What Jesus Said About Who He Is?

The most offensive thing a Christian can say is that Jesus is the only way for salvation. This is characterized as intolerant, as arrogant, as narrow minded. But according to the Gospels, Jesus prompted belief in His exclusive relationship with God, the Father. He spoke of Himself as „the light”, „living waters”, „the way”, as „the good shepherd”, as „the vine”, „bread”, as „the door and gate to God”. When Jesus said „I and the Father are one” the religious leaders at the temple understood what He meant because they picked up stones and they wanted to stone Him for blasphemy. They understood that Jesus was making a claim far higher than the oneness of mission, He was claiming to be one of essence with the Father. Jesus knew who He was and was very clear in declaring who He was: that He was one with the Father. That he was God come to earth.
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What Is Present When Kneeling to Pray in Jesus’ Name by John Piper

Here’s what is present when we kneel to pray in Jesus’ name:
1. God the Father on his throne sovereign over the universe, with a welcoming,   countenance focused on us.

2. God the Son in his high priestly role, standing as advocate before the throne as a Lamb that was slain with perfect righteousness and with all God’s promises purchased fully in his hand interceding for us.

3. God the Spirit within us, having already inclined us to pray, poised to guide our prayers, put to death our sins, awaken our faith, illumine God’s word, and produce his fruit.

4. The word of God open before us, inspired by God, alive with penetrating power for conviction of sin and indomitable hope, revealing the Father, the Son, and the Spirit to our souls, shaping and guiding our prayers after God’s will.

5. Our sin forgiven, but humbling us to need and love our merciful saving God.

6. God’s grace like a great rainbow of hope arcing from the throne to our soul.

7. Our will captured by these realities, moving words (or only groans) up out of our mind (or only heart) to God with praise and thanks and confession and requests.

(via) Desiring God

Jesus Is Worthy – David Platt

Photo credit kingdomnewtestament.wordpress.com

„You see Jesus saying to four fishermen, ‘Follow me.’ We need to feel the weight and the wonder of the One who’s speaking here—this is Jesus. The Savior and Messiah. The One promised to come in the kingly line of David and Abraham Father of God’s people in Israel. Fully human and fully divine. The One who wise men of the nations bow. The One who’s birth ushers in the consummation of generations and generations of prophecy and expectation. He is the Savior King, the Righteous Judge of the World perfectly filled with God the Spirit, completely loved by God the Father. The only man who’s conquered sin. The True Son that Israel could never be. The Light of the World and the Hope for all Nations. Do we realize who this is? For when we do we come to one conclusion…

This Jesus is clearly absolutely worthy of more than nominal adherence and church association. Church leaders, we must not reduce this Jesus to a poor, puny savior who is just begging for people to accept him into their hearts as if Jesus needed to be accepted by us. He doesn’t need your acceptance. He doesn’t need my acceptance. He doesn’t need any of our acceptance. He’s infinitely worthy of all glory in all the universe and He doesn’t need us at all. We need Him! We desperately need Him…Jesus is worthy of total abandonment and supreme adoration.” This is no game here. We’re talking about the Savior King of the universe and the Righteous Judge of the nations. God in the flesh, saying, „Follow Me”. (2nd Photo credit www.day4ministries.com)

VIDEO by VergeNetwork

If Christ was fully God lived on this earth in human nature, what was the role of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’s earthly life? What could the Spirit of God contribute to the deity of Christ?

Alemayehu Mekonnen, Ph.D, Associate professor of missions at Denver Seminary, 2013 reviews Dr. Ware, A. Bruce, The Man Christ Jesus: Theological Reflection on the Humanity of Christ. Crossway, Wheaton, IL; 2013. Paperback $13.50. ISBN 13-978-1-4335-1305-3 (Photo credit http://www.amazon.com)

One would ask, if Christ was fully God lived on this earth in human nature, what was the role of the Holy Spirit in Jesus’s earthly life? What could the Spirit of God contribute to the deity of Christ? Bruce said; “The answer we must give is: Nothing! As God he possesses every quality infinitely, and nothing can be added to him. So then we ask instead this question: what could the Spirit of God contribute to the humanity of Christ? The answer is everything of supernatural power and enablement that he, in his human nature, would lack. The only way to make sense, then, of the fact that Jesus came in the power of the Spirit is to understand that he lived his life fundamentally as a man, and as such, he relied on the Spirit to provide the power, grace, knowledge, wisdom, direction, and enablement he needed, moment by moment an day by day, to fulfill the mission the Father sent him to accomplish” Pg. 30. To illustrate this point biblically, Bruce exegetes (Isa. 11:1-3) effectively.

The Man Jesus Christ sets an example of dependence on heavenly father and obedience to Him in the context of suffering. “This incarnate obedience, we might call it, was rendered often within the context of opposition and affliction, with the result often, that his obedience was the cause of much further suffering. In other words, he knew that he obeyed the Father, he was inviting only greater opposition and was putting himself in a place of increased suffering. Obedience per se was not new; rather, this kind of obedience was indeed new” Pg. 60. At a time a when “wealth and health” gospel is preached, and suffering is considered as negative in spiritual maturity or labeled with lack of faith. The obedience of Jesus Christ in the context of suffering refreshes authentic Christian and biblical outlook. “Oddly, some Christians seem instinctively to want to push away suffering. They think it best to keep suffering at arm’s length. But not only is this a mistake biblically and theologically; it is a huge mistake spiritually and practically” pg. 70.

Read the article in its entirety here- http://www.denverseminary.edu/

R. C. Sproul – The Privilege of Addressing God as „Father”

An older video of a much younger R. C. Sproul:

rc sproul 2Go with a group of Christians, listen to them pray at home, a prayer meeting, or Bible study and invariably, as Christians pray out loud, one after another will address God. How? They’ll start their prayer saying, „Father,” or, „Our heavenly Father.” It’s the most common expression that we as Christians use to address God. And why not? When our Lord taught us to pray, he taught us to say ‘Our Father, who art in heaven, hallowed be Thy name’.

What could be more basic to Christianity than to address God as Father? A German New Testament scholar (can’t quite make out the name through the audio- might be Hermann Samuel Reimarus (1694–1768)) has done a study on prayers  of the ancient Israelite people, and it is his conclusion that there’s not a single example anywhere in extant Jewish literature, including the Old Testament, the Talmud, the Targums, and so on, until the 10th century A.D. where a Jewish person addresses God directly- as Father. That simply wasn’t done. People would speak of the fatherhood of God among the Jewish people, but no one would address Him directly: „Father”. He says you don’t find it till 10th century in Italy. Yet, in the New Testament, we have the record of a Jew, a Jewish rabbi , who has many, many prayers recorded for posterity. And, that in every prayer that he prays, save one, he directly addresses God as Father. And that’s Jesus of Nazareth.

And what Reimarus demonstrates is that Jesus’ use of the term ‘Father’ for God was a radical innovation. Completely unheard of in Jewish liturgy! And what He did in His radical departure from convention, He invited His followers to be involved with. Because, what Jesus teaches about the human race is that by nature we are not the children of God. This was the dispute our Lord had with the Pharisees, who thought that just because they were born Jewish, that they were children of Abraham, that they were therefore the children of God. Jesus said, „You are of your father, the devil. God can raise up children of Abraham from these stones.”

..what Jesus does is defines Sonship in terms of obedience to God. And, because we are not by nature obedient to God, we are by nature children of wrath, the New Testament teaches us, and not universally children of the Father. The only way we ever have the right to call God „Father’, to cry Abba (Father) in His presence is because we have been adopted.   And the biblical message of sonship and daughterhood in the body of Christ is rooted and grounded in this concept of adoption. That only Christ is the natural Son of God, and only if you are in Christ do you become a member of the household of God. It is the church in the New Testament that is called the family of God. It is the church in the New Testament that is called the household of God. And that unique concept of redemption  through adoption is completely obscured when we talk about the universal fatherhood of God. Do you see that?

VIDEO by Ligonier Ministries

God is dangerous apart from Jesus


Piper: The reason Jesus’s name is used is because we have no rights to go to God, except through Jesus. If you try to go to God apart from Jesus, you may be incinerated. God is very dangerous apart from Jesus. He is angry apart from Jesus. He has put Jesus Christ forward to remove His anger and to clothe us with righteousness, so that we can walk right into the flame of His holiness and not be consumed. Jesus is the only hope that any prayer will be heard, so we come in Jesus’s name.

Teach your children what it means to pray in Jesus’s name. THIS IS NOT A THROWAWAY PHRASE! Everything hangs on this phrase. It means: In the name of the One, in whose worth , in whose righteousness, in whose sacrifice we come. And no other way. That’s true, not only for our salvation, but for our supplication. You all know we’re saved through Jesus, and you SHOULD know we pray through Jesus. And they really are the same mediator role. ‘There is one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.” Don’t come any other way.

I am troubled when people feel like, ‘for the escape from mindless tradition’, we just leave off ‘in Jesus’s name’ from our prayers, and say nothing, except Amen. You don’t have to say it, BUT YOU HAD BETTER THINK IT! And if you’re thinking it, it wouldn’t hurt to say it, so that I know you’re thinking it. And not going any other way. It is not a throw away phrase. It’s not tradition. It’s right out of that verse and its massively important that we come in Christ alone to ask the Father for favor. We won’t get it any other way.

VIDEO by desiringGod


R.C. Sproul – Jesus saved us from the curse of the law – Hristos ne-a răscumpărat din blestemul Legii (subtitrat)

Everywhere in this country you see cars with bumper stickers that say, „God bless America.” After 9/11 Pat  Robertson and Jerry Falwell suggested that perhaps the events of 9/11 were God’s judgments upon America. And, the outcome and the outrage of the press were so severe they had to recant their musings on that point because we believe in a God who is infinitely capable of blessing people, but is utterly incapable of cursing them. „May the Lord curse you and abandon you. May the Lord keep you in darkness, and give you only judgment without grace. May the Lord turn His back upon you, and remove His peace from you forever.” The apostle Paul says that the whole creation groans together in travail, waiting for the manifestations of the sons of God. (Romans 8:22)

We live in a planet, dear friends, that is under the curse of God. If there ever was an obscenity that violated contemporary community standards, it was Jesus, on the cross. But, on the cross, not only is the Father satisfied by the atoning work of His Son, , but, in bearing our sins, the Lamb of God removes our sins from us, as far as the east is from the west. How does He do it? By being cursed. Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law. (Galatians 3:13) Listen to this:

Not simply by being cursed for us, but, becoming a curse for us. Can you take that in? He, who is the incarnation of the glory of God, now becomes the very incarnation of the divine curse. „As it is written, Cursed is everyone as he hangs upon a tree. Galatians 3;13. Because, after He became the scapegoat, and the Father imputes to Him every sin of every one of His people, we see the most intense, dense concentration of evil ever experienced on this planet. Jesus was the ultimate obscenity, bearing the full measure of the curse Christ screamed: Eli, Eli, lama sabachtahani? My God, My God, why have you forsaken Me?

He didn’t just feel forsaken, He was forsaken! For Jesus to become the curse, He has to be utterly, totally and completely forsaken. And here’s the reality that we must make clear to our people: That they will either bear the curse of God themselves, or they will flee to the one who took it for them. Cursed of God. The Father turns His back. Until that moment, when my sin was placed upon Him, and the one who was pure, was pure no more. And God cursed Him. It was as if there was a cry from heaven, excuse my language but I can not be accurate unless I say: God damn you. Because that’s what it meant to be cursed, to be damned, to be under the anathema of the Father. As I said, I don’t understand that, but I know that it’s true, and I know that every person in this room, or every person outside, or on the street, across the world, who has not been covered by the righteousness of Christ, right this minute draws every breath under the curse of God.

If you believe that, you will stop adding to the Gospel and start preaching it, with clarity and with boldness, because, dear friends it is the only hope we have, and it is hope enough.

The curse motif of the atonement

From “Treasuring Redemption’s Price by Ligonier Ministries

The key to understanding the cry of Jesus from the cross is found in Paul’s letter to the Galatians: „Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us, for it is written: ‘Cursed is everyone who is hung on a tree'” (Galatians 3:13, NIV).

