Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Privilege of Ministering to the True Ministers

Numbers 16:10 KJV
And he hath brought thee near to him, and all thy brethren the sons of Levi with thee: and seek ye the priesthood also?

Korah was not satisfied with the role God had given him.
  • He looked for advancement
  • He wanted the honor of the very priesthood and perhaps
  • He sought for himself the office of the high priest
Moses' first rebuke was to remind him of the honor already awarded him, that of being a minister in the tabernacle and to the priests. 

I am reminded that in this New Testament day the priesthood belongs to every Christian. Those who are the saved are the priests. Those who have been called into the ministry have been given the joy of ministering to the priests (who are the true ministers). 

But some have not been satisfied with that role. They have created a new priestly office and elevated themselves above the congregation of priests of God.
  • We, of course, see this in the Catholic Church
  • We find a likeness of it in almost every Protestant Church, especially the mainline ones but
  • We are often dangerously close to it in many Baptist circles

The denominational Baptists have surely created a priestly class of those who presume to supervise local churches. It happens in the independent Baptist churches, when certain well known pastors and Christian leaders become elevated in the eyes of other pastors into a status that has nearly an unquestioned following. We revere them because of
  • Their skill
  • Their influence and
  • The size of the churches they lead
and often we pay little attention to their doctrine and practice because, well, they are beyond that. They are above that. Whatever doctrinal differences they might have with our own understanding of the Bible can be easily overlooked because
  • They are close enough to our doctrine (we suppose, sometimes we don't really know, and they often urge us to overlook differences in favor of being their follower)
  • They are successful and because
  • In our hearts we want that much influence, skill and size of congregation.


Not being satisfied with the honor of ministering to the priests, we have often unwittingly grow our own priestly system. 

Tuesday, July 30, 2013

A Promise Conditioned Only Upon Christ

Numbers 15:17-18 KJV
And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,
Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, When ye come into the land whither I bring you,

It is striking and gracious that, the very next words out of the mouth of God[1] (and repeated in verse 18), after Israel's failure of faith at Kadesh Barnea, is to return to giving instructions to them about what to do when they entered the Promised Land. Their sin, though grievous and costly, had not changed God's mind concerning them. His covenant was sworn by Himself. He had not made the Promised Land a conditional promise. What He had promised them was still theirs. 

What grace God has given us in salvation. It is a promise conditioned only upon Christ and therefore is a promise that is not retracted regardless of how the possessor might fail God. As Israel learned, God would 
  • Test them
  • Prove them and
  • Chasten them
They would pay heavily for sin. But God would never take from them His promise.

So it is in salvation. We did not receive a license to sin in our salvation. God desires that we be made in the image of Christ and that work of conformation will progress. But as the work progresses, and we discover our worldliness and sin filled propensities, God, nevertheless, keeps His promise. 




[1] See Numbers 15:1-2

Monday, July 29, 2013

The Day All Things Became New

Mark 16:1 KJV
And when the sabbath was past, Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James, and Salome, had bought sweet spices, that they might come and anoint him.

"When the Sabbath was past..."

There are no accidents in the Bible. The Holy God is so infinitely wiser than man that we cannot conceive of it has placed in His Word living truths. Each jot and each tittle is filled with meaning. 

I see in this simple phrase a subtle transition from Old Testament Law to New Testament grace. The Old Testament Sabbath was past, finished, over and a brand new thing was on the disciples' horizon. While they fretted over who would roll the stone away Jesus had already removed it to reveal the tomb was empty. 

No more would these believers practice a religion that looked for hope
From this day forward they would live in the assurance of a risen Lord and Saviour. Old things passed away. All things became new. 

No longer did they look for a deliverer from the bondage of Rome
They knew the One who had delivered them from the bondage of death itself. 

No more would they cringe in the fear of judgment for sin

Their judgment had been paid on the cross and the empty tomb was the seal that it had been paid in full. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Let's Get Real

Numbers 12:1-2 KJV
And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses because of the Ethiopian woman whom he had married: for he had married an Ethiopian woman.
And they said, Hath the LORD indeed spoken only by Moses? hath he not spoken also by us? And the LORD heard it.

I get the impression that Aaron and Miriam had a whole other problem with Moses than whom he had married. They were more concerned with Moses' claim that God was speaking to him in some manner different than He was to them. How did they know that was true? God spoke to them too. What was so different about him? They wanted some of his authority. It is the same challenge people make all of the time with those in authority. They find something to accuse them of so they can next try to diminish their authority and take some for self. Churches are filled with people who find petty faults with the preacher that they might justify not listening to him. 

