Sunday, June 25, 2017


Stay Awake\Stay Faithful

After teaching the disciples and the crowd not to be anxious about their physical needs, but to pursue Christ’s kingdom, he said to “stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning”. (35)

Jesus taught the meaning of this statement with two illustrations.

The first illustration involved servants of a wealthy master. If the master stayed out very late at a wedding feast and want his servants to be ready to attend him. He would want them to open the door at once when he knocked. (37) He would want lamps burning so he could see. He would want his servants dressed and ready to attend him.

The faithful and diligent servant would be awake, dressed, ready to serve the master. His lamp would be lit and full of oil. This image is similar to the parable of the 10 virgins awaiting the bridegroom in Matthew 25:1-13.

In contrast, a lazy or unfaithful servant might decide to go to bed before his master got home. The lamps would go out. When the master knocked, he would have to stand outside and wait to enter his own house until the servant woke up. Then he would come inside to see his servant in his sleep wear and the house dark. Obviously, the master would be more pleased with the faithful servant than the lazy and unfaithful servant.

If fact, this master was so pleased, he did something no one expected. He dressed himself to serve as opposed to having himself served. (37) He had them recline at table while he served them dinner.

So, what is going on here? First, the master represents Jesus upon his return. The awake servants are those disciples who remain faithful to the end when Jesus returns. Jesus will be pleased with them and serve them in a feast.

Interestingly, Jesus modeled this story when he washed the feet of the disciples in John 13:1-17. When they gathered to observe the Passover, he took off his outer garment, wrapped a towel around his waist, and washed their feet. It was a job only a servant would do.

There are several truths for us to learn here. First, Jesus will return. That is something we must believe for the Bible teaches it. Any eschatology (doctrine of last things) that teaches all prophesy is fulfilled and there is no second coming, or return, of Jesus, is wrong. For example, when Jesus ascended, an angel told the disciples “this same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven”. (Acts 1:10) All told there are 300 plus references in the New Testament to the return of Jesus.

Second, faithfulness in working to the end is the true measure of conversion. Those who have been saved will endure in the faith and serve the Lord until they die or he returns.

Third, Jesus will reward those who remain faithful to the end. The picture here is of a master serving dinner to his servants. It is an allusion to the wedding feast of the Lamb. Luke will present several pictures of it. In Revelation 19:9 an angel says “blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.”

The picture of a wedding supper is used because Jesus presents himself as the bridegroom and the church as the bride. In first century Israel, a bridegroom and his attendants would walk from his house to his bride’s house to get her and take her to the wedding feast.

Jesus’ servants will be blessed when he appears and finds them faithfully serving. They will spend eternity with him. He will reward them for their service to him.

The second illustration involved a thief breaking into a house because the master of the house was gone. (39) If the master had known the thief was coming, he would not have left. He would have been at home ready to repel the thief.

In the same way, Jesus said we must remain ready because we do not know when Jesus will return. In fact, he will return at an hour we do not expect. (40)

This teaching is clear, isn’t it? Is there any doubt Jesus said we do not know when he will return and we will not expect it? Yet, there are many who spend hours of time trying to figure out when Jesus will return. They write books about it. People buy those books. All of that effort is in vain.

The time spent trying to guess when Jesus will return should have been spent serving for Jesus.

To Whom Does This Apply?

At this point in Jesus’ teaching, Peter interrupted to ask Jesus who he was speaking to. Was it to the disciples only, or for all of the crowd? (41)

It was not a bad question. Sometimes Jesus spoke to the crowds. Sometimes he spoke to his disciples only. Peter wanted to know who this story applied to.

Jesus did not answer the question directly. Instead he gave another illustration. In this illustration, Jesus asked who is the faithful and wise manager that a master leaves in charge of his household to make sure everyone is fed? This is a picture of the head servant left in charge of taking care of the other servants while the master is gone. Here Jesus asked the same question Peter asked, but within an illustration that forced Peter to come to the correct conclusion on his own.

Jesus said the servant is blessed who is found doing his job when his master returns. (43) The master will reward the servant by putting him in charge of all his possessions.

In one sense, then, Jesus said the teaching applied to everyone in the crowd. But, there is a further application.

Jesus left the apostles in charge of the church. The church is sometimes referred to as God’s household. For example, 1 Timothy 3:15 refers to “…the household of God, which is the church of the living God….” Jesus made the apostles “stewards” of that household. Paul wrote “This is how one should regard us, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.” (1 Corinthians 4:1)

Jesus was telling Peter that the Twelve and their successors were charged to be faithful servants to the church, even more so than the ordinary believer. It is a charge to pastors, teachers and elders today.

