“If God desires every knee to bow to Jesus and every tongue to confess Him, so should we. We should be ‘jealous’ for the honor of His name—troubled when it remains unknown, hurt when it is ignored, indignant when it is blasphemed, and all the time anxious and determined that it shall be given the honor and glory which are due to it.
The highest of all missionary motives is neither obedience to the Great Commission (important as that is), nor love for sinners who are alienated and perishing (strong as that incentive is, especially when we contemplate the wrath of God), but rather zeal—burning and passionate zeal—for the glory of Jesus Christ.
Only one imperialism is Christian, and that is concern for His Imperial Majesty Jesus Christ, and for the glory of his empire or kingdom. Before this supreme goal of the Christian mission, all unworthy motives wither and die.”
—John Stott, The Message of Romans (Downers Grove, Ill: InterVarsity Press, 1994), 53
Here is a link to an interesting article about a Pew research poll and some folks at Lifeway research that call the poll into question due to the wording of the survey. The research attempts to find out how many christians believe that christianity is the only way to eternal life. The folks at Lifeway bring up some valid points about the way that the questions were asked. However, even in their own survey (with better questions) they found that almost 40% of “Protestants” do not believe that faith in Jesus is the only way to heaven. That is almost half! Whoa, are we in trouble! The words of the Bible are pretty clear on this subject. Jesus said he was the only way (John 14:6), and his disciples echoed that (Acts 4:12). In this discussion someone HAS to be wrong. So we are left in a precarious position. We have to decide if Jesus is wrong, or if the universalists are wrong.
This poll is revealing about our new “kinder” “more tolerant” society. What can get you into trouble as a pastor or christian and bring on the beginning of persecution? This issue is perhaps one of the best examples. We are supposed to accept everyone NO matter what. If you say that what you believe is the only truth, get ready to be put through the meat grinder as an insensitive-unloving-radical.
This is becoming very clear as the debate on homosexuality warms up. They (and you now who they are) have constructed the questions and the nature of the debate in such a way that we have swallowed the rhetoric with very little protest. The only way to truly love homosexuals is to support their lifestyle by approving it. IF you disagree with them it is because you hate them and want to deprive them of their civil rights. The question: “why don’t you think gays should have civil rights?” resembles the well known fallacy: when are you going to stop beating your wife? The question is framed with lots of assumptions, and we need to be wise enough to address them.
John 12:42-43 “Nevertheless even among the rulers many believed in Him, but because of the Pharisees they did not confess Him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue; for they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.”
So the bottom line is, everyone (in theory) will be welcome in the group hug except Jesus and the people who agree with him. I think that this will be one of the great tests of our faith in the next 40 years in America. Many have already fallen…
“But the cowardly… shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8)
“Jesus shocked the established authorities by being a friend to all—not only to the destitute and hungry, but also to those rich extortioners, the tax-collectors, whom all decent people ostracized … The shocking thing was not that he sided with the poor against the rich but that he met everyone equally with the same unlimited mercy and the same unconditioned demand for total loyalty.
If we look at the end of his earthly ministry, at the cross, it is clear that Jesus was rejected by all—rich and poor, rulers and people—alike. Before the cross of Jesus there are no innocent parties. The cross is not for some and against others. It is the place where all are guilty and all are forgiven.”
—Lesslie Newbigin, The Gospel in a Pluralist Society (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1989), 151
“The popular image of Jesus is that He is not only kind and tender but also soft and prissy, as though Jesus comes to us reeking of hand cream. Such a Jesus can hardly steel the soul that is daily assaulted by the enemy. We need to learn the catechism of Psalm 24. Question: Who is the King of glory? Answer: Yahweh, strong and mighty! Yahweh-mighty in battle! (Ps 24:8). We must catch the vision of the Faithful and True sitting on the white horse, the One who ‘judges and makes war’ in righteousness (Rev 19:11-16). No mild God or soft Jesus can give His people hope. It is only as we know the Warrior of Israel who fights for us (and sometimes without us) that we have hope of triumphing in the muck of life.” (Ralph Davis, “Joshua: No Falling Words,” p.82)
Hypocrisy is an old game. At the bottom, it means being an impostor, a deceiver. And there are many ways to express it. It is easy for modern Americans to limit the idea of hypocrisy to the kind expressed by those great modern philosophers the Beastie Boys: “Your pop caught you smokin’ and he said no way, that hypocrite smokes two packs a day.” And they are correct; that is one of the worst forms of hypocrisy.
This was alive and well in Jesus generation, “ “Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you cleanse the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of extortion and self-indulgence” (Matthew 23:25). Consistently Jesus opposed hypocrisy. In modern parlance, He is the “anti-hypocrite.” It occurred to me with some freshness that Jesus is not just opposed to this kind of deceitfulness with his words. He opposed hypocrisy by the way he lived His life.
