Saturday, December 31, 2011

Spiritual Gifts and the Church (part 9): 1 Cor 12:11

"But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills." (1 Corinthians 12:11)
Each of us are meant to be different. We are not all the same; our gifts, favor, role, and working are all different. God has chosen that His Body should be made up of individual parts, each different from the other. Unfortunately, we sometimes fret over not being like other people. We ask, "Why did God make me this way?" and "Why cannot I be like so and so?" In doing so, we fail to understand that it is God who "distributes to each one individually just as He wills."

There is an interesting story that Jesus told about a fig tree in a vineyard.
"A man had a fig tree which had been planted in his vineyard; and he came looking for fruit on it and did not find any. And he said to the vineyard-keeper, 'Behold, for three years I have come looking for fruit on this fig tree without finding any. Cut it down! Why does it even use up the ground?' And he answered and said to him, 'Let it alone, sir, for this year too, until I dig around it and put in fertilizer; and if it bears fruit next year, fine; but if not, cut it down.'" (Luke 13:6-9)
While there is a lot that could be said about this passage, what I find most curious is, "what is a fig tree doing in a vineyard?" A vineyard is for grape vines, so what is a fig tree doing there?

Truth be told, I have often felt like a fig tree in a vineyard; not fitting in, out of place, different than the others. At times I have wondered why God made me the way He did. However, reflecting on this parable I began to realize why the fig tree was there and why the vineyard-keeper showed so much concern for it, it was because the master plated it there. It was the master that planted the fig tree in the vineyard; for what ever reason, he willed it to be there, it was his doing. In the same way, the reason we are who we are is because the Master made us that way; we are who we are because He willed it to be so. We are who and what the Master has made us to be, and we should rejoice in that.

More to come... David Robison

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Spiritual Gifts and the Church (part 8): 1 Cor 12:8-10

"For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues." (1 Corinthians 12:8-10)
Paul enumerates many of the various manifestations of the Spirit given to us as a result of the gratuitous favor of God; what we typically refer to as the Gifts of the Spirit. However, there is one interesting note in this list where Paul lists "gifts of healing". He does not say "gift of healing" but "gifts", plural. He repeats this again in verses 28 and 30 of the same chapter; always in the plural. We normally think of the gifts of the Spirit as something we have received, such as the "gift of healing" being our ability to heal. However, in listing "gifts of healing" Paul is identifying the "gifts" as not something we receive but rather something we give away. In this case the "gift" is the healing, not our ability to give.

The gifts of the Spirit are not about what we receive but what we give away. They are not gifts because we have received some special endowment or ability from God, they are gifts because of the grace and blessing they bring to the people who receive them; the gifts of healing are gifts to those who are healed. If we can grasp this truth then it will revolutionize how we view ministry and our giftings from God. It is not that we have the "gift of prophesy" but the gift is the prophesy that is given to an individual, group, or church. The gift is not that we receive words of knowledge but it is the gift of grace and deliverance that such a word of knowledge imparts to those that receive it. The "gift" is what is given, not what is received.

Many years ago, while in worship, I had this image in my mind. I was standing there holding a box with a label on it that said "Grace". Inside the box was many individually wrapped gifts. One said "Prophesy", another said "Healing", another "Word of Knowledge", and so on. I saw myself walking about and handing out the gifts to those who had need. Prophesy to those who needed prophesy, healing to those in need of healing, and the word of knowledge to those who need knowledge from God. In the end, I was the same person, I was not the possessors of the gifts, merely the deliverer. I was simply delivering gifts given to me that were meant for someone else. It had nothing to do with me; it was all about what God wanted to give to someone else. The privilege was simply being allowed to participate in God's blessing and provision for another. Simply having a part in God's blessing was sufficient. It was like what John the Baptist said,

"'I am not the Christ,' but, 'I have been sent ahead of Him.' He who has the bride is the bridegroom; but the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly because of the bridegroom's voice. So this joy of mine has been made full. He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:28-30)
More to come... David Robison

Monday, December 26, 2011

Spiritual Gifts and the Church (part 7): 1 Cor 12:7

"But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good." (1 Corinthians 12:7)
Paul instructs us that the manifestations of the Spirit are given for our "common good." They are not given for our own blessing or benefit alone (although we are blessed and benefited when we allow God to manifest Himself through us) rather they are given for the benefit and blessing of all. In this, the gifts are meant to be public, shared with all for the benefit if all.

At the end of this chapter, Paul exhorts us to "earnestly desire the greater gifts." (1 Corinthians 12:31) I believe that what Paul was referring to is that we should desire the gifts that have the greater benefit to the Body. That's why Paul later says, "desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy." (1 Corinthians 14:1) We are told to especially desire that we may prophesy because of the special benefit prophesy brings to the Body.

Not all gifts are the same and, when we gather together corporately, we should be cognizant of those gifts that offer a greater benefit to the Body. "But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, what will I profit you unless I speak to you either by way of revelation or of knowledge or of prophecy or of teaching?" (1 Corinthians 14:6) Paul does not discount the value of speaking in tongues to the individual, but he exhorts us to rather employ those gifts which benefit all. Speaking in tongues does benefit the individual but offers no benefit to those gathered, unless it it interpreted. "Greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying." (1 Corinthians 14:5)

In the church, our focus should be on benefiting others, not ourselves. This is why Paul gives us this instruction.
"Otherwise if you bless in the spirit only, how will the one who fills the place of the ungifted say the 'Amen' at your giving of thanks, since he does not know what you are saying? For you are giving thanks well enough, but the other person is not edified. I thank God, I speak in tongues more than you all; however, in the church I desire to speak five words with my mind so that I may instruct others also, rather than ten thousand words in a tongue." (1 Corinthians 14:16-19)
Much has been written in the past several years on manifestations, their validity, and their value to the church. Some have found such manifestations odd and foreign to their experience and understanding of religious life. Such manifestations as laughing, falling out, and acting as drunk can seem strange to us. However, these manifestations are not new. Some exist in the biblical record others in the accounts of revivals past. The issue should not be as much on the existence of these manifestations, but how we should grow in our understanding and operation of these manifestations. For example, in some circles, much is given to being "drunk in the Spirit", and there is biblical evidence for such a manifestation. "But others were mocking and saying, 'They are full of sweet wine.'" (Acts 2:13) The issue we must address is how such manifestations should be included in our gatherings.

