JESUS CHRIST IS A PERFECT HIGH PRIEST – A.J. Gordon
In Aaron, we have a picture of our Great High Priest. His garments were all typical. The three ornaments of his dress, which were engraved with a signet, teach a very precious lesson. The onyx stones on his shoulder and the breastplate on his heart were engraved with the names of the children of Israel, that he might bear them before the Lord continually. The plate of the mitre, on his forehead was engraved with ”Holiness to the Lord” to bear the iniquity of their holy things ”that they might be accepted before the Lord.” On his shoulders, on his forehead, and on his heart. What do we see here but the perfect strength and perfect wisdom and perfect love of our High Priest put forth on our behalf? The Good Shepherd lays the lost sheep ”on His shoulder.” Christ is ”made unto us Wisdom.” ”Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” Many of us see the uselessness of an outward priesthood– of any man to come between us and God. But are we equally clear in valuing the inner Reality? Do we feel our utter need of the Lord Jesus as our Great High Priest, and recognise that we cannot draw near to God except through His one availing sacrifice? Aaron, the type, fell short, for he was a sinful man. Jesus Christ is a perfect High Priest. As man, He was tempted in all points like as we are, yet without sin. He is able to sympathize and to succour [i.e., help us in our need] because He has been through it all. He is able to understand our need to the uttermost because He was perfect man. He is able to meet our need to the uttermost because He is perfect God. He was able to bear the whole world’s sin in His Atonement on the Cross. He is able to bear the whole world’s need in intercession upon the Throne.
DIE VADER SE VOLMAAKTE PLAN – Albert Theron
“Dit is die Gees wat lewend maak, die vlees is van geen nut nie…” Johannes 6:63
Dit is net die Gees van God wat lewe kan gee en slegs deur Sy aktiwiteit groei die koninkryk van God op aarde. Jesus alleen is die deur tot die volheid van die Gees. Ware geloof in Jesus is ‘n onwrikbare oortuiging dat ek nie uit myself die hand van God in beweging kan bring nie. Die Vader stuur Jesus om die weg voor te berei vir die volle aktiwiteit van die Gees. Die Gees verheerlik Jesus en bring sodoende die koninkryk binne die bereik van geloof wat weer die deur oopmaak vir verdere aktiwiteit van die Gees. So groei die koninkryk en op geen ander manier nie. Mag alle ander planne, programme, menslike idees en misplaaste godsdiensywer geheel en al tot niet gaan, want dit staan net in die pad van God se Meersterplan.
JESUS DID NOT DIE TO IMPROVE OUR EXISTENCE IN ADAM – Michael Horton
Liberalism started off by downplaying doctrine in favor of moralism and inner experience, losing Christ by degrees. Nevertheless, it is not heresy as much as silliness that is killing us softly. God is not denied but trivialized—used for our life programs rather than received, worshiped, and enjoyed.
Christ is a source of empowerment, but is he widely regarded among us today as the source of redemption for the powerless? He helps the morally sensitive to become better, but does he save the ungodly—including Christians? He heals broken lives, but does he raise those who are “dead in trespasses and sins” (Eph. 2:1 NKJV)? Does Christ come merely to improve our existence in Adam or to end it, sweeping us into his new creation? Is Christianity all about spiritual and moral makeovers or about death and resurrection—radical judgment and radical grace? Is the Word of God a resource for what we have already decided we want and need, or is it God’s living and active criticism of our religion, morality, and pious experience? In other words, is the Bible God’s story, centering on Christ’s redeeming work, that rewrites our stories, or is it something we use to make our stories a little more exciting and interesting?
THE VERY HEART OF THINGS – Austin Sparks
It is the Lord, utterness for the Lord, not a thing, but for the Lord. The difference is just this: are you concerned for some institution, teaching, fellowship, organisation, place, enterprise, testimony? Well, it might be well to be very much concerned for such if it is of God, but beloved, that is not enough. It must be the very heart of things: the Lord Himself; His honour, not our reputation; not things about which we are interested. No! Just how far the Lord is involved, how far the Lord is interested and concerned – you must ask Him to make that clear.
I find difficulty in making quite clear and plain what is very clear to me as I speak. I see this feature about Paul. What a run Paul has had, what a career, what a sphere he has had. There has been no man who had so much to show as a result of his work. But it is going… he is losing his place in the hearts of those who owe him most. He is gradually, but very definitely, being shut down until in his prison he has to confess that all in Asia turned away from him, “This one and that one has left me and now only Luke is with me”, and it looks as if his whole life work had gone to pieces and he was a failure. If that were the thing that concerned him most of all, he would have died of a broken heart, and ended in despair. Instead of that we have a different result at the end. Why? Because at the end you find intensified stress upon the Lord Himself. Paul is able to say, “If I had spent all this time and energy, this strength, these years in trying to build up for myself something great, then I am a failure and here I have very little to show for it”. That would have been the result of his having an enterprise as his life’s dominating object. But because it was the Lord so utterly, he could see things go to pieces and still maintain his position in triumph. It’s an impressive thing. You see, if your work is your god and it goes to pieces, you and your god and your work all go together. If it is the Lord, you know the Lord, and it is Himself, then you have got something to carry you through the changing aspect of things. When you see things apparently changing for the worst, you know the Lord in it and that carries you through. Ask the Lord to make that very clear to you. That is something precious.
With these men it was not their ministry, work, vocation, enterprise, programmes, schemes; it was the Lord. Therefore they could suffer the apparent wrecking of their schemes and their work, but know that there was that which was eternal at the heart of things that could never be destroyed.
VERNUWING IN JESUS VIR DIE WAT LEWENSMOEG IS – Albert Theron
“Kom na My toe, almal wat vermoeid en belas is, en Ek sal julle rus gee.” Mattheüs 11:28 ‘
Hoe verfrissend eenvoudig is hierdie uitkoms wat Jesus gee vir almal wat “vermoeid en belas is”. Is jy moeg en tam? Voel jy uitgeput en lewensvoos? Voel dit of jy altyd te min tyd het en te veel take wat afgehandel moet word? Is die druk by die werk ondraaglik en dan het jy dalk boonop spanning by die huis? Slaap jy sleg en dan lê die eise van ‘n nuwe dag soos ‘n massiewe berg voor jou? Die werksprobleme, verhoudingsprobleme, gesondheidsprobleme, en finansiële probleme hoop net op. Miskien het jy al allerhande dinge en selfs medikasie probeer om die las te verlig. Dalk het jy ‘n bietjie verligting beleef, maar die druk van die lewe hou net nie op nie en dit raak alles te veel vir jou.
