General Assembly

Heading off to our denominations General Assembly in Nashville, TN. Every year, Christians all over the country watch the different denominations to see what atrocities and out right sins they will commit, from ordaining women/gays to trying claiming that we need to support the environmental movement.

I’m blessed. Our big topic: whether or not to allow women who help the deacons to be called deaconesses. Not to ordain them, but just call them that. Minor in the grand scheme of things.

Sunday’s Sermon… The Written Part

INTRO: And it was night.

These are the words that close the previous section of scripture. Judas Iscariot has been revealed as the one who would betray Christ. Jesus, taking a piece of bread, hands it to Judas as says: “What you do, do quickly.”

Then Judas departs and the Apostle John points out the fact that it is dark outside as if to say that the dark forces of the universe were about to have their greatest moment in history.  But alas, what the forces of darkness mean for evil, God means for good.

It is in this context that Jesus begins to speak of His glory, His departure, and finally, His commandment to us.

When we look at the verses and realize the context of which they were given, it really magnifies the meaning of them because we truly see the willingness of a loving Savior towards His children. No matter what storm may befall Christ in the coming hours, He is showing the disciples, and us, His self-sacrificing love towards us. This is the same love that He will command us to show one another. For through self –sacrificing love, we are marked out as His people.

Our text:

So when he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now the Son of Man is glorified, and God is glorified in Him. If God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him immediately.”

Here we see His glory.

Jesus, after He has already told Judas to depart, and depart quickly, is now ready to be glorified and is glorified. What He is saying is that He is ready and willing to go to the cross on behalf of the Father’s decree, and on behalf of His children.

Our Savior has committed Himself to the storm that He faces. He did not shy away from what would take place, but accepts it. He even told Judas to do his evil act quickly. He is being glorified in this self-sacrificial love for His children and His obedience towards the Father.

Remember that the Father decreed that Jesus should die on the cross. Not out of a sense of cruelty or hatred towards the Son, but out of His loving provision for His children.

Both are glorified through the events of that night, in that Jesus willingly heads for the cross, and the Father willingly sent Him.

I like what J.C. Ryle writes about this:

“The crucifixion brought glory to the Father. It glorified His wisdom, faithfulness, holiness, and love. It showed Him wise, in providing a plan whereby He could be just, and yet the Justifier of the ungodly. –It showed Him faithful, in keeping His promise, that the seed of the woman should bruise the serpent’s head. – It showed Him holy, in requiring His law’s demands to be satisfied by our great Substitute. –It showed Him loving, in providing such a Mediator, such a Redeemer, and such a Friend for sinful man and His co-eternal Son.”[1]

Just a few reflections on this quote.

First, the Father shows His infinite wisdom in this manner of bringing about redemption. Paul writes that God demonstrates His wisdom in the message of the cross.

1 Cor. 1:21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.

What God did in wisdom, those who think they are wise, find the cross foolishness. Yet, it was God’s wisdom that Christ went to the cross because only Jesus could bring about salvation for mankind. The wise of this world think they can bring about their own salvation. They are blinded by their own sinful nature and will only have the truth revealed to them when they humble themselves before God and accept His wisdom.

Secondly, the Father is also glorified through His faithfulness. He was faithful throughout the generations to bring about salvation for His people. How awesome is it that He saved people who are vile and wretched, people who cannot save themselves, people dead in sin to the point that He needs to bring us back to life. His faithfulness drives Him to save people so committed to their sin, that He must given them a new heart before they can begin to believe in the truth, so blind, they need to be enlightened, so deaf, they need to given new hearing. That demonstrates His faithfulness.

We catch this concept through a number of passages.

Micah 7:18-18 Who is a God like You,
Pardoning iniquity
And passing over the transgression of the remnant of His heritage?

He does not retain His anger forever,
Because He delights in mercy.
19 He will again have compassion on us,
And will subdue our iniquities.

You will cast all our[a] sins
Into the depths of the sea.
20 You will give truth to Jacob
And mercy to Abraham,
Which You have sworn to our fathers
From days of old.

He made a promise to Abraham, and that promise of forgiveness and mercy is culminated in Christ.

We also see this faithfulness displayed and explained in His immutability.

Hebrews 6:17-18 Thus God, determining to show more abundantly to the heirs of promise the immutability of His counsel, confirmed it by an oath, 18 that by two immutable things, in which it is impossible for God to lie, we might[a] have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us.

God does not change nor lie, we can trust in His promises to us for redemption through His Son. Again, this is points to His faithfulness. He is remaining the same in His mercy, wisdom, councils and grace towards us.

We need the reminder that God is faithful. He is the One that does keep His promises for His glory and Jesus going to the cross was a demonstration of His faithfulness to the disciples and to us.

These are just a few ways that the Father is glorified by the Son and His journey to the cross.

The Son is also glorified by going to the Cross. J.C. Ryle adds these words.

“The crucifixion brought glory to the Son. It glorified His compassion, His patience, and His power. It showed Him most compassionate, in dying for us, suffering in our stead, allowing Himself to be counted sin and a curse for us, and buying our redemption with the price of His own blood. –It showed Him most patient, in not dying the common death of most men, but in willingly submitting to such horrors and unknown agonies as no mind can conceive, when with a word he could have summoned His Father’s angels, and been set free. – It showed Him most powerful, in bearing the weight of all a world’s transgressions, and vanquishing Satan and despoiling him of his prey.”[2]

Let no one ever question Christ’s compassion towards us.

After telling us of the Father and His glory, Jesus then turn and tells us of His departure.

Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’

He begins this declaration rooted in compassion as well. He calls the disciples little children. What a loving thing to say.

This is not an insult at all, but a way to address the disciples showing His affection towards them. He knows that He is only going to be with them a few more hours and wants them to listen. His address of them shows the disciples their need to grow spiritually. They are spiritually immature.

This spiritual immaturity is demonstrated by Peter in his proclamation that he would gladly lay down his life for Jesus.

A more mature response would have been for Peter to ask Jesus what Jesus would have him do because that would have showed that he was trusting in Jesus, not his own zeal and self reliance.

We all need spiritual maturity. The problem with many is that many think it comes simply by attaining Biblical knowledge. It does not. Spiritual maturity does involve Biblical knowledge, but that is only part of the process.

