Category Archives: Love

Jesus Prays For Thee

Does it not fill you with awe, and humble you—to realize that the Lord Jesus Christ prays for you?

He prays for you.  And prays for me.

I know how you feel—this seems backward; isn’t it you and I who do the praying to Him?

But remember, Jesus told Peter He had prayed for him, that his faith fail not.  We are not told just when this happened, but it appears Jesus often prayed for His disciples while He was here on earth.  I think of the time when His disciples were struggling to cross the sea of Galilee against contrary winds in the darkness of night.  Jesus, we are told, had had gone “into a mountain apart to pray” (Mt. 14.23).  No doubt it was His disciples He was praying for.  “He saw them toiling in rowing” (Mk. 6.48).  That’s pretty good vision Jesus had, isn’t it, to be able to see His disciples in the darkness of the night across the stormy waters.  And in the fourth watch of the night He came to them “walking on the sea” (Mt. 14.25).

He still has the same good sight.  He sees us even now in our toils and struggles.  Even now He continues praying for us from the heavenly Mountain He has ascended into.  He makes intercession for us, as He did those disciples of old.   He tells us as much in John 17, which is the record of a prayer Jesus prayed during the Last Supper, praying as though He were already ascended to the right hand of His Father in Heaven.

I pray for them (Jn. 17.9).

He is speaking of His disciples back then.  But He adds:

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on Me through their word… (Jn. 17.20).

And the writer of Hebrews tells us:

Wherefore He is able to save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Him seeing He ever liveth to make intercession for them (Heb. 7.25).

And in Romans we read:

Who is he that condemneth?  (Since) it is Christ that died, yea rather, is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us (Rom. 8.34).

And so it’s very encouraging—that the main ministry of our Lord Jesus Christ at the right hand of the throne of the Father in Heaven is as our great and powerful Intercessor.

It could be said that there are two main ministries in this universe.  One is the ministry of the Accuser of the brethren.  The other is the ministry of the Intercessor of the brethren.

Beloved, one of these two ministries we want no part of—either on the giving or the receiving end.  But when we do find ourselves on the receiving end of the Accuser of the brethren, oh, how wonderful to know that we have One who ever liveth to make intercession for us.

It’s very encouraging the way Paul brings in the fact that Christ’s intercession for us is as One who is seated at the right hand of God—the place of the greatest power in the universe.  In other words, He is not making intercession for us as One who pleads with great love and desire, but has no power.  He intercedes as One whose intercession is filled with the power of the Throne of God, and is therefore effectual.

It is a wonderful thing to know that Our Lord Jesus Christ at the right hand of power is there as our great high priest and intercessor.  He is my great High Priest—who laid down His life for me on the Altar of the Cross of Calvary.  But my great High Priest is also the great King.  He is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  He has all power in Heaven and earth.  He is able to “save to the uttermost them that come unto God by Him.”  How so?  His intercession on our behalf—on your behalf, and mine—has the power of the throne of God in it.

Now… maybe you already see where this truth is going to take us… which I will get into next time.

…But wait a minute.  How can I resist closing here with the wonderful words of one of my favourite hymns?  I’m singing it right now as I listen to it on Cyberhymnal.

http://www.hymntime.com/tch/htm/a/r/i/arisemys.htm

And I’m rejoicing!  How can we not rejoice, brother, sister, to have so great a Salvation, and so loving a Saviour and Intercessor before the Throne of Grace!  Let us rejoice!

Here is the hymn, one of Charles Wesley’s finest:

Arise, my soul, arise,
Shake off thy guilty fears;
The bleeding sacrifice
In my behalf appears;
Before the throne my Surety stands,
Before the throne my Surety stands,
My name is written on His hands.

He ever lives above,
For me to intercede;
His all redeeming love,
His precious blood, to plead;
His blood atoned for all our race,
His blood atoned for all our race,
And sprinkles now the throne of grace.

Five bleeding wounds He bears;
Received on Calvary;
They pour effectual prayers;
they strongly plead for me:
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Forgive him, O forgive,” they cry,
“Nor let that ransomed sinner die!”

The Father hears Him pray,
His dear anointed One;
He cannot turn away
the presence of His Son;
The Spirit answers to the blood,
The Spirit answers to the blood
And tells me I am born of God.

My God is reconciled;
His pardoning voice I hear;
He owns me for His child;
I can no longer fear.
With confidence I now draw nigh,
With confidence I now draw nigh,
And “Father, Abba, Father,” cry.

