Tuesday, December 29, 2015

A Slippery Slope.....

While Nancy and I were heading up the interstate to spend Christmas Day with our kids she began to recount to me a Christmas Eve conversation she had with them while I had otherwise been occupied with the grand-kids.  They recounted contemporary instances of ministries that had been born in the favor and nurture of God, but had later descended into financial and sexual misconduct - and maybe even worse the manipulation and exploitation of their adherents. 

We were reminded of something we once heard from John Wimber: “When a movement begins to denominate it begins to die.”

The Down-Grade

In his later life Charles Spurgeon became embroiled in a slippery slope that has come to be known as The Down-Grade Controversy. He suggested that denominations often "got on the downgrade" when they abandoned a system of theology which emphasizes God's sovereignty in salvation in favor of one which makes human will the decisive factor. 

How does this happen? And why is it so oft repeated? It suddenly occurred to me that it is the result of the abdication of the guiding principle contained in the following verse.

So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy. Romans 9:16

Clear Warning

This verse should sound the clear warning clang of the buoy - or reveal the fog piercing beam of the lighthouse - that warns the ship when it is nearing the treachery of the hidden reefs. For the abandonment of this truth results in shipwreck indeed. 

Our modern Evangelicalism - indeed even all of Christendom - has largely lost sight of the great effectual certainty of this verse.  The result is that our witness to a watching world has lost its vibrant relativity. Even though we may mouth the signal Gospel truth - not by works - our attitudes and our actions indicate that our confidence lies elsewhere. 

Although my musings as an “Evangelical Agnostic” address our current construct - there is nothing new to this dilemma for Paul himself wrote: “Are you so foolish? Having begun by the Spirit, are you now being perfected by the flesh?” Galatians 3:3

Clarion Call

This is a clarion call to diligence.  The writer to the Hebrews exhorts his readers to be diligent to enter into the Sabbath rest of God - not one day only, but a continual lifestyle. There is no lack of subtleties awaiting as little foxes to rob our vines of the sweet fruit of pure devotion to the One who has declared that He would finish what He has begun in us.  

While on a fruit metaphor, we must be reminded: "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain,...” John 15:15 If we become severed from this principle we may maintain a facade of fruitfulness, yet in reality a close inspection will reveal no ripe nourishing fruit.

When an individual leader or a whole movement loses its connecting life-flow to the mercy of God they or it then begin to project on others their own sense of inadequacy and even failure. As Paul wrote to the Church at Colossae, these machinations then have no value whatsoever: “but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence” 2:23 NIV The watchwords of Christ Himself are then trodden underfoot: “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant,...” 

A Ringing 

I was given an illustration once while ministering to leaders in Uganda on the subject of religious deception. Once while deer hunting I decided to use a .44 Magnum revolver. As I lined up my sights on a deer and dropped the hammer the resulting blast was felt on my face and caused a ringing in my left ear that remains there until this day.  May Christ’s resounding authoritative shout on the Cross - “It is finished!” - drown out all seductions that would seek to lure us from the purity of devotion.  And set before our eyes a vision of the white-hot mercy of God. 

For it is we the children of God “who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:13 

Wednesday, October 28, 2015

The Latter Shall Be Greater Than The Former

Ultimately One Made Without Hands

"The final glory of this house will be greater than the first," says the LORD of Hosts. "I will provide peace in this place"--this is the declaration of the LORD of Hosts." Haggai 2:9

I was reading devotionally recently when I saw the following verse.

"Yet many of the priests and Levites and heads of fathers' households, the old men who had seen the first temple, wept with a loud voice when the foundation of this house was laid before their eyes, while many shouted aloud for joy,..." Ezra 3:12

This was not unfamiliar territory to me as I knew that it was referring to the building of the Second Temple after the return of the Jews from exile. The First or Solomon’s Temple had utterly been destroyed decades before.  Not only that, but it’s centerpiece or focus - the Ark of the Covenant - had disappeared. Without the Ark the Shekinah Presence of the Glory of God had also departed - Ichabod.

There were those standing there who had seen the glory of the First Temple and when they saw the dimensions of the foundation of the Second Temple they wept for they knew it could never approach the grandeur of the First. Yet those who had been born in captivity rejoiced greatly with the hope and expectation of that which was about to rise out of the desolation - a portent of resurrection.

As I perused commentary I read: “Not that this second temple was not a very grand and beautiful structure. But no matter how great its material splendor was, it was inferior in this respect to that of Solomon. Yet the glory of the second far outshone that of the first temple in another and more important point of view, namely, the receiving within its walls the incarnate Saviour.” Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary (1871)

Suddenly a panoramic vista of the purpose and intent of God opened within my spirit such as I had never contemplated before. Prophetically this Second Temple would see the Fullness of the Godhead bodily enter through its portals.  The Glory of God would once again be there - but in a way never anticipated on the day that its foundation was dedicated.

The prophet foretold this day: “For who has despised the day of small beginnings? for they shall rejoice, and shall see the plummet (capstone) in the hand of Zerubbabel.” Zechariah 4:10 The majority of the Jews in Babylonian captivity chose not to return - only a remnant returned and they were a minority in their own land in comparison with the multitude of Samaritans who did not believe Jerusalem was the proper place of worship (John 4:20). “Nothing can hinder the LORD from saving, whether by many or by few." 1 Samuel 14:6

In the First Temple - although the poles for carrying the Ark could be seen bulging in anticipation against the curtain - the Presence of God was static. In the times of the Messiah the Presence would go in and come out - it (He) was dynamic.  Yet, both were shadows of that which was to come.

