Month: March 2021

Easter – Justice and Death

Obsession with cinnamon buns, chocolate flavoured eggs, edible bunny rabbits, and retail sales show this world’s ignorance of Easter. While the world disregards the biblical origin and significance of Easter, believers see the absolute best of God and the heinous worst of humanity. The collision of God’s wrath and humanity’s sin occurred on that Roman Cross in the Son of Man, Jesus Christ. The course of human history was irreversibly changed, and the justice of Holy God was unrepeatably satisfied. At Easter, faith recognises Jesus as the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29).

The many players caught in the events leading up to and following the crucifixion of Jesus had no idea of what they were participating in. They were blindly and willingly swept along by Satan and the Jewish leaders who relished their manipulation of the Roman legal system in carrying out the execution of their Messiah. But, as Peter later explained, Jesus was handed over to you (Jews) by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge; and you, with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross. 24 But God raised him from the dead… (Acts 2:23-24).

Easter – Justice and Death

Jesus’ betrayal, mistrial, abandonment, and illegal execution had less to do with the Jew’s hatred of Him and more to do with God’s desire to bring justice upon the sin of the world (Rom 3:26). God did not set aside or dismiss His requirement of justice for our sin, to prove Himself merciful. Rather, God being the righteous judge, bundled our sin into Jesus’ and justly punished Jesus for it. As the wages of sin is death (Romans 6:23), Jesus had to die our death, because of our sin, for divine justice to be served.

Jesus, being God in human form, …humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:8). On the Cross Jesus bore our sins in his body (1 Peter 2:24). 1 Peter 3:18 tells us that Christ suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that He might bring us to God. Jesus only suffered once for all when he offered up himself on the Cross with our sins (Hebrews 7:27). Jesus is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world (1 John 2:2). Justice was served, God’s wrath was calmed, and we can receive peace from God through belief in what Jesus did on our behalf on the Cross.

Yes, the satisfied justice of God for our sin is to be received by faith (Romans 3:25). We cannot buy it, earn it, or enhance it. Jesus’ death and resurrection can never be improved upon, upgraded, or repeated. And it must be believed in to become true and effective in your life.

When Pilate, the Roman governor, gave the Jewish crowds a choice between setting Jesus free or the murdering insurrectionist Barabbas (Mark 15:7), they chose Barabbas (Matthew 27:17-21). Today, the world makes that same choice, give us anyone, but not Jesus. Give us pleasure, but not peace with God. Betraying Judas, well, he simply did openly what countless people do inwardly with Jesus every day by wishing Him out of their lives and out of existence.

Paul explained that which is of first importance…  that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the Scriptures (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). The same choice of Easter confronts us today, death or Jesus. Belief or divine justice.

I encourage you to choose life, choose forgiveness from God, choose belief in the Lord Jesus Christ!

 

“H” is for Help – God’s willing resources

“H” is for Help – God’s willing resources

Christians are dependent upon the direct input of God’s resources to help walk the life of faith. The Bible is replete with examples of people just like us who called out to the Lord for help and God responded by supplying their needs. Scripture exhorts us to bring our needs to God in all circumstances. Therefore, understanding our calls for help and God’s responses, is critical for affirming our faith and empowering our grateful responses.

“H” is for Help – God’s willing resourcesImperfect David was often his own worst enemy. Consequently, he realised his need of God’s help. In my distress I called upon the LORD; to my God I cried for help. From his temple he heard my voice, and my cry to him reached his ears (Psalm 18:6). We also need God’s help constantly. And there are those desperate times when we cry out in utter despair. In those times of extremity, having exhausted all personal resources, when self-reliance has failed, we call for mercy to be dispatched by the sovereign God of heaven. Be assured, the King of kings hears you. Your voice has a hearing in the ears of the Almighty.

Scripture records many forms of help which God dispatches. He is remarkably resourceful at assembling multi-faceted packages which not only meet our immediate needs, but also achieve a host of other God honouring purposes. We are often narrow in the scope of our requests, and understandably, because our prayers are usually driven by specific needs. Thankfully, God answers our requests according to a broader criteria, a wider set of requirements and desires. He wholly understands our lives and His integration of us into His Kingdom and the ongoing building of His Church. Therefore, His responses are designed to help us within an eternal framework which we are unable to see except through the eyes of Scripture.

That said, usually the Lord employs His people to administer His help on His behalf. This begins with praying for one another. Paul explained this to the Corinthians; You also must help us by prayer… (2 Corinthians 1:11). Prayer awakens us to the God created opportunities for us to dispatch His help on His behalf. Practically speaking, believers should devote themselves to good works, so as to help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful (Titus 3:14). We are to prioritise as God prioritises, maximising the benefits for those we help.

However, there are times when only God’s direct sovereign intervention can help. Before his death, Moses addressed Israel. He reminded them of the incomparable nature of God. There is none like God… who rides through the heavens to your help, through the skies in his majesty. 27 The eternal God is your dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms… (Deuteronomy 33:26-27). Like Israel, and regardless of our often-clouded perception, we are never outside of God’s loving embrace. Whether we visually see God’s powerful manoeuvres or not, by faith we can observe His interactions with the events of our lives to accomplish His will and to administer our much-needed help.

God has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3), from where He dispatches His graces in conformity to His will and our needs. He consistently does this to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved (Ephesians 1:6). The Lord’s help is diverse, timely, and compassionate. His help is always according to the riches of his glory and equips you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being (Ephesians 3:16).

