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Patience Produced By Love

Monday, June 11th, 2012

So Jacob served seven years for Rachel, and they seemed only a few days to him because of the love he had for her.” Genesis 29:20

Despite his scheming spirit, Jacob was a first class lover. Even after he was duped into marrying weak-eyed Leah by his new father-in-law, Laban, he still sought to wed his first love, Rachel. Seven additional years of sweat equity is the price that he paid for this honor.[i] Nonetheless, the Bible comments on the strength of his affection for this maiden, saying: “…they seemed only a few days to him because of the love he had for her” (Gen. 29:20.) This quality is a worthy description of the spiritual devotion that Christians may experience as they serve the Lord Jesus while awaiting His return.

Worthwhile Work

  Some things merit hard work. Parents who migrate to a new nation in hopes of giving their children a better life and more educational and commercial opportunities exemplify this principle well. They toil for long hours in difficult conditions because of their love for their families. In like manner, believers are to live for the Lord, laboring diligently in His service, even if it means suffering hardships, privations, and persecution. Nevertheless, in all of these troubles, they must always keep in mind that His yoke is easy and His burden is light (Mt. 11:30.) This is because Christian work for the Lord is motivated from their possession of salvation by faith in Christ – not as a means of obtaining salvation or favor from Him (as in the Pharisees’ teaching.) Thus, believers do not work to be saved; rather they work because they are saved (Eph. 2:8-10.) Like Jacob’s attitude regarding his work, their service – as fatiguing as it sometimes is – comes from hearts full of loving gratitude towards the God of grace who has given them eternal life.[ii] Additionally, in all of their trials and sorrows they have the assurance of the Holy Spirit’s help and the risen Christ’s abiding presence.

Paul sums up the worthiness of rigorous service for Christ in these words: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Cor. 15:58.) The underlying Greek word for “labor” in this verse comes from the root for a beating or a blow[iii], and the word-group is defined in this manner by two authorities: “To engage in hard work, implying difficulties and trouble—‘hard work, toil, to work hard, to toil, to labor.’[iv] The able classicist Mr. Vine adds: “[It] primarily denotes ‘a striking, beating’ (akin to kopto, ‘to strike, cut’), then, ‘toil resulting in weariness, laborious toil, trouble’.”[v]

Someone might ask: “But how do we know that this labor is not in vain?” The context of 1 Corinthians chapter 15 gives the answer: The Lord Jesus’ triumphant resurrection, which opens the way for His people’s resurrection, proves that God will ultimately be victorious over evil. Work for the Lord will abide for eternity, because the Son of God has conquered every foe. The universe merely awaits His return to reveal the comprehensive nature of His victory.

Ye Fearful Saints, Fresh Courage Take

Imagine the joy of Jacob coming home after a difficult day at work to the one who motivated it all: his beloved Rachel. Similarly, Deck’s classic lyrics describe the consummated pleasure of the saints when the Lord returns in the air for them:

‘A little while’ — He’ll come again;

Let us the precious hours redeem,

Our only grief to give Him pain,

Our joy to serve and follow Him.

Watching and ready may we be,

As those that wait their Lord to see.

 

‘A little while’ – ‘twill soon be past,

Why should we shun the promised cross?

O let us in His footsteps haste,

Counting for Him all else but loss;

For how will recompense His smile,

The sufferings of this ‘little while’!

 

‘A little while’ – Come, Savior, come;

For Thee Thy bride has tarried long:

Take Thy poor waiting pilgrims home

To sing the new eternal song,

To see Thy glory, and to be

In everything conformed to Thee![vi]

 

In the same vein, the Puritan preacher Thomas Brooks also eloquently depicts Christian hardships in perspective against the backdrop of heavenly glory with God: “Though the work be hard, yet the wages is great. Heaven will make amends for all. Ay, one hour’s being in heaven will abundantly recompense you for cleaving to the Lord and his ways in the face of all difficulties. This carried the apostle through the greatest difficulties. He had an eye ‘to the recompense of reward;’ he looked for ‘a house that had foundations, whose builder and maker was God,’ and for ‘a heavenly country.’”[vii] Paul himself puts it this way: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us” (Rom. 8:18.) Let the saints then be impelled to labor out of their great love for the Lord who loves them, died for them, and is taking them to glory.

 

 



[i] A close reading of the passage demonstrates that he was able to wed her prior to the seven year period, but that was the time that he afterwards labored as his payment for his bride. Additionally, he labored for seven years for marrying her sister Leah and six for his flocks, bringing his total time of servitude to twenty years. See Gen. 29:19-30 & Gen. 31:41.