Marrying outside the Jewish family was an age old ban established by God with the marriage of Isaac and confirmed in the Law. We have transposed it in our day to not marrying (and by extension, not dating) outside of our faith. As a general rule it is a wise piece of counsel. But there have been exceptions, cases where the lost one was converted and, though it would have been inadvisable for the believer to date the unbeliever; that unbeliever was later saved and became a servant of God. 

Rather than finding fault with some small issue in a servant of the Lord it would be wiser to examine their walk with the Lord. If they have a true and faithful relationship with God, whether you agree with every aspect of their personal life or not, it would be foolhardy to murmur against them. 

Let's get real.


The only reason we make an issue out of a minor issue is that we take issue with the authority of the man of God.

Saturday, July 27, 2013

The Evil of Seeking Convenience

Mark 14:10-11 KJV
And Judas Iscariot, one of the twelve, went unto the chief priests, to betray him unto them.
And when they heard it, they were glad, and promised to give him money. And he sought how he might conveniently betray him.

Judas sought a convenient way to betray Jesus. People who do the evil thing seldom take a high hard road. Their lives are wrapped up in finding an easy way. Jesus said broad is the way that leads to destruction and many find themselves in it.
  • It is the downhill way
  • It is the path with fewest obstacles
  • It is the one that requires
    • the least discipline
o        the least effort
o        the least difficulty and
o        the least character[1] 

On the other hand strait is the gate that leads to eternal life and few find it.
·         It is narrow.
·         It is challenging.
·         It requires character, discipline and hard work[2]
It is always easy to find a crowd to do the wrong thing with but the righteous man will generally find himself alone. 

I would rather be alone in a difficult path than choose the same convenient way Judas did. 



[1] Ironically, though the wrong way appears to be the easy way, the Bible says it ultimately becomes the hardest way,
Proverbs 13:15 KJV
Good understanding giveth favour: but the way of transgressors is hard.
[2] Not that we work for salvation but the saved are created unto good works.

Friday, July 26, 2013

Twenty five to Fifty

Numbers 8:24-26 KJV
This is it that belongeth unto the Levites: from twenty and five years old and upward they shall go in to wait upon the service of the tabernacle of the congregation:
And from the age of fifty years they shall cease waiting upon the service thereof, and shall serve no more:
But shall minister with their brethren in the tabernacle of the congregation, to keep the charge, and shall do no service. Thus shalt thou do unto the Levites touching their charge.

The service of the Levites was to begin at the age of twenty five and continue until age fifty. At that time a change takes place as those elders cease waiting "upon the service of the tabernacle" and then begin to "minister with their brethren in the tabernacle to keep the charge". 

Jewish teachers developed from this a system whereby:
  • From twenty five to thirty the Levite was engaged in learning his work
  • From thirty to fifty the Levite was engaged in performing his work
  • From fifty on that Levite was placed among his other elder brethren for ministry rather than heavy service

These ages should not be taken as hard and fast rules as King David extended the younger age to twenty. But it does give some guideline as to what would be considered mature and when we would know that someone is "not a novice".
  • Schooling for the ministry from between age twenty to twenty five (lasting five years)
  • Serving in some form of supervised ministry until age fifty
  • Ministering as an undershepherd of the Lord (pastor) from age fifty.
In this way we may honor the rule of Paul concerning novices and better protect the flock of God from those who are wolves in sheep's clothing. 

One might argue against this idea by pointing out that many men aged fifty and above have turned from the way. I would reply in many cases that can be accounted for by the unprotected beating these men have taken because they were exposed to the responsibilities of the pastorate while still novices. 

I am not proposing this as some hard and fast rule; "for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life"[1] but as a general guideline to prevent novices from being thrust into places of responsibility that will harm
  • Themselves
  • The testimony of our Saviour and
  • The children of God




[1] 2 Corinthians 3:6

Thursday, July 25, 2013

This Makes Sense of No Sense

Mark 12:1-9 KJV
And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country.
And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard.
And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty.
And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled.
And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some.
Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son.
But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours.
And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard.
What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others.

This parable is so ludicrous it makes almost no sense. What steward would ever do as these husbandmen have supposedly done? One would think that the Lord Jesus could have come up with a more believable scenario than this to illustrate His point. 

