12 Reasons for Christmas

Photo credit Crosscards.com via GodVine

by John Piper at www.DesiringGod.org website

1) “For this I was born and for this I have come into the world, to bear witness to the truth” (JOHN 18:37).

2) “The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil” (1 JOHN 3:8; cf. HEBREWS 2:14-15).

3) “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick; I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (MARK 2:17).

4) “The Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost” (LUKE 19:10).

5) “The Son of Man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many” (MARK 10:45).

6) “God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (GALATIANS 4:5).

7) “For God so loved the world that whoever believes on him shall not perish but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world but that the world through him might be saved” (JOHN 3:16).

8) “God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him” (1 JOHN 4:9).

9) “I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (JOHN 10:10).

10) “Behold, this child is set for the fall and rising of many in Israel, and for a sign that is spoken against . . . that the thoughts of many may be revealed” (LUKE 2:34F).

11) “He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed” (LUKE 4:18).

12) “Christ became a servant to the circumcised to show God’s truthfulness, in order to confirm the promises given to the patriarches, and in order that the Gentiles might glorify God for his mercy” (ROMANS 15:7-8; cf. JOHN 12:27F).

Reclame

A Christmas Sermon 1,700 Years Old

by St. Gregory of Nazianzus (AD 380)

Christ is born, glorify Him. Christ from heaven, go out to meet Him. Christ on earth, be exalted. Sing to the Lord, all the whole earth; and that I may join both in one word, let the heavens rejoice, and let the earth be glad, for Him who is of heaven and then of earth. Christ in the flesh, rejoice with trembling and with joy; with trembling because of your sins, with joy because of your hope.

Again, the darkness is past; again, Light is made; again, Egypt is punished with darkness; again, Israel is enlightened by a pillar. The people who sat in the darkness of ignorance, let them see the great Light full of knowledge. Old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new. The letter gives way, the Spirit comes to the front. The shadows flee away, the truth comes in on them. Melchizedek is concluded. He who was without Mother becomes without Father (without mother of His former state, without father of His second).

The laws of nature are upset; the world above must be filled. Christ commands it, let us not set ourselves against Him. O, clap your hands together, all you people, because unto us a Child is born, and a Son given unto us, whose government is upon His shoulder (for with the cross, it is raised up), and His name is called The Angel of the Great Counsel of the Father.

Let John cry, prepare the way of the Lord; I, too, will cry the power of this Day. He who is not carnal is Incarnate; the Son of God becomes the Son of Man, Jesus Christ, the same yesterday, and today, and forever. Let the Jews be offended, let the Greeks deride; let heretics talk until their tongues ache. Then shall they believe, when they see Him ascending into heaven; and if not then, yet when they see Him coming out of heaven and sitting as Judge.

This is our present Festival; it is this which we are celebrating today, the Coming of God to Man, that we might go forth, or rather (for this is the more proper expression) that we might go back to God—that putting off of the old man, we might put on the new; and that as we died in Adam, so we might live in Christ, being born with Christ and crucified with Him and buried with Him and rising with Him. For I must undergo the beautiful conversion, and as the painful succeeded the more blissful, so must the more blissful come out of the painful.

For where sin abounded, grace did much more abound; and if a taste condemned us, how much more does the passion of Christ justify us? Therefore, let us keep the Feast, not after the manner of a heathen festival, but after a godly sort; not after the way of the world, but in a fashion above the world; not as our own, but as belonging to Him who is ours, or rather as our master’s; not as of weakness, but as of healing; not as of creation, but of re-creation.

from Sermoncentral.com

The Deity of Jesus Christ

This is an article we first posted, on the first day that we began this blog’s journey, and we have reposted it again around Christmas time, every year. So here it is again:
Once when Jesus was traveling with His disciples He asked them ‘Who do people say that I am?’ Wherever Jesus went, large crowds of people followed Him and they witnessed the miracles He performed and they observed the words He spoke in His sermons. Many of the people probably wondered who Jesus was.  But then in Luke 9:18-20 Jesus asks Peter, His disciple, ‘Who do you say that I am?’ and Peter answers ‘God’s Messiah’! Peter spoke with lots of conviction, yet his faith had a long way to go, there would even come a point in his life later where he would deny that he even knew Jesus. Peter and the disciples would become men of faith after they saw the resurrected Christ and it was then they could profess that Jesus was truly the Son of God.

