Archive for December, 2010

Writing On The Earth

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Law, Religion, Truth with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on December 27, 2010 by willnotbesilent

For a little change of pace, let’s back away from blasting tradition and just take a look at something fascinating in Scripture.

We’re all familiar with the story of the adulteress who was brought before Jesus in John 8:2-11:

And early in the morning he came again into the temple, and all the people came unto him; and he sat down, and taught them. And the scribes and the Pharisees bring a woman taken in adultery; and having set her in the midst, they say unto him, Teacher, this woman hath been taken in adultery, in the very act. Now in the law Moses commanded us to stone such: what then sayest thou of her? And this they said, trying him, that they might have whereof to accuse him. But Jesus stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground. But when they continued asking him, he lifted up himself, and said unto them, He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her. And again he stooped down, and with his finger wrote on the ground. And they, when they heard it, went out one by one, beginning from the eldest, even unto the last: and Jesus was left alone, and the woman, where she was, in the midst. And Jesus lifted up himself, and said unto her, Woman, where are they? did no man condemn thee? And she said, No man, Lord. And Jesus said, Neither do I condemn thee: go thy way; from henceforth sin no more.

Now here’s the Sixty-Four Million Dollar Question: What did Jesus write on the ground that affected the surrounding Pharisees so badly that they couldn’t stick around?

The account of John doesn’t tell us, of course, but amazingly enough, the answer is in Scripture!

O Jehovah, the hope of Israel, all that forsake thee shall be put to shame. They that depart from me shall be written in the earth, because they have forsaken Jehovah, the fountain of living waters. — Jeremiah 17:13 [emphasis mine]

What does it mean to be written in the earth? Well, what does it mean to be written in heaven?

Nevertheless in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. — Luke 10:20

We all know that to have one’s name written in heaven is to be a partaker in salvation. Therefore, one can logically conclude that to have your name written in the earth bears the exact opposite connotation — condemnation.

JESUS WAS WRITING THE NAMES OF THE ADULTERESS’ ACCUSERS!

All the Pharisees, being intimately familiar with the writings of Jeremiah, knew exactly what Jesus was doing as He stooped and one by one wrote their names in the dirt. His words, “He that is without sin among you, let him first cast a stone at her” only emphasized his message: The Pharisees had forsaken Jehovah, the fountain of living waters — they themselves had committed adultery against God. And here they were, seeking to kill someone guilty of a crime they themselves had committed! Once again, Jesus was pointing out their blatant hypocrisy and reminding them of the condemnation they all faced.

Imagine how disturbing it would be if you were one of the adulteress’ accusers, familiar with the writings of Jeremiah, and you watched Jesus methodically write your name in the dirt, along with the names of all your cohorts. No wonder they left as their names appeared on the ground.

And then the story ends with the ultimate display of mercy. Jesus, the only one present who had no sin, who had every right to cast the first stone, finally rose to His feet.

“Woman, where are they? Did no man condemn thee?”

The woman, perhaps stunned that she wasn’t being stoned at this very moment, could only murmur, “No man, Lord.”

To which Jesus replied in all the love of a Father to a penitent child, “Neither to I condemn thee. Go thy way. From henceforward sin no more.”

Understanding what Jesus was writing in the earth lends a whole new perspective to the story that only magnifies the amazing omniscience, wisdom, and mercy of God. This is what Christianity is all about.

Now here’s the question we should all ask ourselves: If we had been present for the event of John 8:2-11, would Jesus have been writing OUR names in the ground?

The Sacrifice of Fools

Posted in Bible, Christianity, Christianity, Bible, Truth, Religion, Truth on December 10, 2010 by willnotbesilent

Ecclesiastes 5:1 — Keep thy foot when thou goest to the house of God, and be more ready to hear, than to give the sacrifice of fools: for they consider not that they do evil. (KJV)

The subject of this entire blog is to clarify, through Scripture, the difference between the tradition of men and the truth of God. The problem of tradition infiltrating the worship of God and replacing the truth that is the heart and soul of that worship. As evidenced by the verse above, this problem was in existence even in Solomon’s day. Let’s take a closer look at it to see how it applies to Christianity today. We’ll examine Ecclesiastes 5:1 phrase by phrase.

“Keep Thy Foot”

The NASB says “Guard your foot”. The ESV says “Guard your steps”. In other words, Solomon is saying to watch your step; act with reverence and solemnity.

When God manifested himself to Moses, he told him to remove his sandal, because the place where he stood was holy ground (Exodus 3:5). When the pre-New Covenant manifestation of Jesus appeared before Joshua, he was told the same thing (Joshua 5:15). The custom of removing one’s shoe and giving it to one’s neighbor was a sign of giving up one’s right to something, or conceding (Deuteronomy 25:5-10, Ruth 4:1-8). In conceding to God, we concede to Him as Almighty, our King, the Lord of Lords, our object of reverence and worship.

