Saturday, December 29, 2018

The True King

Now after Jesus was born in Bethlehem of Judea in the days of Herod the king, magi from the east arrived in Jerusalem, saying, “Where is He who has been born King of the Jews? For we saw His star in the east and have come to worship Him.” When Herod the king heard this, he was troubled, and all Jerusalem with him. Gathering together all the chief priests and scribes of the people, he inquired of them where the Messiah was to be born. They said to him, “In Bethlehem of Judea; for this is what has been written by the prophet:

‘And you, Bethlehem, land of Judah,
Are by no means least among the leaders of Judah;
For out of you shall come forth a Ruler
Who will shepherd My people Israel.’”

Then Herod secretly called the magi and determined from them the exact time the star appeared. And he sent them to Bethlehem and said, “Go and search carefully for the Child; and when you have found Him, report to me, so that I too may come and worship Him.” After hearing the king, they went their way; and the star, which they had seen in the east, went on before them until it came and stood over the place where the Child was. When they saw the star, they rejoiced exceedingly with great joy. After coming into the house they saw the Child with Mary His mother; and they fell to the ground and worshiped Him. Then, opening their treasures, they presented to Him gifts of gold, frankincense, and myrrh. And having been warned by God in a dream not to return to Herod, the magi left for their own country by another way. (Matthew 2:1-12)

1. Herod is the acting king of the House of David.
2. These Magi are gentiles from the east.
3. Magi are a caste of wise men specializing in astronomy, astrology, and natural science.
4. Science points toward God, not away from God.
5. The Magi are looking for the true king of the House of David.
6. Herod is not the true king.
7. The Magi have come to worship the true king.
8. Herod is troubled by this news, and all of Jerusalem is troubled along with him.

As it says in the first verses of the gospel of John:

There was the true Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man. He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him. He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him. But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. (John 1:9-13)

In Matthew 2, we see Israel, in name only, greatly disturbed by these gentiles from the east searching for the true king. These Magi are scientists who have followed their science to the true king of Israel, and they are willing to worship this king.  They are olive branches grafted onto the tree of Israel, and the shuddering inhabitants of Jerusalem are dead branches which are to be pruned from the tree.

This is the Epiphany: everything you assumed to be true is wrong, and the light has come into the world to shine its truth upon Christ. If we look at Romans 9, we can see some nuances that we may not have seen before. This sentence in Romans 9:7: "Through Isaac Your Descendants Will Be Named (Called)." Abraham had two sons, but Isaac is in Christ and Ishmael is not. Isaac had two sons, but Jacob is in Christ and Esau is not. Those in Jacob are called to God's purpose. Those in Esau are not. However, Esau was born first, which traditionally meant that he was to get all the inheritance. However, God has his secret election of individuals, those whom he sees as being in Christ. The Magi point to this election: gentiles whose science leads them to Christ. But the sitting king and the people of Jerusalem, though they be physical descendants of Jacob, they be spiritual descendants of Esau.

The birth of Christ turned everything upside down, and our rebirth in Christ turns everything upside down in us. Are you following the star? Are you being led more and more into Christ? So many clues abound in scripture about those who have thought themselves to be rejected actually being the ones approved. God wants you to know that you are not left out. You, too, can be his. Follow the star to where it leads.

Saturday, December 22, 2018


All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:

“Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
    and they shall call his name Immanuel”

(which means, God with us). When Joseph woke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him: he took his wife, but knew her not until she had given birth to a son. And he called his name Jesus. (Matthew 1:22-25)

This Old Testament quote is from Isaiah 7. Let's look at the historical context:

1. Israel tries to conquer Judah but fails.
2. Israel and Judah used to be one nation but had split.
3. Judah is sorely frightened.
4. The Lord, through Isaiah, tells Ahaz, king of Judah, not to fear, because the plan will fail.
5. The two countries that are attacking Judah will be destroyed.
6. Isaiah gives Ahaz a sign that this will take place.

Now, before we break down the sign itself, how does the thwarted attack on Judah encourage us today?