In every age since the first followers of Jesus made their profession of faith in him, men and women of faith have had to come to terms with who Jesus is and what he means for them.As we go into the Christmas season, celebrating the birth of the Messiah, take a little time to reflect on these passages that the Scriptures heralds about the deity of the Messiah. Who is Jesus Christ to you?

(The following list is excerpted from Tyndale’s Wilmington guide to the Bible pp.346-348, 616-618)

The Deity of Jesus Christ the Savior of the world-

  1. His deity was declared by angels
  • by Gabriel to Mary (Luke 1:26-33)
  • by Gabriel to Joseph (Matthew 1:20-23)
  • by Gabriel (?) to some shepherds (Luke 2:8-11)
  • by Gabriel (?) to some women (Matthew 28:5-6)

2. His deity was declared by the Father

  • at his baptism (Matthew 3:16-17)
  • at his transfiguration (Matthew 17:5)
  • shortly before his passion (John 12:27-28)

3. His deity was declared by his mighty miracles (John 20:30,31: 21:25)

4. His deity was declared by his powerful sermons ((Luke 4:32; John 7:46)

5. His deity was declared by his accurate prophecies (Matthew 26:32)

6. His deity was declared by his sinless life

  • as attested by Pilate (John 19:4)
  • by Pilate’s wife (Matthew 27:19
  • by Judas (Matthew 27:4)
  • by the dying thief (Luke 23:41)
  • by the Roman centurion (Luke 23:47)

7. His deity was declared by demons

  • as he healed a maniac (Matthew 8:28-29)
  • as he healed a man in Capernaum (Luke 4:33-34)
  • as he healed many in Capernaum (Luke 4:41, Mark 3:11)

8. His deity was declared by those who worshipped him

  • the shepherds (Luke 2:15)
  • the wise men (Matthew 2:2,11)
  • a leper (Matthew 8:2)
  • a ruler (Matthew 9:18)
  • a Gentile mother (Matthew 15:25)
  • a Hebrew mother (Matthew 20:20)
  • a maniac (Mark 5:6)
  • a blind man (John 9:38)
  • an apostle (Thomas) (John 20:28)
  • all apostles (Matthew 14:38; 28:9)

9. His deity was declared by Satan (Matthew 4:3, 6)

10. His deity was declared by himself

  • He referred to himself as the Son of God (John 9:35; 10:36; 11:4)
  • He forgave sins (Mark 2:5, 10)
  • He is man’s judge (John 5:22, 27)
  • He is the author of life (John 5:24, 28, 29)
  • He is to be honored like the Father (John 5:23)
  • He alone can save (John 10:28; Luke 19:10; John 14:6

Christ has risen! The significance of the Resurrection


Matthew 28:1-10 Jesus Has Risen

 1After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. 2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

1. According to the four gospels, Jesus rose from the dead following
   His crucifixion...
   a. Matthew records how the women found the tomb empty and were
      instructed by an angel to tell the disciples - Mt 28:1-8
   b. Also how Jesus appeared to them while on their way - Mt 28:9-10
   -- In all, the New Testament records ten distinct resurrection
      appearances of Christ prior to His ascension to heaven

2. The significance of the resurrection of Jesus to the Christian faith
   cannot be overestimated...
   a. It has great significance for one who has yet to believe in Jesus
   b. It also has great significance for those who are Christians

[In this study we shall consider "The Significance Of The Resurrection"
for both unbelievers and believers...]

I. FOR THE UNBELIEVER

   A. IT VERIFIES THE DEITY OF JESUS...
      1. The resurrection proves that Jesus truly is the Son of God
         - Ro 1:4
      2. It also demonstrates that He truly has all authority in heaven
         and on earth - Mt 28:18; Ac 2:36