Having served its purpose did the First Temple have to be destroyed?  “But because our fathers had provoked the God of heaven to wrath, He gave them into the hand of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon, the Chaldean, who destroyed this temple and deported the people to Babylon.” Ezra 5:12

What about the Second Temple? “And while some were talking about the temple, that it was adorned with beautiful stones and votive gifts, He said, ‘As for these things which you are looking at, the days will come in which there will not be left one stone upon another which will not be torn down.’”  Luke 21:5-6 

Did they have to make way for the Temple made without hands? "We heard Him say, 'I will destroy this temple made with hands, and in three days I will build another made without hands.'" Mark 14:58 (Hebrews 9:11)  “But I say to you that something greater than the temple is here.” Matthew 12:6 This Temple would exist in perpetuity for a temple made without hands cannot be destroyed by the hands of men. “one who has become a priest not on the basis of a regulation as to his ancestry but on the basis of the power of an indestructible life.” Hebrews 7:16

Both temples served their purpose in pointing toward the great and final temple - but they also revealed their inadequacy in establishing righteousness in the heart of the people. Thus they must be destroyed to make way for the house that would not receive a visitation, but would be a place of habitation for the Glory of God - throughout all eternity. “I saw no temple in it, for the Lord God the Almighty and the Lamb are its temple.” Revelation 21:22 

The Temple of God - both present and future - is built up of living stones. “in whom you also are being built together into a dwelling of God in the Spirit.” Ephesians 2:22 “Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit dwells in your midst?” 1 Corinthians 3:16 

May our expectations be energized by the hope that is from above - exchanging not the temporal for the eternal.  “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4 

When He shall come with trumpet sound,
Oh, may I then in Him be found;
Dressed in His righteousness alone,
Faultless to stand before the throne.
Edward Mote - 1834 

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

A Puppet On A String?

I serve a Sovereign God with a glad heart. 

The purpose of God cannot be dependent on the proclivity of man - aka “free moral agency.”  That is an affront to a Sovereign Lord. “The Sovereign LORD has sworn by his own name, and this is what he, the LORD God of Heaven's Armies, says:” Amos 6:8a NLT And “Nay but, O man, who art thou that repliest against God?” Romans 9:20 KJV

If I be compelled, then I am compelled by the love of God - which loves not on the basis of the worth of its object. It loves just because it is love.  “For the love of Christ constraineth (compels) us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:” 2 Corinthians 5:14 KJV

I believe that all have come short of the Glory of God - including me - and that the whole world lies within the realm of the evil one. One iota short of the Glory of God is total deprivation. If we stand not in need of a Total Savior, then we stand in need of not one at all. “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God;” Romans 3:23

I believe that I had nothing with which to commend myself to God - not even a noble will. Only in the providence of God can anyone believe and be saved. “and as many as had been appointed to eternal life believed.” Acts 13:48

I believe that according to His infinite wisdom He has grafted me onto the tree of life of which His Beloved Son is the trunk - for all that the Father has given to the Son shall come and none shall be cast out. ‘to fulfill the word which He spoke, "Of those whom You have given Me I lost not one."’ John 18:9

I believe that his calling of me - although I may have resisted for a while - was irresistible and thus irrevocable. “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” Romans 11:29 And that we cannot cry “Abba Father!” without the initiation of the Holy Spirit who has been given as an earnest - “who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God's own possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:14 

I believe that I am able to persevere as a result of His perseverance on my behalf and that He is unswervingly able to complete that which He began in me to the praise of His glory. “He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:8 NIV 

We cannot believe in the grace of our Sovereign God and in personal sovereignty at the same time.  R.C. Sproul: “Most Christian's salute the sovereignty of God but believe in the sovereignty of man.” And I would add that they do this by way of practice. “Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water?” James 3:11 

For I believe that the Son has set me free - “into the glorious liberty of the children of God.” Romans 8:21 The whole world lies in the power of the evil one having been led astray by him and it is only by His a priori action that I have been delivered from the domain of darkness and have been translated into the kingdom of His dear Son.

Do these convictions make me an automaton, a robot - a puppet on a string?  Let no man be my judge. “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” Romans 9:16 ESV

Not the labor of my hands
Can fulfill Thy law's demands;
Could my zeal no respite know,
Could my tears forever flow,
All for sin could not atone;
Thou must save, and Thou alone.

Augustus Toplady - 1763

Monday, August 3, 2015

A Tale of Two Pits

“Until the time that his word came to pass, The word of the LORD tested him.” Psalm 105:19

Often when we reflect on the story of Joseph - especially those of us who are preachers and teachers - we are apt to point out what we see as his virtues.  And thus exhort others in a likewise manner. By so doing we miss the whole point and purpose of the saga.  For it is not about the virtues of a man - but the virtue of God.

Matthew Henry comments: “God overruled all to serve his own purpose, of making Joseph an instrument to save much people alive.”  And in so doing - by His own virtue - He preserved alive the Messianic Covenant.

The First Pit

In the Genesis account Joseph utters not a word from the pit - whereas before that he had plenty to say. Perhaps he was stunned into silence by the betrayal and treachery of his brothers.  Or were there Messianic implications here also: “And like a sheep that is silent before its shearers, So He did not open His mouth.” Isaiah 53:7 

This was the beginning of Joseph’s journey into maturity for giftedness and/or calling is not a sign of maturity - timing is. There is a purging that God has to bring about in Joseph - until he came to the point that he realized it was not about him, but God.  “But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use (practice) have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Hebrews 5:14 KJV

The Second Pit

It is here that he finally comes to the realization that it is not about him, but about God: “Joseph then answered Pharaoh, saying, "It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer."  Genesis 41:16  At his later blessing by his father, this source was revealed once again: “because of the hand of the Mighty One of Jacob, because of the Shepherd, the Rock of Israel,” Genesis 49:24NIV 

It took two trips into the pit to get Joseph to this point - and to bring him to the point of God’s timing. “God's time for the enlargement of his people is the fittest time. If the chief butler had got Joseph to be released from prison, it is probable he would have gone back to the land of the Hebrews.” Matthew Henry 

It is what happened between the two pits that counts - and it is this that binds them together.

The story of Judah and Tamar (Genesis 38) is inserted right in the middle of the account of Joseph for a reason - for it is THE reason and its sole locus.  It reveals God’s plan to preserve the Messianic lineage - thus fulfilling the Abrahamic blessing: “And in you all the families of the earth will be blessed.”  In this chapter we have the account of the conception (let the reader of the record understand) and birth of Perez. “But when he drew back his hand, his brother came out, and she (Tamar) said, "So this is how you have broken out!" And he was named Perez.” Genesis 38:29  A more marked example of sovereign grace hardly exists anywhere else in the scriptures. Certainly it has nothing to do with the virtues of man for there was no virtue in either Judah or Tamar - solely and supremely the virtue of God. The operation of God - in the person of the one whose name means breakthrough - deals a death blow to the vanity of man.