Jesus Loves Thee

As an example of the use of the singular thee in the King James Version, Bible teacher Ron Bailey (in the previous post) cited Jesus’ words to Peter just prior to that devastating night when he denied his Lord three times.

Jesus had said;

Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat,
But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren (Lk. 22.31,32).

You is always plural in the KJV.  The Lord is telling Peter that Satan has desired (or more accurately, has claimed and obtained permission) to sift them all (collectively) as wheat.  But the Lord now shows His very personal interest in each one of his disciples, telling Peter specifically, “I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not…”

This prayer of course was answered.  Peter’s faith was tried very severely, tried to the depths.  But it did not fail.  He came out of this heart-searching ordeal a very broken man with a heart to strengthen his brethren.  There had been impurities in him, and so the accuser of the brethren had claimed the right to have him.  No doubt his wicked motive was to completely destroy Peter.  But along with an accuser who was jealous of him, and hated him, Peter also had an intercessor who loved him deeply, and it was His intention in all this to bring Peter forth a pure and sifted kernel of wheat.

(And remember that the Lord, with purposed intent and healing love, later gave Peter the opportunity to affirm his love for Him—three times.  See John Chapter 21.)

It’s very encouraging to know—and very necessary to know—that in times of trial and testing we have such an intercessor at the right hand of God—the place of all authority.  He is determined to see us through.  He prayed for Peter that his faith would not fail.  That prayer was answered.  He prays for us also, with the same power of the throne in His prayers.  He loves us with an everlasting love.  Loves you and me, I mean—as He loved Peter.  He prays for me.  He prays for you.

He is deeply committed to us—individually.

Paul tells us that Jesus “gave Himself for our sins that He might deliver us from this present evil world according to the will of God and our Father” (Gal. 1.4).

But a little later on in this same letter to the Galatian churches we find Paul affirming that He “loved me, and gave Himself for me” (Gal. 2.20).

How deeply we ourselves need this conviction, this persuasion—that Jesus not only died for us, but died for each of us—for you, for me.

And we need to know (thanks to Robert Wurtz for the following insight) that He will never leave us—that is, will never leave you, will never leave me.

The writer of Hebrews says: “Let your conversation (your conduct, your way of life) be without covetousness: and be content with such things as ye have…”

Note the plural there:  “Let your conversation… such things as ye have…”  Your and ye are also always plurals in the KJV.

But now he continues: “For He (Himself) hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee”  (Heb. 13.5).

Thee?  That means you, beloved Christian.  That means me.

Thank you, Jesus.  Eradicate all doubt for our hearts, Lord, so that we know and believe the love You have for each one of us, even in times when You are silent.  May we always put our trust in You.  You are at the right hand of God, and ever live to make intercession for us—each one of us, that is.  Amen.

The Lampstand—The Corporate Testimony Of Jesus Christ (Pt. 4)

Last time we talked of individuals who had the testimony of Jesus Christ.  John on Patmos had this testimony.  The messenger who was showing John the things he wrote about in the Revelation had this testimony—so powerful a testimony of Jesus Christ that John was tempted to worship him.  He thought the man was Jesus Himself.

This is a very tremendous thing—individual men coming into the testimony of Jesus Christ.  But as great as it is, it doesn’t hold a candle to what God has in mind.  We admire great saints, but God is not satisfied with just one person here and there coming into this tremendous testimony.  His desire is that this testimony be revealed in something called the church, where all the members—every man and woman and boy and girl—are shining forth this pure testimony together as one Man.

Remember that in the Old Testament it was the tabernacle that was called the “tabernacle of the testimony.”  The tabernacle in the wilderness had a testimony—had something to reveal about God, something to say about God.  But the tabernacle was just a “figure” foreshadowing Christ—the corporate Christ, that is—Christ in union with His bride, His body.  Some very good teachings are available on this, showing how every aspect of the tabernacle speaks of Christ and His church.  The bread on the table of showbread, for example.  This speaks of the body of Christ.  Paul said, “For we, being many, are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread” (1 Cor. 10.17).

And the lampstand in the tabernacle.  John saw the Son of man walking in the midst of the seven golden lampstands.  And he said these seven lampstands were “the seven churches” (Rev. 1.20).  A single lampstand, then, represents the local church, which is to have the light and testimony of Jesus Christ shining in it.  (See also Rev. 11.3,4, Zech. Ch. 4.)

To some extent—certainly not in full measure, but to some extent—the church in Corinth had this testimony.  It was a lampstand in which the Testimony of Jesus Christ was shining.  As we read 1 Corinthians we discover the wick in the lamp needed trimming, but nevertheless the Corinthian church was a genuine lampstand shining forth the testimony of Jesus Christ.

