Friday, December 21, 2012

The Wise Will Shine

Those who are wise shall shine

"Those who are wise shall shine Like the brightness of the firmament, And those who turn many to righteousness Like the stars forever and ever." Dan 12:3

"At that time Jesus prayed this prayer: "O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, thank you for hiding these things from those who think themselves wise and clever, and for revealing them to the childlike. Yes, Father, it pleased you to do it this way! "My Father has entrusted everything to me. No one truly knows the Son except the Father, and no one truly knows the Father except the Son and those to whom the Son chooses to reveal him." Then Jesus said, "Come to me, all of you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy to bear, and the burden I give you is light."Matt 11:25-30(NLT)

1. Then a great mysterious sight appeared in the sky.

"Now a great sign appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a garland of twelve stars." Rev 12:1

In this vision, the woman is symbolic of God’s people in both the Old and New testaments. (Church in the wilderness. Acts 8:37) At the right time, Jesus was born of a human mother and lived under the Jewish Law (Gal. 4.4). There is a continuity between the Jewish church and the church of Christ (see Heb. 9:15).

In Rev. 12, verses 1-6 form one central idea - God‘s act in history! The sun: the New Testament [the Christian system]. The moon: The Old Testament [the Law]. Twelve stars: the twelve apostles. To give birth: The Incarnation [Christ taking human form]. Another mysterious sight appeared in the sky. In this vision, the huge red dragon is Satan, The seven heads, ten horns, and the crowns are a lot like those of the beast in Rev. 17. These can be understood as symbolic of the Roman Empire, but Satan uses all the governments of the world against Christ and His church.

"For we have to struggle not with blood and flesh but with the angelic Rulers, the angelic Authorities, the potentates of the dark present, the spirit-forces of evil in the heavenly sphere. So take God's armour, that you may be able to make a stand upon the evil day and hold your ground by overcoming all the foe."    Eph 6:12-13 (MOFF)

2. Yet God is in control. Satan’s plans are frustrated by God. Even before Creation God had planned for the Eternal Word to come in flesh & blood among the sons and daughters of Adam.

"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love..." Eph 1:3-4

a) Satan cast out of heaven.

"Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, "Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, and they did not love their lives to the death." Rev 12:10-12

b) The woman is protected.

"But the woman was given two wings of a great eagle, that she might fly into the wilderness to her place, where she is nourished for a time and times and half a time, from the presence of the serpent." Rev 12:14

"You have seen what I did to the Egyptians, and how I bore you on eagles' wings and brought you to Myself." Exodus 19:4

"The church needs to know that its present struggles and sufferings are not a sign that God has gone to sleep on the job. They are the sign that a great, cosmic drama is being staged, in which they are being given a vital though terrible role to play."  Wright

c) Satan desperately tries but fails.

"So the serpent spewed water out of his mouth like a flood after the woman, that he might cause her to be carried away by the flood. But the earth helped the woman, and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed up the flood which the dragon had spewed out of his mouth." Rev 12:15-16

"The decisive battle has been won, and the devil knows it; but his basic nature of ‘accuser’ is now driving him, more and more frantically, to the attack, to accuse where it’s justified and where it isn’t, to drag down, to slander, to vilify, to deny the truth of what the creator God and His Son, the Lamb, have accomplished and are accomplishing. This is the ongoing battle in which all Christians are engaged, whether they know it or not." Wright

Thursday, December 13, 2012



This is an outline for study. Simplicity in 2 Corinthians 1:12 KJV translates haplotes. Frank or frankness is one possible translation. Free, forthright, honest, sincere, godly sincerity, plain unembellished truth, holiness. Simplicity is the opposite of duplicity. Paul conducted himself with frankness and godly purity as he preached Christ to the Corinthians.

Christ has made us FREE! [Romans 5:1; Galatians 5:1]. I propose using the word FRANK to describe the Christian Freedom seen in the life of Paul and the other apostles. I propose that this freedom is the Mind of Christ [John 8:28-29,34-36; Romans 8:1-4].