[ii] Unlike Jacob, believers do not work to gain their Beloved. Christ is the prime mover in seeking His church; He secures their place with Him as the Bride through His work on the cross as well as the resurrection, ascension, and coming again that follow it. See Eph. 5:22-33.

[iii] Friedrich Hauck, “kopiazo/kopos,” in Theological Dictionary of the New Testament, Vol. 3. Edited by Gerhard Kittel, Geoffrey W. Bromiley and Gerhard Friedrich. electronic ed. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1964), p. 827.

[iv] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, “kopos,” in Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains, Vol. 1, electronic ed. of the 2nd edition. (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), p. 514.

[v] W. E. Vine, “Labor” in Vine’s Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words, Vol. 2. Eds. Merrill F. Unger and William White (Nashville, TN: T. Nelson, 1996), p. 349. Brackets mine.

[vi] James G. Deck, “A little while, our Lord shall come” found here: http://www.stempublishing.com/hymns/ss/173  Accessed on 6/9/12. Emphasis mine.

[vii] Thomas Brooks, The Complete Works of Thomas Brooks, Volume 1, ed. Alexander Balloch Grosart, (Edinburgh; London; Dublin: James Nichol; James Nisbet and Co.; G. Herbert, 1866), p. 76.

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A Tribute To My Father, Bruce Keyser

Thursday, March 10th, 2011

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Big Dad At Rest

A Tribute To Bruce Keyser

By: Keith Keyser

My father wanted me to speak at his funeral, but I told him that I am simply not emotionally strong enough to fulfil this request. So with love and respect for my father, I would like to say a few things in print, & rely on my good friend and brother in the Lord Larry Price to read them for me.

First, as a family, the Keysers would like to thank each of you for coming and supporting us as we grieve. Those who are helping us in many ways – large and small –  are too many for us to enumerate. Nevertheless, special mention must go to Nate & Heather Wilcha for their faithful care and service towards my parents. Their kindness is a practical demonstration of the love of Christ, and we appreciate them opening their home when ours was unsuitable to accommodate my father’s special needs. We also want to thank the believers gathered in the Lord’s name at Grace Gospel Chapel for their continued prayers and support during my father’s long illness & the trials that accompanied it. We are also grateful to our extended spiritual family of Christians in many places who have prayed and expressed their sympathy – and are even now – praying for us.

Often times when someone dies the thoughts of people become theologically fuzzy. Many eulogies are guilty of indulging in wishful thinking or mere human sentimentality. Obviously people want to think of their loved ones as being in a better place, but what confidence can we put in such notions? A classic hymn was running through my mother’s mind during the last few days of Dad’s life: “When we all get to heaven what a day of rejoicing that will be/when we all see Jesus, we’ll sing and shout the victory.” The problem is: We’re not all going to heaven. Wishing that our loved ones are there or that we will one day go there, doesn’t ensure a place in the presence of the Holy God.

Of course, the Bible teaches that the Lord wants everyone to go to heaven: He “…desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Tim. 2:4.) Nonetheless, salvation from hell and God’s righteous judgment against our sin is only to be found in the One Mediator between God & Man, the Man Christ Jesus (1 Tim. 2:5.) Apart from personally receiving Christ as Lord and Savior one is doomed to a lost eternity in the Lake of fire.

Keeping in mind these biblical facts, I can say on the authority of God’s Word, the Bible, that my father is in heaven with the Lord. One night in approximately the year 1948 an old man came to preach at an assembly of Christians in Pottstown. Many of the regulars of that congregation considered this speaker to be rather dry or boring. Nevertheless, as this man, Mr. Mills preached the Word of God  Bruce was convicted of his sin & of his need for a Savior. He saw that Jesus Christ died on the cross to pay for his sins & to purchase him out of sin’s slave market to be a servant & son of God. By faith, he received Christ as his Lord & Savior, and began a spiritual journey that culminated in his going home to be with the Lord this past Sunday night.

The Christian Gospel offers a relationship between God & human beings. The Lord Jesus defined eternal life in this way: “And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent” (John 17:3.) The account of Abraham & Isaac on Mt. Moriah is one of the most beautiful Old Testament stories  foreshadowing the unparalleled sacrifice of the cross. Like my father & I, this father & son had a close relationship. But their bond was even closer, for Isaac was the son that God miraculously gave to the aged Patriarch when he was beyond the normal age for fathering a child. His wife, Sarah had always been infertile, & she was now also past the age where one could conceive & bear a child. These scientific facts notwithstanding, Almighty God gave them this special son, Isaac, whose very name means “laughter.” What joy he brought to their lives!

