Saturday, July 29, 2017

Four Kinds of Faith

As soon as Saul saw David go out against the Philistine, he said to Abner, the commander of the army, “Abner, whose son is this youth?” And Abner said, “As your soul lives, O king, I do not know.” And the king said, “Inquire whose son the boy is.” And as soon as David returned from the striking down of the Philistine, Abner took him, and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand. And Saul said to him, “Whose son are you, young man?” And David answered, “I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.” (1 Samuel 17:55-58)

Saul inquires whose son David is, because the relationship has become more intimate, and David now needs to become family.  The defeat of Goliath has earned David a place in Saul's immediate household, and we see soon that Saul gives one of his daughters to David as a wife.  Notice the difference in the Saul/David relationship from before the Goliath battle:

Now the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul, and a harmful spirit from the Lord tormented him. And Saul's servants said to him, “Behold now, a harmful spirit from God is tormenting you. Let our lord now command your servants who are before you to seek out a man who is skillful in playing the lyre, and when the harmful spirit from God is upon you, he will play it, and you will be well.” So Saul said to his servants, “Provide for me a man who can play well and bring him to me.” One of the young men answered, “Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite, who is skillful in playing, a man of valor, a man of war, prudent in speech, and a man of good presence, and the Lord is with him.” Therefore Saul sent messengers to Jesse and said, “Send me David your son, who is with the sheep.” And Jesse took a donkey laden with bread and a skin of wine and a young goat and sent them by David his son to Saul. And David came to Saul and entered his service. And Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor-bearer. And Saul sent to Jesse, saying, “Let David remain in my service, for he has found favor in my sight.” And whenever the harmful spirit from God was upon Saul, David took the lyre and played it with his hand. So Saul was refreshed and was well, and the harmful spirit departed from him. (1 Samuel 16:14-23)

Saul loved David greatly before, but only in as much as David would send the evil spirit away from him.  Remember, Saul no longer has the Holy Spirit, and so he is outside the church, although he is the visual head of Israel, and so David is very valuable to him in what he can accomplish for him.  David can ward off demons, and he is also Saul's armor bearer.  He is like a ward of protection. Even though Saul loves David, only after the defeat of Goliath does Saul intend to change the relationship into something more.  Saul is putting a deeper faith in David.  Before, he was putting faith in the miracles that David wrought for him, and now he is...doing the same thing.  He's putting faith in David as his champion, defeating not only demons but the devil himself, and this is still faith in the miraculous work of David.  Saul, being king himself, still refuses to put his faith in David as king over him.  And he never will.  Remember, God has already anointed David as the true king of Israel, so David is king, just as Christ is the messiah and all is his, and yet many today--a majority--refuse to bend the knee to their rightful king.  Most people are their own kings, and they don't need Christ.  They will not put faith in Jesus as their Lord and savior, and yet many who call themselves Christian will put their faith only in his miracles.

According to Zacharias Ursinus, in his commentary on the Heidelberg Catechism, the scriptures speak of four kinds of faith.  Only the last, justifying faith, saves us.  Here are the other three:

Historical faith.  This is believing the word of God is true, that the Bible isn't just a made-up thing but an historical text, and that the doctrines found within are true.  Does this save us?  No.  Remember the devils believed and trembled.  Simon Magus also believed.

Temporary faith. This is just like historical faith, except it is accompanied by joy.  However, this faith does not endure.  "As for what was sown on rocky ground, this is the one who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy, yet he has no root in himself, but endures for a while, and when tribulation or persecution arises on account of the word, immediately he falls away." (Matthew 13:20-21)

The faith of miracles.  This is having faith in the works of God for our temporal benefit.  Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 13, "And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing."  If he has the power of God in his hands, but he does not have the love that God bestowed on us through his sacrificial death on the cross, he is still dead in his sins, and so are we, if we have put our faith in the wonders of God and not the atoning death of Christ on our behalf.  The sons of Sceva and Simon Magus sought this power, and yet they were not saved. Most importantly, read this passage from Luke:

