The Blood and the Coals


Korah son of Izhar, the son of Kohath, the son of Levi, and certain Reubenites—Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, and On son of Peleth—became insolent and rose up against Moses. With them were 250 Israelite men, well-known community leaders who had been appointed members of the council. They came as a group to oppose Moses and Aaron and said to them, “You have gone too far! The whole community is holy, every one of them, and the Lord is with them. Why then do you set yourselves above the Lord’s assembly?”
Numbers 16

There were 12 tribes in Israel. Of those 12, only the Levite tribe was allowed to camp around the Lord’s Tabernacle where His Presence resided with them. The Levites all had different duties which mostly involved the care or transport of the Tabernacle. Of these Levites, only Aaron and his descendants could be priests and actually minister inside the Tabernacle to God.

Korah was a Levite, but not a son of Aaron and therefore not a priest. Korah and certain other leaders of Israel got it into their heads that it wasn’t fair that only Aaron’s sons could serve before the Lord as priests in His Tabernacle, forgetting that it was the Lord who had made this decision and blaming Moses for it instead.

When confronted, the humble Moses reminds Korah that he did not make that decision, God did. Moses even quips that he didn’t even want his own job as leader (a job he tried very hard to get out of many times) but submits to the Lord’s decisions. He reminds Korah that, as a Levite, he already has a great blessing and the great job of camping near and taking care of the Tabernacle.

Korah persists, so Moses challenges Korah and his followers to appear before the Tabernacle with divine censers of incense and try to minister before God like priests. If God is with them, He will accept their worship.

They do this, and God comes down in His cloud of glory. God tells Aaron and Moses to get out of the way so that He can consume these men for rebelling against Him. Aaron and Moses fall facedown and pray that God would forgive this rebellion and not punish the whole assembly for the sins of one man: Korah.

But God tells the other Israelites to get away from the tents of Korah’s families and those of the other rebels. God then consumes the rebels with the censers with holy fire and causes the earth to open and swallow up all of their families and descendants.

The next day, this happens:

The next day the whole Israelite community grumbled against Moses and Aaron. “You have killed the Lord’s people,” they said.

But when the assembly gathered in opposition to Moses and Aaron and turned toward the tent of meeting, suddenly the cloud covered it and the glory of the Lord appeared. Then Moses and Aaron went to the front of the tent of meeting, and the Lord said to Moses, “Get away from this assembly so I can put an end to them at once.” And they fell facedown.

Instead of learning to fear God, the people once again blame Moses for what happened and rebel in their hearts. This time it’s the whole Israelite community that’s in danger of being destroyed for its sins. Again Moses and Aaron fall facedown and pray that God would spare them.

Suddenly, Moses realizes this isn’t going to work. This is exactly what they tried yesterday to save the people who rebelled, and it didn’t work.

Then Moses said to Aaron, “Take your censer and put incense in it, along with burning coals from the altar, and hurry to the assembly to make atonement for them. Wrath has come out from the Lord; the plague has started.”

Moses realizes that the reason they were unable to stop the former rebellion from ending in the death of all involved was because they had not made atonement for the sins committed the way God had told them to. Moses himself had said just a few chapters earlier that while God forgives sin and rebellion, “He does not acquit the guilty.” Just asking God to “look over it” was not enough. Atonement for the sin must be made.

Moses tells Aaron to run to the altar and scoop some of the burning coals from the altar into his censer. These were the burning coals that accepted the blood from the sin offerings. The blood that God had said over and over in the Law atoned for sins. Moses tells Aaron to hurry, for the plague had already started killing the people.

So Aaron did as Moses said, and ran into the midst of the assembly. The plague had already started among the people, but Aaron offered the incense and made atonement for them. He stood between the living and the dead, and the plague stopped. But 14,700 people died from the plague, in addition to those who had died because of Korah. Then Aaron returned to Moses at the entrance to the tent of meeting, for the plague had stopped.

Aaron runs into the midst of the dying Israelites, getting ahead of the plague and made atonement for the people just as the Law prescribed. When he did, the plague instantly stopped where he stood and no one else died. Aaron had fulfilled God’s demands for atonement in this case, and so God did as He promised and forgave the assembly and relented from the disaster He was bringing to them.

We are told by Paul in the New Covenant that:

These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come.
1st Corinthians 10

All of this God used to teach His people, both then and now, an important lesson. Atonement for sin must be made, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness for sins. God is just and must punish sin with dire consequences, but God is also loving and forgiving and wants us to have a path of atonement. He has now made that possible through His Son Jesus Christ, whose blood was sprinkled on the burning coals of the true altar in Heaven. For it is written:

But when Christ came as high priest of the good things that are now already here, he went through the greater and more perfect tabernacle that is not made with human hands, that is to say, is not a part of this creation. He did not enter by means of the blood of goats and calves; but he entered the Most Holy Place once for all by his own blood, thus obtaining eternal redemption. The blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkled on those who are ceremonially unclean sanctify them so that they are outwardly clean. How much more, then, will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself unblemished to God, cleanse our consciences from acts that lead to death, so that we may serve the living God!
Hebrews 9

The burning coals of the altar took in the blood of the lambs who were killed for the atonement for sin, and so by God’s decree could make atonement. Consider the power of the coals in the true tabernacle in Heaven which took in the blood of the Lord Himself to cleanse away all sins:

At the sound of their voices the doorposts and thresholds shook and the temple was filled with smoke.

