Yet Another Vote

Yes, it is true. Today I went and took advantage of early voting in Texas. There is no surprise that once again my vote was for freedom. Honesty must prevail when I say that I did not recognize all the names on the list. It was a rather extensive list. That only goes to show that I perhaps should have done a bit more homework. Be that as it may, I did enough research to know that freedom was my ultimate motive for voting. Freedom is an issue that I chose not to overlook and is a matter that I made paramount as I pulled the lever. Freedom is a matter that deserves one vote and then another.

It is for this reason that voting should be done in more than one way. Yes, one can go to the polling place and carefully select issues that are important to him. This is part of what is called the democratic process. However, it is not enough to simply pull the electoral lever in favour of freedom. Freedom must be lived no matter where the voter is. This means that one action must be in line with the vote he made. Let me explain.

As a minister of the Gospel I implore people to live a life complimentary of scriptural teaching. This is a vote not so much in the proclamation of Christian virtues as it is in living out those virtues. The same is true when one casts his vote for freedom. One cannot simply say that his vote is for freedom. He must have a lifestyle emblematic of that freedom. He must know when to evoke such freedoms and know when not to evoke them. The fact is there is more than one way to vote and one such way is in action.

Some might recall the time I left Baltimore a couple years ago. The State of Maryland has proven to be oppressive and not wanting to adhere to the Constitution. I had had enough. So, when the opportunity presented itself I decided to vote with my feet. And, vote I did. I voted for freedom on a number of fronts. I did not use the ballot box; I used another freedom. I am free to live in any State in this union so I decided to vote with my feet. I used actions that afforded me the ability to live as a free man should. I made yet another vote.

Those calling themselves Christians also have opportunity to vote. The votes, though, are not made under the watchful eyes of state election judges. Instead, this vote is looked upon by a Holy and Righteous God. You see, there are many that make votes on Sunday mornings. They vote to let Jesus into their lives while they choose to lay aside the sin that separated them from God. They realize that “He who the Son has set free is free indeed (John 8:36). There is a longing for the freedom and words of repentance are made to that end.

Unfortunately many choose not to vote for that freedom by reason of their lifestyles. Some try to live a double life, secret service saints, as it were. There is a tendency to Christianity on Sunday mornings and one for hedonism during the rest of the week.  The true vote is not for the freedom provided by Christ. The vote is for diabolical celebrations proving only to widen the way of destruction. This is a dangerous double standard which only pulls from freedom.

Yes, in these United States we are in the midst of a heated presidential election. There is fighting on every side. Some are fighting for freedom while others seek forms of certain slavery. Yet, there is another vote. That vote has more to do with our lifestyles. This vote has to do with how we choose to live our lives. If we live for Christ and His standards then our vote is freedom. If we cave in to the sultry, seductive world of what feels good for the moment then our vote is for bondage. Choose you this day whom you will serve. As for me, I and my house will serve the Lord. We have cast our vote and we will live in such a way as to please the Lord.

If God Were a Peripheral God

If anyone knows anything about philosophy it is certain that Frederick Nietzsche’s idea of a “dead god” is either infamous or famous depending on one’s world view. Nietzsche’s dead god did not mean that our God was without life rather it was Nietzsche’s way of presenting the idea that God was not involved in His creation. It is much like the idea of Deism wherein it is believed that God created man and then pulled away from mankind with little to no involvement. This, by extension, would make God a peripheral God, an idea which must be challenged.
The fact of the matter is that God was involved with His creation from the time of the creation. The narrative in Genesis clearly shows that Adam and Eve enjoyed a relationship with God. Relationships are far from peripheral in that there needs to interaction between the parties involved in the relationship. With that God spent time with man until sin caused a breach in the relationship. In spite of the breach God continued to reach out to man to repair a broken relationship. God longed for the communion He once enjoyed with man so that from the time sin entered the camp God put in place a plan to restore that relationship. Peripheral thinking would lend one to believe that a peripheral God would not care about a broken relationship. Thus, if God were a peripheral God there would be no concern for what was lost.
There are many other scriptural examples of God working to restore broken relationships between himself and man. Take for instance the period of time when the Israelites were in bondage to the whims of the Egyptians. The people of God were not allowed to worship Him and desired to be in a place where they could worship without hindrance. God heard the desires of His people and worked diligently to bring His people out from the land of bondage into a state of freedom. With this in mind God chose Moses and gave him specific instructions as to what to do in order to deliver God’s people. It is not certain that a peripheral God would take the time and care to bring His people from a state of bondage into a state of freedom where worship of Him is not only allowed but also encouraged.
The multiple encounters of God in the Old Testament with His people clearly show that our God is not dead. That is to say that God is not separated from those that love Him rather multiple evidences show that God speaks to and works with not only those that love Him but also God reaches out to those who have not chosen to love Him. There is no more evidence of that then the text found in John 3:16-17 which reads:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.
The fact of God sending His Son into a sinful world does not speak of One who is peripheral. In fact the converse is true. For instance, if God were a peripheral God there would be no concern for the sinful state of man. There would be no desire to restore the broken relationship. A peripheral God would not put the life of His Son into the hands of those that chose to forsake Him on every hand. Instead God with all His love looked down through the annals of time and saw a wretched people in need of deliverance. If God were a peripheral God salvation would be non-existent and all mankind would be dammed by reason of the first Adam.