And he called the twelve together and gave them power and authority over all demons and to cure diseases, and he sent them out to proclaim the kingdom of God and to heal. And he said to them, “Take nothing for your journey, no staff, nor bag, nor bread, nor money; and do not have two tunics. And whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And wherever they do not receive you, when you leave that town shake off the dust from your feet as a testimony against them.” And they departed and went through the villages, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere. (Luke 9:1-6)

Who is included in the twelve?  Judas!  Judas, as an apostle, performed miracles with the rest of them, but Christ called him a devil.  Many will say at the end of the age, "Lord, did I not cast out devils in your name?" to whom he will reply, "I never knew you."

Justifying faith alone contains the belief that the "righteousness of Christ is granted and imputed to us, so that we are accounted just in the sight of God." (110-111).  Another thing that Ursinas claims that I found fascinating is that only those who possess a justifying faith know what it is, just as one cannot understand the flavor of honey unless he tastes it himself, no matter how much the flavor has been described to him beforehand.

So, we see that Saul has not applied David's "salvation" to himself by submission.  He has only brought David closer in order to utilize this powerful person whom God has chosen.  Likewise, we can have faith in the power of God without submitting ourselves in penitence and obedience to the Lord's will.  We can believe that the scriptures are true, assent to them, and call upon God's power, but without the love of Christ in his atoning sacrifice, we are empty of salvation.  Make Jesus Christ your king.

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Justice to Victory

When the Philistine arose and came and drew near to meet David, David ran quickly toward the battle line to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand in his bag and took out a stone and slung it and struck the Philistine on his forehead. The stone sank into his forehead, and he fell on his face to the ground.

So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and struck the Philistine and killed him. There was no sword in the hand of David. Then David ran and stood over the Philistine and took his sword and drew it out of its sheath and killed him and cut off his head with it. When the Philistines saw that their champion was dead, they fled. And the men of Israel and Judah rose with a shout and pursued the Philistines as far as Gath and the gates of Ekron, so that the wounded Philistines fell on the way from Shaaraim as far as Gath and Ekron. And the people of Israel came back from chasing the Philistines, and they plundered their camp. And David took the head of the Philistine and brought it to Jerusalem, but he put his armor in his tent. (1 Samuel 17:48-54)

David has defeated Goliath.  He invents the gun, on the spot, and essentially shoots his foe in the head, and Goliath falls on his face.  The text tells us that David, using a sling and a stone, has killed Goliath.  The next verse tells us that David ran and stood over the Philistine, took Goliath's own sword, drew it out of its sheath, and...killed him, cutting off his head.  Did David kill him twice?  No, the slingshot wound to the head was a killing blow, but not instantaneous.  Even today, with more sophisticated weapons, gunshot wounds of low caliber to the head do not kill immediately, even though if left untreated the victim will die.  This is what is happening here.  David has killed Goliath with a small stone, but Goliath is still lingering.  David finishes the Philistine off with Goliath's own sword, ending the life completely.  This is why it says David killed him twice.

Christ defeated Satan through his death on the cross.  This is the stone throw.  The devil has lost.  But God allows him time to deceive the nations until Christ comes over, picks up Satan's own sword and cuts the devil's head off with it.  This "second killing" will be at Christ's second coming.  We are living now in the meantime.  We are living in the time where Jesus, without a sword of his own, is running over to finish the job.  This seems like a lengthy jog over to the defeated devil to finish him off, but there is a reason for this.  This age of our Lord, this intermediate time of the church, has a purpose.  Look at Matthew 12:

And many followed him, and he healed them all and ordered them not to make him known. This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah:

“Behold, my servant whom I have chosen,
    my beloved with whom my soul is well pleased.
I will put my Spirit upon him,
    and he will proclaim justice to the Gentiles.
He will not quarrel or cry aloud,
    nor will anyone hear his voice in the streets;
a bruised reed he will not break,
    and a smoldering wick he will not quench,
until he brings justice to victory;
    and in his name the Gentiles will hope.” (Matthew 12:15-21)

