Tag Archives: Bible

Shall We Look For Someone Else?

“Now when John, while imprisoned, heard of the works of Christ, he sent word by his disciples and said to Him, “Are You the Expected One, or shall we look for someone else?”  Jesus answered and said to them, “Go and report to John what you hear and see: the blind receive sight and the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, and the poor have the gospel preached to them. And blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.” (Matthew 11:2-6)

John the Baptist knew Who Jesus was for he is the very one who declared Him the “Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world” (John 1:29). I do not believe that John was uncertain about Jesus’ identity here but rather His methods. Consider what the Baptist had prophesied about Jesus:

“As for me, I baptize you with water for repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, and I am not fit to remove His sandals; He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will thoroughly clear His threshing floor; and He will gather His wheat into the barn, but He will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.” (Matthew 3:11-12)

John doubtlessly had in his mind the coming King from the lineage of David spoken of by Isaiah who said of the Messiah, “…He will strike the earth with the rod of His mouth, and with the breath of His lips He will slay the wicked” (Isaiah 11:4). He was looking for a  Judge Who would punish the wicked, but Jesus came offering forgiveness. He was looking for a Conquerer Who would wage war on the enemies of Israel, but Jesus came offering peace with God to whomever would believe. He was looking for a King Who would sit upon the throne of Jerusalem, but Jesus came as a Servant Who wandered the hills of Galilee. John looked for One Who would set the captives free, yet he himself languished in Herod’s prison.

That God was moving, John the Baptist did not deny. But He was moving in a way that John had not expected. The Romans still controlled Israel, Herod still sat upon his throne, and the corrupt Pharisees and Sadducees still oversaw the religious affairs of the nation. And all the while Jesus was miles removed from the City of David and was spending His time healing the sick and preaching a Gospel of reconciliation. John the Baptist’s confusion was understandable.

Jesus will ultimately fulfill all of the prophecies concerning Him, including those which John the Baptist himself had spoken. The first time He came as a Savior but the next time He will come as a Judge (cf. Revelation 19:11-16). But it seems that John was wondering if maybe God was going to send someone else to “clear the threshing floor” at that time.

As Christians, we know that God is always working in our lives and on our behalf, but often He acts in a way that we are not expecting or that we do not understand. Perhaps there is something that we are certain God wants to do in our life, yet it doesn’t seem to be happening. Maybe, like John the Baptist’s expectations, ours are not being fulfilled right now because it is not the right time. Or it could be that God is doing things differently from what we were anticipating.

Jesus sent words of comfort to John the Baptist by telling his disciples to report back to him with what they had seen. God was surely moving even if it was wasn’t the way he was expecting!

“THEY all were looking for a king
To slay their foes and lift them high:
Thou cam’st, a little baby thing
That made a woman cry.” (1)

To God goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

(1) From the poem, “That Holy Thing” by: George MacDonald

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

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The Call To Suffer

“But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen instrument of Mine, to bear My name before the Gentiles and kings and the sons of Israel; for I will show him how much he must suffer for My name’s sake.” (Acts 9:15-16)

These are the instructions of the Lord to Ananias concerning Saul of Tarsus. The Lord appeared to Ananias in a vision instructing him to go and lay his hands on Saul in order that his sight might be restored. Knowing the reputation of the man and how he has persecuted the Church relentlessly, Ananias, understandably, is surprised by God’s directions. Nevertheless, God assures Ananias that He has a plan for Saul of Tarsus that involves “bearing His name” before kings, Gentiles, and those of Israel.

Let us take note of two things in the Lord’s words to Ananias about the man who will one day come to be known as the Apostle Paul: 1.) Paul is chosen by God, that is, God has a calling for Paul to serve Him, to be an instrument or vessel of the Lord and, 2.) Part of that calling involves suffering. Thus, the Apostle Paul will simultaneously be in the will of God and also suffering trials and hardships as he does so.