In contrast, a servant who believes his master will not return for a long time and, therefore, mistreats the servants and indulges himself will be punished. The master will return when the servant does not expect him and get caught being unfaithful.

The unfaithful servant will be cast out with the unfaithful. (46) This is a picture of hell. The punishments are symbols of the suffering in hell for those who are not faithful to Christ. They are thrust from the presence of God into suffering.

There are many unfaithful servants today. Some get filthy rich from preaching the so-called prosperity gospel. Some obtain fame by preaching self improvement. Some abandon the gospel altogether and preach falsehood to get on television shows and to sell books. Judgment will be harsh for them.

Accountability will be measured according to knowledge and ability. Those who knew what to do but did not will suffer more than those who did not know. Those to whom much is given will be accountable to do more with it. (47-48)

Whatever gifts and talents we have should be used for growing the kingdom. Those who are given many talents are held to greater accountability because they have more to give.

How will you, as a believer, live? Will you use your abilities to grow the kingdom, to take care of weaker believers, and to bring glory to Jesus Christ? Or will you sit on your hands because you do not think he is coming soon?

What will you do if you do not believe? Will you postpone committing your life to Christ and receiving his salvation because you think you have all the time in the world? This passage shows that to be foolish, as did the parable of the rich man and his barns We do not know when our last day of life will be or when Jesus will return. So, come to him today while you can.

Wednesday, June 21, 2017



Wisdom is one part knowledge and one part understanding. We need both to discern truth from error. A good example is a recent article by a Baptist pastor. He, thankfully, is not a Southern Baptist.

Jim Somerville’s column on Baptist News Global website is another attack published on the doctrine of penal substitution. Penal substitution is the the theological term for Christ’s death on our behalf. It is why we say and sing “Christ dies for us”. It is why Paul wrote “God shows his love for us in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Somerville’s main point is that the doctrine of the Trinity conflicts with the doctrine of penal substitution and the doctrine of the Trinity wins. He believes the doctrine of penal substitution pits the Father against the Son, bringing them into theological conflict.

Somerville is correct that the Father and Son are never in conflict. They are always in agreement. But his conclusion that this unity negates penal substitution is not only unscriptural, it denies the great love and work of Father, Son and Spirit to bring salvation.

If you read the article, you will notice that Somerville does not quote a single verse of scripture. There is a good reason for that. The Bible teaches penal substitution and the Bible teaches unity in the Trinity.

All scripture is “breathed out by God”. (2 Timothy 3:16) It was written by men under the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 2:21) Therefore, the ultimate author of scripture is God. More precisely, the author of scripture is the Triune God.

Scripture does not contradict itself because God does not contradict himself. This is God in his own words: “I the LORD do not change”. (Malachi 3:6)

The members of the Godhead, the Trinity, work in unity of purpose, agreement and love. Jesus said the Father loves him. He abided in the Father’s love and kept his commandments. (John 15:9) Jesus also said the Holy Spirit would continue his work and teaching. (John 15:13-15) In fact, he showed that there was an unbroken chain of teaching: the Father gave it to the Son, who gave it to the Spirit.

Since the members of the Trinity work in total agreement with each other, there is no conflict within the Godhead while the three persons work in unity to bring justification to men and women. Since both doctrines in question are plainly stated in the Bible, the doctrines cannot conflict.

The wrath of God on sin is a result of God’s just nature. Since he is holy, and requires us to be holy, he must punish sin to be just. Since he, in his holiness, hates sin, his wrath is poured out on it. That theme runs through the Bible from beginning to end. In Genesis, when Adam broke God’s commandment, God cast him from his presence in the Garden and imposed the penalty of death.  In Revelation, sinners who were not in Christ were cast into hell, where sin is punished.

But God is also love. Because God loves those whom he justifies, he provided a way to satisfy his justice and save us at the same time. That is why Paul called him just and justifier. (Romans 3:26) He satisfied his justice by imposing judgment on the one who did not deserve judgment. He did this out of love for us. “God shows his love for us in that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)

Since the members of the Godhead are always in agreement, all members of the Godhead agreed on how to bring salvation to mankind. The Father and the Son were not in conflict in purpose or method. Jesus said “No one takes it (his life) from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This charge I have received from my Father.” Jesus willingly laid down his life for us.

The doctrine of penal substitution stands. The doctrine of the Trinity stands along side it. Both are Biblical. Both are the orthodox beliefs of the church for over two millennia.

It is sad to see one who calls himself a Baptist forsake and attack a belief Baptists have held dear as long as they have been called Baptists. My prayer is that the rest of us will have the wisdom to see through the rhetoric and emotion to discern the truth.

