Thursday, March 31, 2016

Christ in the Proverbs: Proverbs 19:9

Proverbs 19:9
A false witness will not go unpunished,
    and he who breathes out lies will perish.

This verse is nearly identical to 19:5.  Repetition means this is an important truth for us to learn.  We need to learn how opposed our God is to lying.  His image bearers greatly dishonor him when they lie.

The apostle Paul begins his letter to Titus speaking about his people's "knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness."  He goes on in the next breath to speak of the "God, who never lies" (Titus 1:1-2).  Truth is vital to our sanctification.

O how we need to repent of lying!  This is a sin our God takes seriously.  The first line tells us of the certainty of this sin's punishment: "A false witness will no go unpunished."  The second line tells us of the enormity of the punishment: "he who breathes out lies will perish."

This word perish points to more than mere clinical death.  If that was the only punishment, so what!  Since the wicked and the righteous alike face clinical death, what's the big deal?  But the word perish is pointing to eternal death---what the Bible calls the second death or hell.  In order for justice to prevail there must be a judgment beyond this life, and there is.  The Old Testament understood this, and the book of Proverbs teaches it regularly.

Do you view lying as a small, minor thing?  The Lord in Proverbs is teaching us it is not.  It is a sin that deserves punishment, and it will be punished most certainly.  It's enormity is seen in our purpose as image bearers.  Our Lord embodies the truth, for he is "the way, the truth, and the life" (John 14:6).  Our enemy is described by Jesus as "the father of lies" (John 8:44). 

Let us repent and trust in the One who saves us from the punishment we deserve, by bearing that punishment on our behalf.  And let us renew our commitment to learning, loving, and walking in his truth. Amen.


Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Christ in the Proverbs: Proverbs 19:2

Proverbs 19:2
Desire without knowledge is not good,
    and whoever makes haste with his feet misses his way.

In a culture that teaches us to "obey your thirst," it seems like blasphemy to think that not every desire we have is good!  The consumer mentality of America teaches that we are autonomous individuals who have the right to be happy, and the way to happiness is to indulge our desires by accumulating goods.

The Lord teaches us a better way---a way that is good.  First, not every desire we have is good.  Here is a sampling of the truth that not every desire fallen sinners have is good:

  • ·         Mark 4: 19: but the cares of the world and the deceitfulness of riches and the desires for other things enter in and choke the word, and it proves unfruitful.
  • ·         John 8:44a: You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. 
  • ·         Romans 13:14: But put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.
  • ·         1 Corinthians 10:6: Now these things took place as examples for us, that we might not desire evil as they did.
  • ·         Galatians 5:16-17: But I say, walk by the Spirit, and you will not gratify the desires of the flesh. For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do.
  • ·         1 Timothy 6:9: But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation, into a snare, into many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction.
  • ·         2 Peter 1:4: by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.

Second, desire that is good must be in accord with truth, wisdom and knowledge.  Ignorance is darkness, and Jesus came as the uncreated light of the world to overcome darkness (John 1:4-5, 9).  Our heavenly Father delights in truth in our inward being, and teaches his children truth in the heart (Psalm 51:6).

Third, our default position as sinners is toward sinful desires.  The world catechizes us toward sinful desires.  The flesh is characterized by sinful desires (1 John 2:15-17).  And, the devil is at work in the hearts of the unregenerate to cause them to follow "the course of this world," "carrying out the desires of the body and mind" (Ephesians 2:2-3).

Finally, haste will not be our friend in overcoming the world, the flesh and the devil.  Daily dying and rising with Christ to the old nature and its desires requires time spent with the Lord, time considering His ways, and time considering our own ways, so that we might repent and live by faith each day.  This world, the flesh, and the devil want us to act without much thought and take the quick and easy path of following our desires.  But this is a way that leads to death. 

Jesus is the way and his way is good.  Jesus is the truth that gives light to our inward being and this truth is good.  Jesus is the life that begins to change our desires, so that they are good.

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Christ in the Proverbs: Proverbs 18:22