“Woe to me!” I cried. “I am ruined! For I am a man of unclean lips, and I live among a people of unclean lips, and my eyes have seen the King, the Lord Almighty.”

Then one of the seraphim flew to me with a live coal in his hand, which he had taken with tongs from the altar. With it he touched my mouth and said, “See, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away and your sin atoned for.”
Isaiah 6

In this passage Isaiah, a sinner, had entered into the Most Holy Place in Heaven itself and gazed upon the glory of the Lord Almighty. No sinner could see such a sight and live. But the coals that soaked in the blood of Jesus were taken and touched to him and he was made clean and holy. True atonement was made. Isaiah was now free to minister before the Lord and he did so by becoming the Lord’s prophet to the people of Israel.

We must remember that we are all by nature sinners and rebels against God who are selfish and want nothing to do with Him. Our just verdict is death, and God the Just must render that verdict and punish our wickedness. The plague had already begun in the camp, and many had already died. But the Lord, being full of lovingkindness, sent the true High Priest, Jesus Christ, His own Son, to rush into the gap between the plague of sin and death and the children of God. There the plague was arrested and stopped. Jesus swallowed the plague and the curse for us. He died for us. His blood was sprinkled onto the burning coals in Heaven and our sin was atoned for. This was the price of salvation and it is paid for all who believe in the Son of God – who are given the right to become the children of God.

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Posted by on June 19, 2020 in Soteriology


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The Power and Fear of Death


Genesis 5 is oft overlooked as just another chapter on genealogy, but in reality it is a story of tragedy that should bring tears to our eyes.

In Chapters 1-2, God creates all there is and declares it to be “very good.” Everything is meant to live and last forever.

In Chapter 3, Adam and Eve disobey God and open the doors for sin and death to enter the world, but death doesn’t come for them at once.

In Genesis 4 we have the first recorded murder of Abel by Cain. No doubt a great tragedy that shook the first communities in the ancient world. It was after these first violent deaths that people began to call upon the name of the Lord. Called upon Him to save them.

In Genesis 5, though, the real horror begins. Adam himself dies.

Can you imagine what people felt when the first of all patriarchs died? How they watched him grow older and older, more frail and sickly, until one day he breathed his last and was gone?

What sadness! What despair! Almost 1,000 years had passed and Adam had lived on and on. Now the man everyone could call father – was dead.

But it didn’t stop. Adam’s son died. Then his son. Then his. “And he died,” repeats over and over like a hammer. Sure, they lived a long time by our standards, but then…they died. They all died. None could escape the power and fear of death.

Except one man. His name stands out on purpose. Enoch. Enoch, we are told, “walked with God.” So, one day, God took him home. No death. No body. No funeral. Enoch was, and then he was not, for God snatched him into Heaven.

As the deaths continued, the tears flowed like rivers. People must’ve wondered, will this nightmare ever end? Will the tears ever dry?

Yes. One day, they would. Another Enoch would come, a better Enoch, a better Adam.

He would walk with God. And He would rise alive into Heaven and be found among us no more, but before He left, He would die a death He did not deserve and save us all.

Jesus is on every page. The Bible is His story. All of it.

“Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death (that is, the devil) and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.”

(Hebrews 2:14-15)

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Posted by on December 21, 2019 in The Bible


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man-kneeling-in-roadWhoever practices righteousness is righteous, as he is righteous.
– John the Elder (1st John 3:7b)

At first glance, this appears to be an unnecessary axiom. Yeah, if someone practices righteousness…they are righteous. Did we really need John to explain this to us? This is a short epistle, after all, not a lengthy discourse like Romans – and yet even Romans packs deep theology into every verse.

Of course, ultimately, God wrote this – so yeah this needed to be said.

If that is the case, what is really being said here?

If we look at the surrounding text, we see that John is talking about some heavy things. He is talking about what makes a person a child of God – and therefore an inheritor of eternal life, and what makes a person a child of the Devil – and therefore an inheritor of eternal punishment. Serious stuff indeed.

John sums it up in verse 10:

By this it is evident who are the children of God, and who are the children of the devil: whoever does not practice righteousness is not of God, nor is the one who does not love his brother.

So what is righteousness, and how do we know if we’re practicing it?

Many would say that righteousness is just being righteous – that is perfect and without sin. But this can’t be true for a number of reasons:

  1. John himself in this same epistle said that even Christians sin and need to continually ask for and receive forgiveness (1st Jn 1:8-10).
  2. It is logically inconsistent with the verse – if practicing righteousness is being righteous, then why is this distinction necessary?

There must be a different, more perfect, answer.