It also involves the means of grace, the preaching of God’s word, the use of the sacraments and prayer, mixed with faith and the power of the Holy Spirit. This means that spiritual maturity does not come quickly. It takes time and God’s hand in our lives.

Given that we live in a society that demands satisfaction now, you can see that this truth would not sit well with much of the church.

Think about Peter. He spent three years with Christ, listening to the Savior’s sermons and lessons on the truth, yet he still lacked maturity. Peter goes on to preach the sermon on the Day of Pentecost and he still needs to grow spiritually. We see this truth in the confrontation that Peter had with Paul when Peter refused to eat with the Gentiles. The event showed he still needed to grow spiritually.

I do believe he did grow spiritually and matured as a believer. You don’t get two great epistles like Peter’s out of someone who is spiritually mature. There is just far too much meat found in those epistles to be written by someone stuck at being immature.

Just listen to this one line, and you can hear the depth of maturity:

In this you greatly rejoice, though now for a little while, if need be, you have been grieved by various trials, 7 that the genuineness of your faith, being much more precious than gold that perishes, though it is tested by fire, may be found to praise, honor, and glory at the revelation of Jesus Christ, 8 whom having not seen[a] you love.

Rejoice in the face of suffering? Peter will grow to realize that it is our faith that is far more valuable to us, than our comfort. This comes out of maturity, not immaturity.

My main point here is that we need to grow spiritually and this growth is not based upon knowledge, but the Spirit working in our lives so that we produce fruits of the spirit, not fruits of the flesh. We cannot make ourselves “grow.” We must rely on the means of grace given to us by God and His Spirit working in our lives.

We must all admit that we are little children and be willing for God’s Spirit to work in our lives, thereby growing in our usefulness to Him.

Secondly, we see that He is going to depart from them.

Little children, I shall be with you a little while longer. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews, ‘Where I am going, you cannot come.’

He is going to the cross. He is going into the hands of evil men to suffer a death that only He can undergo. Only Christ can drink the cup of wrath prepared for Him. No matter what the world may offer in religion leaders, none of them can do what Jesus did on the cross because, they all need the atonement of Christ as much as we do.

Only Jesus could go to the cross. JTB calls Jesus the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. This is because He is the perfect sacrifice. The entire sacrificial system found in the Old Testament pointed to Christ. Whereas bulls and goats could not take away sins, but they did point to the One who could take away sins.

Ephesians 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.

He was a sweet-smelling aroma because His sacrifice was acceptable to the Father. It pleased the Father.

Hebrews 9:26 He then would have had to suffer often since the foundation of the world; but now, once at the end of the ages, He has appeared to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.

All other sacrifices made by man, could only point to His sacrifice because they did not accomplish what was necessary, and those things sacrificed did not represent us in that sacrifice. The sacrifice needed to be a man, not a stupid animal in order to save us.

The disciples are saddened by this comment and they are still a bit in the dark to what Jesus will do. But remember, by doing so, Jesus and the Father will be glorified

At this point, Jesus now gives us “The command.”

“A new command I give to you…”

First we must see that this is a “new” command. We have already been given the command to love our neighbors in Leviticus 19:18.

You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.

But this command is new in several ways.

First, it is new in the sense that we are to love “one another.” That shows the special bond and relationship we have in Christ. We are more than a group of people gathered together out of special interest we have. We are drawn together by the love of Christ and because of His gracious kindness towards us.

This is how the command is also different. In fact, William Hendriksen calls this a precept, “which is a rule made by Jesus and illustrated by His own example, for the regulation of the conduct and inner attitude of the disciples, toward Christ, one another and the world.”[3]

This differs from what the Sanhedrin were in the habit of giving. They gave commands without any sense of love towards the people. Their laws were outward, official, and codified.

Not this command. It is directed at the inner man in Christ and given out of affection by Christ for that man. Therefore, we should have the desire to keep this command. We should long to keep it and do what He says, because of the interest that He has in us.

This is no cold law, but a precept given to us by the One who demonstrated for us. You have heard that often times law givers and rule givers have a saying in the back rooms: “do as I say, not as I do.” You can see the hypocrisy in one that behaves that way.

What is the command?

“Love one another.”

This sounds simple enough. In fact, many who claim liberal religion tout this command all the time and by it they mean that we can live however we want to without regard for God’s Law or moral purity in our lives. Liberals will say that to point out one another’s sin is to not love one another.

That is true on one level. If we in the habit of doing so just for the sake of pointing out one another’s sin, then we are not truly loving one another.

However, to love one another as He did, is far beyond our capacity to do. We cannot do so without the Holy Spirit working in us. The only way can we truly love one another is if God’s Spirit is working in us.

To love one another means that we are seeking the best interest of others before our own self interest. Philippians 2, again, helps us see this.

Philippians 2:3-4 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself. 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.

Ask the question: are doing what we are doing out of the best interest of others?

A better passage is 1 Corinthians 13:1-13 … go there. He is making the case that gifts without love are useless. But he also gives a wonderful expression of true biblical love.

Are we living this out? Do we truly love one another as we should? Or do we only do so when it is convenient and brings about something we want?

Jesus is not finished giving us the command.

In the Levitical command, we are told to love our neighbors. Jesus changes that to love one another. In the Levitical command He tells us to do so based upon how we would treat ourselves. Here, He changes the motivation by saying that He has loved us. In other words, we love one another as I have loved you.

How did Jesus love us? He lived out this command before and after He gave the command to the upmost. He did this by obeying God perfectly on our behalf. The Law demands absolute perfection, and this is what He did for us. You know the command: Love your neighbor as yourself? He did that perfectly.

Out of compassion for us, He refused to indulge in the pleasures of sin one iota. Think about that next time you are tempted to go off into the desires of the flesh.

He loved us so much that He went to the cross on our behalf. We underwent the whips and torture and abuse, all on our behalf. That is how much He loved us, all while we were still sinners.

The principle for our love towards one another is based upon His love of us. If we get away from this at all, it will skew our attempts to love one another. Our love for one another must be rooted in and based upon Christ’s love for us.

Finally, He gives us another motivation to love one another. He tells  us “by this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

Our love for one another is a testimony to the world. Do we? Let me encourage you, I do believe we do. I believe this is the most loving congregation I have ever come across in my time of ministry. Let’s keep it that way and strive for more.

Let us pray that even though we are a loving church, that we would love eve more so. Let that be a mark about who we are.