It is well known that my father & I shared a prodigious sense of humor that always seemed to find the hilarious aspects of even the mundane things in life. We had many stock phrases that brought to mind inside jokes between us. Certain classic songs never failed to bring smiles to our faces; I’ll never hear about a boll weevil without hearing him sing: “Looking for a home/just lookin’ for a home.” No one ever approached the eviction of a flying squirrel from his dining room with greater gusto than my dad; wielding a dirty work broom on mom’s beloved lite blue carpet. (The spectacle reduced me to tears & convulsions of uncontrolled laughter!) When it came to hunting, he never let me forget bagging my first tree (I missed the deer, but took a nice gash out of a small tree ten feet in front of me! He photoed me with my quarry.) To make matters worse, he had a knack for hanging out in the heated truck, while I froze in the forest. He would nap, eat, nap some more; then come out & shoot a deer, gut it, drag it, & nap again. Brian & I can share many stories about our adventures with Big Dad in the mountains of Potter County.

Like Abraham & Isaac of old, our special friendship was a gift from the Lord. Many times people imagine that God is austere or harsh – a sort of cosmic kill-joy. But that could not be farther from the truth. God is the giver of every good & perfect gift, especially the gift of His Son. He wants us to have joy. The things of this world that we imagine will bring us joy so often disappoint us. That is because joy is only to be found in a relationship with God Himself. As Psalm 16:11 reminds us: “In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.” Big Dad & I were able to enjoy one another’s company so much because we shared the joy of the Lord in common. As two born again, children of God we could appreciate God’s goodness in the pleasurable times of life, as well as in its moments of sorrow.

Returning to the story of Abraham & Isaac, Genesis 22 tells the tale of how God demanded that the former offer Isaac in sacrifice to Him. By this time the promised son was at least in his late teens, & could have easily overcome his father & thwarted the offering. The recurring theme of the passage, however, is that “the two of them went together” (vs. 6, 8.) No word of complaint is heard from Isaac as Abraham bound him to the altar. The silence was only broken by God calling out from heaven to stop the father from striking his son with a mortal blow. A ram was offered up instead of Isaac, & the father & son were able to resume their lives, having passed the test successfully.

More than two thousand years later, another Father & Son came to that same place. They came with the unwavering resolution to open a way for sinners to be saved from wrath & bondage, & to open the way for them to have a relationship with God the Father. In order to do this, the Father would strike the Son with the blow that our sins deserved. In my dad’s last moments in this life, I reminded him of the Son’s words to a condemned thief who was hanging on the cross next to him. The Lord Jesus said to him: “Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43.) Moments later my father breathed his last, stepping out into eternity, & into the presence of the Lord, for believers have confidence through Christ to be able to say: “We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” (2 Cor. 5:8.)

The wonder of this Gospel is that the Father voluntarily offered up His Son to death, & the Son likewise willingly gave His life as “a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45.) As strong & as brave as my father was, he would – quite reasonably – have rather avoided his sickness & death. Yet the Son of God came to earth for the express purpose of dying for our sins, so that we might be freed from their penalty & power forever.  What is more, because Christ rose from the dead in triumph, the power of His resurrection will one day raise believers’ bodies to live with God in glorious forms that will never know pain, corruption, or decay. My father will rise again, because Christ has risen. Because the Lord lives, he will live also.

I am so thankful to the Lord that He gave me a father who loved our family sacrificially – one who was faithful to us in the good & bad times of life. But above all, one who preached the gospel to us, exhorted us to follow the Lord, & always reminded us that serving God is the chief thing. In my early teens he challenged me to give my mind to the study of Christian biography & the Scriptures (as opposed to more trivial areas of knowledge like popular culture, which had been claiming my attention.) He was a man of his word and one whose integrity permeated his business and personal lives. He has gone before us, but I know that I will see him again, for the Scripture promises that “the dead in Christ shall rise first” (1 Thes. 4:16.) Farewell, Big Dad, you have entered into your rest in the Lord Jesus.