As jy ‘n dissipel van Jesus is wat al ‘n tyd met Hom stap, is jy heel moontlik vertroud met ‘n verskeidenheid geestelike antwoorde en oplossings vir jou lewensmoegheid. Dalk is baie van hierdie antwoorde en oplossings wat aan jou gegee is eintlik maar net sielkundige motiveringsbeginsels met ‘n Christelike sousie oor om dit legitimiteit te gee. Die Bybel het baie antwoorde vir elke moontlike menslike dilemma en stryd, maar in werklikheid kan al die antwoorde gereduseer word tot een enkele antwoord, Jesus! Hy self is die antwoord. Hý is die Weg uit die verwoesting, skuld en skande van sonde, Hý is die Waarheid wat vrymaak van leuens, misleiding en ‘n duistere verwardheid, Hý is die Lewe wat ‘n situasie van totale doodsheid in ‘n oomblik kan verander met die opstandingskrag wat deur Hom bruis. As jy moeg en tam is vandag dan bid ek dat die kragtig-eenvoudige woorde van Jesus, “Kom na My toe”, ‘n weg sal vind deur al jou skanse, teleurstellings en mislukkings en sal deurdring tot binne-in jou hart.
Dis al. Net dit. Kom stort jou hart uit by Hom en lê al jou laste op Hom. Bely net weer jou liefde en totale oorgawe aan Hom en Hy belowe ongekende rus en vernuwing wat niks of niemand op aarde vir jou kan gee nie. Hy nooi jóu vandag uit met Sy uitnodiging wat steeds deur al die eeue onveranderd bly staan, “Kom na My toe”.
WAKE UP AND LISTEN CLOSELY TO GOD – John Piper
What Hebrews is saying here is that in the Christian life we must go on listening to God’s Word in Jesus. And we must do this with very close attention. We cannot treat this casually. We cannot act as if we already know all we need to know, or that we have nothing to gain from listening to Jesus. There is an urgency here in Hebrews 2:1. Literally it says, “It is exceedingly necessary that we give heed to what we have heard.” It is not just an option that you can do if you are especially spiritual or have a crisis in front of you or if you are at camp or if you need to prepare some lesson. This is a word to all Christians: it is “exceedingly necessary to give heed” to Jesus as the Word of God. This is not an isolated command in the book of Hebrews. This concern to get the readers to wake up and listen closely to God is repeated. For example, Hebrews 3:1 says, “Therefore, holy brethren, partakers of a heavenly calling, consider Jesus.” Consider Jesus! That’s the point of Hebrews 2:1. Listen to him. Consider him. Focus on him. Stay close to him and keep him in your thoughts. Learn more and more from him every day—what he is like and what he says and the way he sees the world. Then again in Hebrews 12:1–2 the author says, “Let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus.” There it is again: “Fix your eyes on Jesus.” Consider Jesus! Listen to Jesus! One of the great burdens of this book is that we the readers will see how serious it is to listen to Jesus, the Word of God, and consider Jesus, and fix our eyes on Jesus. This is the first commandment in the book. It is not a difficult command: Listen! Consider! Look! These are not hard things to do—unless we don’t want to do them. The first command of this book is not “labor for Jesus,” but “listen to Jesus.” He is not commanding us to work for him, but to watch him. All our spiritual life-changes come from that (2 Corinthians 3:18).
EVANGELIE-KRAG VIR ELKE DAG – Albert Theron
“WANT ek skaam my nie oor die evangelie van Christus nie, want dit is ’n krag van God tot redding vir elkeen wat glo, eerste vir die Jood en ook vir die Griek.” Romeine 1:16
Die evangelie van Jesus Christus bring vergifnis, geregtigheid en nuwe lewe vir elkeen wat dit glo en hulle volle vertroue plaas in Jesus en Sy volmaakte werk van verlossing. Die evangelie is ryk en omvattend, maar vir een of ander rede het ons iewers in die kerk se geskiedenis begin glo dat dit net bedoel is om ons by redding te bring en daarna moet ons aanbeweeg na ander prioriteite en onderwerpe. Dit is ‘n fatale denkfout. Die evangelie maak nie net regverdig nie, dit maak ook heilig en dit is ons enigste hoop op die heerlikheid wat vir ons voorlê.
Die evangelie gaan oor die Persoon en Werk van Jesus en dit sluit alles in wat bedoel word met die allesomvattende term “in Christus” in die Nuwe Testament. Daar is geen onderwerp in die Nuwe Testament wat los staan van die evangelie nie. Ons het dringend nodig om terug te keer na ‘n radikale evangelie-gerigtheid. In Jesus is daar evangelie-krag vir elke dag, maar dan moet ons, ons fokus regkry en nie antwoorde soek in allerhande “geestelike” idees wat apart van Jesus definieër en bedink word nie.
LIVING BY FAITH OR REASON? – Ray Stedman
There are only two attitudes by which we can face life. Either we face it in faith depending upon God, or we face it in unbelief depending upon our own ability to reason out everything. These are the two fundamental attitudes, and they are the only two. You can only have one or the other. If you look around you will see that every human being on the face of the earth can be put into one of these two categories. Either they are trusting in the wisdom of the human mind to study events and arrange solutions, and they try to analyze the writings of clever men and come to conclusions about human events based on these sources, or they take what God has said and believe that when he has said a thing will happen, it will happen and that all of history converges into, and hinges on, that promise.
Now that is the difference between a man of faith and a man who lives by his reason. One of the saddening things to me is to see how many Christians are being trapped into actually living by reason, and by the cleverness of the human rational processes, in the name of Christianity. There are many who say that the job of the church is to organize people who are disadvantaged in some way so they can exercise political influence and power, bringing pressure to bear on the leaders of the nation to correct abuses, and that this is the Christian thing to do. Now I am not suggesting that it is wrong to help people in need. This is entirely right, as God leads. But the processes of depending upon pressure blocks and picket lines and so on is not even remotely Christian. That is not what the Word of God says to do at all. In contrast, look at the stories of the men and women in the eleventh chapter of Hebrews. How did they change the world of their day? It says that they endured as seeing one who is invisible. They were not expecting man to do anything. They were expecting God to work and God always did work. As he worked, things began to change, and the history of that kind of working is the amazing success story of men and women who stopped the mouths of lions, subdued kingdoms, toppled thrones, won empires and changed the course of history by faith – not by counting on man to work but on God.
THE PERIL OF SELF-CONFIDENCE – A.B. Simpson
The sad story of Saul’s downward descent and final, tragic ruin should be enough to make us tremble at the peril that lies before any willful person! May it ever cause us to cry out, “My Father, not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).