Earlier we quoted the passage in which Paul said he had come to the Corinthians with “the testimony of God.”  How did Paul come to them with this testimony?  It was not the Torah Paul came to Corinth with.  It was “Jesus Christ, and Him crucified,” that Paul testified of.  And the result of his testimony was that the testimony of Jesus Christ was reproduced in the Corinthian church.

I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ;
That in everything ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;
Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you:
So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:
Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord (1 Cor. 1.4-9).

This is quite the thing.  The Corinthian church had the “testimony of Christ” confirmed in their midst—a living word expressed corporately, as well as the manifestation of the Spirit, the shining forth of Christ in the gifts of the Spirit—also a corporate expression.  It’s quite something, isn’t it, that this church that is given the reputation for being such a carnal church had a testimony like that.  “The testimony of Christ was confirmed in you…” Paul said.  That is awesome to read!  In other words, people coming into the Corinthian assembly became aware of Christ.

What was the evidence that the testimony of Christ the Anointed One was confirmed (established, made firm) in the Corinthian church?  It was that, as a result of the Spirit of Christ in their midst they were enriched “in all utterance, and in all knowledge.”  They had spiritual knowledge, and not only that, they could give it forth; there was a vital “discourse” taking place in their assembly—the sharing together of the things of Christ with one another.  And they came behind “in no gift.”  Paul brings these more fully into view in Chapter Twelve.  Diverse manifestations of the Spirit were abundant in the Corinthian assembly, and functioning together produced “the testimony of Christ.”  With a word, a psalm, a doctrine, a tongue, an interpretation, a prophecy, a revelation, a healing… each one of the Corinthians in differing ways and differing measures participated in the Testimony of Christ.  All were involved in this (1 Cor. 14.26).

There’s a lot of emphasis on the ministry these days.  There are a lot of great pastors around.  Because of the Internet there are a lot of great messages available.  But it’s painful how little of the corporate testimony there is—of this “one loaf, one body,” of this lampstand wherein the Oil of the Holy Spirit is aflame and light shines forth, light shines forth in the lampstand—in a church, I mean, every single member being vitally involved in the shining testimony.  You hear of anointed preaching.  But where is the corporate anointing that enables all in the body of Christ to function vitally?  As it is, the saints are pretty much used to leaving it all up to “the ministry,” and the ministry for the most part are content to leave it that way.  But this kind of church order is short of the glory of God.  We must seek the corporate testimony for Christ’s sake—for the glory of His Name.  It’s only as this corporate testimony comes into being that the communities around us will see the glory of the Lord.

“By one Spirit are ye baptized into one body,” said Paul.  I anticipate, then, that the baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire—it is my conviction that this is yet ahead for us, though I know we have seen a measure of it in the past—is going to cause great shakings throughout the ten thousand denominations of Christendom.  God is going to bring into being local churches that function as one anointed body in which every member is vital—not just the pastor behind the pulpit.

And these local lampstands are going to be one in the Spirit with all other lampstands.  This thing called denominational Christianity is going to go up in smoke as a result of this powerful baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire.

And this baptism is going to cause great shakings in the “come-out-of-her” groups as well.  For, there is as much a sense of oldness about the come-outer groups and home fellowships these days as there is about the denominational system.  (I am encouraged by this; something new is at the door.)  In fact I would say there are many out there in the denominational system who, walking in the light they have, are walking a closer walk with Jesus than some of the “come-outers.”

Come-outers like to remind people that the true meaning of ekklesia is the called out assembly.  And they are the called-out ones, they insist.  But so was the Corinthian church a called-out assembly.  Just how far had they come out?  They were still in many ways carnal, Paul said, and walked as men. Because of it their lamp sent up a dirty, sooty flame.  There were divisions in their midst.  There was immorality.  And though they had been given abundant knowledge, they ended up priding themselves in the knowledge they had.  They thought they knew a lot.  Paul had to humble them on this account.  I think it is something like ten times in his first letter to the Corinthians that Paul—obviously deliberately—provoked them with the words, “Know ye not…?”  “Know ye not…?”  “Know ye not…?”

It isn’t knowledge that is the light that must shine in the lampstand, Paul said.  It is love that is light.

And so the great High Priest through His servant Paul had to trim the wick of this lampstand in order that the Testimony of Christ continue to shine brightly in Corinth.

