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Bible Studies For Life
March 15, 2020
HOLY VOCABULARY: THE WORD SALVATION
The country preacher shouts, “Brother, are you saved?”
The billboard along the highway declares “Jesus saves!”
The Sunday School teacher announces happily, “Hey everybody, little Timmy just got saved!”
To the outside world, we Baptists must sometimes sound like a bunch of religious radicals. What is all this passionate talk about “getting saved?” Far from an invention of the rural backwoods, salvation is the central message the gospel…which is the central message of God’s word. It’s the very reason Jesus came to earth to begin with: “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10).
While the entire Bible tells the story of God’s saving work, the book of Romans is Paul’s great doctrinal treatise about salvation. This week’s focal passage covers some of the highlights.
God’s standard (vv. 20-22). The most prominent religious belief in the world is that good works get us into heaven. Ironically that same belief is also the most erroneous! If it were true, how many good works would it take to satisfy God? And how would we know when we had done enough? In reality, works could never get us into heaven, because no one could live up to God’s standard. The absolute righteousness that God requires was revealed by Jesus when He said, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:47). So where does the Old Testament law come in? Weren’t the Old Testament saints saved by the law? NO! That’s the point of verse 20 (and nearly the entire book of Galatians!) Neither keeping the law nor making sacrifices ever took away sin (see Heb. 10:4). The law was the written expression of God’s standard. By comparing ourselves to it, we see just how far we miss it. For this reason, we need the righteousness of Christ—which does meet God’s standard—apart from our own good works or our efforts to keep the law.
Man’s sin (v. 23). In verses 9-18, the apostle drew from various Psalms his vivid description of man’s sin. Our very nature is sinful: no one is righteous; no one understands; no one seeks God; no one does good (vv. 10-12). Our speech gives evidence of the evil in our hearts: there is decay in our throats, deceit on our tongues, poison on our lips, and hatred in our mouths (vv. 13-14). Our actions are arrogant and destructive: feet that run to shed blood, following wretched pathways with no thoughts of peace (vv. 15-17). Our pride fearlessly shakes a fist in the face of Holy God (v. 18). Verse 23 then summarizes our universal condition (all have sinned); our universal failure (all fall short); and God’s universal expectation (His glorious ideal).
God’s solution (vv. 24-28). Fortunately for us, God has provided a means of reaching His standard apart from our human efforts and despite our utter sinfulness. He provided His perfect Son as the source (and demonstration) of His perfect righteousness; and He did it by an act of substitutionary atonement. Simply put, here’s how it works:
- All have sinned (Rom. 3:23)
- The penalty for sin is death (Rom. 6:23)
- So…the sinner must die (Ez. 18:20)
BUT: God, by His grace, allows a substitute. He declared that the innocent may die on behalf of the guilty. This was illustrated for generations in the Old Testament sacrificial system, then fulfilled once and for all by the death of Christ (Heb. 10:11-12), the sacrificial “Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). So, when a lost sinner trusts in Christ by faith, God accepts the perfect righteousness of Christ as a substitute for his weak, failing, insufficient efforts to be “made right” to a holy God (v. 26).
March 22, 2020
HOLY VOCABULARY: THE WORD FAITH
If we are justified by faith (Rom. 5:1; Gal. 3:24); and believe that the just shall live by faith (Hab. 2:4 et al.); and understand that without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb. 11:6), then it seems rather important that we understand both what faith is, and what faith does.
What faith is (vv. 1-3). While the Bible is filled with descriptions of faith and examples of the faithful, I can think of no other place in the New Testament that attempts to define what faith really is. And no writer has ever put it more eloquently: “Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.” Two words are key; both of which indicate that faith is something real. The word substance refers to that which is “set under.” So, faith is a foundation; it’s a solid, consistent confidence. The word evidence means “proof,” or “conviction.” So, faith is not simply hoping, or wishing, or wanting. Faith is a deep-seated trust. Bible commentator Arno Gaebelein (circa 1900) put it this way: “Faith makes real to the soul that which we hope for and is a demonstration of that which we do not see.” The next verses give us the motivation for faith. Verse 2 reminds us that godly men of old were recognized as godly because of their faith, and verse 3 suggests that if we can believe that God created everything ex nihilo (“out of nothing”), then we can be assured there is nothing beyond His ability to perform.