The truth is, Christ died for us. That truth makes us what we are. It is the cause of our rejoicing and the reason we love him.

Tuesday, June 20, 2017


A recent LifeWay survey of Christian theological knowledge reported distressing news: Christians, including Evangelicals, are theologically confused about the doctrine of the Trinity

For example, 69% of the respondents in LifeWay’s survey either strongly agree or somewhat agree with the doctrine of the Trinity, there is one God in three persons, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
Yet, more than half went on to indicate that Jesus is “the first and greatest being created by God”. Please note the contradiction

There are two kinds of persons: creator and created. You cannot be both. For example, God created the heavens and the earth. (Genesis 1:1) He is the Creator. In contrast, Adam was created by God from the dust of the earth. (Genesis 1:26) Adam was a creation. He was not the Creator.

Jesus is God and, therefore, Creator. He was not created. This is the testimony of Scripture. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not anything made that was made.” (John 1:1-3) For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. “ (Colossians 1:16)

The Council of Nicea is famous for dealing with this issue in 325 A. D. The Council met to deal with this very issue, in response to the teaching of a man named Arius. Arius was a priest in Alexandria, Egypt. He believed that Jesus was not eternal, but created by the Father from nothing. He wrote that “there was a time when the Son was not”. His concept of the Trinity became known as Arianism. The Council rejected Arius’ teaching and affirmed the deity of Jesus.

The doctrine of the Trinity is difficult to understand. I do not believe we can understand it completely. But it is vital that we do not lose the doctrine taught in the Bible that Jesus is God, the second member of the Godhead, eternal and not created.

Monday, June 19, 2017


What do I meditate on?

If you have decided that meditation on Scripture is something you will undertake, how will you go about it? Here are some ways.

1.   Read a passage of Scripture. Pick any book. Pick your favorite book. After reading through it slowly and carefully, ask some questions. What does this passage say about God? What does this passage say about mankind, i.e., you?

2.   Take notes during your pastor’s sermon on Sunday and reflect on them. My pastor provides a written outline in which we fill in the blanks to follow along. Read again the passage on which the sermon was based, review and reflect on the notes, read other scriptures your pastor referred to during the sermon.

3.   If you attend a Bible Study class, review your notes in the same fashion as the sermon. I post the text of my lessons on this blog and on our class’s Facebook page. Read the main passage and reflect on it. Read any other scriptures cited. Apply it to your life.

4.   If you feel challenged by this process, you might start with a devotional book from a trustworthy author. It should be based on scripture, not personal revelations from the author. It should open up the meaning of the passage for you, then allow you to reflect on it.

5.   Do a combination of any of the above. For example, I subscribe to Tabletalk magazine. I read the Scripture of the day and the one page devotion. I look up the other verses listed under “for further study”. Later, often at lunch, I read a passage or chapter from a Bible book I am thinking about. I make notes. I think about what it means and how my belief and practice measure up to it. Sometimes I write my own devotional about it.

Time in Scripture will benefit you, I promise. It will aid your progress in holiness. It will deepen your worship, because you will know more about God. It will strengthen your witness, as you will have something to say when asked about your faith.

Sunday, June 18, 2017


What to do about money?

In the passage we study today, Jesus continued his teaching that began back in chapter 11. He had just spoken about not fearing man and realizing that God will provide for us, both in daily bread and in having the right words to say when persecuted for the faith.

In the next passage, 12:13-34, Luke recorded Jesus teaching about two aspects of money that are dangerous: coveting more possessions and fear of not having enough. We will look at the stories separately, then see what ties them together.

The Parable of the Rich Fool

When Jesus finished teaching about the Holy Spirit teaching us what to say in persecution, a man asked Jesus to tell his brother to divide his inheritance with him. (13) There is always someone in a Bible study class or worship service who cannot follow along with the topic because of something else on his or her mind.

Jesus refused to be the judge between the brothers. That was not his ministry. He used the man’s statement, though, to segue into his next topic. He told the crowd to guard against all covetousness because one’s life does not consist of an abundance of possessions. (15) It was a teaching that man needed and that we all need.

It was a rebuke to the man who spoke, because it pointed out that the man was missing Jesus’ teaching because he wanted money from his brother.

Covetousness is the inordinate desire for wealth or possessions. We are all tempted by the desire to have things God gave to others and not to us. The Greek word here refers to excess, wanting more than we need. Ecclesiates 5:10 says “He who loves money will not be satisfied with money, nor he who loves wealth with his income; this also is vanity”.