To be cursed is to be removed from the presence of God, to be set outside the camp, to be cut off from His benefits. On the cross, Jesus was cursed. That is, He represented the Jewish nation of covenant breakers who were exposed to the curse and took the full measure of the curse on Himself. As the Lamb of God, the Sin Bearer, He was cut off from the presence of God.

On the cross, Jesus entered into the experience of forsakenness on our behalf. God turned His back on Jesus and cut Him off from all blessing, from all keeping, from all grace, and from all peace.

God is too holy to even look at iniquity. God the Father turned His back on the Son, cursing Him to the pit of hell while He hung on the cross. Here was the Son’s “descent into hell.” Here the fury of God raged against Him. His scream was the scream of the damned. For us.

Reflect on what Jesus did for you on Calvary. Give thanks for the Lamb of God who bore your sin. For further study:

~Matthew 27:46 And about the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lema sabachthani?” that is, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
~Galatians 3:13 Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—
~Galatians 3:10 For all who rely on works of the law are under a curse; for it is written, “Cursed be everyone who does not abide by all things written in the Book of the Law, and do them.”

rc sproul 2Related posts

D A Carson – summarizes the Bible in 221 words

God is the sovereign, transcendent and personal God who has made the universe, including us, his image-bearers. Our misery lies in our rebellion, our alienation from God, which, despite his forbearance, attracts his implacable wrath.
But God, precisely because love is of the very essence of his character, takes the initiative and prepared for the coming of his own Son by raising up a people who, by covenantal stipulations, temple worship, systems of sacrifice and of priesthood, by kings and by prophets, are taught something of what God is planning and what he expects.
In the fullness of time his Son comes and takes on human nature. He comes not, in the first instance, to judge but to save: he dies the death of his people, rises from the grave and, in returning to his heavenly Father, bequeaths the Holy Spirit as the down payment and guarantee of the ultimate gift he has secured for them—an eternity of bliss in the presence of God himself, in a new heaven and a new earth, the home of righteousness.
The only alternative is to be shut out from the presence of this God forever, in the torments of hell. What men and women must do, before it is too late, is repent and trust Christ; the alternative is to disobey the gospel (Romans 10:16;2 Thessalonians 1:8; 1 Peter 4:17).

Fathers who give hope by John Piper

Proverbs 23:24

 The father of the righteous will greatly rejoice;
he who fathers a wise son will be glad in him.

You can listen to the audio sermon here at DesiringGod.org.

Colossians 3:21

Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.

Our text is straightforward and simple this morning: „Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” It divides naturally into three parts:

  1. First, there is the address, „Fathers.”
  2. Second, there is the command, „Do not provoke your children.”
  3. Third, there is the purpose of the command, „Lest they become discouraged.”

We will look at these three parts of the text one at a time in reverse order. First, we will direct our attention to the goal of Christian fathers, namely, rearing children who are not discouraged. Second, we will look at the duty of Christian fathers, namely, not to do those things that discourage children. And finally, we will focus on the leader in Christian parenthood, namely, fathers.

But first a word about the fatherhood of God.

The Fatherhood of God

In the Lord’s Prayer Jesus taught his disciples to call God Father: „Our Father who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name.” He taught that God is not everyone’s Father. In John 8:42, 44 he said to those who refused to follow him, „If God were your Father, you would love me, for I proceeded and came forth from God . . . You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.”

God is the Father only of those who are led by the Spirit of his Son. In Romans 8:9, 14–15 Paul says,

Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him . . . All who are led by the Spirit of God are the sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of sonship. When we cry, „Abba! Father!” it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God.

Not every one can lay claim to the privilege of knowing God as Father. Only those who are born of God (John 1:13), who receive Christ (John 1:12), and who are led by the Spirit (Romans 8:14) have the right to receive the inheritance of the children—promises like Matthew 7:11, „If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!” The privilege of prayer and the promise that God will work all things together for your good is part of the inheritance of sonship. That is what it means to have God as your Father.

There are two reasons I begin with this word about the fatherhood of God. One is that I believe all human fatherhood should be patterned on the divine fatherhood. The overarching guide for every father should be to live in such a way that his children can see what God the Father is like. They ought to see in their human father a reflection—albeit imperfect—of the heavenly Father in his strength and tenderness, in his wrath and mercy, in his exaltation and condescension, in his surpassing wisdom and patient guidance. The task of every human father is to be for his children an image the Father in heaven.

The other reason I begin with the fatherhood of God is to give this message relevance for everyone in this room whether you are a father or not; and whether you had a Christian father or not. I want to make clear from the outset that the sadness many may feel at never having had a father like the father I will describe, and the sadness others may feel at never having been a father like the father I will describe—that sadness can be swallowed up and overcome with joy this morning because God offers his fatherhood to anyone who will accept the gift of adoption by trusting Christ and yielding to be led by the Holy Spirit.

There are two ways to listen to this message this morning. One is to take it as a straightforward exhortation from the Word of God to fathers on how to rear their children. The other is to take it as a parable pointing to the way the Father in heaven loves those who believe and follow his Son. Frankly, I hope all of you hear it in both senses.

1. „Lest They Become Discouraged”

Let’s go to the text and begin with the last phrase of Colossians 3:21, „Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.”

The goal of a good father is to rear children who are not discouraged. The word implies losing heart, being listless, spiritless, disinterested, moody, sullen, with a kind of blank resignation toward life. Don’t be the kind of father who rears that kind of person. Instead develop a style of fatherhood that produces the opposite of discouragement.

The Opposite of Discouragement

Now what is that? I would sum it up in three characteristics.

  1. The opposite of being discouraged is being hopeful.
  2. The opposite of being discouraged is being happy.
  3. The opposite of being discouraged is being confident and courageous.

So I would say that the negative form of verse 21 really implies a positive command as well. It says, „Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” But it means not only avoid one kind of fatherhood; it also means pursue another kind, namely, the kind of fatherhood which gives hope instead of discouragement; and gives happiness instead of discouragement; and gives confidence and courage.

Distinctly Christian Teaching

If we stopped right here, we would not have said anything distinctly Christian. There is not one parent in ten thousand who thinks that the aim of parenthood should be to discourage children. But the apostle Paul would be distressed if all I did were to use his words here simply to express some everyday common sense, or some natural wisdom. He was not inspired by the Holy Spirit to confirm the insights of Dr. Spock. He was inspired to teach parents things that no natural eye has seen and no natural ear has heard (1 Corinthians 2:9–13).

Here is what I mean. Paul’s teaching makes it clear that when he says we should be fathers who give hope instead of discouragement, he means hope in GOD, not hope in money or hope in popularity or hope in education or hope in a spouse or hope in professional success. If you had asked Paul, or Jesus, „What kind of freedom from discouragement do you want our children to have?” he would not have said, „I want your children to be freed from discouragement by being filled with hope that they will become wealthy . . . or well-known, or intellectual, or married, or successful.” We know that is not what he means. He means, be the kind of fathers who do not discourage your children but rather fill them with hope in God.

Happiness That Kills and Happiness in God

And when we consider happiness as the opposite of discouragement, Paul would not be content if a father simply made his child feel good by giving him whatever he wanted. There is a happiness that kills. To some kinds of happiness the Scripture says, „Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to dejection” (James 4:9). There is a happiness that has nothing to do with God, and therefore has no value in the sight of God. It comes from the creation alone and not from the Creator. That isn’t what Paul wants fathers to put in the place of discouragement.

But there is another joy that comes to expression, for example, in Psalm 4:7–8,

Thou hast put more joy in my heart
than they have when their grain and wine abound.
In peace I will both lie down and sleep;
for thou alone, O lord, makest me dwell in safety.

Fathers, don’t discourage your children, but fill them with joy in God! Teach them early on—and show them earlier yet—that through many sufferings they must enter the kingdom (Acts 14:22), but that they can rejoice in sufferings, knowing that „suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope”—IN GOD (Romans 5:3–4). Don’t discourage them. Make them happy in God by helping them to hope in God.

Self-Confidence and God-Confidence

And when we consider confidence as the opposite of discouragement, the message of Scripture takes a dramatic turn away from the common sense natural wisdom of the world.

The world says: Don’t discourage a child; build up his self-confidence. The Scripture says: Don’t discourage a child; build up his God-confidence. In fact the Scripture is more precise than that; it teaches: Don’t discourage a child, but do your best to root out his self-confidence and replace it with a confidence in God. And when it teaches us to root out self-confidence, it means root out the desire to be and to appear self-confident.

The Scripture knows that most people don’t succeed in being self-confident. Most people are quite unhappy about their inability to appear self-reliant and self-assured and cool and in control. So when the Scripture teaches us to root out self-confidence, it means go for the root, not the half-withered branches. Go for the DESIRE to be self-confident, not the meager manifestations of it that make their way into peoples’ actions.

Self-Confidence Being Rooted Out of Paul

One vivid illustration of how Paul’s heavenly Father was patiently working to root out Paul’s self-confidence is given in 2 Corinthians 1:8–9. Here is a description of how God the Father was working on Paul twenty years after his conversion, which means this is a very deeply rooted sin in all of us. He writes,

We do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of the affliction we experienced in Asia; for we were so utterly, unbearably crushed that we despaired of life itself. Why, we felt that we had received the sentence of death; but that was to make us rely [or: be confident] not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.

In other words, the divine purpose of Paul’s affliction was (as it is the purpose of all good fatherly discipline) to root out the remaining self-confidence of Paul’s heart and to cast him on God alone. Why? Because God didn’t want him to be confident? Because he wanted him to be listless, spiritless, moody, sullen, weak, fearful? No! It was God who came to Paul in Corinth and said, „Do NOT be afraid, but speak and do NOT be silent; for I am with you.” So the confidence that we are to build into our children is not self-confidence, but confidence in the grace and power of God. „Do not be afraid . . . I AM WITH YOU.”

The Goal of Biblical Fathers

Andrew Bonar, the 19th century Scottish pastor, said concerning the teaching of children, „We tell them, ‘You are sinners, exposed to God’s wrath and curse, and you cannot save yourselves; but God’s own Son can save you, by Himself bearing that wrath and curse.'” In other words you teach a child to despair of all self-confidence and direct his desire for confidence to the grace of God. The goal of biblical fathers is to have children who say (with Psalm 60:11–12):

O grant us help against the foe,
for vain is the help of man!
With God we shall do valiantly;
it is he who will tread down our foes.

A good father will ponder: How can I be like my own heavenly Father? How can I banish self-reliance from the heart of my children and fill them with confidence and courage and zeal and boldness that are rooted in the grace and power of God and not in themselves? How can I be the kind of father whose children do not lose heart or become spiritless or listless or sullen or discouraged, but are filled with hope in God and happiness in God and confidence in God and courage to attempt great things for the glory of God?

That question leads us to turn now to the second part of our text, namely, the duty of Christian parents not to provoke their children.

2. „Do Not Provoke Your Children”

„Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged.” Again we notice that the commandment is negative—something to be avoided. It is a warning against the misuse of legitimate authority. Paul has just said in verse 20, „Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.” That gives to parents tremendous authority and responsibility under God. Children are to do what parents say.

Ruining a Child’s Confidence in God

Now in verse 21 he cautions fathers against a misuse of this God-given authority. The misuse he has in mind is that fathers might treat their children in such a way that their spirit is broken and they become hopelessly discouraged. Paul calls this misuse „provoking” them: „Do not provoke your children.”

In Ephesians 6:4 a different word is used that specifically means, „Do not provoke to anger.” But this is a very general word here in Colossians 3:21. It can even be used positively in 2 Corinthians 9:2 where it says that the Christians in Achaia provoked the Christians in Macedonia to be more generous. In other words, they „stirred them up,” or „motivated” them.

In choosing the broad and general word I think Paul would have us teach that parents should avoid everything that ruins a child’s confidence in God and leaves him hopeless and discouraged. This requires tremendous wisdom from fathers, because not all short term discouragements result in long term hopelessness. On the contrary, our heavenly Father clearly brings short term frustrations and discouragements into our lives precisely to put us on a new footing of faith. Great wisdom is needed here.