What faith does (vv. 4-6). In the examples that follow, faith is linked directly to worship. All worship involves expressing honor to a God we know exists but cannot see, so all worship requires faith. In Genesis 4, Cain and Abel both offered sacrifices. Cain was a tiller of the soil and he brought some produce he had grown. Abel, his brother, was a shepherd of flocks and brought “some of the firstborn of his flock and their fat portions” (Gen. 4:4). Genesis 4:4-5 says, “The Lord had regard for Abel and his offering, but He did not have regard for Cain and his offering.” Surprisingly, some commentators suggest that the Lord did not accept Cain’s offering because his attitude wasn’t right. But a careful reading of the story indicates that Cain’s ugly attitude came after his sacrifice was rejected, and because it was rejected (Gen. 4:5-6). So why was Abel’s sacrifice better that Cain’s? (Heb. 11:4) Because it was a blood sacrifice aligning with the forgiveness of sin illustrated by God’s slaying of animals in Genesis 3! Abel’s faith reached beyond thanksgiving to God, or a general reverence for God; it was offered as an admission of sin and a plea for forgiveness because of that sin. The end of verse 4 is a testimony of Abel’s faith. While God made the first animal sacrifice in Scripture, Abel made the second. His example still speaks to us today of the need for a blood sacrifice on our behalf (see Heb. 9:22); a sacrifice paid once and for all by the Lord Jesus, the Lamb of God (John 1:29).
The second illustration of faith in worship is that of Enoch. Whereas Abel’s example was an act of worship, Enoch’s example is a life of worship. His great story is captured in a few short verses, culminating with “Enoch walked with God; then he was not there because God took him” (Gen. 4:24). The commentary in our focal passage adds some details. To “walk with God” (Gen. 4:24) is described by the writer of Hebrews as being approved by God and pleasing to Him. Hence, Enoch’s sudden rapture was not a punishment, but a reward! The curse of physical death was voided. Why? Because he lived a life of faith; for “without faith it is impossible to please God” (v. 6). The final part of verse 6 summarizes the section. Faith is the medium that allows us to “draw near” to Him who we know exists, and in whom we are willing to place our trust.
March 29, 2020
HOLY VOCABULARY: THE WORD SANCTIFIED
1 Corinthians 6:9-20
Sanctification is defined as the process by which we are set apart for God’s use. Many theologians talk about three aspects of sanctification. In one sense, sanctification happens when we are saved, as we are set free from sin. That is sometimes called positional (or initial) sanctification; we are declared “holy” in God’s sight, even though we are not fully there yet. The second aspect is called progressive (or ongoing) sanctification. That involves the lifelong process of growing into conformity to Christ, or what we might call maturing as a Christian. The final aspect of sanctification is final sanctification, the completion of God’s saving work when we are glorified in heaven. While Paul’s admonition to the church members at Corinth has elements of all three, his focus is on ongoing sanctification in the believers there…or the lack of it!
Sanctification means being set apart for God’s kingdom (vv. 9-11). This is the third of six times the apostle uses the question, “Don’t you know…?” to introduce a rebuke in this chapter. It’s a rhetorical devise. Yes…they DO know (or at least they should!), but they act like they don’t! This is especially stinging for those who were “puffed up” by their own claims of wisdom insinuated in the previous chapters. The argument begins with a set-up: The unrighteous will not inherit God’s kingdom. The set-up is followed by examples of unrighteousness (vv. 9 and 10). Then comes the conviction: “And some of you used to be like this” (v. 11). His argument concludes with what I call an escape clause: “But you were…” (v. 11). The used-to-be’s don’t count anymore. Three important events happen to the believer when he comes to Christ. Taken together, they remove the sinner’s condemnation (see Rom. 8:1). First, the believer is washed. This is not a reference to baptism, as baptism does not wash away sin; rather it refers to the cleansing, purifying work of the Holy Spirit. Second, the believer is sanctified; set apart for God’s service. Third, the believer is justified; declared “not guilty;” all in the name of the Lord, and by His Spirit. It’s interesting that all three of those verb forms indicate the believer is doing the washing, sanctifying, and justifying. Obviously, we don’t do those things to ourselves! But the point Paul makes is that we willfully allow those things to happen in us and to us when we submit to the Lord.