I was reading Mark chapter 10 this morning and saw something important. James and John were trying to position themselves for greatness as cabinet members in what they thought was Jesus coming administration, “Grant us that we may sit, one on Your right hand and the other on Your left, in Your glory” (v. 37). Jesus dialogues with them, and concludes with some magnificent words on greatness. “You know that those who are considered rulers over the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great ones exercise authority over them. Yet it shall not be so among you; but whoever desires to become great among you shall be your servant” (v.42-43). Translated into modern language, everyone wants to call the shots. Power is the world’s view of greatness. Jesus almost always turns things on their head. Real greatness comes from being a humble servant.
Here is where we see Jesus as the “anti-hypocrite.” Jesus is not prescribing medicine that He won’t take. He concludes this discussion with these words, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (v.45). First Jesus tells them how to be great, and then he shows them. Jesus is the ultimate servant, and the best example of greatness. Jesus is the perfect example of sincerity. There is no show or deception with Christ. He is exactly what he appears to be. No pretense, no stage. He is the embodiment of virtue!
But there is something else. Jesus opposes hypocrisy by His teaching and life, but he also promises to render a full accounting to every hypocrite on the last day. “Beware of the leaven of the Pharisees, which is hypocrisy. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, nor hidden that will not be known” (Luke 12:1-2). Hypocrisy thrives in the shadows. The same Jesus who preached against hypocrisy, and lived a life of sincerity, will one day broadcast the truth on the evening news of the judgment day for every hypocrite. Jesus already knows what goes on behind closed doors, and he will one day pull back the curtain for the whole world to see. He elsewhere said, “the master of that servant will come on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matt 24:50-51).
When I read this, I rejoice that I have such a savior. It is no wonder to me that Paul says of Jesus, He has been given the name that is above every name (Philippians 2:9-10).
“Because of the gospel’s power, you can be completely free of all condemnation.
Not mostly free; completely free.
Don’t buy the lie that cultivating condemnation and wallowing in your shame is somehow pleasing to God, or that a constant, low-grade guilt will somehow promote holiness and spiritual maturity.
It’s just the opposite! God is glorified when we believe with all our hearts that those who trust in Christ can never be condemned. It’s only when we receive his free gift of grace and live in the good of total forgiveness that we’re able to turn from old, sinful ways of living and walk in grace-motivated obedience.”
– C.J. Mahaney, The Cross Centered Life, 39, 40
Charles Wesley wrote:
No condemnation now I dread;
Jesus, and all in Him, is mine;
Alive in Him, my living Head,
And clothed in righteousness divine,
Bold I approach th’eternal throne,
And claim the crown, through Christ my own.
Few of us enjoy tests. I am supposed to be on spring break right now. I am supposed to be enjoying a little time of mental relaxation, unbending my tired mind so that future studies will be more effective. But instead, I am thinking about the upcoming microbiology test. It kind of hangs over my head, and is there in the back of my mind. Even when I try to think of other things, it won’t go away. I feel stress because I don’t want to fail….because I know I need to study more….because I want to pass the test, and I don’t want to retake the course. This stress can have the positive effective of helping me decide what is important and what is a waste of time. Simply put, it can help me prepare. The other day one of my professors reminded the class what was going to be on the exam. He told us what would be covered and what kind of questions would be on the test.
As I sat here and reflected on this I thought of several things that Jesus said. Right now I am thinking about a little test with small consequences, but he spoke of a test of much greater import: the judgment day. If people don’t enjoy thinking about midterms, they certainly don’t want to think about a day when they will stand before their maker. But I can’t help but see an interesting connection. I could ignore all those nagging thoughts about an upcoming test on malaria and fungi, and then fail the test when it came because I failed to prepare. Ignoring the upcoming test would be academic suicide. Ignoring the judgment day is spiritual suicide. Like my microbiology professor, Jesus has given us some advance warning about what is going to be on the big test. So I thought I would share a few of the things that Jesus has given us about the coming judgment:
John 5: 26-28 “For as the Father has life in Himself, so He has granted the Son to have life in Himself, and has given Him authority to execute judgment also, because He is the Son of Man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice.”
Matthew 12:35-37 “A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good things, and an evil man out of the evil treasure brings forth evil things. But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give account of it in the day of judgment. For by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.”
John 3:16-17, 36 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved. He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.”
Revelation 20:11-15 “Then I saw a great white throne and Him who sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away. And there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books. The sea gave up the dead who were in it, and Death and Hades delivered up the dead who were in them. And they were judged, each one according to his works. Then Death and Hades were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.”
A quote from the puritan John Flavel:
“None so tender-hearted and sympathising with sick souls as Jesus Christ; he is one that can have compassion, because he has had experience.
If I must come unto the surgeon’s hands with broken bones, give me one whose own bones have been broken, who has felt the anguish in himself.
Christ knows what it is by experience, having felt the anguish of inward troubles, the weight of God’s wrath, and the terrors of a forsaking God, more than any or all the sons of men: this makes him tender over distressed souls.”
– John Flavel, The Method of Grace
In case you didn’t know…..I am not just a mild mannered college student. I am also a pastor. Relax, I am not a televangelist. I am a real pastor. I love Jesus and it is one of the greatest privileges in my life to talk about the gospel (good news). This story changed my life. This is an important sermon that I preached recently on Roman’s chapter 8:32. It is important because it deals with the implications of the life and death of Jesus.