Archive for April, 2009

BEING A FRIEND OF GOD

WEDNESDAY – BEING A FRIEND OF GOD

Although the foundational description for appreciating our relationship with the Living God is as slaves, the status of the redeemed is elevated by other biblical terms. Notably we are called ‘the friends of God’. This was first used to describe the relationship that Abraham had with God:

NAU Isaiah 41:8 “But you, Israel, My servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, Descendant of Abraham My friend,

NIV Isaiah 41:8 “But you, O Israel, my servant, Jacob, whom I have chosen, you descendants of Abraham my friend,

KJV Isaiah 41:8 But thou, Israel, art my servant, Jacob whom I have chosen, the seed of Abraham my friend.

Isaiah was written between 740 and 680 B.C. or roughly 1,300 years after the time of Abraham. This concept of God as friend introduced by Isaiah was followed up by the author of 2 Chronicles whose inspired writings can be dated roughly two hundred years later between 536 and 515 B.C:

NAU 2 Chronicles 20:7 “Did You not, O our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before Your people Israel and give it to the descendants of Abraham Your friend forever?

NIV 2 Chronicles 20:7 O our God, did you not drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend?

KJV 2 Chronicles 20:7 Art not thou our God, who didst drive out the inhabitants of this land before thy people Israel, and gavest it to the seed of Abraham thy friend for ever?

To be a friend – the Greek word is teknon – was to be someone close, a dear one or beloved. This is no mere acquaintance but one who is a confident, one who is aware of another’s deep thoughts. This was demonstrated by God in the life of Abraham in Genesis 18:16-33 but especially in verse 17 in the reporting of God’s plans for Sodom and Gomorrah:

NAU Genesis 18:17 The LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do,

NIV Genesis 18:17 Then the LORD said, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?

KJV Genesis 18:17 And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do;

As a friend of God, Abraham is allowed to be privy to the intimate plans of God. But it is left to James in God’s revelation to explain why Abraham is called the friend of God:

NAU James 2:23 and the Scripture was fulfilled which says, “AND ABRAHAM BELIEVED GOD, AND IT WAS RECKONED TO HIM AS RIGHTEOUSNESS,” and he was called the friend of God.

NIV James 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” {23 Gen. 15:6} and he was called God’s friend.

KJV James 2:23 And the scripture was fulfilled which saith, Abraham believed God, and it was imputed unto him for righteousness: and he was called the Friend of God.

It was Abraham’s faith (i.e. confidence or trust) in God that resulted not only in the imputation of righteousness but in becoming God’s friend.

Are you a friend of God? A friend of God is one who trusts God for the care of his/her soul. God demonstrated His care for our soul by promising a remedy for our soul-sickness (i.e. sin) through the work of Christ. Our trust in God’s care for our soul through Christ’s work results in our enjoyment of the remedy – imputation or being declared righteous and therefore able to enter eternally into the presence of God. Such trust is rewarded by being called the friend of God – an elevation from our status as slaves.

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BIBLICAL DESCRIPTIONS OF BELIEVERS

TUESDAY – BIBLICAL DESCRIPTIONS OF BELIEVERS

I think one of the reasons that some believes struggle with the Lordship of God is the picture it portrays. It is a picture of servant hood. At least, that is the sanitized designation assigned by modern man. The actual biblical portrayal of the Greek word is slavery. This word produces many mental images – mostly negative. In its benign form it is simply a picture of a Master with a servant, a Lord who has absolute control and the final say over another individual. This can be a positive experience as portrayed in Exodus 21:1- 6. It can also conjure up the negative images of abuse to Africans by some of the British in England during the 1700’s and by some Southern Americans during the 1800’s, or in the modern day by African Muslims to African Christians.

However, it should be noted that slavery to God was a concept embraced by Jewish and Christian leaders in Scripture. There was Moses who was considered the slave of God:

NAU Revelation 15:3 And they sang the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, “Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations!

NIV Revelation 15:3 and sang the song of Moses the servant of God and the song of the Lamb: “Great and marvelous are your deeds, Lord God Almighty. Just and true are your ways, King of the ages.

KJV Revelation 15:3 And they sing the song of Moses the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb, saying, Great and marvelous are thy works, Lord God Almighty; just and true are thy ways, thou King of saints.

