Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Living Biblically - The Plans

 

Last week we made some amazing discoveries about the Lord.

·       His Word is true. Opinions don’t change the truth of what it says. In fact, whether we even believe it or not doesn’t change the truth of what it says.

·       His Word is eternal. What God says transcend time. We rely on promises and prophecies made 2000 – 3000 years ago. Our salvation is eternal life.

·       His Word is unchanging. Circumstances cannot render His word ineffective.

·       His Word can be trusted. God doesn’t lie.

·       His Word is based on His faithfulness not ours. 2Tim 2:13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself. 

All of that makes God’s word the final authority for what is true. His Word stands above the traditions by which men have formed denominations and doctrines. It is the foundation upon which we are to build our lives. We found out the truth of God’s Word extends to cover the whole of Scripture, so that whatever God said at some point in the past can be counted on to be so now.

Now, within Scripture, God gives us information: telling us things we need to know. He warns us of things He wants us to avoid. He introduces people and places where important events took place within the story that are examples of how He accomplishes His purposes anytime, anywhere and by using anyone He chooses.

There are also predictions – we call them prophecies – of what God intends to do at a later time. We can read some of these the prophecies in one place in Scripture and how God fulfilled them in another. There are other places where we read the prophecy and are still waiting for the fulfillment.

Then there is the cohesive thread of God’s plan woven throughout the Bible. A plan that ties the beginning to the end and defines the purpose of God within all that goes on.

We got a glimpse of this when the baby Jesus was being presented at the Temple for circumcision 8 days after His birth. A man named Simeon was there. When he saw Jesus, he recognized the Messiah.

Luke 2:29-32 Now Lord, You are releasing Your bond-servant to depart in peace, according to Your word; for my eyes have seen Your salvation, which You have prepared in the presence of all peoples, A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES, and the glory of Your people Israel." 

The thread of Gods’ plan ran through Simeon’s heart, who was among those in Israel who believed in the promise of the Messiah. He knew the pivotal person in Jewish history was God’s ultimate redeemer/deliverer. He believed the prophecies and saw fulfillment in this baby in Jerusalem. He referred to one of those prophecies: A LIGHT OF REVELATION TO THE GENTILES. That came from Isaiah.

Isa 42:6-7 "I am the LORD, I have called You in righteousness, I will also hold You by the hand and watch over You, and I will appoint You as a covenant to the people, as a light to the nationsto open blind eyes, to bring out prisoners from the dungeon and those who dwell in darkness from the prison. 

Simeon lived with courage to believe what God said would happen would happen right at the moment God had planned. For us, when we settle the fact of the truth of God’s word, spoken from the God who doesn’t lie, we have confidence to count on the promises God has made to be true as well. That if what God says is true, then what God intends is also true.

Not everyone carried that much faith in God’s word as Simeon. Not many do today. What happens is, they begin to speculate about what God said, then distort the issue by inserting their own opinions to decide what they think God means and what they choose to expect, until what they look for has little to no resemblance to what God has planned.

That’s why Paul’s ministry was so vital to the church. God gave Paul the ability to explain the mystery of the plan and to clarify those distortions.

Eph 3:8-11 To me, the very least of all saints, this grace was given, to preach to the Gentiles the unfathomable riches of Christ, and to bring to light what is the administration of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly places. This was in accordance with the eternal purpose which He carried out in Christ Jesus our Lord, 

Paul’s ministry was to reveal or open up the mystery. Here’s how he laid it out.

Eph 3:2-7 You have heard of the stewardship of God's grace which was given to me for you; that by revelation there was made known to me the mystery, as I wrote before in brief. By referring to this, when you read you can understand my insight into the mystery of Christ, which in other generations was not made known to the sons of men, as it has now been revealed to His holy apostles and prophets in the Spirit; to be specific, that the Gentiles are fellow heirs and fellow members of the body, and fellow partakers of the promise in Christ Jesus through the gospel, of which I was made a minister, according to the gift of God's grace which was given to me according to the working of His power. 