Breakthrough of virtue

The breakthrough of the virtue of the Lord was called forth by the elders of Israel upon Boaz at his intention to take Ruth as his wife. “Through the offspring the LORD gives you by this young woman, may your family be like that of Perez, whom Tamar bore to Judah." Ruth 4:12 The totality herein is recorded by Matthew: “The record of the genealogy of Jesus the Messiah,...Judah was the father of Perez and Zerah by Tamar, Perez was the father of Hezron, and Hezron the father of Ram.” Matthew 1:1, 3 

The virtue of God is the Son of God. This is the purpose of the story - the predetermined plan of God: “The Book of Life of The Lamb slain before the foundation of the world.” Revelation 13:8 Aramaic 

Joseph affirms this when he revealed himself by the sign of the covenant - “Come near to me,” -  to his brothers: "God sent me before you to preserve for you a remnant in the earth, and to keep you alive by a great deliverance.” Genesis 45:7 And returning to the psalmist: “He sent a man before them, Joseph, who was sold as a slave.” Psalm 105:17 

The Ruler’s Staff

Joseph served as a steward - even a midwife if you will - of the promise that was in the loins of his brother Judah. "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, Nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, Until Shiloh (He whose right it is) comes, And to him shall be the obedience of the peoples.” Genesis 49:10 This hope holds firm from the first book of the Bible to the last: “and one of the elders said to me, "Stop weeping; behold, the Lion that is from the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has overcome so as to open the book and its seven seals." Revelation 5:5 Judah would have nothing of the plan of his brothers to kill Joseph (nor would Reuben who was the first born): "What will we gain if we kill our brother and cover up his blood?”

Looking again to Psalm 105:19 we see unequivocally that everything that happened to Joseph - both pits - was the word of the Lord to bring him to the place of his ultimate purpose. ‘But Joseph said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in God’s place? As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good in order to bring about this present result, to preserve many people alive. So therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” So he comforted them and spoke kindly to them.’ Genesis 50:19-21 

God the Father would keep many people alive unto eternal life - as the bride of the Lamb - through the promise of the Messiah who at that very time was in the loins of Judah. Joseph was his sovereign steward - and all that happened to him was of the plan and purpose of God.

“And He did so to make known the riches of His glory upon vessels of mercy, which He prepared beforehand for glory, even us, whom He also called, not from among Jews only, but also from among Gentiles.” Romans 9:23-24 

Soli Deo Gloria! 

Friday, July 17, 2015

The Rock

and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of Hades will not overpower it. Matthew 16:18

What is this rock!?  What is that which is eternal, unchangeable and immutable? Where not a single mark of man's chisel or hammer will be endured.

There are many complexities regarding the meaning of this phrase by our Savior. One of the oldest is that the rock is Peter himself.  Many have made a valid - I believe - argument against this interpretation in that the Greek for Peter is petros meaning a stone or boulder and for rock it is petra, a large mass of rock or bedrock foundation.  This juxtaposition creates a most definite delineation.  

Some will indicate some reciprocity here in that as a result of Peter’s volitional confession he is thus warranted to be the foundation of the church. Or if they believe that it is the confession itself - more likely - then worthiness is attributed to Peter as he was the first to utter it.  Personally I believe it is the confession, but I would disagree with the immediate premise as to the source from which it springs.

Divine Choice

That leads to the following conclusion - one that ascribes no inherent quality to the nature of Peter: The rock is nothing less than sovereign grace, nor could it possibly be anything more - it is the divine choice (read: election) of the Father.  

What then is sovereign grace? These phrases describe the doctrine of God’s Absolute Sovereignty in ALL THINGS. Particular reference is made to God’s Sovereignty in the salvation of those whom He chose in Christ from before the foundation of the world. “According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love:...” Ephesians 1:4

Charles Spurgeon writes: “the streams which take their rise on the mountains of divine sovereignty and infinite love shall ever be full to the brim. Generations melt away, but the course of grace is unaltered.”

There is probably no Biblical character that epitomizes this principle anymore than the Apostle Peter.  The proverb, “He doesn’t choose the qualified, He qualifies the chosen,” quite aptly applies to Peter - indeed to every Biblical figure chosen by God to fulfill His purpose of deliverance.  If a priori goodness can be attributed to the chosen then grace is no longer sovereign - indeed it is not grace at all.  

God’s Interests

Unless Peter should suffer delusively under the proclamation - “blessed are you Simon Barjonah” - for too long and think this was all about him, the Lord’s corrective rebuke followed quite swiftly: ‘But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s.”’ Matthew 16:23 The Sovereign Lord in His omniscience knew unless this correction came, Peter would not be able to stand the tests that were to come. Yes, they were testings - proofings - not temptations, for each and every one were designed to conform him more and more into the image of his beloved Master. 

Let us ascertain that the blessing comes not by personal acumen, but as a result of sovereign grace and initiative: “because flesh and blood did not reveal this to you,...”  We often piously quote the saying that God blesses obedience. Although obedience is to be valued, we cannot see this principle at work here. (If you ever pray for me, please do not invoke my piety. Plead only the mercy and majesty of God.)

“I Have Prayed!”

"Simon, Simon, behold, Satan demanded to have you, that he might sift you like wheat,” Luke 22:31 ESV Yet, the Lord continues: “but I have prayed for you that your faith may not fail.” All of this was of exquisite design: “And when you have turned again, strengthen your brothers.” The temptation to vanity was near at hand: “Lord, I am ready to go with you both to prison and to death.” Once again the corrective rebuke was delivered swiftly: “I tell you, Peter, the rooster will not crow this day, until you deny three times that you know me.” Nothing more remained to be said.  This whole scenario is nothing more, or nothing less, than Sovereign Grace. He Who is the Alpha and Omega also has the first word and the last - indeed, is the author and perfecter of faith. 

This is the only foundation upon which He will build His church.  “Unless the LORD builds the house, They labor in vain who build it;...” Psalm 127:1 This truth also extrapolates to our current church planting efforts. Not only is it vain to believe a man could build a church, it is vanity - an affront to the Sovereign Lord.  Nancy and I are often credited with being the founders of what became Vineyard In The Hills Christian Fellowship - our rejoinder is quick, “We didn’t find it, we weren’t looking for it. It found us.”