The School Of Adversity

Saturday, February 19th, 2011

TO DOWNLOAD IN PDF., CLICK HERE: Adversity

But I want you to know, brethren, that the things which happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the gospel.” Philippians 1:12

Paul was probably the most effective Christian missionary in history. His dynamic evangelistic and Bible teaching ministry resulted in many conversions and the subsequent formation of several Asian and European churches. Far from robbing the apostle of his effectiveness his imprisonment actually led to the advancement of the gospel. First, Paul diligently witnessed to his captors who were taken from the ranks of the elite palace guard (Phil. 1:13; in this verse “palace” is literally Praetorium, i.e. the place of the powerful  royal bodyguards.) Second, the curtailment of his public preaching ministry, coupled with his resolute courage in the face of danger, motivated other Christians to begin proclaiming the good news of Christ in place of the incarcerated apostle.

Paul’s example leads one to ask oneself: Am I willing to suffer that the gospel may progress to lost souls? Do the problems of life open up avenues to glorify the Lord? Christians must pray to discern how they may use every occasion to witness to the lost, as well as grow in personal dependence on the Lord. A good friend once told me how terminal cancer opened doors for him to share the good news of Christ with many people that he otherwise would not have met. I can testify that my personal affliction of cerebral palsy has taught me much about the Lord’s powerful mercy, as well as providing numerous opportunities to share Christ with people who suffer physically. Praise God that He sovereignly uses the hard things of life to bless and save people!

Originally published on www.carryduff.org (The website of Carryduff Gospel Hall, Carryduff, Northern Ireland.)

Another gem from the past: “The True Grace of God Wherein We Stand” by J.N.D.

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

TO DOWNLOAD IN PDF., CLICK HERE: The True Grace of God wherein we stand

1 Peter 5: 12.

God is made known to us as the “God of all Grace,” and the position in which we are set is that of “tasting that He is gracious.” How hard it is for us to believe this, that the Lord is gracious. The natural feeling of our hearts is, “I know that thou art an austere man”; there is the want in all of us naturally of the understanding of the Grace of God.

There is sometimes the thought that grace implies God’s passing over sin, but no, grace supposes sin to be so horribly bad a thing that God cannot tolerate it: were it in the power of man, after being unrighteous and evil, to patch up his ways, and mend himself so as to stand before God, there would be no need of grace. The very fact of the Lord’s being gracious shows sin to be so evil a thing that, man being a sinner, his state is utterly ruined and hopeless, and nothing but free grace will do for him – can meet his need.

We must learn what God is to us, not by our own thoughts, but by what He has revealed Himself to be, and that is, “The God of all Grace.” The moment I understand that I am a sinful man, and yet that it was because the Lord knew the full extent of my sin, and what its hatefulness was, that He came to me, I understand what grace is. Faith makes me see that God is greater than my sin, and not that my sin is greater than God. . . . The Lord that I have known as laying down His life for me, is the same Lord I have to do with every day of my life, and all His dealings with me are on the same principles of grace. The great secret of growth is, the looking up to the Lord as gracious. How precious, how strengthening it is to know that Jesus is at this moment feeling and exercising the same love towards me as when He died on the cross for me.

This is a truth that should be used by us in the most common everyday circumstances of life. Suppose, for instance, I find an evil temper in myself, which I feel it difficult to overcome; let me bring it to Jesus as my Friend, virtue goes out of Him for my need. Faith should be ever thus in exercise against temptations, and not simply my own effort; my own effort against it will never be sufficient. The source of real strength is in the sense of the Lord’s being gracious. The natural man in us always disbelieves Christ as the only source of strength and of every blessing. Suppose my soul is out of communion, the natural heart says, “I must correct the cause of this before I can come to Christ,” but He is gracious; and knowing this, the way is to return to Him at once, just as we are, and then humble ourselves deeply before Him. It is only in Him and from Him that we shall find that which will restore our souls. Humbleness in His presence is the only real humbleness. If we own ourselves in His presence to be just what we are, we shall find that He will show us nothing but grace. . . .

It is Jesus who gives abiding rest to our souls, and not what our thoughts about ourselves may be. Faith never thinks about that which is in ourselves as its ground of rest; it receives, loves and apprehends what God has revealed, and what are God’s thoughts about Jesus, in whom is His rest. As knowing Jesus to be precious to our souls, our eyes and our hearts being occupied with Him, they will be effectually prevented from being taken up with the vanity and sin around; and this too will be our strength against the sin and corruption of our own hearts. Whatever I see in myself that is not in Him is sin, but then it is not thinking of my own sins, and my own vileness, and being occupied with them, that will humble me, but thinking of the Lord Jesus, dwelling upon the excellency in Him. It is well to be done with ourselves, and to be taken up with Jesus. We are entitled to forget ourselves, we are entitled to forget our sins, we are entitled to forget all but Jesus.