This is my calling. Here is the revelation:

Eph 1:8-10 In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him with a view to an administration suitable to the fullness of the times, that is, the summing up of all things in Christ, things in the heavens and things on the earth

administration suitable to the fullness of the times – it’s a management term of recording on a ledger for future reference. It was an accounting of what God had said and what He has done. On one side is what God said. The other what God did to fulfill it. Then there are things listed that God said but nothing is on the fulfillment side. What happened? Is only what God has done real or is what He says real, even though it isn’t done yet?

No, it’s in the que. Songs to be played. Documents to be printed.

It’s this accounting that sums up all things in Christ. That’s the connective word that brings the whole plan into play. The plan for the redemption of mankind promised from ages past, running through Jesus on the cross and extending forward to include us within that redemption and beyond. Our salvation today was planned before the world was formed. The thread of God’s plan extends from eternity past into eternity future.

And that thread of God’s purpose runs through our hearts.

Eph 1:3-4 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly realm in Christ [the big picture], just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him.

[For us to be holy, before the foundation of the world, He chose us.] That was the plan. A holy God can only receive a holy people. His plan was to do what was necessary to create the opportunity for people to become holy so He could receive them. Adam and Eve didn’t mess up the plan. God didn’t scramble for a solution after they sinned. This was the plan from before they ever walked on the earth. Before the foundation of the world.

Eph 1:5-8 In love He predestined [predetermined this would be the plan] us to adoption as sons through Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the kind intention of His will, to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace which He lavished on us.

This is the administration suitable to the fulness of time. The things God planned, said and did all came together in Jesus. Paul declared the plan was designed before the foundation of the world was ever laid. It all is working out as God organized it to.

Listen to what other men who worked for the Lord said:

Isa 14:24 The LORD of hosts has sworn saying, "Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened, and just as I have planned so it will stand.” 

Eze 12:25 For I the LORD will speak, and whatever word I speak will be performed. I will speak the word and perform it," declares the Lord GOD.'" 

Jer 1:12 Then the LORD said to me, "I am watching over My word to perform it." 

God spoke His word, then protected His word until it was time to perform His Word.

Isa 25:1 O LORD, You are my God; I will exalt You, I will give thanks to Your name; for You have worked wonders, plans formed long ago, with perfect faithfulness. 

Isa 46:9-11 "Remember the former things long past, for I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is no one like Me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times things which have not been done, Saying, 'My purpose will be established, and I will accomplish all My good pleasure'. Truly I have spoken; truly I will bring it to pass. I have planned it, surely I will do it. 

These prophets and even common men like Simeon had confidence in what God said was true, as well as conviction they could act on what God said would happen.

1Kings 18:36-37 At the time of the offering of the evening sacrifice, Elijah the prophet came near and said, "O LORD, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel, today let it be known that You are God in Israel and that I am Your servant and I have done all these things at Your word. Answer me, O LORD, answer me, that this people may know that You, O LORD, are God, and that You have turned their heart back again." 

Elijah wasn’t creating the moment out of his imagination. He was following God’s plan. “I’m doing this at Your word. Your Word is true. And by Your faithfulness You will do what you say.”

Moses faced rebellion by Korah, Dathan and Abiram. They had rejected Moses’ authority to lead the people to the Promised Land and refused to submit to Moses’ leadership.

Num 16:26-32 and Moses spoke to the congregation, saying, "Depart now from the tents of these wicked men, and touch nothing that belongs to them, or you will be swept away in all their sin." So they got back from around the dwellings of Korah, Dathan and Abiram; and Dathan and Abiram came out and stood at the doorway of their tents, along with their wives and their sons and their little ones. Moses said, "By this you shall know that the LORD has sent me to do all these deeds; for this is not my doing. If these men die the death of all men or if they suffer the fate of all men, then the LORD has not sent me. But if the LORD brings about an entirely new thing and the ground opens its mouth and swallows them up with all that is theirs, and they descend alive into Sheol, then you will understand that these men have spurned the LORD." As he finished speaking all these words, the ground that was under them split open; and the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, and their households, and all the men who belonged to Korah with their possessions. 

The mark of a prophet: does what he says God will do happen? A prophet is a spokesman for God. If he says, “Thus saith the Lord,” and what he said God would do didn’t happen, he wasn’t speaking in behalf of God. He wasn’t a prophet, just a wanna be, a man expressing wishful thinking.