It is this church - and this church alone - that is able to resist the gates (seat of authority) of Hades. Nay, even to overpower them and set the captives free. “And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.” Ephesians 1:22-23 From the Dutch theologian/politician Abraham Kuyper: “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!” 

From a modern hymn: 

From life's first cry to final breath.
Jesus commands my destiny.
No power of hell, no scheme of man,
Can ever pluck me from His hand;

A Chosen People

Only a chosen people - who are confident in His choosing - can adequately “proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light;...” I Peter 2:9 God’s purpose in election is not one of exclusion - but of inclusion.  Sometimes people will recoil at the word election for it is an affront to their sensibilities - which if they will only realize, is a good thing.  ‘For it is written, "I WILL DESTROY THE WISDOM OF THE WISE, AND THE CLEVERNESS OF THE CLEVER I WILL SET ASIDE."’ 1 Corinthians 1:19 The Greek word translated as chosen in our English versions of the Bible is eklektos. “but to those who are called (kletos), both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” 1 Corinthians 1:24  Selah! 

This blog is actually part two - the first of which is as yet unpublished: so that God's purpose . . . would stand, not because of works but because of Him who calls (Romans 9:11).  What is missing from the above that causes God’s purpose to stand?  It is “according to election.” 

No one has the ability to choose - that is exercise “free moral agency” until he has been set free by the Son. For: “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one.” 1 John 5:19 The process in the child of God that has been begun, in, through and by the Son of God shall be carried through unto completion: “but He who was born of God keeps (protects) him, and the evil one does not touch him.” 1 John 5:18 NASB  And from the NIV: “the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.”  A technical term for this is monergism which really means it is all about Him - and the manifestation of His purpose in the elect. “So then it does not depend on the man who wills or the man who runs, but on God who has mercy.” Romans 9:16

Unmerited Favor

To hold that the basis of choice is free-will, then merit has to be attributed. The ability to choose positively is thus inherent. Then grace can no longer be defined as unmerited favor.  

This is the pattern by which the Son builds His church in the earth.  Paul expressed this concept so well to the Church in Philippi: “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6

And to borrow from John Piper:

How? By ripping down the gates that hold the human heart in hell-bent sin.

How did he build the church in Philippi? With 1) a business woman (Lydia), 2) a demon possessed slave girl, and 3) a pagan city employee who worked in the local jail.

Lydia: The Lord opened her heart to give heed to the word (Acts 16:14).
The demon possessed slave girl: “‘I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.’ And it came out that very hour.” (Acts 16:18)
The jailer: At midnight Paul and Silas were singing in their cell to God, and God blew the doors off the cells with an earthquake—and off the heart of the jailer.

Paul was Jesus’ instrument. Jesus built his church in Philippi, and he will build it (to the remotest parts of the earth).

He began this pattern with Peter - and continues it to this day. "There is no one holy like the LORD; there is no one besides you; there is no Rock like our God.” 1 Samuel 2:2 NIV

Fruit Would Remain

In conclusion we can say nothing more authoritative than the words of Christ: "You did not choose Me but I chose you, and appointed you that you would go and bear fruit, and that your fruit would remain, so that whatever you ask of the Father in My name He may give to you.” John 15:16  Eternal, everlasting fruitfulness lies squarely on the foundation stone of sovereign grace as made manifest in the choice and choosing of the Son of God - against which no power in the heavens, on the earth or in hell can prevail.  “But other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.” Matthew 13:8 KJV

He shall reign from pole to pole
With illimitable sway;
He shall reign, when, like a scroll
Yonder heavens have passed away:
Then the end; beneath His rod
Man’s last enemy shall fall;
Hallelujah! Christ in God,
God in Christ, is all in all.

James Montgomery - 1818 

Sola Gratia!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

An army that does not have confidence in its leadership is an ineffective one.

Military strategists are saying that the success of ISIS in Iraq and Syria is due in large part to the lack of unity of command in the forces opposing them. Where there are no clear lines of authority confusion is the result. 

If the church has no confidence in her Head to bring to consummation that which He has begun in her she will be ineffective in the mission He has given her: “Let your Kingdom come, let your will be done also in the earth, just as it is in Heaven.” Matthew 6:10 Aramaic/English


I just saw a special on TV concerning the decline of the church in America. I am not so sure that it is a declination - but rather a transformation.  The church under the direction of her Supreme Head is becoming less secularized and more intrinsic. Yet, I am concerned that we have not really believed what we say we believe. I know not one confessing Christian who would not espouse belief in the sovereignty of God yet our subsequent actions betray this confidence and reveal that our trust is actually in the arm of the flesh.  I am listening to a song right now that says “No Turning Back” yet it is filled with the pronouns I and me - the ego of man has supplanted the Ego Eimi (I AM!) and our logos have superceded the Logos (the Living Word).  Still our Faithful Father will only allow such trampling to continue for a season.1

The great doctrinal truth of Covenant is an example of frequent misrepresentation. One well read commentator writes in regard to Romans 9: “A covenant is a relationship entered into between two people. It is a bargain for mutual profit...”  Regarding a biblical concept of covenant Dr. Martin Lloyd-Jones writes, “But this is the exact opposite of the true meaning of covenant. It is not something that must be thought of in terms of a bilateral agreement.”2 He continues, “What, then, is a covenant? Well, a covenant in the Bible is a sovereign act of God’s grace in which He pledges Himself to do something.”3  Often we adopt a belief that says, “If we do such and such, then God will be obligated to respond in such and such a manner.” Such triviality flies in the face of true Covenant Theology.  

No Denigration 

The surety of the elect can suffer no denigration. “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus.” Philippians 1:6 To assail this confidence is to besmirch the integrity of God.  “...we may always be confident God will perform his good work, in every soul wherein he has really begun it by regeneration;” Matthew Henry

The purpose of God is not subject to any form of amalgamation - or alloy. I know of no Biblical character that willfully cooperated with the purpose of God - all were compelled.  Otherwise the servant of God will produce an indistinct sound resulting in confusion among his hearers. “how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes?” 1 Corinthians 14:7 NIV We must ask ourselves, what tune are we playing? We are reminded by Charles Spurgeon that the Sovereign Purpose of God will be served, “All that Nature spins time will unravel, to the eternal confusion of all who are clothed therein.”