There is nothing so hard for our hearts as to abide in the sense of grace, to continue practically conscious that we are not under law but under grace; it is by grace that the heart is “established,” but then there is nothing more difficult for us really to comprehend than the fulness of grace, that “Grace of God wherein we stand,” and to walk in the power and consciousness of it. . . . It is only in the presence of God that we can know it, and there it is our privilege to be. The moment we get away from the presence of God, there will always be certain workings of our own thoughts within us, and our own thoughts can never reach up to the thoughts of God about us, to the “Grace of God.”

Anything that I had the smallest possible right to expect could not be pure, free grace – could not be the “Grace of God.” . . It is alone when in communion with Him that we are able to measure everything according to His grace. . . . It is impossible, when we are abiding in the sense of God’s presence, for anything, be what it may – even the state of the Church – to shake us, for we count on God, and then all things become a sphere and scene for the operation of His grace.

The having very simple thoughts of grace is the true source of our strength as Christians; and the abiding in the sense of grace, in the presence of God, is the secret of all holiness, peace, and quietness of spirit.

The “Grace of God” is so unlimited, so full, so perfect, that if we get for a moment out of the presence of God, we cannot have the true consciousness of it, we have no strength to apprehend it; and if we attempt to know it out of His presence, we shall only turn it to licentiousness. If we look at the simple fact of what grace is, it has no limits, no bounds. Be we what we may (and we cannot be worse than we are), in spite of all that, what God is towards us is LOVE. Neither our joy nor our peace is dependent on what we are to God, but on what He is to us, and this is grace.

Grace supposes all the sin and evil that is in us, and is the blessed revelation that, through Jesus, all this sin and evil has been put away. A single sin is more horrible to God than a thousand sins – nay, than all the sins in the world are to us; and yet, with the fullest consciousness of what we are, all that God is pleased to be towards us is LOVE.

In Rom. 7 the state described is that of a person quickened, but whose whole set of reasonings centre in himself . . . he stops short of grace, of the simple fact that, whatever be his state, let him be as bad as he may, GOD IS LOVE, and only love towards him. Instead of looking at God, it is all “I,” “I,” “I.” Faith looks at God, as He has revealed Himself in Grace. . . . Let me ask you, “Am I – or is my state the object of faith?” No. faith never makes what is in my heart its object, but God’s revelation of Himself in grace.

Grace has reference to what GOD is, and not to what we are, except indeed that the very greatness of our sins does but magnify the extent of the “Grace of God.” At the same time, we must remember that the object and necessary effect of grace is to bring our souls into communion with God – to sanctify us, by bringing the soul to know God, and to love Him; therefore the knowledge of grace is the true source of sanctification.

The triumph of grace is seen in this, that when man’s enmity had cast out Jesus from the earth, God’s love had brought in salvation by that very act – came in to atone for the sin of those who had rejected Him. In the view of the fullest development of man’s sin, faith sees the fullest development of God’s grace. . . . I have got away from grace if I have the slightest doubt or hesitation about God’s love. I shall then be saying, “I am unhappy because I am not what I should like to be”: that is not the question. The real question is, whether God is what we should like Him to be, whether Jesus is all we could wish. If the consciousness of what we are – of what we find in ourselves, has any other effect than, while it humbles us, to increase our adoration of what God is, we are off the ground of pure grace. . . . Is there distress and distrust in your minds? See if it be not because you are still saying “I,” “I,” and losing sight of God’s grace.

It is better to be thinking of what God is than of what we are. This looking at ourselves, at the bottom is really pride, a want of the thorough consciousness that we are good for nothing. Till we see this we never look quite away from self to God. . . . In looking to Christ, it is our privilege to forget ourselves. True humility does not so much consist in thinking badly of ourselves, as in not thinking of ourselves at all. I am too bad to be worth thinking about. What

I want is, to forget myself and to look to God, who is indeed worth all my thoughts. Is there need of being humbled about ourselves? We may be quite sure that will do it.

Beloved, if we can say as in Rom. 7, “In me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing,” we have thought quite long enough about ourselves; let us then think about Him who thought about us with thoughts of good and not of evil, long before we had thought of ourselves at all. Let us see what His thoughts of grace about us are, and take up the words of faith, “If God be for us, who can be against us?”

J.N. Darby, “The True Grace of God wherein we stand,” Similar to, perhaps extracted from, ‘Why do I groan?’ C.W. 12 Evangelical vol. 1, page 186, electronic ed.: http://www.stempublishing.com/authors/darby/New8_95/38True_Grace.html Accessed on 2/5/11.