[1] J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on John, Vol. 3, Banner of Truth Trust, p. 40-41.

[2] Ibid., p. 41.

[3] William Hendriksen, NTC: John, Baker Books, p. 253.

Saturday College Football Roundup

There is a lot floating around the net this week with college football season slowly approaching. The best, found at bleacher report.com, was some of the quotes that made the Big 12 famous. The first one is a classic. It is Mike Leach complaining about his players loss to A&M and commenting on their “fat little girlfriends.”

Only at Texas Tech, out in Lubbock, heart of cattle country, do you get so many football players with “fat little girlfriends.” Perhaps that can be a recruiting tool for A&M. “Hey football player, come to A&M and get a decent looking girlfriend.”

Then there is this one. Dan Hawkins of Colorado telling his players to go play intramural football if they didn’t like the practice season only giving them two weeks off.

I think he hit it on the head. Don’t like to work? Go play intramurals.

There is also the one from OSU… where the coach says, “I’m a man!” But I don’t want to post here. I think I did last year or when it came out. I was quite embarrassed for the guy, so I will just leave it alone.

I will include this one from my own school. Apparently someone sent AD Bill Byrne a nasty email, with a phone number and Bill called the guy up and said he was going to kick his… well, see Obama and the BP executives. Byrne did apologize for it. But I think it makes sense since the email was extremely derogatory towards Byrne’s decision to keep A&M in the Big 12.

The Sermon — Preparing to Listen

I’ve again started visiting Reformation 21 because the articles are so well done. It is put together by those committed to the Reformed Faith and we can really learn a lot from them. Ian Campbell has a good post on preparing to listen to the sermon. He is basing it on Christopher Ash’s booklet, Listen Up! A practical guide to listening to sermons.

This guide goes beyond the typical attempts to being there and just staying awake. Although those to steps are helpful, here is what Campbell lists along with my own comments in italics:

  1. Expect God to speakWe understand that when God’s word is being faithfully preached that we are actually hearing from HIM, that is Jesus Christ. This has been lost on the modern church because so many fail to believe in the sufficiency of Scripture. The modern preacher is led to believe that he needs to be a coach, a counselor, a good friend and never gets around to proclaiming what God has proclaimed. Yet God’s word is far more sufficient for the body of Christ than any message based on humanistic beliefs. When we do preach God’s word, Romans 10:14, in the original, says we hear HIM, that is Jesus Christ! By the power of the Holy Spirit Christ uses the fallen preacher to proclaim His truth and those in attendance actually hear the savior.
  2. Admit God knows better than youremember, He is God, we are not. He is the infinite and all knowing God who knows the beginning from the end because He made both. So let’s quit putting ourselves in His place and admit that when it comes to the things of faith, the real and meaningful things of life, He knows best.
  3. Check the preacher says what the passage saysthis is why you should have your Bible in your lap following along with the preacher, even if/when the words of Scripture are displayed on the screen in front of you. You need your own copy of God’s word, and you need to know it well. Following along with what the preacher says is one way to know if what he is saying is true. If so, then number 2 applies. If not, then typical, modern-day preaching has taken place and it’s time to find another church.
  4. Hear the sermon in churchyes, I know that we record the sermons and send them all over the place. But you need to be with the people of God on the Lord’s Day sitting in the presence of the preaching. When the people of God are gathered on the Lord’s Day, we are mysteriously caught up together into HIS presence as we receive His grace in the preached word. One of the reasons that I believe the church is so weak today is that we have lost the deeper understanding of the means of grace and gathering for corporate worship.
  5. Be there week by weekwe need a steady diet of God’s word. This is the way to true spiritual health.
  6. Do what the Bible saysdo I need to comment on this one?
  7. Do what the Bible says today – and rejoice! Satan loves it when we put off being faithful while it is yet called Today!

I might add a few more.

  1. Pray that you heart is prepared to hear God’s word throughout the week. So often when we arrive on Sunday morning, our hearts and minds are filled with the problems of the world. We need the extra prayer so that we can focus on what is being said and understand it. Remember, we are dealing with spiritual truth. The only way we can ever have a fuller understanding of God’s truth is by the power of the Holy Spirit. So let us ask God to send Him and help us understand and hear.
  2. Pray for the pastor throughout the week. You would not believe the number of spiritual attacks that we go through every week while we are trying to prepare Sunday’s sermon. Your pastor needs your prayers and God’s protection on his time, his heart, his focus and diligence. So many things pop up during the week when we need to be studying and praying that your prayers are vital for us to do a good job.
  3. Encourage others to do the same. This will help people realize that what is taking place on Sunday morning is far more important than what takes place at the Rotary Club or any where else. God’s people are gathering to hear God speak and to be in His presence. This should stir our hearts to be reverent, attentive and filled with joy. Tell others of this rich truth.

I hope this has been helpful. You might even have a few more suggestions. Let us know in the comments section if you do.

Ron Kirkland is Pro-Choice

Don’t get me wrong. Ron Kirkland is a fine and honorable man. He will make a great congressman if he wins the primary against Stephen Fincher. But he is not as pro-life as one might think.

A sweet friend of mine called up a radio show where Kirkland was being interviewed and asked the following question: “If I were raped and became pregnant during that rape, what should I do?” (loosely paraphrased). She was trying to find out if he was truly committed to life. As usual, he beat around the bush for a while and finally gave the answer that showed his true commitment to life: “that’s a decision that is between the woman and her doctor.”

That is not a pro-life stance. This is a pro-choice stance that shows he does not understand the fundamental issues about life. He is basically saying “it’s OK to kill a baby if rape is involved.”

NO IT IS NOT!

His answer shows that he does not understand the fundamental issues of life, and shows his view on life because not every child is precious in his sight, only those conceived in manners of wedlock and romance.

What he, and others, fail to understand is that even though a child may be conceived during the act of rape, that child still has infinite worth and value because that child is made in the image of God. The Imago Dei needs to be the driving force behind our argument for it shows that everyone has intrinsic worth. Kirkland has served as a deacon in his church and he needs to know this truth. Otherwise, you end up with positions like his.

What is sad is that this position fails to see the silver lining in the rape. Yes, rape is horrible and the rapist should be dealt with according to the laws of our land. Yet even in this horrible event, a blessing has come about. I know the argument goes that every time the mother looks at the child, she will be reminded of the terrible event that led to that child.

