Eyes That See

“I Once Was Blind”

Hosea part 1

Why did God tell Hosea to take a wife of adultery and children of unfaithfulness?

God told Hosea to take a wife of adultery and children of unfaithfulness because Hosea was to be a living example of the relationship between God and His people. God sees sin as spiritual adultery. In Numbers 15:37-41, the Lord gives instructions through Moses that the people were to wear tassels on the corners of their garments. Verse 39 says, “and it shall be a tassel for you to look at and remember all the commandments of the Lord, to do them, not to follow after your own heart and your own eyes, which you are inclined to whore after.” So when we follow after our own heart and our own eyes, instead of remembering and doing all the commandments of the Lord, God calls that “whoring.” Also, James 4:4 says, “You adulteresses! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God?” God sees our relationship with Him as something like marriage, and when we are unfaithful to Him- by pursuing the desires of our hearts and eyes and the sins of the world- He considers that whoredom and adultery. So in the life of Hosea, and in his love for his adultrous wife, we see something of God’s love for us. Even though we are all guilty of “whoring after” the desires of our hearts and eyes, and we are all guilty of “friendship with the world,” God still pursues us with His amazing love like Hosea pursued Gomer. And just as Hosea paid dearly to free Gomer, God has paid dearly to free us. He gave His only Son, that each and every one of us adulteresses who believes in Jesus will not perish, but will have etenal life!

More importantly, Hosea’s instuctions, life, and writings were intended to point forward to the Seed of woman, the Offspring of Abraham, the Lion of the tribe of of Judah, the heir of David who is enthroned forever, the Messiah, Christ Jesus.

Imagine God speaking these words, not to His prophet Hosea, but to His only Son before He took on flesh and walked among us.

“Go, take to yourself a wife of harlotry.”

For the apostle Paul described Christ as the prototypical Husband, leading and laying down His life for His bride, the church. Imagine these words from the Father, not to Hosea after his wife had left him, but to His Son when He had pleaded thrice that the cup of the cross would pass.

“Go again, love a woman who is loved by her husband, yet an adulteress.”

What amazing love! A man will hardly die for a good woman, but this is the love of God, in that while we were yet adulteresses, Christ died for us! If we will but turn from the filth of our sins, look to the Son of man who has been lifted up for the salvation of sinners, and believe in Him, then this amazing, adultery-forgiving love of almighty God will be ours!

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May 1, 2009 Posted by | Bible, Religion | 1 Comment

Abraham: The Father of 3 Religions?

Was Abraham the father of the three major religions in the world- Judaism, Christianity, and Islam? I would say that he was the father of only one modern religion, on the basis of two reasons. First, the Jewish Tanakh, which is the Christian Old Testament and mentioned in the Qur’an as the “Holy Scriptures,” is an incomplete work. Even with the addition of the Talmud, the other collection of writings that are central to Judaism, Judaism is an incomplete religion because it both awaits its promised Messiah and does not explain how God can be quick to forgive without leaving the guilty unpunished. Christianity piggy-backs off of Judaism by acknowledging the writings of the Tanakh, the Old Testament, as holy writings. Islam attempts to similarly piggy-back off of Christianity by acknowledging both the Old Testament and the New Testament as holy writings- calling them the “Holy Scriptures” and the “Gospels”- and by relegating Jesus Christ, who the New Testament claims is the Tanakh/Old Testament’s promised Messiah, to the status of a prophet.

Secondly, according to the apostle Paul only one of the three religions is based on the faith of Abraham. So, although he may be the physical ancestor of all three religions, on the basis of faith he can and should only be seen as the father of one.

Our questions are these: Is the Christian claim to being the fulfillment of Judaism valid? Is Christianity complete, unlike Judaism? Is the Islamic claim to being the fulfillment of Christianity valid? Which of the three major religions has the faith of Abraham, and therefore is truly the heir of “father Abraham?” Last and most importantly, was Jesus the Christ, the Messiah that was promised in the Tanakh/Old Testament?

As I said before, Judaism is incomplete because at the close of their holy writings there is no Messiah. And because, without the Messiah, there is no explanation as to how God can forgive without letting the guilty go unpunished. That forgiveness is necessary assumes the guilt of those needing forgiveness. This mystery, which I am stealing from Mark Dever’s book “The Message of the Old Testament: Promises Made,” is very clear in Exodus 34:6-7:

“The LORD passed before him (Moses) and proclaimed, ‘The LORD, the LORD, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.'”

As we see there, the LORD promises to forgive iniquity, transgression, and sin. However, He then says that He will “by no means clear the guilty.” I agree with Dever’s assessment that this can only be understood in connection with a Messiah who would take the guilt of God’s chosen people upon Himself. Just as the sacrificial system of the Old Testament allowed reconciliation between God’s chosen people who had faith in God, and by faith that God would forgive their sins on the basis of the animal without blemish that was sacrificed. The death and blood of the animal paid the debt that was brought on by the sin. Since animals and their blood can accomplish nothing without the willingness of the living God, who is loving, merciful, and gracious beyond measure, the sacrificial system was really about the faith of God’s people and His willingness to forgive. However, modern Jews no longer participate in the sacrificial system. And they believe that their Messiah has not yet come. This begs the question, whereby does reconciliation with God and forgiveness of their sins come, with no sacrifice and no Messiah? Just as the religious writings leave off incomplete, with no reconciliation or forgiveness the Jewish religion is similarly incomplete.