Sanctification means being set apart for Christ’s body (vv. 12-17). Even the Christian life is full of choices. As believers, we are free from the Old Testament laws, rules, and regulations. In that sense, we have Christian liberty. But just because all things are lawful, doesn’t mean that all things are good for us. The KJV uses the word expedient. Some things in our lives need to be set aside simply because they don’t help us in our Christian journey. Besides the sanctifying principle of expediency, there is the principle of enslavement (v. 12). Those habits, activities, and behaviors that tend to control us also need to be removed. At first glance, the proverb in verse 13 doesn’t make much sense. Indeed, “food is for the belly; and the belly is for food.” They are natural partners but of little consequence since they are both temporary. But sexual immorality is not the function of the body, and is of grave consequence, since God will “raise us up by His power” (v. 14). Since believers are made a part of the body of Christ, how dare we join ourselves to immorality? (v. 16). Rather, such impurity must be scrubbed from our lives.
Sanctification means being set apart by the Holy Spirit (vv. 18-20). To the abominations of sexual immorality mentioned in the previous verses, the apostle adds one final thought: sexual sin offends the entire Godhead. Since the Holy Spirit indwells the believer, the body becomes His abode, and we must work to keep ourselves pure. Who sent the Spirit? God the Father (v. 19). Who paid the great price of redemption? God the Son (v. 20). Sanctification, then, is the means by which the fullness of God is fully glorified in us (v. 20).
April 5, 2020
HOLY VOCABULARY: THE WORDS ETERNAL LIFE
Revelation 21:1-8; 22:1-5
Jesus said, “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.” Then, just prior to His crucifixion, He reminded His disciples, “In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also” (John 14:2-3). These glorious promises reflect the ultimate destiny for every believer: eternal life, with Christ, in a place called heaven.
The Bible paints the end times with very broad strokes. As a result, there are lots of different views when it comes to eschatology, the study of last things. But we must all agree with Jesus when it comes to our final destiny. The final chapters of the Bible give us the best description of that final destiny.
A beautiful place (21:1-2). Much of the apostle John’s description of heaven calls it “new.” In these verses, there is a new heaven, a new earth, and a new city. Our heavenly home is not a re-conditioning of the this old, sin-stained world, but rather an entirely new product. It is familiar and recognizable, but decidedly new. The sea, the site of so much separation, instability, and calamity in this lifetime is noticeably absent. The central feature of the vision is New Jerusalem. All of her characteristics are simple, yet profound. The city is holy (set apart for God’s purpose); new (no longer the city of conflict, anguish, and crucifixion, but of peace, which the name Jerusalem implies); coming down from God (a gift of His grace); prepared (planned; intentional; see John 14:1-3); like a bride (pure and unblemished); adorned for her husband (the emphasis here is not on pageantry, but on breathtaking beauty). This emphasis on beauty is enhanced in verses 9-21, as John tours, measures, and describes the magnificent place that awaits God’s children.
A perfect place (21:3-5). What makes heaven a perfect place is God’s complete presence. Obviously, He has always been present with His people in the person of the Holy Spirit. But even Paul called the Spirit’s presence a seal and a pledge of that which would come (see Eph. 1:13-14). The repetition in verse 3 (God dwells with them; God lives with them; God will be with them) reinforces the intimate relationship found in God’s complete and perfect presence. Beyond this, heaven is perfect because of what God will do. Pastor Adrian Rogers often said that man only has three problems: sin, sorrow, and death. Verse 4 reminds us that in heaven, God abolishes all three! Third, heaven is a perfect place because God will make everything new (v. 5; see also 2 Cor. 5:17).
A victorious place (21:6-8). Whereas the Gospels portray Jesus as a meek and loving sacrificial Lamb of God, Revelation portrays Him as a fierce and conquering King, who returns to set back in order the Kingdom that is rightfully His. As the Alpha and Omega (the first and last letters of the Greek alphabet) He has said all that needs to be said. As the Beginning and the End (the initiation and the culmination of all things), He has the authority to draw this age to a close. But far from a tragic ending, the final scene is one of great victory. Those who belong to Christ will enter in to all that He has prepared for His children, for all eternity (v. 7). And those on the outside? They will receive divine justice in a place called hell, also for all eternity (v. 8).