This again shows a terrible misconception(no pun intended). It shows that life is not valued at some fundamental level. Yet all children are a blessing to the Lord, not just the healthy ones, or the wanted ones, or the ones conceived in wedlock and romance, but all of them. Only those who understand this and believe it will fight for life when it counts.

This is why it is so important that Kirkland holds that all life if valuable.

We have far too many Congressmen who hold to the same position as Kirkland. Since that is the predominant view, then nothing will ever change. We need men in Congress who will admit and see that EVERY child is precious because of the Imago Dei, and that EVERY child should be protected. Unless they have that view, they are going to go along with the status quo. The status quo is leading to millions of children being killed every year. The status quo leads to a Congress that is controlled by Republicans that does nothing! We had this during the Bush administration and nothing changed. Why?

The Democrats get control and they bring all kinds of change. Bad change yes. But they still do it. What is it with Republicans that get control and sit on their backsides trying to cross the aisle so they will be liked by Democrats? I don’t want Congressmen who will vacillate on this issue because in the end, they do nothing. We need Congressmen who have a strong conviction concerning life, so that they will do something if their party returns to power. We must have men who understand that every child is valuable. Every life is made in the Imago Dei. Every life has intrinsic worth, even those conceived during the horrible act of rape.

Now what about the woman involved? Are we going to let her go through with an abortion? I hope not. I hope that the body of Christ would surround her and help her see that while the rapist meant it for bad, God meant it for good and help her get through that horrible event. After all, if she goes through with an abortion, not only will she suffer from the reality that she has been brutally violated, but she will have to live with the guilt of killing an innocent child and the rapist wins again.

Don’t give the rapist that much control. Yes, what he did was heinous. But don’t add to that crime by aborting the child. God is the One who ultimately brought about that conception, see Psalm 139. He is the One that allowed the evil, so that He could do good because life is always good. We need to help the woman who has gone through that see the blessing in what has happened to her.

As for Ron Kirkland, I plan on sending his website the link to my post and maybe he will see the error in his position and clarify it. That way if he does win in the primary, he will actually stand for the life of the innocent.

Islam Can’t Handle the Truth

What does liberalism and Islam have in common? Neither can handle the truth. Case in point. A video here of the Acts 17 people visiting a festival at Dearborn, Michigan, one of the largest populations of Muslims in the country. They were not only assaulted for using a video camera but also arrested and hauled off to jail. They made it very clear that they did not threaten anyone, and did not say anything derogatory. They merely asked questions, but the Muslims could not handle that and did everything they could to get rid of the Christians. Their crime is only that they were Christians, trying to exercise their free speech. Here is how they put it:

It cannot be said that we were arrested for causing a disturbance, because we did not approach anyone, rather everyone with whom we spoke first approached us. It cannot be said that we were harassing anyone, because the moment anyone said “stop talking to me”, we would stop talking to them. And it cannot be said that we were spreading hate speech, because we said virtually nothing about Islam at all. On the contrary, we repeatedly affirmed our love for all Muslims. Whenever I was asked “Why would you love me?” I said “Because Jesus loves you, and he told me to love you.”

No hating, no disturbing, no harassing… It remains only to be concluded that we were arrested simply for being Christian Preachers at the Arab Festival in Dearborn.

Watching this video will make you mad because you will see Islamic security get more and more aggressive towards these men, even though they are posing no threat.

It is really sad because these men do nothing wrong, but the so-called “security” assaults them by hitting them. Security demanded they put their cameras down, and tried to force them to leave. Apparently the First Amendment to the Constitution means nothing when confronted with those who believe in Sharia Law. This is what happens when Muslims move into an area. They impose Sharia Law which means that the Constitution no longer applies.

Go to the Acts 17 website here. They have another video there discussing what happened. I like that they closed the video with Acts 5:41-42.

So they departed from the presence of the council, rejoicing that they were counted worthy to suffer shame for His[a] name. 42 And daily in the temple, and in every house, they did not cease teaching and preaching Jesus as the Christ.

By the way, please note that I put this under the tag “Islamic Terrorist.” This is because the only way Muslims know how to respond is by using force. This shows the weakness of their beliefs and one reason why it appeals to so many young people. Islam is a violent religion in the sense that it only advances through force, not ideology. The “security” guards are quick to use that force and would have used more if they had been able to.

Saturday Round Up

Rut Think

I love this post by Dan at the Bumbling Genius. He calls it Rut Think. It is when people say one thing, and something entirely different is implied, as in the following:

The Church should not ignore politics = The church should forsake her original commission and become an active arm of the RNC who’s purpose is to keep Republicans in power regardless of what they may or may not stand for.

I discovered another one this past week, over at Mike’s America. It is when someone is disgusted with the lack of action by Obama concerning the BP oil spill. It goes like this:

Obama is sitting around at too many rock concerts and should be more involved in the oil spill clean up = I’m all about Big Oil and think that BP is completely innocent in what has take place.

Even John Boehner, the house minority leader admitted this week that BP lacks friends in high places. Yes, we are disgusted with BP, but even more so with Obama. He has done nothing to improve the situation. He has even made it worse by stifling the flow of oil in preventing the drilling of any other wells in the Gulf of Mexico. All those drilling platforms that were ready to go, are now moving to Brazil to tap their deep water oil.

Great RNC Video

I found this at Mike’s America. It’s a great video about Obama’s inaction and all that he has been doing since the oil first began to fill the Gulf.

The Meaning of Shibboleth

Someone recently asked me what was the meaning of the word “Shibboleth” when it came to politics or divisive issues. In Hebrew, the term means “a flowing stream.” But because of what took place between the Ephraimites and the Gileadites in the Old Testament, a new meaning had come about for this ancient word. It now means something that divides two groups of people.

Here is the Biblical reference from Judges 12:

The Gileadites seized the fords of the Jordan before the Ephraimites arrived. And when anyAre you an Ephraimite?” If he said, “No,” 6 then they would say to him, “Then say, ‘Shibboleth’!” And he would say, “Sibboleth,” for he could not pronounce it right. Then they would take him and kill him at the fords of the Jordan. There fell at that time forty-two thousand Ephraimites. Ephraimite who escaped said, “Let me cross over,” the men of Gilead would say to him.

You can see that because of their dialect, the Ephraimites were easily detected and discovered not to be of the men of Gilead because their accent prevented them from pronouncing the word correctly. This lead to their death, which is a good reason to make sure you children know how to pronounce their words correctly!

