Monthly Archives: October 2012

The Immutable Christ

Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and to day, and for ever. (Hebrews 13:8)

It is not uncommon for the world to discount the message of the Bible as archaic and irrelevant to our modern evolutionary state.  Our science has moved us so far beyond the society that produced the Bible more than two thousand years ago; but just an informal observation of the world’s societies will readily reveal that no matter how scientifically advanced a society is, they have not advanced beyond the level of sin described in the pages of the Bible.  That being the case, it becomes easier to disregard the message of the Bible and act as if it does not apply.

Adopting that kind of attitude is like cutting the moorings of your ship and setting it adrift on a stormy sea.  The anchorage is gone, and one is “tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive” (Ephesians 4:14).

It is comforting to know that Jesus never changes.  His power never diminishes: “All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth” (Matthew 28:18).  His Word never changes:  “Heaven and earth shall pass away, by my words shall not pass away” (Matthew 24:35).  His love never changes: “Who can separate us from the love of Christ? … For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35-39).

In this tempestuous world, it is good to know that in our immutable Christ, we have a solid rock upon which to anchor our lives.  In the words of the old hymn:

I’ve anchored my soul in the Haven of Rest,
I’ll sail the wide seas no more;
The tempest may sweep over wild, stormy, deep,
In Jesus, I’m safe evermore.

Thank God for our immutable Christ!

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Encouragement to Move Forward


Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. (Hebrews 12:1)

This passage conjures up a vision of the saints in a heavenly stadium peering over the edge of billowy clouds cheering us on in the contest of life.  While there may be some truth in that, the verse refers to us having more than saintly cheerleaders urging us forward.  The Greek verb translated “compassed about”—(echontes perikemenon) means “to hold around,” and it is present, active, nominative meaning that the subject is performing the action.  In other words, “we are holding around us” this great cloud of witnesses.

But who or what is this “great cloud of witnesses?”  In the Greek, “cloud” is singular as it is translated in English, but this singular cloud contains multiple witnesses.  “Witnesses” is the translation of the Greek martúron, which can be translated as martyr, witness or “record.”  Considering that our verse begins with “wherefore” [therefore], we need to look back to what has been said previously and apply it to the current statement.  Chapter 11 of Hebrews is the “record” of the heroes of the faith.  The emphasis of the record is not on the heroes themselves, but on their faith.  “But without faith, it is impossible to please [God], for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Hebrews 11:6).

“We hold around us” this great “record” of the faith and of the faithful.  This “record” informs us of how God rewarded the faith of those who have gone on before, and likewise He promises to reward those who demonstrate faith in Him today and who “diligently seek Him.”  We also have the record of how God has provided for us in our own past.  So, since we hold God’s great track record, we need to “lay aside every weight;” “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things that are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:17-18).  With all this in mind, “let us run with patience the race that is set before us.”  God is faithful!

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Four Gospels, One Jesus


… by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth… for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved. (Acts 4:10,12)

There are some that question the veracity of the Bible due to the apparent discrepancies or inconsistencies in the Four Gospel accounts of Jesus.  However, the fact that we have four different gospels, from four different writers with four different perspectives of Jesus is actually beneficial.  A good illustration of this is the scene of an automobile accident.  Rarely is a police officer around when the accident takes place, so when he arrives, he will solicit input from as many witnesses as are willing to testify.  Let us assume that an accident takes place at an intersection at sunset.  A westbound car makes a left turn and collides with a car going the opposite direction.  Witness “A” was behind the car making the left turn.  “A” says that the left turn arrow was green when he saw it, and he was prepared to follow the car turning left.  Witness “B” was in the car next to Witness “A” in a straight-ahead lane.  “B” says he is not sure that the left turn arrow was green, but the cars in front of him had stopped for the red light in their lanes.  “I couldn’t see the light clearly because the sun was in my eyes,” he reports.  Witness “C” was eastbound behind the car that got hit.  Witness “C” says the light had just turned green when the car in front of her shot out across the intersection and got wiped out by the car making the left turn.  Witness “D” was stopped at the light facing south.  He was busy checking his cell phone messages while he waited his turn to go.  All of a sudden he heard the sound of squealing tires followed by a loud crash.  When he looked up, all he saw were glass and car parts flying everywhere.

Each of these witnesses saw the same accident from four different points of view.  The police officer must then try to compile all these differing reports to come up with an accurate picture of what happened.

Another illustration that comes to mind that is a little more personal.  I am known by many different people, and if they were all to write something about me, they would probably all have something different to say.  I sing in the church choir, so someone may write about my love for music.  I also teach Sunday school, so someone else might write about my love for studying and teaching the Bible.  I taught elementary school, and my students thought I was the best teacher ever!  My teacher friends could write about my dedication to my students and the hard work I put into teaching my kids.  My wife could write things about me that no one else has seen.  But with all these different points of view, I am still the same person, and no one point of view tells the whole story.