Unless it is the unbelievable nature of the parable that illustrates the point. 
The lesson of the parable has to do with Israel's treatment of God's messengers and finally of God's Son. In each case the Jews (and lest we think Gentiles are better, they had long before turned from God) had done as equally unbelievably to the servants of the Lord and would do the same to Jesus. 
  • The attitude of the world today toward Jesus is unbelievable - it does not make sense 
  • The actions of men, like our current President who says he believes in Jesus, is unbelievable - it does not make sense. 
  • The positions of so called Christian denominations over the centuries is unbelievable - it does not make sense


In such a senseless world Jesus' parable makes sense after all. 

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

What Men Fear Most

Mark 11:18 KJV
And the scribes and chief priests heard it, and sought how they might destroy him: for they feared him, because all the people was astonished at his doctrine.

They sought to destroy him because they feared him. 

Such is the way of men:
  • If a particular animal is dangerous to us our first inclination is to exterminate it
  • If a nation of people appears to harm our way of life we want to subdue them 
  • If a certain practice we think might be harmful to the environment we want to legislate against it

Modern men pretend to have progressed beyond such thinking. Ours, they say, is an age of tolerance. 
  • We venerate the shark, the tiger and the bear we once were so afraid of
  • We revel in the re emergence of cultures such as those of aboriginal peoples
  • We extol the virtues of a variety of political ideals we once hated (or at least distrusted)

But our perceived progress is driven to a stand still in the face of Jesus Christ. He is feared still and those who are His truest followers are still considered a threat which must be stopped. The American experiment put up with Christianity for a time but has now once again lifted up its sword against the faith which
  • Confesses the true origin of man as being created by God
  • Confronts the sin nature of man and
  • Condemns the lost man to eternal hell without Christ

Men want to destroy that which they fear. And they fear few things as much as they fear the truth of God's Word. 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Nothing Ever Really Changes

Mark 10:2-13 KJV
And the Pharisees came to him, and asked him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife? tempting him.
And he answered and said unto them, What did Moses command you?
And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away.
And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept.
But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.
For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife;
And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.
What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.
And in the house his disciples asked him again of the same matter.
And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her.
And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery.
And they brought young children to him, that he should touch them: and his disciples rebuked those that brought them.

Even two thousand years ago people were trying to excuse divorce. The Pharisees instinctively knew divorce was a negative thing and thus their questioning the Lord concerning it. Still they sought their excuse. 

The Lord's response must be taken in context. He was not reversing Moses and the Law but rather giving it perspective. Hearts are hard still today and so still today divorces happen. Because of the grace of God divorce, though always tragic, may be recovered from. Some of the greatest Christians I know, and some of the happiest, have been through a divorce and a remarriage. Praise God for such grace. 


But this is neither a justification of nor excuse for divorce. Jesus said that divorce is not the original plan of God and bears consequences that may not be reversed. Because of the grace of God, there is a provision for the hardness of the human heart but the follower of Christ will seek a new heart and not an excuse for his old one. 

Monday, July 22, 2013

It Is Holy

Leviticus 27:9-10 KJV
And if it be a beast, whereof men bring an offering unto the LORD, all that any man giveth of such unto the LORD shall be holy.
He shall not alter it, nor change it, a good for a bad, or a bad for a good: and if he shall at all change beast for beast, then it and the exchange thereof shall be holy.

The Lord commanded that an offering was to be accepted as it was. In being offered the offering, whether a good one or a bad one, became holy. 

Gill says that this command that the offering could not be altered or changed was not directed toward the priests but to the one making the offering so that he could not come at another time and ask to change what he had offered for something else. A person might, without this command, think twice about his gift and want to exchange it for a more "practical" one. To prevent a person from the temptation to exchange the offering for a lesser one but claiming it was a better one, the priest was not to make the exchange even if the new offering was a better one. He may add to his offering but he may not change his offering. 

The point, I think is this, whatever we offer becomes holy to God. 
Whether it be:
            Our tithe
            Our time
            Our treasures or
            Our talents
when they have been offered to God they are his. We may not repent of our offering. We may not take it back after thinking better of it. 

  • I think of those who have made promises for a certain financial gift to Gods work but want conditions on the gift
  • I think of those who have surrendered to the Lord for His ministry but have later backed out
  • I think of those who have dedicated a talent such as music to God only to then have given that talent up or sold it to the worlds goods
  • I think of those who have dedicated their children to The Lord only to later encourage them toward worldliness
I do not claim to know what might be the consequences for altering and changing their vows but I do suggest there are consequences. 

Of course we live in the New Testament grace and not Old Testament law. This however does not mean that the Old Testament has neither lesson nor warning for us.
            We are not saved by obedience to the Law
            We are not made right with God through obedience to the Law
But the Law is righteous and teaches principles of holiness and righteousness. 