   B. IT VERIFIES THE TRUTHFULNESS OF JESUS...
      1. Jesus foretold His resurrection on three occasions - Mt 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19
         a. If Jesus was telling the truth in describing His suffering
            and resurrection...
         b. ...then He was telling the truth in everything else He said
         -- Would God raise a liar?
      2. Therefore the following teachings of Jesus are true:
         a. He was from the Father above, and spoke the words of the
            Father - Jn 8:28-29
         b. No one can come to the Father but through Him - Jn 14:6
         c. His blood was shed for the remission of sins - Mt 26:28
         d. He came to offer abundant life - Jn 10:10
         e. He went to prepare a place for us - Jn 14:2
         f. He shall come again - Jn 14:3
         g. There will be a resurrection of the dead and ensuing
            judgment - Jn 5:28-29; 12:48; Ac 17:30-31

[If Jesus was in fact raised from the dead, "The Significance Of The Resurrection" for the unbeliever is enormous!  It compels unbelievers
to come face to face with reality, and the need to accept the Lordship
of Jesus.  The resurrection of Jesus has even more significance...]

II. FOR THE BELIEVER    

   A. IF JESUS HAS NOT BEEN RAISED...
      1. Gospel preaching is vain - 1Co 15:14
         a. The preaching of the apostles is empty, meaningless
         b. There would be no purpose in preaching about a liar, or
            lunatic
      2. Our faith is vain - 1Co 15:14
         a. Our belief in Christ would also be empty, meaningless
         b. For our faith would be in a liar, or lunatic
      3. The apostles were false witnesses - 1Co 15:15
         a. They swore that God raised Jesus from the dead - Ac 2:32
         b. They claimed to spend 40 days with Him after the
            resurrection, eating and drinking with Him - Ac 10:39-41
         c. There is no way they could have been deceived or mistaken;
            either they told the truth or they were deliberate liars,
            deceivers, and frauds!
      4. We are still in our sins - 1Co 15:17
         a. It would have been a liar or lunatic that died on the cross
         b. No such person could have provided a sacrifice that was
            holy and without blemish
      5. Believers have perished at death - 1Co 15:18
         a. Their faith would have been in a false Messiah
         b. They would have had no atonement for their sins
         c. Dying in their sins, there would be no hope
      6. Christians are to be pitied - 1Co 15:19
         a. Because we believe in a false Messiah
         b. Because our faith in Him leads us to refrain from much
            worldly pleasure
         c. Because we are often ridiculed or persecuted for our faith

    B. IF JESUS HAS BEEN RAISED...
      1. It verifies our justification - Ro 4:24-25
         a. Jesus claimed His blood would be adequate - Mt 26:28
         b. By raising Jesus from the dead, God demonstrated His
            acceptance of Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins! - Ro 8: 33-34
      2. It demonstrates the power available to the Christian - Ep 1: 18-20
         a. Power available at our conversion - Col 2:11-12; 1Pe 3:21
         b. Power available to live the Christian life - Ro 8:11-13; Php 2:12-13; 4:13; Ep 3:20; 6:10
      3. It gives us hope concerning our own resurrection - 1Pe 1:3
         a. His resurrection gives us a living hope! - 1Pe 1:21
         b. Especially concerning the resurrection of believers! - 1 Th 4:13-14
      4. It demands our complete loyalty to Him - Ro 14:9
         a. He was raised and then exalted to become our Lord - Ac 2: 32-36; Ep 1:20-23
         b. Thus our lives and service belong to Him - Ro 14:7-8; 2 Co 5:15
CONCLUSION

1. The impact of the resurrection of Jesus should not go unfelt in our
   lives...
   a. As a historical event it has everlasting implications
   b. For both the unbeliever and believer

2. The unbeliever needs to examine the evidence for the resurrection
   carefully...
   a. The nature of the testimony provided by the witnesses
   b. The unfeasibility of alternative explanations for the empty tomb
   -- For if Jesus rose from the dead, one must believe in Him! - Jn 8: 243. The believer must never lose sight of the significance of the
   resurrection...
   a. Do our lives demonstrate that we serve a risen Lord and Savior?
   b. Do we possess the hope, peace, and strength that the reality and
      power of His resurrection gives to the Christian?May we never forget "The Significance Of The Resurrection" of Jesus
Christ in our lives!
(VIA)

What do we know about Mormonism? Apparently not much…

I have subsequently added 2 useful links here for anyone interested in learning more about the doctrine that Mormons hold to. (04/28/2012):

  1. One is form the Gospel Coalition here, explaining some of the differences between Christianity and Mormonism http://thegospelcoalition.org/blogs/tgc/2012/04/24/the-faqs-are-mormons-christian/?comments#comments
  2. and the second is a full study, from the Christian Apologetics and Research Ministries here http://carm.org/mormonism