The lampstand—a church—is a corporate witness.  Yes, each of us is to have a testimony which is the Testimony of Jesus Christ.  But the fullness of the Testimony of Jesus Christ is the corporate testimony.  Jesus prayed in His high-priestly prayer, “I have made known unto them Thy Name, and will make it known, that the love wherewith Thou hast loved Me may be in THEM, and I in THEM.”  Them, He says.  I in them.  It is a corporate thing.  If Jesus is in you as well as in me, how can there be any discord or division between us?  Or between churches?

I know there has been much emphasis on “the baptism,” and the gifts of the Spirit over the past century or so—more specifically since the 1948 revival at North Battleford, Saskatchewan, from which the Charismatic movement got its beginnings.  They got that name from the charismata—the gifts of the Spirit.  It wasn’t really God’s plan, but it seems He permitted men to take the charismata back into their denominations instead of coming out of the denominations and by one Spirit being baptized into one body.  Of course they realize they must have unity—the Bible calls for unity among Christians.  But they are determined they will have unity their own way—they will have “the baptism” and maintain their denominations in the process.  It is frightening disobedience to the Spirit of Christ.  Deception—great deception—is inevitable.  We are seeing it already.

And so let us be very watchful not to get drawn into it.

But let us be filled with anticipation also.  Yes, deception abounds.  The beautiful realm of the gifts of the Spirit has become contaminated.  The lights that once burned brightly have faded and yellowed.  Charismatic is almost a dirty word these days.  But there is more ahead of us than behind us.  There is yet a mighty baptism of the Holy Spirit and fire ahead for us.  I believe we are yet going to see manifestations of the Spirit, manifestations of Christ, that will utterly—and literally—floor us, and cause us to weep… and cry for joy.  People will fall on their faces and worship God.

And I believe we are going to see a wondrous unity come forth as God baptizes us by one Spirit into one body.  We have known so much of division.  We have mourned and wept over it all.  Who of us has not anguished with Christ over the divided condition of the body of Christ?  But His word still stands.  “By one Spirit are ye baptized into one body.”  The fire of this baptism must, then—and will—consume all that is discordant with the Lord Jesus Christ.  A corporate testimony of Jesus Christ is going to come forth.

Beloved, we must be encouraged in this dark hour to know that our Lord Jesus Christ is not finished yet.  He who walketh among the seven golden lampstands will not rest till His pure testimony is shining forth in every place.  And Jesus Christ Himself is seen in the churches!

Jesus And Idols?

It’s not likely that we modern-day Christians in the western world would be tempted to worship an idol of wood or stone the way they did back in Old Testament days, or still do in certain societies.  We like to assure ourselves we are not that primitive.  Even so, idolatry is a serious problem among many Christians.

Here from the New Testament are two verses revealing areas of idolatry that are very common.

“Neither be ye idolaters, as were some of them, as it is written, The people sat down to eat and drink and rose up to play” (1 Cor. 10.7).

In other words, when we view life as something that is our own to enjoy unto ourselves, this is idolatry—the idolatry of self.  It is perhaps the greatest form of idolatry in the world.  People who would not be caught dead worshipping a wooden idol bow down with ready abandon to the worship of themselves.  It is they themselves who sit on the throne of their lives ordering all things.  They believe their lives are their own to do with as they see fit.  If they are sitting down they are eating and drinking.  When they rise up it is to play.  The idol temples of eating and drinking and play are filled day and night—particularly in our secular western world.

Here is another one.

“…Covetousness, which is idolatry” (Col. 3.5).

“…No covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God” (Eph. 5.5).

How is covetousness idolatry?  Covetousness is idolatry because the heart is filled with a lust for something other than God.  It is a heart issue—the idols of the heart.  Do we not trust God to give us whatever is necessary to glorify Him in our lives—whether material or spiritual?  (Yes, it’s also idolatry to covet our brother’s spiritual blessing for ourselves.)

These two areas of idolatry are rampant out there in “the world.”  But because we Christians live in the world we are vulnerable.  Perhaps we are not abandoning Christ wholesale and turning to the idols of the world, although that does happen, I know.  The more serious problem is that we want Christ and our idols.  We want Christ and what the world has to offer as well—its pursuits and joys and toys.  So we have this phenomenon so common in our day.  I am fixated on prosperity—so I make a Christian doctrine out of it.  If I was a biker, now I become a Christian biker.  If I was into the rock scene, now I become a Christian rocker.  If I am into football in a serious way, now I become a Christian football player.  I love the glory of entertaining.  Now I will give Christian concerts.  I will be a Christian movie star.  We want to pursue the best the world has to offer, and be a Christian too, so we don’t miss out on God.  Of course we want God—but just to bless us in the pursuit of our own endeavours.