Note that Jesus spoke of the Judgment in terms of love, sharing, relationships, concern for others, things which are not usually on the rigorist agenda [Matt. 25:31ff].

Christian "frankness" is the type of attitude which set Paul free from the old restraints of Jewish doctrine and legalism. Frankness made Martin Luther strike out for the liberty he found in God's Word. This Christian frankness makes people more spiritual rather than less. It grows out of the expansion of Christian life. It is emphasis on positive convictions rather than negative denials. It points us to great aims to live for, great convictions to live by, great faith undergirding life, and great hope ahead! Christian frankness is sacrificially in earnest about establishing God's will in all the earth.

If one cares about the future of mankind, there is no cause on earth for which one could better pray and work for than spiritual renewal and the spread of Jesus Christ and His Gospel.

Fundamentalism: As the word is used in the news, it means rigorism, the quality of being inflexible, unyielding; harshness, severity - all in a bad sense. Such as Islamic Fundamentalists. The world has been suddenly shocked by the actions of Islamic Fundamentalists.

Religious rigoristic people were the most intense enemies of Jesus. Jesus respected and obeyed God's law. He stressed Spirit in contrast to letter. [Note 2 Cor. 3:6-18.] Jesus touched dead bodies, repealed the dietary laws, didn't punish the woman taken in adultery, etc. He valued human need above law keeping: "the Sabbath was made for man, etc." Since He did not sin - what He did was right! Just what God had intended.

1. Christ was frank in relation to the Law of Moses. It was Jesus who really took the Law seriously. "I did not come to destroy but to fulfill" [Matt. 5:17-19].

2. Frank is usually safer. The rigorist wants to keep it Just Like It Was. God calls us to be renewed day by day [2 Cor. 3:18; 4:16-18].

3. Frank is the logical consequence of convictions. Paul speaks of simplicity in 2Corinthians 1:12 KJV. Simplicity translates as frankness, openness, liberality [in the Bible sense], freedom. "For freedom did Christ set us free" [Gal. 5:1 ASV]. God calls us to love others and serve others just as Jesus did, by the power of the same Holy Spirit and in the same gracious freedom.

4. History bolsters the belief of the frank. Attacks upon the Christian faith often come from those who wish to impose their standards of rigorism on others. The history of the church since Pentecost shows this to be true. Note the Jerusalem conference in Acts15.

5. The frank understands that Satan is intent on diverting attention from the real issues. The rigorist, with good intentions, may "tithe mint and anise and cumin, and have neglected the weightier matters of the law: justice and mercy and faith" [Matthew 23:23]. Jesus said: "If you have done it to one of the least important brothers, you have done it to Me." Salvation and abundant life are God's priorities. [John 3:16-17; 10:10].

6. Frank Christianity provides the future with a needed option. Christian grandparents want their grandchildren to know Jesus Christ. The frank Christian elevates and honors Jesus. The rigorist often elevates forms and ritual and even the local church, but neglects Jesus. Children will read in our lives the importance which we place on Jesus Christ.

7. Being a frank Christian tends to distance oneself from rigorism's "white hot but loveless zeal" toward those with whom they disagree. A frank Christian can disagree without being disagreeable. Note the warning to the church at Ephesus [Revelation 2]. They had left their first love: they no longer loved Jesus as they did at first. Zeal cannot substitute for love and faithfulness [Romans 10:1-4].

8. The frank Christian welcomes the freedom which Christ brings. He accepts the search to know Christ Jesus and to follow the Golden Rule in relating to others "For the commandments.. are all summed up in this saying, namely, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself'" [Romans 13:9]. Contrast this with the yoke which the ancestors could not bear [Acts 15:10-11].