A bruised reed, a smoldering wick: both refer to the soul of the believer, the one with faith in Christ.  He is the "the poor" in the beatitudes.  He is the one persecuted by the world, bruised, and his faith is barely that of a mustard seed, smoldering.  The reason Christ delays the final killing blow is so that he may gather all of his flock together and not lose one, until his final victory is accomplished.  As Peter writes in his second letter:

But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed. (2 Peter 3:8-10)

The Lord is patient with his drawing of the sword, so that his bruised reeds, his smoldering wicks might all come to repentance and be saved from the fire.  Richard Sibbes writes in The Bruised Reed

The purpose of Christ's coming was to destroy the works of the devil, both for us and in us; and the purpose of the resurrection was, as well as sealing to us the assurance of his victory, so also (1) to quicken our souls from death in sin; (2) to free our souls from such snares and sorrows of spiritual death as accompany the guilt of sin; (3) to raise them up more comfortable, as the sun breaks forth more gloriously out of a thick cloud; (4) to raise us out of particular slips and failings stronger; (5) to raise us out of all troublesome and dark conditions of this life; and (6) at length to raise our bodies out of the dust. For the same power that the Spirit showed in raising Christ, our Head, from the sorrows of death and the lowest degree of his abasement, that power, obtained by the death of Christ from God, now appeased by that sacrifice, the Spirit will show in the church, which is his body, and in every particular member thereof. (p. 93)

Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery. For surely it is not angels that he helps, but he helps the offspring of Abraham. Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect, so that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in the service of God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people. For because he himself has suffered when tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted. (Hebrews 2:14-18)

David does not represent us but Christ among us, sharing our flesh, and being tempted as we are.  The goal of Christ was to die on our behalf, because the one representing mankind needed to be fully human.  Christ's death on the cross was the headshot, effectively killing the devil and delivering mankind from slavery to Satan.  Many are still slaves, even to this day, because they have not put their faith in Christ.  When we put our faith in our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, we will be spared at the end of the age.  Those who follow Satan (and there are only the two paths) will flee and hide, like the Philistines, wishing the mountains to cover them.  Christ delays the final "beheading" of Satan so that the nations can be fully deceived and his children can be fully converted.  The line between the two sides needs to be sharp and defined.  No one will say in the end, "I was dealt with unjustly." Christ brings Justice to Victory.

Friday, July 14, 2017


And the Philistine moved forward and came near to David, with his shield-bearer in front of him. And when the Philistine looked and saw David, he disdained him, for he was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance. And the Philistine said to David, “Am I a dog, that you come to me with sticks?” And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. (1 Samuel 17:41-43)

Why does Goliath disdain David?  Because David was but a youth, ruddy and handsome in appearance.  So, what has happened, in Goliath's eyes, is that these petrified Israelites, who have been quivering and shaking for 40 days, who have obviously no mode of resistance, no answer to Goliath's challenge, have now put forth a young, small, prettyboy, without sword or spear, without shield, without armor, who presents himself as nothing threatening.  And Goliath is absolutely insulted.  He even chides David.  He uses a metaphor of someone throwing a dog a stick to go fetch, Goliath being the dog, and the owners (Saul and the Israelites) throwing David (a stick and easy prey) to the giant to pick up off the ground.  Goliath perceives Israel as making fun of him.  He does not know the Lord, and to those outside of the Church, yes, the things the Lord has done throughout history to save his elect, look like foolishness.  "The cross is foolishness," Paul claims, "to those who are perishing."

And we see this again and again in scripture. God uses the foolish things of the earth to shame the wise.  In the Old Testament, the Lord has demonstrated his power in the ten plagues.  He throws the most terrifying horrors at the Egyptians, including boils, locust that eat all their grain, hail that kills anything outside, and all these horrors culminate in the first born sons of Egypt dying.  When the Egyptians try to fight the Israelites, God shows his power in a huge pillar of fire.  He then splits a sea in half and causes the halves to crash down on the onrushing army.  God has shown great power.  He is a force to be reckoned with.  Unbelievers everywhere are in shock.  They gossip among themselves and are filled with great fear of this true God.