True Sainthood

Monday, January 10th, 2011

TO DOWNLOAD IN PDF., CLICK HERE: True Sainthood

The recently deceased journalist, diplomat, and scholar of South East Asia, Phillips Talbot once wrote: “I’ve been a Christian, and in particular a Presbyterian, and yet in Gandhi I saw saintliness…He was a 77-year-old ascetic and the physical ordeal did not worry him. Here, if I ever saw one, is a pilgrimage. Here is the Indian – and the world’s – idea of sainthood: a little old man who has renounced personal possessions, walking with bare feet on cold earth in search of a great human ideal.”[i] His profession to be a Christian notwithstanding, Talbot betrayed a common misunderstanding of the nature of true saintliness. His comments on the Indian statesman Mohandas K. Gandhi depict a saint as a really good man or woman, whose abstemious or extremely religious behavior directs attention towards himself or herself in the pursuit of “a great human ideal.”

Saints: The False & The True

The biblical usage of the term is far different: it depicts bad men and women who have been set apart by the grace of God to receive a life of eternal glory with the Lord Jesus Christ. This eternal life is a gift from the Lord, stemming from His generosity and love – not based on any personal merit in the recipient of this gracious position. It results in a transformed life, that displays the character and reflective glory of Christ Himself as given through the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22-26.) The destiny of saints culminates in their being conformed to the image of their Lord through “the redemption of the body” which results in glorification (Rom. 8:17, 23, 28-30; 1 John 3:1-2.)

Some world religions believe in calling upon saints to intercede for them with God. In contrast, the Bible says that true saints need the Son of God to intercede for them (Rom. 8:27.) Their good deeds earn no favor before God; He must mediate His blessings to them through His Son’s high priestly work. Nevertheless, if one is a saint by the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, then they have been saved to live separated lives. They belong to the Lord and must not form entangling alliances with the world (2 Cor. 6:14-18.) As they walk with Him in the power of His Spirit they will live differently than the lost ones around them; good works will be produced like fruit (John 15:1-5; Eph. 2:8-10.) As Titus 2:11-15 expresses it:

For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works.

The Wardrobe Of The Saints

The saints’ righteous deeds are actually crafting their future wedding garment (Rev. 19:8.) This metaphor shows that their anonymous and unnoticed service in this world will one day be manifested to the universe by the Lord of glory (Eph. 2:7.) Because their very existence – as well as their works – are the result of His work in and through them, the Lord will receive the honor from the saints’ activities (Phil. 2:12.) Genuine sainthood turns people’s gaze to the Almighty. Real saints say: “He must increase, but I must decrease” (John 3:30.)


[i] Haresh Pandya, “Phillips Talbot: Journalist and diplomat who became an expert on South Asian affairs” (Obituary) in The Independent,  3 January 2011; electronic edition: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/obituaries/phillips-talbot-journalist-and-diplomat-who-became-an-expert-on-south-asian-affairs-2174491.html Accessed on 1/10/11.



The Death Of A Son

Monday, November 15th, 2010

To download in pdf., click here: The Death Of A Son

He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how shall He not with Him also freely give us all things? Romans 8:32

The well-known boxing promoter Bob Arum recently lost his son, John, in a climbing accident on Storm King Mountain in Washington state. Although his public persona normally exudes the bravado associated with the boxing world, Arum’s feelings were poignantly revealed to the New York Times interviewer by this statement: “When you lose a child, I don’t care what anybody tells you, you lose part of yourself…It does not get easier over time.”[i]

His words express just a small portion of the tremendous sorrow of a parent losing a beloved child. Mr. Arum was close to his son. They shared a common profession as lawyers, and loved to fish and watch the New York Giants football team. Like his father, John was a driven person, passionate about certain causes such as environmentalism. In keeping with his love of nature, he was an ardent mountaineer, but this dangerous hobby led to his death. His father disliked this arduous form of recreation, always dreading the day when he would hear of a fall. The reporter continues the tale: “Shortly after John Arum’s death, Bob Arum vented to his family, asked the questions everybody asks. How could he have done this? Put himself in that position?
To which Richard told his father: ‘Because he’s just like you.’”[ii] The same drive that made him a success in professional life also impelled him to brave great dangers in following his interests.

