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Posts Tagged ‘John 14’

Many of us are mourning the loss of an American era with the passing of a man, I think we won’t soon see the likes of again.  The beloved preacher and evangelist, the Reverend Billy Graham, passed away on Wednesday, February 21, 2018, and was laid to rest in Charlotte, North Carolina, after his March 2nd funeral.  He was 99 years old.  Among other endearing terms, Rev. Graham is being remembered as God’s Ambassador and America’s Pastor, having provided spiritual counsel for every United States president since Harry S. Truman (our 33rd) right on to Barack Obama (our 44th president).

When I think of Dr. Graham, I can’t help think of my Dad who always encouraged us girls to sit and listen whenever a crusade was being televised (on network T.V. no less). I never told dad or mom, but I responded to one of those crusades, back when we lived in town (so prior to 8th grade). I sent for the follow-up material too, writing to “Billy Graham, Minneapolis, MN – that’s all the address you need” as Billy directed us from every crusade.  What came was a summary of his Steps to Peace with God and a study of the book of John.

I attribute that experience to a sensitive period in my life when God was softening my heart and mind to his, eventually leading me to receive the gospel truth.  I would not fully put it all together until my college years when God through his Word in Ephesians 2:8-9 caused me to once and for all lay down my works which I had been trying to offer all my life as an acceptable arrangement; one which I hoped would make God pleased with me and lead me to eternal life.  My plan had been Jesus + me = salvation, never realizing that the only thing I could contribute to Christ’s offering, was the sin that made it necessary.  Using the small faith God gave me for just that moment, I gave all that I knew of myself (my whole sin-saturated self and my inadequate works) to all I knew of Christ (my only rescue).

During college, Dana and I would counsel for a Billy Graham movie or two (World Wide Pictures) at the Cinema Theater in town (now the WDAZ studios).  After one particular movie, The Prodigal, Dana was completely broken and rededicated his life to the Lord.

A highlight for us was counseling for the Billy Graham live crusade in Fargo the summer of 1987 when we were expecting Ashley. We brought my cousin Paul with us one of the days (who was living in Grand Forks at the time, in the restaurant business with my Uncle Warren).  I’m sad to say, though, that I seem to recall my dad was unable to go to Fargo with us to see Billy in person, amounting to a double loss since the entertainment was another of Dad’s favorites, Johnny Cash (and his wife, Rosalind).

Rev. Graham’s gravestone briefly summarizes his life – Preacher of the Gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ – and then makes reference to John 14:6, “Jesus said to [Thomas], ‘I am the way, and the truth, and the life.  No one comes to the Father except through me.'” One of my favorite Billy Graham quotes was printed on his funeral brochure:  “Someday you will read or hear that Billy Graham is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it. I shall be more alive than I am now.”  I pray God will enable me to be faithful and about the King’s work to the end – in whatever capacity I am able – just as the world has observed in the life of God’s good and faithful servant, Billy Graham.

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Good Friday IV Here’s Good Friday from two very different sources. First from Sally Lloyd-Jones’ The Jesus Storybook Bible (1) –

“Papa?” Jesus cried, frantically searching the sky. “Papa? Where are you? Don’t leave me!’

And for the first time – and the last – when he spoke nothing happened. Just a horrible, endless silence. God didn’t answer. He turned away from his Boy…

The full force of the storm of God’s fierce anger at sin was coming down. On his own Son. Instead of his people. It was the only way God could destroy sin, and not destroy his children whose hearts were filled with sin.

Then Jesus shouted out in a loud voice, “It is finished!”

And it was. He had done it. Jesus had rescued the whole world.

“Father!” Jesus cried. “I give you my life.” And with a great sigh he let himself die…

“That’s the end of Jesus,” the Leaders said.

But, just to be sure, they sent strong soldiers to guard the tomb. They hauled a huge stone in front of the door to the tomb. So that no one could get in.

Or out.

The second from Wayne Grudem’s Systematic Theology (2) –

Now Jesus was perfectly holy. He hated sin with his entire being. The thought of evil, of sin, contradicted everything in his character. Far more than we do, Jesus instinctively rebelled against evil. Yet in obedience to the Father, and out of love for us, Jesus took on himself all the sins of those who would someday be saved. Taking on himself all the evil against which his soul rebelled created deep revulsion in the center of his being (2 Corinthians 5:21). All that he hated most deeply was poured out fully upon him…

“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46). The question does not mean, Why have you left me forever? for Jesus knew that he was leaving the world, that he was going to the Father (John 14:28). Jesus knew that he would rise again (John 2:19). [In fact,] it was “for the joy that was set before him” that Jesus “endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God” (Hebrews 12:2)… It is better to understand the question… as meaning, Why have you left me for so long?