We as Christians in this day and age often lose sight of the fact that suffering, to one degree or another, is an inevitable part of our walk with the Lord. Moreover, we also tend to think that suffering is a sign that something is wrong and that those who experience it must have drifted away from God. Some preachers and teachers lead us to believe that, if our faith is strong enough and we are standing firm on God’s Word, the trials and tribulations of this life will pass us by as we stand in the safe shelter of God’s loving arms. And in those occasions that hardship does befall us, we are exhorted to seek to discover what it is God is trying to “teach” us in the storm.

“For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:20-21)

Sin can and does break our fellowship with God and often brings with it earthly consequences. If the “storm” we are in is the result of our own sinful behavior, then we definitely should not only seek to know what God is trying to teach us but also confess that sin to the Lord and turn from it! But there is also the suffering that comes upon us simply for doing what is right, not that which is wrong. The Apostle Peter says that this is the purpose for which we have been called: to follow in the steps of Jesus.

Even so, trials, hardships, and sufferings have a way of catching us off guard. They’re certainly not something we make plans for, even though we know that they will occur from time to time. And rather than patiently enduring and accepting our situation, we grumble, complain, and even doubt and question the Lord. Never would we even consider rejoicing that we have been counted worthy to suffer shame for the name of the Lord (cf. Acts 5:41).

Virtually every person of God mentioned in the Bible bears the wounds and scars of suffering in the account of their life. Countless examples could be cited that demonstrate that those who walk the closest with God often suffer the most for Him. My message here is not that we should seek out suffering and embrace it as a masochistic martyr, but that we should understand that we will face hardships and trials when we seek to live the Christian life. Jesus Himself told us that we would have tribulation in this world but to be of good courage because our Lord has overcome the world (John 16:33). The good news is that we serve a God Who has already defeated sin, death, and Satan and that our eternal destiny is to live with Him forever! For all the sufferings that the Apostle Paul would endure, he had these simple words to say of them:

“For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (Romans 8:18)

Finally, I wish to close with the autobiographical account of Paul himself, looking back over years of service to Christ. Few of us will ever be called upon to suffer for the Lord the way this man did and yet his assessment in the end was that he regretted nothing (2 Timothy 4:7). Someone once presented to me a theory which states that the Christianity that Paul taught is different from the Christianity which Peter, John, and even Jesus Himself taught. The suggestion was that Paul had created a “false Christianity” born out of his own imagination and which he himself knew to be a lie. I referred the critic to the following passage and said that, if what he said was true, then Paul sure underwent a whole lot of suffering for a lie. People might suffer willingly for something they believe to be true, even if it’s not, but nobody is willing to suffer for something which they know to be false!

“[I have been] beaten times without number, often in danger of death. Five times I received from the Jews thirty-nine lashes. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, a night and a day I have spent in the deep. I have been on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my countrymen, dangers from the Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers on the sea, dangers among false brethren; I have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights, in hunger and thirst, often without food, in cold and exposure. Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?

If I have to boast, I will boast of what pertains to my weakness. The God and Father of the Lord Jesus, He who is blessed forever, knows that I am not lying. In Damascus the ethnarch under Aretas the king was guarding the city of the Damascenes in order to seize me, and I was let down in a basket through a window in the wall, and so escaped his hands.” (2 Corinthians 11:23b-33)

To God goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

I Am God, There Is No Other

“Turn to Me and be saved, all the ends of the earth;
For I am God, and there is no other. (Isaiah 45:22)

Since the beginning of the world, mankind has failed to see that God is God and there is no other. All was perfect and beautiful within the Garden of Eden; God had provided rivers of water for drinking (Gen. 2:10-14), verdant trees brimming with nutritious fruit for eating (Gen. 2:9), and an environment teeming with life (Gen. 2:19). Everything that man needed was provided by God Who also imparted dominion over the earth and its creatures to humanity (Gen. 1:26-28). Man would rule over the earth with authority and power exceeded only by that of God Himself. God exalted man to a height that only His own throne would exceed, yet it was that throne for which man would grasp. For Satan tempted Adam and Eve with the notion that they, too, could be like God (Gen. 3:5).