Unsearchable Grace

In a small way, this tragic story is reminiscent of the depth of God the Father’s love for mankind. As the verse above indicates, the sacrifice of the Son of God evidences the limitless largesse of Divine grace. His generosity is boundless, for it is expressed in the gift of something of ultimate value: the life of God’s Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. As the nineteenth century preacher Horatius Bonar put it in a classic hymn: “The gift of gifts, all other gifts in one – blessed be God our God!”[iii] It is in the death of the Son that one perceives the extent of the riches of His grace (Eph. 1:7.)  God did not spare His own Son. Abraham was commanded to spare Isaac; David would have spared Absalom if he were able (Gen 22:12; 2 Sam. 18:5.) But the sovereign God did not spare His Son; instead, He chose to send Him to the agony of the cross. Likewise, the Son loved the world, and so He voluntarily went to this death to do His Father’s will and save His fallen creatures. Whoever receives the Lord Jesus by faith is rescued from eternal judgment and perdition (Jn. 3:16.) They are given eternal life, and are made children and sons of God (Jn. 1:12; 5:24.)

Having been made joint-heirs with the One who inherits all things, believers are told that there is nothing good that God will withhold from them (Rom. 8:17, 32; Psa. 84:11.) The guarantee of this immense spiritual wealth is that He has already given His best: the Son of God Himself! Never has a father loved a Son as much as God the Father loves the Lord Jesus, whom Scripture calls “the Son of His love” (Col. 1:12-13, NKJV.) “How He set His love upon Thee – called Thee His beloved Son; Yet for us He did not spare Thee, By Thy death our life was won,” as a beautiful hymn says it.[iv]

The Son Bringing Many Sons To Glory

Interestingly, the article about Bob Arum’s grief ends on the positive note of discussing his close friendship with the boxing sensation, Manny Pacquiao, and the similarities that he sees between this fighter and his son. As Bishop writes:

Perhaps it’s a stretch, but the more they spoke, the more Arum saw his son in the famous Filipino boxer, in Pacquiao’s increased dedication to public service, in his myriad dimensions, in the way boxing alone failed to define him. Pacquiao is not simply one of the two best boxers in the world. And John was never just a boxing promoter’s son.
Pacquiao is dedicating the fight to John’s memory, and Arum sees a symmetry there. He does not expect to find closure here in Texas, or any time soon. But he does consider this — back at work, back with Pacquiao – a start.[v]

In losing his son, one might say, he has gained someone with the same characteristics. On a far grander scale, the Father gave up His Son that He might gain many glorious sons and daughters who are destined to bear His image (Rom. 8:28-30.)


[i] Greg Bishop, “After losing a son, Arum takes a step back,” New York Times, Publ. 11/11/10; electronic ed.: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/12/sports/12arum.html?partner=rss&emc=rss Accessed on 11/11/10.

[ii] Ibid.

[iii] Horatius Bonar, “Blessed be God our God.” See: http://www.stempublishing.com/hymns/ss/89

[iv] Miss C.A. Wellesley, “Gathered in Thy name Lord Jesus,” See: http://www.hymnal.net/hymn.php/nt/204

[v] Bishop, see ftnt. i.

Guest Post by Rebekah Tidball: A Conversation Between Christian & Tolerance

Sunday, March 21st, 2010

An allegory.