And then it seems that God has fun with everyone.  Besides the David and Goliath match, we have incidents that seem completely foolish, and yet the Lord's redeeming power comes out of them, too.  Naaman from Syria, a great general, goes to Elisha for a cure to his leprosy.  Elisha refuses to see him but sends him a message to wash in the Jordan.  Here is Naaman's response:

But Naaman was angry and went away, saying, “Behold, I thought that he would surely come out to me and stand and call upon the name of the Lord his God, and wave his hand over the place and cure the leper. Are not Abana and Pharpar, the rivers of Damascus, better than all the waters of Israel? Could I not wash in them and be clean?” So he turned and went away in a rage. But his servants came near and said to him, “My father, it is a great word the prophet has spoken to you; will you not do it? Has he actually said to you, ‘Wash, and be clean’?” So he went down and dipped himself seven times in the Jordan, according to the word of the man of God, and his flesh was restored like the flesh of a little child, and he was clean. (2 Kings 5:11-14)

It's like God is toying with unbelievers, and so he is.  It's like a Loony Tunes cartoon where one fighter is trying harder and harder to beat the other fighter, who is so strong, that he resists with his baby toe while filing his fingernails.  We see this again and again and again, and the purpose is to show us, remind us that we are not merely worshiping the strongest God among many but the only God, who is sovereign over all that has been made, all inside the church and all outside the church.

It is amusing but also glorifying to God to see how he interacts with the hostile, unbelieving world.  It strengthens our own belief.  The God, who utterly destroyed Egypt, who showed the world his mettle, who exuded power in every interaction with mankind, reveals his ultimate rescue of his elect from eternal death by incarnating himself as a baby, not as a huge strong man, but as someone "whom I could probably beat at basketball," as one of my professors told me.  When Will Ferrell prays to specifically the infant Jesus in one of his films, we find it amusing, and rightly so, because on the surface it is ironic.  Who is going to save us?  A baby!  A baby?  Yes, a baby!

And the world is insulted and angry.  Herod wipes out all the children in Bethlehem under two years of age, but before that he was greatly troubled when the wise men told him about the baby.  It made no sense.  When the devil tempts Jesus in the wilderness, the temptations are boorish and pedestrian.  In the end, Satan falls into the ultimate trap, as he tempts mankind to crucify the Son of God, and as a result initiates the process of salvation.  Satan believed he was being treated as a dog and Jesus was the paltry stick that God was flinging at his feet.

Many times, even those who believed would ask, "who is this?"  It made no sense.  Isn't this the carpenter's son?  We know his family.  We have seen his mother and father and his sisters and brothers.  Jesus taught as one who had authority, but he didn't have the tassels and ornaments that showed he was a learned man.  His answers to these questions always pointed straight to God. "My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me. If anyone's will is to do God's will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority. The one who speaks on his own authority seeks his own glory; but the one who seeks the glory of him who sent him is true, and in him there is no falsehood. (John 7:16-18)"  Also, "You know me, and you know where I come from. But I have not come of my own accord. He who sent me is true, and him you do not know. I know him, for I come from him, and he sent me. (John 7:28-29)"  Jesus' evangelism included this important aspect: he pointed to the one who sent him.  Likewise, we, as disciples of Christ who are hated for Christ's sake, who are called fools on account of him, who baffle the "logical" and "wise" world, we are to never make assertions without the support of scripture.  We ask the world to clarify its position, and we take the unbelieving souls who confront us to the pages of scripture so that the Holy Spirit of God will handle them completely.  The good works that the Lord has given us to do are to love our neighbors as ourselves, where we demonstrate that we love God.  The hard tasks of the world God handles himself.  Our only role in that effort is to proclaim him and draw others into his word.