An eternal place (22:1-5). The Bible’s story of redemption is one of restoration. What began in a garden paradise (Eden), had to pass through a garden crisis (Gethsemane), to be restored once again to the garden paradise (heaven) pictured here. Believers—fallen sinners now redeemed—will be restored to their rightful position of dominion. But in this case, they are more than tenders of the garden…they are kings! What was limited to a thousand years in Revelation 20:4-5 is extended to all eternity in the blissful peace of God’s eternal presence.
Explore The Bible
February 2, 2020
DEUTERONOMY 5:17; 19:4-13
We live in an increasingly violent world. Major cities in America are littered with bodies, young and old, black and white, rich and poor etc., who have been murdered. School shootings have shed light, not simply on the need for better gun laws and background checks but, they have also shown that the evil of murder extends even to the youngest of hearts. In a sense, none of us should be surprised by these things and yet, the sheer number of events that have taken place makes anyone wonder whether or not the people of God are actually bringing to bear the vision of God’s kingdom on earth. Murder must be decried, not simply by marches, but by the legal protection of the innocent and the swift justice handed out to those who commit homicide or manslaughter with intentional evil.
PROHIBITION (Deuteronomy 5:17)
The wide range of understandings regarding the aspect of murder has caused debates and divisions in almost every sector of culture, including the church. When the Lord, however, commands us not to murder He has one specific aspect in mind: murdering someone for reasons other than being enemies of war or for committing a crime that warrants capital punishment. In other words, what the Bible is set against is the deliberate and intentional killing of someone outside of the legal (biblical) sanctions within the Word of God. In a word, we are not to commit homicide. This understanding is not so controversial as that of euthanasia and abortion. Some feel the freedom to decide, on their own, whether or not they, or someone else has the right to take their life. Assisted suicides have created a moral foray in which sympathizers come from all stripes, some of whom are Christian. Abortion is by far the greater “controversy” creating division both political and spiritual with many believing the right to choose is actually life giving. However, when one considers the biblical and even the scientific evidence, it is clear that fetus’ not only have heartbeats but are known by the Lord in the womb (Psalm 139:13; Jeremiah 1:5) and have a purpose determined by the Lord (Galatians 1:15). The social and emotional aspects related to these issues are very real, but we must give way to the Bible at all times which calls anything other than killing for war or heinous crimes (homicide OR manslaughter) – murder. Euthanasia is wrong and abortion is wrong. We should not commit murder.
GRACE (DEUTERONOMY 19:4-10)
There was a difference in the law between accidental and premeditated homicide. Accidental murder was shown in the example of a man’s axe, while being used to cut down a tree, accidentally flew off and killed another person. In this situation the offender could flee to a sanctuary city and not be condemned (Deuteronomy 19:5). In light of the possibility of such incidents the people were to add additional sanctuary cities throughout the land to mitigate against the possibility of unjust killings due to accidental deaths (Deuteronomy 19:7-10). This law was put in place because it is within the heart of the injured person to return evil for evil seeking to avenge the murder of a relative, as in the example of the axe already given. Therefore, the law was given to protect the offender from harm since he held no previous animosity towards the one accidentally murdered (Deuteronomy 19:6). Underneath the essence of this law is the grace of God extended to the people in which they are to extend to others in such circumstances. While we may have never murdered anyone – accidentally or intentionally – Jesus declared that murder is different within the economy of the Kingdom of God. Murder, physically speaking, meant the taking of a life, but Jesus says that murder happens in being angry with, insulting or calling another believer a fool. Such action is liable of judgment and hell (Matthew 5:21-22). The actions Jesus mentions are intentional sins – intentional acts of spiritual murder – and the Lord, in them all, provides grace for our repentance, restoration and reconciliation with one another. If the Lord had not provided the law of sanctuary cities the people of Israel, in some circumstances, would have continually violated God’s law. But the Law preserved the brother or sister who, in their anger, was seek vengeance. They were protected from their own sin (grace) because the Lord provided these sanctuary cities.