Matthew Henry, writing his commentary in the 17th century writes:

It may appear that righteousness may in several places of scripture be justly rendered religion, as Mt. 5:10 , Blessed are those that are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, that is, for religion’s sake; 1 Pt. 3:14 , But if you suffer for righteousness’ sake (religion’s sake) happy are you; and 2 Tim. 3:16 , All scripture, or the whole scripture, is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine—and for instruction in righteousness, that is, in the nature and branches of religion. To do righteousness then, especially being set in opposition to the doing, committing, or practising, of sin, is to practise religion. Now he who practiseth religion is righteous; he is the righteous person on all accounts; he is sincere and upright before God. The practice of religion cannot subsist without a principle of integrity and conscience. He has that righteousness which consists in pardon of sin and right to life, founded upon the imputation of the Mediator’s righteousness. He has a title to the crown of righteousness, which the righteous Judge will give, according to his covenant and promise, to those that love his appearing, 2 Tim. 4:8 . He has communion with Christ, in conformity to the divine law, being in some measure practically righteous as he; and he has communion with him in the justified state, being now relatively righteous together with him.

– Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible, 1st John 3:4-10

In other words, practicing righteousness is practicing the Christian religion – and the Christian religion is running away from sin and running to God. It is the reverse of the Fall, where humans chose to reject God and His wisdom and run towards sin and destruction.

So practicing righteousness, then, cannot be the state of being righteous itself, because a righteous person would already be completely in God, that is perfect and having no need to confess his sins leading to forgiveness and cleansing, as in John 1:9. Rather, the practicing of righteousness is the duty of the Christian who, while saved, is still bound in the sinful World and remains under its influence. The Christian who is truly a child of God makes a practice of running from his or her sin, when they become aware of it, towards God for the forgiveness and cleansing mentioned in 1st John 1:9.

This is very encouraging, because it means that those of us who struggle against sin – those of us who fall into its trap countless times but fall on our face begging in tears for another chance from God – are righteous!

Going back to Matthew Henry above, he states that because we practice righteousness, or religion, or repentance, we show that we’ve been adopted by God and belong to His family. We show through this that we have been declared righteous through the bloody work of Jesus Christ – the only human who was ever truly righteous of His own merit – and have become “relatively righteous” as Matthew Henry puts it.

Here, now, we see the point of this verse from God to us through John the Elder. God is saying to us, “How do you know if you are mine? Do you hate sin? Does it make you sick? Do you revile your sin, and run to me each time you partake? Do you pray in tears that it be taken away, that you would be free? Then you are mine.

This is because the natural man will not do this. The natural man who is dead in his sins and a child of the Devil will not repent. He will not run from his sin, on the contrary, he revels in it and is happy to be its captive and far from God.

John the Elder further explains why Christians are different in verse 9:

No one born of God makes a practice of sinning, for God’s seed abides in him; and he cannot keep on sinning, because he has been born of God.

Here we see the direct comparison between practicing righteousness and practicing sinning. These two are incompatible. One is either running away from sin towards God or is running from God towards sin. There is a difference between turning aside to sin for a moment or even a season and running toward it to embrace it as a friend, to embrace it as your dwelling place, your god.

We also see here that the inclination of the Christian away from sin towards God is not self-motivated, but results from the new creation. The seed of God, that is the Word or the Holy Spirit, has been implanted into the Christian, and holds him back from being who he once was. Matthew Henry puts it this way:

From the connection between regeneration and the relinquishment of sin: Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin. To be born of God is to be inwardly renewed, and restored to a holy integrity or rectitude of nature by the power of the Spirit of God. Such a one committeth not sin, does not work iniquity nor practise disobedience, which is contrary to his new nature and the regenerate complexion of his spirit; for, as the apostle adds, his seed remaineth in him, either the word of God in its light and power remaineth in him (as 1 Pt. 1:23 , Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever), or, that which is born of the Spirit is spirit; the spiritual seminal principle of holiness remaineth in him. Renewing grace is an abiding principle. Religion, in the spring of it, is not an art, an acquired dexterity and skill, but a new nature. And thereupon the consequence is the regenerate person cannot sin. That he cannot commit an act of sin, I suppose no judicious interpreter understands. This would be contrary to ch. 1:9 , where it is made our duty to confess our sins, and supposed that our privilege thereupon is to have our sins forgiven. He therefore cannot sin, in the sense in which the apostle says, he cannot commit sin. He cannot continue in the course and practice of sin. He cannot so sin as to denominate him a sinner in opposition to a saint or servant of God. Again, he cannot sin comparatively, as he did before he was born of God, and as others do that are not so. And the reason is because he is born of God, which will amount to all this inhibition and impediment.

1. There is a light in his mind which shows him the evil and malignity of sin. There is that bias upon his heart which disposes him to loathe and hate sin.