Proverbs 18:22
He who finds a wife finds a good thing
and obtains favor from the Lord.
This is a proverb that seems to promise too much! Even keeping in mind that the wife is a good wife, and not a wicked one, can we really gain favor from the Lord through a righteous wife? It didn't work for Nabal (1 Samuel 25), who continued to be a fool despite the wisdom of his wife, Abigail. So what exactly is going on in this proverb?
Proverbs 8:35 begins to shed some light. In Proverbs 8, Lady Wisdom is speaking and says:
For whoever finds me finds life
and obtains favor from the Lord.
Notice the similarity of the two verses! In both, something is found: a wife and wisdom. In both, something is obtained: favor from the Lord.
In the Proverbs, Lady Wisdom is contrasted with Lady Folly. One woman stands for the wisdom, life, and favor found in the Lord. The other stands for the foolishness, death, and condemnation that is found in idolatry.
In Proverbs 8:35, Lady Wisdom is speaking. The Book of Proverbs urges us to be married to wisdom! We are to seek wisdom like some seek gold and silver and riches. Wisdom is to be our closest, most intimate companion.
Lady Wisdom is a personification of Jesus. When we come to the New Testament, Jesus embodies God's wisdom. "In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3). And we are betrothed to Jesus according to 2 Corinthians 11: "I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ." Being married to Christ means that we are to have "a sincere and pure devotion to Christ," our true, eternal Husband.
So coming back then to Proverbs 18:22, we learn that a good marriage is a picture of the relationship between Jesus Christ and his people. Marriage is the primordial sacrament, because it teaches that we were made male and female for communion and self-giving love. This communion is imprinted on our very bodies, which so clearly point to a male and female union and communion of love, if we have eyes to see it.
Sadly, many are blind to the deep purpose that the triune God has inscribed on our bodies as male and female from the beginning (Genesis 1:27). Our biology, our sexuality, our gender, read theologically tells us that we were made for communion, first with the husband or wife the Lord chooses to give to some, and second, with the Lord Jesus Christ himself, a heavenly marriage that is available to all who come to Him! All of this can be seen if the blindness of our sin and the fog of our lust is removed from our eyes.
O the blessing of a good and godly wife and a good and godly marriage! But O the far greater and eternal blessing that a good and godly marriage is meant to reflect!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Catechetical Hymns Based on the Gospels: Luke 11:14-28

Wrote this today based on Luke 11:14-28. What a rich passage!
The tune it goes with is from the 17th century and named SEELENBRAUTIGAM:

v. 1
Jesus Christ our King,
to him praises sing.
For the strong man is defeated,
at the cross it was completed.
Marvel and give praise,
wondrous are God's ways.

v. 2
Christ convicts of sin,
and His work begins.
For the Spirit wakes from slumber,

frees from idols that encumber,
that would keep from Christ,
and eternal life.

v. 3
Christ annulled our debts,
the law's dire threats.
For our record stood against us,
the accuser sore oppressed us,
Christ the vict'ry won,
God's beloved Son.

v. 4
Jesus Christ the truth,
He our mind renews.
For the devil's lies polluted,
but Christ's teaching has refuted.
Let us trust our Lord,
and revere His Word.

v. 5
Jesus Christ confess,
in Him you are blessed.
Christ in you the hope of glory,
this is now your gracious story.
For His saving love,
thank your Lord above.
Top of Form

Tuesday, March 1, 2016

Christ in the Proverbs: Proverbs 18:14

Proverbs 18:14
A man's spirit will endure sickness,
    but a crushed spirit who can bear?

One of the basic truths of life is found in the idea of realized eschatology.  Realized eschatology is normally used in the sense that believers already enjoy some of the blessings of the age to come even before the age to come is realized in a new heaven and earth.  For example, believers already enjoy eternal life, which is the life of the age to come.  Or, to use another example, we are justified and can be assured of the verdict of the last day even now.

But realized eschatology also operates for unbelievers.  Unbelievers sometimes receive a taste of hell before the time.  This taste --- the crushed spirit --- can be so awful that the person would prefer not to live.  Judas, Cain, and Saul are examples of men who experienced this anguish and torment before they died.

The only answer to this sort of torment is to use it as an incentive to be right with God.  The forgiveness and peace the gospel relieves the guilty conscience.  Eastern religions try to join the opposites to silence conscience.  Good and evil are brought together and are seen as merely two aspects of the one ultimate reality.  But in the end, guilt cannot be eliminated so easily, because we live in a universe where there is a distinction between the Creator and creator, and between good and evil.  Only the One who bore our guilt and judgment in our place can heal a crushed spirit, and bring us to heaven rather than hell. 

How is your conscience?  Has it been washed clean in the blood of Jesus?  His blood alone can cleanse the deep stain of our guilt before God.  His death and resurrection alone can bring us to heaven.

Christ in the Proverbs: Proverbs 18:13

Proverbs 18:13
If one gives an answer before he hears,
it is his folly and shame.

Impatience is the mark of a fool. As Bruce Waltke points out, the implied speaker the fool interrupts is the wise man, "since the sage considers it folly and shame to listen attentively to the self-opinionated fool."

Just as good reading takes time, so good learning takes time. The word "before" is temporal. Do we take time each day to sit at the feet of Jesus to learn from the One preeminently wise?

When I read this proverb, it is hard for me not to think about those hearers of the gospel whose hearts are likened to a hardened path. Their foolish hearts prevent them from learning, because they cannot set aside their own foolish desires long enough to listen and learn. G. K. Chesterton spoke of Christianity as not "tried and found wanting," but "not tried and not wanted."

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