Incidentally, the term bond slave or bondservant is an unfortunate English translation of the Greek word doulos. It is best translated slave. The word refers to a person on the lowest level of servitude and one who was willing to give himself over to the will of another. This is what Moses did in his relationship with God as did James:

NAU James 1:1 James, a bond-servant of God

NIV James 1:1 James, a servant of God

KJV James 1:1 James, a servant of God

Peter:

NAU 2 Peter 1:1 Simon Peter, a bond-servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

NIV 2 Peter 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant and apostle of Jesus Christ,

KJV 2 Peter 1:1 Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ,

Jude:

NAU Jude 1:1 Jude, a bond-servant of Jesus Christ,

NIV Jude 1:1 Jude, a servant of Jesus Christ

KJV Jude 1:1 Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ,

John:

NAU Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave Him to show to His bond-servants, the things which must soon take place; and He sent and communicated it by His angel to His bond-servant John,

NIV Revelation 1:1 The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show his servants what must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,

KJV Revelation 1:1 The Revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave unto him, to shew unto his servants things which must shortly come to pass; and he sent and signified it by his angel unto his servant John:

And Paul:

NAU Romans 1:1 Paul, a bond-servant of Christ Jesus,

NIV Romans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus,

KJV Romans 1:1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ,

NAU Titus 1:1 Paul, a bond-servant of God,

NIV Titus 1:1 Paul, a servant of God

KJV Titus 1:1 Paul, a servant of God.

It was also embraced by Paul’s fellowworkers, Epaphrus and Tychicus:

NAU Colossians 1:7 just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant,

NIV Colossians 1:7 You learned it from Epaphras , our dear fellow servant,

KJV Colossians 1:7 As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant,

NAU Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ,

NIV Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus

KJV Colossians 4:12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ,

NAU Colossians 4:7 As to all my affairs, Tychicus, our beloved brother and faithful servant and fellow bond-servant in the Lord, will bring you information.

NIV Colossians 4:7 Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.

KJV Colossians 4:7 All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord:

In fact, Peter tells all believers to have an attitude of being slaves:

NAU 1 Peter 2:16 Act as free men, and do not use your freedom as a covering for evil, but use it as bondslaves of God.

NIV 1 Peter 2:16 Live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as servants of God.

KJV 1 Peter 2:16 As free, and not using your liberty for a cloke of maliciousness, but as the servants of God.

More importantly it is a term used to describe Jesus:

NAU Philippians 2:7 but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.

NIV Philippians 2:7 but made himself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant,

KJV Philippians 2:7 But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant,

If Jesus did not reject this term then neither should we. We are, after all, slaves of God not only because He created us but, more importantly for believers, because He is their Redeeming Lord. We were stripped naked exposing our pitiful yet unacceptable self-righteousness before God and redeemed from this pitiful condition for relationship, friendship, and sonship (terms all to be discussed this week) with God. Yet slavery to God is the foundation for appreciating the rest of the terms that we will examine this week.

Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift (2 Corinthians 9:15)!

REDEMPTION: EARNED OR APPRECIATED

The tyranny of the urgent has struck again! No post on Monday or Tuesday, and now a late post on Wednesday.

The delay, however, has given me a lot of time to think about Jesus as the Lord of Creation and as the Lord of Redemption. It has dominated my thinking. It caused me to think more deeply about the limitations of accepting Jesus as ONLY the Lord of Creation.

Bowing to Jesus – whether now or at the end of our time on earth – as Lord of creation benefits no man. This is a great acknowledgement but it is not the acknowledgment He is looking for in Psalm 2:12 and Isaiah 45:23. He is looking for the demonstrated recognition that accompanies bowing to Jesus as Lord of the Redeemed as a result of believing the Gospel. The tragedy is that most who hear the Gospel will reject its message and miss the honor of knowing Jesus as Lord over the Redeemed.

But my contemplation of Lordship took me in a different direction as well. I asked myself, ‘Am I serving Jesus as my Redeemer Lord because I appreciate His work of Redemption or because I am seeking His approval for redemption?’ As a young Christian years ago, I did not at first clearly see the fullness and the richness that faith in Jesus’ work on the cross provides. There was a sense of still needing to seek His approval through acts of goodness rather than resting by faith in Jesus’ substitutionary death. As I have grown over the years in my understanding of the greatness of His work on the cross I understand more and more my helplessness to gain His favor through any act of goodness. As a result, I appreciate more and more His work to provide by faith what I cannot do through effort. This appreciation causes me to obediently serve Jesus as my Redeeming Lord.

So today’s post is a reminder and a challenge. Are we doing acts of goodness to ensure our redemption or because we appreciate His work of redemption? If our motivation is the former, we need to accept the Gospel through faith and then appreciate our Redeemer with actions that show our love for His work.

NAU 1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

NIV 1 John 5:2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,

KJV 1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

GOD: CREATOR AND REDEEMING KING?

FRIDAY – CREATOR AND REDEEMING KING?

