You Are Not Christ’s Plunder

Christ’s present role in glory is referred to as his “heavenly session.” Session means “sitting.” Presbyterian churches have a form of church government led by elders, who collectively constitute the session. The body of elders is known as the session because when they meet to deliberate, to establish policy, and to give supervision to the spiritual lives of the Christians under their care, they sit down and discuss these things. Likewise, when we say that Congress is in session, we mean that our representatives are assembled, and in their seats, ready to transact the business of the United States. The word session is appropriate to describe these situations because it is derived from the Latin sessio, which simply means “the act of sitting.” The most important session of all is the session of Jesus Christ in heaven.

In Psalm 110 God sets the Messiah at his right hand as king and priest—as king to see all his enemies under his feet, and as priest to serve God and channel God’s grace forever. This picture is applied directly to Jesus Christ, who since the Ascension actively reigns in the mediatorial kingdom of God. This was the early church’s confession and framework for Jesus’ rule.

Ephesians 1:20–23 that he worked in Christ when he raised him from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all. Acts 2:34–35 For David did not ascend into the heavens, but he himself says, “‘The Lord said to my Lord, “Sit at my right hand, until I make your enemies your footstool.”’ Hebrews 1:13 And to which of the angels has he ever said, “Sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet”? 1 Peter 3:21–22 through the resurrection of Jesus Christ, who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God, with angels, authorities, and powers having been subjected to him.

In the NT world the triumphal procession was developed by the Romans to celebrate the occasion of a major victory. The victorious general or ruler in ceremonial dress would drive his captives – usually those of high status – and the spoils of war before him through the outer districts and into the very heart of Rome. When the victor arrived at the god’s temple, the prisoners, or representatives of their number, would be executed. In this processional the glory and power of Rome was celebrated, with the triumphant general playing the role of Jupiter, the god who had blessed the warrior with victory in battle. Then distribute the wealth to his followers. Paul employs the image of the Roman triumphal procession to depict the victory of Christ on the cross. Ephesians 4:7–8 But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore it says, “When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.”

How does Paul understand his own Christian life amidst these realities? 2 Corinthians 2:14 But thanks be to God, who in Christ always leads us in triumphal procession, and through us spreads the fragrance of the knowledge of him everywhere. Continue reading “You Are Not Christ’s Plunder”

An Object of Scorn

Jeremiah 6:10 To whom shall I speak and give warning, that they may hear? Behold, their ears are uncircumcised, they cannot listen; behold, the word of the LORD is to them an object of scorn; they take no pleasure in it.

On Good Friday, the Christian Church gathers to commemorate the murder her king. This is our unique calling as Christians, to be a very different kind of people, following a very different kind of King.

Jesus, the word of God, allowed Himself to be held up as an object of scorn so that we would have our ears opened and cease to hold His words up as an object of scorn.

Jesus descended from heaven to make a way back to God, the Father, for us all.

Consider the messianic promise of Isaiah 40:3-5 A voice cries: “In the wilderness prepare the way of the LORD; make straight in the desert a highway for our God. Every valley shall be lifted up, and every mountain and hill be made low; the uneven ground shall become level, and the rough places a plain. And the glory of the LORD shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.”

Imagine the word of God booming out over a rough land and in response, the valleys rise while the mountains recede, as the great voice crushes every rough rock and levels every forest, creating a straight path back to the Father in Heaven.

Husbands are Honored guests

As much as we discuss the idea of biblical headship, do we really understand it? We hear or read that we are the head of the home and fill in the details of this doctrine from all kinds of places. From our time in the army, or the shift manager at our high school job, or the from the leadership techniques we learned from one of those ESPN 30 for 30 documentaries. We think that the head of the wife is the boss of the wife, end of the discussion, where is my beer? Or coitus, as the case may be.