So let’s ask, then, What do fathers do that provoke children to long-term discouragement and hopelessness? I’ll mention two things.

Failing to Be Happy and Hopeful in God

First, some fathers fail to BE happy and hopeful and confident in God. Fathers, what you ARE in relation to God is far more important than any particular parenting technique you try to employ. Will your children hope in God if you hope in money? Will your children be happy in God if they see that fishing is a happier experience for you than worship? Will your children be confident in God if your whole demeanor communicates the desire to be seen as a self-confident?

The most important work that a father can do for the sake of his children is to be converted. The most important strategy for rearing children is to become a new man in Christ—whose hope and happiness and confidence are in God and not in himself.

We know this is true from Scripture because there we are taught to imitate our heavenly Father. We are told to be holy as he IS holy (1 Peter 1:16). We are told to be merciful as he IS merciful (Luke 6:36). To be a good child is to copy daddy. It honors a father to be imitated, and we are commanded to honor our fathers. And so the most important question a father can ask is not what shall I teach my children, but rather who am I before the living God and before my children?

That is the first thing that fathers can do to provoke their children to long-term discouragement and hopelessness—they can fail to BE hopeful, happy, and confident in God.

Disciplining in an Impulsive, Erratic, and Inconsistent Way

The second thing that fathers do which provokes children to long term discouragement and hopelessness is to discipline them in an impulsive, erratic and inconsistent way.

Unpredictable, impulsive, hostile discipline makes children fearful, bitter, deceitful, and discouraged. They don’t know where or why the explosion will come next. They say to themselves, „What’s the use! How can I hope that being good is any better than being bad?” And so the spirit of moral hope is broken, and in its place comes calculated, deceitful, discouraged maneuvering.

On the other hand, when discipline is controlled and appropriate and consistent and based on clear rules and principles of justice in the home, an atmosphere is created where children flourish in freedom. They know the limits and they feel secure and free to dream and play and plan and work inside those limits of righteousness.

They gain confidence that this is the way God is. He is not a capricious God. He is not impulsive or erratic or inconsistent. There is order. There is justice tempered with mercy. There is hope and encouragement. Why, I might even be able to accomplish something of value or even greatness if I fit into this order and depend on the goodness of the Father who loves me like this.

So fathers, don’t provoke your children by being impulsive, erratic, or inconsistent in your discipline. Be like your Father in heaven, so that your children can know him and become hopeful and happy and confident in him.

Much more could be said about the kinds of things that provoke long-term, discouragement and hopelessness in children. But time is out.

3. „Fathers . . . „

We can only briefly refer to the third part of the text, namely, the address: „Fathers . . . ” Verse 20 said, „Children, obey your parents.” This clearly teaches that mothers as well as fathers are to be obeyed. Mothers and fathers have a shared authority over the children. But in verse 21 fathers are addressed in particular.

Why this is so is the issue we will take up tonight. There is a peculiar role that the Scripture gives to husbands and fathers. Fathers bear a special responsibility for the moral life of the family. So I urge you to take that responsibility, fathers, and that you be the kind of man who gives hope and happiness and confidence to your children because you yourself have found your hope and your happiness and your confidence in God.

By John Piper. © Desiring God. Website: desiringGod.org

Father’s Day Song – I Am Your Father ~ Brian Doerksen {Song For The Prodigals}

Rembrandt – The Return of the Prodigal

„See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God.The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him” (1 John 3:1). This passage begins with the command: „See.” John wants us to observe the manifestations of the Father’s love. He has introduced the subject of God’s love in the preceding chapter (1 John 2:5, 15) briefly discusses it here, and fully explains it in the fourth chapter. John’s purpose is to describe the kind of love the Father gives His children, „what great love.” The Greek word translated „what great” is found only 6 times in the NT and always implies astonishment and admiration.

Interesting to note is that John does not say, „The Father loves us. Instead, he tells us that the Father has „lavished” His love on us, and this portrays an action and the extent of God’s love. John has chosen the word „Father” purposely. That word implies the father-child relationship. However, God did not become Father when He adopted us as children. God’s fatherhood is eternal. He is eternally the Father of Jesus Christ, and through Jesus He is our Father. Through Jesus we receive the Father’s love and are called „children of God.”

What an honor it is that God calls us His children and gives us the assurance that as His children we are heirs and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). In his Gospel, John also tells us that God gives the right to become children of God to all who in faith have received Christ as Lord and Savior (John 1:12). God extends His love to His Son Jesus Christ and, through Him, to all His adopted children.

When John then tells us „that is what we are!” he declares the reality of our status. Right now, at this very moment, we are His children. In other words, this is not a promise which God will fulfill in the future. No, the truth is we are already God’s children. We enjoy all the rights and privileges our adoption entails, because we have come to know God as our Father. As His children we experience His love. As His children we acknowledge Him as our Father, for we have an experiential knowledge of God. We put our trust and faith in Him who loves us, provides for us, and protects us as our earthly fathers should. Also as earthly fathers should, God disciplines His children when they disobey or ignore His commands. He does this for our benefit, so „that we may share in His holiness” (Hebrews 12:10).

There are many ways the Scriptures describe those who love God and obey Him. We are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17); we are holy priests (1 Peter 2:5); we are new creations (2 Corinthians 5:17); and we are partakers of the divine nature (2 Peter 1:4). But more significant than any title or position is the simple fact that we are God’s children and He is our Heavenly Father.

Published on May 16, 2012 by mariliss1

What does „greater works” in John 14:12 mean?

Tom Schreiner comments on John 14:12:

What does Jesus mean in John 14:12 when he says, „Truly, truly, I say to you, the one who believes in me the works I do shall he do also, and greater than these shall he do, because I go to the Father”? 

Tom Schreiner first prefaces his commentary by clarifying that „this verse could not have been limited to just the apostles, since Jesus says that „anyone who believes in Him” shall do greater works„, and he also points out that the „greater works”, referred to in verse 12 is „another assurance that Jesus’ absence will actually be beneficial for those who believe in him„.

For context he cites the rest of the verses (13-16):

In verses 13-14 Jesus promises in his absence to answer prayers uttered in his name, and verses 15-17 promise the Spirit to those who obey Jesus’ commandments. Thus, in Jesus’ absence the disciples will do greater works, their prayers in Jesus’ name will be answered, and they will have the power of the Holy Spirit. And one day Jesus will return to take believers home. I think the greater works Jesus has in mind are not greater miracles in terms of signs and wonders. Instead, the greater works done by those who believe in Jesus refer to the work of the Spirit in people’s hearts, a work of the Spirit that has greater dimensions now that Jesus has ascended to the Father. 

Schreiner has 4 arguments to support this:

  1. The „greater works” cannot refer to signs and wonders that are greater in quality than those done by Jesus because no believer ever has or ever will do greater miracles than Jesus. He raised the dead, opened the eyes of the blind, restored hearing to the deaf, cast out demons, healed the lame, calmed a stormy sea, etc. No miracle-worker has even come close since the days of the apostles, and even the apostles did not do any signs and wonders that were greater.
  2. But perhaps John means that believers will do greater works in the sense that we will do more signs and wonders than Jesus? But the Greek word for „greater” used here does not refer to a greater number of works. If John wanted to refer to a greater number of works, he probably would have used the Greek word polla meaning „more.” A careful study of the word „greater” (meizn) in John’s gospel shows that the word consistently refers to something that is greater in quality rather than something that is greater in number.To conclude this second point: the greater works do not mean believers will do more works than Jesus, but that they will do works qualitatively better than those Jesus did in his ministry.
    These better works are due to the outpouring of the Spirit after Jesus’ ascension. [Note: Incidentally, there is no evidence from church history that any believer did more miracles than Jesus anyway, and this verse is not limited to those who have the gift of healing; it refers to all believers.]
  3. The word „works” in John’s gospel in some contexts clearly includes Jesus’ miracles (John 7:3, 21; 9:4; 10:25,32,33,37,38). But even though the word often includes the idea of miracles, the word „works” cannot be limited to signs and wonders in John’s gospel. For example, John 6:28-29 identifies the „work of God” as „believing in the one whom the Father sent.” And in John 8:39 Jesus exhorts the Jews to „do the works of Abraham,” and there is no record of Abraham doing miracles, and so Jesus must mean, „do the good deeds of Abraham.” John 14:10 is especially interesting, for their Jesus says, „The words which I speak to you I do not speak From myself, but the Father abiding in me does his works.” Here the „words” of Jesus in the first part of the verse are defined as his „works” in the latter part of the verse. Thus, we have clear evidence in the near context (compare also verse 11) that the word „works” should not be restricted to signs and wonders. Indeed, when John wants to speak of miracles, he consistently uses the word „sign.” „Sign” is the unambiguous word John uses to describe. Miracles, and the word „works” is a more general term, which may include miracles, but does not necessarily focus on signs and wonders. All of this suggests that the first part of verse 12 where Jesus says, „the one who believes in me the works I do he shall do also” does not mean that believers will do miracles and signs and Wonders to the same extent as Jesus. The word „works” is a general term, and thus Jesus is simply saying that you will do works of the same quality as I did and more.
  4. The greater works, then, refer to the extended work of the Spirit, which will occur when Jesus ascends to the Father. This is not to deny that the Spirit was active previously in significant ways. But the work of the Spirit on earth was intensified with Jesus’ ascension. Note that Jesus specifically says that „the greater works” will occur „because I go to the Father.” Going to the Father, then, provides the reason or ground for the greater works. But why does Jesus’ going to the Father make possible greater works? The rest of John’s gospel answers that question. In John 16:7 Jesus says, „It is better for you that I go, for if I do not go, the paraclete will not come to you, but if I go I will send him to you.” This fits beautifully with John 14:12. Jesus says that it will be better if he goes because only when he goes will the Spirit be sent. And John 16:8-11 makes it clear that the Spirit when he comes will convict unbelievers of sin, righteousness, and judgment. Such conviction of sinners is clearly another way of describing the „greater works” which will occur after Jesus goes. Greater than any healing is the inclusion of one’s name in the book of life. Jesus reminds his disciples of this when they are so excited about casting out demons in Luke 10:20. „Nevertheless do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are recorded in heaven.”

    The book of acts supports the interpretation that „the greater works” are possible after the outpouring of the Spirit as well. The Holy Spirit is not poured out until after Jesus has ascended.

    In conclusion:

    One final word: that greater works are done by believers after Jesus’ earthly ministry in no way diminishes the ministry of Jesus, nor does it suggest our ministry is somehow better than His! I have argued that the greater works refers to the work of the Spirit through believers in convicting unbelievers of their sin, and mediating forgiveness of sins in the name of the risen Lord. But such work is not our work! It is the work of the risen Lord in us and through us. The Lord Jesus Christ exalted and glorious works in concert with God the Father through the Holy Spirit. He is the one doing the work, and He is worthy of all the glory!

    Read the entire paper (pdf form)here at Southern Baptists Theological Seminary.

Jesus on Prayer (National Day of Prayer – May 3, 2012)

For more Prayer Resources, including 3 free online books on how to pray for your 1)wife  2)child  or  3)husband click here.

from bible.org by Bob Deffinbaugh


Matthew 5 – 7 contains the well-known Sermon on the Mount. The sermon is about righteousness that comes from the heart. Religion tends to be about external forms and obedience to rules, but here Jesus challenges us to evaluate ourselves by an inner standard. This contrasts with the prevailing wisdom of the time. The “teachers of the law” strove to fence the Law by a stringent oral law. Thus a “Sabbath day’s journey” encoded how far one could travel and not break the command to not labor on the Sabbath. It might well be that one could journey more without breaking the commandment, but if you kept the oral standard, you were so far from breaking the Law that you were “safe.” So the Law was fenced by obedience to an even stricter standard.

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount also fenced the Law, but did so by looking at the heart. For example, He says,

“You have heard that it was said to an older generation, ‘Do not murder,’ and ‘whoever murders will be subjected to judgment.’ But I say to you that anyone who is angry with a brother will be subjected to judgment. And whoever insults a brother will be brought before the council, and whoever says ‘Fool’ will be sent to fiery hell” (Matthew 5:21-22).