One final "foolish" thing that God did to toy with the world will show this more clearly.  The Lord took the man who was "breathing threats and murder against the disciples of the Lord (Acts 9:1)," and made him into his greatest champion.  When Ananias is sent to heal Saul's eyes, he is confused.  He has heard about this evil man.  Surely, Lord, you cannot mean him!  He did mean him.  When Paul is healed, he immediately begins proclaiming Jesus in the synagogues, saying, "He is the Son of God (Acts 9:20)."  And all who heard him were amazed, because they knew his past.  God must have been laughing uproariously at the circumstances. Meanwhile, Paul keeps confronting those who oppose him, confounding them with proofs that Jesus was the Christ.  His words are scripture, as Peter attests, and in those powerful words, Paul always brings us back to the one who sent him, bringing out the scriptures as a platform for the Holy Spirit to change the hearts of the unbelievers and strengthen the hearts of the believers.

And this is exactly what David does: Then David said to the Philistine, “You come to me with a sword and with a spear and with a javelin, but I come to you in the name of the Lord of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom you have defied. This day the Lord will deliver you into my hand, and I will strike you down and cut off your head. And I will give the dead bodies of the host of the Philistines this day to the birds of the air and to the wild beasts of the earth, that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear. For the battle is the Lord's, and he will give you into our hand.” (1 Samuel 17:45-49)

David's words to Goliath bring all who hear to God and his word.  Everything is about God.  David considers himself as nothing, only God is the one who fights.  David is merely his instrument.  The reason?  So that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel, and that all this assembly may know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear.  The battle is already the Lord's.  It's over before it has begun, because God is sovereign and not a sparrow falls unless he knows about it.  Yes, God has thrown a stick at the dog's feet, so that the world can see the stick rise up and beat the dog down.  Only through Christ can there be such a victory.

Monday, July 10, 2017

Examples of Old vs. New Gospels

Here are some examples from Mark 8-10 of the disciples attempting to subvert the ancient, God-centered gospel of truth with the new, man-centered gospel.

Christ reveals his plan:

And he began to teach them that the Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders and the chief priests and the scribes and be killed, and after three days rise again. And he said this plainly.

Peter responds:
 And Peter took him aside and began to rebuke him. But turning and seeing his disciples, he rebuked Peter and said, “Get behind me, Satan! For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

Christ reveals his plan:

They went on from there and passed through Galilee. And he did not want anyone to know, for he was teaching his disciples, saying to them, “The Son of Man is going to be delivered into the hands of men, and they will kill him. And when he is killed, after three days he will rise.” But they did not understand the saying, and were afraid to ask him.

The disciples respond:

And they came to Capernaum. And when he was in the house he asked them, “What were you discussing on the way?” But they kept silent, for on the way they had argued with one another about who was the greatest. And he sat down and called the twelve. And he said to them, “If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.”

Christ reveals his plan:

And they were on the road, going up to Jerusalem, and Jesus was walking ahead of them. And they were amazed, and those who followed were afraid. And taking the twelve again, he began to tell them what was to happen to him, saying, “See, we are going up to Jerusalem, and the Son of Man will be delivered over to the chief priests and the scribes, and they will condemn him to death and deliver him over to the Gentiles. And they will mock him and spit on him, and flog him and kill him. And after three days he will rise.”

James and John respond:

And James and John, the sons of Zebedee, came up to him and said to him, “Teacher, we want you to do for us whatever we ask of you.” And he said to them, “What do you want me to do for you?” And they said to him, “Grant us to sit, one at your right hand and one at your left, in your glory.”

Be aware of man's tendency to substitute the true gospel with our false one.

Why Preach the Gospel of Christ?