2Pet 1:21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God

As these men spoke, they faithfully represented the things God wanted said. Then, if what God said required immediate fulfillment, the prophets also performed the Word of God.  They operated with such confidence in what God said being true, that they knew what they said was a done deal even before they finished speaking.

God’s plan isn’t what He hopes to make happen or would like to have happen or is something someone asks Him to make happen. It is what He has already intended to happen in the heavenly realm and is waiting its time to appear in the natural realm. He designed His plan to happen at the right moment. His word announces the promise. Now all that is left is for the moment to arrive for its implementing.

Some will challenge that. We might even, in our weakness, doubt that what God said is possible in the natural realm. That’s because God’s intentions weren’t designed in the natural realm. They were designed in the Heavenly realm and then spoken to reveal what God will do in the natural realm.

That’s why so many write off the miracles. They defy the laws of physics. There are no laws of physics in the heavenly realm. None of those arguments matter.

That’s why Job could say: Job 42:2 I know that You can do all things, and that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted. 

And David could write: Ps 33:11 The counsel of the LORD stands forever, the plans of His heart from generation to generation. 

Act 2:22-24 Men of Israel, listen to these words: Jesus the Nazarene, a man attested to you by God with miracles and wonders and signs which God performed through Him in your midst, just as you yourselves know — this Man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put Him to death. But God raised Him up again, putting an end to the agony of death, since it was impossible for Him to be held in its power. 

All the details of Scripture were written according to God’s plan, worked out according to His schedule, fulfilling the things He said would happen. And most all of them have been. Yet, some of them remain to be fulfilled. They are in the que awaiting their moment. Some of those promises are for us. Some are still for the future. But all rest in the not yet.

How do we live in the not yet? As my son said referring to all the confusion created by the dishonesty surrounding the election: We have to be patient and wait. The truth will eventually come out.

We live, counting on the faithfulness of our God to tell us the truth and then perform the truth of what He has promised.  Counting on the goodness of God in the land of the living.

TAKEAWAYS:

  1. As a Believer, the thread of God’s purpose runs through our hearts.
  2. When we settle the fact that God’s word is true, we will become confident in the fulfillment of what His word says.
  3. Confidence in God’s word allows us to live with conviction that what God has said He will do.
  4. Our appeal to God is for what has been decided in the heavenly realm to be seen in the natural realm.

Monday, November 2, 2020

Living Biblically - Traditions

 Does it bother you to be lied to?

·       As a parent or grandparent – you saw them do it, guilt is written all over their face, but when you ask – I didn’t do it.

·       As a spouse – There’s only two of you in the house. A huge slice of pie is missing. You ask: did you get into the pie? – He says: Who, me?

·       As a friend – A trusted friend told you what someone said about you. You confront her – I would never say anything like that about you.

·       How about a nurse – just a little stick.

·       How about a politician – well, that’s pretty much a given. But does it still bother you? One Congressman caught lying about his military service – I didn’t lie; I misspoke.

·       What about fake news. Used to be we’d listen to the news and decide how we felt about what we heard. Today we listen, are told how to feel and have to decide if what we heard is true or not.

Back in the day, being a man of his word was a mark of decency in a person. Someone you could trust. He meant what he said. A handshake was as good as a contract. Those people seem rare today.

We’ve all been lied to. And, typically, after that, that person who lied gets placed in a category of suspicion. You’re just not sure you can trust them again. The foundation upon which the relationship was formed is now damaged.

The foundation is the strength of a relationship as it is in a building. A flaw, like a lie, creates a weak spot that will eventually crumble. When Jesus was telling His followers how they were to build their lives. He said His words were to be the foundation.

Matt 7:24-27 Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall. 

Assumptions:

·       His Word is true. Opinions about it doesn’t change the truth of what it says. In fact, whether we even believe it or not doesn’t change the truth of what it says.

·       His Word is eternal. What God says transcend time. We rely on promises and prophecies made 2000 – 3000 years ago.

·       His Word is unchanging. Circumstances cannot render His word ineffective.