The peril of self-confidence is seen just as markedly in Simon Peter. Strong in his transitory enthusiasm and ignorant of his own heart’s weakness, he honestly meant what he said to the Lord: “Even if all fall away on account of you, I never will” (Matthew 26:33). But, sadly, there came the shameful denial, the piercing look of Jesus, the bitter tears of penitence and the awful hours of the crucifixion. These all taught Peter the lesson of his nothingness and the necessity of walking no longer in self-confidence but humbly, in the strength of the Lord alone!
We are given a vivid and impressive object lesson of the last form of self-will—the pride that glories in its own achievements and excellencies—in the account of Nebuchadnezzar. “Is not this the great Babylon I have built?” he cries in the hour of his triumph (Daniel 4:30). As he looked upon the city, surely he saw that it was indeed a paragon of human glory, the metropolis of his mighty empire that literally included the world. If mortal man ever had a reason to glory in earthly magnificence, Nebuchadnezzar had it. After all, God Himself had compared him and his kingdom to a majestic head of gold and had symbolized his power as a winged lion. But the instant that vainglorious word reached the ears of God, the answer fell from heaven like a knell of judgment: “Your royal authority has been taken away from you. You will be driven away from people and will live with the wild animals; you will eat grass like cattle. Seven times will pass by for you until you acknowledge that the Most High is Sovereign over the kingdoms of men and gives them to anyone he wishes” (Daniel 4:30-32).
OM CHRISTUS AS WINS TE VERKRY – Albert Theron
“Maar wat vir my wins was, dit het ek om Christus wil skade geag. Ja waarlik, ek ag ook alles skade om die uitnemendheid van die kennis van Christus Jesus, my Here, ter wille van wie ek alles prysgegee het en as drek beskou, om Christus as wins te verkry.” Filippense 3:7-8
Die dag toe Paulus Jesus op die pad na Damaskus ontmoet het, het hy alles wat hy so hard voor gewerk het tot op daardie oomblik in sy lewe; naamlik roem, eer, erkenning in die akademies-teologiese wêreld en sy ereplek in terme van sy Joodse geslagsregister opgegee. Hy het dit gedoen omdat hy in ‘n verbysterend-intense oomblik van Goddelike openbaring Jesus in sy heerlikheid gesien het. Paulus het in die dae en weke daarna besef dat hy nie kon vashou aan ‘n aardse identiteit en al die voordele daaraan verbonde en terselfdertyd groei in die kennis van Christus in sy heerlikheid nie. Hy het nie wedergeboorte gesien as ‘n blote kaartjie hemel toe nie, maar as die deur na ‘n lewe waar God ons voortdurend dieper wil inlei in die kennis van Sy Seun. Wat het ek en jy al opgegee en as “drek beskou” om te groei in die kennis van Christus en om Hom “as wins te verkry”? Mag die Heilige Gees ons harte verlig en ons intrek in die soort toewyding aan Jesus wat Paulus hier van praat. Dit is nie net bedoel vir spesiale super-geestelikes of apostels nie. Dit is die roeping en wil van God vir elke dissipel van Jesus.
NO TWILIGHT ZONE – A.W. Tozer
There are always some who will argue that Jesus should have compromised, that He should have tried to “get along.” We humans ought to notice something very wonderful and very different about the Lord Jesus—He was genuinely what He was, and He was never anything else but what He was. We presume that He could have “gotten along” with these folks better than He did if He had wanted to. He didn’t have to rub the salt into the wounds, but He did. He did not lose His temper, but He never backed off at all, and He never said anything that He had to take back later. You will notice that our Lord never had to apologize, for He always said exactly what He meant, and always with exactly the right amount of rebuke or love or compassion. If it had been His ministry to do it, He could have compromised and gotten on better, but He drew the line sharply, and said, “Whoever is not for me is against me!” He left no area open as a twilight zone, for in the kingdom of God there will be no darkness and in hell there will be no light. Jesus drew the line sharply between the darkness of hell and the light of heaven—He didn’t try to blend them into a compromising twilight. In our day, the churches are trying to offer such a blend and such a compromise between heaven and hell. Some pastors feel that this is the way to get along with people and to improve the church’s public relations. Honestly, our Lord would have flunked any such test on public relations. They wouldn’t have given Him a grade of 30. He would have flunked the whole thing because He was dealing completely in the area of truth, and truth is just truth—it never has to worry about its image. Truth never worries about the effect it will have, about who is going to hate it or who is going to accept it, or what there is to lose and what there is to gain. Our Lord was Truth incarnate, and that explains all of the conflict, all of the animosity. Perhaps He could have backed up, and said the same thing in a gentle and half-hearted way, so that there would be no line drawn. In doing that, He would have pleased those who would like to have seen heaven and hell join arms, going down the street in fellowship, saying, “If we cannot agree, let’s not disagree.” I think it is a different matter when we are concerned only with opinions, things that are not spiritual and issues that are not moral. If it is only a matter of taste or opinion, the decent thing to do is to say, “If we don’t agree, let’s not disagree!” But where there is a matter of spiritual conviction at issue, the man who apologizes is a coward. In the case of Jesus and His enemies, they were not dealing with taste or etiquette or charm or art. They were dealing with eternal and spiritual issues, so Jesus rubbed it in, and told them plainly, “You are of your father the devil.” He said, “You do not know God.” He told them, “If Abraham was your father, you would act like Abraham.”
DRINGEND GESOEK: IEMAND WAT DIE BELANGE VAN JESUS CHRISTUS OP DIE HART DRA – Albert Theron
“Ek hoop om, as die Here Jesus wil, Timoteus gou na julle toe te stuur, sodat ek ook rus in my gemoed kan hê as ek gehoor het hoe dit met julle gaan. Ek het trouens niemand met dieselfde gesindheid as hy en wat julle belange so opreg sal behartig nie. Al die ander soek net hulle eie belange, nie dié van Jesus Christus nie.” Filippense 2:19-21 (NAV)
Dit is so hartseer om te lees dat Paulus onder dissipels van Jesus iemand moes soek wat die Here se belange op die hart gedra het. Wat presies ís die Here se belange? Die gemeente. Is dit nie kosbaar om te weet dat Jesus werklik besonder besorg is oor elkeen van Sy dissipels nie? Dit is inderdaad ‘n wonderlike wete wat ‘n mens se gemoed baie goed doen. Maar die ander kant van die saak is dat Jesus ons bedien en na ons omsien deur mense. As ons net altyd wag dat ander ons bedien en nie self begin om Jesus se belange op die hart te dra nie word die las te swaar vir die enkeles wat wel wegkyk van hulleself en ander bedien.