JUSTICE (Deuteronomy 11:13)
Even though the Lord provided us with so many means of grace and mercies it is still possible that we, in our sinful passions, might seek the handle matters in our way. If this were to happen, if a person still sought and murdered someone for an accidental homicide and, afterwards, fled to the sanctuary cities for protection, the elders were still charged to be diligent in executing justice (Deuteronomy 19:13). If the person is found to have avenged another’s murder he would be punished and executed (Deuteronomy 19:14). One evident reality in this is that the Lord sees. It matters not whether the individual hides in a sanctuary city of not, the Lord who sees all and knows all will discover and expose such a person. The same is true for all of us. In our sinful passions we can act and behave in ways that warrant discipline from the Lord. Whatever the excuse or reasoning may be the Lord will shed light on our heart motives and deceptions and call us to account.
February 9, 2020
Honor is something that we do not quite understand in the United States. We understand what it means but our culture is not an honor culture and, therefore, the depth of the term and its varied applications escapes us. In honor cultures individuality is shunned. One’s name – last name – identifies them in all of life. To live in such culture means to live in honor of those whose name you represent. You are to honor them, care for them and be concerned, ultimately, for and about them. Anything less is dishonorable and to behave in this way isolates one socially in ways that can be debilitating and irreversible. This is the culture into which we find the people of God. They have been claimed by the Lord and, therefore, His name is their honor and is also to be honored by them. They are to not lose their identity in the land that will pose social, political and religious challenges to their honor of the Lord. They are to do three things to retain honor for the Lord.
LISTEN (Deuteronomy 4:1-5)
At the heart of what it means to be a follower of the Lord is to listen. Listening involves much more than the hearing of what God has required. It necessitates an active obedience to what is heard. Listening, in this context, is passive in the sense that what is being said by the Lord man is commanded to “not add anything … or take anything away from it, so that you might keep the commands of the Lord your God I am giving you (Deuteronomy 4:2). This same command is given by Christ in the book of Revelation (Revelation 22:18-19). Its repetition demonstrates that if the people of Israel, and we, also, the church, were add to the Word of the Lord we would find ourselves in error and rebellion. For we would be following a mixture of truth with human wisdom which, in essence, is failing to follow the Lord. To further drive home this command Moses reminds the people of Baal of Peor and the act of idolatry in which the people tolerated the Moabites. Moses reminds them that “the Lord your God destroyed every one of you who followed Baal Peor” (Deuteronomy 4:3). As the people of God enter into this new land, filled with a multitude of peoples whose worship of rooted in idolatry, they must give themselves to following the statutes and ordinances the Lord gave to Moses that they might live in honor of the Lord (Deuteronomy 4:5). Idolatry is always to fruit of minimizing the Word of God and maximizing our opinions. Paul’s words in Romans 1:21ff highlight the foundation of idolatry where man refused to honor the Lord and His word but were futile in their thinking…their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise they became fools…” (Romans 1:21-22). To live for the Lord demands that we submissively listen to Him and give our allegiance to what He says and not to what we think.
HONOR (DEUTERONOMY 4:6-7)
We are told to “Carefully follow” the statutes and commands of the Lord (Deuteronomy 4:6). The words “Carefully follow” convey two ideas worthy of note. First, the people of God are to show that they live by a standard different from the surrounding culture. They are to be disciplined and precise in their living in order to honor the Lord by reflecting His character among the nations which, like being salt and light of the word (Matthew 5:13, 16) will cause others to honor and praise the Lord (Deuteronomy 4:7-8). Then and now, believers are called to one ethic - the kingdom of God. The purpose, then and now, is the honor and praise of the Lord. To live and to permit spiritual mediocrity is to dishonor the Holy Lord who has called us to shine like lights in the world (Philippians 2:14-15). Second, to carefully follow the Word of God highlights the necessity of retaining His Word, in our minds, in order to be able to use them when needed. Memorizing the Word of God is essential to living for the Lord in a contrary culture. Psalm 1 teaches us what Deuteronomy 4 commands: that the blessed life (the set part life) is rooted in our keeping the Word of God by memorizing (meditating on) it (Psalm 1:2).
