Hosanna Past And Future

As we contemplate Palm Sunday today,  let’s look  back at Mark’s account of Christ’s triumphal entry into Jerusalem.

Now when they drew near to Jerusalem, to Bethphage and Bethany, at the Mount of Olives, Jesus sent two of his disciples and said to them, “Go into the village in front of you, and immediately as you enter it you will find a colt tied, on which no one has ever sat. Untie it and bring it. If anyone says to you, ‘Why are you doing this?’ say, ‘The Lord has need of it and will send it back here immediately.’” And they went away and found a colt tied at a door outside in the street, and they untied it. And some of those standing there said to them, “What are you doing, untying the colt?” And they told them what Jesus had said, and they let them go. And they brought the colt to Jesus and threw their cloaks on it, and he sat on it. And many spread their cloaks on the road, and others spread leafy branches that they had cut from the fields. And those who went before and those who followed were shouting, “Hosanna! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! 10 Blessed is the coming kingdom of our father David! Hosanna in the highest!” ~~Mark 11:1-10 (ESV)

Hopes soared high that day. Messiah had come at last, and surely He would end Roman oppression and usher in His kingdom. Finally, they thought, all the world would see how God favored Israel, and they rejoiced to witness this fulfillment of His promise.

A week later, feeling bitterly disillusioned, those same people demanded that Rome crucify Jesus. They didn’t understand that His kingdom would arrive in stages, allowing the Gentiles to come to saving faith.

But the completed canon of Scripture reveals that more must take place before the final consummation of His kingdom. We can rest assured that the King Who humbly entered Jerusalem riding on a  donkey colt will one day return in the clouds astride a white stallion as heavenly portals ring with loud Hosannas!

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Flashback Friday: Neglected Trinity

Originally published on February 13, 2016.

“God in three Persons, blessed Trinity!” Hymn singers will undoubtedly recognize that majestic closing line from “Holy, Holy, Holy,” a hymn that praises the magnificence of God by exploring various aspects of His glory. Yet, could our familiarity with the hymn (for Shamrock Shadedthose of us who still sing hymns) cause us to gloss over its doctrinal declaration that the one and only God exists as three distinct Persons–God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit? And how often do we think about the Trinity anyway (except briefly when and if we sing “Holy, Holy, Holy”)?

The doctrine of the Trinity seems to receive very little attention in our present time, perhaps because our inability to “wrap our heads around it” embarrasses us. Of course our analogies of H2O (water, ice and vapor) and shamrocks fall short of providing adequate explanations of  how He could exist as three distinct Persons while being one in essence, and the shortcomings of those illustrations frustrate our desire to present convincing arguments. Mystery makes us uncomfortable. So we avoid the discomfort by simply minimizing or ignoring the topic altogether.

Additionally, few Scriptures state the doctrine in easy-to-use sound-bytes. Don’t misunderstand; the Bible certainly teaches that God is one Being in three distinct, co-existing Persons. But there’s no handy little proof-text to insert into a blog post to settle the question. We’d need separate essays examining the deity of the Father, the deity of the Son (Jesus Christ) and the deity of the Holy Spirit in order to clearly show that Scripture indeed teaches that God is a Triune Being.

Having said that, I’d invite you to examine Christian Apologetics & Resource Ministry‘s compilation of Scriptures at God As A Trinity. In authoring this article, Matt Slick links to several Scriptures that defend the doctrine of the Trinity, making it easy to study. He also counters common objections.

The strategy of neglecting the doctrine of the Trinity may buffer us from a good measure of intellectual discomfort. But that strategy also places people at risk of entering eternity without a true understanding of Who God is. Of Who Jesus is. And that’s very scary, since we must acknowledge Jesus as Lord (which necessarily assumes His deity) as a condition of salvation (Romans 10:9). So, while no human possesses the intellectual capacity to  comprehend how one God can exist in three Persons, it’s essential to understand that this doctrine is true. Jesus and the Holy Spirit are every bit as much God as the Father.

Having lost a dear friend who belonged to a cult that denied the Trinity, I believe it’s imperative that Christians regain an insistence on teaching this vital doctrine to young believers. A year before my friend’s death, I made the opportunity to tell her the true Gospel, and I emphasized the doctrine of the Trinity. Sadly, she gave no indication of accepting what I had to say, but I can hope that the Holy Spirit worked in her heart before she died.

And I pray now that evangelicals will increase the preaching of the Trinity, so people will know God fully. Rather than neglecting the doctrine for the sake of intellectual comfort, let’s boldly embrace it with joyful conviction, firmly established in the testimony of God’s Word. Oh, no one will actually comprehend how He could be a Trinity, since it is something far beyond the scope of our finite minds. But the very wonder of God in three Persons can draw us into worship.  “God in three Persons–blessed Trinity!”

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What’s The Purpose Of Discernment?