Solomon, in Ecclesiastes, urges the reader to enter the place of worship with a mind toward reverence, conceding all to God. In his day, it was the temple in Jerusalem, which Solomon himself built. Today, it is anywhere we choose to meet in the name of God. God says,

For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. — Matthew 18:20

When we stand in the presence of an earthly king, we show some form of respect. Depending on the culture, we might remove our hats, bow, kneel, or give any number of  signs of deferment. Would it not be only right to meet in the name of God, whether in a church, home, or anywhere else, with an attitude of humility and deference to the King of Kings and Lord of Lords, especially if He is in the midst of us?  Paul commended the Corinthians for their attitude toward God:

And his inward affection is more abundant toward you, whilst he remembereth the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling ye received him. — 2 Corinthians 7:15

In too many churches today, the entire concept of worship has been perverted. Some play loud rock music, attendees scream and throw fits in the aisles, and the entire event becomes nothing more than a concert where the name of Jesus is thrown about like the name of a rock star. Others go to have their itching ears scratched (2 Timothy 4:3) and eat at the potluck, as though it were some sort of social club.

The first purpose of meeting in God’s name is to worship Him, to give Him the deference, awe, and the humility due an almighty Creator and King, to learn the truth of His Word and strive to become more like Him.

Keeping our foot means behaving appropriately and respectfully, remembering our purpose in gathering with others for worship.

“Be More Ready To Hear”

The NASB and ESV say “draw near to listen”. The second purpose for meeting with the body is to be edified, to feed on the Word, so we can grow. We are to assemble in meeting to hear God speak through His Word, to learn from God. The objective is to be nourished through the Word (John 6:33, 35, 48; John 6:51; Mark 9:7). The book of Hebrews refers to God’s Word as food (Hebrews 5:12-14). It is not a social club, or a party, or a time of entertainment.

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. — Romans 10:17

If faith comes by hearing, then is it not important to be silent and listen to God’s Word being preached? We are exhorted by Solomon, the wisest man who ever lived, to “draw near to listen”. Again, our reason for meeting is not for the purpose of entertainment or socializing, but to learn and to worship.

“The Sacrifice Of Fools”

Examples of foolish sacrifices include the sacrifice of Cain (Genesis 4:5). Why was Cain’s sacrifice not acceptable? Based on Ecclesiastes, the sacrifice of fools is one offered without the reverence (guarding one’s foot) and a desire to listen to God (being ready to hear). The attitude toward God means more than any sacrifice (Psalm 51:17; Proverbs 21:3; Hosea 6:6). Jesus said all the prophets and the law hang on loving God and fellow men (Matthew 22:37-40). Another example of the sacrifice of fools is that of Nadab and Abihu (Leviticus 10:1-3). Also that of King Saul (I Samuel 13:8-14).

In the early days of America’s founding, men such as Roger Williams dreamed of setting up a country where everyone had the freedom to “worship God in their own way”. Unfortunately, God does not want people worshiping Him in their own way. He spent a great deal of time in Scripture detailing exactly how he is to be worshiped. He spent books telling the Hebrew how to worship Him. When Christ and the apostles preached, they expounded on the fulfillment of the old way of worship and taught how to worship God after the Law was fulfilled.

When we worship God in our own way, we offer the sacrifice of fools. Cain, Saul, Nadab and Abihu, and the Pharisees all offered the sacrifice of fools. They turned a deaf ear on God’s ordinances of worship and implemented their own. Not only were the sacrifices vain (useless and empty), but they were also defying God, telling Him that their way of worship was better than His way. These men offered sacrifice to God without a love for Him and His commandments. They sacrificed in pride and presumption, rather than with fear and trembling.

When we cling to tradition in our worship, we insist on following man’s own rites. The burning of incense, the lighting of candles, the choirs, organs, bands, shouting, clapping, dancing, etc are all the sacrifice of fools. Ignoring baptism and “accepting Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior” is the sacrifice of fools. Studying Spurgeon, John Calvin, Martin Luther, Dwight Moody, Billy Graham, and other men rather than God’s own Bible is the sacrifice of fools.

When we simply go through the motions of religion, we offer the sacrifice of fools. If we go to church, attend the potlucks, and talk about Jesus all the time, but do not worship and obey Him in spirit and in truth (John 4:23), then we offer the sacrifice of fools, and we do evil. Religion is sin. Faith is obedience. God says that unless we obey Him, there is no point in calling Him Lord (Luke 6:26).

Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are: Then shall ye begin to say, We have eaten and drunk in thy presence, and thou hast taught in our streets. But he shall say, I tell you, I know you not whence ye are; depart from me, all ye workers of iniquity. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth, when ye shall see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out. — Luke 13:23-28

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