3. There is the spiritual seminal principle or disposition, that breaks the force and fulness of the sinful acts. They proceed not from such plenary power of corruption as they do in others, nor obtain that plenitude of heart, spirit, and consent, which they do in others. The spirit lusteth against the flesh. And therefore in respect to such sin it may be said, It is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. It is not reckoned the person’s sin, in the gospel account, where the bent and frame of the mind and spirit are against it.

Then, 4. There is a disposition for humiliation and repentance for sin, when it has been committed. He that is born of God cannot sin. Here we may call to mind the usual distinction of natural and moral impotency. The unregenerate person is morally unable for what is religiously good. The regenerate person is happily disabled for sin. There is a restraint, an embargo (as we may say), laid upon his sinning powers. It goes against him sedately and deliberately to sin. We usually say of a person of known integrity, “He cannot lie, he cannot cheat, and commit other enormities.’’ How can I commit this great wickedness, and sin against God! Gen. 39:9. And so those who persist in a sinful life sufficiently demonstrate that they are not born of God.

Note that in Matthew Henry’s first point, he mentions that the new creation will have a “bias or disposition” against sinning. This, again, is evidence of God reversing the Fall in His children. After the Fall, humans gained a “sinful nature,” that is, we gained a bias or disposition FOR sinning. This is why John the Elder says that the children of the Devil don’t practice righteousness and why they hate the brothers, or as Matthew Henry writes:

As elsewhere sinners and saints are distinguished (though even saints are sinners largely so called), so to commit sin is here so to practise it as sinners do, that are distinguished from saints, to live under the power and dominion of it; and he who does so is of the devil; his sinful nature is inspired by, and agreeable and pleasing to, the devil; and he belongs to the party, and interest, and kingdom of the devil. It is he that is the author and patron of sin, and has been a practitioner of it, a tempter and instigator to it, even from the beginning of the world…The unregenerate person is morally unable for what is religiously good. The regenerate person is happily disabled for sin.

Unregenerate people don’t seek God or want God. All they want is their sin (whatever that person’s sinful tastes may be) all the time. This is why, in Romans 1, the Apostle Paul informs us that all of humanity is guilty before God. Not because humans make mistakes and occasionally sin (though this would be grounds enough) but because humans are totally affected by a sinful nature and are both happy to be sinners and encourage other humans to sin more and more.

Therefore John’s whole argument in Chapter 3 is that with the children of God it is not so. The child of God doesn’t practice sin and can’t go on living in sin because God has transformed him by the power of the death and resurrection of His Son and the child has passed from death to life. His nature has changed and he is now bent toward God rather than away from Him. Even if he should come to a difficult time and be frustrated with God for a season, the child of God finds that he cannot live apart from his Father for long and returns to His side again and again, even in tears and trembling, because he finds that he is only truly happy when abiding in His love.

Life can be difficult for the Christian, but don’t be deceived. If someone says they have no sin, they lie and the truth is not in them. But if you do sin, you have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. If you confess your sins, God is faithful and just to forgive you and cleanse you from all unrighteousness. If you are confessing your sins, you are practicing religion. If you are practicing religion, then you are practicing righteousness. And if you practice righteousness, then God has declared that you are righteous! So take heart, dear child of God, for that is what you are!



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Posted by on May 18, 2019 in Sanctification


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Atenism and Darwinism a historian and a theologian, I love when the two meet, and they meet often. The religion of Atenism has always fascinated me – how the ancient Egyptians – staunchly polytheistic – suddenly became monotheists for awhile and then went back on it.

There’s not a lot of new information in this article if you’ve ever read or heard of the Atenism movement, but I found one particular passage intriguing: the author talks about how Darwinist Evolution has infected almost every field of study – to the point where many historians believe that ALL human development has followed the pristine and slow method of evolving from one concept to a higher concept over time. This theory posits that religion too must’ve followed a very slow and defined climb from early animism in pre-historic times to polytheism to monotheism to atheism. However, sticky things like “facts” keep on getting in the way of this view, and things like Atenism break the mold and prove that humans have believed all kinds of things throughout history and at various times.

I find that fascinating because it seems that time and again we see evidence that Darwinism is not a science, but a faith. It is a religion unto itself – a religion with no god or rather one that makes man out to be god. It seeks, as all religions, to explain all things by it’s holy tenet that all things are slowly improving from simple to complex, from primitive to advanced, but consistently fails to do so. Mathematics, a true science, would immediately discard a mathematical equation if it couldn’t be proven for every case, but Darwinism continues to be published because those who adhere to it aren’t interested in actual science or facts, but the preservation of their faith.

People seem to believe that Darwinism is here to stay, but it’s important to remember that this new “religion” has been with us for less than 200 years. Who knows, in time even this may be discarded like Atenism was so long ago as a mere fad in the long history of the human condition.

Read the article here.

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Posted by on February 16, 2019 in History


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God Will Provide

“Okay, this is it Abraham, you have to prove yourself. You’ve committed so many sins, made so many mistakes. Here is where I decide if I love GOD more than anything else. He is worthy Abraham, He is worthy. But my son, how can I sacrifice my son? I waited so long for a son…no…He promised that my offspring would be reckoned through him…so he has to live…right? No, that’s the thinking that got you in trouble with Hagar. Ishmael…is he all right? Can’t think about that now.”