Discernment ScrollThis past Sunday I asked people on Facebook and Twitter what they believe the purpose of discernment is. Happily, several people responded, and all of them had excellent answers.

Most respondents emphasized that discernment enables us to distinguish between truth and error. Several elaborated that discernment protects the Church from false teaching. I wholeheartedly agree, and I praise God for giving us such a wonderful shield against deception. So many theological aberrations compete for our attention that discernment cannot be optional.

Two friends delighted me by going a bit deeper. One noted that discernment was, at the bottom line, for God’s glory. Her answer got to the very heart of what I wanted to say in this essay. If we consider discernment as having its purpose apart from glorifying Him, we make the disastrous mistake of once again placing ourselves in the center of God’s purposes.

The other friend expanded on the first friend’s answer by citing Scripture:

And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God. ~~Philippians 1:9-11 (ESV)

He added that discernment helps us serve and love God better. My heart definitely did a happy dance when I read his comment because he so closely resembled my daily prayer concerning discernment.

As I come to my time in God’s Word each day, I ask the Lord to increase my discernment through its doctrines. But immediately I sense impure motives for that prayer request. I feel a strong temptation to make the request so that I can excel as a discernment blogger. Confessing that horridly self-serving motive, I discipline myself to instead ask for discernment in order that I might worship Him in spirit and in truth.

It appears to me that people frequently label themselves as discernment bloggers so that they can establish their authority. Not all commit this sin, I realize, but I’d hazard a guess that even those who don’t commit it experience the temptation, at least occasionally. If we pretend not to feel that pull, we put ourselves in tremendous danger.

Discernment is necessary in navigating the Christian life, especially with so much false teaching creeping into even the best churches. By all means, pray to be discerning! But please make sure you ultimately seek this attribute for God’s glory rather than your own purposes.

 

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St. Patrick’s Breastplate

John and I listen to a variety of Christian podcasts and watch several Christian YouTube channels. I particularly enjoy Bruce Gore for his church history lectures. Bruce Gore isn’t a big Christian celebrity; he merely videotapes Adult Sunday School classes and classes he teaches in a Christian school. He’s informative and often amusing.

Last weekend, John and I watched Gore’s Sunday School class on St. Patrick. I’d heard and read about Patrick from other sources, so most of the information served as a refresher for me. He did add depth to the familiar narrative, most particularly in showing God’s hand in giving Patrick love and compassion for the very people who kidnapped and enslaved him.

But rather than focus solely on Patrick’s missionary work in Ireland, Gore wonderfully brought out Patrick’s love for Christ. As a matter of fact, Patrick clung to Christ as his breastplate Who shielded him.

But I was surprised when Gore said that Patrick wrote a hymn about Christ, which is sometimes referred to as The Breastplate of St. Patrick. When Gore mentioned that his church occasionally sings this hymn, I looked it up on YouTube. I love the way Patrick honored Christ in the lyrics. And what better hymn to post today?

 

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Adoring Him

Certainly, we should spend a lot of time adoring the Lord for graciously saving us. We lived as God’s enemies, rebelling against His standards and rebelling even more against His authority over us. Yet He loved us, through no merit of our own, and paid the complete price for our sin by shedding His blood on the cross.

Many beloved hymns rightly celebrate Christ’s redemptive work on our behalf, and I delight in featuring such hymns most Sundays. But once in a while, it’s good to shift our attention to His holiness and majestic nature — to set aside all He’s done for us in favor of worshiping Him for His own sake.

Today’s short hymn adores the Lord for His holiness and majesty. Maybe we need this sweet reminder.

 

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Singing Of God’s Sovereignty

Maybe it’s because the Lord brought me to salvation through the Jesus Movement in 1971, but I love Scripture set to contemporary music.  Not very Reformed, perhaps. Although some early Reformers used nothing but the Psalms in their hymnal, if I recall correctly.

As I rummaged through YouTube looking for a hymn to post this week, I came across a song quoting Romans 11:33-36. I love its high view of God and its emphasis on His sovereignty. What more could a Reformed gal want?

This Lord’s Day, take a moment to listen to Romans 11 (Doxology) and worship the Lord for His unsurpassed wisdom and unwavering control of the universe. Adore Him because He deserves all glory throughout eternity. How wonderful to praise Him in a song that uses His Word to celebrate His sovereign nature!

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Remembering The Wonder Of The Incarnation

The Word became fleshLess than a year into my walk with the Lord, I sat in my friend’s living room with other kids from my high school (including a girl I’d never met) for Thursday night Bible Study. My friend began his opening prayer, speaking in an unusually forceful tone as he praised God for becoming a Man. He managed to find at least four ways to reiterate the idea.

Before he could finish praying, the visiting girl lept up, covered her ears and ran out of the house shouting, “Blasphemy!”

Baffled, I asked the leader what had just happened. He explained that she belonged to the Jehovah’s Witnesses, a cult that denied Christ’s deity.

At that point, my confusion intensified. I knew that Jesus Continue reading