Not much has changed in the time since man was expelled from the Garden of Eden. Mankind has yet to really learn and understand that God is God and there is no other. Consider the false gods and idols worshipped by the ancients. From the primitive heathen who would carve out for himself a “god” from wood and stone to the philosophers of Greece and Rome who would create an entire pantheon of deities and worship the creation of their own imagination, man, frustrated by his inability to raise himself to the throne of God, has sought to place something of his own construction in the place occupied by God alone.

But where are these gods, and whither have gone these idols? What has become of the pantheons of Rome, or Greece, or Egypt? Does anyone yet bow their knee before Osiris, or Zeus, or Mercury? The sands of time have faded their memory and they have been overturned from their places of honor. The false gods and idols of the ancients have been cast down and are worshipped no more. “For I am God, there is no other.

And what of those who put their hope in philosophy or science? What of those who exalt intellect, knowledge, and “reason” above all else? One has only to look at the history of such pursuits to realize that what we call brilliance today will eventually be seen as foolishness by our grandchildren. The span of two or three generations is usually more than sufficient time for mankind to realize that what he revered as incontrovertible truth just yesterday has come to be shown as nothing in the world but unfounded nonsense and vain imagination. Intellectuals are often seen as the divine prophets for the secularly-minded, but few of their thoughts and ideas will ever stand the test of time and will one day be regarded as the product of the ignorance of a by-gone era. “For I am God, there is no other.”

Can anything different be said of those who would build empires and rule over the lives of others? Is the legacy of one such as Alexander The Great, Caesar, Napoleon, or Genghis Khan any more lasting than the false deities or philosophers of yesteryear? Consider the end of such who sought to be kings and queens over the whole world. Not only have they passed from the world’s stage, but so have the empires and kingdoms which they struggled so hard to build. They sat upon a throne for a moment in time and now only their names survive the decay of history. “For I am God, there is no other.

The false religions and false gods of today will eventually suffer the same fate as those who came before them, of that we may be certain. Those who put their faith and hope in man have misplaced their faith indeed. Those who follow the teachings of Muhammed will one day be disappointed, because Muhammed is dead and buried. Or those who worship the Buddha will in no way find everlasting life because he, too, is dead and buried. And those who exalt the teachings of people like Joseph Smith, Charles Taze Russell, and others who have founded pseudo-Christian cults above the clear teachings of God’s own Word, the Bible, will find that these men and women were not gods either. The Word of God is eternal and will never pass away (Luke 21:33), but the words of these false prophets and false teachers will one day be proven to be dangerous delusions which deceived many. “For I am God, there is no other.

Finally, there has been a great return in recent times to that very first idolatry: the exaltation of self. Not that this self-worship has ever really left. Man has continued to believe the serpent’s words in the Garden – “you shall be like God.” Many of those living in modern times say that there is nothing worthy of worship and would agree that all these things we’ve considered are not gods either. Yet they fall down at the altar of their own ego and have replaced faith in anything with pride. Claiming to adhere to a doctrine of atheism, these people put their own success, their own happiness, their own pleasure above everything and are not really atheists at all. They are not without belief in a god because they ultimately consider themselves to be god; at least of their own little world. Perhaps they do not seek to rule upon a throne over others or build their own kingdom, but they do esteem their own will and desire as more valuable and important than that of anyone else. Yet God Almighty says to them:

“For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:” (1 Peter 1:24-25 KJV)

Though they would exalt themselves above the stars, though they would, as Lucifer, ascend above the heights of the clouds (Isaiah 14:14), though they would happily receive the praise and adoration and worship of men, as did Herod when he spoke and the people cried out, “It is the voice of a god and not a man!” (Acts 12:22), in the end, God will have the final word. “For I am God, there is no other.

At life’s end, and end it shall, nothing will remain of the fortunes and kingdoms which men have built. Though a man rule over half the world he will, at last, occupy no more than a six foot by three foot plot of land. And though he possesses more riches than can be fathomed, he will leave this world just as he came into it (1 Timothy 6:7). The story is told of John D. Rockefeller, the Bill Gates of his time, dying and his family waiting eagerly outside of his accountant’s office to find out how much of his staggering fortune he had bequeathed to them in his will. When the account emerged, one relative, unable to control his greedy excitement blurted out, “Well, how much did he leave?” The accountant simply responded, “He left all of it.”