But, I digress.  Now the word means whatever we use to divide ourselves from those we do not wish to be associated with. I recently discovered that the word “Foxnews” has become a Shibboleth of the left. They use it in this context when they are losing a debate: “Well, at least I don’t watch Foxnews.” It is supposed to mean that because they won’t watch a news channel that actually strives to be fair and balanced, that somehow, they are more enlightened than the rest of us. This merely proves that there are a lot of stupid and uninformed people on the Left.

I’ve even seen some use the term “liberal” in this way, as in, “I’m liberal, but you need to ask me what I mean by that, because I’m so unique in my thought processes that I can be liberal and not be like all the other liberals on the face of the earth.” This makes them just like all the other liberals on the face of the earth. They all think and believe they have come to their daft positions by some unique thought process on their own part.

In theological circles, the words “inerrancy” and “infallable” have become Shibboleths. This is how evangelicals and theological liberals divide themselves, with the liberals taking the position that the Bible is not inerrant or infallable. This leads to all manner of stupidity on their part, but again, liberalism always does. The moment that you distance yourself from these two position involving Scripture is the moment you open yourself up to believing whatever you want. It is how the gay community can insist that being gay is OK, even though the Bible condemns the sin every time it’s mentioned.

This is why there has been such a fight over the issue of inerrancy. To remove it from how we view the Bible is to remove the Bible’s authority. This is never good, because authority is shifted away from its rightful place and person, God, and places it on us. When we understand that God’s word is authoritative and all our freedoms come from Him, then we are wise and prudent. However when we throw off His authority, the authority then shifts to something other than God and His word, and ends up in the hands of corrupt and fallen men. This is what has taken place in our country over the past 75 years. The more and more we distance ourselves from God’s truth, the farther and farther our country will fall into wretchedness, which will and does lead to the loss of freedoms.

The sad truth is that this has really opened up for something like Islam. Everyone inherently knows that there are problems in our country. But instead of turning to the Living and True God, through Jesus Christ, man will take on a false god in allah and Islam, thinking that we have made some sort of social progression because with Islam, comes the chains of religion. Freedom dies with Islam and man’s religion. Only through the gospel of Jesus Christ can there be true freedom. All other religions do nothing more than bind the soul.

I believe that the term “Christian” will become a Shibboleth as well. It will be a dividing point in culture, as it has been for God’s Kingdom all along. Those of us who bear the name will have the true honor of standing for Christ as our culture moves more and more away from the light. As Christians, we must be ready for this reality. Some see this as doom and gloom. But I see it as an opportunity. The more the term becomes a Shibboleth, the more that the Holy Spirit will use it to draw those who truly belong to the Father, to Himself. What a blessing. Let’s look forward to taking advantage of it.

Standing Up Against the Unconstitutional 501 (3) (c) Regulation

Here is what I’ve been trying to say in previous posts, along with the Bumbling Genius in his posts as well.

Pastors have a right and a responsibility to stand up against the immoral nature of both our government and politicians. That is our responsibility. To sit and say nothing about the wicked who are elected to office is to join in that wickedness. Remember, they represent us, and they way that our leaders go, is the way we go as well. We will be held responsible for our elected leaders. That is how representation works, i.e., see Adam and his first sin. We all have a responsibility in it.

The Big 12 Survived

Yes, it’s time for me to admit that I was wrong. Last week, in all the torrent known as “conference realignment” I proclaimed the Big 12 as dead! That, perhaps was a bit of wishful thinking on my part. It turns out that some are actually saying that the Big 12 remains together because of the Texas Aggies. I know all the attention is on texas, but had texas had their way, they would be in the PAC 10 right now instead of the Big 12 (which is actually 10 teams). The lone hold out was A&M in the move to the PAC 10. They wanted to go to the SEC and saw no benefits whatsoever to head to the PAC 10.

Jennifer Floyd Engel has a great post one what happened and why. She writes:

How the Aggies saved the Big 12 was by growing a backbone. When big-timers at A&M decided they were done following in lockstep with Bevo and Co., they slowed to a crawl what had been a Sherman-like march to the Pacific. Delay caused by the Aggies allowed for TV entities and ADs from schools with no rooting interest and politicians and big-time business types, all uninterested in mega-conferences for personal-gain reasons, to swoop in and build consensus and save the Big 12 from itself.

And make no mistake, during this downtime, Texas had second thoughts.

Pac-16 money claims were fuzzy.

Travel headaches were obvious.

Horns were definitely being sized for the ‘Horns.

And by Monday, Texas had a whole lot of reasons to stay in the Big 12. About the only team with a good reason to bolt was Texas A&M.

The dollar math is not fuzzy in the SEC, and you could feel the sentiment building, among old Ags and young: “Let’s break free from Texas.” A perfect chance existed, a chance to finally and wholly get out of Bevo’s shadow and to be in a killer conference.

And in this moment, they did what Aggies pride themselves on. They kept their word. They did not run.

That is an excellent assessment, because the Aggies were not willing to walk in lock step with texas, it caused everyone to slow down a bit and allow some reason to enter into their thinking. So the Big 12(10) is still alive and kicking. Now if they just add a few teams to the mix and get their numbers back up to 12 teams. Arkansas anyone?

Big Butter Touchdown Jesus Destroyed

OK, this is too funny. Apparently some people in Ohio had a 62-foot high statue of Jesus that was struck by lightning and burned to the ground. Maybe they should revisit that “graven image” command again before rebuilding it.

MONROE, Ohio – A six-story statue of Jesus Christ was struck by lightning and burned to the ground, leaving only a blackened steel skeleton and pieces of foam that were scooped up by curious onlookers Tuesday.

The “King of Kings” statue, one of southwest Ohio’s most familiar landmarks, had stood since 2004 at the evangelical Solid Rock Church along Interstate 75 in Monroe, just north of Cincinnati.

The lightning strike set the statue ablaze around 11:15 p.m. Monday, Monroe police dispatchers said.

The sculpture, about 62 feet tall and 40 feet wide at the base, showed Jesus from the torso up and was nicknamed Touchdown Jesus because of the way the arms were raised, similar to a referee signaling a touchdown. It was made of plastic foam and fiberglass over a steel frame, which is all that remained Tuesday.

The nickname is the same used for a famous mural of the resurrected Jesus that overlooks the Notre Dame football stadium.