·       His word can be trusted. God doesn’t lie.

Heb 6:16-19 For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute. In the same way God, desiring even more to show to the heirs of the promise the unchangeableness of His purpose, interposed with an oath, so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, we who have taken refuge would have strong encouragement to take hold of the hope set before us. This hope we have as an anchor of the soul, a hope both sure and steadfast

Hope must have a sturdy peg to hang on. That peg is our assurance that what God has said is true.

John 14:2-3 In My Father's house are many dwelling places; if it were not so, I would have told you; for I go to prepare a place for you. If I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself, that where I am, there you may be also. 

If it were not so, I would have told you applies to the whole of Scripture. Why would Jesus have us commit to something that isn’t true? Or tell us to count on something that might change before we get to the point we need it.

Going to seminary back in the 70s was a great disappointment. I thought I would sit at the feet of brilliant men who had invested in a lifelong study of God’s word and each would pour the content of what they had discovered into my life, giving me proof after proof of not only what to believe but why. Instead, my professors would present a topic or doctrine, and then give several suggestions of common beliefs from what other men have said about it, and then say: pick the one you can best live with.

In my na├»ve mind, I thought if we all used the same book for our reference, shouldn’t we pretty much all come up with the same basic answer, not just find an opinion that matches what we want to be true? How do you commit your life to some opinion?

I needed there to be established truths, backed up by Scripture, presented with unshakable conviction that I could confidently receive and then pass on to others. I wanted reasons to believe what I believed, not just repeat what I’d heard someone else say. I wanted to be able to show why this is true.

All I could say was so-and-so said this was true and I agree with him.

A parrot can be taught to say that, but who can trust the word of a parrot? I needed absolute truths. We’d ask: Prof, what do you believe. He’d say, what I believe doesn’t matter. What you believe is all that counts. No, what I believe isn’t what counts. What counts is what did God say!

If I ask you who’s your favorite Bible character, I’m asking a subjective question. There’s no right or wrong answer. Some can say Esther, David, Peter and nobody’s wrong, everybody’s right. Your answer is based on how you feel about one person over another. When you teach Scripture subjectively, the answer doesn’t matter.

But if I ask you who wrote the most books of the NT, that’s an objective question with only one correct answer. You can say anyone you want but that doesn’t change the fact that Paul wrote most of the NT. Objective truth is either right or wrong, never both at the same time.

In Fiddler on the Roof, Tevia says one man’s comments were true. Another man challenges that and contradicted what the first man said. Tevia said that man’s comments were true. A different man said they can’t both be true. Tevia said the last man’s comments were also true. Then he sang, Tradition. It wasn’t Scripture that defined them but tradition told them how to live.

Mark 7:5-9 The Pharisees and the scribes asked Him, "Why do Your disciples not walk according to the tradition of the elders, but eat their bread with impure hands?" And He said to them, "Rightly did Isaiah prophesy of you hypocrites, as it is written: 'this people honors Me with their lips, but their heart is far away from Me. But in vain do they worship Me, teaching as doctrines the precepts of men.' Neglecting the commandment of God, you hold to the tradition of men." He was also saying to them, "You are experts at setting aside the commandment of God in order to keep your tradition…thus invalidating the word of God by your tradition which you have handed down; and you do many things such as that." 

Jesus saw it in the leaders of God’s people, minimizing what God said and magnifying what men said about what God said. He then watched it trickling down to the people who were more afraid of disobeying a Pharisee than God.

When the nation was established Moses said: Deut 4:1-2 Now, O Israel, listen to the statutes and the judgments which I am teaching you to perform, so that you may live and go in and take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you. You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, that you may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. 

Somewhere along the way, the opinions of men took precedence over the established Word of God.

Paul warned about this in Col 2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ

Why did he say Christ and not Jesus? When Paul used the name Jesus, he was speaking of the person and work of Jesus. Using the word Christ, Paul was taking them into the entire scope of God’s original plan from before the foundation of the world. The word Christ comes from the word Cristos. It is the Greek form of the word Mashiach. They are not names, but a title. Jesus Christ, Jesus Messiah. But that title unlocked the great mystery God had only hinted at until the moment Jesus came.