Jesus’ words still stand.  On one occasion when He saw the multitudes following Him He turned and said to them, “…And whosoever doth not bear his cross and come after Me cannot be My disciple” (Lk. 14.25-27).  (How’s that for an evangelistic technique, by the way—telling the multitudes to go home unless they are prepared to take up their cross?)

We Christians are to walk a holy walk—in the world yet not of the world.  Nevertheless, it is not a stiff legalistic holiness that will draw the idolaters of the world into the worship of the true God.  It’s seeing the holiness of love—the love of the holy Jesus burning in the heart—that turns the idolaters to Him.  Jesus, who though He was “separate from sinners,” loved them deeply.  And they knew it.

Here’s a poem I’ve loved for a long time.  I’ve seen it quoted in part, but I found it in full one day.  It’s based on a passage in Hosea who back in his day decried with broken heart this chronic problem of God’s people wanting their idols along with their God.  It’s such a beautiful book—Hosea.  You touch over and over God’s love for His people—it’s He who is broken hearted—even as He pronounces judgments upon them for their waywardness.  And in the final analysis what is it that turns them back to Him?  (I confess I am far short of this myself—but am pursuing.)

“Ephraim shall say, what have I to do any more with idols?  I have heard Him, and (beheld) Him…” (Hos. 14.8).  That’s what does it!  Hearing Him!  Seeing the unmatchable Jesus!

Hast thou heard Him, seen Him, known Him?
Is not thine a captured heart?
Chief among ten thousand, own Him?
Joyful choose the better part?

Idols, once they won thee, charmed thee,
Lovely things of time and sense;
Gilded, thus does sin disarm thee,
Honeyed, lest thou turn thee thence.

What has stripped the seeming beauty
From the idols of the earth?
Not a sense of right or duty
But the sight of peerless worth.

Not the crushing of those idols
With its bitter pain and smart,
But the beaming of His beauty,
The unveiling of His heart.

Who extinguishes their taper
Till they hail the rising sun?
Who discards the garb of winter
Till the summer has begun?

‘Tis the look that melted Peter,
‘Tis the face that Stephen saw,
‘Tis the heart that wept with Mary
Can alone from idols draw:

Draw and win and fill completely
Till the cup o’erflow the brim;
What have we to do with idols
Who have companied with Him?

Miss Ora Rowan
(1834-1879)

Professional Sports–Idolatry

I’ll probably be in trouble for this one, but I commend it to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.

Tim Tebow is the U.S. football star who recently made quite a stir for having John 3:16 in the—what do you call it—the blacking below his eyes.  It was his way of openly declaring to all the world that he is a Christian.  Tebow also bows on the field and openly prays to Jesus for help throughout the game.  He thanks Him when he makes a great play.

Tebow is not the first in a major professional sport with a reputation for being a Christian, but the media have sensationalized him now, drawing worldwide attention to the man who bows on one knee and prays right there on the field.  Tebowing, as it has been dubbed, is the latest fad for thousands, many of whom are not even into sports.

Tebow’s fame recently went viral when he made a “miraculous” pass that won a game that landed his team in some kind of playoffs.  Suddenly the sports world exploded.  Did this man really have Jesus on his side?  Detractors howled against him; for others, expectations were high that his team was destined for victory.

But according to the news they were soundly trounced in the first game.  I didn’t hear if Tebow bowed and thanked the Lord for this as well.

Now, I don’t doubt that Tim Tebow is an upstanding Christian who is walking in the light he has.  He has the reputation for being a clean young Christian man in a day when clean is a dirty word.  That’s very commendable.

But I want to ask a question.  What is the difference between the kind of Christianity in which you can be involved in one of the world’s greatest forms of idolatry and still be a Christian—and the kind of Christianity that totally parts ways with all that?

Here is an account of what happened during the powerful revival that swept Wales in 1905.  It’s from a book called, “The Invasion of Wales by the Spirit” by James A. Stewart.

A sense of the Lord’s Presence was everywhere.  His Presence was felt in the homes, on the streets, in the mines, factories and schools and even in the drinking saloons.  So great was His Presence felt that even the places of amusement and carousal became places of holy awe.  Many were the instances of men entering taverns, ordering drinks and then turning on their heels and leaving them untouched.

Wales up to this time was in the grip of football fever when tens of thousands of working-class men thought and talked only of one thing.  They gambled also on the result of the games.  Now the famous football players themselves got converted and joined the open-air meetings to testify what glorious things the Lord had done for them.  Many of the teams were disbanded as the players got converted and the stadiums were empty….