The same is true for the story of Jesus.  The four gospel writers provide four different perspectives from four individual points of view.  Matthew was a disciple that had been called away from a lucrative career as a tax collector (Mark 2:14).  As a tax collector, he was hated by his fellow Jews and seen as a traitor to his people. “The publicans were also regarded as traitors and apostates, defiled by their frequent contacts with the heathen and being willing tools of the oppressor.”[i] Understanding the mentality of the Jewish people, oppressed under the heel of Rome, and having witnessed the resurrected Christ, Matthew was able to perceive the authority of Jesus, so he writes his gospel to show Christ as the promised Messiah destined to reign from the throne of David.

John Mark wrote the Gospel of Mark.  He was not one of the twelve, but he seems to have been “around” to witness some of the acts of Jesus.  In fact, it is thought that John Mark described himself as the “young man” present at the time of Jesus’ arrest that “fled from them naked” (Mark 14:51-52).  Tradition has it that Mark wrote most of his gospel as related to him by Peter.  Being a “young man” and probably used to serving around the house, his perspective of Jesus was that of a servant dedicated to the mission assigned to Him by His Father; so his gospel is written with that sense of urgency.

Luke was a Greek, not a Jew.  He was also a medical doctor – a scientist, if you will.  Luke is very interested in facts and details and he points out many things that the other gospel writers do not even notice.  Luke addresses his Gospel to an official by the name of Theophilus (translated “Lover of God).  Luke is trying to make a case for Jesus being the “Son of Man” rejected by Israel and now preached to the Gentiles.  Jesus is for all mankind and not for just a select group.

Finally, John was the “disciple whom Jesus loved.”  The relationship is not very clear, but it is thought that he was a close cousin of Jesus.  From the cross, Jesus entrusted the care of His mother to this disciple (John 19:27).  From this close relationship, John was able to discern the deity of Christ, so his gospel is filled with examples that make this point clear.

From all of these gospels, we conclude that Jesus was the promised Messiah, the Anointed One of Israel, the Son of God.  He was God in the flesh, the Son of Man.  He came to serve and to do His Father’s will by dying for the sins of man and for our redemption.  He is the Eternal Word.  He is God.  He is the Creator (John 1:1-3).  He is love personified.  “God is Love” (1 John 4:8, 16).  “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).  We could not have so clear a picture of Jesus without the different perspectives of the four Gospel writers.

[i] Unger, Merrill F. and R. K. Harrisson, The New Unger’s Bible Dictionary (Chicago, Moody Press, 1988), Listing for “Publican.”

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Rightful King


The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor a lawgiver from between his feet, until Shi’loh come; and unto him shall the gathering of the people be. (Genesis 49:10)

This is readily recognized as Messianic prophesy identifying the coming Messiah as a descendant of Judah.  The scepter, the rod indicating the king’s authority, was assigned to the tribe of Judah, never to depart until the coming of the “One Who Brings Peace” (the meaning of Shiloh).

It is interesting that Israel’s first king, Saul, was not from the tribe of Judah, but rather from the tribe of Benjamin.  First Samuel 12 records the ascension of Saul, Israel’s first king.  Saul was the people’s choice, not God’s.  “Then all the elders of Israel gathered themselves together, and came to Samuel unto Ra’-mah, And said unto him … make us a king to judge us like all the nations” (1 Samuel 8:4-5).  Failure is assured when God’s people try to pattern themselves after the world, and once that route is chosen God will often stand back and let it happen.  “And the LORD said unto Samuel, Hearken unto the voice of the people in all that they say unto thee: for they have not rejected thee, but they have rejected me, that I should reign over them” (1 Samuel 8:7).  We are all guilty of that at one time or another.  We do not want God ruling over us, so instead we opt for the fallacious idea of “self-rule.”  The idea of self-rule is fallacious because no one is truly a free agent, but I digress.

The wisdom of the world is never optimal.  By the world’s standards, Saul was “a choice young man, and [handsome]: and there was not among the children of Israel a [handsomer] person than he: from his shoulders and upward he was higher than any of the people” (1 Samuel 9:2); but whereas “man looketh on the outward appearance … the Lord looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).

Israel’s choice was nothing like what God had planned for Israel.  “Behold the king whom ye have chosen, and whom ye have desired! And, behold, the LORD hath set a king over you” (1 Samuel 12:13).  Note that even though Saul was the people’s choice, God assumes the responsibility for setting him up.  This is something to keep in mind in the upcoming election.  No matter who wins, ultimately it is God who will set him over us.  Even after God allowed Israel’s poor choice, He still shows mercy toward them.  “For the LORD will not forsake his people for his great name’s sake: because it has pleased the LORD to make you his people” (1 Samuel 12:22).  It is comforting to know that even when we make poor choices, God will not abandon us.  We have the promise that “The One Who Brings Peace” will come and reclaim His creation, and from Him “the scepter shall not depart.”

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