TEACH (Deuteronomy 4:9)
To forget is not only human, but it is spiritual warfare. To stay alive, spiritually, in a place where your faith is constantly tested is incredibly difficult. If we, as God’s people, are to keep the faith burning and strong Moses tells us three things to do. First, “be on your guard and diligently watch yourselves” (Deuteronomy 4:9). Stand watch over yourselves. Note the plurality of the command. No one person is to only stand watch over him or herself, but is to fight to see that they help to guard others from being deceived and walking away as well. Second, Moses says “don’t forget the things your eyes have seen” (Deuteronomy 4:9). This reflects specifically back to Baal Peor, where in their idolatry God destroyed the faithless. We should never forget or be made to think that the Lord is anything other than Holy and will destroy all and any who live contrary to His character or outside of Christ. But one could also remember the great and awesome things the Lord has done as well. When we are prone to slip or to lose heart or faith, remembering His goodness and His mercy as well as the many ways in which His hand has saved and rescued us can be a compelling power to fight to honor and obey Him. Third, Moses commands, “teach them to your children and grandchildren” (Deuteronomy 4:9). The late R.C. Sproul has said that we are always one generation away from losing the gospel. I think we see the truth of this sentiment in the falling away of many in the so-called Millennial generation. If we long to see the gospel’s continued power for generations to come it begins with our present faithfulness to teach and train those who are young to be strong in the faith and devoted to the Lord.
February 16, 2020
THE PROMISE (DEUT. 6:1-3)
In the context of multiple nations with their own ethics the people of God needed to remain distinct and reflect their devotion to the Lord. This distinction would come by following His statutes and ordinances in the land they were about to enter and possess (Deuteronomy 6:1) so that, as a result, they “may prosper and multiply greatly” (Deuteronomy 6:2). This prosperity is described in four ways. First, their fear of the Lord would increase as they obeyed Him (Deuteronomy 6:2). They would grow in their reverence and honor of the Lord, keeping His glory and fame at the forefront of all they do. Second, they would experience a long (full) life (Deuteronomy 6:2). Obedience would not simply bring about a greater length of days but life that is full of meaning; a life of fulfilling the purposes of the Lord and walking in in His joy. Third, obedience would bring success. This is what is meant by the phrase “a land flowing with milk and honey” (Deuteronomy 6:3). All would go well for them because, in their obedience, God would protect and provide for them at every turn. All that they would ever need God, Himself, would provide. Finally, they would experience phenomenal growth as a people through child birth. This is more than a promise of having children. It is a promise that their seed would also be blessed because of their parents’ obedience. Today, these same blessings are reiterated throughout the New Testament, the only difference is that the blessings are, primarily, spiritual (Ephesians 1:3). As we walk in obedience to the Lord in a land full of many gods, our Lord promises His abiding presence (Matthew 28:20) but also a full life here on earth (Ephesians 6:3).
THE PASSION (DEUT. 6:4-5)
This portion of Deuteronomy is known as the shema. The shema represents the core statement of the faith of Israel that was to be repeated, often, as a reminder of their loyalty to the Lord. It begins with the call to listen (Deuteronomy 6:4). To listen was to give intense and undistracted consideration to what was about to be said. It was no passive listening being called for, but a listening with a passion to submit and obey. At the heart of the shema is this: “The Lord our God, the Lord is one” (Deuteronomy 6:4). This monotheistic statement was the essence of Israel’s worship. Unlike the rampant polytheism of the day, Israel was known distinctly as a people who worship one God. This also pointed to the uniqueness and supremacy of the Lord over all other so-called gods. Israel is to worship the one, true and living God and Him alone! Such worship was to be more than ritualistic or a simple formality. Worship was to involve the whole of the passions and desires of Israel – “with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your strength” (Deuteronomy 6:5). In essence they were to worship with their heart (the fullness of their minds), soul (their volition and will) and strength (the intensity and fervor expressed in their actions). Worship is passion. It is whole life passion. The Lord calls for and claims the whole of all who love Him and without such totality our worship fails to exhibit devotion and fidelity. This includes the church today. Jesus quoted this verse in reference to the question of what is the greatest commandment (See Mark 12:28-30). The mark of a true saint is a passion to worship Him truly and completely. While sin limits this possibility, our faith in Christ makes growth in worship possible. As we grow in love and obedience to Christ we will find our affections, mind and lives yielded more and more to the worship of the Lord.