Col 2:1-3 For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodiceathat their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 

Paul’s word was much more significant than merely encouraging people stay faithful to their beliefs, He was warning them they must hold onto what has always been true because if they rejected Jesus, they were drifting away from the only plan God had set from the beginning that made what was promised possible. They would become like a boat untied from its dock.

In that day boats were not for recreation, only work. If you were a fisherman, that boat represented your life. If it became untied from the dock, your life was drifting away.

The writer of Hebrews shared the same concern: Heb 2:1 For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. 

How might we drift away from what we have heard? By loosening our grip on what’s true in order to take hold of something else.

So, what we believe is important? Absolutely. If we don’t secure our lives to the truth of God, we will drift away from it. Like the fisherman who failed to secure his boat or the man building his life on sand, we have nothing to support us for life.

Everyday I read articles from voices calling pastors to rethink the foundation of Scripture: “Sure, the Bible is authoritative—but we've misunderstood it for the first 2,000 years of church history. This is what it really means today.” These articles encourage pastors to question the Word of God and change it to fit modern culture.

To change the message, you have to change the God of the message. You’re making Him unreliable, untrustworthy, unfaithful. The foundation Jesus gave is being eroded away.

This year has shown us that to the world we are no longer essential to society. What we believe is an affront to modern culture. We’ve been told that in order to remain viable, the church must change its beliefs, comply or cease to exist. The world doesn’t have final say for the church. God never gave up that position.

We’re called to live based on His Word. To live biblically. We can’t live biblically if the Bible can be overridden by the desires and opinions of men.

So, if that Word is to be the foundation of our lives, we need to settle once and for all: is it trustworthy? Either it is true or it is not. It cannot be partly true and partly fake. And if it is, where’s the guarantee?

The construction industry has codes to follow so everything can be built consistently and correctly. The code (more technically the inspectors who apply the code) guarantees the building is built right. To circumvent those codes produces a building that is substandard and beneath the requirements for passing inspection.

God has established the code of our lives as Believers. We are to build our lives on the truth of His word. To circumvent God’s word creates a substandard live far beneath our privilege as Children of God. That is a guarantee from God.

The prophets would begin their messages with, “Thus saith the Lord.” Why? Because the guarantee of what they were about to say rested on God not them.

Ps 138:2 I will bow down toward Your holy temple and give thanks to Your name for Your lovingkindness and Your truth; for You have magnified Your word according to all Your name. 

God’s name is the name above all names, His person is above all persons, His thoughts are above all thoughts, His ways are above all ways, and He has magnified His word. To guarantee His word as authentic, He has set His name on His word.

God assures His word is true. If He makes a promise, you can count on it. If He tells you what happened, you can believe it did. If He gives you insight you can rely on it.

So, before we can Live Biblically, we must have absolute confidence the Word of God is the Truth of God. If so, we can then conform our lives to it. If not, we might as well watch our boat drift away or build our lives on the sand of uncertainty.

This is my Bible. I believe every word in it is true. If I ever find in my life what doesn’t agree with what is in this book, I will change.

TAKEAWAYS:

  1.  Having a God who changes His mind would create mass uncertainty if we were going to pattern our lives by what He said.
  2. We can only rely on what is true and unchangeable.
  3. If we believe that is what the Bible represents to us – the true and unchangeable message of God – we have a solid foundation upon which to build our lives.
  4. That message can become our code for life, when used to Live Biblically.

Monday, October 26, 2020

What Would Jesus Do?

 In 1886, Pastor Charles Sheldon presented a series of messages in story form to his Central Congregational Church in Topeka, Kansas. He used a fictional church and its pastor Reverend Henry Maxwell as the focus of these stories. Each week, Sheldon would tell a captivating story, inserting the challenge of What Would Jesus Do? at the point when the character faced a difficult moral decision or situation.  He would end each story on that cliffhanger ensuring the people would come back the following week to learn what happened next.

For example, Edward Norman, the owner of the local newspaper, lost money when he stopped publishing a Sunday edition and chose to stop advertising things, places and events that might encourage people to sin. Though he lost money initially, another person inspired by Reverend Maxwell, gave him a great deal of money to help him create a newspaper that served the Christian community.

