Friday, 10/16/20 – Friday Tough Question: What is Propitiation?

What is Propitiation?

The word “propitiation” appears just three times in scripture but conveys a most important truth about the sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ.

John, the beloved and now aged disciple, uses the word twice in his first epistle (letter):

“…if anyone sins, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous; and He Himself is the propitiation for our sins; and not for ours only, but also for those of the whole world.” (1 John 2:2, NASB)

“In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:10, NASB)

Paul writes of it once in his masterful letter to the believers in Rome. Speaking of the believers redemption in Christ, he writes… “whom God displayed publicly as a propitiation in His blood through faith.” (Rom. 3:25, NASB).

Because of its strange-soundingness to our ears today many translations have replaced the word with more familiar terms such as “satisfaction,” “atoning sacrifice,” or “expiation.” But something of its meaning is lost in doing so.

We speak much of God’s goodness, grace, mercy and love these days, but we must never forget the truth of God’s wrath against sin! We have not only lost fellowship with God due to our sin, but we have also enraged Him. God HATES sin! When we turn our backs to him and love sin more it is an act of spiritual idolatry and adultery.

Paul warns, “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Rom. 1:18, NASB).

John also in his gospel writes, “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on them.” (John 3:36, NIV).

But thanks be to God that Christ Jesus is the propitiation for our sin!

Propitiation means that Christ took upon Himself all the wrath of God the Father. Jesus “took the heat” so to speak for your sin and mine. God’s rage has been satisfied… His wrath found its object in Christ!

Never before had Christ lost Oneness with the Father, yet on His cross He cries, “Eloi, Eloi, Lama Sabachthani?” (which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”). (Matt. 27:46). In that moment God could no longer look upon His Son.

He could have come down from that cross. He could have just walked away and said “No. Sinful mankind is not worth it.” But He did not. He said,

The reason my Father loves me is that I lay down my life—only to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father.” (John 10:17-18).

Why not take a moment now and thank Him. Thank Him that “He Himself is the propitiation for your sin.”

Press on…

Friday, 10/9/20 – Friday Question: Why should I say ‘Thank you’?

Why should I say ‘Thank you’?

In an article posted at PsychCentral.com entitled “Why ‘Thank You’ Is More Than Just Good Manners” (updated July 8, 2018) author Jeremy Dean cites studies by Adam M. Grant and Francesco Gino published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology (Grant & Gino, 2010). They sought to find what effect saying ‘Thank you’ had on the one being thanked.

Results demonstrated that when a ‘Thank you’ was given the individual who gave the assistance was doubly inclined to be helpful again than were those who received only a neutral response to their initial helpfulness.

Helpers “appreciated being needed and felt more socially valued when they’d been thanked.” Explains Dean, “The act of saying thank you reassures the helper that their help is valued and motivates them to provide more.”

Subsequent studies further showed helpers who received a ‘Thank you’ from the first individual were more than doubly motivated to offer assistance to a second individual than when no ‘Thank you’ had been given. Measurable increases in willingness to help another persisted even to a third and fourth person.

Interestingly, scripture speaks of the Lord “visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children’s children, unto the third and to the fourth generation.” (Exod. 34:6-7; Deut. 5:8-10; Lev. 26:39). It seems a simple ‘Thank you’ follows a similar mathematical reverberation.

The PsychCentral.com item also stated that saying ‘Thank you’ is beneficial to the self. “Studies have suggested that being grateful can improve well-being, physical health, can strengthen social relationships, produce positive emotional states and help us cope with stressful times in our lives.

All good stuff, but the scriptures taught us that centuries earlier. “A cheerful heart is good medicine,” wrote wise King Solomon (Prov. 17:22). David taught us to Whom all our ‘Thank you’s are ultimately due: “Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.” (Ps. 107:1) Paul taught our thankfulness must persist in all circumstances and for all things at all times: “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus.” (1 Thess. 5:18); “…be thankful… whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Col. 3:15, 17); “For everything God created is good, and nothing is to be rejected if it is received with thanksgiving,” (1 Tim. 4:4). Even our requests — before God answers — should be accompanied with a ‘Thank you’ — “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” (Phil. 4:6) — for we know that whatever God gives or allows is for our best.