 

“H” is for Hinderance – the world’s friend

The Pastor's Pen Banner

When it comes to living a God honouring life which is joyful, the world is happy to place hinderances in your way. It will attempt to lure your biblical values and passions away from obedient faithfulness to Christ. So often, we believers fail to recognise the seduction by God’s enemy to mix worldly ideology with biblical truth. The writer of Hebrews exhorts us to …throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:1-2 NIV).

“H” is for Hinderance – the world’s friend

Notice that the things which hinder are not the sins which stop us. There are many things in life which hinder and restrain our walk with the Lord. Hinderance is anything which slows us down, interfering in a way which holds us back from advancing in our relationship with Christ. They are often things which are not evil in themselves, but simply distract and side-tract us from an undivided commitment to an unwavering and obedient walk with Christ as Lord. However, these hindrances can become temptations, then, if followed, they become sin. These can be appetising seductions which our enemy slips into our lives using the most delicious means possible.

The types of the hindrances will vary from Christian to Christian, but the goal is always the same. The enemy also loves to gather people together who share a common love for the same hindrances, this creates agreement and emotional comfort while stunting the Lord’s work in their lives. Believers are called to wake up to these distracting friendships and activities by throwing off everything that hinders. This requires determined love for Christ as the chief love of our lives. We choose Christ as Prime over all hinderances.

Attention-grabbing thoughts and activities that seduce our affections are not only to be rejected but replaced by thoughts and activities which fix our eyes on Jesus. This requires intentional and ongoing evaluation of the treasures of our hearts (Mt 6:21). This calls for critical thinking and surrender to Christ through the reassignment of our affections to Him as the target of our passions.

The world presents us with friendships, ambitions, ideologies, media, hobby and sport activities which all call for increasing affection and time commitments at the expense of higher priorities. Anything which detracts your spiritual vision and ambitions from being Christ-centred requires reallocation to a lower priority, or removal. This discipline even applies to church activities and Christian friendships. Christ is to be first and central in all. The world will fiercely compete for this position. Your own human fleshliness will challenge this position. And deceitful heart affections will object to Christ reigning in this position as absolute Lord.

Jesus Christ demands our primary love as creator God (Heb 1:2), as Sovereign Saviour and ascended Lord (Jude :25), and as the First in rank and priority over our lives (Col 1:15-20). Jesus is the One of whom God the Father instructed, “Let all God’s angels worship him” (Hebrews 1:6).

The world loves distractions, and it loves to establish spiritual hinderances in our lives, anything to practically dethrone Christ as your Lord. Let’s make Paul’s prayer our prayer today; that our love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God (Philippians 1:9-11).

 

“H” is for Holiness – the World’s Enemy

God reveals Himself as unequivocally HOLY (1 Peter 1:16). The seraphim affirm this from heaven’s throne room, declaring God to be “Holy, holy, holy” (Isaiah 6:3). As God, He is high and lifted up, who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy (Isaiah 57:15). The biblical holiness of God is to be understood as pure blamelessness and intrinsic perfection that sets Him apart from all else. His holiness is so extreme by our way of thinking, that the writer of Hebrews says that our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:29).

“H” is for Holiness – the World’s Enemy

The Lord being separate from everything that is less than holy, challenged Isaiah, “to whom then will you compare me?” (Isaiah 40:25). The answer is obvious, NO-ONE. Yahweh stands apart from all others as not only the standard of holiness, but the very definition of holiness. The Lord does not simply possess holiness as an attribute, holiness is uniquely His transcendent quality which permeates every one of His character attributes. God’s holiness is more than His sinless purity, it is His otherness from all else that exists. It is His holy otherness that causes Him to stand out as awesome, as majestic, and worthy of all worship (Psalm 18:3). For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who is not partial and takes no bribe (Deuteronomy 10:17).

In His supernal holiness, God says, “I the LORD do not change” (Malachi 3:6). James, Jesus’ younger half-brother explained that God is the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change (James 1:17). The Lord is dependable in His holiness and we can rely on His consistency of character and His righteous judgements.

God’s holiness is absolute and trustworthy truth, to which all other thoughts are to bow.

The world, however, has quite a different view on holiness. For them, holiness is nothing but an annoying and inconvenient restriction that holds humanity back from being all that they want to be. The world kicks back at boundaries, at restraints, or at any redirection of desires towards a higher standard demanding eternal answerability. Worldly wisdom is content with constantly changing values that are floating and inconsistent. The world is happy with different standards for different people, and with commitments that have an out clause. In every way imaginable, the world is opposite to, and opposed to God’s ultimate holiness. Whether consciously or not, the world views holiness as it’s enemy, and constantly leans against it.

Even though mankind was created in the image of God, mankind is NOT inherently holy as God is. The only hope of human holiness is found in a relationship with God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Only in Christ are we able to “become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21), and this is because Christ became our sin on the Cross as our substitute. Paul tells us that this righteousness is given through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe (Romans 3:22). Dependent belief in Jesus’ work on the cross is mankind’s only access to sharing in the righteousness of God.

Before any discussion can be had concerning a believer’s living, there needs to be unequivocal acceptance and celebration of the all-consuming holiness of Jehovah – WORSHIP. This God, the only wise and sovereign God, chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him (Ephesians 1:4). May we aspire in both understanding and living to run the race of life towards an ever-increasing accuracy (2Co 3:18) of the holiness of our God, for His pleasure and His glory alone.

 

Scroll to Top