Moreover if God were merely peripheral Jesus would not have sacrificed himself on the cross with the result of paving the way for man to accept Him, the one and only source of redemption. If God were a peripheral God the spilled blood of Jesus would be void thereby making His atoning work of none effect. If God were as suggested by Nietzsche the promise made by Jesus to never leave us nor forsake us would be a lie. Further His fulfilled promise to send the Holy Ghost to live in believers would be null. If God were a peripheral God then my life is not worth living. Yet because God is intimately involved in the lives of those that love Him I am awed that God is not a peripheral God.

Jesus and His Purpose

I thought I would share the notes to a lesson I taught on the Person of Jesus. All too often Christians lack understanding in our Saviour so it is my hope that some will be stretched a bit by these notes.

 

 

Jesus and His Purpose

 

 

 

 

For

 

 

 

 

Springs of Refreshing Fellowship Church

1932 Gwynn Oak Ave

Woodlawn, MD 21207

 

 

 

 

Prepared by:

 

Elder William James Carter, The 1st

 

 

 

 

 

 

18 April 2013

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

© The Christian Perspective

 

Jesus and His Purpose

 

The Deity of Jesus

 

          Many of those that claim to be Christians today have very little knowledge of who Christ is and His purpose. It is for this reason this lesson will delve into the deity of Christ and His purpose. John 1:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”

     The first thing that should be noted in this verse is the term “in the beginning.” It is similar term that was used in Genesis 1:1. The term does not refer to the starting point of time rather is refers to the beginning of recorded time. The idea here is that the text is pointing to the eternality of Jesus. It shows that Jesus existed before time was recorded by man. Even more importantly not only did Jesus exist before recorded time but He enjoys a status of pre-existence.

     The pre-existence of Christ lend considerable credibility to His Deity. Jesus removes a little of His veil in John 8:58 with the words:

          “Before Abraham was I am.”

This interesting choice of words shows that Jesus not only existed before Abraham but that He remains eternal. At no point does His existence or deity cease to be. The fact that the Jesus remains before Abraham is testament that He continues to exist in eternity past. Only deity can exist in such a fashion as to be in the past and present simultaneously.

     The next aspect to be examined is the term “Word.” One partial definition of “Word is: “the ultimate revelation of Jesus Christ in the incarnate Word of God”.[1] By this Jesus is personified as being the very image of God. This is what makes the term “Immanuel” significant. Immanuel means “God with us” and the Word being presents the very picture of an ever-present God becomes clear.

     Verse one continues by showing that the Word was with God. This is a clear indication of two distinct personalities. Jesus, the Word, existed and continues to exist with God the Father. The term with is not simply positional rather it is relational. It shows an unbreaking union in the Godhead. Additionally this union is not just a strong relationship but that the Godhead is in full agreement insofar as all is concerned. There is no disagreement between the members of the Godhead.

     The ending of verse one points not only to the Deity of Jesus but also to the very fact that Jesus is God. He is just as much as God as the Father is. This fact is NOT a form of polytheism rather is shows the multifaceted God mentioned in Genesis 1:1. While we may lack understanding how one God can be present in three Persons we must understand that clarity to the matter will be part of a victorious end to this life.

     The incarnation of Jesus is not a coincidental or happenstance matter. God planned this from the time of the fall of man in the Garden. As such many prophecies concerning the virgin birth of Jesus were made throughout the Old Testament. One prominent prophecy is found in Isaiah 7:14:

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

This prophecy came to pass as Mary gave birth to the Messiah (Luke 2:6-7). It is important to note that Jesus was conceived while Mary remained a virgin. This is significant because Jesus did not come from the seed and blood of man. Remember that it is the father’s blood that is in offspring. Because Jesus is the Son of God he could not be tainted with the blood of man. This is the reason He had to come through a pure vessel not tainted by man’s sinful blood.