Thanks for reading 😊!

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 10/2/20 – Friday Tough Question: What can be done for Phil?

What can be done for Phil?

I may have been a bit too harsh on “Phil” in my blog last Tuesday. True, Phil is hell-destined if he continues along his works-based ‘religionized” version of Christianity. But he has not reached the end of that road yet, and there are off ramps all along the way.

Theres a wonderful promise for Phil found in the Old Testament record of King David’s reign.

“All of us must die eventually. Our lives are like water spilled out on the ground, which cannot be gathered up again. But God does not just sweep life away; instead, he devises ways to bring us back when we have been separated from him.” (2 Sam. 14:13-15)

It was like this for the prodigal who strayed away from his father, loving more the allures of the world. But a way back was always open to him, and when he took it he found his father still waiting, arms open. (See Luke 15:11-20).

Turning back is what the Lord longs for every wayward one to do. In fact, it is what he urged the church of Ephesus to do: “Consider how far you have fallen! Repent and do the things you did at first.” (Rev. 2:5). Repent means to turn around. You were going one way, then you realize it is the wrong way, you stop, and you turn a full 180° round, and go the opposite way… the way back to our loving Father God.

Do the things you used to do, He pleads. There’s and old song sung by Neil Diamond and Barbara Striesand entitled “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers Any More.” In it, a couple in a strained, love-lost marriage sing their sorrows to each other. The refrain “You Don’t Bring Me Flowers Any More” embodies the problem.

When was the last time you brought the Lord some flowers, a sweet-smelling aroma of worship, obedience, sacrifice or ministry? It’s not too late! The flower shop is still open and the Father is still waiting, arms open… for you.

Jesus warned us this time would come: “Sin will be rampant everywhere, and the love of many will grow cold.” But there is hope. Turn around. Lost love can be restored. “…the one who endures to the end will be saved” (Matt. 24:13).

There is hope for Phil and for all who have strayed.

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 9/25/20 – Friday Question: What is “the offense of the cross?”

What is “the offense of the cross?”

As mentioned yesterday, Paul uses this term in his letter to the believers in Galatia who were being confused by bold judaizers. Judaizers taught that the Jewish regulations, sacrifices and rituals still had to be practiced to be righteous before God.

Paul was preaching the Christian gospel message – the message that salvation was available to all by simple faith in Christ Jesus. The “law” had come not that anyone might successfully keep it, but to demonstrate that no one could keep it! Circumcision was meant to outwardly teach the truth of what must happen inwardly, in a believer’s heart, not merely in a person’s flesh.

This message offended the legalists of his day, as it offends those in any era, those who seek to put confidence in the flesh, in their own self-generated goodness, or righteousness, to “earn” salvation… to be able to “boast” in a sort of personal moral superiority… to “take pride” in it. Thus, Paul writes,

Brothers and sisters, if I am still preaching circumcision, why am I still being persecuted? In that case the offense of the cross has been abolished. (Gal. 5:11).

In the above verse Paul is saying that if he was still preaching a legalistic approach to God, then why would people be offended as they were? The fact that he was not preaching a salvation by works, “circumcision,” was the reason many were offended. As Billy Graham itemizes*. The cross offended

  1. Herod: who lived an immoral lifestyle
  2. Caiaphas: who condemned Christ to the cross
  3. Pilate: who cowardly did not stand up against the crowds
  4. Judas: who was covetous and ultimately betrayed Christ
  5. Soldiers: who were unmoved by Christ’s suffering and gambled for his clothing

In short, as I stated in yesterday’s blog, the cross called them – and calls everyone – to repent! To give up thinking we can of ourselves ever be righteous before God. We need the goodness of someone else to cover for us… someone faultless, someone holy!

That Someone is, and ever only will be, Christ.

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 9/18/20 – Friday Question: “Why should I become a Christian?”