The Christian New Testament claims that Jesus of Nazareth was the fulfillment of the Tanakh/Old Testament’s promised Messiah, and that through Jesus alone can the mysterious mercy without excluding justice be possible. He took upon Himself the sins of God’s chosen people on the Cross. Therefore, they are no longer guilty before God and He is able to forgive without letting the guilty go unpunished.

Christianity does leave off with a few mysteries, but they are mysteries that are promised to be understood when Jesus the Messiah returns. Therefore Christianity is not incomplete and does not need fulfillment the way that Judaism is incomplete and wanting fulfillment. We do not know when the Messiah will return, but we know who He is and that He will come. However, Islam attempts to piggy-back off of Christianity anyways. Islam does not deny the holy writings that are known as the Old Testament and the New Testament within Christianity. Neither do they deny that there was a man named Jesus who had supernatural abilities and was an extraordinary teacher. They accredit the Christian holy writings as the “Holy Scriptures and the Gospels” and Jesus as a prophet, who the Qur’an says lived flawlessly. However, there are two main ways in which Islam and Christianity cannot be reconciled. First there are things in the Qur’an that are irreconcilable with the Christian writings. For example, the Qur’an instructs its followers to kill “infidels” (unbelievers) if they will not convert to Islam. Secondly, they relegate Jesus from Messiah to prophet. Jesus taught that He was the way, the truth, and the life, and that no man comes to the Father except by Him. Islam and this statement from the lips of Jesus cannot both be true. In order for Islam to be true, Jesus must be relegated, as they attempt to relegate Him, to merely a prophet. And the Cross, where Christians find the essence of meaning, must be relegated to a meaningless event. If Jesus is not the exclusive way to God, then the Cross was unnecessary.

Paul says that by his faith righteousness was credited to Abraham, and Christians are to similarly trust the God of Abraham, who raised our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead. Judaism and Islam are both works-based religions, whereby righteousness is a reward for living righteously. However, neither religion accounts for unrighteousness. Christianity is the only religion that calls for faith, like that of Abraham, by which Christians will both receive the necessary righteousness to stand justified before God and their unrighteousness will be accounted for, as by their faith their sins were paid for by Jesus on the Cross. Therefore, only Christianity can claim to be an heir of Abraham because it is the only religion that is based on the faith of “father Abraham.”

I chose to address this question last, although this changes the order in which I introduced them, because I wanted to save it for last. The true test of which of the three religions contains Truth is the identity of one Man. If Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, then Christianity and not Judaism contains Truth. If Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, and not merely a prophet as Islam contends, then Christianity and not Islam contains Truth. If Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, then the Truth of the Tanakh/Old Testament continues to the Christian New Testament. If Jesus was the Jewish Messiah, then the Truth of the Old and New Testaments stops there, and does not continue to the Qur’an.

Although the Cross is arguably the most significant event for Christians- for by the Cross alone can we be forgiven of sins and reconciled with God- the Resurrection of Jesus is the most significant here. Many men died by Roman crucifixion. The Resurrection proves that only one of those men was the Son of God. I argue for the resurrection here.

I believe with every fiber of my being that God raised Jesus Christ from the dead and that Jesus was the Tanakh’s promised Messiah. I believe that there is a God, and that He is holy and just. I believe that our sins against God have both angered Him and caused separation between mankind and God. I believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life, and that no man comes to the Father but by Jesus. Jesus’ substitutionary death satisfied the righteous anger of God and paid the death penalty warranted by our sins, and by that death alone can we have eternal life.

Trust in Jesus, He is the Lord of the universe He created. Confess with your mouth that He is Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead and you will be saved!

June 11, 2008 Posted by | Bible, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Faith, God, Islam, Jesus, Judaism, Religion | , , , , , | 4 Comments

William Tyndale.

How many copies of the Holy Bible do you have?  Do you have a copy of the Holy Bible in English?  Have you ever had to learn another language because you did not have access to the Holy Bible in English? 

Why?  Because of William Tyndale.  The Bible is accessible in English because William Tyndale lived and died to translate the Bible into English.  My bro, “150,” wrote a blog about Reading the Greek New Testament.  I don’t know Greek, so I probably wouldn’t have read the blog if it had been longer.  But I did read it.  And in that blog he has a link to a message from the legendary John Piper, called “Always Singing One Note-A Vernacular Bible.”