Jesus, in his human nature, knew he would have to bear our sins, to suffer and to die. But, in his human consciousness, he probably did not know how long this suffering would take. Yet to bear the guilt of millions of sins even for a moment would cause the greatest anguish of soul. To face the deep and furious wrath of an infinite God even for an instant would cause the most profound fear. But Jesus’ suffering was not over in a minute – or two – or ten.

When would it end? Could there be yet more weight of sin? Yet more wrath of God? Hour after hour it went on – the dark weight of sin and the deep wrath of God poured over Jesus in wave after wave. Jesus at last cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” Why must this suffering go on so long? Oh God, my God, will you ever bring it to an end?…

[You see,] God had not simply forgiven sin and forgotten about the punishment in generations past. He had forgiven sins and stored up his righteous anger against those sins. But at the cross the fury of all that stored-up wrath against sin, [past and future,] was unleashed against God’s own Son…

If we ask, Who required Christ to pay the penalty for our sins? the answer given by Scripture is that the penalty was inflicted by God the Father as he represented the interests of the Trinity in redemption. It was God’s justice that required that sin be paid for, and, among the members of the Trinity, it was God the Father whose role was to require that payment. God the Son voluntarily took upon himself the role of bearing the penalty for sin…

Herein we see something of the amazing love of both God the Father and God the Son in redemption. Not only did Jesus know that he would bear the incredible pain of the cross, but God the Father also knew that he would have to inflict this pain on his own deeply loved Son (Romans 5:8)…

Then at last, Jesus knew his suffering was nearing completion. He knew he had consciously borne all the wrath of the Father against our sins, for God’s anger had abated and the awful heaviness of sin was being removed. He knew that all that remained was to yield up his spirit to his heavenly Father and die. With a shout of victory, Jesus cried out, “It is finished!” (John 19:30). Then with a loud voice, he once more cried out, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit!” (Luke 23:46). And then he voluntarily gave up the life that no one could take from him (John 10:17-18), and he died.

God the Father saw “the fruit of the travail of his soul” and was “satisfied” (Isaiah 53:11). The New Testament refer(s) to Jesus’ death as a propitiation… (having) the sense of a sacrifice that turns away the wrath of God – and thereby makes God propitious, or favorable, toward us.

For those of us in Christ, there is now no more anger or wrath left in the Father toward our sin. He acts wholly propitious toward us – forever. And that’s why it’s called Good Friday.

(1) Lloyd-Jones, Sally, and Jago. The Jesus Storybook Bible: Every Story Whispers His Name. Grand Rapids, MI: Zonderkidz, 2007. 304-06. Print.

(2) Grudem, Wayne A. Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine. Leicester, England: Inter-Varsity, 1994. 573-77. Print.

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ice fishing III

“Now faith is the substance of things hoped for,
the evidence of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1).

 

Faith, it seems, is taking a bit of a knock these days, at least in western societies. Although everyone has faith in something (even if it’s faith in oneself or fate or love or natural selection or…); I am talking about those who have faith in the supernatural, namely a God. Even that isn’t as ridiculous to some as faith in the one true God, the triune God, Yahweh.  It’s really popular and stimulating these days to be searching for truth and open and “tolerant” of all worldviews, but to say that you have found Truth (and He is also the Way and the Life) is absurd and humorous to those who find it much more intellectual (or noble or easy or…) to be ever searching and never finding.

By the new life, with its new affections and new longings, the new creature in Christ experiences for the first time a reality that always existed, but up until conversion, was never perceived. Now things previously hidden from them are revealed by the Spirit of God and are readily received and believed by them.  This is faith.

Hebrews 11, that great ode to faith, confirms the universal experience of the Christian believer. Where those outside of Christ perceive faith to be a wish or a hope or even a superstition that we follow, the Christian believer knows that faith doesn’t bring about our spiritual reality, but as Hebrews 11 states, it is the evidence of that spiritual reality. It is substance; not a mere hope, but an absolute assurance that we are sealed now by the Holy Spirit. The Spirit of Christ, who unmistakably takes up residence in us upon our conversion, is our guarantee that we will one day take possession of the promised eternal inheritance that awaits all in Christ. The Holy Spirit in us, directing us, teaching us, revealing God to us, opening Scripture to us, etc. is “the anchor which holds beneath the veil” (Hebrews 6:19).

This undeniable presence in the life of the believer, a presence which most assuredly was not there before conversion, is evidence to the believer of things that are unseen. The whole of Hebrews 11 lists person after person who were indwelt by the Holy Spirit and acted in accordance with that new evidence in their lives. They believed beyond their senses of a yet-unseen, spiritual reality that exists as surely as does grass or trees or gravity or energy. They acted in obedience to God’s revelation to them, always with an eye to that other, heavenly country to which they were now traveling (vv. 14-16). All were sure of the substance of their faith, many willing to suffer and die for it (vv. 32-38), because they had evidence of things not seen (vv.39-40).