     Because of His incarnation many see Jesus as being man only. However that is far from true. However Jesus could not come to earth in the fullness of His glory. He had to lay aside some of His attributes in order to accomplish His task. Philippians 2:7 points to this fact:

“But stripped Himself [of all privileges and [a]rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being” (Amplified Bible).

     The term for this action is called “kenosis” which means that Jesus “surrendered no attribute of His Deity, but that He did voluntarily restrict their independent use in keeping with His purpose of living among men and their limitations.”[2]  He did not stop being God but emptied Himself by:

  1. Veiling His divine glory – no man could look on God in the fullness of His glory and live
  2. Subjecting Himself to human limitations – Jesus was fully man in that He lived in the shell of a man having to be limited as man is.
  3. Giving up independent use of comparative attributes – Jesus willing laid aside His omniscience, omnipresence and omnipresence. These attributes were still available to Him but He chose to surrender the use of these attributes so that He could identify with man.

     Even with this pouring out Jesus remained Devine even though He lived as a man. With this Jesus was one hundred percent God and one hundred percent man. It is for this reason that Christ has been called the God- Man. It is the union of God and man which is called the hypostatic union. At no time was Jesus less God nor did He ever become less man. He was “Immanuel” or God with us. There are a number of reasons this union is significant but for the sake of this lesson only three will be discussed. Those reasons are that:

  1. The union is evidence of the eternal priesthood of Christ – Hebrews 9:11
  2. The prophetic office of Christ is evidenced in the union – Matthew 21:11
  3. The kingly office of Christ requires both the Divine and human – Revelation 15:3

     Because Jesus was and remains one hundred percent God, while incarnate, He had within Him no ability to sin. Multiple texts point to the sinless life of the God-man. Among them are:

  1. Hebrews 4:14 -15:  Seeing then that we have a great high priest, that is passed into the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our profession.  15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.
  2. I Peter 2:21-22:  For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:22 Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth:
  3.  I John 3:5: And ye know that he was manifested to take away our sins; and in him is no sin.

 

 

His Purpose

     While Jesus performed many works prior to His crucifixion is task at large was really simple. That task was to perform the will of His Father. John 5:30:

“I can of mine own self do nothing: as I hear, I judge: and my judgment is just; because I seek not mine own will, but the will of the Father which hath sent me.”

     This statement by Jesus is indicative of the obedience Jesus. It shows His complete and total submission to the Father. Jesus did not come to do anything apart from the Father. Remember that He and the Father are one and as such it is impossible for One to operate without the absolute consent of the Other. But what is the will of the Father? In order to fully understand the will of God there must be an understanding of the nature of man before sin corrupted him. The first man initially:

  1. Was sinless because he was created without sin.
  2. Communed regularly with God.’
  3. Had an intimate relationship with God.

The fall of man caused a divide that God was not desirous of. From that time He put into action a plan to restore man to his rightful relationship. Part of that plan is put in to play by redemption.

 

Redemption – To redeem mean to buy back. When man sinned the process of death began. The death was not merely physical death rather the death was separation from God. With this meant that man no longer belonged to God but that God had to pay a price in order to restore man back to his pre-sin state.

I Corinthians 7:23:

          “Ye are bought with a price; be not ye the servants of men.”

Before redemption man is a servant to not only other men but also to sin. Those who are not redeemed are basically owned by sin because of their service to sin.

Romans 6:6:

“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin.”

Hebrews 9:12

“Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.”

I Peter 1:18-19:

“Forasmuch as ye know that ye were not redeemed with corruptible things, as silver and gold, from your vain conversation received by tradition from your fathers; 19 But with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.”

Reconcile – To reconcile a thing is to restore it to a former state. Formally God enjoyed an unhindered relationship with man. There was nothing that could cause a divide other than disobedience. From the time of the fall the Godhead sought to restore that relationship.

II Corinthians 5:18-19:

“And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;19 To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”

Ephesians 2:15-16:

“Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace;16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby”

Salvation- Salvation is deliverance from the power of sin. It was sin that caused the divide between man and God and the eradication of the power of sin presents the ability for a restored relationship.

John 3:16-18:

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.”

Acts 4:12:

“Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.”

Titus 3:3-6:

“For we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared, Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; Which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour”

 

 


[1] Townes, Elmer Theology for Today

[2] Townes, 192

Deuteronomy: Holiness Through the Promise

     The idea of holiness was to be a way of life for God’s people. God never intended His people to be like the others in serving false gods, living immoral lives and giving into the lusts of the flesh just because of simple cravings. God’s people were never at liberty to live as others did rather they were to live by a standard set down by God. That standard is reflected in the Law as God had given it to Moses. Part of that law is known as the Ten Commandments which begins with instructions for God’s people to have no gods other than the God of all. This primary instruction, if heeded, allows for no sin because the love toward God would be without barriers alleviating the need for sin.