Since I have had some encounters, some very strange ones at that with some Mormons, or seekers of Mormonism (I say seeker because they do not know much about their own religion), I have come to the conclusion that I need to understand Mormonism myself before I can engage in any conversation). The truth is that as much as I have a huge interest in reading about doctrines and the differences of doctrine of different denominations (among other reading interests) I do not relish reading about strange tales of denominations or religions where strange and sinful practices occur (i.e. occultism, polygamy, exaltation of men to god stature). In looking around and reading what is out there on the internet I am seeing a lot of comments mirroring this statement: „If not for their stance on polygamy, Mormons are just like any other Christian group who believe in Jesus Christ just like the Christians do.” WRONG. WRONG. WRONG.

Historical, orthodox Christianity believes Jesus Christ is not only the Son of God, but that He is God and part of the trinity and that Jesus Christ coexisted eternally with God (that is before the earth was even created). Just for starters: According to Mormons (their president-Hinckley who wrote their doctrine- believe that Jesus is the offspring of God and his goddess wife and also the brother of Satan.

From the CARM website:

In Mormonism, Jesus is a creation, the product of relations between god and his goddess wife who used to be people from another world (McConkie, Bruce, Mormon Doctrine, p. 192, 321, 516, 589).   Jesus is the literal spirit brother of the devil and of you and I (McConkie, p. 192, 589).  Also, in Mormon theology, God has a body of flesh and bones (Doctrine & Covenants 130:22) as does his wife and together they produce spirit offspring in heaven who inhabit human bodies on earth.

Very few, if any, of the ‘different’ Mormon doctrines are found in their Standard Works:  the Bible, The Book of Mormon, Doctrine & Covenants, and The Pearl of Great Price.  Rather, they are taught by Mormons of high standing:  prophets, apostles, members of the 70 Quorum.  McConkie, for example, was a member of the 70’s Quorum, a very high ranking Mormon and wrote the book, Mormon Doctrine, from which much of the documentation for this is taken.

Even President Hinckley, the prophet and revelator of the Mormon church, has publicly declared that the Jesus of Mormonism and traditional Christianity are not the same.

The following information is taken from CARM apologetics website and you can access the full article here – http://carm.org/hinckley-says-mormons-believe-different-jesus

I will just post a comparison chart here:

The Mormon Jesus The Christian Jesus
  1. The literal son of god and his goddess wife begotten in the pre-existence.
  2. The brother of all spirits born in heaven in the premortal existence.
  3. One of 3 gods in the godhead.
  4. The Trinity is three separate gods.
  5. First one to receive a spirit body.
  6. Atoned for sin on the cross and in the garden of Gethsemane.
  1. Not the literal son of god and his goddess wife.
  2. Not the brother of all spirits born in heaven in a premortal existence.
  3. Not one of 3 gods in the godhead.
  4. The Trinity is 3 persons in one God.
  5. Was always spirit from eternity.
  6. Atoned for sin on the cross alone.

This brief comparison should help you see the difference between the two.  Jesus cannot be both the literal son of god and his goddess wife and not the literal begotten son.  He cannot be both one of 3 gods, and not one of 3 gods.  They are different.  In fact, it would be a lot easier if the Mormons called him by a different name.  For example, Bolok would be good.   Bolok is one of three gods, but Jesus is not. etc.  That way, it would be a lot easier to tell them apart.

Mormonism definitely does not teach the same Jesus as Christianity.

The entire article is also available in Spanish at the bottom of the Web page at http://carm.org/hinckley-says-mormons-believe-different-jesus

Christ has risen! The significance of the Resurrection


Matthew 28:1-10 Jesus Has Risen

 1After the Sabbath, at dawn on the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary went to look at the tomb. 2 There was a violent earthquake, for an angel of the Lord came down from heaven and, going to the tomb, rolled back the stone and sat on it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his clothes were white as snow. 4 The guards were so afraid of him that they shook and became like dead men.

5 The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid, for I know that you are looking for Jesus, who was crucified. 6 He is not here; he has risen, just as he said. Come and see the place where he lay. 7 Then go quickly and tell his disciples: ‘He has risen from the dead and is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him.’ Now I have told you.”