Why should I become a Christian?

John Bowen

Back in 2002 John Bowen, Director of the Institute of Evangelism at Wycliffe College (1997-2013) wrote an article in which he listed seven reasons a person should NOT become a Christian

  1. The Church is morally compromised
  2. Christians aren’t always nice
  3. Won’t you have to condemn other religions?
  4. People may make fun of you
  5. It will require sacrifices
  6. It means handing the leadership of your life over to God
  7. You don’t think you could keep it up

Yet when you think about it, these objections are universal.

They could be reasons NOT to get a job:

  1. The workplace is morally compromised
  2. Co-workers aren’t always nice
  3. Won’t you have to put down other employers?
  4. People may make fun of you
  5. It will require sacrifices
  6. It means handing your workday over to your boss
  7. You don’t know if you would keep it up

Or NOT to get married

  1. My spouse may have moral conflicts
  2. My spouse might not always be nice
  3. Won’t I have to be completely loyal to my spouse?
  4. People may make fun of you
  5. It will require sacrifices
  6. It means not being 100% my own boss but doing some things that please only my spouse
  7. You don’t have a guarantee you can be a good spouse yourself!

In fact any time an individual enters into any kind of a relationship with another entity – human, animal or Divine – uncertainties emerge. At some point you will encounter some aspect of risk. Christians call this faith!

Bowen also listed this one reason a person SHOULD become a Christian: It is what life is all about! He elaborates:

“Because the God who made you loves you more deeply than you can ever imagine, and that God longs for a friendship with you. More than that, in that friendship you will learn to live as God’s person in God’s world in God’s way. And you will discover the part God designed you to fulfil in God’s plan to redeem the world from evil, suffering and dysfunction. And that is the greatest adventure that can ever befall a human being. In fact, it is what human beings were made for.”

As for me and my house I completely agree. In fact, it is the testimony of every true believer past and present — and I believe will be of all who yet turn to Him — that Christ indeed is all-sufficient. As evangelist Billy Graham once noted,

“I have never known a man [or woman] who received Christ and ever regretted it.”

Press on…

Got a question? Want to know more about surrendering your life to Christ? Use the Contact page.

Friday, 9/11/20 – Friday Question: Do I really have to get rid of it?

Do I really have to get rid of it?

Cute… ain’t he?

Foxy fella

This little fella was one of three my wife and I spotted along the roadside as we drove through New Brunswick’s Kouchibouguac National Park en-route to Kelly’s Beach this past week. All three of these little guys showed more curiosity than fear of us. Didn’t take long for them to become endeared to us… almost enough to wish we could bring one home.

A few weeks back Don Longworth spoke to us from Song of Solomon 2:15, “Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards, our vineyards that are in bloom.” An important point of brother Don’s message was that these are “our vineyards,” it is the responsibility of each of us to remove the destructive elements. Just recently Pastor Andrew reminded us again of this duty: It is not up to man’s wife to remove his mistress! It is the duty of the unfaithful man. As beautiful and alluring as the paramour may be there can be no middle ground. She must go — all of her!

The temptation to excuse or whitewash some seeming innocuous sin can be great, but as an anonymous author has written,

“The devil doesn’t come to you with horns and a cape, he comes disguised as everything you’ve ever wanted.”

We say, “It’s just such a little sip… a little slip… a little sin… a white lie.. a harmless thing.” But It requires just one fox in the vineyard, just one fly in the ointment, just a little leaven in the batter… Even one degree off trajectory will sidestep a destination — and all the more the longer it goes uncorrected!

Brother Mike Kennedy also shared with us last Sunday. He reminded us it takes only a little faith to see a miracle… just a mustard seed to make the tree… uproot the mulberry… move the mountain! Jesus said so (Luke 17:6; Matt. 17:20).

“Little foxes” can be eradicated by persistent application of even just a little faith. It is your job to see past sin’s cuteness, to acknowledge it as serious destructive, and to apply faith and actions to remove it.

Press on…

Friday, 9/4/20 – Friday Question: “Merrily We Go to Hell?”