"Jesus Christ is all, and in all; and where he is wanting there can be no good.  Hunger cannot truly be satisfied without manna, the bread of life, which is Jesus Christ;--and what shall a hungry man do that hath no bread?  Thirst cannot be quenched without that water or living spring, which is Jesus Christ;--and what shall a thirsty soul do without water? A captive, as we are all, cannot be delivered without redemption, which is Jesus Christ; and what shall the prisoner do without his ransom?  Fools, as we are all, cannot be instructed without wisdom, which is Jesus Christ;-- without him we perish in our folly.  All building without him is on the sand, which shall surely fall.  All working without him is in the fire, where it will be consumed.  All riches without him have wings, and will [fly] away. “Better to be ruined with Christ than to reign  with Caesar," said Luther.  A dungeon with Christ is a throne; and a throne without Christ, a hell.  Nothing so ill, but Christ will compensate. The greatest evil in the world is sin, and the greatest sin was the first; and yet Gregory feared not to cry, “O felix culpa, quae talem mervit redemptorem!”—“O happy fault, which found such a Redeemer!"  All mercies without Christ are bitter; and every cup is sweet that is seasoned but with a drop of his blood;--he truly is “amor et deliciae humani generis,”—the love and delight of the sons of men,--without whom they must perish eternally; “for there is no other name given unto them, whereby they may be saved, Acts iv. 12.  He is the Way; men without him are Cains, wanderers, vagabonds:--he is the Truth; men without him are liars, like the devil, who was so of old:--he is the Life; without him men are dead, dead in tres-passes and sins: he is the Light; without him men are in darkness, and go they know not whither:--he is the Vine; those that are not grafted in him are withered branches, prepared for the fire:--he is the Rock; men not built on him are carried away with a flood: he is Alpha and Omega, the first and the last, the author and the ender, the founder and the finisher of our salvation.  He that hath not him, hath neither beginning of good, nor shall have end of misery.  O blessed Jesus! how much better were it not to be, than to be with-out thee!--never to be born, than not to die in thee!  A thousand hells come short of this, eternally to want Jesus Christ, as men do that want the gospel."  (John Owen, Works 8:35-6).

Saturday, July 8, 2017

Content in all Circumstances

Then Saul clothed David with his armor. He put a helmet of bronze on his head and clothed him with a coat of mail, and David strapped his sword over his armor. And he tried in vain to go, for he had not tested them. Then David said to Saul, “I cannot go with these, for I have not tested them.” So David put them off. Then he took his staff in his hand and chose five smooth stones from the brook and put them in his shepherd's pouch. His sling was in his hand, and he approached the Philistine. (1 Samuel 17:38-40)

The worst interpretation of these verses would be, "march to the beat of your own drummer."  A better interpretation would be, "don't put your faith in other people but in the Lord."  David has not tested Saul's armor, but one thing he has tested well is his own faith in the Lord, and so he sticks with what has been tested.  So should we not only be testing our own faith but trusting in the Lord above all else.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
    and do not lean on your own understanding.
In all your ways acknowledge him,
    and he will make straight your paths. (Proverbs 3:5-6)

It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in man.
It is better to take refuge in the Lord
    than to trust in princes. (Psalm 118:8-9)

This is all true, but how do we put our faith in God?  The worst thing we could do is try to conquer our Goliaths ourselves, believing that God is our source of power and strength, like an energy bar.  We take the verse of Philippians 4:13 out of context:

"I can do all things through him who strengthens me."

But in context, see how the idea behind the verse changes:

I rejoiced in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me. You were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. (Philippians 4:10-13)

Now we see that what Paul is talking about is that Christ strengthens him to be content in all circumstances.  He's not made into a superman by Christ.  He is made content.  Indeed, David is content in his circumstance.  He doesn't take off Saul's armor shaking in fear, "what am I going to do now?"  He has a plan, based on his experience, but his faith is so solid in the Lord that he does not fear.  He is content in his circumstances.

So, if we are not to conquer our Goliaths ourselves, who is to conquer them?  Well, the obvious answer is that Christ has already conquered them on the cross, and it is a deep, abiding, penitent faith in Christ that will not help us conquer our Goliaths but be content in the knowledge that Christ has already conquered them.  Christ himself tells us not to be anxious, because anxiety is sin; it is a lack of faith in what Christ has done for us.  We don't believe that he has succeeded on the cross.  Many believe that Christ never existed.  We have many hurdles to overcome in faith.  But when one does believe in Christ and have full faith in him, what is that person desiring of Christ?  