8 So the women hurried away from the tomb, afraid yet filled with joy, and ran to tell his disciples. 9 Suddenly Jesus met them. “Greetings,” he said. They came to him, clasped his feet and worshiped him. 10 Then Jesus said to them, “Do not be afraid. Go and tell my brothers to go to Galilee; there they will see me.”

1. According to the four gospels, Jesus rose from the dead following
   His crucifixion...
   a. Matthew records how the women found the tomb empty and were
      instructed by an angel to tell the disciples - Mt 28:1-8
   b. Also how Jesus appeared to them while on their way - Mt 28:9-10
   -- In all, the New Testament records ten distinct resurrection
      appearances of Christ prior to His ascension to heaven

2. The significance of the resurrection of Jesus to the Christian faith
   cannot be overestimated...
   a. It has great significance for one who has yet to believe in Jesus
   b. It also has great significance for those who are Christians

[In this study we shall consider "The Significance Of The Resurrection"
for both unbelievers and believers...]

I. FOR THE UNBELIEVER

   A. IT VERIFIES THE DEITY OF JESUS...
      1. The resurrection proves that Jesus truly is the Son of God
         - Ro 1:4
      2. It also demonstrates that He truly has all authority in heaven
         and on earth - Mt 28:18; Ac 2:36

   B. IT VERIFIES THE TRUTHFULNESS OF JESUS...
      1. Jesus foretold His resurrection on three occasions - Mt 16:21; 17:22-23; 20:17-19
         a. If Jesus was telling the truth in describing His suffering
            and resurrection...
         b. ...then He was telling the truth in everything else He said
         -- Would God raise a liar?
      2. Therefore the following teachings of Jesus are true:
         a. He was from the Father above, and spoke the words of the
            Father - Jn 8:28-29
         b. No one can come to the Father but through Him - Jn 14:6
         c. His blood was shed for the remission of sins - Mt 26:28
         d. He came to offer abundant life - Jn 10:10
         e. He went to prepare a place for us - Jn 14:2
         f. He shall come again - Jn 14:3
         g. There will be a resurrection of the dead and ensuing
            judgment - Jn 5:28-29; 12:48; Ac 17:30-31

[If Jesus was in fact raised from the dead, "The Significance Of The Resurrection" for the unbeliever is enormous!  It compels unbelievers
to come face to face with reality, and the need to accept the Lordship
of Jesus.  The resurrection of Jesus has even more significance...]

II. FOR THE BELIEVER    

   A. IF JESUS HAS NOT BEEN RAISED...
      1. Gospel preaching is vain - 1Co 15:14
         a. The preaching of the apostles is empty, meaningless
         b. There would be no purpose in preaching about a liar, or
            lunatic
      2. Our faith is vain - 1Co 15:14
         a. Our belief in Christ would also be empty, meaningless
         b. For our faith would be in a liar, or lunatic
      3. The apostles were false witnesses - 1Co 15:15
         a. They swore that God raised Jesus from the dead - Ac 2:32
         b. They claimed to spend 40 days with Him after the
            resurrection, eating and drinking with Him - Ac 10:39-41
         c. There is no way they could have been deceived or mistaken;
            either they told the truth or they were deliberate liars,
            deceivers, and frauds!
      4. We are still in our sins - 1Co 15:17
         a. It would have been a liar or lunatic that died on the cross
         b. No such person could have provided a sacrifice that was
            holy and without blemish
      5. Believers have perished at death - 1Co 15:18
         a. Their faith would have been in a false Messiah
         b. They would have had no atonement for their sins
         c. Dying in their sins, there would be no hope
      6. Christians are to be pitied - 1Co 15:19
         a. Because we believe in a false Messiah
         b. Because our faith in Him leads us to refrain from much
            worldly pleasure
         c. Because we are often ridiculed or persecuted for our faith