Jesus was not teaching anything new here. Every good Jew knew the commandment about coveting. God told Israel, “You shall not covet your neighbor’s house; you shall not covet your neighbor’s wife, or his male servant, or his female servant, or his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor’s”. (Exodus 20:17)

Jesus went on to explain the reason why we should not covet. He said our life does not consist in the abundance of possessions. (15)

This counter-cultural, isn’t it? In most countries, the rich are admired and envied. The U.S. once had a television show called Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. It featured extravagant homes of wealthy people, their cars, and the resorts they went to.

The reason the lottery is popular is that you might acquire by luck what you have been unable to acquire through skill or inheritance. The government basically taxes covetousness.

But Jesus said that is not what life is about. So, what is life about? Jesus told a story to illustrate the answer.

In the story, or parable, there was a rich man whose land produced plentiful crops. He had so much, he had to build bigger barns to store his crops and other possessions. His only concern was where to store his goods. It reminded me of storage buildings in the United States. Storage buildings have become a new industry. People who have more stuff than fits in their house rent storage spaces and put the excess in there.

He also had so much, he decided he could retire and play for the rest of his life. He said “Soul, you have ample goods laid up for many years, relax, eat, drink, and be merry”. (19)

Notice that the rich man said this to his soul. The man thought that luxury and pleasure would be good for his soul.

God did not share the man’s opinion about what was good for his soul. He called him a fool. A fool in Biblical times mean a person who had no moral judgment. A man who thought excessive luxury was good for his soul was a fool.

God, in fact, said that the man’s soul would be required of him that very night. He would die and face the next life. His goods would go to someone else. Anyone who thought only of riches on earth and not being rich toward God was a fool. (21) Psalm 49:20 says “Man in his pomp yet without understanding is like the beasts the perish”.

This brings us back to the commandment. The person who covets places things above his or her relationship to God. That is why Paul called covetousness idolatry. (Ephesians 5:5; Colossians 3:5) It is why Jesus said “No one can serve two masters…You cannot serve God and money”. (Matthew 6:24)

Again, Jesus was not teaching something new. The commandments begin and end with this thought. The first commandment is that you cannot have any gods before Yahweh. The last commandment is that you may not covet, which is putting things before God. The last points back to the first.

How, then, do we deal with covetousness? How do we kill the desire to have more and more stuff? How do we kill our resentment over what our friends or neighbors acquire that we do not?

I remember, as a young person, living on a street in a small town. Whenever one household bought a new car, one by one other people on the street bought new cars. Sometimes they even bought the same model as the first person!

We kill covetousness by pursuing God above all else. When we desire God more, we desire things less. Look at Paul, the apostle. He said:

“But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake, I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him…that I may know him…” (Philippians 3:7-11)

Having taught about the corruption of covetousness, Jesus went on to teach the other side of the money coin (pun intended). He addressed those who were anxious that they would not have enough to live on. He said do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or wear, because life is more than that. That is a similar statement he made about covetousness, when he said life does not consist of the abundance of possessions. (15)

Jesus did not tell a parable to illustrate this point, but he made a comparison to nature. He asked them to think about the ravens. They did not seek things, but God fed them. He also pointed them to lilies who did not toil, but were arrayed, or clothed, in beauty given by God.

Jesus also made a practical point. He said, being anxious will not add a single hour to your life span. (25) If you cannot do that, what can you accomplish with your anxiety about the rest of things? (26)

The reason we do not need to be anxious about what we have is that God knows what we need. If we will seek God’s kingdom, he will give us the things we need. (31)

In fact, it is God’s “good pleasure” to give us the kingdom. He has wonderful things in store for us in eternity. He also has a part of that to give us today. Therefore, we can trust him. We can even sell what we have and give it to the needy, because we know we can trust him to provide for us.

Jesus’ conclusion is that. Do not spend all your time pursuing treasure on earth. It can be destroyed. Instead, pursue treasure in heaven, your relationship with God. If God is your treasure, that is where your heart will be.

Everything else will then fall into place.

Friday, June 16, 2017

Inspiration of Scripture

How came it (the Bible) to be written?
God inspired holy men to write it.

Did they write It exactly as God wished?
Yes; as much as if he had written every word himself.

Oughtn't it, therefore, to be believed and obeyed?
Yes; as much as though God had spoken directly to us.

from Abstract of Systematic Theology, James P. Boyce

Tuesday, June 13, 2017


 The Bible teaches that there is only one God.

The Bible teaches that there are three distinct persons called God, or in the Godhead. They are known as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

Therefore, the three persons, the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, are the one God. They share all of the attributes of God. They are all eternal, all knowing, all present, and all powerful.