     Unfortunately man had already proven that his love for God was often fickle at best.  Throughout biblical text God’s people loved Him one moment and seemed to despise Him the next. This is why God had to detail what is now considered the Mosaic Law. There were six hundred thirteen such laws which touched every avenue of life. Yet God knew that man could not adhere to the law without assistance. The real base of the Law was to love God. This is the reason it is the first commandment. Even so, man had a difficult time in following this first and simple mandate. It was extremely evident that man was fickle as the Hebrew children wandered in the wilderness for an extended period of time because of their hard hearts and stiff necks. It is for this reason that Moses looked through the annals of time and saw the coming Messiah.

     Promises of the Messiah were made as early as Genesis chapter three and continued until His manifestation in the Gospels. Moses’ words showed the Messiah as a Prophet in Deuteronomy 18:15. The words “The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken” say much about what was to come in the form of a Saviour. It is more than obvious that this Prophet is a direct reference to Jesus the Christ for at least three reasons that are outlined in the verse. The first is that the Prophet would come from the midst of the people. That is to say that this Prophet would be born into the Hebrew lineage. The Prophet would also be elevated by God and that same Prophet would be heard by the people.

     The promise of the Prophet is reiterated in verse 18 with “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.” This Prophet was to be sent because the people would not live a holy life on their own. Left to their whims the people would pull from holiness and celebrate not only false gods but their lives would be the very antithesis of what it meant to love God. The love for the true and living God would wax colder and colder whilst love for inordinate affections would be on the rise. With this the Prophet would turn the hearts of the people back to the God that loved them unconditionally. The whoremonging, backstabbing, loveless people would need to be taught how to be holy in the face of unholy surroundings. The Prophet needed to come before man’s false love would be his eternal downfall.   

     Mary was another that received information from on High that Jesus would be born as prophesied in the Second Law. Luke 1:31-33 reads, “And the angel said unto her, Fear not, Mary: for thou hast found favour with God.  And, behold, thou shalt conceive in thy womb, and bring forth a son, and shalt call his name Jesus. He shall be great, and shall be called the Son of the Highest: and the Lord God shall give unto him the throne of his father David: And he shall reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there shall be no end.” And so was the birth of Jesus. He not only falls in the lineage of David but also reigns over the house of Jacob even to this day. His Words were not His own rather He spoke in accordance with the will of the Father (John 12:49-50). The will of the Father was and remains simple, to have a people that love Him and are willing to separate themselves from the things of the world in order to live life more fully.

     Holiness was never a suggestion from God rather it has always been a way of life for those that choose to live a life after His mandates. The law dictated how holy lives were to be lived but the law did little to change the hearts of man. As such there was a need for the Father to send His only begotten Son to die in order to restore a right relationship from man to the Father. That relationship has everything to do with holiness of actions as well as holiness of the heart. The promise in the Second Law pointed to the Holy One (Deuteronomy 33:8) while the Gospels show fulfillment of the promise. Recognizing the true intent of the Law and understanding the fulfillment of the promise is the basis to lead all God’s people to a life of love to Him which results in holiness. That holiness is predicated upon resting in the promise of the revealed Prophet Who came in the spirit of restoration.

 

Jesus and His Purpose

The following is a portion of a lesson I taught this past Thursday. many Christians have no Idea as to Who Jesus really is. As such I think it necessary to return to the fundamentals and set a firm Christian foundation.

The incarnation of Jesus is not a coincidental or happenstance matter. God planned this from the time of the fall of man in the Garden. As such many prophecies concerning the virgin birth of Jesus were made throughout the Old Testament. One prominent prophecy is found in Isaiah 7:14:

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel.”

This prophecy came to pass as Mary gave birth to the Messiah (Luke 2:6-7). It is important to note that Jesus was conceived while Mary remained a virgin. This is significant because Jesus did not come from the seed and blood of man. Remember that it is the father’s blood that is in offspring. Because Jesus is the Son of God he could not be tainted with the blood of man. This is the reason He had to come through a pure vessel not tainted by man’s sinful blood.

     Because of His incarnation many see Jesus as being man only. However that is far from true. However Jesus could not come to earth in the fullness of His glory. He had to lay aside some of His attributes in order to accomplish His task. Philippians 2:7 points to this fact:

“But stripped Himself [of all privileges and [a]rightful dignity], so as to assume the guise of a servant (slave), in that He became like men and was born a human being” (Amplified Bible).

