The Sovereign Lord Who Bought Them

March 25, 2013 at 4:38 pm | Posted in Devotional thoughts, False teaching, Security and Assurance, Theology | 7 Comments

While recently reviewing verses I’d learned in the past, I was struck by some thoughts from 2 Peter 2:1.  In spite of the chapter change, this verse is a follow up to the argument in chapter 1:12-21, which is, in my mind, the definitive chapter about the inspiration of God’s word.  Peter tells us that Christians will have two sources for knowing the truth when he and the other apostles are gone.  The first is the accounts of those who were eye-witnesses of Jesus (which we call the New Testament) and the second is the word of the prophets (which we know as the Old Testament).  See 2 Peter 3:1-2 for a similar description.  But in the beginning of chapter 2, Peter tells us the negative or warning side of that matter.  Just as there were false prophets in the Old Testament days, so there will be false teachers in the New Testament days.

“But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you.  They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them – bringing swift destruction on themselves.” (2 Peter 2:1 NIV)

I had three thoughts as I pondered these words.  First, the language makes one wonder if the position of teacher has, in the New Testament era, replaced the role of prophet from the Old.  Today the main method God uses of getting his word to his people is not prophets speaking forth his word so much as teachers expounding what he has already given.  Second, I noticed what is denied by the false teachers of the New Testament era.  They deny the sovereign Lord who bought them.  This should be no surprise, because so many false teachings deny the sovereignty of Jesus.  Whenever someone says Jesus is not fully God, that person is a false teacher.  But, third, they deny the sovereign Lord who bought them.  Notice, as I often point out when it comes to salvation issues in the New Testament, that the tense is past; the purchase has already taken place.  Anyone who denies that God’s people are already redeemed, and were so at the cross, also runs the risk of being a false teacher.  Teachers of the true gospel know that we are redeemed, that we have been purchased, that salvation of God’s people is already guaranteed.  There is such great security in knowing my redemption took place at the cross, for then it is dependent on God’s unbreakable promise and not on my wavering faith and weak commitments.

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It’s All About God — Joshua Edition

March 13, 2013 at 7:50 pm | Posted in Devotional thoughts, Grace and Faith, It's All About God | Leave a comment

The book of Joshua is the story of God’s people entering the Promised Land.  The book makes it clear that the land the people were going in to possess was given to them by God – that it had nothing to do with their goodness but was all about his grace.  And it makes clear that they were his people by his grace and not by their choice.  The book begins with God’s first words to Joshua: “Arise, go over this Jordan, you and all the people with you, into the land that I am giving to them.” (1:2 ESV)  In that same commission are these famous words for Joshua, “I will not leave you or forsake you.  Be strong and courageous.”  The reason for this is clearly stated:  “for you shall cause this people to inherit the land that I swore to their fathers to give them.”

I underlined every reference to what God did as I read through this book this past week.  I was surprised at how often it shows up.  There is only one two-page spread where I didn’t underline anything, and that is in the list of how the land was divided between the tribes in chapters 18-21.  But even that section ends with these words: “The LORD gave to Israel all the land that he swore to give to their fathers. . . .  And the LORD gave them rest on every side. . . .  Not one word of all the good promises that the LORD had made to the house of Israel had failed; all came to pass.” (21:43-45)

Finally, the book ends with a renewal of the covenant at Shechem.  Here God again reminds the people of all that he did for them.  He is the subject of the entire section.  “I took your father Abraham from beyond the river . . .  I gave him Isaac . . .  I gave Jacob . . .  I sent Moses . . .  I plagued Egypt . . .  I brought you out.”  And so it goes for 13 verses – half a page in my Bible.  That section concludes with perhaps the most famous verse in the book, Joshua’s challenge: “Choose this day whom you will serve . . .  As for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (24:15)

And then the people made their commitment to God.  “It is the LORD our God who brought us and our fathers up from Egypt . . .  who did those great signs in our sight. . . .  And the LORD drove out before us all the peoples who lived in the land.  Therefore we will serve the LORD, for he is our God.” (24:16-18)

This is how it always works.  God did everything for a people who didn’t deserve anything – that’s called grace.  Their choice to follow him and serve came as a result of his goodness and grace.  It isn’t the other way around.  God does it all, and he gets all the praise.

Be Strong and Courageous

March 6, 2013 at 8:59 pm | Posted in Devotional thoughts, Grace and Faith, Personal Testimony | 1 Comment

I have a confession to make.  As I get older, I seem to get more fearful of change.  I hadn’t realized that until just recently.  In these past few months I have been more uptight than ever before about talking to certain people, about e-mails or phone calls from certain sources, about anything I perceive as a challenge to my current comfort level.

Our church is working through a “Retooling” process, but these insecurities have made thinking about retooling rather difficult.  I know we need change, and though in the past I’ve always been one who has been able to welcome change in the church, I don’t feel like I am as open to it now.  I am very comfortable with my job and could easily spend the rest of my career doing what I currently do.  When something threatens that, insecurities and anxieties arise.

I also have sensed more insecurity over things like church finances, worship changes, attendance numbers, and families that decide to leave.

All of this was on my mind the other night; I was awake for a few hours in the middle of the night thinking about it, or maybe fretting about it would be more accurate.  When I got up in the morning, I was scheduled to read the last few chapters of Deuteronomy in my devotions.  These words are the final speech of Moses to Israel, just before he died and they were to enter the Promised Land.  This part jumped out at me:

 “The LORD your God himself will go over before you.  He will destroy these nations before you.  . . .  The LORD will give them over to you, and you shall do to them according to the whole commandment that I have commanded you.  Be strong and courageous.  Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you.  He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall put them in possession of it.  It is the LORD who goes before you.  He will be with you; he will not leave you or forsake you.  Do not fear or be dismayed.”  Deuteronomy 31:3-8 (ESV)

Now I am not saying that I am a Joshua or that God has promised us a great land, or that every place our foot touches will be ours.  But I am reminded that God gives the strength for us to do what he wants us to do and the courage to face what he wants us to face.  The command to not fear and the command to be courageous are scattered throughout the books of Deuteronomy and Joshua.  The following morning I read them numerous times again as I began through Joshua.  For example:   “Have I not commanded you?  Be strong and courageous.  Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the LORD your God is with you wherever you go.” (1:9)  I was encouraged, and I pray for more courage to face whatever God may have us face.

Isn’t it amazing how God uses his word to speak so clearly to us in the situations we face!

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