Dan moet daar natuurlik ook ‘n groot kopskuif by ons kom sodat ons kan ophou om die bediening van mense in die gemeente net te sien as die domein van pastore, dominees, ouderlinge en mense in “voltydse bediening”. Dit is hoog tyd vir ons almal om die radikale onderskeid tussen “professionele bediening” en die bediening van mekaar op grondvlak vir altyd vaarwel toe te roep. Ons het almal verskillende rolle en funksies en as jy nie begin stap in jou spesifieke en unieke diens aan die liggaam van Christus nie, ly die hele gemeente. Mag die Gees van God elkeen wat hierdie dagstukkie lees wakker skud en opwek om die gemeente te begin dien. En dit beteken maar net om ander mense werklik te begin raaksien, vir hulle te bid en daar te wees vir hulle met dit wat die Heilige Gees op jou hart lê en waarmee Hy jou toegerus het. Net so, en op geen ander manier nie kan die gemeente van Jesus versorg en volwasse word om ‘n kragtige getuienis van andersheid en Goddelike liefde in die wêreld te bring.
“Hieraan sal almal weet dat julle my dissipels is, as julle liefde onder mekaar het.” Johannes 13:35
BEWARE OF AN ACADEMIC INTEREST IN THE SCRIPTURES – Martyn Lloyd-Jones
What I mean is that the Scripture must always be applied, so that when you have read your portion of Scripture in the morning, or whenever you read it, you do not just say, ‘Ah, yes, I have read the Notes and I have got the analysis’. No, you must stop and say, ‘Now, what does this say to me? Where do I come in?’ I may have been reading about the Pharisees and our Lord’s arguments with them, and His final denunciation of them – and I think to myself, ‘What terrible people the Pharisees were!’ But I must go on from there and say, ‘Am I a Pharisee, I wonder? Is there anything of that in me? It may not be blatant always, it can be there in a very small form, but is there anything of that in me?’ Always apply it.
Oh, I say it again – there is no such thing in my opinion as ‘lecturing’ on the Bible,- the Bible must be preached; it must be applied; it must be brought home. The Apostle insists upon that. He will not pass on until he is clear and satisfied about it all. He wants it to be perfectly clear to these people who think they have got an understanding of it when they have not; so he works out the argument. And, God willing, we shall follow him as he proceeds through the Epistle. But above all, I do pray that we will be examining ourselves the whole time, seeing its relevance and application to us. We must always put ourselves under the Word and look up to it and listen to it as it speaks to us. We must never study the Bible academically. Never become theoretical! That has been the curse of theological seminaries. Men who have gone in full of life have come out dead, and all because of this academic interest in the Scriptures. Beware of it! It can even be a danger of studies like these. It is a danger whenever we read the Scriptures, whenever we listen to a sermon. It must always be applied: applied to ourselves, not to the other person, and we must pray that we may all have grace to apply it as it comes to us.
REDEEMED BY HIS BLOOD – Horatius Bonar
If Christ be not the Substitute, He is nothing to the sinner. If He did not die as the Sin-bearer, He has died in vain. Let us not be deceived on this point, or misled by those who, when they announce Christ as the Deliverer, think they have preached the Gospel. If I throw a rope to a drowning man, I am a deliverer. But is Christ no more than that? If I cast myself into the sea, and risk my life to save another, I am a deliverer. But is Christ no more? Did He but risk His life? The very essence of Christ’s deliverance is the substitution of Himself for us, His life for ours. He did not come to risk His life; he came to die! He did not redeem us by a little loss, a little sacrifice, a little labor, a little suffering. “He redeemed us to God by his blood,” “the precious blood of Christ” (Rev 5:9; 1Pe 1:19). He gave all He had, even His life, for us. This is the kind of deliverance that awakens the happy song, “To him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood” (Rev 1:5).
‘N PERFEKTE GEMEENTE OF ‘N CHRISTUS-GEVULDE GEMEENTE?
– Albert Theron
“Lieg nie vir mekaar nie, omdat julle die oue mens met sy werke afgelê het en julle jul met die nuwe mens beklee het wat vernuwe word tot kennis na die beeld van sy Skepper, waar daar nie Griek en Jood, besnedene en onbesnedene, barbaar, Skith, slaaf, vryman is nie, maar Christus is alles en in almal.” Kolossense 3:9-11
Daar is ‘n gesegde wat lui: “As jy die perfekte gemeente vind, moenie daar aansluit nie, want dan is dit nie meer perfek nie”. Die punt wat die gesegde probeer oordra is sekerlik geldig, maar as dit as verskoning gebruik word om kompromie, sonde en wêreldsheid te verskoon, is dit ‘n gruwel in die oë van die Here.
Dit is relatief raar vandag (‘n amper totale gebrek aan onderskeiding is baie meer algemeen), maar mens kry steeds die oor-kritiese persone wat selfs met die suiwerste gemeente op aarde fout sal vind. Hulle het nodig om bogenoemde gesegde dringend ter harte te neem. Die oorgrote meerderheid van mense wat hulleself beskou as “Christene” vandag het egter nodig om te verstaan dat God die Vader m.b.t. gemeentelewe primêr besorg is oor ‘n rein en suiwer fokus op Jesus. Jesus is die Here van die gemeente en Hy begeer om in alles sentraal te staan en elke lid van sy Liggaam te vul met sý wysheid, krag, geregtigheid, heiligheid, lewe en liefde. As jy ‘n gemeente soek, maak seker dat jy een vind waar Jesus absoluut sentraal staan en sy Kruis, sy Opstanding, sy Persoon, sy Gees en sy Woord deurdringend kan werk in elke lid, juis omdat Hy in elke aktiwiteit en in alle voornemens die eerste plek kry. In werklikheid kan ons níks sonder Hom doen nie (Joh. 15:5).
THE CEASELESS UNFOLDINGS OF HIS UNCLOUDED GLORY – Octavius Winslow
“We shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” 1 John 3:2.
Who can fully tell of all the Redeemer’s glory in heaven? Or, were it fully revealed, what power to grasp, what faculties to comprehend, what eye to behold, and what tongue to describe so lofty a theme and so sublime a spectacle as this? But we shall behold it! We, too, shall be glorified. The mind shall be adjusted to the mightiness of the theme, and the eye shall be strengthened for the dazzling magnificence of the spectacle. With every physical and mental and moral faculty perfectly developed and sanctified, we shall be a glorified Church, placed in the presence, and contemplating through eternity the glory, of a glorified Head. We shall behold the Redeemer’s glory. “Shall I see the King in His beauty? What! my eye behold His glory?” Yes! if you see beauty in Jesus now, if your eye beholds glory in Immanuel, feeble and dim though the view may be, so surely shall you be with Him where He is, and shall contemplate the ceaseless unfoldings of His unclouded glory, and that through all eternity.
VERGEWE EN WEDERGEBORE, MAAR NIE ‘N DISSIPEL NIE?