Murder is an external sin. It is obvious and visible. It is easy to condemn the murderer. But Jesus tells us to take care less we even have a seething anger against another. Our anger can be visible or invisible. It matters not; we have the seeds of murder in our heart, and we had best uproot them by the Father’s grace. And so Jesus teaches about a life lived and judged by attitudes in the heart. There is nothing here by which we can judge others. We can only take His words, and by the illumination of the Holy Spirit, judge our own lives and move to change.

So Jesus’ instruction on prayer is in the broad context of a sermon about the heart as the real source of good and evil in us. It also has a more immediate context expressed in the opening lines of Matthew 6:

Be careful about not living righteously merely to be seen by people. Otherwise you have no reward with your Father in heaven (Matthew 6:1).

With these words, Jesus speaks of outward versus inward religious practices. Giving, prayer, and fasting are most often associated with religion and, in the following section of the sermon, Jesus speaks again of the inner heart versus outward forms. In Matthew 6:2-4, He speaks of giving. In Matthew 6:5-15, He speaks of prayer, and in 6:16-18, He speaks of fasting. His treatment of all three topics is the same: if you have the outward form only or if the outward form focuses attention on you, the public acclaim that you receive—real or imagined—is all the benefit you will derive.

Of course, a visible spiritual life is not of itself bad. Paul wrote to the Corinthians and said:

I am not writing these things to shame you, but to correct you as my dear children. For though you may have ten thousand guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, because I became your father in Christ Jesus through the gospel. I encourage you, then, be imitators of me (1 Corinthians 4:14-16).

Paul said, “Be imitators of me. What you see me do, do yourselves.” Godly men and women are often the first models of godly living that a new believer has. I certainly benefited, over 30 years ago now, from men decades old in their faith. Now I hope to be the same to those younger than me. The difference for Paul to the Corinthians is that he did not derive his self-image from the attention. He was a bondservant of Jesus Christ and spent himself for the church and her people. Men and women like that are worth emulating.

But it is different for those who give to be recognized for their giving, or who entertain with great prayers or fast in agony for the admiration of others. They have erected outward forms only. They have confused the approval of others with approval of the Father.

In this lesson, we will look into what Jesus said about prayer as He discusses its outward forms and instructs concerning the inner reality.

Putting Prayer in Its Place

Jesus’ instruction on prayer in Matthew begins this way:

“Whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray while standing in synagogues and on street corners so that people can see them. Truly I say to you, they have their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you” (Matthew 6:5-6).

Jesus develops two basic kinds of prayer. The first is “showcase prayer” by which the person praying actually draws attention to himself. He wants to be known as spiritual and holy. His religion gives him status, and by public prayer, he maintains and feeds it. The second kind of prayer is “relational prayer.” This is prayer that seeks time with the Father. Jesus, for teaching purposes, draws a distinct line between the two, but we must acknowledge that most people will fall somewhere between the two extremes. It is also important to understand that no one can read the mind and intentions of another heart. What might seem to be the height of arrogance may only reflect upbringing. Or gentle, quiet prayers may come from one who has no private prayer life at all. Jesus’ instructions are for us to know and personally apply His words and to let the Holy Spirit guide and train our hearts in these matters.

There are, however, some warning signs to which we might want to pay attention.

  • Do I have an “I am speaking to God” voice? This may be a matter of upbringing. Nevertheless, none is needed, and such a change in voice can draw attention to the one praying—unless one is in an environment that expects it, in which case not changing the voice can draw attention.
  • Elegant words and lots of them. This may be a matter of gifting and natural oratory, but again none are needed.
  • Personal agenda. It’s hard to excuse this one. You pray according to what you want done and what others need to do to help it along.
  • Gossip. “Please God. Help Jane resist the temptation to keep seeing that guy.” Such public prayers are only fruitful if Jane is there and has asked for intercession on that subject.
  • Public prayer of any kind without a private prayer life. It is a given that if you are not speaking to the Father when you are alone, there is no good speaking to Him publicly.

So Jesus advises us to go into our rooms and shut the door. This is the “normal” opposite of standing on a street corner. If He had used a phrase like “pray in private” or “pray alone,” all kinds of extreme ideas may have developed. How private do you need to be? Must we become hermits or monks to have a prayer life? Jesus simply meant that there are places and ways to pray that are between the Father and us. By entering such places, we demonstrate that we “believe that He exists and rewards those who seek Him” (Hebrews 11:6). In such a place:

  • We can have an “I am speaking to God” voice if that helps us connect with Him and give Him honor.
  • We can use elegant words as a way of offering Him our best.
  • We can have a personal agenda, because it is now between the Father and us, and He can open and close doors as He sees fit.
  • We can pray for Jane. Since it is just between the Father and us, we are more likely to be showing genuine concern for her welfare.
  • And, of course, we now have a basis for praying in public.

We can be in our own rooms or in public and still pray privately. As Paul wrote, “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17).

The private life is one measure of who we are. Too many times I have seen good public families suddenly come apart from within. It became apparent that the life behind the closed doors of the home was far different from the public family persona. If we believe that God exists and rewards those who seek Him, it will affect our most private of lives, because we will know that He is there. We then know that there is, in fact, no private life. Lest this cause you great fear, guilt, and concern, remember that Jesus says that, “… your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you.” Showcase prayer has the single reward of public acclaim. The rewards of relational prayer is that it can:

  • Direct the heart
  • Receive answers and close or open doors
  • Strengthen the character and spirit
  • Increase faith and spiritual gifting
  • Bring a deeper sense of the Father’s presence and care

These are good things and worth having

Putting Prayer in Perspective

Jesus’ instruction on prayer in Matthew continued with this admonition:

“When you pray, do not babble repetitiously like the Gentiles, because they think that by their many words they will be heard. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him” (Matthew 6:7-8).

Jesus contrasts prayer to the Father with the prayers of the Gentiles. He describes Gentile prayer as the repetitious babbling of many words. What might this mean, and how do we relate this to our prayers?

  • Like the Gentiles”. The Gentiles did not worship the true God.
  • “Repetitious babble” connotes a lack of real content.
  • “Many words to be heard” suggests rituals, incantations, and technique.

Gentile prayer is about the manipulation of spiritual forces and entities that do not generally care about you as an individual.

We can, of course, now give Jesus’ words a Christian spin:

  • Like the Gentiles”—Praying to God in Name, but not in knowledge. This is similar to what Paul wrote to the Romans about the Jews who did not accept Jesus as their Messiah, “For I can testify that they are zealous for God, but their zeal is not in line with the truth” (Romans 10:2).
  • Repetitious babbling—Praying without real content. Perhaps this would be like reciting liturgical prayers without connecting to their content.
  • Many words to be heard—Praying with an attitude that God is not listening and must be manipulated to answer.

In answer to this, Jesus says that our Father knows what we need even before we ask. We are praying to our Father, which means that we are in a family relationship. We are part of His life, and He anticipates what we need. We can, therefore, come to Him as transparent people. We can come before Him glad, sad, or mad, and He will be there in full understanding. Manipulation is not required.

If our Father knows what we need before we ask, why should we pray? There are two reasons. The first is because of the rewards of prayer that go beyond just meeting our needs. The second is that there are many other things for which to pray such as the needs of others and the advancement of the Father’s Kingdom. We do not need such things, but they should have a place in our prayers.

So Jesus has given instructions about the place and manner of our prayers. We are to have a private life of prayer, and we are to pray to a real Person. This Person is interested in our needs and in us and does not need to be manipulated.

Directing the Heart

So what makes for a good prayer? How are we to pray?

During His sermon, Jesus began a model prayer for us with these words:

“So pray this way: Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored, may your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9-10).

Jesus tells us to pray to “Our Father in heaven.” This should set our mental attitude as we come to a time of prayer. From the Old Testament and much of the New, we understand that we are praying to God, and that He is our Lord and King. We owe Him our lives and our service. But Jesus tells us that we can come to Him and call Him, “Father.” This connotes a more significant relationship than we would imagine. But Jesus is very serious about just this aspect. The entire sermon has many references to God as our Father. This relationship is our primary motivation for the lives that we should live.

God as Father is a two-way relationship. As Father, He loves us, and we honor Him. He protects, and we abide. He provides, and we give thanks. He instructs, and we emulate. He disciplines, and we mature. He touches, and we respond. He commands, and we obey. So much of the time we focus on command/obedience, and we forget all the other wonderful aspects of our walk with our Father. When we approach Him in prayer, He is all these things for us, and we need to be all these things to Him.

Jesus tells us to pray in first person plural, “Our Father … .” Prayer, even in private, is to have a community focus. We can pray for our own needs, of course, but it must not stop there. We are to be intercessors. We pray “Give us … ,” and we are asking for the Father’s provision for family, friend, and foe. We pray “Forgive us … , ” and we seek reconciliation with the Father and among ourselves. We pray “Lead us …” and “Deliver us ” because we all need proper guidance and protection.

We are to pray that the Father’s name “be honored.” This is both a request and an attitude. As a request, we are asking for the knowledge of the Father to fill the earth and for the earth to respond in honor. It is our chance to grieve over those things, in our lives and the lives of others, that bring dishonor to the name: hypocrisy, judgment that triumphs over mercy, mercy that triumphs over instruction and discipleship, those who hate God, etc. It is a time to recognize and put away our hypocrisy. As an attitude, we can begin our prayers with worship, praise, and thanksgiving. We worship who He is. We praise Him for His works, and we thank Him for His care and provision.

We ask for the Father’s kingdom to come. Along these lines, we pray for the spread of the gospel and the establishment of the rule and reign of the Father in the hearts of men and women. We pray for the welfare of the distressed and oppressed. We pray for physical healing, deliverance, change of hearts, broken relationships, and such things as would change with an acceptance of the Father and His ways. We also look forward to Jesus’ return to live and rule among us.

So we begin our prayers by focusing on the One to whom we pray. He is Father and King. Turning our hearts to Him helps us to become like Him.

Sustaining the Heart

What we need as people occupies the next section of Jesus’ model prayer:

Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we ourselves have forgiven our debtors (Matthew 6:11-12).

The most literal understanding of “daily bread” is a loaf of bread in my hands to last me for the day. Some might say that is all that He means for us to ask for. I believe it is better to expand daily bread to include all that others and we need. I would, in fact, extend it beyond the material and into prayers for the needs of our bodies and our hearts:

  • Food and Shelter—“But if we have food and shelter, we will be satisfied with that. Those who long to be rich, however, stumble into temptation and a trap and many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction” (1 Timothy 6:8-9).
  • Righteousness—“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6).
  • The Father’s presence—“Whom do I have in heaven but you? I desire no one but you on earth … . But as for me, God’s presence is all I need. I have made the sovereign Lord my shelter, as I declare all the things you have done” (Psalm 73:25, 28).

Even though there is nothing in Jesus’ prayer for asking about anything but basic needs, there are two reasons to imagine that requests can go beyond this. The first is that Paul tells us to pray for everything. “Do not be anxious about anything. Instead, tell your requests to God in your every prayer and petition—with thanksgiving” (Philippians 4:6). The second is the example of the wedding in Cana, where Jesus, in answer to His mother’s request, turned water into wine in a way that exceeded the needs of the party. We have a generous God. When Jesus boils prayer down to “daily bread,” He is encouraging thanksgiving. Ask for anything, expect the basics, and give thanks for everything.

The welfare of our souls and bodies also depends on two-way forgiveness. Guilt and bitterness eat away at us. Both are associated with personality troubles and physical ailments. We can make both a matter of prayer. “Forgive us our debts” takes care of our true moral guilt for the things that we do wrong. And because we have forgiveness, we can take honest assessments of ourselves, which hastens our sanctification. However, because bitterness is as bad or worse that unresolved guilt, Jesus tells us to link the two. “Father, forgive us to the same degree that we forgive others.” Jesus has more to say on this, and I will defer more comments until that time as well. Suffice it to say that it is unbalanced to ask to have our guilt removed so that we can stand comfortably in the Father’s presence, when there are people that we exclude from our lives because they wronged us. If it is good for us to receive forgiveness, it is even better that we give it. Plus, if we have a heart that carries no grudges, then we have confidence at this point in our prayer that we have received the Father’s forgiveness. That is an excellent thing.