“Stay here, me and the lad are going up on the mountain to worship.”

“Okay, got rid of the servants. They don’t need to see this, it would unsettle them. What about me? Look, my son carrying the wood on his back for his own pyre. How can I put this knife to my son? I have to – GOD demands it. And He is worth it. Oh how good He’s been to me! He has given me so much: given me riches, given me victories, He even put kings under my feet. He’s saved me and Sarah from so many dangers. Dangers I created with my lies – wait, is this a punishment? Is GOD taking my son because He is displeased? No…I…I don’t think so. Maybe Isaac’s purpose was always to die? No…He…promised. He promised, and I believed Him! I…I…DO believe Him. He has never lied. He doesn’t lie. This is going to work out somehow. Did Isaac just say something”

“Dad? I see the wood and the fire, but where is the lamb for sacrifice?”

“Oh LORD spare me this! What do I tell him? How can I explain this when even I don’t understand it?”

“Son, the LORD will provide for Himself the lamb for sacrifice.”

“I had to say something. It’s not really a lie, everything goes from and to the LORD, even Isaac. Strange, it doesn’t even feel like a deception. Oh LORD you took Ishmael away, will you now take Isaac? My only son whom I love so dearly…I have wept over him as he’s slept. Dreamed about who he’d grow up to be, and what he’d do. I’ve wondered who his wife would be – pretty like his momma I’d bet. Now none of that will happen, and I will be the one to kill him. Oh, what will I tell Sarah? She will never speak to me again. How will GOD keep His promise if Isaac is dead? There is nothing the LORD can’t do…perhaps…perhaps He will raise Isaac up from the dead once I’ve proven my obedience? Can GOD turn back death? Yes, He could do that, He can do anything.”

“Such a good lad. He cannot be confused now, he knows what I’m doing. So obedient…much better man than his father. I don’t deserve him, I never did. Now he goes back to GOD. So GOD has given me, and so He now takes away. Give me the courage!”


“Here I am! Here I am! Oh please! GOD!”


“What? Oh merciful GOD! Look! A ram! He DID provide His own sacrifice! GOD has provided a substitute for my son, that he should not die, but live! I knew He would do something! He is so great and so good! Oh LORD! I shall call this place ‘GOD-WILL-PROVIDE’ for on this mountaintop GOD provided the substitute for my son.”

From that day on, people said of that place, “On the mountain of the LORD it shall be provided.” While they, like Abraham, referred to Isaac, GOD meant it for something greater still.

For unlike Abraham, GOD’s Son – His ONLY Son – would not be spared. GOD would give up His son Jesus as the ransom – the blood sacrifice – once for ALL humanity. Humanity was lost in its sins and trespasses against GOD – self-condemned to an eternity without GOD. An eternity of pain, shame, and suffering. A sacrifice to atone for the sins was the only hope – but no animal could atone for human sin – and no human could be found without sin to be a suitable sacrifice.

“Son, GOD will provide for Himself the lamb for sacrifice.”

And He did. He provided Jesus. Like Isaac, Jesus would carry the wooden cross of his own execution up the hill. But whereas Abraham cried tears of joy when his son was given back to him unharmed, GOD would know no such joy. GOD had to go through till the end. GOD had to take the knife and plunge it into His Son – to smote Him with all the fury and anger and righteous vengeance that OUR sin deserved. Every wicked and foul thing was laid on Him. Every perversion, every malice, every shameful thing was taken in by Him. Then GOD smote Him with the punishment reserved for us. For me. For you. And then He turned away.

And there on the cross 2000 years ago in Jerusalem, on the mountain, GOD provided for us the means of our redemption and salvation – that we would not suffer endless loss.

He sacrificed His Son, so we would not have to sacrifice ours. It is the promise for all who believe.

But oh, how Abraham was right yet again! For how could GOD’s Son inherit the Kingdom and rule over us forever if He is dead? As Abraham reckoned with Isaac, GOD can indeed raise the dead, and He raised up His Son to life on the third day. Now Jesus Christ has ascended as a living being into Heaven to sit at the right hand of the Father – awaiting the day when He will return to gather His people, crush His remaining enemies, and establish His forever rule over the glorious forever Kingdom of GOD.

Up Calvary’s mountain one dreadful morn
Walked Christ my Savior, weary and worn
Facing for sinners death on the cross
That He might save them from endless loss
Blessed Redeemer, precious Redeemer
Seems now I see Him on Calvary’s tree
Wounded and bleeding, for sinners pleading
Blind and unheeding, dying for me
‘Father, forgive them, ‘ my Savior prayed
Even while His lifeblood flowed fast away
Praying for sinners while in such woe
No one but Jesus ever loved so

Dying for me

Oh how I love Him, Savior and friend
How can my praises ever find end
Through years unnumbered on Heaven’s shore
My songs shall praise Him forevermore


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Posted by on December 9, 2017 in Uncategorized


Mother’s Day 2017 – The Strong Love

It’s been one year since my mother died.