God will create an absolute confidence in God. Once again from Pastor Spurgeon: “If we indulge in any confidence which is not grounded on the Rock of ages, our confidence is worse than a dream, it will fall upon us, and cover us with its ruins, to our sorrow and confusion.”

When the Father decides to bear His strong right arm in defense of His chosen ones He will use the least likely and the most unqualified. His selection of Gideon to deliver His people from the hand of Midian is a primary example. I will assume a working familiarity with the story here other than to note that Gideon was cowering in fear when he was called and commissioned by the angel of the LORD: “The Lord is with you, mighty warrior.”

‘When Gideon realized that it was the angel of the LORD, he exclaimed, "Alas, Sovereign LORD! I have seen the angel of the LORD face to face!"’ As he comes to the end of his protestations Gideon understands that he is finished.  His confession as translated in the NIV is, “Alas, Sovereign LORD!” or in the New Living, "Oh, Sovereign LORD, I'm doomed!”  This is a combination of the use of the two names for God that we commonly refer to as Adonai and Jehovah. These two versions translate Adonai as Sovereign.  A similar usage and meaning is used in Ezekiel: “This is what the Sovereign Lord says: It is not for your sake, people of Israel, that I am going to do these things, but for the sake of my holy name,...” 36:22 


God pared down the forces available to Gideon for this purpose - even higher than the deliverance of Israel: ‘The LORD said to Gideon, "The people who are with you are too many for Me to give Midian into their hands, for Israel would become boastful, saying, 'My own power has delivered me.'”’ Judges 7:2 From This Morning’s Meditation with Charles Spurgeon: “forsake me not in the day of my strongest faith, lest faith degenerate into presumption.”

Anne Graham Lotz writes in her recent May Day call to prayer: “We worship You as our Adonai.  You are Lord.  You are The Boss. We acknowledge Your authority to do as You please because You are our Owner, and the Owner of all things. You made us at Creation.  You bought us at Calvary.  You have the right to rule our lives.” Her use of the phrase “The Boss” is an appropriate translation of Adonai which indicates dominion or ownership.

Prone to wander, Lord, I feel it,
Prone to leave the God I love;
Here’s my heart, O take and seal it,
Seal it for Thy courts above.


The Glory of God is made manifest in His immutable ability to carry through to complete fulfillment the work of regeneration that He has initiated in His chosen ones. This is a distinct sound that compels them to follow wherever He leads. No greater motivation exists. 

In summary from Pastor Spurgeon: It would dishonor His great name for Him to forsake them (His people), since it would either show that He made an error in His choice or that He was fickle in His love. God's love has this glory, that it never changes, and this glory He will never tarnish.

Here is our doxology: “And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” 2 Timothy 4:18 KJV (“He will also keep you firm to the end, so that you will be blameless on the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Corinthians 1:8 NIV)

Soli Deo Gloria 

1 Just heard another very popular song filled with the expression, “I am..”  And the reference is not to the Great I AM.

2 D. Martin Lloyd-Jones, Romans - Exposition of Chapter 9 God’s Sovereign Purpose, 1991, The Banner of Truth Trust, Carlisle, PA, p. 53

3 Ibid, P. 54

Friday, June 12, 2015

DOXOLOGY - The Beginning and The End

“Praise God from Whom all blessings flow...”

No message - indeed no deed - is complete unless it concludes with a doxology - for this is the great consummation of all of God’s activities in the midst of His chosen. The doxology is the amen - “So be it, truly!”  It is the last word.

The Doxology - as we have come to know it - is the type of many.  It is actually derived from a hymn written in 1674 by Thomas Ken.  It is the concluding stanza of this hymn which is entitled “Awake, My Soul, and with the Sun” based on Psalm 17:15: “But I will behold thy face in righteousness, and when I awake, I shall be satisfied with thine image.” Geneva Bible 

Here is the first stanza of the hymn:

Awake, my soul, and with the sun
Thy daily stage of duty run;
Shake off dull sloth, and joyful rise,
To pay thy morning sacrifice.

Nothing awakens the soul like a doxology - a sacrifice of praise. “Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise--the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.” Hebrews 13:15 NIV

“Praise Him, all creatures here below;”

The root word - doxa - is from ancient Greek which is translated glory.  And when used as orthodox it means right belief or truth. The proof of all rightness is does it give glory to God. Glory and truth are inseparable.  This is the abiding prayer of the Son: “I am praying for them. I am not praying for the world but for those whom you have given me, for they are yours. All mine are yours, and yours are mine, and I am glorified in them.” John 17:9-10 ESV

Peter expresses this so clearly: “Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.” 1 Peter 4:11

“Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;”

There are many that are eloquent, many that are persuasive, many with great talent - even those who manifest altruism.  Yet these abilities in themselves are no proof that they are of God.  Do they draw attention to the gifted - or to the Gifter?  Only that which truly gives glory to God will have sustaining effect - all others will melt away as a fleeting fancy.

Piety without the amen of doxology will ring hollow and empty - drawing attention to the progeny rather than the Progenitor. 

Paul’s passion was to bequeath this truth to his young disciple Timothy before his earthly journey had completed its course and he knew he was nearing that consummation. Even in the midst of his trials he knew the sustaining power of God and to Him he gave the glory. “And the Lord shall deliver me from every evil work, and will preserve me unto his heavenly kingdom: to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.” 2 Timothy 4:18 KJV His hope expressed in the last of his letters was that his life would culminate in doxology. 

This doxology was on my mind this past week as a friend and I traveled to hear a young preacher/teacher.  His text was 1 Timothy 1:15-16: “Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners—of whom I am the worst. But for that very reason I was shown mercy so that in me, the worst of sinners, Christ Jesus might display his immense patience as an example for those who would believe in him and receive eternal life.” NIV

As he began to exposit on this passage and the preceding verses my eye was drawn to the great doxology of verse 17 - would this be the amen of his message?  And being exegetically faithful it was! “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” 

When God revealed Himself to mankind He did it via His glorious Name - “Then the LORD God (YHWH Elohim) formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7  In the dynamic equivalency of the Godhead the Father glorifies the Son, the Son glorifies the Father and the Spirit reveals the Glory of the Son. The ultimate and singular purpose of the Father is a company of the elect conformed into the image of the Son - “he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.” Romans 8:29 KJV

The story of mankind (Adam) begins with doxology; will find its finality in doxology and will be sustained by doxology.  “to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” Jude 1:25 

“Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.” 