Read the rest here.

The Love of Christ

A well-needed reminder from Bishop Ryle

“The love of Christ to sinners is the very essence and marrow of the Gospel. That He should love us at all, and care for our souls,—that He should love us before we love Him, before even know anything about Him,—that He should love us so much as to come into the world to save us, to take our nature on Him, bear our sins, and die for us on the cross, — all this is wonderful indeed! It is a kind of love to which there is nothing like among men. The narrow selfishness of human nature cannot fully comprehend it. It is one of those things which even the angels of God ‘desire to look into.’ It is a truth which Christian preachers and teachers should proclaim incessantly, and never be weary of proclaiming.”[1]


[1] J.C. Ryle, Expository Thoughts on the Gospels, John, John 13:1-21-25, p. 2.

Timothy’s Top 10 NT Passages

This is one of those subjects that is really hard for the believer to do, make a list of our favorite passages. But I’m going to try. Feel free to share your favorite passages and why in the comments sections. I wish I could reverse the count so that you read my favorite one last. Not sure how to make the numbering system of WordPress do that. So here they are, starting with my favorite.

  1. Matthew 7:21-23 “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ Now, this might seem like an odd passage for someone’s favorite passage. But it is mine because it is the first passage I read from the Bible in which the Holy Spirit moved in me and convicted me of it’s truthfulness. I was still a non-believer at the time and I asked my cousin, who was witnessing to me, about all those money-grubbing televangelists. He took me to this passage and had me read it. For the first time in my life, the text of Scripture was more than just words on a page, more than just a story about a guy some 2,000 years ago. Those words were truth and I realized it. No matter how many people may claim to be doing so many things for Christ, He was not fooled by the false prophets or false professors of the faith. He saw through to the reality in their hearts. I eventually realized that He saw into the reality of my heart as well.
  2. Ephesians 1:3-6 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, 4 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, 5 having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will, 6 to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved. I love this passage because of the assurance that is found in it. Knowing my own heart and resistance to Christ, I would not be a believer had He not first chosen me, moved in me, converted me and saved me. The only aspect of my salvation that I claim is my sin, which I want nothing to do with. It is comforting to know that I’m not a believer because I accidentally stumbled into it, but that He predestined me to become one of His children… before the foundations of the world were laid. If that doesn’t give the believer a sense of purpose and assurance, I’m not sure anything will.
  3. John 6:35-40 And Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst. 36 But I said to you that you have seen Me and yet do not believe. 37 All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will by no means cast out. 38 For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. 39 This is the will of the Father who sent Me, that of all He has given Me I should lose nothing, but should raise it up at the last day. 40 And this is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the S7 Again, another passage that offers assurance, and comfort. Those who truly belong to Him will not be lost.
  4. John 1:1-5 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made. 4 In Him was life, and the life was the light of men. 5 And the light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not comprehend it. Along with the verses through verse 14, this is one of those monumental statements about Christ. This says that He is far more than a carpenter, or a teacher, or a moral man, or whatever the other drivel is that non-believer ascribes to Him. When we actually read what the Bible says about Christ, we find that He is far more than just a man who lived 2,000 years ago. I believe this is why so many want to take the non-believer to the book of John. While the authors of the synoptic gospels move slowly in their revelations of Christ, John gets right to the point. John is giving a view of Christ from a heavenly perspective. Matthew, Mark and Luke are giving us the ministry of Christ from an earthly perspective. This is why there is such a difference in the way that they are written and why so much of what Christ says is centered on His relationship with the Father. Jesus is God in the flesh, the Second person of the Trinity, and to deny this aspect about Him is to deny Him and the Father.
  5. Colossians 1:15-18 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 18 And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. Again, another Christological verse showing Christ as the preeminent One. I love this verse because it shows that all things belong to Him, and were made by Him, and that He is NOT a created being. For all things were created by Him. He is the One that speaks creation into existence. Paul wants us to understand the greatness of Christ and who He is. Again, if we know anything about Him at all, He is far more than just a good teacher. He is the Second Person of the Trinity.
  6. Philippians 2:5-11 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, 6 who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, 7 but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. 9 Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, 11that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. and Again, showing us more about Christ. But this time, showing us His great humility and His greater exaltation. He laid aside all the glory that belonged to Him, and became a “bondservant” on our behalf. What should have happened is that He should have come and rightfully declared that we should worship Him. Yet, He doesn’t because He is looking for us to love Him out of hearts of gratitude. Yes, in His exaltation, eventually every knee will bow and confess that He is Lord, but until then, He extends an open invitation to all, seeing those who are His come to Him.
  7. 1 Peter 2:9-10 But you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 who once were not a people but are now the people of God, who had not obtained mercy but now have obtained mercy. This verse captures the gospel and the special place we have in Christ. He does not just save us from our sins, but makes us into a royal priesthood, a holy nation and even calls us His own special people. I rejoice at the mercy He has extended to me. I deserve none of the blessings given, yet for His own glory, He has graciously extended them to me.
  8. Hebrews 1:1-4 God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, 2 has in these last days spoken to us by His Son, whom He has appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the worlds; 3 who being the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of His power, when He had by Himself[a] purged our[b] sins, sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. Again, another Christological passage showing us that Jesus is the final and ultimate revelation of God. There is no more revelation once the canon closed because there is nothing more for Him to reveal to us. He has revealed the greatest message there is, found in His Son alone, bringing peace to those who believe in Him.
  9. Philippians 1:21 For to me, to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Short, but so full of truth. Those of us in Christ are to live for Christ. He is the center of who we are because He has purchased us from the eternal darkness, and brought us into His unapproachable light. Given that, even when we die, we gain because then we are immediately in His presence for the rest of eternity. We will have much sweeter communion with Christ on that day, that this life, and all the trials, tribulations and troubles will fade away.
  10. Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus,[a] who do not walk according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. A declaration of who we are in Christ. Our sins have been dealt with, therefore, let us live as those who have been freed from sin, and live unto righteousness.

There are so many more passages than just these 10. But I had to limit myself otherwise, I would have listed the entire New Testament. I’m not sure the people at WordPress would appreciate that.

If you have a few favorite verses you would like to share, please do so in the comments section.

