Monday, September 27, 2010

Baptism: The Great Exchange

On our way to church, Larry and I were discussing the Ark of the Covenant, or Ark of the Testimony, and Joshua 3-5. God parted the Jordan, just like the Red Sea; this time the Israelites were out to conquer, rather than fleeing. While talking about this, my thoughts jumped to Jesus' baptism.

In those days Jesus came from Nazareth of Galilee and was baptized by John in the Jordan. And when he came up out of the water, immediately he saw the heavens being torn open and the Spirit descending on him like a dove. And a voice came from heaven, "You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased." Mark 1, ESV

Then Jesus came from Galilee to the Jordan to John, to be baptized by him. John would have prevented him, saying, "I need to be baptized by you, and do you come to me?" But Jesus answered him, "Let it be so now, for thus it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness." Then he consented. And when Jesus was baptized, immediately he went up from the water, and behold, the heavens were opened to him, and he saw the Spirit of God descending like a dove and coming to rest on him; and behold, a voice from heaven said, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased." Matthew 3, ESV

John the Baptizer was also puzzled as to why Jesus, the sinless One, was asking to be baptized. John baptized for repentance. We also wonder along with John. Jesus was baptized to identify with us; to take our sin. This is the beginning of Jesus' ministry for you and for me. He took our sin in His baptism. He took the sin of the whole world in His baptism. He became sin for us.

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. 2 Corinthians 5, ESV

In our baptism, we put on Christ. Scripture is clear on this. We are told many times we put on Christ in baptism. The Great Exchange takes place, our sin for His righteousness.

For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ. Galatians 3, ESV

Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were buried therefore with him by baptism into death, in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6, ESV

Thank you, Lord, for teaching me this. Praise God!

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

God's Grandeur by Gerard Manley Hopkins

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs—
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

The Knockout Punch

"God wants us to obey His commands!" Was the cry by the majority of people when asked this question regarding Joshua Chapter 1: Summarize the message of this chapter in one sentence.

One lone voice answered, "Faith displays itself in action."

If you recall, Joshua 1 tells us how God commissions Joshua to take the place of Moses, God promises Joshua that he will conquer the land and no one will be able to oppose him, if he meditates on the law and does not swerve to the left or to the right. Refresh yourself by reading it, dear Reader.

God's command in scripture is that we believe Him and walk in the confidence that He does not lie. To some they hear scripture say: if we obey all that God commands us to do, we will have success. They want to climb a ladder up to God, rather than believe what God tells us when He comes down that ladder to us.

Climbing up a ladder to God is no different than all other religions of the world. There is a penance one must do to achieve Nirvana, by emptying all self; Allah weighs your good deeds against your bad deeds and may capriciously disregard your good deeds. Christianity is completely upside down from the idea that we can climb up a holiness ladder to have a relationship with God. God became man for us and for our salvation.

Joshua 1 is a wonderful chapter on faith and what it looks like. Joshua believed God and put that faith into action. To obey is to believe. It is faith that obeys, without faith we cannot please God. Faith acts on God's promises. Faith sees God's promises. Faith believes.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

Jesus, Lord of All

Jesus then said to them, "Truly, truly, I say to you, it was not Moses who gave you the bread from heaven, but my Father gives you the true bread from heaven. For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world."
John 6:32-33

He who comes from above is above all. He who is of the earth belongs to the earth and speaks in an earthly way. He who comes from heaven is above all.
John 3:31

These few verses verify that Jesus is Lord of all. Jesus tells us that He came from above in John 6. Then in John 3 He tells us that He is above all. To say that Jesus is not Lord of all is to deny that He is God.

Lordship salvation teaches that we must "make Jesus Lord of our life." What surprises me is that this teaching comes from a Calvinist camp. Some, not all Calvinists, tell you you must make Jesus your Lord after you are saved. How is this any different from the non-Calvinists who tell you that you must decide and ask Jesus into your heart? It is a teaching that turns Calvinists into non-Calvinists, denying the sovereignty of God.

that all may honor the Son, just as they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.
John 5:23

I am the LORD, and there is no other,
besides me there is no God;
I equip you, though you do not know me,
that people may know, from the rising of the sun
and from the west, that there is none besides me;
I am the LORD, and there is no other.
Isaiah 45:5-6

Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel
and his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts:
"I am the first and I am the last;
besides me there is no god.
Isaiah 44:6

These three sections of scripture tell us that if we deny Jesus, we deny the Father, that there is no other God, that God is the Redeemer. Jesus is indeed Lord of all. Amen.

It is foreign to my ears to hear Calvinists denying God's sovereignty in salvation. Writing this is almost the same arguments used against those who deny Jesus' deity. I reject Lordship salvation as non-Christian teaching. Is it a result of having faith in their faith, rather than knowing that faith is properly placed in Jesus? Or a result of needing to look at works for assurance? Or a result of the limited atonement that puts Calvinists in the awful position of having to look at creation rather than the Creator dying for us? In any case, Lordship Salvation is problematic.

If Jesus is not Lord of all, He is not Lord at all.