Alexander Powers, a railroad superintendent, left his job after he found out the company was violating the Interstate Commerce laws of the United States and helped prove that they were breaking the law. And even though it meant he had to take a less prestigious position at another company for far less money, he stood on the decision.

Charles Sheldon put these stories in a book he called: In His Steps. He intended to help Christian people operate from a context, asking the question What Would Jesus Do? before making any serious decisions. But more than just governing individual choices, in the broader sense, it recognized that our lives were to reflect Jesus’ life.

To take it a step further, it is a discovery that life is not about us or what we want, it’s about who we are in Christ and what God’s will is. So, What Would Jesus Do? helped them change their perspective.

But as you have probably already figured out, the premise of What Would Jesus Do? becomes a fairly shaky way to live because it suggests subjective obedience, making our decisions based on assumptions or opinions of what we think is so. It’s hard to stand on opinions since they change so easily. We stand on that of which we’re convinced. Opinion is based on ought to’s. “This is what I think I ought to do” can turn into “This is what others think I ought to do.” Making me the servant of the crowd. “This feels right or this feels wrong” can become “This is what I feel like doing or not doing.” Making me the servant of my feelings.

What would Jesus do? Jesus said He came to do the will of the Father. If we were to put on Jesus’ sandals and try to decide what He would do today, it would take us back to what the Father had told Him to do when He was here. Since He said, “I do what the Father wants me to do. I say what the Father wants me to say.”

If I tried to make Jesus fit in my shoes and figure out what He would do if He were me is too much of a stretch since Him accomplishing the Father’s will had a very specific meaning. We can’t duplicate His actions because we don’t always understand His actions.

He was both kind to children and turned over the tables of the money changers in the Temple. He sat with Nicodemus and explained the new birth and called other pharisees empty tombs and snakes. He healed many and left others unhealed. He spoke healing without going to see the Centurion’s servant and let Lazarus die before He got there. How do we fit these inconsistencies into our lives?

Jesus didn’t decide His actions as He went along. He started from the context of who He was and added his stated intentions of doing the Father’s will. Who He was dictated how He responded to life. The bigger question is: What would Jesus have me do?

He said love your neighbor. Do I have to wonder if that applies to me?

He said do not murder. Do I have to struggle with whether that makes abortion wrong?

He said He was unwilling for any to perish but all to come to repentance. Do I have to ask if I should share Jesus with my friend or family?

Peter said: Acts 10:38 You know of Jesus of Nazareth, how God anointed Him with the Holy Spirit and with power, and how He went about doing good and healing all who were oppressed by the devil, for God was with Him

Doing good and healing were highly generalized statements of Jesus’ ministry. But Peter didn’t intend to give the diary of Jesus’ activity. He wanted us to see that what Jesus did, He did because He was the God was with Him Man.

Nicodemus said: no man can do the things you do unless God is with Him. The verb Peter used to say that didn’t mean the activity was why God was with Him. It was because God was with Him, He did what He did. The verb said God had always been with Him. God being with Him was the reason Jesus did the things He did.

It was out from that context He went about doing good and healing. That’s why we already know the answer to the question What Would Jesus Do? He would do that which naturally came from a person God was with. And that’s what He asks us to do.

1Pet 2:21-24 For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps, who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats, but kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.

Peter was writing to Christians who faced daily concern over what threatened them. Some were going to lose their homes, their families, their lives. He pointed them to Jesus as an example of how to suffer within the context of being a Christian. Things not to do and things to do. The things Jesus Himself did.

who committed no sin, nor was any deceit found in His mouth; and while being reviled, He did not revile in return; while suffering, He uttered no threats,

Peter was placing Jesus’ sufferings in context. He suffered because this is what He came to do. His sufferings weren’t something that surprised Him nor did they interfere with the Father’s plan or change who Jesus was. This was the plan.

Luke 19:10 For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost. 

John 10:11 I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. 

Matt 20:28 the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many." 