What we do not understand is the organic nature of our authority in the home. The Biblical doctrine is complicated, limber and dynamic. The two errors are dangers on either side of the road which we franticly drive our marriages into, side-to-side, like a pinball. On one side is egalitarian feminism; a wooden fence, which has no way for accounting for what men and women actually are. Masculinist domineering is the solid hedge on the other side. Egalitarian feminism is a pure democracy – a flat horizontal line. Masculinist domineering is like a divine-right-of-kings monarchy – a straight vertical line. Continue reading “Husbands are Honored guests”

Serving Like the Servant King

Mark 1:30–31 Now Simon’s mother-in-law lay ill with a fever, and immediately they told him about her. And he came and took her by the hand and lifted her up, and the fever left her, and she began to serve them.

There is no other remedy like this one. Without a doubt, in emergencies the means God has provided should be pursued; doctors in times of sickness, lawyers in legal disputes, the help of friends and family. But the first thing and throughout, we should be crying out to the Lord. No one can heal us as effectually as Jesus can. None are as compassionate or ready to aid and relieve us.

Philippians 4:4–6 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.

When Jacob was in need, he first turned to his God (Genesis 32:11). Hezekiah knew the only one capable to aid Israel, so he spread the letter of Sennacherib before the Lord (2 Kings 19:19). As soon as Lazarus fell ill, his sisters sent immediately to Jesus (John 11:2). This is the response of faith. When troubling circumstances befall us or our loved ones, turn to the one who has the compassion and authority to respond.

1 Peter 5:6–9 Humble yourselves, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you. Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. Resist him, firm in your faith, knowing that the same kinds of suffering are being experienced by your brotherhood throughout the world.

We are sinners and sufferers. The days of darkness are many and the valley of the shadow of death is long. Its no prophesying to say that our tears and doubts will be many before we die. But we are armed against despair before the day of trouble comes. Remember that in sickness, bereavement, loss or disappointment oppresses us that the deliver is at hand. Before the crown is the cross and we follow the Lord of Life, the nourishment of heaven; our daily bread.

Let us respond as the believers in Simon’s house at Capernaum, let us tell Jesus at once. Continue reading “Serving Like the Servant King”

Out Of Darkness

“What does God say in the gospel? He announces the most staggering free gift of all time. He offers total rescue (that is, Salvation) from the rebellious nonconformity to himself which is the root of all our guilt, misery and frustration, and whose bible name is sin. He promises a new, endless life of pardon, peace, moral power, and joyful purpose to all who are humble enough not to try and earn it, but simply receive it.

How can God make this offer? Through Christ’s death as a sacrifice for sins. How do we receive this life? By renouncing rebellion, and embracing the risen savior as our Master; the life is found within that relationship. What happens then? Increasingly we prove the truth of Jesus’ words, “He who follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). ”

Growing in Christ. Packer, J.I. 104.

 

 

 

The Wrong Way to Pray

You desire and do not have, so you murder. You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel. You do not have, because you do not ask. You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. – James 4:2-3

If James says there is a wrong way to pray, a wrong way to ask, then it follows that there is a right way to ask, a right way to pray.

God’s reception of and interaction with prayer is conditional. One condition to God not hearing your prayers is envy.

Envy affects fellowship with the body and fellowship with God. Envy causes you to murder, fight and quarrel – even if you only do so in the hypocritical confines of your own heart. Envy causes you to demand things from God that are self-serving and self-glorifying.

You cannot be an envious, ungrateful, quarrelsome and covetousness person and expect God to listen to you. He will not. Envy is a discontented or resentful longing aroused by someone else’s possessions or qualities. It’s not just wanting what someone else has but envy leads to negative feelings about the person and your own circumstances. Bitterness. Ingratitude. Inordinate longings. Strife. Quarrels and fights. Envy unsettles relationships and it unsettles prayer. Envy creates negative feelings about the person who has what you are coveting. It’s hard to prefer another or to think well of others when you hate them for what your coveting. Envy grabs hold of our desire for a better spouse, better job, more money, less belly fat, better cars, jobs, friends, families, homes and jobs and inspires a host of unholy thoughts and actions in response.

Continue reading “The Wrong Way to Pray”

Using Your Eyes Correctly

 Proverbs 11:12 “Whoever belittles his neighbor lacks sense, but a man of understanding remains silent.”