Paul, speaking of himself, says, "For if we are beside ourselves, it is for God; if we are of sound mind, it is for you." (2 Corinthians 5:13) Paul does not discount even the more bizarre manifestations of the Spirit, even appearing "drunk" or "beside ourselves", however, he does encourage us, when we are gathered together, to rather prefer sobriety in the Spirit over drunkenness in the Spirit for the benefit of all; that we would not be focused on ourselves but others. When we do this, we extend the love and grace of God to others and the Body is built up.

More to come... David

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Spiritual Gifts and the Church (part 6): 1 Cor 12:7

"But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good." (1 Corinthians 12:7)
Notice Paul does not say to a few, to the mature, or to the specially anointed; rather he says that the manifestation of the Sprite has been given to each one. Each of us has been given favor from God by which we may manifest His Spirit. Not to some of us but to all of us. "But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ's gift." (Ephesians 4:7) We do no all have the same gift, but we each have a gift and grace according to that gift. The gift is different, but it is the same favor of God that empowers us and uses us to manifest the Spirit through the gifts we have received.

Peter further concurs with Paul when he says, "As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God." (1 Peter 4:10) We each have a special gift from God, a gift that is as unique as God's grace in our lives, and we are called to use that gift in serving others. As we do this, we are manifesting God's manifold grace to each other and the world around us. God is a god of infinite nature and character and it takes many people, each exercising their gift, to fully disclose and manifest the fullness of God. None of us can do it ourselves, it takes all of us to properly manifest the Spirit.

Each of us not only has the privilege of manifesting the Spirit, but it is also our responsibility as members of Christ's body.
"What is the outcome then, brethren? When you assemble, each one has a psalm, has a teaching, has a revelation, has a tongue, has an interpretation. Let all things be done for edification." (1 Corinthians 14:26)
God's plan is that, in our gatherings, each of us would use our gifts to manifest the Spirit so that all "so that all may learn and all may be exhorted." (1 Corinthians 14:31) God never planned that, in our gatherings, most if us would be silent spectators while the professional clergy perform the work of ministry. Our gatherings were never suppose to be "services" where some serve and others are served. They were intended to be times when each of us would give what we have received from God; each of us manifesting the Spirit according to the grace and favor given to us by God.

How great has been the loss in the church that we have gone from "each one" has to "only one" or  "only a few" has? Not only has this weakened the Body in that no longer does "every joint supplies" (Ephesians 4:16) but our view of God has become limited in that we are missing out on the fullness of the manifestation of the Spirit that has been silenced in our midst.

This change has been for our loss and not our gain. Somehow we must find our way back to what the church was meant to be. Somehow we must restore the full participation of the Body to our gatherings. Somehow we must once again release the manifold manifestations of His Spirit within our midst.

More to come... David

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Spiritual Gifts and the Church (part 5): 1 Cor 12:7

"But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good." (1 Corinthians 12:7)
The manifestations that Paul is writing about are the manifestations of the Spirit, not the manifestations of us. When we exercise the manifestations of the Spirit it is important to do so in a way that brings attention to God and not to ourselves. The goal of these manifestations is for people to recognize and experience God, not to make ourselves know or to bring glory to ourselves. Even Jesus, when He moved in the supernatural, did it in a way as to not bring attention to Himself.

There is the story of the man who lay sick beside the pool of Bethesda. After speaking with the man, Jesus said, "Get up, pick up your pallet and walk." (John 5:8) and immediately the man was healed. Unfortunately, this healing was done on the Sabbath which made the Scribes and Pharisees quite unhappy. They questioned the man as to who had healed him.
"Now it was the Sabbath on that day. So the Jews were saying to the man who was cured, 'It is the Sabbath, and it is not permissible for you to carry your pallet.' But he answered them, 'He who made me well was the one who said to me, "Pick up your pallet and walk."' They asked him, 'Who is the man who said to you, "Pick up your pallet and walk"?' But the man who was healed did not know who it was, for Jesus had slipped away while there was a crowd in that place." (John 5:9-13)
Jesus just performed a notable miracle and then He disappeared into the crowd; no fanfare, no praise, just a simple quiet miracle.

When it comes to the manifestations of the Spirit, we must remember what John said, "He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30) It is tempting to want to be known for our gifting and power, but those things are given by God so that He might be made known. When we minister in the Spirit, people should remember what God did for them and how He revealed Himself to them, not who it was that God chose as a conduit of these things.

While individually and corporately, few of us would intentionally seek to use the manifestations of the Spirit for our own self aggrandizement, we must continually ask ourselves as to whether or out our behavior and ecclesiastical structures serves to inadvertently deflect some of the attention due to God away from Him and onto ourselves.

More to come... David Robison

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Spiritual Gifts and the Church (part 4): 1 Cor 12:7

"But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good." (1 Corinthians 12:7)
The concept of "manifestation" is very simple, it's the making know or visible of something that had previously been hidden of invisible. The understanding of the "manifestation of the Spirit" is the same; it is the making know in the natural that Spirit which lives in the supernatural. It's making evident in the natural realm Him who lives in the hidden realm, the spiritual realm; making visible Him who is invisible.

As human beings, we are well versed in the natural realm but the spiritual realm remains hidden to us. We perceive the natural world all around us but the working of the spiritual world is invisible to our eyes. How can a world who is limited by its natural bounds find, perceive, and experience the reality of the world of the spirit which exist all around us just beyond our sight?

God desires to make Himself know to His creation, to reveal Himself to those who are limited by their physical senses. However, instead of revealing His form and likeness which is ineffable and invisible, He has chosen to reveal Himself by the effects of His presence upon the natural realm, especially upon those men and women who love and serve Him. This is what Jesus meant when he spoke of the Spirit,
"The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit." (John 3:8)

Just like the wind, the Spirit is invisible, but also like the wind, its effects on the world and those who live in it is evident to those who are willing to see it.