Merrily We Go to Hell?

I was intrigued by the title of the 1932 romantic comedy which aired on TCM this past week. The film, directed by Dorothy Arzner, starred Fredric March as Jerry Corbett, an endearing and comical alcoholic who marries heiress Joan Prentice, played by Sylvia Sidney. The title, “Merrily We Go to Hell,” derives from a toast given during the film by Jerry — a rather startling title in 1932.

Startling titles were common during the pre-code transition years from silent to sound… many had to do with the darkness of the netherworld: 1929 Hell’s Heroes, Seven Footprints to Satan; 1930 The Devil’s Holiday, Hell’s Angels, Sinners’ Holiday; 1931 The Unholy Three, The Sin Ship, Hell Divers, The Unholy Three, Up Pops the Devil; 1932 The Devil is Driving, Devil and the Deep, and Merrily We Go to Hell.

The film received mixed reviews. Several newspapers refused to print the title of this film feeling it crossed a line of public decency.

Today these titles hardly sound shocking at all, but what is worse is that the very idea of going to Hell, “merrily” or otherwise, is scoffed as superstitious fable. Indeed the injunction “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die” today seems embedded in a self-focussed culture. The pursuit of personal happiness is valued above the possession of character and contentment, and immediate pleasure is praised above personal integrity and the “Well done” of God.

Solomon played that hand through to the end. This man had everything! His happiness pursuit knew no restriction until at last he had tried everything and still came up empty. His life became a hollow emptiness summed up in the lyric, “If that’s all there is, then let’s keep dancing.” His was the conclusion “…a man hath no better thing under the sun, than to eat, and to drink, and to be merry” (Eccl. 8:15). These are the words of a despairing man, not the truth of the gospel.

The phrase also appears in Isaiah 22:13, Proverbs 23:35, and Luke 12:19. (We see it again in 2 Nephi 28:7 of the Book of Mormon!) In each case however it is cited as the despairing conclusion of the lost. Even the Apostle Paul concedes to this if it were not for the hope to the gospel:

“If I fought wild beasts in Ephesus with no more than human hopes, what have I gained? If the dead are not raised, ‘Let us eat and drink, for tomorrow we die.’” (1 Cor. 15:32)

But the Christian’s hope extends beyond this world. The Christian knows “the perishable [will be] clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality.” (15:54). The Christian lives for that “better country” (Heb. 11:14), stays sober (Eph. 5:18), and makes purity one’s goal (2 Pet. 3:11).

The Christian says, “Let us fast and pray, for tomorrow – and forevermore – in Christ we live!”

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 8/28/ 20 – Tough Question: $1,000.00 a Convert?

$1,000.00 a Convert?

In a 1998 Our Daily Bread devotional Henry G Bosch poses a soul-searching rhetorical question. He writes,

Henry G Bosch (1914-1995)

“Suppose someone were to offer you a thousand dollars for every person you earnestly sought to lead to Christ. Would you try to witness to more people than you are doing now?”

Henry G. Bosch, Our Daily Bread, April 18, 1998

Ouch!

It’s like another question I very much like; it comes in the form of a narrative:

A man asks a woman if she would sleep with him for a million dollars. She agrees. He then asks if she would do it for ten bucks! Insulted, she angrily replies, “Of course not! What kind of woman do you think I am?” The man responds, “Madame, we have already established what kind of woman you are; now we are merely negotiating the price!”

Jesus draws an uncompromising line between that which is of this temporal world and that which is of the eternal: light vs darkness, spirit vs flesh, truth vs lie. “No one can serve two masters,” He says… “You cannot serve both God and money.” (Matt. 6:24). Virtue and Avarice cannot cohabit the same heart.

If one is off course in this the problem is double-mindedness, the correction, says James, is to purify one’s heart: “Purify your hearts you double-minded” (James 4:8). One requires both more fear and more love of God. What motivates your labors?… your love?

A popular bank advertisement recently asked, “What’s in your wallet?” A much more important question is “What’s in your heart?”