Monday, June 1, 2015

Narcissistic Spirituality

Unable to leave the beauty of his reflection, Narcissus drowned.

Narcissistic Spirituality has been the undoing of the American church. Gazing into the pool of our own reflection until we are swallowed up in its depths. 

The origin of the word narcissistic comes from the story of Narcissus in Greek mythology.  He was so enamored with himself - to the point of disdain for those that loved him - that he was lead by Nemesis to gaze at his own reflection in a pool.  There his transfixion with his own image caused him to fall headlong into the waters resulting in his demise. 

spirit of this age 

Self-absorption is the spirit of this age - thus we have a plethora of “selfies.” And unfortunately the church has not avoided this epidemic.  Just recently I saw a commercial for a new channel on a satellite network which goes something like this: For those who are interested in advancing the kingdom you can watch Christian TV 24/7.  Can this be anything more or less than self-absorption- staring at our own image?  The question is begged, “How can someone who is going nowhere advance anything?”

The pages of Facebook bear verdant evidence that the tares of the glory of me have been sown among the wheat of the Glory of God.  

mesmerized by the myopic

We have become mesmerized by the myopic.  Myopia is a condition which prevents farsightedness. Those whom it afflicts are unable to see the big picture. Worse yet, they do not even realize there is a big picture.

From Francis Frangipane: “Too many of us attend church each Sunday, not to be filled with the Spirit, but to be inoculated with just enough religion to make us immune to God the rest of the week.”  And he continues: “Over the years we have developed a host of programs, outreaches and ministries all designed to bring people into church and make them better Christians. A number of these efforts the Lord has blessed; some He has accommodated and used; while still others, in truth, He has simply ignored.” 

An example of this is our over-emphasis on Romans 8:28 (and similar passages such as Jeremiah 29:11) which makes us think it is all about us - yet reading on to 8:29 we find out it is about Him: that He would be the First Born - the Preeminent One - at the Head of a host that resemble His nature and attributes.  This is the singular purpose of God. We grow together into the fulness of the One - “Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:” Ephesians 4:13 KJV This version uses the word till instead of until. Till is a word of Scottish origin which indicates fulness or completeness. 

self-absorptive focus 

An inward self-absorptive focus is a sure sign of mental instability - and of spiritual immaturity.  Indeed, it robs us of the vision of the sole purpose of the Father in the Son - and as a result we are perishing: “Where there is no vision, the people perish:...” Proverbs 29:18  Or they are unrestrained - that is, all of their resources are squandered upon themselves. Prodigals have gone nowhere - for the word means not a wanderer, but a squanderer.  

Our pews are filled with prodigals–and that not necessarily their own fault. If believers are fed a continual diet of messages designed to encourage their self-esteem and to make them feel comfortable, immaturity of all kinds is the inevitable result: “Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness.” Hebrews 5:13 NIV 

joined together in oneness 

The high priestly prayer of Christ for His Church is that we would be joined together in oneness giving expression to the fulness of His Glorious Person: "The glory which You have given Me I have given to them, that they may be one, just as We are one;” John 17:22  This prayer is yet resounding in the Courts of Heaven awaiting its ultimate inevitable fulfillment.

With laser-like precision the myopia of Narcissism - which stands in determined yet doomed opposition to oneness - will give way to the radiance of His Glory: For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. 2 Corinthians 4:6 ESV Also: 2 Corinthians 3:18; 1 Peter 2:9 

consummation of the ages 

Our abiding confidence is that at the consummation of the ages our Lord will have perfected His Bride - without spot or wrinkle.  Her rapturous benediction in concert with the Holy Spirit will be: ‘The Spirit and the Bride say, “Come.” And let the one who hears say, “Come.”’ Revelation 22:17 ESV And in reply: ‘He who testifies to these things says, "Surely I am coming soon." Amen. Come, Lord Jesus!’ Revelation 22:20 ESV 

Solus Christus 

Monday, May 4, 2015

Faith Is A Gift!

“You have such great faith.” 

Although well-meaning, we often have this attribution directed toward us. Our response, “Really?” Honestly, although we have not depended on a paycheck outside of ourselves since 1982, we are not conscious of initiating or maintaining such a life style. Even now our source of livelihood is through a unique business venture that we did not intend to start. Confident that it is the source of God’s provision I often say that it is still spelled WORK. (I cannot remember when we have had a W-2 attached to our 1040.) 

However, if we view faith as an intrinsic value originating in and/or maintained by us - we are in trouble. “‘Through faith,’ another threadbare word, which, withal, has been dreadfully darkened by many comments, and has unfortunately been so represented as that people fancy it is some kind of special attitude of mind and heart,...” MacLaren’s Exposition 

God causes

It is my intention here to focus on the root. The Scriptures are replete with exhortations toward the bearing of good fruit. Yet if our emphasis is on fruit-bearing only we are in danger of encouraging pietistic elitism–having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.  This is just the issue Paul confronted at Colossae: “They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.” Colossians 2:9  He also reminds the church at Corinth as well as us: “So then neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but God who causes the growth.” 1 Corinthians 3:7 If the tree be not firmly rooted in the rich soil of God’s grace-filled surety all efforts at fruit-bearing will prove to be futile–producing only the bitter yield of Wormwood. 

The bond-servant also writes: “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God;”  Ephesians 2:8  Faith is the object of this clause and faith is the it which is the gracious gift of God. “It is a gift, not a purchase; a free gift, without money and without price; what would never have been yours, but for the generosity of God.” Pulpit Commentary Whether the that refers to salvation, grace or faith - matters not. “Our faith, our conversion, and our eternal salvation, are not of works, lest any man should boast.” Matthew Henry 

working of grace

If faith be by the working of grace, then it is a gift. God gives gifts, but He doesn’t give them away - the ultimate responsibility lies within the Courts of the King. “it is certainly true that faith is the gift of God. It exists in the mind only when the Holy Spirit produces it there, and is, in common with every other Christian excellence, to be traced to his agency on the heart.” Albert Barnes “in accordance with the faith God has distributed to each of you.” Romans 12:3 NIV 