When we manifest the Spirit, we are revealing the Spirit to the world through Its effects upon our lives. People cannot see the Spirit but they can see His effects and workings in our lives. For example, consider what Paul says regarding prophesy,
"But if all prophesy, and an unbeliever or an ungifted man enters, he is convicted by all, he is called to account by all; the secrets of his heart are disclosed; and so he will fall on his face and worship God, declaring that God is certainly among you." (1 Cor 14:24-25)
When an ungifted or unbelieving person enters the church and experiences prophesy, the Spirit if manifested before their eyes, their heart is convicted, and they acknowledge God as real, alive, and active in the lives of men.

What we refer to as the Gifts of the Spirit are merely the manifestation of the Spirit through our lives. For example, when we prophesy we manifest the inaudible words of God spoken in heaven to the physical ears of men here on earth. There is an interesting story where Moses begged God not to send him to Pharaoh but rather to send someone else. God, angry at Moses, relented and sent Aaron with Moses, yet it was to be Moses who would speak to Pharaoh, not directly, but through Aaron. Moses would speak to Aaron and Aaron to Pharaoh.
"Then the Lord said to Moses, 'See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall speak to Pharaoh that he let the sons of Israel go out of his land.'" (Exodus 7:1-2)

Moses, as God to Pharaoh, spoke to Aaron and Aaron "prophesied" those words to Pharaoh. Prophesy is simply revealing openly to others the words of God spoken in secret. God speaks in secret, we declare it (or prophesy it) in the open.

Similarly, when we express the manifestation of "helps" (1 Corinthians 12:28) we are revealing in the natural the hidden truth of God. "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble." (Psalm 46:1) When God manifests His healing through us, He is revealing His power and the perfection that is in heaven. "Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget none of His benefits; Who pardons all your iniquities, Who heals all your diseases." (Psalm 103:2-3) When God manifests Himself through us in a word of knowledge, He is reveling Himself as the all knowing and all seeing one. "For the ways of a man are before the eyes of the Lord, and He watches all his paths." (Proverbs 5:21)

The Gifts of the Spirit are not about what we have or who we are, but about how God has chosen to reveal Himself through us. They are the effects of the Wind of God blowing on and through our lives. When we yield to the Spirit and allow Him to express Himself through His gifts in our lives, then the world can see and hear and perceive that God is truly alive and active in the world today.

More to come... David Robison

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Spiritual Gifts and the Church (part 3): 1 Cor 12:4-6

"Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons." (1 Corinthians 12:4-6)
Paul gives reference here to three aspects of the wind of the Spirit and three aspects of God. Notice he speaks of Spirit, Lord, and God; a reference to God the Spirit, God the Son, and God the Father. It is the one God that works all His works in us, distributing them just as He pleases. Paul also mentions gifts, ministries, and effects.

Gifts: The Greek word is charisma and it means a gift of grace, or a free gift. However, this gift is different from a present; there is another Greek word for that. This gift is associated with grace and has the connotation of unmerited favor. One could translate charisma as "gratuitous favor". God's gratuitous favor is bestowed upon us in a variety of ways. For some, it may grant prophetic insight, for others the faith to declare healing, still for others the grace for administration, helps, or hospitality. Whatever is found in us to be good and worthy is the direct result of God's charisma in our lives. We have each received of God's gratuitous favor in our lives and that favor which is specific to us is what makes us unique in God's kingdom.

Ministries: The Greek word is diakonia and it means ministry, service, and administration. It is the same word from which we get our word for Deacon. The understanding of this word is found more in terms of one's function and one's authority. God has given us a specific function within the Body of Christ. We all have a place, a part, and a role to play. Paul repeats this idea when he said, "the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part." (Ephesians 4:16) We are all members of the one Body of Christ and each of us have our own function and role within that Body. Our roles may be different, but it is nonetheless necessary. When some of the roles within the Body are missing, the whole Body suffers. We are all needed; we are all necessary.

Effects: The Greek word is energema and means operation, working, or effect. This is same Greek word from which we get our word for Energy. This is also the same word Paul uses later when he speaks of the "working" of miracles. Each of us have a different effect on the Body and the world around us. For some, their effect is well know and seen by many. For others, their effect is more subtle and behind the scenes. For some, their work is a work of power. For other, their work is a work of influence. Some impact our lives for sudden change. Others serve to accomplish incremental advancements in our movement towards God. What ever the effect, it is the same God who works all in all.

Each of us are different. God's favor in our lives is different, our role in the Body is different, and our working and effecting of the Body and the world around us are different, yet it is the same God who does all these things. We were not meant to be the same, we were meant to be different. God does not want just one type of believer, rather He wants a multitude of believers who will manifest and express His manifold nature to all of creation. We were meant to be different.

More to come... David Robison

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Spiritual Gifts and the Church (part 2): 1 Cor 12:2

"You know that when you were pagans, you were led astray to the mute idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God says, 'Jesus is accursed'; and no one can say, 'Jesus is Lord,' except by the Holy Spirit." (1 Corinthians 12:2-3)
In contrasting God with Idols, Paul reminds us that "God is not mute." In Paul's day, people looked to idols for guidance, protection, and provision, yet their idols were without hearing, without speech, and devoid of life. People looked to idols for help but they were incapable of helping. Idols were lifeless and unable to interact with the world of men. This, however, is not so with God. God is not mute, He is not distant, nor is He oblivious to the affairs of men.

"Come and see the works of God, Who is awesome in His deeds toward the sons of men." (Psalms 66:5)
In contrast to idols, God is near, He is involved, and He manifests Himself to men. In this verse, Paul refutes those who imagine God to be some impersonal force, or a power that created the universe and then left it alone. Paul also refutes those who see God as one who, in past times, manifested Himself, but today is silent.

God is not silent; He is not mute. God has chosen to reveal Himself to the world through those who love Him; through the blowing of His Spirit.