God has sought since time immemorial to teach mankind that He is God and there is no other, not so that His ego might be stroked but that man would look unto Him for Salvation. Man has looked unto every other possible source for Salvation, joy, and fulfillment and has come up empty. God alone can save, God alone can provide fulfillment and lasting peace. The first part of the verse we have been considering says, “Turn to Me and be saved...” Do not turn to a false god, or false religion, or some other person, or the works of your own hands. Turn to Me. It is only by turning to Jesus Christ that a person may be saved (Acts 4:12). How do we know that “God” speaking in Isaiah 45:22 is referring to Jesus Christ? Because of what it says in the next verse:

“I have sworn by Myself,
The word has gone forth from My mouth in righteousness
And will not turn back,
That to Me every knee will bow, every tongue will swear allegiance.” (Isaiah 45:23)

Let’s compare that to Philippians 2:10:

“So that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” 

 This demonstrates the truth of the Trinity. God the Father, God the Son (Jesus Christ), and God the Holy Spirit are One God. So, we are saved when we turn to Jesus. Yet who may turn to Him? All the ends of the earth. This is likely referring to spiritual condition as much as geography. Not only may the man in Australia and the woman in Peru both turn to Jesus and be saved, but so may the drunkard in Belgium and the convicted murderer in India. The dregs of society stand on equal footing with the heads of state when it comes to access to God for Salvation. None are excluded based on location, neither are any disqualified due to transgression. May we all today acknowledge that God is God and there is none else and may we turn to Him and be saved.

To God goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

Strange Fire

“Now Nadab and Abihu, the sons of Aaron, took their respective firepans, and after putting fire in them, placed incense on it and offered strange fire before the Lord, which He had not commanded them.  And fire came out from the presence of the Lord and consumed them, and they died before the Lord.” (Leviticus 10:1-2)

Leviticus chapter 9 ends with a wonderful picture of worship done correctly. Every step of the way throughout the offering of sacrifices Aaron and his sons heed the words of Moses as he issues the commands that God Himself has given. In verses 9, 12, 18, and 20, Aaron’s sons are specifically mentioned as participating in the ceremonies and assisting their father. Verse 24, the final verse of the chapter, finds God sending out a holy fire upon the burnt offerings and the people of Israel shouting and falling to their faces in praise and worship of God Almighty.

I wonder just how much time passed between what is described in Leviticus 9:24 and the very next verse, 10:1. Because the entire mood and feel of the narrative takes a very dramatic turn for the worse. Now we have two of the sons of Aaron, Nadab and Abihu, deciding to stray from the clear instructions of God spoken through Moses and taking it upon themselves to offer strange fire, that is, fire not commanded by God to be brought. And the same fire that had just been said to consume the burnt offerings came again and consumed the two men.

Although we are not specifically told in detail what the strange fire was that they brought, we are given some hints. In verse 3, Moses recounts the words of the Lord when he tells Aaron,

“By those who come near Me I will be treated as holy,
And before all the people I will be honored.”

And in verse 9 God, Who has spoken nearly exclusively with Moses throughout the time the Children of Israel were in the Wilderness, directly addresses Aaron saying,

“Do not drink wine or strong drink, neither you nor your sons with you, when you come into the tent of meeting, so that you will not die—it is a perpetual statute throughout your generations—”

Perhaps the two sons of Aaron were drunk and sought to recreate the experience of worship just for the thrill of it. Maybe, since they were Levitical priests, they felt that they were at liberty to come before God at any time and in any condition they wanted. Whatever the case, they were indicted by God Himself as treating the Lord with dishonor and failing to make a distinction between the holy and the profane (v. 10).

It is significant that this incident directly follows the act of Aaron and the priests making atonement for sin through the sacrifice of sin offerings and burnt offerings since the Old Testament ceremonies of Atonement are a direct foreshadow of Christ’s work of Salvation on the Cross; as evidenced in the Book of Hebrews. It is, therefore, appropriate to find parallels between the actions of Nadab and Abihu profaning the God-ordained rites of Atonement and the works of Salvation performed by the Lord Jesus.