Conversation Between Tolerance and Christian
Christian: Tolerance, I have some questions for you.
Tolerance: Dear Christian, I have been expecting you.
Christian: You have?
Tolerance: Of course. I knew you would come around sometime.
Christian: Well Tolerance, can you tell me why so many think us Christians are intolerant?
Tolerance: I’d be happy to. They think that because you are.
Christian: How can I become more tolerant then?
Tolerance: It’s quite simple really. And you will be accepted and loved by others if you just follow a few simple guidelines.
Christian: That doesn’t sound so bad.
Tolerance: Christian, it is wonderful. First of all, no more saying there is only one way to do things. People don’t like that. It’s offensive and intolerant.
Christian: But the Bible says…
Tolerance: Wait. That’s another thing right there. No more talk about the Bible. We’ve done well with our tolerance movement and have even convinced some Christians to get rid of their Bible’s and no longer read them even in church. The Bible is offensive, Christian, and it is not tolerant.
Christian: I see.
Tolerance: Yes. See my master has made sure that we have been successful in whispering in the ears of top leaders and politicians to make sure people are more tolerant overall. It’s the only right way.
Christian: And who is your master?
Tolerance: We’ll get into that later. To be more tolerant you need to stop telling people about sin and that they are wrong. It’s a chosen lifestyle. Not sin. Sin is way too harsh of a word. Christian, I only want the best for you. And using words like sin and wrong will not make you any friends.
Christian: I think…
Tolerance: Hold it. See, you need to stop with all the thinking. That’s where you get into trouble. Don’t think. As a matter of fact we have made sure that people are starting to stop thinking for themselves. Do you know there are even directions on how to eat a marshmallow? Look at the back of the bag. We will tell you what is o.k. and what is not o.k. A lifestyle choice is all right. What you want to believe and what you want to think is right and wrong and what works for you is officially in.
Christian: Seems broad.
Tolerance: Exactly. See, now you are getting it. Broaden your world views and be more open instead of being intolerant.
Christian: I think I understand.
Tolerance: Good. It doesn’t have to be major changes. Not at first. Take things slow and compromise little by little. You will feel enlightened and at peace.
Christian: I have a question, Tolerance. Why is it that we have to be tolerant of all beliefs and all people but no one wants to be tolerant of Christians?
Tolerance: See, there you go thinking again. The problem with Christians is they are intolerant. They think they know what is right and wrong and everyone is incorrect. Sad really.
Christian: But the Bible says…
Tolerance: Remember Christian, the Bible is not at all tolerant. You should get rid of yours. Quickly.
Christian: I’m getting this. I understand.
Tolerance: Good. I knew you would. People will like you and you will be accepted the more tolerant you become.
Christian: So to be more tolerant I need to accept all beliefs and stop thinking there is such a thing as right and wrong. I need to believe that everyone chooses for themselves what is right. How’s that?
Tolerance: My master would be pleased.
Christian: Who is this master you are talking about?
Tolerance: He has many names. Don’t worry about it.
Christian: O.k. so in addition to accepting all things I need to stop believing my Bible?
Tolerance: Absolutely. That Jesus character was above all people intolerant and look what happened to Him! You don’t want to be hated like he was do you? You don’t want to be killed or even jailed for intolerance, do you, dear Christian?
Christian: Hmm.
Tolerance: Seems like an easy answer to me.
Christian: So to be more tolerant I need to forget about Jesus and all He stood for. Forget right and wrong. And I need to compromise.
Tolerance: Compromise. Yes. I love that word.
Christian: I need to compromise my faith, my beliefs, and above all compromise on the Word of God?
Tolerance: Yes.
Christian: Seems to me, Tolerance, that telling me what I believe is wrong, by telling me the Bible is intolerant and offensive, by telling me I can’t say others are wrong and sinful and by telling me I must compromise; is well….intolerant.
Tolerance: Poor Christian, so deceived.
Christian: You never told me who your master is.
Tolerance: Let’s just say he is very powerful, he has the ear of many politicians and world leaders and thankfully even church leaders.
Christian: I think we are at a standstill, Tolerance, because I am just not willing to compromise here. You see I believe the Bible is the true Word of God. I believe being right doesn’t mean you’ll be liked or popular. I believe there is a right way and a wrong way.
Tolerance: You are intolerant, Christian. It’s displeasing.
Christian: Displeasing? To whom? Your master? I think I know who your master is, Tolerance, and I would be more than happy not to please him. In fact if being tolerant means pleasing him then I want to be the opposite.
Tolerance: People will not like you, Christian. We are working hard to make laws against you and your intolerance and we are working very hard to make these laws applicable even in your churches. We are watching what you do and what you say. Be assured, being intolerant will get you in hot water.
Christian: The more I talk to you the more I am o.k. with that.
Tolerance: You will be left to stand alone in your hard and intolerant beliefs…….…Christian, why are you smiling?
Christian: Because I know the uncompromised truth.
Tolerance: And what is that?
Christian: I never have to stand alone. If all the world forsakes me and decides I am too intolerant then I know I will not stand alone because God will always be with me.
Tolerance: So you say. I think it’s time for me to go. I have a busy schedule ahead. My master and I are always hard at work.
Christian: I have to go too. I have something important to do.
Tolerance: An appointment or something, Christian?
Christian: I need no appointment for where I am going. If what you say is true Tolerance then I am going to my knees.
Tolerance: Prayer you mean?
Christian: Yes.
Tolerance: Oh brother. That won’t do much. If you disagree with me that much then get out there and protest and make a fuss. Make a big spectacle of yourself and defend yourself!
Christian: No thanks. I don’t have to. When the time comes to defend myself, and it may come, then I trust that the Lord will speak through me.
Tolerance: I’m out of here. I have business to do.
Christian: Thank you, Tolerance, for your time. I’m going to my knees now.
Rebekah Tidball
March 16, 2010

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