More to come... David Robison

Sunday, December 04, 2011

Spiritual Gifts and the Church (part 1): 1 Cor 12:1

In these next series of articles we will be studying 1 Corinthians 12 to examine what Paul has to say regarding Spiritual Gifts and their role and place in the church.
"Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be unaware." (1 Corinthians 12:1-2)
Paul begins his discourse by introducing the topic for discussion. Verse one is often translated as, "Now concerning spiritual gifts", however the word "gift" does not appear in the original Greek text. Paul literally says, "Now concerning spirituals". The word he uses here is pneumatikos which is typically translated as "spiritual", "supernatural", or "pertaining to the spirit". Thayer further adds this definition, "pertaining to the wind or breath; windy, exposed to the wind, blowing." Paul is not talking here about spiritual gifts but about the moving, or blowing, of the Spirit. Paul's focus is not the gifts of the Spirit but rather the wind of the Spirit. Paul's words remind us of what Jesus said regarding the actions of the Spirit.
"The wind blows where it wishes and you hear the sound of it, but do not know where it comes from and where it is going; so is everyone who is born of the Spirit." (John 3:8)
We cannot see the wind but we can see its effects. In the same way, we cannot see the Spirit but we can see His effects. The Spirit manifests itself through its blowing, and the result is what we typically refer to as spiritual gifts: prophesy, tongues, healings, and the like. I think this verse is best translated by Darby as, "But concerning spiritual manifestations"; not gifts but manifestations.

This is an important distinction as we attempt to understand the words of Paul. Paul words are not focusing on us but on the Spirit. This passage is not about us and what we may have received from the Spirit, but is about the Spirit and how He moves and reveals Himself among us. It is not our gifts that is of concern here but the Spirit's manifestations.

Paul further tells us that he does not want us to be unaware, or ignorant, of the Spirit's manifestations. There are a handful of things that Paul said he wants us not to be ignorant of:
  • Romans 1:13 His intentions towards the church
  • Romans 11:25 God's love for Israel
  • 1 Corinthians 10:1 How, though all Israel experienced the same things, God was not pleased with many of them
  • 2 Corinthians 1:8 The suffering that came upon Paul in Asia as he sought to further the Gospel
  • 2 Corinthians 2:11 Satan's devices
  • 1 Thessalonians 4:13 The hope and future of those who have fallen asleep in the Lord
To this list, Paul adds the working, moving, and blowing of the Spirit. Understanding the manifestation of the Spirit was important to Paul and it should be important to us. The manifestation of the Spirit is something we should not be ignorant of; either by lack of knowledge or lack of experience. It is not enough to gain insight to the Spirit's manifestation but we must also become familiar with His manifestation though experience. Paul congratulates the Corinthian church, not just for their knowledge of spiritual things, but also for their experience in spiritual things,
"I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given you in Christ Jesus, that in everything you were enriched in Him, in all speech and all knowledge, even as the testimony concerning Christ was confirmed in you, so that you are not lacking in any gift." (1 Corinthians 1:4-7)
To fully understand the manifestations of the Spirit we will require more than mere knowledge and information, we will also require first hand experience of His wind.

More to come... David Robison

Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Sermon Audio

Last Sunday night, Corinne and I had a chance to share at church. You can hear the audio here:

Sunday, October 30, 2011

Prophets, Wise Men, and Scribes: Mt 23:34-36

"Therefore, behold, I am sending you prophets and wise men and scribes; some of them you will kill and crucify, and some of them you will scourge in your synagogues, and persecute from city to city, so that upon you may fall the guilt of all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah, the son of Berechiah, whom you murdered between the temple and the altar. Truly I say to you, all these things will come upon this generation." (Matthew 23:34-36)
God never leaves Himself without a witness. Jesus is describing, not what has been in the past, but what is about to come to pass. Jesus is testifying against the Jewish nation that He is about to send to them ministries that will testify against them and show them their error that the full weight of all their violence against His kingdom might come upon that generation.

What I find interesting in this scripture is the three types of ministries that Jesus was going to send to the Israelites. I believe that there is a heavenly strategy to testify to the world, and not only the Jewish nations, and that strategy is demonstrated by the enumeration of these three ministries.

Prophet: Most of us are familiar with who the prophets were. They were those whom God sent with a direct message from Him. God spoke to them and they spoke to the people. Perhaps the clearest example of what a prophet is is found in the conversation between God and Moses when Moses was expressing his reluctance to return to Egypt as God's mouthpiece. Because of Moses' reluctance, God let Aaron go with Moses and speak for him, yet God was clear about the proposed arrangement. "Then the Lord said to Moses, 'See, I make you as God to Pharaoh, and your brother Aaron shall be your prophet. You shall speak all that I command you, and your brother Aaron shall speak to Pharaoh that he let the sons of Israel go out of his land.'" (Exodus 7:1-2) Aaron was Moses' prophet in that Moses spoke to Aaron and Aaron spoke to Pharaoh. A prophet of God simply speaks what he hears from the mouth of God. What he hears in secret, he speaks openly. What makes the ministry of the prophet important is that he understands the Spirit of God. He knows God and is acquainted with what He is presently speaking to us who are in the world.

Wise Men: The apostle Paul had little regard for the wise men of his day. Speaking of God's election, he reminds the church, "For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong." (1 Corinthians 1:26-27) This in contrast to how God evaluates those who are wise in the world's estimation. "Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world?" (1 Corinthians 1:20) God has no need for the wise of this age, yet He has His own wise men. Those who have been educated and trained by the Spirit. Those who have a wisdom, not of this world, but a wisdom that is from God. "Yet we do speak wisdom among those who are mature; a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God's wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory." (1 Corinthians 2:6-9) What makes the ministry of wise men important is that they understand the times we live in. "Then the king said to the wise men who understood the times..." (Ester 1:13)

Scribes: Similarly with the wise men, Jesus did not have much positive to say about the Jewish scribes in His day. He often rebuked them as hypocrites and blind guides. He even warned His disciples to beware of them. "Beware of the scribes who like to walk around in long robes, and like respectful greetings in the market places, and chief seats in the synagogues and places of honor at banquets, who devour widows' houses, and for appearance's sake offer long prayers; these will receive greater condemnation." (Mark 12:38-40) Yet, while the Jewish people had their scribes, Jesus also had His. After teaching His disciples many things, He tells them, "Therefore every scribe who has become a disciple of the kingdom of heaven is like a head of a household, who brings out of his treasure things new and old." (Matthew 13:52) What is important about the ministry of a scribe is that he knows the scriptures and he knows how to use them and to apply them to our present day lives. He knows what God has said, what He is now saying, and how these two work together to train us in the ways of the kingdom.