THIS IS MY FATHER’S WORLD

This is My Father’s World

And to my listening ears

All nature sings

And round me rings

The music of the spheres

This is my Father’s world

I rest me in the thought

Of rocks and trees,

Of skies and seas

His hand the wonders wrought


ALL GLORY, LAUD AND HONOR

All Glory, Laud and Honor

To Thee Redeemer King

To whom the lips of children

Made sweet hosannas ring

Thou art the King of Israel

Thou David’s royal Son

Who in the Lord’s Name cometh

The King and Blessed One


Two great but different hymns. Two different verses. Two different thoughts. Two different focuses. One focus on God as Creator, the other on God as Redeemer.

If we focus only on God as Creator, we will fail to enjoy an eternal relationship with Him. The theology of religions other than Judaism and Christianity will focus on God as Lord of Creation who deserves man’s allegiance and obedience to earn a place in the Kingdom of God (KOG).

Biblical Judaism and Christianity are different. They teach of a Creator God who redeems in order to be known. Without His redeeming work there is no knowing the Creator God.

But knowing the Creator God though His redeeming work has its responsibilities. When the Lord of Creation is embraced as the Redeeming Lord, the redeemed strive to demonstrate their appreciation for His redeeming work by seeking to know and live His revealed will. Their focus shifts from God being the Lord of Creation to one of demonstrating that the God of Redemption is Lord of their life as an act of appreciation for His redeeming work now embraced through faith.

NAU 2 Corinthians 7:1 Therefore, having these promises, beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all defilement of flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

NIV 2 Corinthians 7:1 Since we have these promises, dear friends, let us purify ourselves from everything that contaminates body and spirit, perfecting holiness out of reverence for God.

KJV 2 Corinthians 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.

LORD OF THE REDEEMED

THURSDAY – THE LORD OF THE REDEEMED

A Lord or Master is one who has the power to control others at will. He is one with absolute authority. He defines what is right and wrong, good and bad. He establishes boundaries of conduct.

God is Lord and Master over His Creation. He made us, we did not just appear (Psalm 100:3). It was His power that made us from the dust of the ground (Gen 2:7). He has defined what is right and wrong , good and bad based upon who He is (Exodus 20:1-17). He established a boundary of conduct (Genesis 2:15-17). But mankind has rebelled and continues to be in rebellion against God as Creator.

God has not only established His Lordship over us as our Creator, but He has established His Lordship over us as our Redeemer. To understand His Lordship as Redeemer we must have a proper picture in our minds. To do this we must picture a slave market outside of Israel (I emphasize outside of Israel because God presented Israel with humane guidelines for servitude among His people which is for a future discussion). One who was enslaved in the ancient world was stripped of his or her dignity and openly displayed naked before potential buyers. After examination, the bidding would begin and the winner would pay the redemption or ransom price and become the owner of that person. The buyer became the Lord or Master in that individual’s life because he was their redeemer. He or she was obligated to do the Master’s bidding. Paying the redemption or ransom price is the meaning of both the Hebrew and Greek word used in Scripture to describe God’s work in Israel and Christians.

This is true of Israel:

NAU Exodus 6:6 “Say, therefore, to the sons of Israel, ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from their bondage. I will also redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great judgments.

NIV Exodus 6:6 “Therefore, say to the Israelites: ‘I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the yoke of the Egyptians. I will free you from being slaves to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with mighty acts of judgment.

KJV Exodus 6:6 Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments.

It is true of Christians:

NAU Titus 2:14 who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds.

NIV Titus 2:14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.

KJV Titus 2:14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.

As our Redeemer, God has the right of absolute control over our lives. He is the One with absolute authority over us. He defines what is right and wrong, good and bad. He establishes our boundaries of conduct. He is a benevolent dictator.

Like slaves in the market, mankind stands exposed because of their sin before God. Those who hunger and thirst after righteousness (Matthew 5:6) long to be redeemed. However, not all men desire to be redeemed or to acknowledge God as their Redeemer. This leaves them as unclaimed and unredeemed slaves of sin. But for those who desire and believe in the work of Jesus’ on the cross for their redemption from the slavery of sin and its consequences it means they are servants of their Redemptive Master. He owns them and has absolute control over their lives. He is their Lord.

May we appreciate His redeeming work and demonstrate our appreciation with grateful submission to His will.

NAU 1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and observe His commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments; and His commandments are not burdensome.

NIV 1 John 5:2 This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. 3 This is love for God: to obey his commands. And his commands are not burdensome,

KJV 1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments. 3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.

NAU 1 John 2:5 but whoever keeps His word, in him the love of God has truly been perfected. By this we know that we are in Him:

NIV 1 John 2:5 But if anyone obeys his word, God’s love is truly made complete in him. This is how we know we are in him:

KJV 1 John 2:5 But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him.