1. The two enemies of the true church are the false church and the world, according to the book of Revelation.
2. Israel used to be one nation but divided into Israel and Judah.
3. The House of David (the true church) resides in Judah.
4. We today, as the true church, have two enemies, the world, which we know, and the false church, which we have trouble realizing.
5. We are frightened of this "false" church, because we say to ourselves, "what if it is the true church, and WE are the false church?"
6. Judah has the House of David, which means it has the true Jesus of the Bible, not a false Jesus.
7. Are you part of Judah?
8. Do you have faith in the Jesus of the Bible, even all the parts you don't like?

Verse nine tells us, "If you will not believe, you surely shall not last." These are the Lord's words for Ahaz, but these words, "If you will not believe, you surely shall not last," are also for anyone who wants to be in the true church. Only by faith is one saved. Ahaz actually shows himself to not believe by rejecting Isaiah's instruction to "ask for a sign." Isaiah says "your God" to Ahaz when instructing him, but when Ahaz rejects asking for a sign, Isaiah then refers to "my God." However, the prophecy itself should change Ahaz's heart.

Now for the prophecy. This sign would not take place for 500 years, long after Ahaz was dead, but the information itself was a good enough sign for him, because what it tells him, historically, is that God is with them and will never depart from the House of David. Not only that, but the messiah will indeed come from the House of David. The prophecy goes on for several verses, each more encouraging than the last, for Ahaz. For us, the critical verse is 7:14, so let's look at that.

1. This sign is obviously predicting the Virgin Mary giving birth to Jesus Christ.
2. By the name "Immanuel" we are also given a clue to Christ's dual nature: fully God and fully man.
3. The words in Isaiah says, "she will call his name," but when Matthew writes to us, he says, "THEY shall call his name 'God With Us.'" This implies a deep faith in all believers.
4. Joseph is instructed by the angel, "you shall call his name..." Joseph is included in this faith.
5. Joseph has no more doubts, and with pure faith, he does exactly as the angel instructs.

One last part of the prophecy is usually glossed over:

He will eat curds and honey at the time He knows enough to refuse evil and choose good. For before the boy will know enough to refuse evil and choose good, the land whose two kings you dread will be forsaken. (Isaiah 7:15-16)

1. Curds and honey implies heaven, the promised land, from where Immanuel comes.
2. Refusing evil and choosing good reveals an end to the curse brought on by Adam and Eve eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil. As we know, eating of the tree put all of mankind's will in bondage to sin. We would, and still will, always choose the evil. Christ frees us from that bondage, so that believers are now able to choose the good.

God is with us. Do you believe this? Do you call his name Immanuel? Is God with you? Do you believe in the Jesus of the Bible? Even the things about him that you don't like? Is your residence heaven? Are you an exile here? Do you not belong and long for something more? Are all your righteous deeds like filthy rags? Your righteous deeds will keep you from Christ unless you discard them and only seek and abide in His righteousness. Have faith. Abhor the evil and choose the Good. Choose Christ. God will give you the faith to do so. He has promised so.

Saturday, December 15, 2018

Son of David

Of course Jesus is called Son of David throughout the Gospels, but here, Joseph is called the Son of David:

Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. But when he had considered this, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, saying, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife; for the Child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. She will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for He will save His people from their sins.”

The angel has given Joseph, who is the natural son of David along the kingly line, the authority of the son of David. He has given him permission to exert his authority as son of David in the following ways:

1. He has the authority to take Mary as his wife.
2. He has the authority to name the child "Jesus."

First, what are the powers of the office of king? In Zechariah 9:9, we find that a king is just and endowed with salvation. According to Zephaniah 3:15, the king is a wise judge and protector. He has mercy on his subjects. He always does the right thing by his people.  Now, what is Joseph supposed to do to Mary, according to the law? When we read Deuteronomy 22, we discover that his options are two: he can divorce her (put her away quietly) or he can have her stoned. Obviously, he was in the process of choosing the former when the angel came to him.