Sick and Tired of Attacks on Christmas

Yea, I know that Christ was not born December 25th more than two thousand years ago. That is no reason not to recognize our Lord and Saviour. And, despite the ridiculous ranting of Jamie Foxx Jesus Christ is Lord and it is because of Him that we live and move and have our being. This is the reason I celebrate what has been deemed Christmas Day; it is not that I celebrate Jesus on this day alone but I find reason to give Him homage because had He not been born He could not have died. As such His death is the reason I live.

Having said that the atheist, like cockroaches in the night, find this time of the year to attack not merely Christmas Day but also the reason for the season; Jesus. I have had my fill of a few coming against the Christ that has given me life. Yes, I am sick and tired of those that choose not Christ working to tell me that I should celebrate Jesus in private because “religion” has no place in the public sphere. Well, Christians do celebrate in private but it is also necessary to worship God openly and in public so that others can see the God in us. Even more Christ mandated that Christians go into the world and teach the Gospel. So, if the atheists don’t want to hear about the God that loved them so much that He sent His only Son to die for them then they need not listen.

Now, I have to wonder how many of these atheist will come against Islam? I wonder if they have an aversion to Muhammad who took issue with Christianity?  Did they really study the founder of Islam to find that he was married to multiple wives the youngest of whom was nine years of age when he took her to wife? What about the hate spewed by the Islamists that see Christians and Jews as the infidel?   Why is it that Christians must be so maligned no matter what?

Well, you know what? I am sick and tired of those that attack the Holy One. I grow weary of seeing Him crucified over and over again simply because many have chosen to hate rather than give in to His everlasting love. I would that I could turn these stony hearts to hearts of flesh but if those that loathe Christianity because their own idiosyncratic reasoning choose not to celebrate then I might suggest that you go loathe in private just as you think that Christianity should be celebrated in private. Even more, we that are Christians don’t condemn the godless merely because they are godless rather we realize that but for the grace of God we too would be godless.

Yes, this is my rant. It has been forced upon my hand. You see, my first name is an old German one which means “bold protector.” As such I stand tall and strong in defense of my Lord and Savior. Were it not for the fact that Jesus was born to die I would stand no chance. It is in Him that I live and move and have my being therefore I really don’t care if I offend because I celebrate Jesus. You see, He has done more for me than I could ever do for myself and because of His love for me I cannot, no, I will not deny Him.

Yes, I am sick and tired of the attacks on Christmas but you can bet your boots that I will not give in, I will not be made ashamed and I will not stop sharing the Gospel of Jesus Christ MY Lord and Savior.

I bid all a Merry Christmas as we usher in the day we celebrate the incarnation of the only Begotten Son of the living God Jesus the Christ!

Perpetual Thanksgiving

It is official, the day set aside to give thanksgiving is over. Turkey has been eaten and potatoes mashed. Pies and cakes have been devoured causing many to sit back in easy chairs unable to move in that gluttony has taken over thanksgiving allowing only for deep breathing and occasional sighs of relief as the mounds of food finally settle within the bodies of many. 

Now, there is no suggestion here that there should be no enjoyment of things God has provided for us. But the real attitude of Thanksgiving has little to do with the plenteous foods now being stored in refrigerators and freezers. In fact I would venture to say that attitudes of thanksgiving actually fall short of the meals that we eat. 

Let me explain. When I woke this morning it was more than evident that I did not wake under my own power. In fact I am sadly reminded of a gentleman who lived across the street from me. You see he went to the hospital for a kidney transplant. While I understand the surgery was initially a success things began to go wrong. Things went so bad medically that this gentleman crossed into eternity this past Tuesday. You see, I have much to be thankful for.

Not only did I rise this morning but I rose with a sound mind. Some have not that luxury. Even more I rose with no sicknesses and able to move without the aid of a walking stick. Some have not this blessing. Even more my children are well and growing in prosperity (and I mean not merely monetarily). Many do not share my testimony.

My point to this brief missive is simple. Thanksgiving is not merely a temporary utterance of words said to God just before we dive into well prepared meals rather it is the recognition of God and Who He is. But thanksgiving still goes well beyond that. The fact is that God loved man so much that He sent His only Son to die for us. Immanuel loved us so much that He gave His life so that we could live. And as I pen these words I can think of a multiplicity of reasons for which to be thankful which have nothing to do with cranberry sauce nor the fatted pig. Yet if I were to enumerate upon the goodness of God in my life I suppose that I could fill volumes. So, I will not start in on my testimonies at this point rather I will simply say please do not give up on offering thanksgiving to God merely because the end of a formal holiday has arrived rather  have a perpetual attitude of thanksgiving for which God will be pleased and receive as a sweet smelling savour.