and Son. For all of
eternity past the Father has known the Son and the Son the Father.
Understood like this, theology is a gracious gift to humanity. In reality, theology is actually a sharing in the mutual knowing of the Father and Son. It is a participation in the communion of love that the Holy Trinity is (“God is love”). There is no greater gift that can be given to man. So, do we really have time for theology when orphans need our help now? Yes, we do. If theology is ultimately about our participation in the love between the Father and the Son, then nothing can better mobilize and energize us to care for orphans now than theology. Nothing. Rightly understood and practiced, robust theology produces robust action. Just look at the life of Jesus. He enjoyed an infinitely robust theology and no one did more for the poor and
marginalized than he did. If you think about it, what orphans need, then, is Christians who are deeply theological. This is why Together for
Adoption stresses theology when we talk about orphan care.Theology is much more than gathering facts about God and arranging them into a system of
thought and belief. Now granted, theology is not less than true statements about God, but it is certainly and infinitely more than true statements about God. As James says, “You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder!” There’s much more to theology than a collection of biblically gathered facts about God. Theology is ultimately our real participation in the mutual knowing and loving of the Father and the Son in the communion of the Spirit. This is why I said that theology is infinitely more than true statements about God. The study of theology and communion with the Triune God must go hand in hand. No one—absolutely no one—was and is more theological than the Son of God. He has forever known the Father through-and-through, even as he is and has been known. For all of eternity past the Son perfectly knew and communed with the Father. Remarkably, this is the Son
who became man, who became incarnate and lived among us! By becoming the incarnate Son Jesus brought his communion with the Father into the world of men—into the very heart of our broken and devastated world!
That’s the good news of the Gospel!
Suddenly, communion with the Father became a very tangible and possible reality for fallen humanity. Never before—not even with Adam and Eve—had mankind ever known God the Father like the man Christ Jesus knew him (and knows him!). Jesus was a one-of-a-kind man! He is the true man. Jesus was as deeply and profoundly theological as it is possible to be. No matter where in the infinite corridors of eternity you search for someone like the incarnate Son, you will never find anyone enjoying the same level and intensity of communion with the Father as he does. If ever there is someone who is without peer, it’s Jesus —well, except for the Father and the Spirit (both of whom, of course, share his same stratospheric, otherworldly level of communion in all its mind-blowing fullness)! In light of all of this, do you know what’s truly remarkable, though it really should not seem that remarkable to us? Nobody—and I mean absolutely nobody—cared more for the poor, orphaned, and marginalized than Jesus. Rather than his robust theology weakening his social engagement with and commitment to the outcast and neglected, his robust theology unceasingly fueled and sustained his social engagement. As such, Jesus is the truest of human beings! Through the Son’s incarnation, he became what we were and are supposed to be, and he became such for us and in our
place!
What must we learn from this? As orphan care advocates, one of the worst things we can do is neglect or overlook theology. If we do neglect it, we, and the orphans of this world, will be the poorer for it. But if we embrace theology as ones who live in vital union with this amazing Jesus, we, and the orphans we serve, will be the richer for it. What orphans need most, then, is Christians who do not merely know a ton of true statements about God, but who by the power of the gospel daily participate in the mutual knowing and loving of the Father and the Son in the communion of the Spirit.

Article written by Dan Cruver. Email questions and comments to: dan.cruver@togetherforadoption.org
http://www.togetherforadoption.org/wp-content/media/Article_Do_we_really_have_time_for_theology_PDF.pdf

Hymn Devotions Day 22 – Rescue the Perishing

DAY 22 – RESCUE THE PERISHING

               This hymn shows me what attitude I need to have toward those who do not yet know Jesus. They are spiritually dead as well as physically dying, headed toward a Christ-less eternity. My heart should break for them and my recognition of their state should spur me to action.

I must tell them of a Savior. I must introduce them to my Lord. It is my duty. I am to see the world through Jesus’ eyes and do the work He commissioned me to do.

It is amazing to me that many times it is those who seem the furthest away from God are the ones who accept His offer of salvation the quickest. Even though they are insulting Him, denying Him, His Spirit continues to work on their heart, melting their stone cold indifference.

His grace penetrates, quickens, brings about a restoration of life to a dead soul. How beautiful it is remade, reborn.  What a wonderful privilege we have, to be part of His divine plan to bring a lost one into the fold of salvation. Our job is to sow the seed of the Word. The Spirit implants it and causes it to grow, eventually bringing about new life.

Go, cast your seed where the Spirit directs, and who knows, the soul you help rescue may be the one that is dearest to you.

 

Lord, help move us to understand the urgency of sharing Your gospel. Help us to understand the priority of throwing a lifeline, Your Word, to those who are drowning in sin. Help me to be moved with pity and compassion, so that I take my part in Your grand plan of redeeming souls to Yourself.

 

RESCUE THE PERISHING – Fanny J. Crosby

 

Rescue the perishing, care for the dying

Snatch them in pity from sin and the grave

Weep o’er the erring one, lift up the fallen

Tell them of Jesus, the Mighty to save

 

Though they are slighting Him, still He is waiting

Waiting the penitent child to receive

Plead with them earnestly, plead with them gently

He will forgive if they only believe

 

Down in the human heart, crushed by the tempter

Feelings lie buried that grace can restore

Touched by a loving heart, weakened by kindness

Chords that are broken will vibrate once more

 

Rescue the perishing, duty demands it

Strength for thy labor the Lord will provide

Back to the narrow way, patiently win them

Tell the poor wanderer a Savior has died

 

REFRAIN

 

Rescue the perishing

Care for the dying

Jesus is merciful

Jesus will save