– Albert Theron
“En Hy sê vir almal: As iemand agter My aan wil kom, moet hy homself verloën en sy kruis elke dag opneem en My volg.” Lukas 9:23
Is dit volgens die Bybel enigsins moontlik om vergewe en wedergebore te wees, maar terselfdertyd nie ‘n dissipel van Jesus te wees nie? Wat sou jou reaksie wees as iemand vir jou sê “ek is wedergebore, maar ek is nog nie ‘n dissipel van Jesus nie”? Is dissipelskap soos ‘n selfoon wat jy kan opgradeer met nuwe sagteware? Is dit ‘n selfoonkontrak wat jou beweeg van vergifnis en wedergeboorte na dissipelskap wanneer jy opgradeer?
Met die wedergeboorte ontvang ons ‘n nuwe lewe in Christus en daardie lewe is per definisie ‘n lewe van dissipelskap en gehoorsaamheid. Christus self word ons lewe (Kol. 3:4) en Sy lewe is een van gehoorsaamheid aan die Vader. Die lewe van Christus in ‘n wedergebore persoon draai gedurig sy of haar hart in die rigting van gehoorsaamheid.
“Want nadat Hy tevore gesê het: Dit is die verbond wat Ek met hulle sal sluit ná dié dae, spreek die Here verder: Ek sal my wette gee in hulle hart, en in hulle verstand sal Ek dit inskrywe.” Hebreërs 10:16
Die geloofslewe is daarom niks minder nie as ‘n “uitwerk” van die heilige impulse van Christus wat die Gees ín ons bewerk (Fil. 2:12-13). Alles wat Jesus dus in die evangelies oor dissipelskap gesê het word toenemend ‘n werklikheid vir die wedergebore persoon. Die slotsom is eenvoudig dit: Daar bestaan nie volgens die Bybel iets soos ‘n vergeefde en wederbaarde persoon wat nie die pad van dissipelskap stap nie. Al is dit ook klein en geringe verbeterings; die mens wat waarlik wedergebore is, sál altyd ‘n begeerte hê na heiligheid en gehoorsaamheid. Vir diegene wat vergifnis soek sonder bekering en wegdraai van ‘n ongehoorsame lewe het die Bybel net slegte nuus. Vir die wat weet hoe verlore hulle is en hoe afhanklik van God (Matt. 5:3) en wat gevolglik vir Jesus aangryp en volg met alles wat in hulle is, is daar heerlike, verlossende en bevrydende goeie nuus! Nie net skenk God aan hulle vergifnis nie, maar ook die lewe van Christus in die wedergeboorte wat die krag tot heiliging en ware dissipelskap binne-in hulle word.
A HEALTHY TENSION WITH REGARD TO GOD’S BEING – Jerry Bridges
It is impossible to be devoted to God if one’s heart is not filled with the fear of God. It is this profound sense of veneration and honor, reverence and awe that draws forth from our hearts the worship and adoration that characterizes true devotion to God. The reverent, godly Christian sees God first in His transcendent glory, majesty, and holiness before he sees Him in His love, mercy, and grace.
There is a healthy tension that exists in the godly person’s heart between the reverential awe of God in His glory and the childlike confidence in God as heavenly Father. Without this tension, a Christian’s filial confidence can easily degenerate into presumption.
One of the more serious sins of Christians today may well be the almost flippant familiarity with which we often address God in prayer. None of the godly men of the Bible ever adopted the casual manner we often do. They always addressed God with reverence. The same writer who tells us that we have confidence to enter the Most Holy Place, the throne room of God, also tells us that we should worship God acceptably with reverence and awe, “for our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 10:19 and 12:28-29). The same Paul who tells us that the Holy Spirit dwelling within us causes us to cry, “Abba, Father,” also tells us that this same God lives in “unapproachable light” (Romans 8:15 and 1 Timothy 6:16).
In our day we must begin to recover a sense of awe and profound reverence for God. We must begin to view Him once again in the infinite majesty that alone belongs to Him who is the Creator and Supreme Ruler of the entire universe.
RESTORING OUR VISION OF HEAVEN – Randy Alcorn
Throughout the ages, Heaven has played a dominant role in the thoughts and lives of God’s people. Heaven is the North Star by which countless Christians have navigated their lives. But have you noticed? Heaven today has largely fallen off our radar screens. If we are honest, we must admit that we are not daily and consciously looking forward to Heaven, much less to a New Earth. We’ve reduced Heaven to an otherworldly state, and we’ve ignored the clear biblical promise of a redeemed universe over which we will serve as God’s delegated rulers. We’ve become blinded to the truth, and we’ve lost our vocabulary of wonder and our anticipation of the great and glorious plan that God has in store for us. Jesus said of the devil, “When he lies, he speaks his native language, for he is a liar and the father of lies” ( John 8:44). Some of Satan’s favorite lies are about Heaven.
In his short story “The Country of the Blind,” H. G. Wells writes of a tribe in a remote valley deep in a towering mountain range, cut off from the rest of the world by a massive avalanche that has destroyed the mountain passes. As a result of a terrible epidemic, successive generations of this tribe are all born blind. Eventually, as a culture, they lose the very concept of vision and have no awareness of the world they’re unable to see. Because of their handicap, they do not know their true condition. When an outsider, who can see, stumbles into their village, they think he is a newly formed creature, with imperfect senses, and that all his talk of seeing is craziness. They cannot understand this other dimension called sight. Although they have adapted themselves to their circumstances, they cannot imagine what realms might lie beyond their valley.
Spiritually speaking, we live in the Country of the Blind. The disease of sin has blinded us to the truth about God and Heaven, both of which are real, yet unseen. Fortunately, Jesus has come to our valley from Heaven to tell us about his Father and the world beyond. If we will listen to him—which requires a concerted effort to overcome our presuppositions, our ignorance, and the devil’s lies—we will gain a new understanding of our present circumstances and of the world to come. We will no longer be conformed to the pattern of this world but will be transformed by the renewing of our minds (Romans 12:2). Consequently, our lives will be forever changed.
DIE HOOFOORSAAK VAN ONGEHOORSAAMHEID – Albert Theron
Die hoofoorsaak van ongehoorsaamheid in ‘n ‘n ware dissipel se lewe is verkoelde liefde teenoor Jesus. Johannes sê in sy eerste brief, “Die liefde vir God bestaan dan daarin dat ons sy gebooie gehoorsaam. Sy gebooie is ook nie moeilik om te gehoorsaam nie” (1 Joh. 5:3). Liefde maak ‘n las lig, niks anders nie.