    B. IF JESUS HAS BEEN RAISED...
      1. It verifies our justification - Ro 4:24-25
         a. Jesus claimed His blood would be adequate - Mt 26:28
         b. By raising Jesus from the dead, God demonstrated His
            acceptance of Jesus as a sacrifice for our sins! - Ro 8: 33-34
      2. It demonstrates the power available to the Christian - Ep 1: 18-20
         a. Power available at our conversion - Col 2:11-12; 1Pe 3:21
         b. Power available to live the Christian life - Ro 8:11-13; Php 2:12-13; 4:13; Ep 3:20; 6:10
      3. It gives us hope concerning our own resurrection - 1Pe 1:3
         a. His resurrection gives us a living hope! - 1Pe 1:21
         b. Especially concerning the resurrection of believers! - 1 Th 4:13-14
      4. It demands our complete loyalty to Him - Ro 14:9
         a. He was raised and then exalted to become our Lord - Ac 2: 32-36; Ep 1:20-23
         b. Thus our lives and service belong to Him - Ro 14:7-8; 2 Co 5:15
CONCLUSION

1. The impact of the resurrection of Jesus should not go unfelt in our
   lives...
   a. As a historical event it has everlasting implications
   b. For both the unbeliever and believer

2. The unbeliever needs to examine the evidence for the resurrection
   carefully...
   a. The nature of the testimony provided by the witnesses
   b. The unfeasibility of alternative explanations for the empty tomb
   -- For if Jesus rose from the dead, one must believe in Him! - Jn 8: 24

3. The believer must never lose sight of the significance of the
   resurrection...
   a. Do our lives demonstrate that we serve a risen Lord and Savior?
   b. Do we possess the hope, peace, and strength that the reality and
      power of His resurrection gives to the Christian?May we never forget "The Significance Of The Resurrection" of Jesus
Christ in our lives!
(VIA)

… and Jesus wept… Ofra Haza – Yerushalaim (Jerusalem of Gold)

And when he was come near, he beheld the city, and wept over it.

He wept over it – Showing his compassion for the guilty city, and his strong sense of the evils that were about to come upon it. See the notes at Matthew 23:37-39. As he entered the city he passed over the Mount of Olives. From that mountain there was a full and magnificent view of the city.  The view of the splendid capital – the knowledge of its crimes – the remembrance of the mercies of God toward it – the certainty that it might have been spared if it had received the prophets and himself – the knowledge that it was about to put “him,” their long-expected Messiah, to death, and “for” that to be given up to utter desolation – affected his heart, and the triumphant King and Lord of Zion wept!

Amid all “his” prosperity, and all the acclamations of the multitude, the heart of the Redeemer of the world was turned from the tokens of rejoicing to the miseries about to come on a guilty people. Yet they “might” have been saved. If thou hadst known, says he, even thou, with all thy guilt, the things that make for thy peace; if thou hadst repented, had been righteous, and had received the Messiah; if thou hadst not stained thy hands with the blood of the prophets, and shouldst not with that of the Son of God, then these terrible calamities would not come upon thee. But it is too late. The national wickedness is too great; the cup is full: mercy is exhausted; and Jerusalem, with all her pride and splendor, the glory of her temple, and the pomp of her service, “must perish!” (Barnes’ notes)

Do you love Jesus ?

Christ and Simon Peter (painting Raphael 1515)

Rev. Allen M Baker is Pastor of Christ Community Presbyterian Church in West Hartford, Connecticut. (via) Banner of Truth Trust:

Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these? (John 21:15)

One of the more glorious promises in Scripture is John 10:28-30,

And I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish. No one shall snatch them out of my hand. My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all, and no one shall snatch them out of the Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.

In other words, both the Father and Son are in agreement — namely that those who believe in the Lord Jesus will live forever. No one can alter that plan, not even the sinful living of a truly, regenerate believer. On the other hand, consider this ominous warning,

For if we go on sinning wilfully, after receiving the knowledge of the truth, there no longer remains a sacrifice for sins but a certain, terrifying expectation of judgment and the fury of a fire which will consume the adversaries. Anyone who has laid aside the Law of Moses dies without mercy on the testimony of two or three witnesses. How much severer punishment do you think he will deserve who has trampled under foot the Son of God, and has regarded as unclean the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has insulted the Spirit of grace? For we know him who said, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay.’ And again, ‘The Lord will judge his people.’ It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God (Heb. 10:26-31).

So how do we reconcile these two opposing verses? What do they mean?