If the Father answers what we have prayed so far, we would have healthy bodies and souls fit for service in the Kingdom of God.

Keeping the Heart

Jesus concludes His model prayer with these words: “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one” (Matthew 6:13).

What does Jesus mean by our asking, “… do not lead us into temptation … ?” Is it that we need to fear that the Father will lead us into temptation unless we pray? Will He set us up to see if we will fall? The letter of James tells us, “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted by evil, and he himself tempts no one. But each one is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desires” (James 1:13-14). I think most would agree that we must understand Jesus’ words in light of our own propensity to sin.

The Father does not directly tempt us to evil, but He does bring us to moments of testing. And with testing, comes the temptation to quit and not press on. The famous example of Peter’s denial illustrates such a failure. The night before, Peter had confidently asserted that he would stick by Jesus no matter what. Only a few hours later, Peter denied in strong language that he even knew Jesus. When we pray to not be led into temptation, we are asking the Father’s help in avoiding such situations. We ask for doors to be closed that have difficult situations on the other side. We ask for our hearts to be strengthened and focused on good things. We ask for wisdom to recognize and avoid troubling circumstances.

Although we are morally culpable for our actions, it can also be said that even the first sin in our race was not committed in a vacuum. The serpent in Eden, later identified as Satan or the devil, tempted Eve and prevailed. The Lord had commanded that the man and woman not eat from a single tree in the center of Eden. Satan attacked at that point and helped bring forth the sin. And so we need to ask for protection from his schemes.

Satan seeks our failure and prays for it. In Job, we have the record of such a prayer:

Then Satan answered the Lord, “Is it for nothing that Job fears God? Have you not made a hedge around him and his house and all that he has on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his cattle have increased in the land. But extend your hand and strike everything he has, and he will indeed curse you to your face!” (Job 1:9-11).

It is interesting that before this, we have a record of Job making offerings on behalf of his children – just in case they sinned. We are not told that Job ever made an offering for himself. Like Peter, he was self-assured. Like Peter, Satan asked to sift Job like wheat. It is just such situations that we pray against in our prayers. We acknowledge our weakness and ask for strengthening. We ask to receive our lessons according to the way of wisdom and instruction.

There are other sources of temptation that we must guard against. The world values make constant appeal. Our inner natures are weak and would like to go along. Through prayer, we can become a different kind of person.

Ultimately, it gets down to character that flows from within. “When is a thief not a thief?” When I ask this question, I usually hear, “When he is not stealing.” That is not correct. A thief who is not stealing is a thief who is out of work. A thief is not a thief when he labors with his own hands in order to have something to give to someone in need (Ephesians 4:28). Such is the goal of this prayer. To change us from thieves to givers, from adulterers to loving husbands and wives, from proud to humble, from hating to loving, from bitter to forgiving, and so on. For each negative, we need to find and nurture its opposite. Prayer can help us do that.

This ends Jesus’ prayer model according to the most reliable manuscripts. Some manuscripts tack on something like, “For yours is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory.” I have chosen to go with the more attested reading. In the first place, we can give honor to the Father at the beginning of the prayer. In the second place, if Jesus did not include the ending, there is questionable value in using it. It is a grand ending, but Jesus ended His model with a reminder of our humility. The prayer moves from the greatness and glory of God to our total dependence on Him. I think it is better left that way.

An Important Condition

Anyone following Jesus’ instruction on prayer closely would have noticed that we are to prayerfully link our receiving forgiveness from the Father to our forgiving others. It is not a command from the Father to us. It is rather to be a request from us to the Father. This is, indeed, a strange thing and one that would prompt the question, “Did you really mean that my forgiveness is based on the degree to which I forgive?” Jesus answers this anticipated question this way:

For if you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you your sins (Matthew 6:14-15).

Jesus states in very direct terms that what we are to pray is the way things are. There is actually incredibly good news here. There is no one who has done as much damage to me as I have done to the kingdom of God—or would do if given enough time for my self-centered attitudes and actions to propagate. So if I come before the Father bearing no grudges for anything done to me, then I can ask Him to bear no grudge against me. Jesus’ prayer assumes that I have forgiven others before coming before the Father.

There are two important parables that back up this reality. This first even raises the ante by saying that we must forgive from the heart:

“For this reason, the kingdom of heaven is like a king who wanted to settle accounts with his slaves. As he began settling his accounts, a man who owed ten thousand talents was brought to him. Because he was not able to repay, the lord ordered him to be sold, along with his wife, children and whatever he possessed, and repayment to be made. Then the slave threw himself to the ground before him, saying, ‘Be patient with me, and I will repay you everything.’ The lord had compassion on that slave and released him, and forgave him the debt.

“After he went out, that same slave found one of his fellow slaves who owed him one hundred silver coins; then he grabbed him by the throat and started to choke him, saying, ‘Pay back what you owe!’ Then his fellow slave threw himself down and begged him, ‘Be patient with me, and I will repay you.’ But he refused. Instead, he went out and threw him in prison until he repaid the debt.

“When his fellow slaves saw what had happened, they were very upset and went and told their lord everything that had happened. Then his lord called the first slave and said to him, ‘Evil slave! I forgave you all that debt because you begged me! Should you not have shown mercy to your fellow slave, just as I showed it to you?’ And in anger his lord turned him over to the prison guards to torture him until he repaid all he owed.

“So also my heavenly Father will do to you, if each of you does not forgive your brother from your heart” (Matthew 18:23-35).

The second is a story that includes a parable and shows that the degree to which we love the Lord can depend on the degree to which we have been forgiven.

Now one of the Pharisees asked Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went into the Pharisee’s house and took his place at the table.

Then when a woman of that town, who was a sinner, learned that Jesus was dining at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfumed oil. As she stood behind him at his feet, weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. She wiped them with her hair, kissed them, and anointed them with the perfumed oil.

Now when the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who and what kind of woman this is who is touching him, that she is a sinner.”

So Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to say to you.”

He replied, “Say it, Teacher.”

“A certain creditor had two debtors; one owed him five hundred silver coins, and the other fifty. When they could not pay, he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?”

Simon answered, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.”

Jesus said to him, “You have judged rightly.” Then, turning toward the woman, he said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I entered your house, you gave me no water for my feet, but she has wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You gave me no kiss of greeting, but from the time I entered she has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not anoint my head with oil, but she has anointed my feet with perfumed oil. Therefore I tell you, her sins, which were many, are forgiven, thus she loved much; but the one who is forgiven little loves little.”

Then Jesus said to her, “Your sins are forgiven.” But those who were at the table with him began to say among themselves, “Who is this, who even forgives sins?” He said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you; go in peace” (Luke 7:36-50).

The issue of forgiving others comes down to two things. The first is gratitude. We have been forgiven an enormous debt. Even the smallest and most petty of our self-centered mischief does real damage to the kingdom of heaven. We need only to look at the fallout from Adam and Eve’s simple disobedience to know that the debt that we owe is our lives. Our forgiveness cost the Father the life of His Son in exchange. Our forgiving others is simple gratitude. How dare we not! The second is that by forgiving, we emulate the character of the Father. By this, we honor His name. Our Father is known for His mercy and forgiveness. When we show mercy and forgiveness, we strive to be like Him. In this way, we give honor to His name.

Someone might now be asking, “Am I saved if I do not forgive others?” Since this prayer model seems to be a daily prayer by inclusion of a request for daily bread, then this would seem to be a daily request for forgiveness of what we have done wrong that day. It is operational forgiveness. It is what Jesus meant when He told Peter, “The one who has bathed needs only to wash his feet” (John 13:10). But even placing this aside, salvation does not depend on us. Paul in Ephesians writes:

For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; it is not of works, so that no one can boast. For we are his workmanship, having been created in Christ Jesus for good works that God prepared beforehand so we may do them (Ephesians 2:8-10).

Saved by grace that comes by faith that is the gift of God. We can contribute nothing to our salvation, which is all the more reason to gratefully forgive those who have wronged us—whether they seek that forgiveness or not.

Besides, we do not want to live unforgiving lives. It is like drinking poison and saying to our offender, “There! Take that!”

Along these lines, I recommend that you read The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom. In that book, you will find the depths to which we as Christians are able to forgive.

The Lord’s Prayer and the Beatitudes

You can take each line in the model prayer and find at least two of the beatitudes that reinforce it. When you are done, all the beatitudes are mentioned at least once.

“Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored.”

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God” (Matthew 5:8).

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9).

“May your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

“Blessed are the poor in spirit, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them” (Matthew 5:3).

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them” (Matthew 5:10).

“Give us today our daily bread.”

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied” (Matthew 5:6).

“Blessed are the meek, for they will inherit the earth” (Matthew 5:5).

“And forgive us our debts, as we ourselves have forgiven our debtors.”

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted” (Matthew 5:4).

“Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy” (Matthew 5:7).

“Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God” (Matthew 5:9).

“And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.”

“Blessed are those who are persecuted for righteousness, for the kingdom of heaven belongs to them” (Matthew 5:10).

“Blessed are you when people insult you and persecute you and say all kinds of evil things about you falsely on account of me. Rejoice and be glad because your reward is great in heaven, for they persecuted the prophets before you in the same way” (Matthew 5:11-12).

I am not inclined to add anything else. I find the pairings interesting and instructive. I hope you do as well.

Some Final Thoughts

Let’s look at the entire text again:

“Whenever you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, because they love to pray while standing in synagogues and on street corners so that people can see them. Truly I say to you, they have their reward. But whenever you pray, go into your room, close the door, and pray to your Father in secret. And your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you. When you pray, do not babble repetitiously like the Gentiles, because they think that by their many words they will be heard. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. So pray this way:

Our Father in heaven, may your name be honored, may your kingdom come, may your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we ourselves have forgiven our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.

“For if you forgive others their sins, your heavenly Father will also forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, your Father will not forgive you your sins” (Matthew 6:5-15).

Jesus’ commentary about prayer is more than twice as long as His model prayer. The prayer, itself, is a marvel of simplicity and wisdom. It tells us to whom we are praying and for what we should pray. I believe that it also ranks what we pray about in priority order. This is significant, because we can focus on our Father and His kingdom and ask for daily provision before asking forgiveness! In this way, Jesus communicates the Father’s abundant mercy and grace. As Jesus has already said in this same sermon,

“But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:44-45).

The application of this text, as with many others, must be personal and by the direction of the Holy Spirit. Typically we have no insight into the hearts and motivations of others. Suppose you come across someone loudly praying on a street corner. Do Jesus’ words above apply? You cannot tell. Jesus, for example, prayed in public (John 11:41, 42). Daniel was in a situation where it would have been wrong to pray in secret (Daniel 6:10). The one who retires into a secret place each day to pray may still have a hypocritical heart—he prays in secret and somehow lets everyone know he prays in secret.

So you need to read this passage concept by concept and bring your heart next to it.

  • Are your prayers mostly about you and your circumstances? Consider interceding for others.
  • How in tune are you to what the Father might be doing around you and the part you might play? Jesus said that He only did what He saw the Father doing. Prayer and connection with the Father is the key to our doing the same.
  • Does “forgive … as we have forgiven” give you dread, or is it full of promise because your heart bears ill will to none? If you are not comfortable, do the hard work of letting go of your anger.
  • Do you plead for your family, church, community, country, and enemies? Remember that the model prayer is in first person plural.
  • Some people have memorized this prayer, and they use it as a guide in their private prayers. That is a good thing and a practice that I would recommend.

It is the nature of Jesus’ teaching that the bar He raises is higher than our grasp. But in the reaching, we reach higher all the time.

May the Father bless you and visit you in your times of prayer.

