Thursday, June 30, 2016

The Final Word

Have you read the 29th chapter of Deuteronomy? I have a couple of times. So, why look at it again? To study deeper, not just to read, after a visiting preacher mentioned this verse:

The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 29:29 KJV)

The final verse in a chapter that leads in with a new covenant.  As the Pulpit Commentary reminds us that Deuteronomy 29:1 is a lead into a chapter wherein . . .
. . . is contained an address to the people by Moses, in which he appeals to them to enter anew into the covenant with the Lord, which had been before concluded at Horeb; denounces apostasy as what would lead certainly to their being rejected of God; assures them at the same time of God's readiness to restore them should they sincerely repent and return to him; and once more sets before them the blessing and the curse, and adjures them to choose the blessing.
It is an explanation that should have meaning for us today. A covenant is an agreement between two entities. Here it is between God and the nation-to-be of Israel. After giving some historical background, Moses states what God offers:

That thou shouldest enter into covenant with the LORD thy God, and into his oath, which the LORD thy God maketh with thee this day: That he may establish thee to day for a people unto himself, and that he may be unto thee a God, as he hath said unto thee, and as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. (Deuteronomy 29:12-13 KJV)

Moses also explains what will break the covenant – and mankind breaks it first, thus turning away from what God has promised. Then this might happen:

Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood; And it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst: (Deuteronomy 29:18-19 KJV)

This absolutely applies to us today. We have turned away from the Lord our God. We have told ourselves that we’re at peace with where we are, doing what God has told us not to do and not doing what He has told us to do.

Then men shall say, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them forth out of the land of Egypt: (Deuteronomy 29:25 KJV)

No, we were not brought out of Egypt – we were bought out of sin through God’s plan defined in John 3:16. Why? That’s laid out in the final verse that begins this page. God has secrets. Secrets that unfold according to His plan. As Paul wrote:

But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, even the hidden wisdom, which God ordained before the world unto our glory: Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. (1 Corinthians 2:7-8 KJV)

Call it secrets or call it mysteries – there is a plan God set in motion and keeps to Himself. We see a glimpse in John’s Revelation, but God does have the final word. Prepared to hear it from Him?

Saturday, June 11, 2016

Does Loving Forgiveness Mean Approval?

A couple of scenarios, if you will:

A child deliberately disobeys a parent, expresses remorse, promises to do better and the parent forgives them – but the child continues to disobey. Does this mean the same error is permitted in the future?

A spouse cheats outside of marriage, is found out, apologizes, promises to maintain vows in the future and their spouse forgives them and does not file for divorce. Does that mean the cheating can continue?

Yet we all know of people and situations where errors – sin, if you will – continue. What’s our viewpoint on the repetition? Should what was forgiven as an error be repeated? How often? For how long?

Society has called for freedom to do as we please though it is shown not to be God’s will. How do we know what to do? How are we to act as Christians?

Then departed Barnabas to Tarsus, for to seek Saul: And when he had found him, he brought him unto Antioch. And it came to pass, that a whole year they assembled themselves with the church, and taught much people. And the disciples were called Christians first in Antioch. (Acts 11:25-26 KJV)

Do you see the cause and effect here? Barnabas and Saul went to Antioch, joined the local church and taught people what they knew about Christ. What the people saw and heard were all they knew about Christ, but they called these people by His name, acknowledging them as His followers.

When people come to Him in contrition, confession and acceptance of the grace He provides, we become His. However, if we continue in error, in willfully sinning, and He cannot be seen in us, why would anyone call us Christians? How do we show we are His followers, doing as He commanded?

Jesus taught love – God’s love. God is also judgment, tempered with mercy and grace – the grace that offered Himself as the bridge between our errors and His judgment. Love does forgive.

Consequences, however, cannot be erased. Continued sin cannot be condoned. God is the judge of our sin – and the definer of what is sin.

Many quote from Luke 6 to call Christians judgmental:

Judge not, and ye shall not be judged: condemn not, and ye shall not be condemned: forgive, and ye shall be forgiven: (Luke 6:37 KJV)

. . . while Christians – in that same chapter after instructing verses – believe Jesus’ instructions are to be of help:

Either how canst thou say to thy brother, Brother, let me pull out the mote that is in thine eye, when thou thyself beholdest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, cast out first the beam out of thine own eye, and then shalt thou see clearly to pull out the mote that is in thy brother's eye. (Luke 6:42 KJV)

We’re instructed to first be certain our lives reflect Christ’s, not the sins that separate from Him, and then help others, perhaps with similar problems simply because we’re experienced. Christ did not preach approval of sin.

Why else would Jesus say:

Afterward Jesus findeth him in the temple, and said unto him, Behold, thou art made whole: sin no more, lest a worse thing come unto thee. (John 5:14 KJV)

She said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said unto her, Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more. (John 8:11 KJV)