Now, according to Christ there is a righteous spirit of the law, which supersedes the legal, outward keeping of the law.  So, two examples from Matthew 12: Jesus shows that even though it is technically unlawful to do work on the sabbath--work that included eating heads of grain--Jesus reminds them that David--the king--broke the technical law, as well, by eating consecrated bread that was meant for only priests. David's spirit of the law superseded the technical law. Next, Jesus heals a man's hand on the sabbath. This is technically against the law, but Jesus asks which one of them would not rescue a sheep that had fallen into a pit on the sabbath? No one, because sheep are valuable, and a man is more valuable than a sheep.

A third example from Mark 10:

Some Pharisees came up to Jesus, testing Him, and began to question Him whether it was lawful for a man to divorce a wife. And He answered and said to them, “What did Moses command you?” They said, “Moses permitted a man to write a certificate of divorce and send her away.” But Jesus said to them, “Because of your hardness of heart he wrote you this commandment. But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female. For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother, and the two shall become one flesh; so they are no longer two, but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let no man separate.”

Yes, it is technically legal to divorce your wife, he tells us, but the righteous and wise thing to do is to stay married. Why? Because the king is concerned with the salvation of his people, and keeping families together provides better chances of salvation for the individuals (provided at least one of the individuals in question has a healthy fear of God and an abiding faith in Jesus Christ).  So, Joseph does exactly this. He follows the angels command and with his authority as the son of David, he chooses neither to divorce her, nor to stone her, but to marry her.

Finally, with the authority of the son of David, Joseph names his son Jesus, which means, "he saves." Salvation of his subjects was the primary concern of a just king, and Joseph fulfills his kingly role in the kingly line of David by naming the son of God appropriately and as commanded.

Make Christ your king. He has always been concerned with your salvation, from the foundation of the world, and his wise justice will conspire to keep you safe in his hands, so that not one hair on your head is harmed by God's wrath. He has providentially put you in the best possible situation for your good, and has given you situations to foster your salvation and bring you closer to him. Live in the kingdom of Christ. Abide in him. He is your stronghold and and your sure defense. Trust in him. He will not forsake you. He is your king. 

Saturday, December 8, 2018


Now the birth of Jesus Christ was as follows: when His mother Mary had been betrothed to Joseph, before they came together she was found to be with child by the Holy Spirit. And Joseph her husband, being a righteous man and not wanting to disgrace her, planned to send her away secretly. (Matthew 1:18-19)

Point 1: God uses perplexities to prepare the heart for more satisfying revelation. It is good that we be confused before a revelation, because then the magnitude of the revelation becomes more complete and clear. This is what happened to Joseph as he pondered what to do with Mary. She had a visible pregnancy, so he could understand that, but he did not understand the divine aspect of the situation. He knew she was honorable, so he did not wan to make a spectacle of her but "put her away quietly." Joseph is in perplexity. He knows Mary is pregnant, but he does not understand the holy manner of the pregnancy. In other words, he does not believe.  He has a faith issue. Joseph's decision to put Mary away secretly marks the beginning of Christ's sufferings. He is confused, but he has correct information. She is pregnant, but she is not an adulterer. All he needs is a revelation of the truth to give him the faith to do the right thing, which is to marry her. God waited to do this until Mary had been espoused to Joseph, so there would be no "wagging of tongues." He was a just man, so he was not going to call her out publicly. But he needed to do something, so he was intending to put her away secretly. The revelation from the angel gave him the peace and clarity to do the right thing.

Point 2: Before revelation, in our perplexity we are in a state of rejecting God.  Even the elect reject Christ before understanding.  The perplexity plus the fact that the Spirit hasn't manifested Christ yet to us equals rejection, just as Joseph was to do. It is good to be perplexed, even though we are in a state of rejecting Christ. As long as the garden of perplexity is honest, as long as we are being honest doubters, the revelation that comes afterward will be satisfying. Seek out the truth, no matter where it leads, and you will find it.