Jesus said that He was going to send three ministries as a testimony and witness to the world. 1) prophets - those who know and understand the Spirit 2) wise men - those who know and understand the times and 3) scribes - those who know and understand God's word. So which are you?

David Robison

Powered by ScribeFire.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

The Message of the Cross: How shall we respond?

Once we have heard and understand the message of the cross it remains only for us to choose how we shall respond to the message. So how should we respond to the message of the cross? Let us consider the counsel of Paul.
"What shall we say then? Are we to continue in sin so that grace may increase? May it never be! How shall we who died to sin still live in it? For if we have become united with Him in the likeness of His death, certainly we shall also be in the likeness of His resurrection, knowing this, that our old self was crucified with Him, in order that our body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be slaves to sin; for he who has died is freed from sin.

"Now if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been raised from the dead, is never to die again; death no longer is master over Him. For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the life that He lives, He lives to God. Even so consider yourselves to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.

"Therefore do not let sin reign in your mortal body so that you obey its lusts, and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God. For sin shall not be master over you, for you are not under law but under grace.

"What then? Shall we sin because we are not under law but under grace? May it never be! Do you not know that when you present yourselves to someone as slaves for obedience, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin resulting in death, or of obedience resulting in righteousness? But thanks be to God that though you were slaves of sin, you became obedient from the heart to that form of teaching to which you were committed, and having been freed from sin, you became slaves of righteousness." (Romans 6:1-18)
The message of the cross is the message that we have been freed from sin. We are no longer the slaves of sin, bound to obey its lusts, but we are now free; free to stop sinning and free to give ourselves to righteousness. Through the cross we have been crucified with Christ; crucified to the world, crucified to our old way of life, and crucified to sin.

Through the cross we have been given a precious gift; the ability to say "no" to sin. Previously we were slaves of sin dutifully obeying its will, but now we have been set free, free to say "no" to sin and "yes" to God. Because we have received this free gift through the cross, Paul charges us to "not let sin reign in your mortal body." Our response to the message of the cross is to put an end to the reign of sin in our mortal bodies. Paul further confirms this when he says,
"So then, brethren, we are under obligation, not to the flesh, to live according to the flesh — for if you are living according to the flesh, you must die; but if by the Spirit you are putting to death the deeds of the body, you will live." (Romans 8:12-13)
Now that we have been set free from sin through the power of the cross we must now put to death the deeds of the flesh; to put an end to sin in our bodies. The cross has made us able and now, through the help and power of the Holy Spirit, it is time to cease from sin and begin to live a life of righteousness.

What a glorious gift we have been given. What incredible good news is ours through the cross. What hope we now have; a hope of righteousness. Given this good news and our new and holy calling in God, Paul commands us,
"Therefore I, the prisoner of the Lord, implore you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling with which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, showing tolerance for one another in love, being diligent to preserve the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace." (Ephesians 4:1-3)
Paul commands us to "walk worthy," not that we might become worthy, but because we are already worthy. Jesus, through His death and resurrection, has made us worthy of Him, His kingdom, and His calling. Seeing that we are worthy, let us walk in a way that demonstrates that worthiness. Let us walk in a way that outwardly expresses the righteous and worthiness we have in our spirits; let our outward expression reflect the inward reality we have in Christ. We are worthy, so let us act like it.

This is our response to the message of the cross; to put away sin and to live the new life that has been purchased for us by Christ. Our response is to live righteously and holy before God that we might fulfill what was spoken by God so long ago, "be holy, for I am holy." (Leviticus 11:45)

David Robison

Powered by ScribeFire.

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

A Prophet's Reward: Mt 10:40-42

"He who receives you receives Me, and he who receives Me receives Him who sent Me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet's reward; and he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man's reward. And whoever in the name of a disciple gives to one of these little ones even a cup of cold water to drink, truly I say to you, he shall not lose his reward." (Matthew 10:40-42)
This scripture has always been a difficult scripture for me to understand. For example, what is a "prophet's reward" or a "righteous man's reward" and how do they differ? Should I prefer one over the other or are they both one and the same? Given that others have sought to explain this passage, I too will offer my thoughts.

The Greek word used here for "reward" does not mean a prize but rather a payment or wages. It is the same word Jesus uses for "wages" in the following verse: "the laborer is worthy of his wages." (Luke 10:7) A prophet's reward is the eternal rewards credited to his account for his service to God. Similarly, a righteous man's reward is the eternal rewards credited to his account because of his righteousness before God. These rewards are what Paul referred to in his letter to the church at Corinth.
"Now if any man builds on the foundation with gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each man's work will become evident; for the day will show it because it is to be revealed with fire, and the fire itself will test the quality of each man's work. If any man's work which he has built on it remains, he will receive a reward. If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire." (1 Corinthians 3:12-15)
Notice that these rewards are not necessarily immediate rewards but rather rewards to be given to us at the end of the age. Jesus confirms this when, referring to His own coming again, He says, "Behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to render to every man according to what he has done." (Revelation 22:12)

There are two lessons we can learn from these rewards. First, the one who ministers and the one who receives are the same. The same reward is given to the prophet as is given to the one who receives the prophet. The prophet is not greater than the one who receives him even though the one receiving him may not be a prophet himself. Those who minister are not greater than those who receive, they both receive the same reward from God. We sometimes believe that the great men and women of God are special, but the truth is that, in God's eyes, everyone who receives Him, either in service or in receiving those sent to server, are the same and are both worthy of the same reward. This should help us to not minimize our value before God just because we may not have a ministry of our own and also to keep us humble if we do have a ministry, remembering that we are not greater than the people we server.