The one who sees the circumstances and character of his neighbor as fodder for criticism, instead of prayer, lacks sense. To be wise is to see as Christ sees. To minimize the worth of your neighbor; to belittle them, is to say something profound about yourself, not something meaningful about your neighbor. Self-righteousness, arrogance and unwarranted spiritual pride are all tied up in the belittling of neighbors. 

A proper judgment of your neighbor – understanding that your neighbor is created in God’s image, is a being in the process of sanctification, is a blessing to be received, served, built up, thought well of – is true wisdom. Continue reading “Using Your Eyes Correctly”

Vessels Cleansed, Filled and Shattered

We were all captive to the power of Satan; in sin we walked and in death, we lived. We were captives in Adam and God appeared in the flesh, fighting our captors that enslaved us. As it says in Eph 4:8, Jesus led captivity captive and gave gifts to men.

God so loved the world he gave. And when God gives, the vessel in which he pours his blessing is always overwhelmed. That is how we became the friends of God, believers. That is how we came to be here today, we were overwhelmed by God’s grace. It was stronger than our sin. God’s mercy was more potent and powerful than our selfishness. God’s compassion was stronger than our feeble shield of self-righteousness. Our resistance of empty darkness was no match for God’s infinite light. And with joy and loving-kindness we were overpowered, disarmed, ruined – remade.   Continue reading “Vessels Cleansed, Filled and Shattered”

Look Up and Look Out

Hagia Sophia ; Empress Zoë mosaic : Christ Pan...
Hagia Sophia ; Empress Zoë mosaic : Christ Pantocrator; Istanbul, Turkey (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Jesus’ love is selfless and sacrificial

Now you may be wondering why I use both selfless and sacrificial. We often use these words interchangeably as if they mean the same thing, or nearly the same thing. But selfless acts are not necessarily sacrificial and sacrificial acts are not necessarily selfless. To be selfless is to have no concern for self. Now, focusing on others is great, but it can easily be done out of manipulation. For example, a lot of times I do things that are selfless so that the selfish thing I am about to do goes over a little easier. It’s a “look your shoes untied” strategy that can be very effective. People distracted by your kindness are less likely to notice the extreme selfishness you display.

Now, technically, doing something nice or beneficial for others is selfless. But if it doesn’t cost you anything than it’s not the kind of selflessness that Jesus displayed. Another problem with selflessness is a weird kind of “martyrdom” that people needlessly submit themselves to. This is the person who can’t say no and lets you walk all over them. Others can’t so no until they they blow up or they never stop talking about how selfless they are. Its manipulation. Again, not the kind of selflessness Jesus demonstrated. Continue reading “Look Up and Look Out”

Be a sign that points to Jesus

Conclusion to the Sign of Jonah series

All the signs of Jonah point to Jesus. The signs that reveal Jesus’ presence in our lives are sacrifice, death and resurrection, God’s word and Repentance that leads to life.  Are your lives defined by these signs?

Jonah did not want to go to Nineveh as the representative of God’s people to do the work of God. We will see next week that Jonah’s flight from God was consistent with kind of prophet he was. Jonah and Israel did not understand that their mission was not separate from their life as the people of God. That was the lesson Jonah was learning to teach Israel. It’s the same lesson we need to learn.

Your mission is not separate from your life as the people of God. I can ask all kinds of questions about missions. How many of us are foster parents? Support a missionary?  Visit lonely old widows tucked away alone in retirement homes all over the Puget Sound. But our problem is more fundamental than that. Why would we want to add to our church? How are we doing loving the people we already have? How many different families have you had over in the last two weeks? The last two months? The last two years?

We don’t reach out to the world because we do so poorly reaching out to each other.  Reaching across the street starts with reaching across the pew. I know you do not have an affinity with everyone. And being nice is not the same as loving people. You may not feel animosity toward anyone in this church but how many people’s welfare in this congregation would  you say you are passionate about? We think that because we are polite to the bank teller and the barista and are courteous drivers that we are loving people. We think if we ask someone how work is going while standing around the cookie table or make some amusing comments about baseball in passing conversations that we are loving people.  But love is defined differently by Jesus. Continue reading “Be a sign that points to Jesus”