We sin in two different ways. First is the sin of commission, doing those things we are commanded not to do, disobeying the divine prohibitions. ‘Have no other gods before you. Make no graven image. Do not take the name of the Lord in vain. Do not murder. Do not commit adultery. Do not steal. Do not bear false witness. Do not covet’ (Exod. 20). The Scriptures are full of divine prohibitions. Consider these, ‘Be angry and do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your anger . . . do not give the devil an opportunity . . . let no unwholesome word proceed out of your mouth . . . do not grieve the Spirit of God’ (Eph. 4:26ff). A professing believer who ‘goes on sinning wilfully, after receiving the knowledge of the truth,’ is potentially the next candidate for this terrifying expectation of judgment. You know you are sinning wilfully when you sin brazenly, consciously, and without remorse — like a man who leaves his wife and children for another woman, like one who embezzles money from his company, like one who persists in pornography, like one steeped in pride who does not admit his sin to anyone. Those who refuse to heed the warnings of Scripture and go on sinning wilfully are in big trouble. I know what you are thinking — ‘I know people like this. I have even done one or two of things myself. Is my case hopeless?’ Hang on. I will get to that in a moment.

Second is the sin of omission, not doing the things we are commanded to do. ‘Love God. Love your neighbour. Remember the poor. Honour your father and mother’ (Matt. 22:37ff, Gal. 2:10, Eph. 6:1-3). Failure to do these things is to commit sins of omission, and you know you are sinning in this manner when you continue in self-absorption, living as though your life is the centre of God’s universe. In Jesus’ parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:30-37) both the priest and Levite are guilty of this sin, not helping the wounded and suffering man. One who neglects the spiritual well-being of his wife and children, focusing only on the temporal, is guilty of this sin. If one goes on sinning wilfully in this manner, then he may be a candidate for the ominous warning in Hebrews 10. I know what you are thinking here too — ‘This sounds like me. I can remember not helping that poor person last week when I was downtown. I felt prompted to do so, but I did not do it. I know I should have given a gospel tract to that person on the plane last week, but I was absorbed in my USA Today.’

How can we escape the judgment of Hebrews 10:26-31? How can we be sure we are recipients of the glorious promise of John 10:28-30? Well, think on this. Jesus told his disciples, just prior to his suffering and death, ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments’ (John 14:15). You may say, ‘This is not much help either, because I know how much I sin. If consistent obedience is the benchmark then I am hopeless.’ Stay with me! In John 21:15ff, after his resurrection, Jesus met his disciples, including Peter, on the shore of the Sea of Galilee and prepared breakfast for them. Peter saw Jesus, jumped into the water and swam to shore as quickly as possible. Over a breakfast of fish cooked by Jesus on an open fire, Jesus asked Peter, ‘Do you love me more than these?’ Jesus asked him this three times. What is going on here? Think of it like this — a husband who has been travelling and working a great deal, who comes home pre-occupied, who fails to engage his wife and children, who is a bit cranky due to exhaustion, finally settles into his easy chair late one night after the children have gone to bed. His wife looks him in the eye and asks, ‘Do you love the children and me more than your work?’ Naturally his immediate response is, ‘Yes, of course I love you.’ But to this she continues to look into his eyes and asks again, ‘Do you love the children and me?’ Then she asks it a third time, a fourth time, a fifth time, making no other comment. After a while her husband becomes terribly uncomfortable at the simple but penetrating questioning. A flippant, frivolous, casual answer will not do. The very questions themselves are forcing him to look deeply into his heart. Does he really love his wife and children? Do his recent actions prove or deny his profession? The very questions of Jesus are terribly convicting to Peter. He realizes that though he has said he loves Jesus, his three-fold denial has proven otherwise. He is crushed under the benevolent yet holy gaze of his Master. Of course Jesus restores Peter and later the Holy Spirit falls on him and God uses him powerfully at Pentecost and beyond.