Remember the two gospels; the newer, false one and the old, true one.  The new one is that of "helper" Jesus who is there for us, but we are our own saviors.  The old one is that of Jesus as savior, us a sinners, and the reason for salvation being for the glory of God alone.  We are not the center of the universe with God as our assistant.  God is the center, and we are the instruments of his glory.  Christ died to save the elect, so that God's loving kindness and mercy would be made manifest for all to see.

So, Christ is about to ascend in Acts 1, and this happens:

So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them, “It is not for you to know times or seasons that the Father has fixed by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” (Acts 1:6-8)

Jesus corrects the disciples, shifting the focus from this new gospel we attempt to form, back to the great, old gospel of faith.  We are not to know the mind of God, but we are to proclaim the good news of Christ to the ends of the earth.  We can only do this if we are content in all circumstances, like David, like Paul, like Christ.  When we are discontent, we try hard to solve our own problems and beg God for help.  When we have a true faith in Christ, we realize that God has already helped, on the cross, and our being content as a result enables us to do the good works that God has given us to do: sharing the gospel with our family, friends and neighbors.

Saturday, July 1, 2017


Let not your heart be troubled, because....

1. The Father created all things good.  He created the bear and the lion.  He created the devil.  When things become evil, he defeats the evil for the sake of his elect.

2. The Son lay down his life for his sheep. He prepares a place for us in eternity.  He will come and fetch us there.

3. The Spirit opens us to all truth.  He gives us peace and keeps us in God's word, so that we will be constantly reminded of the gospel of Christ.

Let no man's heart fail...

When the words that David spoke were heard, they repeated them before Saul, and he sent for him. And David said to Saul, “Let no man's heart fail because of him. Your servant will go and fight with this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “You are not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him, for you are but a youth, and he has been a man of war from his youth.” But David said to Saul, “Your servant used to keep sheep for his father. And when there came a lion, or a bear, and took a lamb from the flock, I went after him and struck him and delivered it out of his mouth. And if he arose against me, I caught him by his beard and struck him and killed him. Your servant has struck down both lions and bears, and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be like one of them, for he has defied the armies of the living God.” And David said, “The Lord who delivered me from the paw of the lion and from the paw of the bear will deliver me from the hand of this Philistine.” And Saul said to David, “Go, and the Lord be with you!” (1 Samuel 17:31-37)

David tells Saul (an any other person) not to fear, for he has the experience to be able to destroy Goliath.  Likewise, Jesus tells us not to fear, because he is God, and he will destroy the devil.

What else can we learn about not letting our hearts be troubled?

"Let not your hearts be troubled. Believe in God; believe also in me. In my Father's house are many rooms. If it were not so, would I have told you that I go to prepare a place for you? And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, that where I am you may be also. And you know the way to where I am going.” Thomas said to him, “Lord, we do not know where you are going. How can we know the way?” Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you had known me, you would have known my Father also. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” (John 14:1-7)

1. Put your full faith in Christ.
2. Have faith in your salvation.  Christ promises not only to have a prepared place for us in his Father's house, but he promises to take us there himself.
3. Have faith in the Christ of the Bible, the only way to God.

“These things I have spoken to you while I am still with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved me, you would have rejoiced, because I am going to the Father, for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place you may believe. I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no claim on me, but 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." (John 14:25-31)

1. The Holy Spirit will keep our hearts focused on the scriptures and will keep our faith sure.
2. Christ gives us the peace that passes all understanding, even in the face of persecution.
3. Christ's peace is not the same as the world's peace.  Christ's peace is everlasting.  The world's is a false peace that is only temporary.
4. The Ruler of this world has no power over us, because he has no claim over Christ, and we are in Christ.  Remember, Christ as David has defeated Goliath.