The second lesson is, it does not matter who we are receiving if we are receiving them in the Lord. When we receive a person because they are sent by God or because they are God's, we are receiving God. When we receive the prophet sent by God we are receiving the one who sent Him. When we receive a disciple of God then we are receiving the God who is his master. What matters is not the stature or prominence of the one we are receiving, but the name in which we are receiving them; what matters is not man but God. No matter who it is, if we receive them in the Lord, then we have a reward. This is what Jesus meant when he told the parable of the sheep and the goats. At the end of the age the King of Glory will assign rewards to the sheep.
"Then the righteous will answer Him, 'Lord, when did we see You hungry, and feed You, or thirsty, and give You something to drink? And when did we see You a stranger, and invite You in, or naked, and clothe You? When did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?' The King will answer and say to them, 'Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to Me.'" (Matthew 25:37-40)
When we receive someone in the name of the Lord, event though they be among the least, we receive the Lord and we have our rewards.

So how do we receive someone in the name of the Lord? Paul tells us,
"Therefore from now on we recognize no one according to the flesh; even though we have known Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know Him in this way no longer. Therefore if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come." (2 Corinthians 5:16-17)
The key is not to receive anyone according to the flesh; based on how they look, how smart they are, their position in the church or community, etc. Rather we should look with the eyes of the spirit to see the new creature they have become in Christ. Previously they may have been a thief or an immoral person but now they are the righteousness of God in Christ. In the flesh they may be lowly and of no esteem, but in Christ they are choice and precious in His site. To receive someone in the name of the Lord is to receive them with the eyes and heart of God; to see and receive them as God does. When we do this, our reward in heaven is sure.

David Robison

Powered by ScribeFire.

Saturday, August 13, 2011

The Message of the Cross: What's in it for God

We often think of the Bible as God's message for us. We read it to find out what God has given us. For many, the Bible has become their personal promise box. Our whole perspective of the word of God is how it relates to ourselves and not to God. However, the Bible is as much a record of what God has done for Himself as it is a record of what He has done for us. Jesus died on the cross not only for what it would do for us but also for what He would gain through the cross. Jesus went to the cross not only for us but also for Himself; that He might purchase something for Himself.
"Fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:2)
Jesus went to the cross because of the Joy that was set before Him. He knew that something would be accomplished through the cross that would bring Him great joy and it was because of the hope of this joy that He endured the cross and its shame. So what was that Joy? It was not just that we might be saved but that He might have us with Him.
"For those whom He foreknew, He also predestined to become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren." (Romans 8:29)
Jesus was not content to conquer death Himself but His desire was that through the cross many would conquer death and that, as a result, he would have many brethren. "For which reason He is not ashamed to call them brethren, saying, 'I will proclaim your name to my brethren.'" (Hebrews 2:11-12) The Joy that lead Jesus to the Cross was not the hope of His own glory and honor but us. Jesus hoped to win us for Himself through His death on the cross and that hope was his joy.
"Who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds." (Titus 2:14)
Through His death on the cross Jesus purchased us for Himself. We cannot receive the things Jesus provided for us through the cross until we first become His. Jesus purchased us and it is only as His that we can receive the benefits of the cross.

Jesus died for us to have us. Jesus does not want our scarifies, our works, or even our worship, He first and foremost wants us; that we might be His people, that we might be His brethren. Our journey through the cross begins by becoming His and continues as we learn to discover the things He has provided for us through His love.

David Robison

Powered by ScribeFire.

Friday, August 12, 2011

The Message of the Cross: What's in it for me (part 2)

In the last post in this series we looked at some of the things that are ours because of the cross. Here are a few more.
"He made Him who knew no sin to be sin on our behalf, so that we might become the righteousness of God in Him." (2 Corinthians 5:21)
Through Jesus' death on the cross we have been made righteous; not a righteousness based on the law but one based on faith. "For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to everyone who believes." (Romans 10:4) This righteousness is by faith in that it is not based on our own good works; we are righteous apart from keeping the law. This is what Paul meant when he said,
"What shall we say then? That Gentiles, who did not pursue righteousness, attained righteousness, even the righteousness which is by faith; but Israel, pursuing a law of righteousness, did not arrive at that law. Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone. " (Romans 9:30-32)
This is not to say that our behavior is not important, but only that we do not obey the law to become righteous rather we seek to live righteously to express the righteousness of Christ that we have already become. We are made righteous by faith and now called to live out that righteousness with God and man.
"Christ redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us — for it is written, "Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree" —  in order that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith." (Galatians 3:13-14)
Not only are we given a righteousness that is not based upon the law but we have also been freed from the law that we might live according to the law of Christ. Jesus came to establish a new covenant with mankind. However, we are not free to join ourselves with the new covenant as long as we are bound to the old.
"Therefore, my brethren, you also were made to die to the Law through the body of Christ, so that you might be joined to another, to Him who was raised from the dead, in order that we might bear fruit for God. For while we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were aroused by the Law, were at work in the members of our body to bear fruit for death. But now we have been released from the Law, having died to that by which we were bound, so that we serve in newness of the Spirit and not in oldness of the letter." (Romans 7:4-6)
Jesus freed us from the law not by abolishing the law but by fulfilling it, "Do not think that I came to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I did not come to abolish but to fulfill." (Matthew 5:17) and by paying the price for our sins that the law demands. Because Jesus died for us on the cross we are now free to live for Him in a new covenant.
"'Behold, days are coming,' declares the Lord, 'when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah, not like the covenant which I made with their fathers in the day I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, My covenant which they broke, although I was a husband to them,' declares the Lord. 'But this is the covenant which I will make with the house of Israel after those days,' declares the Lord, 'I will put My law within them and on their heart I will write it; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. 'They will not teach again, each man his neighbor and each man his brother, saying, "Know the Lord," for they will all know Me, from the least of them to the greatest of them,' declares the Lord, 'for I will forgive their iniquity, and their sin I will remember no more.'" (Jeremiah 31:31-34)
More to come... David Robison

Powered by ScribeFire.

Thursday, August 11, 2011

How to be perfect as God is perfect: Mt 5:48

"Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:48)
As Christians we are very comfortable talking about God's holiness and even how we have been made righteous in Christ, but when it comes to talking about our own holiness, righteousness, and perfection, we tend to be silent. We know God is holy and we know we are the righteousness of God in Christ, but we are not often sure about our own personal holiness. God wants us to be perfect, not only as accounted to us in Christ, but as an outward expression of the righteousness we are inside. God wants our outward behavior to express the inward righteousness we have been granted in Christ.