Here’s the glory of the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ — your sins of omission and commission are prolific and let’s face it, sometimes are brazen, conscious, and without remorse. Do you love Jesus? The short answer is, ‘Yes.’ A deeper look, however, means that most of us will have to say, ‘No. My sin proves that I do not love Jesus.’ But here’s the glorious hope — if you think you are alive, then you are dead. If you think you are dead, then you are alive. If you think you have it all together, then you do not. If you know you are naked, vile, and wretched, then you can be sure you are in Christ Jesus. I say this with one qualification, however. Some in the church today seem to glory in their shame (Phil. 3:19). They have no problem speaking of their sin but they boast about it, taking it lightly, not in the least shamed or devastated by it. Sort of like me joking many years ago with men in one of my Bible Studies about forgetting my wife’s birthday. What is funny about that! It was shameful and terribly hurtful to her. True remorse leads to biblical repentance that leads to holiness that leads to progress in our walk with Christ. So, the mark of one who is a true believer in the Lord Jesus is not an absence of sin, but a keen awareness of it, an admission of it, a deep remorse about it that drives the person again and again to the fountain of blood drawn from Immanuel’s veins, giving him an assurance that grace comes to those who are plunged beneath that redeeming flood.

Essential Reading – Who is Jesus? Mark Driscoll

Easter, Sermon Notes  by Pastor Mark Driscol from the Easter sermon at Qwest Field 2011. Click here to read entire sermon at the Mars Hill Church website.

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Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe, a 13-part exposition on the tenets of Christianity by Pastor Mark Driscoll and Dr. Gerry Breshears, is available now.

Who is Jesus? That’s the question Pastor Mark addressed in his Easter sermon. But, rather than take on all the things said about Jesus by others, he took us to the source.

Who is Jesus Christ? That is the most important question that has been asked in the history of the world. We appreciate you joining us today to consider that question, and we pray that you would love that man.

Jesus was born roughly 2,000 years ago. He lived in a small rural town. He was raised by a young mother who was likely a teenager at his birth. His father was a peasant carpenter. Additionally, Jesus had brothers and sisters. For the first 30 years of his life, he lived in relative obscurity, swinging a hammer with his father.

“There is no one who has transformed the world like Jesus Christ.”

Around the age of 30, he began his public ministry: preaching, teaching, healing. His resume is rather simple. He never traveled more than a few hundred miles from home. He never married, he never had children. Additionally, his life was lived in a very simple way, so much so that many of his years were spent homeless as he was working for the cause of God the Father.

Yet, what we find today is that Jesus Christ is the most significant person who has ever lived in the history of the world. More songs have been sung to him, more paintings painted of him, and more books written regarding him than anyone who has ever lived in the history of the world. And on this day, Easter Sunday, a few billion people on the earth are gathering together as we are to worship him as Lord, God, Savior, Christ, and King.

There is no one who has transformed the world like Jesus Christ.

So much has been said about Jesus that today I would like you to hear directly from him. And rather than all that could be said about him, we will attune our ear to listen to him. And it is my great privilege and honor on behalf of the people of Mars Hill Church to share with you eight things that Jesus Christ said about himself—unparalleled, unprecedented claims.

1. Jesus Said He Came Down from Heaven

“For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.”

They said, “Is not this Jesus, the son of Joseph, whose father and mother we know? How does he now say, ‘I have come down from heaven’?”

John 6:38, 42

2. Jesus Said He Is More Than Just a Good Man

As he [Jesus] was setting out on his journey, a man ran up and knelt before him and asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good but God alone.”

Mark 10:17–18

3. Jesus Performs Miracles

“Do you say of him whom the Father consecrated and sent into the world, ‘You are blaspheming,’ because I said, ‘I am the Son of God’? If I am not doing the works of my Father, then do not believe me; but if I do them, even though you do not believe me, believe the works.” … And again they sought to arrest him, but he escaped their hands.

John 10:36–39

4. Jesus Said He Is Sinless

“Which one of you convicts me of sin? I tell you the truth, why do you not believe me?”

John 8:46

5. Jesus Said He Is God

“I and the Father are one.” [And they] picked up stones again to stone him. Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” [And they] answered him, “… because you, being a man, make yourself to be God.”

John 10:30–33

6. Jesus Forgives Sin

And when Jesus saw their faith, he said to the paralytic, “Son, your sins are forgiven.” … [And the critics said,] “He is blaspheming! Who can forgive sins but God alone?”

Mark 2:5, 7

7. Jesus Said He Is the Only Way to Heaven

Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

John 14:6

8. Jesus Said He Would Resurrect from Death

And [Jesus] began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again.

Mark 8:31

Trust in Jesus Christ

Who is Jesus Christ?

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(VIA) Who Is Jesus? | The Mars Hill Blog.

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