Anyone is at liberty to use this lesson for educational purposes only, with or without credit. The Chapel believes the material presented herein to be true to the teaching of Scripture, and desires to further, not restrict, its potential use as an aid in the study of God’s Word. The publication of this material is a grace ministry of Community Bible Chapel.

What does it mean that Jesus Is the Son of God?

by John Piper from desiringGod.org

 Jesus Is the Christ the Son of God

1. Jesus Is God

It means that he is God.

Paul said in Colossians 2:9, „In him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (cf. 1:13, 19). He said in Philippians 2:6, „Though he was in the form of God he did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped but emptied himself.” Hebrews 1:2–3 says, „In these last days God has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of [God’s] glory and the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power.” Hebrews 1:8–9 says, „Of the Son [God] he says, „Your throne, O God, is for ever and ever.” And John writes, „In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God . . . and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14).

When Paul said that Jesus is the Son of God, we understand him to mean that Jesus is God. He is not a mere man or a high-ranking angel in human form. He is truly man and truly God.

When we call him Son of God, we mean that he is of the same nature as God. Fathers create things unlike themselves, but they beget sons like themselves. C. S. Lewis puts it like this:

When you beget, you beget something of the same kind as yourself. A man begets human babies, a beaver begets little beavers, and a bird begets eggs which turn into little birds. But when you make (or create), you make something of a different kind from yourself. A bird makes a nest, a beaver builds a dam, and man makes a wireless set (or a computer) . . .

So when we say that Jesus is the Son of God, we mean that God has begotten his Son in his very same divine nature, nothing less, from all eternity. Begetting is a metaphor, a picture, that tries to hold two truths together: (1) God the Father is not God the Son and God the Son is not God the Father; they are distinct persons, distinct centers of consciousness, and can relate to each other. But (2) the Father and the Son are one God not two Gods, one essence, one divine nature. From all eternity, without any beginning, the Father has always had a perfect image of himself and a divine reflection or radiance equal to himself, namely, the Son.

So the first thing we mean when we say, „Jesus is the Son of God,” is that he is God.

2. God Has a Unique Love for Jesus

The second thing it means is that God has a unique love for Jesus as his Son.

In Colossians Paul describes Jesus as the Son of God’s love, implying that the love for his divine Son is utterly unique from the love God has for all his human children by adoption. „God has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son of his love.”

And two times in the earthly life of Jesus—once at Jesus’ baptism and once on the mount of transfiguration—God the Father broke in and said, „This is my beloved Son.” And inEphesians 1:6 Jesus is simply called God’s „loved one.”

So when we call Jesus the Son of God, we should have in our minds the truth that he is God and that there is a relationship of infinite love between God the Father and God the Son that is different from all other loves.

Why Is This the First Thing Saul Proclaims?

But let’s ask why this was so crucial for Saul and for Luke that they put it right at the front of the ministry. The first thing Saul proclaims is, „Jesus is the Son of God.” Why?

Consider these four truths about the Son of God and see if you don’t think the truth of Jesus’ Sonship deserves first place.

  1. 1 John 5:12 says, „God has given us eternal life, and this life is in his Son. He who has the Son has life; he who has not the Son of God has not life.”
  2. 1 John 2:23 says, „No one who denies the Son has the Father. He who confesses the Son has the Father also.” So to have a relationship with God the Father and to have eternal life you have to confess Jesus as the Son of God and „have” Jesus as the Son of God—that is, be in fellowship with him (1:3; 1 Corinthians 1:9).
  3. Galatians 4:4–5 gives the foundation of all this hope: „When the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son . . . to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons.” The Father sent his one and only divine Son so that he might have many human sons by adoption. „We were reconciled to God by the death of his Son” (Romans 5:10).
  4. Finally, Galatians 2:20 says that we „live by faith in the Son of God who loved us and gave himself for us.”

So it was the coming and the dying of the Son that gave us the gift of adoption. So if you confess the Son, you have the Father also—have him as Father. And if you have the Son and the Father, then you have everlasting life. And not only for the ages to come, but right now the Son of God works for us so that our lives should be described as living by faith in the Son of God.

So it is not surprising that Saul and Luke would put this truth at the very beginning of Paul’s missionary preaching: „Jesus is the Son of God.”

It Must Be at the Front End of Our Lives Too

It needs to be right at the front end of our Christian lives too. It needs to be one of the central pillars in our understanding of reality. Jesus is the Son of God.

I want you all to know the Son of God and to have personal, intimate, hour-by-hour, trustful, saving fellowship with him; and to have the Father with him; and to have life in them; and to enjoy the exalted place of adoption through the Spirit of the Son; and the gift of redemption and reconciliation and conformity to the Son; and the power of victory over the devil. „The Son of God appeared to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8).

How Do You Come to Know the Son?

I want all this for you. So how do you come to know and have the Son like that? Jesus said in Matthew 11:27, „No one knows the Son except the Father.” So how will I ever come to know him? Then in Matthew 16:15 Jesus asks the disciples, „Who do you say that I am?” Peter answered, „You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”

Do you remember how Jesus responded? „Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jona! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.” Knowing Jesus as the Son of God is not something that happens by the mere mental and emotional powers resident in human nature. There must be a divine work of grace beyond flesh and blood, so that in and through and behind the Bible and the preaching and the miracles we see the glory of the Son. We taste the divine reality and know him supernaturally.

Is it an accident that Paul describes his conversion like this in Galatians 1:16, „When God was pleased to reveal his Son to me [„reveal”! the same word Jesus used to describe Peter’s experience], in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not confer with flesh and blood . . . but I went away into Arabia”? Just like Jesus said to Peter: „Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father in heaven.”

So how do you come to know Jesus as the Son of God and to have fellowship with the Son and walk by faith in the Son and have life in the Son?

There does have to be intelligible preaching or teaching or witnessing about the biblical story of Jesus. Our text says (Acts 9:22) that Saul „confounded the Jews who lived in Damascus by proving that Jesus was the Christ.” An intelligible, valid presentation of Jesus is essential. But persuasive words alone do not open the eyes of the heart. They tried to kill Paul in Damascus. „Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, Simon, but my Father who is in heaven.”

„The God who said, Let light shine out of darkness, has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ” (2 Corinthians 4:6).

How then do you come to know and to have and to fellowship with the Son of God? You listen to his Word, his story (Luke 9:35). And you pray for the revelation of the Father—the eyes to see the glory (Mark 9:24). And by grace you believe and triumph. „Who is it that overcomes the world but he who believes that Jesus is the Son of God?” (1 John 5:5).

The Pleasures of God – in Election


Here’s a short excerpt from John Piper’s excellent book „The Pleasures of God„:

„With a view to God’s pleasure in election, consider Luke 10:21. The reason I choose this verse is because it is one of the only two places in the Gospels where Jesus is said to rejoice.

(The other place is John 11:15 . Piper is not saying this is the only time that Jesus had joy or was glad; what he is saying is that these are the only 2 instances where it says Jesus „rejoiced„. ) Piper continues:

The seventy disciples have just returned from their preaching tours and reported their success to Jesus. Luke writes in verse 21:

In that same hour Jesus rejoiced in the Holy Spirit and said, „I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes: yes, Father, for thus it was well-pleasing before you.”

Notice that all three members of the Trinity are rejoicing here: Jesus is rejoicing; but it says He is rejoicing in the Holy Spirit. I take that to mean that the Holy Spirit is filling him and moving him to rejoice. Then at the end of the verse it describes the pleasure of God the Father. The NIV translates it: „Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure.”

Now what is it that has the whole Trinity rejoicing together in this place? It is the free electing love of God to hide things from the intellectual elite and to reveal them to the babes. „I thank you Father, lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to babes”. And what is it that the Father hides from some and reveals to others? Luke 10:22 gives the answer: No one knows who the Son is except the Father.” So what God the Father must reveal is the true spiritual identity of the Son. When the seventy disciples return from their evangelistic mission and give their report to Jesus, he and the Holy Spirit rejoice that God the Father has chosen, according to his own good pleasure, to reveal the Son to babes and to hide him from the wise. The point of this is not that there are only certain classes of people who are chosen of God. The point is that God is free to choose the least likely candidates for his grace. Just as with the election of Abraham (the unlikely idolater from Ur) and Isaac (the miracle son of old age) and Jacob (the younger of twins), God contradicts what human merit might dictate. He hides from the wise and reveals to the most helpless and unaccomplished. When Jesus sees the Father freely enlightening and saving people whose only hope is free grace, he exults in the Holy Spirit and takes pleasure in his Father’s election”.

Get Wisdom (3) In Him Are Hid All the Treasures of Wisdom and Knowledge

by Jon Piper. You can read this original post here at www.desiringGod.org

COLOSSIANS 2:3One reason to admire and trust Jesus above all other persons is that he knows more than anyone else. He knows all people thoroughly, their hearts and their thoughts. „He knew all men” (JOHN 2:24). „You, Lord, . . . know the hearts of all men” (ACTS 1:24). „And Jesus knowing their thoughts said, ‘Why are you thinking evil in your hearts?'” (MATTHEW 9:4). There is no one who perplexes Jesus. No thought or action is unintelligible to him. He knows its origin and end. The most convoluted psychotic and the most abstruse genius are open and laid bare to his understanding. He understands every motion of their minds.Jesus not only knows all people thoroughly as they were and are today, he also knows what people will think and do tomorrow. He knows all things that will come to pass. „Jesus, [knew] all the things that were coming upon Him” (JOHN 18:4). On the basis of this knowledge, he foretold numerous things that his friends and enemies would do. „[Jesus said] ‘There are some of you who do not believe.’ For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were who did not believe, and who it was that would betray Him” (JOHN 6:64). „From now on,” he said, „I am telling you before it comes to pass, so that when it does occur, you may believe that I am” (JOHN 13:19). The reason he foretold these things, he explains, is so that we might know that „he is” – is what? That he is the divine Son of God. „I am” is the name for God inEXODUS 3:14 and the designation of deity in ISAIAH 43:10. Jesus knows all that will come to pass, and, to help our faith, he says, „Behold, I have told you in advance” (MATTHEW 24:25).Jesus simply knows all things. Thus his disciples said, truly, „Now we know that You know all things, and have no need for anyone to question You; by this we believe that You came from God” (JOHN 16:30). The extent of Jesus’ knowledge was a compelling warrant for faith in his divine origin. At the end of his time on earth Jesus pressed Peter, „‘Simon, son of John, do you love Me?’ Peter was grieved because He said to him the third time, ‘Do you love Me?’ And he said to Him, ‘Lord, You know all things; You know that I love You’ (JOHN 21:17). Peter did not conclude from Jesus’ knowledge of his heart that he knew all things; rather he concluded from the omniscience of Jesus that he knew his heart. „You know all things,” is a general and unqualified statement that John’s gospel presses on our minds.

The greatest thing that can be said of Jesus’ knowledge is that he knows God perfectly. We know God partially and imperfectly. Jesus knows him like no other being knows him. He knows him the way an omniscient Person knows himself. „All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (MATTHEW 11:27). No one but Jesus knows the Father immediately, completely and perfectly. Our knowledge of the Father depends wholly on Jesus’ gracious revelation; it is derivative and partial and imperfect.

Nothing greater can be said about the knowledge of Jesus than that he knows God perfectly. All reality outside God is parochial compared to the infinite Reality that God is. What God has made is like a toy compared to the complexity and depth of what God is. All the sciences that scratch the surface of the created universe are the mere ABCs compared to Christ’s exhaustive knowledge of the created universe. And this knowledge of the created universe is as a dewdrop on a blade of grass compared to the ocean of knowledge that Jesus has of the Being of God himself. God is infinite. The universe is finite. Knowledge of the infinite is infinite. Therefore to know God, as Jesus knows God, is to have infinite knowledge.

Therefore let us bow down and worship Jesus Christ. If we are impressed with the scholarship of man and the achievements of scientific knowledge, then let us not play the fool by trumpeting a tiny chirp and ignoring the thunder clap of omniscience. Jesus alone is worthy of our highest admiration. Jesus alone is worthy of our trust. He can show us the Father (MATTHEW 11:27). He can give us irresistible wisdom (LUKE 21:15). He can see how to make all things work together for our good (ROMANS 8:28). None of his judgments about anything is ever mistaken (JOHN 8:16). He teaches the way of God with infallible truthfulness (MATTHEW 22:16). Trust him. Admire him. Follow him.

