“Oh, the unspeakable greatness of that exchange,—the Sinless One is condemned, and he who is guilty goes free; the Blessing bears the curse, and the cursed is brought into blessing; the Life dies, and the dead live; the Glory is whelmed in darkness, and he who knew nothing but confusion of face is clothed with glory.” Trailady

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A person God turned around many times.

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

The gospel! (of bad news)

 I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things.” (Isa. 45:7).

The gospel! of bad news? The Greek word gospel is Old English gōd-spell or gōd-spel meaning good news, glad tidings. This is the good news about the bad news; and this is not a gimmick. Gospel is good news; but the gospel has some bad news, even an equal measure of bad and good news. The bad news comes as punishment for our disobedience to the Law of God. And, punishment is humiliating and degrading; and, to too many modern Christians, humiliation and degradation are unacceptable. Yet, here is where we can distinguish the true Christian from the false.

From the start, the true Christians surrendered their rights in this world when they accepted the crucified Lamb of God who was made to be sin for them. “Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God: but made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” (Phil. 2:5-8).

They boldly walked amidst the ridicule of a world that hates righteousness and faith. They knew humiliation and rejection and hurt. But, like their Master, they surrendered to it all, just as they had surrendered to the pains of a world of sin that led them to give up and look to God for help. They were not perfect, but they acknowledged that. They recognized their part in the troubles that plagued them; they couldn’t blame anyone else for their predicament. Therefore, once trusting in God they continued to remain humbled for God to sanctify them into His image, removing those objectionable flaws from their character.

Therefore, they could appreciate the bad news of the Bible.

“Ye have forgotten the exhortation which speaketh unto you as unto children, My son, despise not thou the chastening of the Lord, nor faint when thou art rebuked of Him:
For whom the Lord loveth He chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom He receiveth.
If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the Father chasteneth not?
But if ye be without chastisement, whereof all are partakers, then are ye bastards, and not sons.
Furthermore we have had fathers of our flesh which corrected us, and we gave them reverence: shall we not much rather be in subjection unto the Father of spirits, and live?
For they verily for a few days chastened us after their own pleasure; but He for our profit, that we might be partakers of His holiness.
Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby.
Wherefore lift up the hands which hang down, and the feeble knees;
And make straight paths for your feet, lest that which is lame be turned out of the way; but let it rather be healed.” (Heb. 12:5-13).

“To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations.” (1Pet. 1:4-6).
“Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin.” (1Pet. 4:1).
“Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you: but rejoice, inasmuch as ye are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, ye may be glad also with exceeding joy.” (1Pet. 4:12,13).
“For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing.” (1Pet. 3:17).

“For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God.
For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps:
Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth:
Who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously:
Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.
For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.” (1Pet. 2:19-25).

“But before faith came, we were kept under the Law, shut up unto the faith which should afterwards be revealed. Wherefore the Law was our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after that faith is come, we are no longer under a schoolmaster. For ye are all the children of God by faith in Christ Jesus.” (Gal. 3:23-26).

They are all children with the Law in their hearts, according to the promise, “For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, saith the Lord; I will put My laws into their mind, and write them in their hearts: and I will be to them a God, and they shall be to Me a people.” (Heb. 8:10).

Surrender to the bad news coming from disobedience had led the Greek and Roman Christians to obedience, and they could never forget the lessons of obedience, after all the years of consequences to disobedience grinding on them. God wrote obedience to His law into their hearts, forever.

“Finally, be ye all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous: not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing. For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil. And who is he that will harm you, if ye be followers of that which is good?” (1Pet. 3:8-13).

“For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.” (1Pet. 2:19).
“Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward.” (1Pet. 2:18).
“For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow His steps: who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth: who, when He was reviled, reviled not again; when He suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judgeth righteously.” (1Pet. 2:21-23).

To most people, the Bible makes no sense. This is because of the bad news. The bad news is unwelcome to their hearts, and so their minds create a mental block to it. But, without the bad news of the gospel, the gospel is left with many large holes. The Bible, without the bad news, would be smaller than the Jefferson Bible, which had nothing miraculous in it. The Jefferson Bible is a very bland book. It requires no faith, and expects no surprises. Oh, joy! But, likewise, all who remove or disenfranchise the bad news from the Bible will find their Bible to be dull and without any life to it. Without its authorizing the punishment of our sins, the Bible is tasteless and boring. Isn’t it exciting to be punished for our sins?! Especially after the punishment is over! What a beautiful promise from God, “Comfort ye, comfort ye My people, saith your God. Speak ye comfortably to Jerusalem, and cry unto her, that her warfare is accomplished, that her iniquity is pardoned: for she hath received of the LORD’S hand double for all her sins.” (Isa. 40:1,2). We get no comfort from God if our warfare can never be accomplished because we abrogated God’s authority to punish us. And if we receive none of His comfort, we aren’t His people.

Yet, many “Bible Christians” today revile Thomas Jefferson and all his devilish Democrats because they won’t accept the whole Bible. But, these “Bible Christians” essentially have done no differently than Mr. Jefferson, except they didn’t literally cut out the unwelcome parts. They merely overlooked them or reinterpreted them. They used theology “falsely so called” (1Tim. 6:20) to de-authorize the Old Testament, which is ¾ of the Bible. This makes their Bible, that is, the Bible in their false conceptions, even more dangerous than Jefferson’s. At least he was honest and open about disregarding most of the Bible.

But, what do we miss if we abrogate the punishment of God in the Old Testament, rather than letting “patience have her perfect work” (Jas. 1:4)? “Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience…that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing.” (Jas. 1:3).

“For ye have need of patience, that, after ye have done the will of God, ye might receive the promise.” (Heb. 10:36). Therefore, we should “count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations” (Jas. 1:2).

“That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see Him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls.” (1Pet. 1:7-9).

“The precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot:… who by Him [ye] do believe in God, that raised Him up from the dead, and gave Him glory; that your faith and hope might be in God. Seeing ye have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren, see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently: being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.” (1Pet. 1:19,21-23).

What do we lose when we discount the disagreeable parts of the Bible? Salvation and the necessary preparation for Jesus’ second coming. This kind of loss is not worth having a religion that allows for pride to run rampantly and for accusations to fly back and forth between us and our enemies. Yet, this is what happens when we do not let God run us through the ringer for our unsaintliness. We get ugliness everywhere. That is why the condition of the church before Jesus comes is described as Babylon, the Great.

“Babylon the great is fallen, is fallen, and is become the habitation of devils, and the hold of every foul spirit, and a cage of every unclean and hateful bird.” (Rev. 18:2).
“And I heard another voice from heaven, saying, Come out of her, my people, that ye be not partakers of her sins, and that ye receive not of her plagues.” (Rev. 18:4).

“Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you, and will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be My sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.” (2Cor. 6:17,18).


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