LORD OF CREATION

WEDNESDAY – THE LORD OF CREATION

There is one thing that all of mankind has in common – they are all created by God. We are created in His image. We all share this common heritage. Though presently there are many races, we all came from one man (Adam) and one woman (Eve). And God has not let us forget this truth in His revelation:

NAU Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness;

NIV Genesis 1:26 Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness,

KJV Genesis 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness:

NAU Mark 10:6 “But from the beginning of creation, God MADE THEM MALE AND FEMALE.

NIV Mark 10:6 “But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.

KJV Mark 10:6 But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female.

NAU Mark 13:19 “For those days will be a time of tribulation such as has not occurred since the beginning of the creation which God created until now, and never will.

NIV Mark 13:19 because those will be days of distress unequaled from the beginning, when God created the world, until now– and never to be equaled again.

KJV Mark 13:19 For in those days shall be affliction, such as was not from the beginning of the creation which God created unto this time, neither shall be.

And we must not forget that while Genesis 1 declares that God created the heavens and the earth, later revelation declares that it is the creative work of the Second Person of the Trinity – Jesus!

NAU Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

NIV Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.

KJV Genesis 1:1 In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.

NAU John 1:3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.

NIV John 1:3 Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.

KJV John 1:3 All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.

NAU Colossians 1:16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created through Him and for Him.

NIV Colossians 1:16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.

KJV Colossians 1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

As our Creator, God is our Master, our Lord. Man tends to forget this truth but God gently reminds us:

NAU Psalm 100:3 Know that the LORD Himself is God; It is He who has made us, and not we ourselves; We are His people and the sheep of His pasture.

NIV Psalm 100:3 Know that the LORD is God. It is he who made us, and we are his; we are his people, the sheep of his pasture.

KJV Psalm 100:3 Know ye that the LORD he is God: it is he that hath made us, and not we ourselves; we are his people, and the sheep of his pasture.

God has staked His claim as Lord over us by being our creator. We may rebel against God’s Lordship as Creator but the truth remains – we are His by creation. He owns us and has the right to rule over us.

And all men will have to acknowledge this truth one day as Isaiah 45:3 told us yesterday. Yet, it is not enough to merely acknowledge YHWH as Lord of all creation. The person who only bows to YHWH as the Creator God is in the same predicament as the person who refuses to acknowledge YHWH as their Creator God. They are both rejected by God. Theists, in the broadest definition of the term, are on equal ground with the atheist if YHWH is only submitted to as Lord of Creation. There is another submission by man to God that is necessary to receive God’s favor as we will see tomorrow.

THE LORDSHIP OF JESUS

TUESDAY – Isaiah 45:23

THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST

I think one of the more compelling and pre-eminent verses in the Bible is Isaiah 45:23.

NAU Isaiah 45:23 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.

NIV Isaiah 45:23 By myself I have sworn, my mouth has uttered in all integrity a word that will not be revoked: Before me every knee will bow; by me every tongue will swear.

KJV Isaiah 45:23 I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear.

Isaiah is like the Bible in miniature. The Bible has 66 books, the Book of Isaiah has 66 chapters. The Bible is divided into two parts – the Old Testament (39 books) and the New Testament (27 books). Isaiah is divided into two parts – The Prophecies of Condemnation (the first 39 chapters) and the Prophecies of Comfort (the next 27 chapters).

Isaiah 45 is found in part 2 of Isaiah – The prophecies of Comfort. More particularly it is found in a section dealing with prophecies discussing the deliverance of Israel. More specifically, chapter 45 is detailing God’s comforting of Israel after using Cyrus to deliver the nation. It is also a chapter dealing with Divine Lordship over mankind.

Isaiah 45:23 is the basis for two arguments used by Paul in the New Testament found in Romans 14:11 and Philippians2:10. In Romans 14:11 it is used in a discussion of Christian principles to discourage judgmentalism among Christians. His argument is that all believers will appear before the judgment seat of Christ and give an account to Him, therefore, we must not judge other Christians based on our preferences rather than the clearly proclaimed standards of God.

Philippians 2:10 is used a little differently. After describing the submission of Jesus’ Divinity to His humanity in the Incarnation as an example of humility for Christians to follow, he uses Isaiah 45:23 to exalt Jesus as the Messiah to be worshipped. I think Paul also had a picture from Psalm 2:12 in his mind as well.

As a pre-eminent verse in the OT used twice in the NT, Isaiah 45:23 should command our attention. It tells us that one day everyone will bow their knee to God. Why? Why should we bow our knees to God Almighty? It is this question we will attempt to answer this week.