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 8/21/20 – Tough Question: Gender and Color in Heaven?

What Gender, what Color will we be in Heaven?

gender

Male and Female… but that’s only what we are now. As those who put their confidence in Christ we know what a wondrous new world awaits. We are now souls in these bodies, made male first, then God said… no… It was not good that Man be only one. I will take from the man thereby making him incomplete, and from that part I will form a suitable mate. Adam later named her “woman,” a creation like himself, made from him.

God made us in two sorts to teach us His Love… Christ and His Church, His Body over which He is Head. Together in a unity, “that they all may be one even as we are one” He prayed to the Father.

Scripture tells us that in eternity we will be “like the angels” (Matt. 22:30). Souls have no gender at all.

photo of people doing fist bump

Black and white… but that’s only what we are now. God’s first human was one creation. Adam, “man,” must have been of some particular pigmentation. (I rather doubt he was a rainbow striped.) God made woman to complete man and He sent them out to multiply.

We first read of a dividing of humanity, post flood, in Genesis 11. God initiated this by confusing mankind’s languages. We had determined to band together and build a great tower to heaven, but we were thwarted. God acted and soon after we had begun we no longer could communicate with one another. We abandoned the project and spread out.

Red or yellow, black or white, as the song says, all are precious in God’s sight, and in eternity these distinctions will no longer exist. For the boundaries we create based upon them we will in eternity be expected to give an account. Souls have no color at all.

adult beanie crisis despair

Rich or poor… tall or short… blue-eyed or brown… slave or free. These are all only what we are now. Paul writes,

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:28).

In eternity we will be something much different than what we are now.

“…now we are children of God, and what we will be has not yet been made known. But we know that when Christ appears, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” (1 John 3:2).

Male or female, black or white, rich or poor… If any of these make a difference to you, God Almighty, their Creator and your’s, would like a word with you.

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.

Friday, 8/14/20 – Question: “What is Real?”

What is Real?

After suffering a mild heart attack a few years ago my doctor suggested I get a real-time heart rate monitoring device to guide me in my recovery. So, I bought a fitbit and have been using it ever since.

20200813_064032One of the features of this device is sleep monitoring. It tracks not only the hours spent sleeping but also breaks down the quality of that sleep showing time spent in deep sleep, light sleep, REM (dream stage) sleep, and times of wakefulness.

This morning I recalled a rather odd and somewhat disconcerting experience I had had in the night. I dreamed I was in some other house with a floor plan different than our own. I roused from this dream to use the washroom but must still have been in a quasi-dream state for I had difficulty finding it! Evidently I was imagining I was still moving about according to the floor plan of my, er, “dream” house. After finally finding and using the washroom I weaved my way back to bed and, as my fitbit feedback showed me this morning, continued dreaming.

20200813_064108Philosophers have debated over the centuries about the nature of reality. Sci-fi movies such as the “Matrix,” the growing pleasures of “virtual” realities over “actual” reality, escapism drug use, Star Trek’s “holodeck,” Quantum theory and the proposition of multiverses, spiritualism and the quest for transcendence – all these and more have challenged the simplicity of the Biblical account of a Loving Creator of a tangible world of matter and life, now corrupted by human sin.

Humankind has never wanted to face the reality of personal guilt and so we try to imagine alternate worlds, other realities where we can play innocent.

architect architecture blueprint build

But human guilt cannot be hid. We cannot overlay any “dream” world and make it fit what is actual reality. (Our actual floorplan would not cooperate with my dreamworld terms.) We must accept and live by our Creator’s terms. We must “wake-up!”

He has made the only provision for our predicament: His Son Jesus Christ. We must acknowledge our guilt is real, turn from sin, bow to Christ, follow Him as Lord and live rightly in this real world until He brings us to the next.

What is Real? Christ came into this world to show us.

“For this I have been born, and for this I have come into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” (John 18:37, NASB).

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6, NASB).

Press on…

Got a question? Use the Contact page and send It to me. We’ll search the Word for God’s answer.