In awe of Jesus,

Pastor John

© Desiring God

Joseph Hart – A Dialogue between a Believer and his Soul (a Poem & biography)

via Banner of Truth Trust UK
Joseph Hart (1712 – May 24, 1768) was an 18th-century minister in London. His works include „Hart’s Hymns”, a much-loved hymn book amongst evangelical Christians throughout its lifetime of over 200 years, which includes the well-known hymn, „Come ye sinners, poor and needy”.

One of Joseph Hart’s early publications was a tract denouncing Christianity (prior to his conversion) called The Unreasonableness of Religion, Being Remarks and Animadversions on the Rev. John Wesley’s Sermon on Romans 8:32. His other works include a short autobiography and a few poetical translations of ancient classics.

Joseph Hart preached at Jewin Street chapel in London, a building with multiple galleries, to a congregation of significant size.

Only one of Hart’s sermons remains discovered to us: that of Christmas 1767. Several of his hymns appear in the Sacred Harp.
Hart’s Conversion-
Hart later considered that there was a need both to do good works and to believe in God. But then came the uncertainty: Was he really and truly saved? He had no indication from God, no elaborate vision, telling him that he had been saved. This was a great worry to Joseph Hart. He began to pray to God that there would be some revelation granted him, or perhaps just a little sign. This tormented Hart for more than a year.

Then, the week before Easter of the year 1757 Hart „had such an amazing view of the agony of Christ in the garden [of gethsemane]” [2] showing to Hart that all Christ’s sufferings were for him (along with the rest of the church).

But soon after this, Hart again began to be afraid of the life to come- eternity, and feared exceedingly when reading about the condemned in passages in the Bible.

But It was on Whitsunday that Hart’s true conversion came. Hart was converted under the ministry of George Whitefield, and felt blessed in his soul.

After these times Hart still had sufferings and uncertainties as to his conversion, but he could always look back to his conversion, and believe that God saved his soul.

Hart’s motto after this time was: „Pharasaic zeel and Antinomian security are the two engines of Satan, with which he grinds the church in all ages, as betwixt [between] the upper and the nether [lower] millstone. The space between them is much narrower and harder to find than most men imagine. It is a path which the vulture’s eye hath not seen; and none can show it us but the Holy Ghost.”

Hart died on May 24, 1768, with a congregation estimated at tens of thousands around his graveside at Bunhill Fields. (via) Wikipedia

Come, my soul, and let us try,
For a little season,
Every burden to lay by;
Come, and let us reason.
What is this that casts thee down?
Who are those that grieve thee?
Speak, and let the worst be known;
Speaking may relieve thee.

O, I sink beneath the load
Of my nature’s evil!
Full of enmity to God;
Captived by the devil;
Restless as the troubled seas;
Feeble, faint, and fearful;
Plagued with every sore disease;
How can I be cheerful?

Think on what thy Saviour bore
In the gloomy garden.
Sweating blood at every pore,
To procure thy pardon!
See him stretched upon the wood,
Bleeding, grieving, crying,
Suffering all the wrath of God,
Groaning, gasping, dying!

This by faith I sometimes view,
And those views relieve me;
But my sins return anew;
These are they that grieve me.
O, I’m leprous, stinking, foul,
Quite throughout infected;
Have not I, if any soul,
Cause to be dejected?

Think how loud thy dying Lord
Cried out, ‘It is finished!’
Treasure up that sacred word,
Whole and undiminished;
Doubt not he will carry on,
To its full perfection,
That good work he has begun;
Why, then, this dejection?

Faith when void of works is dead;
This the Scriptures witness;
And what works have I to plead,
Who am all unfitness?
All my powers are depraved,
Blind, perverse, and filthy;
If from death I’m fully saved,
Why am I not healthy?

Pore not on thyself too long,
Lest it sink thee lower;
Look to Jesus, kind as strong
Mercy joined with power;
Every work that thou must do,
Will thy gracious Saviour
For thee work, and in thee too,
Of his special favour.

Jesus’ precious blood, once spilt,
I depend on solely,
To release and clear my guilt;
But I would be holy.

He that bought thee on the cross
Can control thy nature,
Fully purge away thy dross;
Make thee a new creature.

That he can I nothing doubt,
Be it but his pleasure.

Though it be not done throughout,
May it not in measure?

When that measure, far from great,
Still shall seem decreasing?

Faint not then, but pray and wait,
Never, never ceasing.

What when prayer meets no regard?

Still repeat it often.

But I feel myself so hard.

Jesus will thee soften.

But my enemies make head.

Let them closer drive thee.

But I’m cold, I’m dark, I’m dead.

Jesus will revive thee.

A.W. Pink – Divine Chastisement…how great is a folly pronouncing a judgement concerning others

A W Pink speaks on the treatment of our Christian brothers and sisters when they are afflicted.  He discusses different kinds of chastisements and then ends stating: „Now in view of these widely different aspects, chastenings which are retributive, corrective, educative, and preventative, how incompetent are we to diagnose, and how great is the folly of pronouncing a judgment concerning others! Let us not conclude when we see a fellow-Christian under the rod of God that he is necessarily being taken to task for his sins.”

you can read the entire book at CCEL.org (Excerpt below is Chapter 7 from A W Pink’s „Comfort for Christians”)

Despise not thou the chastening of the Lord nor faint when thou are rebuked of him„(HEBREWS 12:5)

It is of first importance that we learn to draw a sharp distinction between Divine punishment and Divine chastisement – important for maintaining the honour and glory of God, and for the peace of mind of the Christian. The distinction is very simple, yet is it often lost sight of. God’s people can never by any possibility be punished for their sins, for God has already punished them at the Cross. The Lord Jesus, our Blessed Substitute, suffered the full penalty of all our guilt, hence it is written „The blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.” Neither the justice nor the love of God will permit Him to again exact payment of what Christ discharged to the full. The difference between punishment and chastisement lies not in the nature of the sufferings of the afflicted: it is most important to bear this in mind. There is a threefold distinction between the two.

First, the character in which God acts. In the former God acts as Judge, in the latter as Father. Sentence of punishment is the act of a judge, a penal sentence passed on those charged with guilt. Punishment can never fall upon the child of God in this judicial sense because his guilt was all transferred to Christ: „Who his own self bear our sins in his own body on the tree.” But while the believer’s sins cannot be punished, while the Christian cannot be condemned (Rom. 8:3), yet he may be chastised. The Christian occupies an entirely different position from the non-Christian: he is a member of the Family of God. The relationship which now exists between him and God is that of parent and child; and as a son he must be disciplined for wrongdoing. Folly is bound up in the hearts of all God’s children, and the rod is necessary to rebuke, to subdue, to humble.

The second distinction between Divine punishment and Divine chastisement lies in the recipients of each. The objects of the former are His enemies. The subjects of the latter are His children. As the Judge of all the earth, God will yet take vengeance on all His foes. As the Father of His family, God maintains discipline over all His children. The one is judicial, the other parental.

A third distinction is seen in The design of each: the one is retributive, the other remedial. The one flows from His anger, the other from His love. Divine punishment is never sent for the good of sinners, but for the honouring of God’s law and the vindicating of His government. But Divine chastisement is sent for the well-being of His children: „We have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live? For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but he for our profit, that we might be partakers of his holiness” (Heb. 12:9-10).

The above distinction should at once rebuke the thoughts which are so generally entertained among Christians. When the believer is smarting under the rod let him not say, God is now punishing me for my sins. That can never be. That is most dishonouring to the blood of Christ. God is correcting thee in love, not smiting in wrath. Nor should the Christian regard the chastening of the Lord as a sort of necessary evil to which he must bow as submissively as possible. No, it proceeds from God’s goodness and faithfulness, and is one of the greatest blessings for which we have to thank Him. Chastisement evidences our Divine son-ship: the father of a family does not concern himself with those on the outside: but those within he guides and disciplines to make them conform to his will. Chastisement is designed for our good, to promote our highest interests. Look beyond the rod to the All-wise hand that wields it!

The Hebrew Christians to whom this Epistle was first addressed were passing through a great fight of afflictions, and miserably were they conducting themselves. They were the little remnant out of the Jewish nation who had believed on their Messiah during the days of His public ministry, plus those Jews who had been converted under the preaching of the apostles. It is highly probable that they had expected the Messianic Kingdom would at once be set up on earth and that they would be allotted the chief places of honour in it. But the Millennium had not begun, and their own lot became increasingly bitter. They were not only hated by the Gentiles, but ostracized by their unbelieving brethren, and it became a hard matter for them to make even a bare living. Providence held a frowning face. Many who had made a profession of Christianity had gone back to Judaism and were prospering temporally. As the afflictions of the believing Jews increased, they too were sorely tempted to turn their back upon the new Faith. Had they been wrong in embracing Christianity? Was high Heaven displeased because they had identified themselves with Jesus of Nazareth? Did not their suffering go to show that God no longer regarded them with favour?

Now it is most instructive and blessed to see how the Apostle met the unbelieving reasoning of their hearts. He appealed to their own Scriptures! He reminded them of an exhortation found in Proverbs 3:11-12, and applied it to their case. Notice, first, the words we place in italics: „Ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you.” This shows that the exhortations of the Old Testament were not restricted to those who lived under the old covenant: they apply with equal force and directness to those of us living under the new covenant. Let us not forget that „all Scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable” (2 Tim. 3:16) The Old Testament equally as much as the New Testament was written for our learning and admonition. Second, mark the tense of the verb in our opening text: „Ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh.” The Apostle quoted a sentence of the Word written one thousand years previously, yet he does not say „which hath spoken,” but „which speaketh.” The same principle is illustrated in that sevenfold „He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith (not „said”) unto the churches” of Rev. 2 and 3. The Holy Scriptures are a living Word in which God is speaking today! Consider now the words „Ye have forgotten.” It was not that these Hebrew Christians were unacquainted with Prov. 3:11 and 12, but they had let them slip. They had forgotten the Fatherhood of God and their relation of Him as His dear children. In consequence they misinterpreted both the manner and design of God’s present dealings with them, they viewed His dispensation not in the light of His Love, but regarded them as signs of His displeasure or as proofs of His forgetfulness. Consequently, instead of cheerful submission, there was despondency and despair.

Here is a most important lesson for us: we must interpret the mysterious providences of God not by reason or observation, but by the Word. How often we „forget” the exhortation which speaketh unto us as unto children- „My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of him.” Unhappily there is no word in the English language which is capable of doing justice to the Greek term here. „Paideia” which is rendered „chastening” is only another form of „paidion” which signifies „young children,” being the tender word that was employed by the Saviour in John 21:5 and Hebrews 2:13. One can see at a glance the direct connection which exists between the words „disciple” and „discipline”: equally close in the Greek is the relation between „children” and „chastening.” Son-training would be better. It has reference to God’s education, nurture and discipline of His children. It is the Father’s wise and loving correction which is in view. It is true that much chastisement is the rod in the hand of the Father correcting His erring child. But it is a serious mistake to confine our thoughts to this one aspect of the subject. Chastisement is by no means always the scourging of His refractive sons. Some of the saintliest of God’s people, some of the most obedient of His children, have been and are the greatest sufferers. Oftentimes God’s chastenings instead of being retributive are corrective. They are sent to empty us of self-sufficiency and self-righteousness: they are given to discover to us hidden transgressions, and to teach us the plague of our own hearts. Or again, chastisements are sent to strengthen our faith, to raise us to higher levels of experience, to bring us into a condition of usefulness. Still again, Divine chastisement is sent as a preventative, to keep under pride, to save us from being unduly elated over success in God’s service. Let us consider, briefly, four entirely different examples.