And then there is what is commonly referred to as the “gift of faith” which is more aptly a manifestation or attribute of the Holy Spirit who Himself is the gift: “to another faith by the same Spirit,...” 1 Corinthians 12:9  This passage has suffered violence both at the hands of those that would deny the current efficacy of it along with the other manifestations and also by those who would exalt it to position of a personal attribute. Leave us to say, whatever its true meaning and application, it is a function of the Lord’s own Spirit Who distributes to each one as He wills: “But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.”  

immutable sufficiency 

This immutable sufficiency of God is clearly found in Romans 11:29 “For the gifts and calling of God are without repentance.” KJV “for the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable.” NASB “For God's gifts and his call can never be withdrawn.” NLT “God never changes his mind when he gives gifts...” GOD’S WORD “For God does not repent of His free gifts...” Weymouth 

There can be nothing derived from such a statement that would engendered slackness in the true believer–the Holy Spirit within him is quickened to love and good deeds. “None can from Scripture abuse this doctrine, or accuse it of any tendency to evil. All who do so, are without excuse.” Matthew Henry 

There can be no greater motivation–not one that gives more glory to the One who is the author and perfecter - the beginning and end - of faith.  The seed of faith is of His origination, it is He who causes its growth - and it is He that will taste of the delectableness of its fruit. “and this faith is not the produce of man's free will and power, but it is the free gift of God; and therefore salvation through it is consistent with salvation by grace; since that itself is of grace,...and gives all the glory to the grace of God:” John Gill 

faithfulness of the Son of God

That is to say, it is this faith that is pleasing to Him (Hebrews 11:6) for it is this faith that most closely resembles His Son - “and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 KJV “I live by the faithfulness of the Son of God,...” ISV  The anchor of our faith is secured in the faith of or the faithfulness of the Son of God. “who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:2 

Faith has it source in the faithfulness of God - equips and sustains His elect causing them to persevere - and returns to Him in Glory. “For all the promises of God, whatever their number, have their confirmation in Him; and for this reason through Him also our "Amen" acknowledges their truth and promotes the glory of God through our faith.” 2 Corinthians 1:20 Weymouth 

Sola fide (by faith alone) was the war cry of the Reformation. It was radical then. It is just as radical now. The Reformation was dynamic. Sola fide was not the slogan of a delicate, cloistered piety. It was the ensign of a movement of blood and fire. "Faith alone" is also a confession that God's saving work has been done completely outside of our own experience. There are some who will admit that God alone saves, but they imagine that this saving work is done inside of them. But it was done outside the gate of Jerusalem on a Roman cross. Faith is always directed to this outside-of-me action of God in Jesus Christ. As Bunyan aptly says, it is the righteousness which resides with a Person in heaven which justifies me, a sinner, on earth. Present Truth magazine

sons of Abraham 

“Therefore, be sure that it is those who are of faith who are sons of Abraham.” Galatians 3:7 Which clause is the predicate?  That is, which one is the cause and which is the effect?  Do we cause ourselves to be sons of Abraham as a result of faith - or are we of faith as a result of being sons of Abraham?  The question is also begged, “Can we cause ourselves to be born again?” The unequivocal answer: “who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:13 We become children of God by the effect of the will of God. Similarly: “For all who are being led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.” Romans 8:14  Once again, which is the predicate?  And turning again to John’s Gospel for the unveiled answer: "That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” John 3:6  We cannot possibly be led by the Spirit of God until we are born again by the same Agent–for the will of man can only give birth to the will of man.  

Not all men have faith in Christ; and those who do have it, have it not of themselves; it is the gift of God, worked out through the Redemption which is in Christ through the mighty operation of his Spirit, which is the fruit and effect of His invincible grace. This is because the natural man is wholly captive under the power and dominion of sin, and a slave unto it, and has neither a power nor will to believe the gospel of Jesus Christ apart from the regenerating work of the Holy Spirit.”

“Regeneration is monergistic: that is, entirely the work of God the Holy Spirit. It raises the elect among the spiritually dead to new life in Christ (Eph. 2:1-10). Regeneration is a transition from spiritual death to spiritual life, and conscious, intentional, active faith in Christ is its immediate fruit, not its immediate cause.” J.I. Packer 

“Consequently, that faith by which we come into experiential possession of what God in grace has provided is as much a gift as any and every other aspect of salvation. One can no more deny that faith is wrapped up in God’s gift to us than he can deny it of God’s grace. All is of God! Salvation is of the Lord!”  Sam Storms 

What more - or less - could faith be than an absolute trust in God to bring to completion that which He has begun in you?  “for I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that he is able to keep that which I have committed unto him against that day.” 2 Timothy 1:12 KJV Paul in his bequeathment to Timothy expressed his confidence not in a what, but in a Whom. And thus faith finds its ultimate expression not as a what–but as a Whom. 

“But we should always give thanks to God for you, brethren beloved by the Lord, because God has chosen you from the beginning for salvation through sanctification by the Spirit and faith in the truth.” 2 Thessalonians 2:13 

Soli Deo Gloria! 

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Did God say?

The Lord God is not questioned! 

Now the serpent was more crafty than any of the wild animals the Lord God (Jehovah Elohim)  had made. He said to the woman, “Did God (Elohim) really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Genesis 3:1 God is identified first as Jehovah Elohim in Genesis 2:4–prior to this he had been known only as Elohim. At this point the seven days of creation are completed - yet there was no moisture on the earth to cause growth and adam (Genesis 1:26) had not yet become a living soul.  It is only subsequent to Genesis 2:4 that mankind becomes Adam - a person - and from his side comes Eve.


In a footnote from the ESV: The Hebrew word for man (adam) is the generic term for mankind and later becomes the proper name Adam.  Where the definite article appears it is usually adam–the man.  The first use of Adam is in Genesis 2:19 KJV: “and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof.”  For most other translations the first appearance of Adam is in 2:20 in conjunction with his relational need for a helper.  Thus the use of Adam occurs only after 2:4 and is used in a relational sense–rather than in a general one. 

Jehovah is the proper name of God.  Mankind only receives the proper name of Adam under the revelation of Jehovah. 