“Jakob het toe sewe jaar gewerk vir Ragel, en dit was vir hom soos ‘n paar dae, want hy het haar liefgehad.” Genesis 29:20
Moenie die oorsaak vir ‘n ongehoorsame lewe vireers op ander plekke soek nie. Die hoofoorsaak is sonder enige twyfel liefde vir Jesus wat getaan het. Moenie net die simptome behandel nie, gaan na die oorsaak. Begin daar. Keer terug na jou “eerste liefde” (Openb. 2:4-5) en daar sal weer sin en orde in jou lewe wees. Ons is herskep om in alles te leef vanuit ons primêre verhouding, ons verhouding met Jesus.
NOTHING GOOD CAN COME OUT OF THE OLD CREATION – Austin Sparks
One of the features of modernism is that it takes away the absolute sovereign Lordship and Deity of Christ, and today things are languishing for that truth to be brought back into its place. It puts humanism in the place of regeneration, and a great note today, the strong note amongst men, is that of the wonderful potentialities of man, what a good thing man is, what a lot of good there is in man. Strange that humanism like that should be having such a vogue at this time when there was never a more diabolical exhibition of what can come out of the human heart, and yet there it is. And over against the demand for men to be born again and the declaration that nothing good can come out of this old creation, good is only in Christ, over against that there is this well-nigh worldwide ‘gospel’ of the goodness of human nature, the wonderful inherent goodness of humanity; that is modernism, that is Antichrist. That was the Philistines in the Old Testament who would lay their hands upon the secret things of God, and make them captive to their own glorification. It is necessary for us to recognise what that state is in our time before we can see what to do about it and what the need is.
ONS ERFENIS IN MEKAAR – Albert Theron
“Want wie anders as julle is ons hoop of blydskap of kroon van roem in die teenwoordigheid van onse Here Jesus Christus by sy wederkoms? Want julle is ons eer en blydskap.” 1 Thessalonicense 2:19-20
Hierdie woorde van Paulus is besonders. Dit val heel vreemd op die ore van ‘n generasie wat nie veel dink oor die wederkoms nie en dan allermins oor hoe die vrug van genade in my lewe ander mense se lewens gevorm het. Ons grootste vreugde as dissipels van Jesus is sekerlik die onuitspreeklike voorreg van verhouding met God. Dit is egter ‘n groot verrassing om regdeur die blaaie van die Nuwe Testament te sien hoedat Jesus se volgelinge ook groot vreugde gevind het daarin om mekaar te bedien met die heerlike Goeie Nuus en sodoende mekaar op te bou en geestelik te versterk. Boonop is die effek van hierdie wedersydse bediening aan mekaar iets wat ons klaarblyklik moet bedink in die lig van die wederkoms van Jesus. Verstommend! Mag die Here ons oë oopmaak om te sien dat ons erfenis nie in dinge is nie, maar in mekaar.
NO ROOM FOR THE ACTIVITY OF THE SELF LIFE – Watchman Nee
Death is the ultimate and the most important step. Death unlocks the gate of life. Death is the only requirement for fruit bearing. Death is indispensable. And yet how many are there who truly experience this death? Death terminates all activity. Death is the end to our human life. After death, there remains no room for the activity of the self life. This death is not a reluctant death, because the Lord said we should “hate” this self life. To hate is a kind of attitude; it is a lasting attitude. Therefore, we should willingly put this life to death; we should have a full understanding of the poverty of this life and should hate it.
What is the result of the death of this life? The result is many grains. The reason, the very reason, the Lord cannot use us is that we work by our intellect, love, etc. This soul life is a low-level life; it is not a high-level life. As such it can hardly bear fruit. Although it contains some merits, yet only “that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.” The self life, and everything that comes with it, is completely useless. If we really put ourselves, our self life, that is, all that we can do and all that we are, completely on the Lord’s cross, we will see how the Lord will use us. If we are empty within, there will not be any blockage to the gushing out of God’s living water from us. This kind of fruit bearing is different from the ordinary fruit bearing because the fruit that we bear is “many.” Our fruit bearing depends totally on our death.
Therefore, believers, just as our self had filled us, even so now must Christ fill us.
– Albert Theron
“Want aan ons is die evangelie ook verkondig net soos aan hulle; maar die woord van die prediking het hulle nie gebaat nie, omdat dit by die hoorders nie met die geloof verenig was nie.” Hebreërs 4:2.
“Daarom, doen afstand van alle vuiligheid en oorvloed van boosheid, en ontvang met sagmoedigheid die ingeplante woord, wat in staat is om julle siele te red.” Jakobus 1:21
“Lê dan af alle boosheid en alle bedrog en geveinsdheid en afguns en alle kwaadpratery; en verlang sterk soos pasgebore kindertjies na die onvervalste melk van die woord, dat julle daardeur kan opgroei,” 1 Petrus 2:1-2.
“En wat in die goeie grond val — dit is die wat, nadat hulle gehoor het, die woord in ’n edele en goeie hart hou en met volharding vrug dra.” Lukas 8:15
Hoekom is ons Bybelstudie met tye vrugteloos? Hoekom is dit so dat ‘n mens gereeld met die Bybel kan werk en besig wees sonder dat dit ‘n noemenswaardige verskil in jou lewe maak? Wanneer ons die bostaande vier teksgedeeltes saam beskou en herkou, word dit duidelik dat die Woord van God op ‘n baie spesifieke manier ontvang moet word as ons die effek daarvan in ons daaglikse lewens wil sien. Hoekom so spesifiek? Want as ons met die Bybel werk, is ons besig met meer as ‘n boek, selfs ‘n Goddelik geïnspireerde boek. Ons is besig met ‘n Persoon. Daarom bring ‘n bloot akademiese, intellektuele of selfs sentimentele benadering nooit die resultate wat die Bybel self belowe nie. Uit die vier teksgedeeltes hierbo kan ons die volgende afleidings maak:
ons moet die Persoon wat spreek in die Bybel onvoorwaardelik vertrou en Sy woorde en beloftes met geloof ons eie maak
ons kan nie vashou aan die wêreld met die een hand en die Woord met die ander hand en dan verwag die Bybel moet kragtig werk in ons harte nie
ons moet die Woord met ‘n sagmoedige nederigheid ontvang en dit sodoende toelaat om as’t ware ons innerlike meubels te herrangskik soos wat ons dit gehoorsaam
ons moet honger en dors wees vir die Woord van God, want dit is soos ‘n maaltyd, dus meer as net woorde
ons moet die Woord vashou met ‘n rein en edel hart en volhard daarin.
Dit is die basiese gesindheid waarin die Woord ontvang moet word en die effek daarvan sal altyd kragtig wees. God self belowe dit.