My mother was sick for a very long time, and so I often thought about what would happen after she died. I thought it would be a heavy blow that would grow lighter as time passed. In reality I felt very little at the time, but the weight of her loss has grown heavier as time has gone on.

Mama was strong. Stubborn, yes, to a fault, but strong. She was willing to sacrifice all she was and all she hoped for (and she had dreams my friend) for her child and her family (and sacrifice she did.)

My father gave me few pointers on love and marriage when I was young, but one thing he said was, “Make sure the woman you marry is strong like your mother. She will need to be strong to raise children. Raising children is the hardest thing in the world, and only the strong can do it.”

I’ve always wanted to be married and raise a family. Since the time I was very small, I dreamed about entering a lifelong covenant with a wonderful woman and raising a household of children. Never did I dream of a life alone – such a life was a nightmare for me.

Now when I was in High School, all I knew was infatuation. It was foolish and emotion based and unwise. I was fortunate that none of the girls I pursued while in High School worked out. Nevertheless, even then my mind said, “Make sure she is strong, strong like mama is strong.” I never met one who was strong.

Then I went to college, and I sobered up some, and started looking for better traits. Traits that go beyond the physical, traits that endure. Still chief among them was “strong.” Describing this kind of strength is nearly impossible. This scene from the Replacements always comes to mind.

My life during this time drifted from Christ to the point the shore was no longer visible to me and in time I forgot about such a thing as the shore and land and believed there was only the sea. But my God is faithful even when I am faithless, and He did not leave me orphaned but crossed the horizon to bring me back.

Once back, I resumed my search for the strong one. In the Church I found there were a handful of strong women for the Lord. Many were already taken, but among those that remained I could not find one who was “strong like mama.”

Then I met my wife.

Strength seemed to be her banner and her song. She was so strong, in fact, that at first I did not like her – so intimidated I was by her strength. Of course in time I learned of her compassion, her laughter, and her warmth which charmed me like nothing else could – to say nothing of her vast intellect and integrity that has challenged me time and again.

And of course, she loved Jesus. She loved Him deeply.

We became friends, and over time I learned more about her strength. She carried her many friends through crisis and peril – she sacrificed for them and considered herself blessed to have laid down herself for a friend. Some never thanked her for it, though others did. She spent long and exhausting hours caring for the elderly and the widows who had been forgotten and abandoned by the world who could not be bothered. She loved children and took a job to care for the least of these – children with developmental disorders who often came from broken homes. This woman literally cared for widows and orphans who were considered unclean and unwanted by the cold and uncaring world.

This is why I fell in love with her. She was strong – the kind of strong that climbs onto a cross to die for the people who hate Him – to save them. Stronger than any woman or any person I’d ever known – save the One.

There could be no doubt that I’d pledge my life to such a woman – I was not worthy of her – but I hoped to spend the rest of my life trying to be.

And yet it was also she who taught me about grace – that God’s love transcends my mistakes and that He is faithful and just to forgive me of my sins – and to come running to embrace me when I turn towards Him.

More precious than rubies? Nay, far more precious. Kingdoms and power I would turn away in exchange for her. I would give away all that I have to keep her with me.

Now she is my wife. Few statements make me prouder to say. She is also the mother of my children and raises them in discipline and wisdom of the Lord. She is called blessed by her family, for we love, cherish, and respect her.

Of course, I now know to what strength my father was referring. It is the strongest of all strengths, it is the power of the cross, and the hope of redemption. It is the power God gives to all humans when we believe in Him – if only we would use it. It is Agape – the Godly love – the sacrificial love – the strong love that sacrifices itself to save others. Is my wife strong like my mama?

No, they are both strong like Jesus.


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Posted by on May 14, 2017 in Uncategorized


The Q&A Series: Part 4

As some of my readers may know, there are public websites out there which allow subscribers to ask questions on various subject to which other subscribers can then post answers to. I joined on a lark, but found there are a lot of people seeking answers to deep spiritual questions out there. I’ve decided that some of these bear repeating to my readers, so this series will show you a question that a real person has asked on the Internet and my response. Enjoy.

Question. Why were the idolatrous, polytheistic, uncircumcised, pork eating pagan Romans able to crush the circumcised Jews who worshiped the one true God, and desecrate the Holy of Holies?

Image result for sack of jerusalem

Arch of Titus

My Answer. The Bible explains it.

God’s deal with the Jews as His special people was conditional upon their obedience to Him. As long as the Jews obeyed God, God would keep them in their land and protect them. If they fell into disobedience, the deal was off.

Israel fell into disobedience almost immediately after the Law was given and the contract dried (see Judges). But God did not immediately destroy them for two reasons.

1) He is a gracious God. He wanted to send messengers (see the Prophets) to warn them and perhaps turn them back to Him.

2) He made a promise to Abraham (see Genesis) that was unconditional that through his people He would bring the Messiah (see Hebrews) who would save people from their sins.