9. The frank Christian believes God has acted to reveal His will in Jesus Christ. God has spoken in Jesus Christ [Hebrews 1:2]. Thus anything man does in principle to Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit, he does to God the Father. Man cannot love God without first loving his brother/sister [1 John 4:19-21]. God has frozen in time His Will demonstrated in Jesus Christ. We look to His example in the four Gospels - which were written so that we might know the certainty of Jesus (Luke 1:1-4.]

10. Three tests of faith. These are, I think, the three tests of effective Christian frankness:

1) this frankness springs from the growth and deepening of the spiritual life;

2) this frankness integrates in the centers of positive faith and affirmation;

3) this frankness results in a more devoted, efficient, constructive builder of the Christian Kingdom and civilization.

"But, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head - Christ..." [Ephesians 4:15].

There are some tests of faith and relationship in the New Testament:

1. Jesus is the WORD who "incarnated" and actually came into our world. HE came with the water of His baptism and the blood of His death - actually experiencing these things. HE was tempted in every way that we are. But HE did not sin! [note 1 John 4:1-3; 5:5-13; 2 John 7; 1 Cor. 12:3; Hebrews 4:14-16]

2. HE did not "wear a disguise" but actually participated in human life on our level. HE "emptied Himself" to do this (but did not cease to be God). [Phil. 2:5-11]

3. We worship ONE GOD who is a TRINITY. Father-Son-Spirit. This is a great mystery - yet we ourselves are body-soul-spirit [1 Thess. 5:23]. We must take the Triune God in His Fullness: HE is a "package deal." [Note 1John 2:22-23; John 5:23; 15:23.]

Saturday, December 8, 2012


Joy to the World, the Lord is come!
Joy to the World, the Lord is come!

Let Earth receive her King;

Let every heart prepare Him room,

And heaven and nature sing. (song #376)

At this season of the year the Babe of Bethlehem is lifted up in many ways. The voices of controversy cannot drown out the shout of angels: "For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:11 (NKJV)

"According to Rassmusen Reports, 78 percent of Americans believe that Jesus is the Son of God who came to earth to die for our sins; 79 percent of Americans say religious holidays should be celebrated in public schools, and 70 percent prefer "Merry Christmas" to "Happy Holidays" on store signs."

1. The Church took notice of the Birth of Jesus the Christ.

a) To know the certainty of what we believe.

"Inasmuch as many have taken in hand to set in order a narrative of those things which have been fulfilled among us, just as those who from the beginning were eyewitnesses and ministers of the word delivered them to us, it seemed good to me also, having had perfect understanding of all things from the very first, to write to you an orderly account, most excellent Theophilus, that you may know the certainty of those things in which you were instructed." Luke 1:1-4 (NKJV)

b) God acted through Mary.

"And the angel answered and said to her, "The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Highest will overshadow you; therefore, also, that Holy One who is to be born will be called the Son of God." Luke 1:35 (NKJV)

c) God’s Angels spoke of a Savior.

"Then the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid, for behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy which will be to all people. For there is born to you this day in the city of David a Savior, who is Christ the Lord." Luke 2:10-11 (NKJV)

"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and saying: "Glory to God in the highest, And on earth peace, goodwill toward men!" Luke 2:13-14 (NKJV)

2. The Eternal Word became flesh & blood.

"But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent forth the Spirit of His Son into your hearts, crying out, "Abba, Father!"  Gal 4:4-6 (NKJV)

"And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth." John 1:14 (NKJV)

"For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him." John 1:17-18 (NKJV)

"For sin shall not have dominion over you, for you are not under law but under grace." Romans 6:14 (NKJV)

a) Son of God - the Human One.

"When He had been baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened to Him, and He saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and alighting upon Him. And suddenly a voice came from heaven, saying, "This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased."  Matt 3:16-17 (NKJV)

b) Savior of the world.

"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. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved." John 3:16-18 (NKJV)

"Now is the judgment of this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out. And I, if I am lifted up from the earth, will draw all peoples to Myself." John 12:31-32 (NKJV)