The gambling and alcohol businesses lost their trade and the theatres closed down from lack of patronage.  Football during this time was forgotten by both players and fans, though nothing was mentioned from the pulpits about the evils of football.  In this country which had a general reputation of being ‘football mad’ the train for taking the crowds to the international trial match was found to be almost empty!  The people had a new life and new interests.

One of football’s sisters in entertainment—the theatre—was also abandoned at that time.

Theatrical companies made sure that they did not come to Wales as they knew that there they would go bankrupt.

What kind of Christianity is this?  Teams shutting down because the players turned to Jesus?  My.  The stadiums empty?  How awesome.  And how strange!  Hence my question.  What is the difference between that kind of Christianity, and our brand?  This.  The revival in Wales brought people so face to face with spiritual reality that these other things simply could not compete.  Professional sports and entertainment became exposed for what they actually are—the idolatrous and empty vanities of this world.  It wasn’t a matter of people being told they shouldn’t be involved in such evils.  Suddenly they were caught up in a current of “love, vast as an ocean, lovingkindness as a flood…”  That’s the first line of the hymn that became what was called the love song of the revival.  People were broken by an awareness of the love of God as revealed in Calvary’s Cross.  They abandoned their former pursuits.  Why go to the games?  Or the theatre?  What is entertainment when you have the love of God now, and the joy of the Lord?

Yet in our kind of Christianity you can apparently take Jesus to the games or the theatre with you.  Apparently He is glad to go along.  Our Jesus apparently hasn’t got what it takes to beat them.  So, you know how it is.  If you can’t beat them you join them.  If you are a movie star who becomes a Christian, now you become a Christian movie star.  If you are a terrific professional football player, now you become a terrific Christian professional football player.  The love of God that compelled Jesus to lay down His life on the altar of Calvary’s Cross is an embarrassment to this kind of Christianity, and entirely out of place.

I don’t think anyone who loves Jesus could knowingly get involved in idolatry.  And I have no doubt in my mind that professional sports is abominable idolatry.  Yet countless Christians are involved in it either as spectators or players.  So it’s a matter of light—seeing that the entertainment industry—I include professional sports in the entertainment industry—has become horrible idolatry.  It is enmity against the holy God, who created man to love and worship and glorify Him alone.

There’s nothing at all wrong with a friendly game of hockey or basketball, or teaching children skills in sports.  But look what has happened to professional sports of every kind.  Surely we see this.  The money involved makes you nauseous.  It’s what God did when he gave Israel the quail in the desert.  They cried for flesh and he gave it to them till it came out their nostrils.  It was a judgment on them.  The same now.  The salaries they get now are decadent, to say nothing of the multiplied billions spent advertising a lifestyle that is brazen enmity against God.  My advice?  Run from it!  It is the judgment of a grieved and angry God.  And I believe we will yet see very severe judgments in the areas of professional sports and entertainment—these idols of Egypt.

Yes, it is idolatry.  When young men and women sacrifice their lives on the idol altars of money and fame, it is idolatry.  Lives that Jesus bled and died for on the altar of Calvary’s Cross go up in smoke on the idol altars—sacrificed to the enjoyment of millions still in darkness.  There they are by the millions—out in the stands watching the games, or in front of the TV.

The incredulous thing is, even the Christians have sold out to this.  It doesn’t seem to enter our minds to consider why it is that these millions in darkness are sitting together in the idol’s temple—the stadium or the arena or the living room in front of the TV—and to ask why it is that we Christians are sitting there beside them—or playing for them.

“And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols?  For ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My People.
Wherefore, come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you…” (2 Cor.6.16,17).

You mean, like the Lord Jesus Christ, I too am a temple of the living God?  But can you envision Jesus Christ Himself sitting in the stadium cheering for His team… or playing for those in the stands?

The Primal Motive—Love

The words “born again” get tossed around pretty carelessly these days. What is the evidence one is born again, and therefore involved in the reversal of the primal fault?

Love.

We have this from the apostle Peter:

Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently:
Being born again not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever (1 Pt 1.22,23).

Peter says the evidence we are born again is that we love one another with a pure heart—and fervently.  This is the identifying characteristic of those who are born again, and moving in an eternal realm now.  Much is made of “eternal life” being the portion of the born again.  Rightly so—they are born again not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, of the word of God that liveth and abideth forever.  But see how eternal life and love are inseparably linked together?  The law of eternal life is love.

This from the apostle John:

We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love the brethren.  He that loveth not his brother abideth in death.
Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer, and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in Him (1 Jn. 3.14,15).