Eventually, however, after many centuries of off-again, on-again obedience, the Jews turned away from Him completely (except for a remnant) and God sent the Assyrians to conquer the northern kingdom and the Babylonians later to conquer the southern kingdom. (See 1&2 Chronicles). The Israelites were taken bound into slavery or forced assimilation in these foreign countries.

God, however, told them this would only be a temporary punishment for Judah, the tribe from which He’d promised the Messiah. (See the Prophets) This tribe, captured in Babylon, would return to possess the land once again so that the Messiah could come. God also told them that if they obeyed this Messiah they could remain in the land. Otherwise they’d be dispersed again, this time for good (until the end of days). (see the Prophets)

Well they did return and rebuilt Jerusalem and the Temple. (see Ezra, Nehemiah) In due time (around 400 years later) Jesus the Messiah did come to his people, but by and large (except for a few) they did not receive him nor believe in him. (see the Gospels)

Before Jesus died for the sins of the world, he told his disciples that since the Jewish nation by and large rejected him, God would turn against Israel very soon and destroy Jerusalem and the Temple. This is when he warns them to “head fer the hills!” when the Romans come, because God won’t deliver his disobedient people again. (See Matthew 24)

Indeed, in 70 A.D. the Romans did invade and did sack Jerusalem and destroyed its Temple, forcing the Jews to flee into the nations, dispersing them to this day (for even though many Jews are in Jerusalem, any Zionist will tell you the work is not done). (see Josephus)

For those Jews who accepted Jesus as the Messiah, they are no longer Jews (as we are no longer barbarians) but all are one in Christ Jesus our Lord. We are one people and one nation in the Lord Christ, and await a heavenly Jerusalem that will come down to us after Jesus has judged the living and the dead. (see Paul’s letters, especially Romans).

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Posted by on April 29, 2017 in Q&A Series


Truth Idols

We need water. Without water, we will die.

This is a simple and straightforward truth. It’s not to be contested except by the very foolish. It’s also true that we need quite a bit of water each day and that most of us aren’t drinking enough of it.

But it is possible to drink too much water. An article in Men’s Health says “Drinking too much fluid can lead to hyponatremia, which is when sodium in blood becomes too diluted,” Sims says. Symptoms include confusion, headaches, nausea and bloating—stuff that’s easily confused with dehydration. In severe cases,hyponatremia can lead to seizures, organ failure and even death.” (Credit: Men’s Health)

So too little or no water will kill you, and too much water can kill you too.

It is possible to have too much of a good thing, and the same can be said of the good and perfect truths found in God’s Word.

Now before you think this preacher has gone insane, let me explain. I do not mean that we should moderate how much of God’s Word we intake, because we really can’t take too much of Him into us. However, what we can do is focus on intaking too much of one aspect of God and His Word, such as salvation by faith alone, to the point we neglect other equally important truths, such as faith without works is dead.

Therefore, it is possible to focus too much on the freedom we have in Christ to the expense of our mandate to love God and others and to spread the Gospel at all costs. It is possible to focus too much on God’s mercy and love to the expense of remembering His justice and holiness. It happens all the time, and it also happens in the pulpit.

There are great men of God who have taken one truth to such extremes that even when you find an equal truth that tempers it, that teacher or preacher will not accept it because he has overemphasised the truth he likes or clings to. For example, God loves mankind, but God is also just. God tempers one with the other and satisfies both in Christ, saving those who believe and punishing those who willingly disbelieve. Some people, however, will focus so much on God’s love they won’t even hear about His justice and reject the idea of Hell altogether.

It is important to embrace God and His Word for all that it is, Genesis to the Revelation, and not to cling to one teaching or truth at the expense of the other. It is this kind of error that leads to the many (often unnecessary) “isms” of the Church which serve more to divide us and weaken us rather than instructing and building up.

In short, when we emphasize one truth about God to the expense of others, we are no longer worshiping God, but an idol. When we pick and choose what we want to believe about God, we are no longer believing in God, but a “god” of our own design. What’s scary is that we probably don’t realize we are doing it.

The good John Piper recently did answered a question that I am sure was tough for him, “Is it possible to focus too much on Christian Hedonism?” If you don’t know what Christian Hedonism is, that’s something to study over the next week or century. It’s a term Piper created for reveling in the joy God brings. Piper loves his pet term and loves teaching about it, but he admits that yes, you can have too much of it. The full article is linked below, but the following list is a great checklist to keep an eye on whenever you get “gung-ho” about any particular doctrine or teaching of the Bible to ensure you are not creating an idol out of a particular doctrine or truth.

1) We are overemphasizing a truth when our emphasis is not in sync with the way the Scriptures emphasize the truth. And I do mean emphasize the truth, not emphasize the term. Lots of wonderful, historic, theological terms are not very often used in the Bible — like Trinity, substitutionary atonement, beatific vision, deity of Christ — but are pervasive in the Scriptures, even though the terms may not be used. So, the point is not, Does our use of a term occur at a frequency similar to the biblical use of a term? That is not the point. The point is, Does our emphasis on a truth, a reality, correspond to the prevalence of the truth and the reality in the Scriptures — not a frequently used term?