At the initial temptational encounter the serpent reverts back to Elohim only - avoiding any reference to Lord - Jehovah.  Dr. Tony Evans observes: “he didn't want her having a personal relationship under Jehovah’s authority.”1  The temptation: “and ye shall be as gods (like God), knowing good and evil.” Genesis 3:5 When God seeks them out in relationship it is once again as Lord God: “And they heard the voice of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day:” Genesis 3:8  But this time they hid from Him because of their shame–for they knew they had disappointed the One who had breathed His breath of life into them. And when He pronounces the curse on the serpent it is as Lord God: “The LORD God said to the serpent,...” 3:14 At the same time He declares the promise that One would come forth as the seed of the woman who would restore all that had been lost: “he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." 3:15 NIV 

To omit the Lord - as the serpent did - is to omit His sovereign relationship with his people - which can have no other meaning than Lordship.  Only He who is Lord can take our messes and form them into an instrument that will be to the praise of His glory.  Ephesians 2:10 “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” The mere acknowledgment of Him as god has no such power.

My editor and co-commentator noted that there are many fathers, but for her there was only one that spoke to her with understanding authority–yet with eyes of kindness, acceptance and forgiveness.  My reply was, “Dear Ol’ Dad!”  “Yes,” she said.  His love for her was unconditional–she did not fear his disapproval.  She never felt shamed, small or worthless. This was the motivation for her, for he was proud to have her as his beautiful daughter.  Yes, he was her provider and protector–always available; coming to her defense.  He had a vision and hope for her–giving her confidence to succeed.


Independent of Lordship there is no possibility of the believer’s conformation into the image of the First Born which is the singular purpose of the Father–the essence and fulness of salvation.  Ultimately we are saved not only for our good–but for that which is good in His sight.  The focus is the progenitor, not the progeny.  A message void of this primacy is an ineffectual one.  A.W. Tozer called such preaching heresy: “Therefore, I must be frank in my feeling that a notable heresy has come into being throughout our evangelical Christian circles - the widely accepted concept that we humans can choose to accept Christ only because we need Him as Savior and we have the right to postpone our obedience to Him as Lord as long as we want to!” 

Mere belief - acceptance - is not sufficient. “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that--and shudder.”  James 2:19  But their nature continues to be that of a demon.  Muslim terrorist shout Allah Akbar - god is one; but they are still blood-thirsty wretches.  (Even the crusaders had a cross emblazoned on their breast, but not imprinted on their heart.) 

John’s baptism was not a Lordship baptism.  It demanded conformity first, which will ultimately fail: “Therefore bear fruits in keeping with repentance,...”  The Baptism in Jesus’ Name produces conformity afterwards and will succeed.  The believer is brought to Christ totally devoid of any good works with which to commend himself - he is totally and utterly dependent on electing grace.  The process that is entered into is an irrevocable one.  “So shall my word be that goeth forth out of my mouth: it shall not return unto me void, but it shall accomplish that which I please, and it shall prosper in the thing whereto I sent it.” Isaiah 55:11


Unfortunately our message is often interpreted as, “You must become like us before you can be one of us.”  The true gospel message is, “Once you become one of us, then you will be like us.”  That is expressing the image of the Son of God.  Assimilation is not the objective–but transformation.  “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!” 2 Corinthians 5:17 NIV 

John’s baptism was intertestamental - fulfilling the requirements of the old while pointing toward the hope of the new. The crux came one day in Jordan’s waters when John baptized One he was not worthy to baptize for this One had no need of repentance for cleansing - only as “Jehovah is our salvation” in identification with our plight. Yet, upon this one descended the power and witness of the Holy Spirit with the resounding declaration: "You are My beloved Son, in You I am well-pleased."  The One standing in the flow with John was and is the living and abiding Word of God.

Carrying this forward into the dawning of the church age: Peter said to them, "Repent, and each of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.” Acts 2:38  Jesus is the name of his humility in that Jehovah descended to identify with and become one with us. Christ is the name of His exaltation as the Anointed One. He is still both - “Therefore He is able also to save forever those who draw near to God through Him, since He always lives to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25  (Plus Acts 2:31-33) 


Concerning Paul’s encounter with the disciples at Ephesus we read: Acts 19:4 Paul said, “John’s baptism was a baptism of repentance. He told the people to believe in the one coming after him, that is, in Jesus.” 5 On hearing this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. 6 When Paul placed his hands on them, the Holy Spirit came on them, and they spoke in tongues and prophesied.

Only He can produce the evidence that is worthy of His Name. “Elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience and sprinkling of the blood of Jesus Christ: Grace unto you, and peace, be multiplied.” 1 Peter 1:2 KJV  If there is no such evidence subsequent to baptism, then the individual has only gotten wet. From Dr. Tony Evans: “Baptism means...you are a visible verbal follower of Christ reflecting His attitudes and actions, character, and conduct in every aspect of life.”2 


If He is not Lord of all - then He is not Lord at all. We do not “make Him Lord” of our lives.  He already is Lord and the confession wells up from deep within: “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved;...” Romans 10:9 In the Greek: Kurios (Kyrios) - Lord, Master (Similar to Senor or Bwana in that it can mean Sir also - depending on context.)

There is one other Greek word commonly translated as Lord or Master. “But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.” 2 Peter 2:1 The Greek here is “despotes” otherwise translated master or owner (possessor).  (Also 2 Timothy 2:21; Revelation 6:10) This is where we get our word “despot” - a ruler with absolute power. The disciples understood this for they were bondslaves of the Lord Christ. It is similar to the appellation of Adonai in the Old Testament. 

Once I was watching Christian TV and the speaker was telling us how we could get what we wanted from God.  At the conclusion of his message he pointed to a sign behind him that proclaimed “Jesus Is Lord.”  Yet, for me, something rang hollow - the confession was almost as a byword.  As the next program aired Dr. D. James Kennedy preached Jesus as the ultimate despot of the universe - the One who is truly Lord God.  There was such a marked difference. May the confession of our mouth and the works of our hands give worship and witness to this One: “and no one can say, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ except by the Holy Spirit.” 

And thus we have our assurance - sealed in Him until that day: “you were sealed in Him with the Holy Spirit of promise, who is given as a pledge of our inheritance, with a view to the redemption of God’s own possession, to the praise of His glory.” Ephesians 1:13-14 

Soli Deo Gloria!  “To God alone Glory!” 

1 Evans, Tony (2014). The Power of God’s Names (p. 51). Harvest House Publishers

2 Evans, Tony (2014-12-11). America: Turning a Nation to God (p. 162). Moody Publishers. Kindle Edition.