Texas Aggies May Head to the SEC

OK, nothing official. But the presidents and AD’s of Texas A&M and texas met yesterday and came to no conclusion about the direction of the athletic programs and the Big 12. That is a good sign that A&M may still be pondering a move to the Southeastern Conference. In case you have not heard, the Pac 10 is making a push for texas, A&M, Oklahoma, OSU and Texas Tech to leave the Big 12 and join them on the west coast. Colorado already has made the jump and Nebraska is probably going to the Big 10.

A&M doesn’t like the idea of having to play on the west coast. They expressed this sentiment when the girls basketball team had to play in the NCAA tournament out in Washington state earlier in the year. Plus, there are already natural rivalries for A&M in the SEC. A&M already has a history with Arkansas and LSU. So it is a better fit for A&M to east and not west.

Aggie Gene Stallings has even weighed in on the issue. Remember, he played for A&M, coached them and coached Alabama to a National Championship after former A&M coach Bear Bryant retired from Alabama. (Do you see a connection here?)

Stallings was asked about the possibility of texas and A&M being different conferences:

“I would think there would be a possibility, but to say they’d definitely do that …?” Stallings, a former Alabama coach, told the newspaper. “I don’t know who all will be involved. But I’d be stupid not to say that. Whether it’s much of a possibility, I don’t know. I’m not going to venture out on that until I know what all the options are.”

Here is the clear message so far: A&M is not sold on the idea of going to the Pac 10, even after they met with texas officials yesterday. What this means: A&M is still open to moving to the SEC.

My hopes? Move to the SEC!

That way if we stay in Jackson, TN, it is only a few hours drive to see them play in Oxford, MS, Baton Rouge, LA, Fayetteville, AR, Starkville, MS, Tuscaloosa, AL, and Knoxville, TN. Plus… they will be on the television a lot more in this area. So you can see I have a personal interest in seeing them not go out to the west coast.

The Big 12 is Dead!

With the announcement that Colorado is leaving the Big 12 and going to the Pac 10, the Big 12 is now officially dead. It’s all a matter of saying good bye and burying the patient.

I’m afraid A&M will go to the Pac 10 as well. I was really hoping the SEC would step up and draw some of the Big 12 their way. But alas, nothing from them as of yet.

Read about here. BTW, I read that Colorado made the jump quickly to ensure that they would make it into the Pac 10. There were rumors that it would be either Baylor or Colorado, but not both. This shuts the door on Baylor, which is OK with me. They are door mats.

There was supposed to be a meeting between texas and A&M today. That could define what really happens to the Big 12. Nebraska is rumored to already be bolting for the Big 10. OSU is talking about not going to the  Pac 10, but not sure where they would end up, since the story was on ESPN’s Insider, which I’m not a member of.

Beergut at 12th Man still contends A&M would be a better fit in the SEC. I agree. We already have rivalries with Arkansas and LSU. There are no rivalries at all with the schools in the Pac 10. I’m not sure we’ve played many of them, at least nothing comes to mind.

UPDATE: I found this on the Houston Chronicle web site:

With the Big 12 splitting up, University of Texas officials confirmed Wednesday that there’s a meeting scheduled between Texas A&M and UT leaders today to discuss their potential courses of action. One insider described the entire situation as “extremely fluid” on Wednesday night, with several possible outcomes, and another said Texas and Texas A&M haven’t ruled out becoming members of the Southeastern Conference.

This is good because it means the SEC may still be in play.

501 (3) (c) and the Pulpit — Part 2

There have a few posts made on this subject over the past week or so. I realized later that my thoughts for my earlier post were influenced by Stan’s post over at Winging It. Stan is quite prolific with his blog and it is worth keeping up with. He has even contradicted some of my posts, and kindly not drawn attention to it, and done a good job of making his argument. I’m thinking of my 2 Chronicles 7:14 comments in an earlier post and his comments on the same passage.

But the point of this post is that both Stan’s post on 501 (3) (c) and mine have spurred on Dan at The Bumbling Genius to post on the topic as well. Dan wrote that he has been giving this subject some thought for quite some time and it was our posts that caused him to finish it up and post it. I have to say I’m glad that he did, for he has given the best arguments against using the 501 (3) (c) shelter I’ve read to date.

He writes:

For several generations now the government, through the IRS, has been supplementing the tithes of the faithful by means of a refund check. But thanks to Johnson, those refunds now come with strings attached; strings that are now accepted as good and right…, even Biblical. As a result of generations living with this “law” there are many who now consider it a sin for a church to venture into the arena of politics, that is, unless that venture involves calling on government to act as an interceptor between sowing sin and reaping its consequences. Now while such activity has proved to be profitable for those seeking gain in the economy of power and guilt assuagement, in the economy of love such ventures are being shown to be bankrupt. For throwing other people’s money at symptoms brought about by the Church’s retreat from the public square is not an act of love at all, it is idolatry.

I like that he calls it what it is: idolatry. I’ve argued before that the church is to be involved in the public square, in politics, both condemning those who are involved in sinful behavior, and holding up those who do what is right. I know some who come here argue that the church is not to endorse one candidate over another. Again, I have to say, why not? It’s the church’s job to denounce that which is wicked in our culture and if that includes politicians, why are we so silent on the issue?

For example, look at Nancy Pelosi. She is pro-abortion and a Roman Catholic. I believe that the Catholics should denounce her and rebuke her both publicly and privately for her support of killing the unborn. If a candidate arises to run against her who is morally upright, then they have a right to encourage their followers to support that candidate. To say that they do not, denies those in the church from their freedom of speech and religion.

I believe it is my right to endorse certain candidates both as a pastor and a private citizen. The reason I include both is that you cannot differentiate the two. I am both a private citizen and a pastor, all at the same time. To separate the two identities is exactly what the secularist wants me to do. Be a pastor only on Sundays, only in the pulpit and only say things which are pastoral in nature, never speaking out on issues of politics. Because pastors have given into this lie is partly the reason I believe the country is in the state of immorality that we are in. Has pastors stood together and denounced men like Barney Frank, he might not have had the chance to get elected in the first place. Yet, most of the churches that stood on Scripture were silent because of some arcane and unbiblical law passed by LBJ.