What was the evidence that provided them with the courage to stand and withstand? It was the faith given them upon conversion (Ephesians 2:8-9). We don’t simply have faith in faith however (i.e. “if I only had enough faith…”); instead we have faith in the Faith-giver. Dana has used the analogy of walking on an icy lake in the middle of winter. It is not my faith that keeps me from crashing through to the icy depths below, but it is the reality that I have at least 8-12 inches of a hard, solid surface on which to walk. Whether I have faith the ice will hold or whether I lack faith that the ice will hold makes no difference. Only the reality of what I walk upon makes the difference. Whether I speak of having faith in God or whether I mock those who trust in their faith makes no difference to the reality.  The only thing that matters is if there is in fact a God holding me up.

An open-minded study of our world reveals the imprint of God on every aspect of man’s experience; it bears witness to the reality of a God who exists outside of matter so as to design and create man and matter.  Education with this filter allows us to look upon the face of God in every field of study. It is to actually perceive that the “ice” upon which we stand is not there because we merely wish it to be so, but because we have bored down, down, down through the many layers of it and found it has substance and reliability. This is true whether we study –

– philosophy – the particulars and the universals;
– anthropology – is man basically good or basically flawed;
– the marvels of science and irreducible complexities;
– history with sin being played out from one generation after another -and
God’s divine plan progressing from one generation to another;
– sociology – how mankind in all ages seeks a spiritual and moral code;
– government and its God-given role as keepers of that moral code;
– labor and our ability and desire to create; etc. *

Such an education allows us to look upon the face of God and to see that God’s written revelation, given to us in his Word, is supported by his general revelation, revealed to us in nature.

Despite the attempts of godless men to divorce learning and education from the source of all Truth, does not the very definition of insanity – “lost contact with reality” – cause us question those who define their world only in terms of what they themselves have experienced (or selectively so as with their belief in the existence of wind or magnetism or their belief that there ever existed an Attila the Hun or Alexander the Great)?  They have wittingly or unwittingly rejected a portion of reality that, although unseen, has much evidence of its existence.

Praise be to God who gives to men faith – the evidence of things unseen. No wonder that “without faith it is impossible to please [God]: for he that comes to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

– – – – –

* Thanks to Focus on the Family’s Truth Project for its deep analysis of these disciplines, revealing the reality of God in each.

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We were in Minneapolis this weekend helping my daughter and family move down the hall from a one-bedroom to a two-bedroom apartment (more Calvin time too).  This move is just one more example of God’s kind provisions for this young family.  They will certainly benefit from a little more space and it will allow parents and baby to have their own rooms.

We visited my son’s church Sunday in downtown Minneapolis, Bethlehem Baptist.  Pastor John Piper taught on John 14:25-31.  His message as usual gave me much to consider.  Let me share two teachings that have attached themselves to me.

 

(1) John 14:30 “I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming.  He has no claim on me.”

Jesus explains to his already worried friends that Satan, who entered Judas, a is coming; Satan is coming and the events of the next 24 hours will be set in motion.  However, Jesus assures his followers that Satan has no claim on him.  What is about to happen is not of Satan’s doing.  The tempter and accuser has no claim on Jesus, a sinless man.  There is no chink in his armor, no hook, no allurement by which Satan can entice Jesus to sin or accuse him before the Father.

I want you to know, Jesus says, and I want the world to know that demonic betraying and demonic denying and demonic lying are not ruling this night. Love is ruling this night. I am obeying the Father (verse 31b) “so that the world may know that I love the Father.”

 

(2) John 14:31 “…I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father.  Rise, let us go from here.”

Jesus himself sets the evening in motion by finishing his quiet time with his disciples with the resolute command, “Rise, let us go…”  Using a contemporary phrase, Jesus is saying in effect, “Let’s roll.”

Before they depart, though, Jesus would have his disciples know the motivation that will cause him to accomplish what his Father has asked of him.  The motivation is none other than a visual for the world – that they may know that he loves the Father.  “God so loved the world,” c and that will be demonstrated in the next day.  But here we see that Jesus so loved the Father that he would endure the upcoming day to declare it.  This sinless One would willingly become our sin and absorb the wrath of his Father upon that sin.  Yes; he would do as commanded…so all would know that Jesus loves his Father.  This eternal love was put on display for all the world to see, and because of it our salvation was secured.

The cross was not at root the coercion of evil; it was the compliance of love. The roots of the cross reach back before creation into the eternal Godhead where the God the Son has always infinitely loved God the Father.

 

Oh, we have a great Savior!

 

a John 13:27

b Rev. 12:10

c John 3:16

 

[Painting: Gerbrand van den Eeckhout (1621-1674)]

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