What we give to God is God's and may not be taken back, altered for something else or changed for something less. 

Sunday, July 21, 2013

The Same Miracle Twice Performed.

Mark 8:19-20 KJV
When I brake the five loaves among five thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? They say unto him, Twelve.
And when the seven among four thousand, how many baskets full of fragments took ye up? And they said, Seven.

Those miracles of the Lord are of such amazing character that a man must
  • Believe that Jesus Christ is God
  • Deny the miracles ever happened or
  • Ignore the truth to his very own peril 

  • Walking on water
  • Water into wine
  • Healing of multitudes and various diseases
  • Raising to life three persons in three circumstances
Some might, however illogically, claim that these miracles were
  • A fluke
  • A coincidence
  • A matter of little more than chance
But here is a miracle
  • Performed on two separate occasions
  • Reported in the same gospel and
  • Having Christ reference the two of them in the same conversation

The two are separate miracles. Yet each performance is similar enough to the other to have been nothing less than Christ demonstrating that what He has done once, He could do again. 


The Lord does nothing by accident or chance. What he has done He has done in purpose. What He wills He is able to accomplish. What He has promised He is able to fulfill. 

Saturday, July 20, 2013

More than a Meeting

Mark 7:1 KJV
Then came together unto him the Pharisees, and certain of the scribes, which came from Jerusalem.

Not everyone who comes together around the Lord does so for good reasons.
These highly religious and prestigious Pharisees and scribes had not come together into The Lord to worship or to learn or to follow Jesus in the way. 

They came to find fault. 
They may not have even known what it was they would find fault with when they came, but fault finders always find fault. 

Our goal must not be simply to gather and keep a crowd together. That sort of business may be merely training fault finders and introducing them to one another (the scribe and Pharisees were habitual attendees at religious events). The work of the ministry must be to call a people
  • Out of worldliness
  • Out of selfishness and even
  • Out of religiousness

to be followers worships and disciples of The Lord Jesus Christ. 

Friday, July 19, 2013

All Scripture Profitable

Leviticus 26:46 KJV
These are the statutes and judgments and laws, which the LORD made between him and the children of Israel in mount Sinai by the hand of Moses.

A friend of mine posted 2 Chronicles 7:14 KJV
If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.
to an online social site and encouraged people to pray for our country. One reader responded by pointing out that this verse was a promise to the Jews. She said she believed we should pray but took exception to this passage being used as a supporting scripture. 

I responded with 2 Timothy 3:16-17 KJV
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

But what about those portions of the Bible that are so specifically for the Jews?
This entire chapter, for instance, is a covenant between God and the children of Israel.

Is there no profit for the New Testament saint?
I say there is. By understanding God's covenant with Israel we can better understand what should be our own relationship with God. The covenant is between God and Israel but the principle of that covenant represents a practice that ought to be incorporated into Christianity. 
  • Should not a New Testament saint hearken to the voice of God?
  • Should he not see chastening as a warning to return from his backsliding?
  • Should he not take courage that, though hemisphere chastened yet for all of this God will not forget him?
 All Scripture is indeed profitable. We of course must rightly divide it, but rightly divided, every Word serves to thoroughly furnish the saint unto every good work. 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Besides

Leviticus 23:37-38 KJV
These are the feasts of the LORD, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, to offer an offering made by fire unto the LORD, a burnt offering, and a meat offering, a sacrifice, and drink offerings, every thing upon his day:
Beside the sabbaths of the LORD, and beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and beside all your freewill offerings, which ye give unto the LORD.

This chapter consists of the feasts the Jews were to observe as a part of their worship of the Lord. Every aspect of their worship had significance so every aspect was to be kept. The feasts were more than celebrations, they were lessons played out in life. And they were to be kept, 
  • Beside the Sabbaths of the LORD, and 
  • Beside your gifts, and beside all your vows, and 
  • Beside all your freewill offerings, which ye give unto the LORD
In other words, do these and all the rest too. 

I think I have met a lot of Christians who think of their faith as a heap of events piled on them one after the other. They look at living for Christ as a burden. They cannot see the benefit of observing all things whatsoever Jesus commanded. They want to have a little piece of the Christian life but they don't want to add all these other pieces on beside them. 
But Christianity, real Christianity is an all or nothing thing. 
  • Ask The apostles who left all to follow the Lord
  • Ask the martyrs who lost their lives because they believed
  • Ask the Anabaptists who suffered brutality and death rather than surrender their faith
Real Christianity is not this "one or two drops of salvation in a solution of worldliness" blend we see practiced so frequently today. 