Point 3: The world will intentionally obfuscate the truth so that we cannot find it. The world wants you to stay in a perpetual state of perplexity, so that you will then be in a perpetual state of rejecting God. The world does this by giving us dishonest perplexity, by giving us false information to use. Always go to the Bible for the proper knowledge with which to wrestle. Here are some examples:

It is important that we always join "of the Holy Ghost" to the virgin birth. We must provide no opportunity to think blasphemous thoughts about Christ and the nature of his birth.  This means knowing the Holy Ghost intimately.  So many times I hear someone blasphemously say or write that the Holy Ghost "knocked up" Mary. Lately a college professor has gained attention by claiming that Mary did not "provide consent," implying that the Lord raped her. This is dishonest rhetoric that clouds the issue and keeps people in a perpetual state of rejecting Christ. Go to the Bible and see that it always mentions the Holy Spirit as instrumental in Mary's conception. Even Mary was perplexed at the angel's words in Luke 1, until the angel mentioned the Holy Spirit, and then Mary was satisfied. For comparison, see Zacharias in the same chapter who, even though Elizabeth's was not a virgin birth, was given all the necessary information from the angel, and yet he still doubted. The forced muting of his voice until the birth was the extra revelation he needed to believe.

Another example: Mary is not the mother of God. This is confusing theology. She is the mother of the human nature of Christ through her virginity. Christ is eternal, so when a denomination uses phrasing like "Mary, Mother of God," it poisons the earth in the garden of perplexity, so as to keep people away from Christ, and, in this case, worship the saints instead.

Another example: Free Will does not mean, "not a programmed robot." It means, "no longer in bondage to sin." The world wants you to believe that the true church claims that we are all pawns that God moves around on a chessboard.  If you believe in the correct definition of free will and that Christ frees our wills from the bondage of sin, the fruits of revelation will rapidly grow in the garden.

Other examples abound: election, predestination, the trinity. In all cases we must go to the scriptures that rightly present the perplexities and give us the revelation by the Holy Spirit to be satisfied Christians. Whether you're Thomas and need just a nudge of revelation to believe or Saul, hater and persecutor of the church, who needs to be blinded and thrown down on the road to Damascus to believe, Christ will open your eyes to his truth when you are in honest perplexity.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

The Generations of Jesus Christ

The first verse in the Gospel of Matthew is usually glossed over, as well as the genealogy that follows, but careful study of the verse reveals some amazing things that we usually take for granted:

1. This is a physical genealogy of Jesus from Abraham, but it is also a spiritual genealogy of mankind from Jesus.  "Jesus" means "he saves." This genealogy is one of salvation, and it includes the members of the genealogy itself.
2. Christ means "anointed." The three offices that were anointed in the Old Testament were prophet, priest, and king. Jesus is all three.
3. "Jesus" is Hebrew. "Christ" is Greek. His name and title include both Jew and Gentile. None is left out of salvation.
4. Abraham and David are the milestones, because distinct promises were made to both of them: to Abraham the promise that all the nations would be blessed through his seed, and to David the promise that his seed would rule over the true Israel forever.

The genealogy itself was a matter of public record and irrefutable. From it we find:

1. Judah was an adulterer. He is saved.
2. Tamar was a deceiver. She is saved.
3. Rahab was a prostitute. She is saved.
4. Ruth was a poor gentile. She is saved.
5. Boaz was a rich Jew. He is saved.
6. David was an adulterer, deceiver, and murderer. He is saved.

And on and on. In fact, every person in the genealogy is a sinner, and every person in the genealogy is saved by Christ, because the list is the generations of Jesus Christ. Now, the timeline works in the other direction, too. Anyone who has an abiding faith in Christ is in Jesus' timeline going into the future. Jesus had no physical children, but he mas many spiritual children. Are you one? Do you believe that he lived on earth and died for your sins?  Many think that God will reject them, because they are a Judah or a Tamar or a Rahab or a Ruth or a Boaz or even a David. When you realize that no one is excluded from the free gift of grace that can only be found in Jesus Christ, the burden you are carrying should melt away. If you believe that God has forgiven your debt by paying the fine himself on the cross, you will be saved.