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Crucified Before the Foundation of the World

"Crucified before the foundation of the world." What does that mean? How could that even happen? Historians and archaeologists ta...

Monday, October 18, 2010

Hard Teaching and Symbolic Truth

In John 6 Jesus moves into a difficult area of teaching that offended a lot of people.  He multiplied the loaves so that a little bread was ample food for a huge crowd of people.  They followed him and found him in a place where he could not have been.  The mystery of it may have sparked their interest, but he said they just wanted dinner again.

He cautioned them to seek the bread that came down from heaven, the bread that would satisfy their souls, not their bellies.  He said, "... unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you(John 6:53)."  This is difficult to understand.   Are we cannibals?  Should we think of eating flesh and drinking blood as sacramental acts?  It is repulsive.  It is sickening.  Yet he did not soften the command.  In the next verse he repeats it: "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up at the last day."  This time there is a promise of resurrection attached to it. In verse 56 he says it again with the renewed promise of identification with him:  "Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me, and I in him."  He was adamant.  It is symbolic, but it is, nevertheless, real.

Eating and drinking of him is the closest we can get to him.  It identifies us with him.  You are what you eat.  Jesus took this truth and made it real in the meal he shared with the disciples on the night before the crucifixion.  He said the bread was his body.  Eat of it.  The cup contained his blood.  Drink of it.  This marks the dividing line for those who just want the meal and those who want the Lord.  If you cannot deal with the implications of consuming his body and his blood, then don't expect to share in the participation of his joy, his life, or his resurrection.

The followers who heard this teaching and considered it carefully were required to make a decision.  Some of them turned back, but some bound themselves closer to him.  Peter proclaimed him the Christ, the Son of the Living God.  Don't be foolish enough to think you can do any less than Peter did and be a disciple.

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Go Marry a Prostitute

Would you believe that God told a prophet to go and marry a prostitute?  What a thing to say!!!  And God said it, yet! 

It seems like God would want to avoid that kind of association.  Are you sure that's what it said?  I have heard a very good teacher say that wasn't really what it said.  But I have to disagree with her.  In my Bible God told Hosea to go marry a prostitute.

Surely he reformed her first.  No, that's not what it said.  There is a problem here the Bible doesn't address:  Her name was Gomer.  I get visions of Jim Nabors in drag.  In a more rational frame of mind, I think she was young and beautiful and foolish.  She represented the Nation of Israel.  God wanted to show this prophet Hosea a truth that he could grasp through his relationship with a beautiful, voluptuous  woman. 

Click here or read the first three chapter of the Book of Hosea in the Old Testament.  Maybe God has a message for you in the Bible, too.

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Bible Study--Isaiah 6

My Bible study lesson this week is on Isaiah 6.  Boy, what a vision!  We all yearn for such a revelation.  Who would not want to see God filling the temple with his majesty? 

But there is another aspect to this experience.  For Isaiah it revealed the depth of his unworthiness.  Listen to his words, "I am a man of unclean lips."  His sin and his unworthiness began with the very words in his mouth.  And he also lived among a people who were just like him--their words weren't worthy of God either.  What was he to do when he was in the presence of God and he knew he was not worthy to be here?

There were angelic beings there who praised God and did his bidding continually.  One of the seraphs took a coal from the altar with tongs and cleansed his lips with fire.  The words of the Bible do not indicate that he was burned, but he was cleansed.  He was made worthy, worthy to take God's message to the people.

This passage includes one of the most enigmatic passages in the Bible.  Why does God not want them to hear and understand and be saved?  There is more to this story that I can grasp.  Maybe he doesn't want them to obey without depth, without heart conversion.  Maybe he doesn't want them to fail to understand the level of obedience and change he expects.  Maybe I need to  study this passage more.  It is easy to get caught up in the glory and radiance of the vision and forget the requirements and obligations. 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

The Credit Card

            I dreamed I had a credit card with God’s company.  I charged on it without restraint.  My balance went up fast.  One day Jesus reminded me of the payoff.  The charges on the card represented sins.  He said the card would soon come due and the only payment was my life.  (Ezekiel 18:4 says “Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine; the soul who sins shall die.”  Romans 6:23 says,  “The wages of sin is death…”)
            I told Jesus I would quit charging on my card. 
“That is good,” He said.  “But it doesn’t take care of the balance so that you can live.”
“I’ll make up for sins,” I assured Him.  “I like to help people.  I’m really not a bad person, just some bad habits, you know.”
 He was very pleased that I wanted to take action.
“Will my good things cancel out the sins?” I asked Jesus. 
“No,” he said.  “But you have an option that can take care of your problems so you can live.”
“Really?  What can I do besides not adding sins to my account and doing good deeds to make up for the bad ones?”
“It doesn’t work like that,” he said gently.  “Sins require that the sinner dies.  There is no other way.”
“But I would die?  I thought I was supposed to get to live?”
“Yes, that is what I said.”
“Please explain,” I said.  “I don’t understand.”
“Your sins deserve death.  You committed them.  It is right that you die, but if you have an acceptable substitute who takes your place, you will live.  I am that substitute.  I can pay off your card, and you will no longer have a balance.”  Jesus was very persuasive.
“You mean I wouldn’t even have an account anymore?”
“No, you still have an account!”
“So I guess if I sinned again, it would start all over,” I said.  I knew I wouldn’t be able to stop right away.  I’d really have to work on a few things.
“No, it doesn’t start again.  Once I have taken on your account, I keep the balance at zero all your life.  You are obligated to change, though,” he explained.  “I pay for your sins and you live my life.  The card changes, too.  It no longer represents the balance of your sins, but the balance of my grace.  (Galatians 2:20 I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.) 
“So you die and I live.  I give you my sins, and you give me your righteousness.  I ran up the bill and you pay it. You didn’t sin, and so you don’t have a bill to pay.  Say, Jesus, will you stay with me and help me understand all you have said.  I want to hear the part about grace again.” (Romans 3:24 (we) are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus.)
“I’ll be there all the way,” he said.  And then I woke up.