2) We are overemphasizing a truth when we are twisting the meaning of Scriptures to make them say a truth that they are not intended to say or imply. There are many glorious truths in Scripture which are not the point of dozens of texts in Scripture, and we shouldn’t force those texts to make a point that they are not intended to make.

3) We are overemphasizing a truth when our emphasis is causing us to ignore or silence other important biblical and theological truths.

4) We are overemphasizing a truth when it is pressing us to distort other truths so that we can make our point at the expense of other truth — by forcing them to fit in with our truth when they may not fit in. If the truth we are emphasizing does not fit with other clear truths in the Bible, we need to make some adjustments in what we think.

5) We are probably overemphasizing a truth when our people — those who are listening to us — are tempted to use our peculiar terminology in preference to more biblical terminology. So, for example, Christian Hedonism would be overemphasized if our people are inclined to constantly use this phrase instead of the biblical language of joy and contentment and peace and satisfaction and blessedness and reward. The Bible has a wonderfully rich vocabulary, and if we shrink it all down to our little pet phrase, John Piper’s little pet phrase, of Christian Hedonism, then we are probably overemphasizing that truth.

6) Finally, last one, we are probably overemphasizing a truth if we ourselves are becoming so fixated on the truth that we are losing our ability to revel in other glorious truths. This is a sign of something very dangerous happening; namely, we are really loving not the truth of Christian Hedonism — we are loving our possession of the truth of Christian Hedonism, which is a deadly reality.
(Credit: John Piper, Desiring God.)

Full article here.


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Posted by on August 28, 2016 in Uncategorized


The Kindness of Joseph of Arimathea

“And a man named Joseph, who was a member of the Sanhedrin (but did not consent to the death of Jesus) who was from Arimathea and was waiting for the kingdom of God; this man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. He took it down from the cross and wrapped it in a linen cloth and laid Him in a tomb cut into the rock where no one had ever lain.”
Luke 23

We tend to think of the Jewish Elite of Jesus day as all villains, but Joseph was an exception. The key phrase is “he was waiting for the kingdom of God.” Everyone else sought the kingdom of man, not of God, as they claimed. Joseph waited for the city not made by human hands. He took down the body of Jesus, carefully wrapped it, and placed it into his own tomb where no one had laid. Despite the fact Jesus would soon rise and have no use for either, I doubt our Lord would forget this measure of kindness from Joseph, the one who waited for Him.

Today as I reflect on the death of my mama, I want to thank the folks at Sanderson Funeral Homes for taking such good care of my mama’s body. For taking good care of it and laying it in a tomb no one has lain in. For although I know she has no further need of it, I will not forget the care and kindness they have taken with the one so dear to me. I also hope that they all, like our friend Joseph, are waiting for the One who is the Resurrection and the Life and long for His appearing.

I believe in Resurrection.

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Posted by on January 12, 2016 in Uncategorized


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The Cup of Wrath

cup of wrath“Jesus drank a cup of wrath without mercy, that we might drink a cup of mercy without wrath.”
– J. Oswald Sanders


Imagine that all of your deeds have been laid bare. Every evil thought, every harsh word, every wicked deed, every selfish desire, and any other thing you have ever done that is wrong. They also list every time someone cried out in need and you ignored it, every good deed that you could have done for someone but refused to do.

As the list is read, a cup nearby fills with the wrath deserved for such crimes. A lifetime of unpunished wrongdoing fills it to the brim and it foams with pain and loss and despair. Pain you deserve for all the evil you have done and all the good you refused to do for others.

Now imagine that God takes the cup and drinks it. All of it.

There is no more evil. There is no more pain. There is no more loss or suffering.

Because he drank it all. It is all gone. He has taken the punishment reserved for you into Himself.

And He has paid it in full.

You do not have to imagine it. He already did it.

For all who believe. It. Is. Finished.

But now God has shown us a way to be made right with him without keeping the requirements of the law, as was promised in the writings of Moses and the prophets long ago. We are made right with God by placing our faith in Jesus Christ. And this is true for everyone who believes, no matter who we are.

For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard. Yet God freely and graciously declares that we are righteous. He did this through Christ Jesus when he freed us from the penalty for our sins. For God presented Jesus as the sacrifice for sin. People are made right with God when they believe that Jesus sacrificed his life, shedding his blood. This sacrifice shows that God was being fair when he held back and did not punish those who sinned in times past, for he was looking ahead and including them in what he would do in this present time. God did this to demonstrate his righteousness, for he himself is fair and just, and he declares sinners to be right in his sight when they believe in Jesus.

Can we boast, then, that we have done anything to be accepted by God? No, because our acquittal is not based on obeying the law. It is based on faith. So we are made right with God through faith and not by obeying the law.”
– Saul of Tarsus to the Church at Rome, circa 57 A.D.


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Posted by on December 5, 2015 in Soteriology, Uncategorized


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