Nadab and Abihu came to God in a way, and at a time, and in a place that God had not instructed them. In short, they came to God on their own terms, not on His. They violated the Law of Moses given by God by seeking to come to God some other way.

We do not live in the age of the Law of Moses, but in the age of the Grace of God through Jesus Christ. Nevertheless, there is a Way by which we are instructed to come to God that we are no more able to bypass than were the sons of Aaron able to bypass the instructions of Moses. Jesus Himself said,

“I am the way, and the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through Me.” (John 14:6)

And, again, in the Book of Acts, we find the words of Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, proclaiming about Jesus:

“And there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12)

People still offer strange fire to God by seeking to come to Him on their own terms and in their own way. But we have as clear-cut instructions for how we are to approach a Holy God as the Hebrews living under the Law of Moses did. There are those who feel that, because of who they are or what position they hold, they are free to come to God in any way they deem fit.

There are also even believers who offer strange fire to God when they try to recreate the thrill and excitement that genuine worship of the Lord brings when our hearts are right before Him and, like the two sons of Aaron, profane the holiness of God by coming before Him drunk in their own pride and vanity, attempting to persuade God to respond to their own efforts apart from Him.

We have an access to the throne of God that those living under the Old Testament never had (Hebrews 4:16), but let us never forget that we are only permitted into the Presence of God through the Lord Jesus. God is still a holy God and we must never approach His holy Presence in an unholy way. Before we come before God, let us make sure that our hearts are right before Him and that we are coming through faith in Jesus Christ. If our hearts are not right, then that should be the first order of business when we do come to Him. Not that sin should ever keep us from Him, on the contrary, He is the only One Who can cleanse us from sin. But let us not presume to come to Him offering the strange fire of our own self-righteousness and expecting God to accept it.

To God goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

Were Not Our Hearts Burning Within Us?

Brooklyn_Museum_-_The_Pilgrims_of_Emmaus_on_the_Road_(Les_pèlerins_d'Emmaüs_en_chemin)_-_James_Tissot

They said to one another, “Were not our hearts burning within us while He was speaking to us on the road, while He was explaining the Scriptures to us?” (Luke 24:32)

The two travelers to Emmaus were astonished by their own unbelief after the Lord Jesus revealed His identity to them. How could they have walked so many miles beside the Savior, hearing His own exposition of Scripture and not have even recognized Him?

The Lord Jesus speaks into the ears of many, both those who are His own and those who are not. Some recognize Him, others don’t. Yet the day will come when we shall see Him for Who He truly is and wonder, like the two travelers, did not my heart burn within me as I heard His Words? How could I have failed to recognize, in so many instances, the voice of the Son Of God speaking into my life?

“And they approached the village where they were going, and He acted as though He were going farther.” (Luke 24:28)

Jesus had appeared to these two men for the specific purpose of showing them that what had happened to Him in Jerusalem was not the end, it was only the beginning. All that had transpired was according to the plan of God. The Crucifixion, the Resurrection, all of it had been spoken of by the Holy Spirit, through the prophets, and recorded in the Scriptures.

And it was the response of the two disciples to what He had said that caused Him to tarry long enough to show Himself to them. Though He did not intend to go farther, Jesus acted as though He would. They asked Him to stay with them. Their prayer, as it were, was that the Lord might remain with them.

God is speaking to us daily; through His Word, through the preaching of His ministers, through the circumstances of our lives. He would that we would all pray Him, “Abide with me.” But for some His voice makes no impression at all and the heart remains hard and the ear closed. So He goes father, just as He has before. And with each passing the hardened heart grows colder and His voice seems all the fainter. It is never His intention to pass us by, He only acted as if He would go farther along the Road to Emmaus. No, His business and purpose was within the place where Clops and his companion were staying.

May we all stay sensitive to the voice of our Shepherd. May we recognize Him when He speaks. And may we, too, bid Him to stay with us.

To God goes all glory. In service to Him,

Loren

loren@answersfromthebook.org

**Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from the New American Standard Bible (NASB) © The Lockman Foundation and are used by permission.

[If you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ or you are not certain where you are headed when this life ends, I invite you to read the article “Am I Going To Heaven?“]

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