So how do we achieve or become perfect? One key is to identify in what ways God is perfect and then to imitate Him in His perfection.
"So that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous." (Matthew 5:45)
One of the ways that God shows His perfection is in how He loves people. God loves people not because they are good or deserving but rather because they are His; He loves them because they are created in His image. There is a common blessing and favor that God showers upon all mankind, the righteous and the unrighteous alike. God is not sectarian; He loves all. If we are to be perfect then we must emulate God's perfection in His love.
"You have heard that it was said, 'You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.' But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,  so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5:43-48)
If we are to be perfect then we must love people, not because they are lovable or worth of love, but because they are God's. We must not see our world as "us against them" but that we are all one; we are all the same, we are all made in His image. This is not to say that there is not a difference between the family of faith and the family of disobedience, but rather our love and care for people should be without regard to whether or not the agree with us, believe like us, behave as we do, or are as worthy and deserving as we are; we should love people as people made in God's image. When we do this then we are, in part, showing forth the perfection of God. John said, "For God so loved the world, that He gave..." (John 3:16) Let this be said of us as well.

David Robison

Powered by ScribeFire.

Monday, August 01, 2011

Isaiah 57:1-2 and the Rapture

Several years ago I blogged on the following passage in Isaiah:
The righteous man perishes, and no man takes it to heart; and devout men are taken away, while no one understands. For the righteous man is taken away from evil, he enters into peace; they rest in their beds, each one who walked in his upright way.” (Isaiah 57:1-2)
Recently I received an interesting comment on that scripture and my discussion of it.
I think the statement means exactly what it says. The righteous will perish (vanish) and no one will take notice. It is the first rapture. The "Church of Philadelphia, the only church which Christ had no problem with, would not have to suffer the miseries of tribulation, and would become the pillars of heaven, and they would not have to ever leave. The 'righteous' I believe, are the Church of Philadelphia. We are instructed to "pray that we be found worthy to be taken" which I believe refers to all of the above.
I felt that this comment was worthy of a response and have chosen to do so as separate post.

First, I must confess that, while I believe in the Rapture and in the tribulation at the end of the age, I believe that the Rapture will occur at the end of the tribulation and not before; I do not believe in a "pre-trib" rapture. But more on that later.

First, we must understand that there are three different ways, or modes, by which we may interpret scriptures. First, there is the literal and historical interpretation. For example, in this scripture Isaiah describes the events in Israel where the wicked have increased and the people no longer give any attention to righteousness. They are on the brink of becoming a totally godless society, and no one even gives it a thought. Secondly, there can be a proverbial interpretation. This type of interpretation looks for parallels or principles from the literal and historical interpretation that we may take and apply to our lives and our world today. This is what Paul meant when he said, "Now these things happened to them as an example, and they were written for our instruction, upon whom the ends of the ages have come." (1 Corinthians 10:11) From this scripture in Isaiah we can begin to see the dangers if we allow our nations to forsake God and instead turn to become increasingly more secular in our society and government. Thirdly is an allegorical interpretation. This interpretation looks for signs and figures in the scripture that refer to some hidden or secret truth. For example when Paul wrote, "Now this Hagar is Mount Sinai in Arabia and corresponds to the present Jerusalem, for she is in slavery with her children." (Galatians 4:25) Allegorical interpretations have, at times in the past, been very popular with certain sects within the christian church.

In responding to this verse in Isaiah and the one in Revelations referring to the church at Philadelphia, the questioner is posing an allegorical interpretation to these verses. Along with the questioner, I too believe that they mean exactly what they say, however, what they are exactly saying is still in question. The problem with an allegorical interpretation is knowing which allegorical interpretation is correct. For example, if agreeing with the questioner that perish could also be translated vanish (although I am not sure the Hebrew supports that), we could just as rightly propose an allegorical interpretation that God will make all Christians invisible. Such an interpretation fits the passage as well as supposing that it is referring to a pre-trib rapture. The other problem with allegorical interpretations is deciding if such an interpretation is called for or not. For example, how do we know the message to the church in Philadelphia is meant to have an allegorical interpretation for us today? We certainly can see a literal historical and even a proverbial interpretation, but did Jesus ever intend us to find an allegorical interpretation in His message to the church at Philadelphia?

That being said, should we expect that these two scriptures may be allegorically apply to a pre-trib rapture? Concerning the scripture in Isaiah, it says that the righteous parish and no man takes it to heart. It is hard to imagine that, with the rapture and the taking of millions if not billions of Christians, the world should not notice nor take it to heart; even if it is only to increase in their anger and rage towards God, for this rapture will not be done in secret, but openly as Paul says, "For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first." (1 Thessalonians 4:16) Also, concerning the scripture in Revelations, if the qualification for the Philadelphia church to escape the hour of testing was that God had nothing to correct them about, then if this same reasoning is to be applied to the churches that are to escape the tribulation, then which churches are to escape? Since it seems to me that presently there are few if any churches that would have nothing for which Christ could not correct them for. Even if we are to say that the church of Philadelphia is to be allegorically applied to the church universal in the day of the rapture then why should we expect that we are the church of Philadelphia and not one of the other seven churches, say Laodicea, except for our desire to escape tribulation.

In whole, I do not believe in a pre-tribpre-trib rapture.

Thanks again for your comment, David Robison

Powered by ScribeFire.

Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Message of the Cross: What's in it for me (part 1)

Over the last two posts we saw how the cross testifies against us that we will never be good enough and we will never be wise enough to find our way to God. God is too high above us and we cannot ascend to find God because the distance is too great. However, the good news of the cross is that what we could not do ourselves, God did for us in sending His Son to live and die upon a cross. We could not ascend to God so He descended to us.
"For what the Law could not do, weak as it was through the flesh, God did: sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and as an offering for sin, He condemned sin in the flesh, so that the requirement of the Law might be fulfilled in us, who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit." (Romans 8:3-4)
In this post we want to look at what God appropriated for us through His death on the cross.