John 12:27-27 Now My soul has become troubled; and what shall I say, 'Father, save Me from this hour'? But for this purpose I came to this hour. Father, glorify Your name.

John 10:10 I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. 

Jesus’ mission included what gave us life and granted what made that life abundant life. To do so required His suffering.

So, What Did Jesus Do? He kept entrusting Himself to Him who judges righteously; and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross, so that we might die to sin and live to righteousness.

Entrusting – placing Himself within God’s intentions and letting that form His perspective and dictate His response.

The suffering was necessary because it fit into the context of who He was and what He came to do. He couldn’t live one way and then suffer another way.

While suffering, or in any dilemma He faced, the pattern was the same. He kept entrusting Himself to the Father’s will, which placed Him inside the broader scope of the plan that was set before the foundation of the world was ever laid. That plan would not only allow us to become God’s righteous children, but as His righteous children, we can reject living by unrighteous standards and embrace righteousness as the pattern of our lives.

In other words, Jesus gave us a new context for our lives. We are God’s righteous Children. So, What Would Jesus Do? should, for us, turn into What Would a righteous child of God Do? Then, to follow in His steps, would lead us down the path that pleases the Father just as His did.

Matt 5:16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heavenWe can do that.

We can’t really answer What Would Jesus Do? unless there is a specific command we know He would follow, but we can answer What Would Jesus Have Me Do?

When I stand in the ballot box and cast my vote, I cannot vote for someone whose platform includes violating God’s commands. When I’m investigating social issues, I can love people with whom I disagree and I don’t have to approve of their activities that are contrary to God’s Word. When wondering about my involvement in ministry opportunities, I can give myself to do whatever it takes to make Jesus known to the world.

Matt 26:6-12 Now when Jesus was in Bethany, at the home of Simon the leper, a woman came to Him with an alabaster vial of very costly perfume, and she poured it on His head as He reclined at the table. But the disciples were indignant when they saw this, and said, "Why this waste? For this perfume might have been sold for a high price and the money given to the poor." But Jesus, aware of this, said to them, "Why do you bother the woman? For she has done a good deed to Me. For you always have the poor with you; but you do not always have Me. For when she poured this perfume on My body, she did it to prepare Me for burial. 

It wasn’t a question of what would Jesus do in this situation because He was on the receiving end of her actions. But He honored the choice the woman made. So, for her, she was answering a different question: Because of Who Jesus is, what should I do? She chose to honor Him. That’s our choice as well.

If my desire is to honor God, I don’t have to scrutinize every decision. I let the larger context predetermine my response.

·       If there is a command to obey, I obey.

·       If there is no command, I look for a general principle that covers what I face.

·       If there is no general principle, I ask for wisdom, beginning with the desire to obey and then trusting He’ll guide me to do right because I want to honor Him.

That’s why the Ten Commandments are written the way they are. The first four remind us who God is:

  • The God who stands above all other interests in our life.
  • The God who will not share space with an idol.
  • The God whose name is sacred and powerful.
  • The God who is worthy of us stopping our lives to worship Him.

The next six tell us how to act toward others. You don’t start with the do’s and don’ts. You consider who it is you are choosing to obey.

  • Honoring your father and mother.
  • Not doing murder.
  • Not committing adultery.
  • Not stealing.
  • Not making false accusations against another person.
  • Not wanting what belongs to your neighbor.

Our actions toward others begin with God not us. Because of Who my God is, what I do, what I say, what I think take on a more specific response. My actions and reactions to whatever I face come from the place inside me that says: I want to glorify my Father who is in heaven. Therefore, this is what I will or will not do.

It’s called Living Biblically. It comes from what James said:

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

What lays the foundation of me doing the word? My confidence that what God says is true and that it has bearing upon my life today.

How do we Live Biblically? Come back next week and we’ll see. Hang on. We’re just getting started.

TAKEAWAYS:

  1. What Would Jesus Do? is a great reminder that we live in a context of who Jesus is and who we are because of Him.
  2. Because of that context, we should want what He wanted: to do the Father’s will.
  3. To do that will, we need to make honoring Him our highest priority.
  4. When our ultimate desire is to glorify God, He will make His way clear to us because we choose to be doers of His word.