DAVID. In his case the rod was laid upon him for grievous sins, for open wickedness. His fall was occasioned by self-confidence and self-righteousness. If the reader will diligently compare the two Songs of David recorded in 2 Samuel 22 and 23, the one written near the beginning of his life, the other near the end, he will be struck by the great difference of spirit manifested by the writer in each. Read 2 Samuel 22:22-25 and you will not be surprised that God suffered him to have such a fall. Then turn to chapter 23, and mark the blessed change. At the beginning of v. 5 there is a heart-broken confession of failure. In vv. 10-12 there is a God-glorifying confession, attributing victory unto the Lord. The severe scourging of David was not in vain.

JOB. Probably he tasted of every kind of suffering which falls to man’s lot: family bereavements, loss of property, grievous bodily afflictions came fast, one on top of another. But God’s end in it all was that Job should benefit therefrom and be a greater partaker of His holiness. There was not a little of self-satisfaction and self-righteousness in Job at the beginning. But at the end, when He was brought face to face with the thrice Holy One, he „abhorred himself” (42:6). In David’s case the chastisement was retributive, in Job’s corrective.

ABRAHAM. In him we see an illustration of an entirely different aspect of chastening. Most of the trials to which he was subjected were neither because of open sins nor for the correction of inward faults. Rather were they sent for the development of spiritual graces. Abraham was sorely tried in various ways, but it was in order that faith might be strengthened and that patience might have its perfect work in him. Abraham was weaned from the things of this world, that he might enjoy closer fellowship with Jehovah and become the „friend” of God.

PAUL. „And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure (2 Cor. 12:7). This „thorn” was sent not because of failure and sin, but as a preventative against pride. Note the „lest” both at the beginning and end of the verse. The result of this „thorn” was that the beloved apostle was made more conscious of his weakness. Thus, chastisement has for one of its main objects the breaking down of self-sufficiency, the bringing us to the end of our selves. Now in view of these widely different aspects chastenings which are retributive, corrective, educative, and preventative, how incompetent are we to diagnose, and how great is the folly of pronouncing a judgment concerning others! Let us not conclude when we see a fellow-Christian under the rod of God that he is necessarily being taken to task for his sins. In the next chapter  meditation A W Pink  considers the spirit in which Divine chastisements are to be received.

Click here to read the entire book online http://www.ccel.org/ccel/pink/comfort/files/comfort.html

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No One Will Take Your Joy from You – Desiring God

From Gabi Bogdan (VIA) No One Will Take Your Joy from You.

John 16:16-24

„A little while, and you will see me no longer; and again a little while, and you will see me.” So some of his disciples said to one another, „What is this that he says to us, ‘A little while, and you will not see me, and again a little while, and you will see me’; and, ‘because I am going to the Father’?” So they were saying, „What does he mean by ‘a little while’? We do not know what he is talking about.” Jesus knew that they wanted to ask him, so he said to them, „Is this what you are asking yourselves, what I meant by saying, ‘A little while and you will not see me, and again a little while and you will see me’? Truly, truly, I say to you, you will weep and lament, but the world will rejoice. You will be sorrowful, but your sorrow will turn into joy. When a woman is giving birth, she has sorrow because her hour has come, but when she has delivered the baby, she no longer remembers the anguish, for joy that a human being has been born into the world. So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you. In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, whatever you ask of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. Until now you have asked nothing in my name. Ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full.”

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A „Pillar-Strengthening” Sermon

When I returned from the leave of absence earlier this year Noël and I sat down with representatives of the Elder Care Committee who are charged to help us watch over the pace of our lives, and they suggested that on the weekends when I am teaching a five hour seminar (like I did on Desiring God this weekend), I preach what they affectionately called a „classic sermon”. I thought that was a good idea because it accomplishes two things. One is to take some of the pressure of preparation off by preaching on something familiar; and the other is to strengthen some of the biblical pillars of our church that newer people may not be as aware of as those who have been here for a while.

So that’s what today’s sermon is. I don’t know if „classic” is the right word. But „pillar-strengthening” is. So this is a topical message on the pillar of the truth of Christian Hedonism. And the reason I say the pillar of „the truth” of Christian Hedonism is because the phrase „Christian Hedonism” is not of the essence and is not in any of our official documents. That’s intentional. It’s the truth that matters not the name.

The Aroma of Christian Hedonism

What it refers to is the truth that „God is most glorified in you when you are most satisfied in him”—along with the astonishing implications of that truth. After the Bible, which alone is infallible, the most formative document of this church is the Elder Affirmation of Faith. The truth (not the phrase) of Christian Hedonism runs through the document, creating the aroma that we aim at in all we do. For example:

2.2 We believe that God is supremely joyful in the fellowship of the Trinity, each Person beholding and expressing His eternal and unsurpassed delight in the all-satisfying perfections of the triune God.

3.1 We believe that God, from all eternity, in order to display the full extent of His glory for the eternal and ever-increasing enjoyment of all who love Him, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His will, freely and unchangeably ordain and foreknow whatever comes to pass.

4.1 We believe that God created the universe, and everything in it, out of nothing, by the Word of His power. Having no deficiency in Himself, nor moved by any incompleteness in His joyful self-sufficiency, God was pleased in creation to display His glory for the everlasting joy of the redeemed, from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.

4.2 We believe that God directly created Adam from the dust of the ground and Eve from his side. We believe that Adam and Eve were the historical parents of the entire human race; that they were created male and female equally in the image of God, without sin; that they were created to glorify their Maker, Ruler, Provider, and Friend by trusting His all-sufficient goodness, admiring His infinite beauty, enjoying His personal fellowship, and obeying His all-wise counsel . . .

12.1 . . . We believe that the ultimate purpose of the Church is to glorify God in the everlasting and ever-increasing gladness of worship.

13. We believe . . . the ultimate aim of world missions is that God would create, by His Word, worshippers who glorify His name through glad-hearted faith and obedience.

14.2 We believe in the blessed hope that at the end of the age Jesus Christ will return to this earth personally, visibly, physically, and suddenly in power and great glory . . . We believe that the righteous will enter into the everlasting joy of their Master, and those who suppressed the truth in unrighteousness will be consigned to everlasting conscious misery.

14.3 We believe that the end of all things in this age will be the beginning of a never-ending, ever-increasing happiness in the hearts of the redeemed, as God displays more and more of His infinite and inexhaustible greatness and glory for the enjoyment of His people.

15.2 . . . We believe that the supreme virtue of love is nourished by the strong meat of God-centered doctrine. And we believe that a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples through Jesus Christ is sustained in an atmosphere of deep and joyful knowledge of God and His wonderful works.

In other words, Christian Hedonism is woven into the fabric of this foundational document and thus into the faith and life of our church. This document is the way all your elders understand the Bible. In it are the pillars of our common faith—what we believe and what we teach. And so it is fitting that from time to time we explain and strengthen the pillars with sermons like this.

Nine Implications of Christian Hedonism

So here’s where we are going. First, we will go to Philippians 1 for one of the foundational texts underneath this pillar of Christian Hedonism—the truth that God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. Then we will spell out 9 implications for our lives and our ministry.

1. God himself, most fully revealed in his Son Jesus Christ, is the supreme value in the universe.

That’s why Paul says in Philippians 1:20, „It is my eager expectation and hope that . . . now as always Christ will be honored in my body.” That is the greatest goal for all of life, because it is the goal of the creation of the universe. „From him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen” (Rom 11:36). Valuing God and the glory of God above all else permeates the leadership of Bethlehem.

2. Joyfully treasuring Jesus above all things in life and death displays his worth and glory.

3. Since God is the most glorious of all beings, and since that glory shines most brightly in us when we are most satisfied in him, therefore it is our duty to pursue the greatest and longest happiness in God every hour of the day and forever.

Psalm 16 is one of the great expressions of this. I get the words „greatest” and „longest” from this psalm. Here is composite of verses 8–11:

„I have set the Lord always before me [so this is intentional; this is pursuit] . . . Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices; For . . . You make known to me the path of life; in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

We are commanded to pursue our joy in God.

„Make a joyful noise to the LORD, all the earth! Serve the LORD with gladness! Come into his presence with singing” (Psa 100:1–2)!

„Delight yourself in the LORD” (Psa 37:4).

„Rejoice in the Lord . . .” (Phil 4:4).

[Illustration of objection: Pursue obedience not joy. That’s like saying eat fruit not apples.]

4. When we say you should pursue your joy in God all the time, no exceptions, we do not make a god out of joy. We say that you have already made a god out of whatever you find most pleasure in.

We don’t worship joy; we say that joy in God is the heart of worship. What you find most joy in is what you worship. That’s what worship is. Valuing and treasuring and cherishing and enjoying and being satisfied in God—or, if you are an idolater, anything other than God.

5. The aim of corporate worship is to awaken and express together our joyful admiration of all the wonders and works of God.

„I will go to the altar of God,
to God my exceeding joy,
and I will praise you with the lyre,
O God, my God” (Psa 43:4).

I do not criticize you for coming to „get.” I think God greatly honored when people come to corporate worship starving for God. And deeply desiring that they will meet him, and hear from him.

6. The word of God and preaching exist to reveal God to us for the sake of our joy in him.

„The law of the LORD is perfect,
reviving the soul; . . .
the precepts of the LORD are right,
rejoicing the heart” (Psa 19:7-8).

„These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:11).

Therefore my job in worship is to set a table for you where you eat and rejoice in the God you taste. I am aiming not merely to change your ideas about God but to change your affections for God. God’s glory in your life, hangs in the balance.

7. The aim of all discipling and all Christian relationships is to help each other maintain our joy in God above all things.

This was Paul’s whole ministry.

„Not that we lord it over your faith, but we work with you for your joy, for you stand firm in your faith” (2 Cor 1:24).

„I know that I will remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith.” (Phil 1:25).

8. Seeking your greatest and longest joy in God severs the root of sin.

Sin only has power because of the promises it makes. Promises for happiness. Nobody sins out of duty. We sin because we believe the promise of sin that we will be happier. The only way to defeat the power of sin’s promise is with the power of a superior promise.

For example, how does the Bible free us from the love of money and the sin of anxiety and greed?

„Keep your life free from love of money, and be content with what you have, for he has said, „I will never leave you nor forsake you.” So we can confidently say, „The Lord is my helper; I will not fear; what can man do to me” (Heb 13:5–6)?

We are freed from the sin of loving money by the pursuit of „contentment” in God. And that contentment is rooted in a superior promise: „I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

This is the whole secret of sanctification: The expulsive power of a new affection!

9. The pursuit of joy in God is essential not only because God is glorified by it, but because people are loved by it. Pursuing your joy in God is essential to your loving people.

„We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part” (2 Cor 8:1–2).

Love is the overflow of joy in God that meet the needs of others. Or: Love is the grace-enabled impulse to increase your joy by seeing it expand into other people.

„I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive‘” (Acts 20:35).

„For you had compassion on those in prison, and you joyfully accepted the plundering of your property, since you knew that you yourselves had a better possession and an abiding one” (Heb 10:34).

Loving as Leaders and Husbands

If leaders would love their people, they must pursue their joy in ministry, and the people must help them.

„Obey your leaders and submit to them, for they are keeping watch over your souls, as those who will have to give an account. Let them do this with joy and not with groaning, for that would be of no advantage to you” (Heb 13:17).

If husbands are to love their wives, they must pursue their own joy in the joy of their wives.

„Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her . . . so that he might present the church to himself in splendor . . . In the same way husbands should love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as Christ does the church, because we are members of his body” (Eph 5:25–30).

We love them well when we find our joy in their joy. Cherish her, for no one every hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it. Seek her joy for she is you. Her joy is yours.

Invincible Joy in Jesus

And the implications go on and on. But we close. God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him. Therefore, since glorifying God is the main goal of the universe and your life, be relentless and unwavering in fighting for joy in God. This is your lifelong vocation.

And here is a wonderful note to close on: since God is sovereign, he guarantees the triumph of your joy in the end. In the text from the Gospel of John that was read at the beginning, Jesus said to the disciples who were about to lose him in death and get him back at his resurrection, „So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts will rejoice, and no one will take your joy from you” (John 16:22).

No one. It is invincible. Full. Solid. Eternal. No one will take this joy from you. God is our exceeding joy. And he cannot fail.

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