"But He was pierced through for our transgressions, He was crushed for our iniquities; the chastening for our well-being fell upon Him, and by His scourging we are healed. All of us like sheep have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; but the Lord has caused the iniquity of us all to fall on Him." (Isaiah 53:5-6)
All of us have been born in sin and we continue to live our lives in sin. Our sin stain has separated us from God. We are sinful and He is holy. The question is, how can unrighteous man be reconciled to a righteous and holy God? We have tried to keep the law but failed. Even on our best days, we fall far short. "For all of us have become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a filthy garment." (Isaiah 64:6) While God loves us and wants us to be reconciled to Him, He is also a God of justice and His justice demands that our issue of sin be dealt with. The penalty for our sin is death. "For the wages of sin is death." (Romans 6:23) God can not simply wink at our sins, they have to be dealt with and paid in full. So God came to Earth Himself in the person of His Son and died in our place that the penalty of our sin might be paid and we set free to be reconciled back to God. "But the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 6:23) Jesus death on the cross appeased God's justice and set us free from the condemnation that was against us. Jesus became the solution to our sin problem, "He would be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus." (Romans 3:26) The message of the cross, for us, is a message of forgiveness.


"And by His scourging we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5)
Jesus' death on the cross not only paid for our forgiveness but also made provision for our healing. His scourging and torment, which so marred His body to the point that He was almost unrecognizable, purchased for us healing and wholeness in our bodies; His brokenness for our wholeness. There is a lot that can be said about healing and we certainly live in the time between what was and what should be, but we should never loose faith or stop contending for healing. Jesus paved the way for our healing through the suffering He experienced as He was lead to and crucified on a cross. The message of the cross is, for us, a message of healing.

More to come. David Robison

Powered by ScribeFire.

Monday, July 25, 2011

The Message of the Cross: What it says about us (Part 2)

In the previous post we looked at one reason why the message of the cross is offensive to many people. In this post we look at another reason.

We will never be wise enough

The platonic philosophers had the concept of two realms: the material realm in which we live and a higher realm of truth; a realm in which god lives. The problem for the philosophers was understanding how man, living in the lower realm, could ascertain truth, which was in the higher realm. To answer this question, Plato came up with the concept of the "Logos". Logos is a Greek word for reason. Plato's idea was that by applying reason, man could ascend into the higher realm and take hold of true knowledge. It was though the Logos that mankind could find the truth and, in the end, find god.

Plato got a lot of things right. He believed in a single creator god, he understood the divide between god and man, and he realized the need for something to bridge that gap. However, he failed to identify the true nature of that bridge. Man in all his wisdom, reasoning, and contemplation will never be wise enough to bridge that gap and ascend into the higher realm to know truth and to know God.
"Where is the wise man? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not come to know God, God was well-pleased through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe." (1 Corinthians 1:20-21)
Worldly wisdom has a way of puffing us up, making us proud, and making it hard for us to receive the true wisdom of God. We think we can figure it out on our own. We despise the simple truths of the Gospel and treat the message of the cross with contempt; preferring our own intellect, reason, and beliefs to that which God has revealed. However, if we are to have any hope in obtaining truth and the knowledge of God, we must first humble ourselves and submit ourselves to God's wisdom.
"Let no man deceive himself. If any man among you thinks that he is wise in this age, he must become foolish, so that he may become wise. For the wisdom of this world is foolishness before God. For it is written, 'He is the one who catches the wise in their craftiness'; and again, 'The Lord knows the reasonings of the wise, that they are useless.'" (1 Corinthians 3:18-20)
More to come. David Robison

Powered by ScribeFire.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

The Message of the Cross: What it says about us (Part 1)

Paul says that the message of the cross has become for us "the power of God." (1 Corinthians 1:18) However, for many people the cross has become an offense. How can something that was meant to bring the "power of God" result is such offense to so many people? The reason is because of what it says about us.
"For indeed Jews ask for signs and Greeks search for wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness, but to those who are the called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God." (1 Cor 1:22-24)
To the Jews the cross is a stumbling block, to the Gentiles it is foolishness, but to us it is wisdom and power. However, to find that wisdom and power we must be willing to press beyond our fleshly reaction to the cross. We must be willing to accept what the cross has to say about us.

We will never be good enough

The Jews had spent thousands of years trying to achieve a righteousness that was based on their law. God, through Moses, gave the Israelites a law that was holy and good. Their law, given by God, was what made them unique among the rest of the nations around them. "Or what great nation is there that has statutes and judgments as righteous as this whole law which I am setting before you today?" (Deuteronomy 4:8) And along with the law, God gave them a promise, "So you shall keep My statutes and My judgments, by which a man may live if he does them; I am the Lord." (Leviticus 18:5). And for two thousand years the Jews were committed to the law. It not only defined what their righteousness was to be but it was also their very identity.

However, all their efforts were failures. Try as they might, no one could keep the law; no one could find righteousness through the law. God's own testimony about mankind is,
"There is no one who does good. The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there are any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one." (Psalms 14:1-3)
Paul also confirms this when he stated, "nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, even we have believed in Christ Jesus, so that we may be justified by faith in Christ and not by the works of the Law; since by the works of the Law no flesh will be justified." (Galatians 2:16) This is not to say that the law was not good and holy, it was, however it was unable to impart life and righteousness to us because the weakness of our flesh, because of our sinful nature.

The message of the cross tells us that we will never be good enough. No matter how holy and good the law is, regardless of how great our efforts are, we will all ways fall short. We can never be good enough to earn God's righteousness and His favor. Our own righteousness will never draw us close to God nor grant us right standing before him. "For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God." (Romans 3:23) "But the Scripture has shut up everyone under sin." (Galatians 3:22)

For those who have spent their entire life trying to be good enough, trying to establish their own righteousness, this is bad news. For those who love self righteousness, this is an offense. But the truth is we will never be good enough, we will never be righteous enough, we will never ascend high enough. We cannot ascend to heaven to find God, we cannot do it ourselves, we need a savior.

More to come. David Robison

Powered by ScribeFire.