The evidence of eternal life, that we are living and moving no longer in the corruptible realm of the lusts of the flesh, but in the incorruptible realm of the Word of God, is that we walk in love…

…Being born again not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth forever.

“For all flesh is as grass,” Peter continues…

…and all the glory of man is as the flower of grass.  The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away;
But the word of the Lord endureth forever.  And this is the word which by the Gospel is preached unto you (1 Pt. 1.24,25).

This is quite something.  How short-sighted we humans are when it comes to taking the measure of our days.  All flesh—all mankind—is grass.  How enduring is the blade of grass?  And what of all the great works we boast ourselves in?  All the greatest achievements of man, all his great works, all his finest art and music—all his glory—Beethoven, Shakespeare, Leonardo da Vinci—it is all the flower of the grass that today is, and tomorrow is gone.

For the wind passeth over it, and it is gone…

But the word of the Lord endures forever.

And so while they are in this world, the wise, motivated by love, sow the eternal word of God.  They sow to the Spirit.  This creation is in bondage to a law of corruption, but in those who sow to the Spirit a very different principle is at work, a very different law.  Life everlasting is resurrection life—life that renews itself, rejuvenates itself, like the eagle’s.  It is indestructible, indissoluble.  Whatever comes against this life only causes it to flourish.  It is life that increases, that grows, that gets better… whatever comes against it.    For, “though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day” (2 Cor. 2.16).

Yes it’s true—we do not yet see the full outworking of what Christ accomplished at Calvary when He dealt with the primal fault right there and then.  But the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus continues to work in those who are in Christ Jesus, though even yet we have scarcely tapped the potential of this powerful law.  But it is at work—at least in a measure—in the spirit, in the soul.  It will yet come to full expression in us.  Ultimately it will change even our mortal bodies (Rom. 8.23, 1 Cor. 15.51-55)…

…And the whole creation around us.  There is a law of increasing entropy at work in our world.  Not only in nature, but in the world of man, where moral decay is rampant now.  But there is also another law at work in this world of ours—a law that means a feast that mends in length, a kingdom that grows in strength, till ultimately… let’s go to the prophet Habakkuk to discover the ultimate outcome of it all:

Behold, is it not of the LORD of hosts that the people shall labour in the very fire, and the peoples shall weary themselves for very vanity (futility)? (Hab. 2.13).

That’s the insight of the ancient prophet Habakkuk, who saw the primal fault at work in God’s creation about 600 years before Paul the apostle wrote about it in Romans 8. In fact I wonder if Paul wasn’t thinking of Habakkuk’s words when he wrote in Romans 8 about the creation being subjected to futility.  All the labour of man to build himself a life without God… it’s complete futility.  It’s like labouring to build a house that’s already going up in flames.

But Habakkuk also saw the wondrous intent of God in subjecting His creation to futility like this.  God had a primal motive behind it all. God subjected the same “in hope,” as the apostle Paul wrote:

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God (Rom. 8.20,21 New KJV).

And so eagle-eyed Habakkuk continued his prophecy:

For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea (Hab. 2.14).

As the waters cover the sea? This sin-ravaged world of ours being covered with the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea? Oh, what hope, what great and glorious hope! What compelling words! I incubate them within me, I keep them warm within me, as they keep me, in a world of dismal prospect. God subjected the creation to futility “in hope.”

How wondrous wise—the ways of God only wise!  Man, the creature God made to be the shining forth of His own glory… he sins against Him—the primal fault—and as a result the whole creation is brought into bondage to futility.  But behind it all a God of eternal purpose—and great love—is at work.  Behind it all there is a primal motive—love—the love of God as revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord at Calvary, and which continues to work in the children of His love, and which will yet fill all creation “far as the curse is found.”

I know… Christmas is over.  But I love this old and timeless hymn.  I sing it all year round whenever the Spirit inspires me. Joy to the world, the Lord is come…

Let’s sing a couple of the verses now.

No more let sin and sorrow reign,
Nor thorns infest the ground:
He comes to make His blessing flow
Far as the curse is found.
Far as the curse is found.
Far as, far as, the curse is found.

He rules the world with truth and grace,
And makes the nations prove
The glories of His righteousness
And wonders of His love,
And wonders of His love,
And wonders, and wonders, of His love.

Hallelujah!  There is more before us than there is behind us, beloved!

Love—The Primal Fault Remedied

Last time we talked of God’s eternal purpose in delivering His creation from the bondage of corruption—the primal fault.

For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but by reason of Him who subjected it in hope:
Because the creation itself shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glory of the liberty of the children of God (Rom. 8.20,21, New KJV).