Piper could have also given his message the title “How Your English Copy of the Holy Bible Got to Your Dresser, Coffee Table, Bookshelf, or Night Stand,” but his title rolls off the tongue a little better.  Anyways, your English Bible would not be where it is if it wasn’t for William Tyndale.  Read or listen to this message to find out how valuable translating the Bible into English was to Tyndale, and how much more valuable our English Bibles should be to us- first and foremost because it is the Word of God, and also because William Tyndale died to put them in our hands.

May 30, 2008 Posted by | Bible, William Tyndale | , , | Leave a comment

The Best News

What is the Best News that God, the Bible, and Christianity have to offer?

God created this world, and it is magnificent.  But is that the Best News?

Hell is more infinitely terrible than our simple brains can fathom, and in Jesus, God gives us a “get of hell free” card.  But is that the Best News?

Heaven is as infinitely great as hell is infinitely terrible and then some, and God tells us in His Word that by putting our faith in His Son we can spend eternity in heaven.  But is that the Best News?

God loves us and wants us to be happy, and as our Father He wants to bless us with every good thing and every perfect gift.  But is that the Best News?

Those are all included in the great news that is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but John Piper would say that none of those things qualify as the Best News that God, the Bible, and Christianity have to offer.  Piper would say that the Best News is that, through Christ, we are able to have an intimate knowledge of God and enjoy Him forever.  And after listening to his two-part message called “Sex and the Supremacy of Christ”, I joyfully concur. 

What I love about John Piper is how Biblically solid he is and how he always strives to exult Jesus Christ.  Because he backs up what he says with the Word of God (and usually with multiple texts), it is often impossible to both accept that the Bible is the Word of God and logically disagree with Piper.  And because he strives to ceaselessly exult Jesus, I rarely leave his books or sermons without a desire to imitate him in that fashion.

 The “Sex and the Supremacy of Christ” messages were intended to give his audience the best way to Godly sexuality, but the Supremacy of Christ was indubitably the central theme.  And the Supremacy of Christ is essential to both living the Christian life and combatting the sins of this world.  Therefore, although the message was intended to encourage Godly sexuality, the messages can definitely be applied to all areas of the Christian life. 

You can hear part 1 here:  http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/ConferenceMessages/ByDate/1657_Sex_and_the_Supremacy_of_Christ_Part_1/

And part 2 here:  http://www.desiringgod.org/ResourceLibrary/ConferenceMessages/ByDate/184_Sex_and_the_Supremacy_of_Christ_Part_2/

October 27, 2007 Posted by | Bible, Blessed, Blessings, Christ, Christian, Christianity, Delight, Desiring God, Doers of the Word, Faith, Father, Giver, God, Heart, Infinite, John Piper, Life, Lord, Pleasure, Prosperity, Religion, righteousness, Satisfaction, Sex and the Supremacy of Christ, The Law of the Lord, The Resurrection, the Word of God | Leave a comment

Doers of the Word?

Psalm 1

“How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, Nor stand in the path of sinners, Nor sit in the seat of scoffers!  But his delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.  He will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, Which yields its fruit in its season And its leaf does not wither; And in whatever he does, he prospers.

The wicked are not so, But they are like chaff which the wind drives away.  Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the assembly of the righteous.  For the Lord knows the way of the righteous, But the way of the wicked will perish.”

James 1:22 – “But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.”

According to Blaise Pascal, by way of John Piper’s “Desiring God,” all men seek their own happiness.  He does not divide men into two categories the way that Psalm 1 does.  Therefore, both wicked men and righteous men seek their own happiness.  The difference is found in the means to the end; the end being their own happiness.

So how are the means of the righteous and the means of the wicked different as they seek their own happiness?  “[The righteous man’s] delight is in the law of the Lord, And in His law he meditates day and night.”

The difference in whether your way will perish or prosper is whether or not you delight in the Lord and His law and meditate on it day and night.  By that measure I am wicked far more often than I am righteous.

I am studying “Desiring God” with my good friend and hero Travis Cardwell, and Piper’s thoughts in his book are obvious and Biblically solid.  But, they are difficult to put into practice.  I see the magnificence of God everywhere in this world.  I see the unthinkable mercy that God showed to me even though I turned my back on Him for years and sought to live my life without Him.  I see that just as hell is overwhelmingly terrible, God is infinitely glorious because He gave me a way to avoid hell- even though hell is the only thing I deserve from Him.

And I love Him when I am thinking about Him and when I do meditate on Him, His law, His creations, and all of His blessings.  Those are times when “desiring God” comes easily. 

And yet how quickly my simple mind forgets.  And how my simple heart seeks satisfaction in the simple pleasures of His creations and His gifts, all the while ignoring the infinite blessings, prosperity, and pleasures of the Giver.  And so my question is, “How do I put Piper’s theories into practice all the time, rather than only when it comes easily?”

The answer, I believe, is found by combining Psalm 1 with James 1:22.  My delight must be in the law of the Lord.  And I must meditate in it day and night.  And, I must be a doer of the word, and not merely a hearer who deludes myself.

August 25, 2007 Posted by | Bible, Doers of the Word, Faith, God, Heart, James, Psalm 1, Religion, righteousness | 4 Comments