May God wake us up to realize that Christianity is more than a few festivals through the year; it is a complete change of life in favor of the yoke of Jesus Christ. 

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

No Options

Leviticus 22:32 KJV
Neither shall ye profane my holy name; but I will be hallowed among the children of Israel: I am the LORD which hallow you,

I was struck by the bluntness of this passage; "but I will be hallowed".

God offers no options for His own. He expects that they who are the children of God will not profane His name in disobedience to His commandments. 

We, of course, live in this age of New Testament grace.
  • We do not keep the Law for salvation
  • Many of the ordinances of the Old Testament law were nailed to the cross and are of no effect today (we do not offer sacrifices)
But this gives us no liberty to take the things of God as lightly as they are often taken today. The times of ignorance God winked at were those Old Testament Law days. He now commands all men to repent. 

God will be hallowed among His children. They will not profane His name through wicked, worldly and disobedient rebellion against His Word. 


Christian, God expects you to obey and honor Him. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Friends

Mark 3:21 KJV
And when his friends heard of it, they went out to lay hold on him: for they said, He is beside himself.

Some friends these are. 

The commentaries suggest that these are Jesus' family and towns people from Nazareth, those that had grown up with and around Him who, hearing that Jesus had begun this ministry, were convinced of the Jews that He was mentally deranged and thus tried to stop Him and detain Him. No doubt they would have believed this was "for His own good.”

Well meaning but worldly minded friends are often the first to attempt to prevent the zealous follower of Christ from God’s purpose for his life. 
  • A parent who has dreams for his child's profession
  • A sibling who is jealous of the devotion to Jesus
  • A childhood friend who thinks it strange they will no longer do those things they once did

The Christian faith is so foreign to this world that those of the world believe it to be insane. Indeed, as the days progress many more saints will be no doubt "laid hold of" and accused of being beside themselves. 


I pray for those saints to hold fast their profession. 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Blood Shed

Leviticus 17:4 KJV
And bringeth it not unto the door of the tabernacle of the congregation, to offer an offering unto the LORD before the tabernacle of the LORD; blood shall be imputed unto that man; he hath shed blood; and that man shall be cut off from among his people:

The taking of the life of an animal was such a momentous act that it was never to be done lazily or in a flippant way. Whether the animal was slain inside the camp or out in the field the blood was to be brought as an offering to The Lord. There was no animal to be killed as "common food" but every animal taken was to be viewed as an offering to God. 

Barnes observes that this strict observance would have been rendered impossible after Israel settled in the Promised Land. But the reverence for life could have always been preserved by viewing every animal slain as being an offering to God and viewing every meal partaken from that animal as being a gift from God. 

I see in this chapter the tendency of man to let slip the importance of the details of worship. I heard about a young man I have acquaintance with who was recently confronted with changes happening in his church. His response was that he did not care about the details of the services as long as people were being saved. That attitude pervades Christianity right now. We have taken it upon ourselves to be the soul winners (rather than seeing that as the work of God) and as a result we have watched doctrine become secondary to decisions being made. I rather believe that the gospel truth is in living out true doctrine and allowing that the Holy Spirit is more than able to bring souls to a saving knowledge. Our witness, in other words, is our living out the truth and not our confrontational soul winning.[1]




[1] I do not mean to say we should not practice confrontational soul winning. It is obvious from Scripture that we must so speak that people believe. I only mean to say that soul winning is secondary and a result of living out the gospel. It is not a replacement for obedient Christian living.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

I Will

Mark 1:41 KJV
And Jesus, moved with compassion, put forth his hand, and touched him, and saith unto him, I will; be thou clean.
  
When a man is as desperate as was this leper, the words, "I will" sound very sweet. Here is the balance between the sovereignty of God and the free will of man. Multitudes of lepers lived in Jesus' day but many of them, most of them were not cleansed because they never sought cleansing from the Lord. This leper knew his cleansing was completely of the Lord. He could not do it himself. He had no secret, no merit. no action he could employ to aide in his own healing. But He knew Jesus needed none of that. It was solely of His own will. 

And Jesus said "I will".

Many people, most, never come to know the saving grace of Jesus Christ because most never come to seek it of Christ. It is not a matter of His being unwilling; He would have all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. It is rather completely because they never come to ask it of Him. 


All those who come believing He can save them if He wills it find that He always says, "I will."