What is this—the bondage of corruption?  A meaning springs to mind when we read the word corruption.  We think of the mafia getting into government or something like that.  But our present definitions of words will often mislead us when we take them into the Bible.  We must let the Bible itself define its words for us.  And the way the Bible uses the word corruption is very comprehensive.  This is the primal fault at work, both in the physical universe, and in the world of man.

Peter writes of the exceeding great and precious promises whereby we become “partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (2 Pt. 1.4).  What is the divine nature?  Love.

And what is lust?  That’s another word whose meaning has changed over the centuries.  Peter is not talking specifically of sexual lust, which is the meaning of the word today, but of the whole range of self-centred desire.  (We will not take space here to talk of the difference between sexual lust and sexual desire between a man and a woman in the marriage relationship, which is honourable and undefiled, Heb. 13.4.)

Paul used the same word when he wrote in Romans 7:

I had not known lust except the law had said, Thou shalt not covet (same word: lust).   But sin taking occasion by the commandment wrought in me all manner of concupiscence (again same word: lust) (Rom. 7.7,8).

And so… “all manner of lust,” Paul says.  Not just sexual lust—but the whole range of sinful, selfish desire.  Where did this evil desire come from?  I believe it began in a heavenly realm when Lucifer began to covet the glory of God for himself.  But as far as the human family goes, it had its beginnings in the “lust” that the Serpent in his subtlety succeeded in awakening in Eve—a desire to be “as God, knowing good and evil” (Gen. 3.5).  The Serpent suggested to Eve that this was greatly to be desired, maliciously implying that God was keeping something good to Himself.  It was an attractive idea to Eve—being her own god, becoming the master of her own destiny, being independent of God, deciding for herself what is good and what is evil instead of having to depend on God for this.  It was—and still is—a fatal error.  For when Adam saw what Eve his bride had done he deliberately ate of the fruit of that tree himself, and, as federal head of the race, brought in death upon the whole family of man.

It all began with a “lust,” a desire that was not of God—the God of love.  Here, in one word is the remedy for the primal fault—love.

It was the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord at Calvary that dealt with the primal fault.  It does not surprise us, then, to find Peter urging us (in order to escape the corruption that is in the world through lust) to become partakers of this divine nature—to add to our faith virtue, and to virtue knowledge, and to knowledge temperance, and to temperance patience, and to patience godliness, and to godliness brotherly kindness, and to brotherly kindness… love.  For herein we discover ourselves in an everlasting kingdom, not a corruptible one—“the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” I won’t quote the passage fully here, but I encourage you to go to your Bible and read it—prayerfully (2 Pt. 1.4-11).

Lust is self-centred desire.  It’s a very insidious thing.  It can be our motivation even in the pursuit of spiritual things—what I get out of it.  Its direction is ever inward and self-serving.  It’s about me and my advantage, my own interests—the opposite of love, the love of God, the Father’s love.

Love is motivation in an entirely different direction—Godward, outward, away from one’s self, to the benefit of others.  And this whatever the cost– even at the willing cost of our own lives, as our forerunner the Lord Jesus Christ showed us at Calvary.  It was love of God—and of His fellow man—that brought Jesus to His cross.  That same love working in our lives and motivating all we say and do will ultimately deliver the whole creation from its bondage to corruption—the corruption that is in the world through lust.

And so the apostle John exhorts us:

Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world.  If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.
For all that is in the world: the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life is not of the Father, but is of the world.
And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof, but he that doeth the will of God abideth forever (1 Jn. 2.15-17).

Keep this passage in mind while we look again at that verse from Galatians we talked about in an earlier post.

He that soweth to the flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption, but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.

Paul is contrasting two things—corruption, and life everlasting.  And it’s very interesting to note the context in which Paul says this.  He is speaking of doing good, of giving—God-centred, other-centred actions, not self-centred actions.  You sow to the flesh and it’s inevitable—you reap corruption, decay.  You sow your whole life to the flesh, to yourself—the fallen Adam nature ruled by the primal fault—and what do you have for your whole life’s labour?  Great or small it all comes to nothing.  For, “the world passeth away, and the lust thereof…”

…But he that doeth the will of God abideth forever.

Why is this?  Why is it that doing the will of God involves you in an eternal realm?  It’s because the word of the Lord by which we do the will of God, and by which we are born again, abideth forever.

And what is the evidence of this in our lives?  (Hint: it’s a one-word answer.)

…More next time. https://amendingfeast.org/2012/01/08/the-primal-motive-love/

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