THE FATHER IN HEAVEN IS OUR SOLE MASTER – Warren Wiersbe
No one must be permitted to take the place of the heavenly Father. “And do not call anyone on earth ‘father,’ ” Jesus instructed his disciples, “for you have one Father, and he is in heaven” (Matt. 23:9). Of course, Jesus wasn’t referring to their biological fathers, for it’s proper for children to address their parents respectfully as father and mother, or some version of those titles (mama, papa, daddy, etc.). Some children go through a phase when they think it’s smart to address their parents by their first names, a practice that I think is reprehensible and inexcusable.
The point Jesus emphasizes is that the Father in heaven is our sole Master and must not be replaced by the most beloved person on earth. When you read Matthew 23:1–12, you hear Jesus rebuking the Jewish religious leaders who loved to be exalted by the people and called rabbi (“my great one”), father, or master. The apostle Paul called himself father when he wrote to the believers in Corinth (1 Cor. 4:15), because he was the human instrument God used to bring them into God’s family; but neither Paul nor any other apostle asked any of the believers to refer to them as father.
God has placed teachers and spiritual leaders in the churches as the servants of the heavenly Father and his people, and they must not usurp God’s authority by controlling the lives of other believers (John 13:12–17; 1 Peter 5:1–7; 3 John 9–11). God’s leaders must be servants but not celebrities, directors but not dictators. They must never accept the honor that belongs to God alone. Unfortunately, some of God’s people are so immature that they must have “babysitters” or “custodians” to tell them what to do (Gal. 3:23–4:7). They would rather remain “babes” than feed on the Word and exercise themselves in godliness so they might mature and serve others. They forget that Jesus commanded, “Be perfect [mature, complete], therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:45). We must not allow ourselves to become enslaved to other believers, no matter how exemplary they may be (2 Cor. 11:20). The Father wants us to become mature believers who obey his will and glorify his name.
OORWINNING IN DIE OORWINNAAR – Albert Theron
Jesus is die groot Oorwinnaar van die Koninkryk. Hy het oorwin deur Sy gehoorsaamheid “tot die dood toe, ja, die dood van die kruis” (Fil. 2:8). Hy het “die wêreld oorwin” (Joh. 16:33) deur alles wat die satan hom mee wou versoek teë te staan en die Vader se wil te kies in elke situasie waarmee Hy gekonfronteer is. Hy het getriomfeer oor die sonde, die dood en die graf. Hy het opgestaan uit die dode en Hy het “die owerhede en magte uitgeklee en hulle in die openbaar tentoongestel” (Kol. 2:15).
In Openbaring 2 en 3 roep Jesus egter keer op keer die heiliges in Sy gemeentes op om te oorwin: “Wie ‘n oor het, laat hom hoor wat die Gees aan die gemeentes sê. Aan hom wat oorwin, sal Ek gee om te eet van die boom van die lewe wat binne in die paradys van God is” (Openbaring 2:7). Hierdie oproep word telkens gerig aan elkeen van die sewe gemeentes wat Jesus aanspreek in die boek Openbaring. Maar die vraag is, hoe moet ons oorwin? Dit is uiters belangrik om te verstaan dat Jesus baie meer vir ons is as net ‘n voorbeeld van oorwinning. Hy ís ons oorwinning. Ons oorwin in die Oorwinnaar. Dit is net deur in Hom te bly (Joh. 15:5), d.w.s. in Sý oorwinning, in Sý gehoorsaamheid, in Sý dood en opstanding, dat ons kan oorwin. Ons oorwin nie deur ons eie vasberadenheid of wilskrag nie. Die oorwinning wat ons opgeroep word om in te leef, is ‘n geloofsoorwinning. Ons glo in die krag en oorwinning van Christus wat nou in ons leef en dít, dit alleen, is die oorwinning. Die oorwinning is Sy liefde, Sy krag, Sy wysheid, Sy sagmoedigheid in ons wat in geloof deur ons sigbaar word.
“Julle is uit God, my kinders, en het hulle oorwin, omdat Hy wat in julle is, groter is as hy wat in die wêreld is.” 1 Johannes 4:4
LOJALITEIT AAN JESUS ALLEEN – Albert Theron
“Sodat julle die God en Vader van onse Here Jesus Christus eendragtiglik uit een mond kan verheerlik.” Romeine 15:6
Wanneer daar verskille is in leringe en verskille in begrip tussen gelowiges en gemeentes, laat ons begin waar God begin: by Sy Seun! Maak seker dat jy met alles wat in jou is “onse Here Jesus Christus” in sy volheid omhels en Hom in alles eerste stel, en die Heilige Gees sal jou sekerlik lei in die volle waarheid en jou help om saam met ander dissipels van Jesus die Vader te verheerlik. Verdeelde lojaliteite is ’n baie ernstige saak. Onderwerp jou onvoorwaardelik aan Jesus en aan sy Woord en maak seker jou lojaliteit lê dáár en nie by mensetradisies, denominasionele dogmas of watter ander saak ook al wedywer om sy Heerskappy in jou lewe nie. Sodoende sal Hy jou lei op die pad van ware geestelike insig, seën en vrugbaarheid tot uitbreiding van sy koninkryk. Gaan dink ’n bietjie na oor die volgende verse en die praktiese toepassing daarvan.
“Ek vermaan julle, broeders, in die Naam van onse Here Jesus Christus, om almal eenstemmig te wees, en dat daar geen skeuringe onder julle moet wees nie, maar dat julle verenig moet wees in dieselfde gesindheid en in dieselfde mening.” 1 Korinthiërs 1:10
“As daar dan enige troos in Christus is, as daar enige vertroosting van die liefde, as daar enige gemeenskap van die Gees, as daar enige innige tederheid en ontferming is, maak dan my blydskap volkome deur eensgesind te wees en dieselfde liefde te hê, een van siel, een van sin.” Filippense 2:1-2
DRAWN TO HEAVEN – A.W. Tozer
It is safe to say that the pleasurable anticipation of the better things to come has almost died out in the church of Christ. It is a great temptation to take the shallow view that we do not need any heaven promised for tomorrow because we are so well situated here and now.
This is the emphasis of our day: “We don’t need hope—we have it now!”
But the modern emphasis is wretched and it is wrong. When we do talk about the future we talk about eschatology instead of heaven. When I find any Christian who can live and work and serve here and snuggle down into the world like your hand fits into an old and familiar glove, I worry about him. I must wonder if he has ever truly been born again.
Brethren, we are still living in a wicked and adulterous generation and I must confess that the Christians I meet who really amount to something for the Savior are very much out of key and out of tune with their generation.
You may not agree with me, but I must believe that when God works a miracle within the human breast, heaven becomes the Christian’s home immediately, and he is drawn to it as the bird in the springtime is drawn to fly north to its summer homeland.
