The irony of Jesus

At Jesus baptism, a voice speaks from heaven and says, “You are my Son, whom I love; with you I am well pleased.” (Mark 1:8)  The voice (aka God the Father) echoes Psalm 2:7 and Isaiah 42:1.  What makes this astounding is the two radically different people these two passages refer to. 

Psalm 2 refers to God’s great anointed King who will rule forever over God’s people and shatter all God’s enemies.  It is a psalm about the enthronement of the godly king and the futility of rebelling against him.

 Isaiah 42 is quite different.  Isaiah 42 introduces us to the suffering servant of God who is crushed and bruised and beaten.  He dies for the sins of others and wounded for others’ transgressions. He is smitten, afflicted and led to the slaughter (see Isaiah 53).

 At Jesus’ baptism, God the Father makes it clear that both the king and the servant are combined in Jesus.  Jesus is God’s king who will rule forever and who will smash his enemies.  Jesus is also the servant who establishes his rule by dying and rising again.  Jesus dies for the sins of others so that others may join him in his kingdom. 

 Many first century people failed to see the irony of Jesus. They failed to see that glory and suffering must go together. Have you understood the irony?

Is the gospel good news?

The word “gospel” was not a particularly Christian word at the time of the writing of the New Testament in the first Century Roman Empire.

Gospel was simply the word used for momentous news of a historic event that would no doubt bring a new situation or circumstances. For example, the news of a new Emperor being crowned was called gospel, as was the news of victory in battle by the Roman legions, ushering in a era of relative peace.

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No ordinary death

Andries Tatane’s death and the death of Jesus of Nazareth bear some remarkable similarities and differences.

Both men were 33 years old, guilty of no crime, yet treated with contempt, beaten, and killed by the authorities of the day. Both men’s death was terrible and tragic. Both men’s death also achieved results for their people.

Jesus’ death, however, was voluntary. Andries’ death was involuntary. Andries Tatane did not wake up planning and knowing he would die. On the other hand, from the beginning of his public ministry, Jesus said that he must die and give his life as a ransom for many.

Jesus death was also vicarious. Jesus unambiguously said that he must die for others. He said that the good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep. Jesus suffered, was abandoned, and died to take upon himself the full wrath of God for the sin of God’s people. Jesus died not for his own sin, but that of others.

Jesus death was also infinitely valuable. Andries Tatane’s death may have some short term service delivery benefits for his community. Jesus’ death however has infinite benefits for people of every generation, every nation, every culture and every age. Through trust in Jesus as Lord and God your eternal salvation is secured, you are adopted in God’s very own family, and your sins are completely, utterly forgiven.

The violence of Andries Tatane’s death has rightly angered the people of South Africa. Let us remember another violent death. And be angered at our sin. And then be driven to the cross, where God’s anger was poured out on Jesus so that we may experience his love.

How not to commit adultery

Every week there seems to be another report of a pastor falling into sexual sin and disqualifying himself from the ministry.  Adultery is more and more the norm and even celebrated by some.  The book of Proverbs gives us some really practical advice on how to keep our marriage beds (and future marriage beds) pure.

1. Remember that God is all-seeing and all-knowing

Whatever you were doing a hour ago, God saw and heard and knew. Proverbs 5:21 says, in the context of temptation to adultery, “For a man’s ways are in full view of the LORD, and he examines all his paths”. God is like Norton’s Internet Protector on steroids and that’s a good thing! Its good to know that God know all we say and do and think.  God sees where we go on the internet and what pics we download on our phone. God listens to our phone calls. God reads our SMSes and Facebook statuses.

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Perseverance of the saints

Can a Christian loose their salvation? The Bible says no.

The last point of Calvinism is: The perseverance of the saints. Perhaps a better summary would be: God’s preservation of the saints or God’s persevering with the saints. (BTW “Saints” is the word the New Testament uses for regular Christians.)

The Westminster Confession of Faith has a great definition of this doctrine. It says, “They whom God has accepted in his Beloved, effectually called and sanctified by his Spirit, can neither totally nor finally fall away from the state of grace; but shall certainly persevere therein to the end, and be eternally saved.”

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Why saving grace must be irresistible

The fourth point of Calvinism is Irresistible Grace.  This doctrine says that when God calls us to faith in Jesus he calls effectively; he always succeeds in his purpose to save us.

The Bible distinguished between the general call of God to all sinners to come to Jesus (e.g. Jesus saying “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest”) and the specific call or summons God gives to his elect (e.g. Romans 1:6…you also are among those who are called to belong to Jesus Christ…)

Why I believe in Limited Atonement

Who did Jesus die for? What did Jesus’ death actually achieve?

These two questions point to the heart of the third so-called point of Calvinism1, “Limited Atonement2“. Most Christians would say that Jesus died for all the sins of every person in the entire world.   In other words, Jesus paid the price for each sin of every person and we apply that forgiveness to us personally when we put our faith in Jesus.

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