Read the consequences that Dan shares over at his site:

As a consequence of the Church’s withdrawal from the public square, a great light has gone out in the halls of government leaving it to operate at every level without fear that that light will be shined onto its activity. Many Christians are now at best woefully ignorant of a Biblical understanding of government in regards to its function and purpose, or worse, have bought entirely into the social justice lie that sees Government as a God like entity capable of ending the curse, or controlling sea levels and planetary temperatures. In this darkened state many true Christians also see the murder of millions upon millions of children in the womb as an acceptable price to pay in exchange for a total fixation on these material ends. The hunger and thirst of the spiritual man is now by judicial decree denied when it comes to all the much touted and savior like government help; a denial that all the money in the world cannot overcome in its attempts to alleviate the suffering that occurs as a result; and a denial which the Church currently seems more than happy to accept. Many look back to 1962 as the beginning of our nation’s fall. I see that era as merely the first harvest, the seeds of which were planted with the social compact of 1954. The dominoes have been falling ever since.

Now, generations later, as if God gave us the ultimate desires of our heart, we, even in the midst of an economic down-turn, are a wealthy nation oblivious to the fact that we are also spiritually poor, blind, and naked. Our Churches are now either completely apostate, or hospitals dedicated to the caring for the lives wrecked by a culture that has institutionalized sin and anti-Christianity content to deal with the symptoms rather than causes of suffering, or in many cases simply centers of feel-good-therapeutic-theistic entertainment that have passed the buck of the hard work of caring for the poor on to those who simply confiscate wealth from some sinful men and redistribute it to other sinful men asking only for power in return. And at the center of all this is what has become the Giant Pink Idol that no one wants to talk about standing in the of the middle sanctuary, the Democrat party.

You can read the conclusion by going there. I think he covers the issue in more detail than I do, and really nails it. The churches should have nothing to do with tax-exempt status. We need to be free to speak in the religious realm and political realm bringing the scripture to bear on both. After all, as the Psalmist writes The earth is the LORD’s, and all its fullness, the world and those who dwell therein.

Helen Thomas Retires

Yes, as a result of the great outcry and demands that she be released immediately as a White House correspondent, Helen Thomas has retired. Thanks to blogs like mine, and yes, I’m taking ALL the credit that I deserve in this (tongue planted in cheek), she has made the wise decision after she told the Jews to “get the hell out of Palestine.” It’s good to see those on the Left getting a taste of their own medicine.

You can read about it here and see the video here.

The decision to retire came as Thomas faced rebuke from nearly every corner after video of her remarks during an interview with RabbiLive.com’s Rabbi David Nesenoff emerged online late last week.

“Those remarks were offensive and reprehensible,” Gibbs said during the Monday briefing, adding that Thomas’s remarks “do not reflect certainly most of the people here and certainly not those of the administration.” Thomas did not attend Monday’s briefing and journalists, perhaps sensing the closing of an era, were spotted taking pictures of Thomas’ empty front row.

Over the weekend, Thomas’ agency dropped her as a client and a high school that had asked Thomas to speak at its commencement ceremony revoked the invitation. Such political bigwigs as Dana Perino, Ari Fleischer, Rep. Rick Lazio, Lanny Davis and Joe Lockhart denounced Thomas’ remarks, as did many Jewish organizations.

Jesus is True Israel

Yesterday in my sermon, I stressed that we need to understand who Christ is to fullest extent possible since He is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15). If we want to know about God, we must know Jesus for He and the Father are One. To see Jesus is to see the Father (John 14:1-11). One of the subtle identities of Christ is that He is true Israel. This became evident to me several years ago studying while reading David Holwerda’s bookJesus and Israel: One Covenant or Two? He made the point that in Matthew 2:15, that God called true Israel out of Egypt. Matthew quotes Hosea 11:1 “Out of Egypt I called My Son.”

The shocker is that when you look back to Hosea 11, you find that God called the people out of Israel and they immediately turn to worshiping idols. They essentially rebel against the loving Father. Where the people failed, the head did not. Jesus is also called out of Egypt to be the obedient Son that the people failed to be.  In every realm of testing that the people went through, Jesus did as well, only in His case He was obedient to the Father.

This is why He is the true Israel. When I read the Old Testament, I want so badly for the people to do what is right and stay true to the LORD. But they only do so for a while, and then they drift off. Even the most devout OT saints drift as well. This is because the OT saints, at best, merely point to Christ, the true Israel. Where they failed, He succeeds. Where they rebel, He remains obedient. Where they drift off into idolatry, He is the only one that loves the LORD with His heart, mind, soul and spirit.  He is everything that they were not, and that we are not.

I think this truth is vital when it comes to understanding the Old Testament. All that is found there, is pointing towards Christ. It puts the real meat on verses like Isaiah 49:3

“And He said to me,

‘You are my servant, O Israel,

In whom I will be glorfied.'”

Isaiah is not talking about the people, but the Messiah. He is pointing to the suffering servant who will be the Redeemer of Israel, their Holy One (v. 7), who will also be a light to the Gentiles, that You should be My salvation to the ends of the earth'” (v. 6).

Who is true Israel? True Israel is Christ and all those who are in Him. This is why I believe that the promises made to national Israel, are also made to us. Where there is a covenant with God’s people in the OT, the promises there are made to the believer in the New Testament. The specifics have changed under the New Covenant, but the promises are still to us as well.

For instance, I know that God made the promises to the people about the land.  A lot of people put a lot of stock in the land promises. But Jesus told us the truth about the land in the Sermon on the Mount, “Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.” The land seen as Israel was merely a down payment to the real inheritance for the people of God. The entire earth is given to all those who believe because it all belongs to true Israel, that is Jesus, and we are partakers of His inheritance (Ephesians 1:11, 5:5).

The specifics of the promises have changed, but the essence of them is still there, Paul confirms this in 2 Corinthians.

2 Corinthians 1:19-21 For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us—by me, Silvanus, and Timothy—was not Yes and No, but in Him was Yes. 20 For all the promises of God in Him are Yes, and in Him Amen, to the glory of God through us. 21 Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God.

This is why I believe a passage like 2 Chronicles 7:14 still applies to us today. It is a call for His people to humble themselves, repent and seek forgiveness. The promise is to heal the land. In the context, it does have a specific application to those who were returning from the Babylonian captivity. But it also has a spiritual promise to all of His people, therefore it a applies to all His believers. Does it apply to the United States? Probably not. God may or may not heal our country. But He will bring spiritual healing to His people, which is far more important than the economic, political or moral healing that many are hoping for.  Let the people of God humble themselves and pray that His Spirit brings true and meaningful healing to the land.