The trusting Christian has a homeland, too; but the fact that we are not anticipating it and not looking forward to it with any pleasure is a most telling and serious sign that something is wrong with our spiritual life!
DIE WARE WOLWE TEEN WIE ONS MOET WAAK – Albert Theron
“Ek weet dat daar ná my vertrek wrede wolwe onder julle sal indring, en hulle sal die kudde nie ontsien nie. Ja, uit julle eie geledere sal daar mense na vore kom wat met leuens die gelowiges agter hulle aan sal probeer verlei.” Handelinge 20:29-30
Die satan kom soos ‘n engel van die lig (2 Kor. 11:14). Sy misleiding is subtiel. Sy misleiding is dikwels binne-in gemeentes, onder die kudde, deur dit wat so ‘normaal en liefdevol’ voorkom. Paulus se bediening is by uitstek ‘n voorbeeld van die veilige benadering wat ons waaksaam en weerbaar kan maak teen hierdie gevaarlike misleidings. Paulus was ‘n geroepe apostel en ‘n baie sterk leier, maar ten alle tye het hy sy uiterste bes gedoen om mense dissipels van Jesus te maak, nie van homself nie. Tog is Paulus is in sy eie tyd gedurig aangeval deur leiers wat gepoog het om gelowiges onder hulle eie invloed te hou, terwyl hulle óók die naam van Jesus gebruik het, let wel!
Hulle het waarskynlik vir Paulus ‘n wolf genoem wat gelowiges voor versigtig moet wees. Maar wie was die ware wolwe? Leiers wat hulle lewe gee om mense ware dissipels van Jesus te maak wat aan Hom alleen lojaal is, is nie die wolwe nie. Die wolwe is die leiers wat subtiel gelowiges se lojaliteit verdeel tussen Jesus en hulleself, kerke, tradisies, en historiese figure. Wees wakker, alles is nie soos dit voorkom in hierdie lewe nie. Onderskei vir jouself of leiers en kerke werklik mense dissipels van Jesus maak en of hulle hul dissipels van hulleself maak. Daar is iets soos lojaliteit aan die mense saam met wie ek ‘n pad stap en respek vir leierskap, maar daardie lojaliteit en leierskap is áltyd ondergeskik aan my eksklusiewe en radikale lojaliteit aan Jesus alleen.
Hou ook net in gedagte dat daar onkunde by sekere leiers kan wees, omdat hulle dalk self geskool is in ‘n sisteem wat mense dissipels van ander mense en van kerke maak en nie van beter weet nie. Dit beteken dan egter nie dat ons nie reguit kan praat met sulke leiers en kan toets waar hulle in werklikheid staan nie. Dit is nie opsioneel nie. Dit is ons elkeen se verantwoordelikheid.
THE WRITTEN WORD EMBODIED IN THE PERSON OF CHRIST – Ravi Zacharias
The term inerrancy is used by those committed to the Scriptures to mean that the Word as originally written was completely devoid of error because it was revealed by a holy and perfect God. Two arguments are generally raised against this claim. The first is that if the Scriptures were inerrant only in their original form, which we do not have, what does it really matter anyway? To this I say that if the original revelation was imperfect, it would pose an even bigger problem. How would we be able to distinguish between what is perfect and what is imperfect?
The second argument used against the inerrancy of the original Scriptures is that if God was able to give a perfect revelation, couldn’t he have also preserved it perfectly? Yet, more than three thousand years since the initial revelation, the farther into history we go as we discover older and older manuscripts, the fewer variant readings there are, even of miniscule differences. The beauty of revelation through human instrumentation is precisely the dialectic of God’s way of working. The farther back we go, the greater unity of instruction we find to capture the story with power and relevance.
Any desire of those determined to undermine the Scriptures or smother the text has failed, and the Bible remains virtually intact. With all the polemics about how untenable some of the ideas in the Scriptures are, the critic repeatedly misses the larger point: How do the writings of forty authors in sixty-six books, living across fifteen hundred years, converge in the single person of Jesus Christ? The number of prophecies both preceding and succeeding his birth, the nature of his teaching, the purity of his life, his incredible ability to connect all the dots in history, the physical nature of his resurrection, his persuasive teaching on the absoluteness of love based on God’s eternal purposes, and many other specifics make the debunking of his person nothing more than a will to disbelieve. This is why Jesus constantly chided his questioners, saying such things as “Have you never read in the Scriptures?” and “Are you not in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God?”
The written Word documented and certified exactly who this person would be, where he would be born, how he would be born, what kind of works he would do, what manner of death he would die, what manner of miracle his resurrection would demonstrate, and the signs of his return. The written Word was finally embodied in the person.
GOD ALWAYS RESTORES BY MEANS OF AN ALTAR – Austin Sparks
Every reaction and new beginning that has come from God has been by an altar. The first of these was that of Abel, although there must have been an earlier shedding of blood, when the consciousness of being uncovered led to God’s clothing or covering the expelled two with skins of animals. Then, when that world was wiped out in judgment by the flood, a new beginning was made with Noah’s altar. When there was nothing of a distinctive character speaking for God in the days of Abram, the Lord laid His hand upon him, called him out as an elect instrument, and brought him to an elect land; and there, with the man and the place of His new beginning brought together, an altar was erected. There was a brief lapse when Abram went down to Egypt, but on his return the original ground was re-taken with a reconstructed altar.
Thus a distinctive seed was marked out; and some four hundred years later, that seed being constituted a corporate testimony against world-wide misrepresentation of God, an altar was the conspicuous factor, initially and continuously. It is significant that, although many thousands of lambs were slain on the night of the separation of that people from Egypt, the record always speaks in the singular, never in the plural. It was always “the lamb” or “a lamb”. In God’s sight there was only One Lamb, and although every threshold was an altar, there was only one Altar in Heaven’s view. (The word in Exodus 12:22, translated “bason”, is in the Hebrew “threshold”.)
This truth of new beginnings with the altar can be clearly seen afterward in the case of the receiving of the Law and the pattern of the heavenly things by Moses. The great altar of the Tabernacle and Temple governed the life of Israel for many years, until the times of declension set in, and then each movement back toward God was marked by the altar coming again into its place. It was so in Elijah’s stand, in 1 Kings 18; and it was so with the revival under Hezekiah, in 2 Chronicles 30. It was so again with Josiah – 2 Chronicles 35. But hardly had Josiah passed off the scene than his work fell in ruins. Judgment fell, Jerusalem was destroyed, the Temple burnt, and the people went into captivity. After seventy years a remnant returned, and we read in Ezra 3:3 that the first thing that the remnant did was to “set the altar in its place”.