Keys To Discernment: A Portrait Of The Real Jesus

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False teaching invariably attacks, perverts or (at the very least) distorts the nature of Jesus Christ. Beth Moore, for example, reduces Him to a romantic playmate Who speaks directly to her and is “the bossiest thing.” For proper discernment, therefore, Christians must possess an accurate understanding of Christ’s nature.

Over the past few weeks we studied Paul’s prayer for the Colossian church to be filled with knowledge, wisdom and understanding. We also studied the way God qualifies believers to share in His inheritance.  As we closed last week’s study, we shifted our attention from the Father to His Son, and Paul now picks up the discussion with Continue reading

Keys To Discernment: Why Paul Wrote To The Colossians

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As a young Christian, I would get impatient when Bible Study teachers would spend time talking about the background to whatever book they taught. I just wanted to grab verses here and there that I could shoehorn into my immediate circumstances. Textual context only mildly interested me; I had absolutely no use for historical or cultural background, thank you very much!

So if you’re groaning at the title of this post, anticipating a boring history lesson about First Century Colossae, I understand. It’s not what you expected from a study on discernment.

Don’t close this article yet, ladies! You need to know that I’m writing a little about the background to this epistle precisely because it will enable us to see how Paul taught discernment without once naming the false teachers that he Continue reading

Flashback Friday: Beyond The War On Christmas

Originally published December 7, 2016:

christmas-crossThis is the time of year when many evangelicals complain about the “war on Christmas.” Admittedly, something inside me  cringes at the politically correct greeting,  “Happy Holidays,” causing me to rebelliously answer, “Merry Christmas!” I’d love to attribute my rebellion to a desire to follow the great Reformers, but it probably really comes from having been a young teenager in the 1960s.

Anyway, I do understand the feelings of those who take offense at the secularization of Christmas. I emphasize with folks who quote the cheesy line, “Jesus is the Reason for the Season.” But sometimes I wonder if these culture warriors are more interested in “taking back Christmas for the Lord” than in the Lord Himself.

The practicalities of the Incarnation raise amazing questions. And the questions multiply, alternately intriguing me and frustrating me with the complexities of Jehovah, the very Sustainer of all creation (Colossians 1:17), depending on His mother for His basic needs.How could Mary and Joseph teach the Word of God (John 1:1-14) how to speak? How does a young couple raise God? Did  Jesus attend Hebrew School already knowing the Torah, and did He work to memorize the Psalms with His brothers?

Of course, too much speculation on such questions lead to apocryphal stories, tempting us to believe that the Bible isn’t sufficient to tell us everything we need to know about Jesus. Take care, dear sisters in Christ, to let such questions lead you to worship this Incarnate God, content not to understand the particulars.

That said, I’m going to ask one more question. When He ate the Passover lamb each year, did He anticipate that Good Friday afternoon when He would suffer and die as the Lamb of God Who would take away the sins of the world (John 1:35-36)?

Actually the answer to that one isn’t as important as its main point. The Second Person of the Trinity took on human flesh, becoming fully Man without ceasing to be fully God, laying aside His glory (but not His deity) for 33 years for one specific purpose. He came to be crucified.

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, 10 so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. ~~Philippians 2:5-11 (ESV)

That death on the cross, mentioned in verse 8, offered atonement for sin which would apply to all those who would believe in Him. See John 10:11, Romans 5:8 and 1 John 3:5 for just three of many Scriptures testifying to His atoning work on the cross. Through His sacrifice, He allows us all to glorify God the Father.

Christ’s incarnation rightly fascinates us. But it should do so much more than engage our intellect with speculation. It should bring us to the   cross, assuring us of His grace to pay for our sin. And as we worship Him for dying in our place, perhaps we can be patient with well-meaning people who wish us Season’s Greetings.

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Singing Christmas Theology

Hark! The Herald Angels Sing has been my favorite Christmas hymn for most of my Christian life. It’s packed full of solid Biblical doctrine ranging from the Incarnation to regeneration, always bringing us back to His glory.

Singing this beloved hymn grows more meaningful each year as I notice new depths of theology in its familiar verses. As a result, I love it even more now than I loved it as a new Christian. I pray that you’ll discover truths about our wonderful Savior every time you sing it too.

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All Three Of The One We Praise

Can you think about the Triune God without trying to figure out how He can be one and yet three? You should, you know.

Of course the Trinity should fill you with wonder every time you think of God as three Persons in one Being. But rather than trying to reduce the Trinity to neat metaphors that make you feel able to understand the hows and whys of  it all, have you ever simply responded with worship?

This Lord’s Day, why not praise Father, Son and Spirit without analyzing Their unity? Remember that all three of the One we praise deserve honor and glory — each for His unique work.

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All The Superlatives In The World Couldn’t Describe Him

Why would our perfect and holy God be pleased with our feeble attempts at worshiping Him? Even a lofty hymn like Immortal, Invisible, God Only Wise — with its majestic lyrics and soaring music — falls short or adequately describing Him. Even if we mastered every language in existence, our words would fall terribly short of capturing His grandeur.

And yet He graciously accepts the praises of His people. He calls us to dwell on His attributes in order that we might focus on Him. Thus, hymns like Immortal, Invisible direct our gazes upward, filling us with wonder as we try to rehearse His innumerable splendors.

Eternity will fully reveal the Lord in all of His glory. No more will the tarnish of sin obscure Him from our sight! In some respects, the limitations of human language will melt into praise and worship far beyond anything that we could possibly imagine. At last, we will enjoy unhindered worship, praising Him with a depth and richness that eludes our current understanding.

Even then, our words probably won’t begin to describe Him.

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That’s Gratitude For You!

Many professing Christians acknowledge that Jesus died on the cross to forgive their sins.  Okay, that’s a start. But sometimes it seems as if they don’t understand the full implications of His death.

To put it bluntly, few of them really believe that, had they not been brought to faith in Christ, they would deserve eternity in hell. Indeed, few genuinely believe hell even exists. Nor do they honestly believe that their sins are serious enough to warrant eternal punishment.

Such a dismissal of a literal hell creates a casual attitude toward salvation, it seems to me. Consequently, the Lord’s sacrificial death doesn’t compel them to respond in adoring devotion.

But the redeemed sinner who grasps the truth that Christ snatched her from the jaws of hell responds much differently. Precisely because she knows the condemnation she deserves, she freely abandons her life to Him. She  knows she’ll never be worthy of what He’s done on her behalf. She simply wants to show her gratitude by living for Him.

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