THE PROCLAMATION (DEUT. 6:6-9)
Passion for the Lord curbs the mere formality of worship. The diverse ways in which the people of God can show forth their singular devotion and love to the Lord are enumerated in these verses. First, the laws “are to be in your heart” which is a call to memorize the them (Deuteronomy 6:6). Second, “Repeat them to your children” (Deuteronomy 6:7). As one sharpens a knife, believers should spiritually sharpen their children by ensuring their knowledge of the Lord and His laws. Third, everyday aspects of life whether it be “in your house” or “along the road” (Deuteronomy 6:7) – such as when shopping or driving to dance class – the law of the Lord should be central to our conversation. Fourth, the laws should be on their hand and their forehead (Deuteronomy 6:8) symbolizing that no activity is to be done contrary to the law of God and that they should occupy every aspect of our thinking. Finally, the laws should be written on their “doorposts” and on the “city gates” (Deuteronomy 6:9). In essence, every aspect of the lives of God’s people, then and now, should be marked by the Word of God.
THE POSSESSION (DEUT. 6:10-13)
The long-awaited promise given to Abraham (Gen. 15:18-21), Isaac (Gen. 26:2-5) and Jacob (Gen. 28:10-17) is now become a reality. All that they have is given to them by the Lord alone and not due to any action on their own. They have been given a land already furnished with everything they need: large and beautiful cities that you did not build, houses full of every good thing that you did not fill them with, cisterns that you did not dig, and vineyards and olive groves that you did not plant” (Deuteronomy 6:10-11). God gave them the land and every possible means to enjoy the land. Just like salvation! God gives us what we do not deserve and then provides us with every grace to enjoy it (2 Peter 1:3). This prosperity, however, can be difficult, leaving us easily to not be mindful of the One who provided it for us. Moses, therefore, calls the people to “be careful not to forget the Lord” who took you from slavery (Deuteronomy 6:12). The antidote to forgetting the Lord is fearing Him and worshipping Him (Deuteronomy 6:13); living in reverence to Him at all times and in allegiance to Him with the totality of our affections. Today, Christians must fight to remember the Lord’s mercies with the many distractions to our affections. Yet, living in a constant gaze of His majesty and glory as well as never forsaking our assembling together with the saints (Hebrews 10:23-25) are disciplines that fight against the sloth, indifference and being unthankful for His gracious ways towards us.
February 23, 2020
God is not doing a new thing, despite the fact that so many think He is. There is no new message and certainly no new revelation. People often say that God has given them a revelation or that He has revealed such and such to them. This talk of revelation is problematic in our day when God’s final Word is the Bible, Genesis-Revelation. So how can we know who represents God and why is representation needed to begin with?
THE NEED (Deuteronomy 18:15-17)
The people stood in need of someone standing between them and the Lord. His voice, unmediated, was too much and, as a result they requested, ‘Let us not continue to hear the voice of the Lord our God or see this great fire any longer, so that we will not die!’ (Deuteronomy 18:16). Arriving at Mt. Sinai was a terrifying thing, seeing the mountain burning and shaking with lightening all about, they were not going near this awesome sight. Yet, their request for a mediator was not something that would be for this moment only. The mediator would be a permanent fixture and reality for the people and their relating to the Lord. Moses said “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him” (Deuteronomy 18:15). While every other prophet would fulfill this role none, apart from Christ, would be as unique as Moses. The other prophets heard from the Lord, but God spoke with Moses face to face as a man to his friend (Exodus 33:11). Whoever Moses spoke of would need to be greater than the prophets that would follow. That one would be Jesus, the Christ. He did not need to meet with God, He was God in the flesh to the people. He did not need any dreams or revelations, but was Himself, the revelation of God (John 1:18) and would speak the Word of God. Jesus was more than a friend, He was the Son (Hebrews 3:5-6). With all of these qualities Christ is the perfect and, thus the only true Mediator between God and man (1st Timothy 2:5). The holiness of God still demands mediation. Our sin still reveals our eternal plight. None can behold glory without dying and none can stand before it with sin. In Christ, we do not come to a mountain of wrath and dread (Hebrews 12:18-19), but to the mountain full of the grace of God (Hebrews 12:22).
THE PROVISION (Deuteronomy 18:18-19)
This mediator will speak the Word of God placed within His mouth and will tell the people all that the Lord commanded (Deuteronomy 18:19). Everyone who did not listen to Him God, Himself, would hold them accountable (Deuteronomy 18:19). What is most remarkable about these verses is verse 18: “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers” (Deuteronomy 18:18). The prophet was not to be a foreigner, one who had joined the people of Israel throughout their journey. He had to be one who was of the people – like them. Who better to know how to lead as the Lord commands but one who understand the history and the struggles of the children of Israel. Who could stand in the gap for a people if they did not know the origin of their relationship with the Lord or the great struggle to remain true and faithful to Him amid temptation? No one. Yet, in this we find a remarkable picture regarding the ministry of Christ and the power of His mediation. Christ came as a man, not as an angel or as exclusively the divine Son. He was God, for sure, but He was also man and it is in this fashion as man that His mediation is powerful. Who could understand a battle with being humble before God and man but one who, as a man, learned this (Philippians 2:5-11)? Who could understand the struggle to obey as a human being except one who, while as a human, battled to obey the Lord (Hebrews 5:7)
THE TEST (Deuteronomy 18:20-22)
How was Israel to know if a prophet was actually sent by God? There were so many who were making predictions about what the future held for the nation! Who was actually representing the Lord. In these verses, we find the God given parameters to make such a determination. If the prophet speaks in the name of another God they must die (Deuteronomy 18:20) or if their prophecy does not come to pass they have “spoken it presumptuously. Do not be afraid of him (Deuteronomy 18:20-22). For us it is different. We do not live in the age of prophets since we have the complete Bible to which none can add or subtract (Revelation 22:18). The ways in which we can determine truthfully called preachers of the word are through their life and their doctrine (their teaching). Jesus said you know a tree by the fruit it bears (Matthew 7:16). Paul said that if one preaches a message that mixes grace with effort, such a one is worthy of damnation; even if it is an angel from heaven (Galatians 1:6-9). Therefore, Paul calls true preachers of the gospel to study (2 Timothy 2:15) and to watch their life and their doctrine (1 Timothy 4:16). Therefore, we can conclude that ungodly preachers – those whose lives bear consistent fruit of disobedience to the Lord – as well as those who are no sound in doctrine are to be rejected as representatives of God because God, Himself, has and will reject them as His children. In our day where preachers abound on both radio and television we must give great care and discernment to whose voice we give our attention to.
During her 30 years as Florida Baptists’ director of communications, Barbara ventured across the state — and to Cuba and Haiti — to report on Baptist witness and, amid natural disaster, Baptist compassion.
Barbara and her husband, Dick, are currently enjoying spending time with their first grandchild, Finley, along with Finley’s parents Ashford and Chantal and Barbara and Dick’s daughter, Addie.
Keila earned a B.S. in Communications from Florida International University in Miami. She writes news and stories about Florida Baptist churches, creates and posts social content to the FBC’s social media channels, and is a Baptist Press contributor.
When she’s not working, Keila enjoys bike rides and spending time with her family.
Barbara, a member at Eau Gallie First BC, Melbourne, and a graduate of Florida State University, B.S., Speech Pathology/Audiology, taught Pre-K/VPK for many years. While living and serving in Maine, she wrote articles for the NEW ENGLAND BAPTIST, and currently writes for the Brevard Baptist Association’s newsletter, THE BRIDGE. She loves serving alongside her husband Mike (Associational Mission Strategist, Brevard Baptist Association), spending time with their three grandchildren, sewing and reading.
David Moore has been writing and editing for newspapers and magazines in Florida for more than 20 years. He has a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Florida. A proud member of First Baptist Church of Ocala, David serves in the worship, deacon and NextGen ministries. He and his wife Beth have three children.
Jessica received her B.S. in Biblical Studies from Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. She contributes to Florida Baptist Conv, Biblical Woman, Baptist Press, The Devotional for Women, and Daily Devotional Bible for Women. Her greatest joy is serving beside her husband who is the Senior Pastor of Fellowship Church.
Brandi is a writer and editor for N2 Publishing, a community magazine that honors God. She and her family attend Fishhawk Fellowship Church and are a Host Family for Safe Families for Children, Bethany Christian Services. Her background is in Healthcare Management, Policies & Procedures.