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Treating The King Like A Pawn

Monday, June 3rd, 2013

Now when Herod saw Jesus, he was exceedingly glad; for he had desired for a long time to see Him, because he had heard many things about Him, and he hoped to see some miracle done by Him” Luke 23:8.

Rather than seeking Christ to inquire concerning the truth about the world, humanity, and the Creator God, Herod merely wanted to satisfy his idle curiosity. To him the Lord Jesus’ miracles were not signs authenticating His deity and Messiahship; instead they were magic tricks meant for his royal amusement. He wanted to manipulate his notable prisoner into performing instead of preaching; of course, that is exactly what the Lord would not do. Jesus Christ is not a pawn and life is not a game. In order to accomplish the purpose for which they were created, human beings must bow to the King of kings and Lord of lords who alone gives eternal life.

tissot-jesus-before-herod-513x743*Image: James Tissot, “Jesus before Herod”; found here: http://www.joyfulheart.com/easter/images-tissot/tissot-jesus-before-herod-513×743.jpg Accessed on 6/3/13.

Trivializing The Ultimate Truth

Many moderns reenact Herod’s tragic mistake by thinking that they have heard about Christ and therefore know all about Him. But hearsay is notoriously unreliable. One may hear that Christ was a good teacher or a moral man, and the gospels bear this out – yet it is not the whole truth. Jesus was “God manifested in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3:16.) He was a real, sinless man; yet He was also God walking in our midst (1 Tim. 2:5; Jn. 1:14; Phil. 2:5-8.)

As God incarnate the Lord Jesus is incapable of being maneuvered by humans into doing what they want. During His earthly ministry, He steadfastly held to God the Father’s will and timetable. Thus, He was born, died, rose again, and ascended back to heaven all according to the schedule preordained from before the foundation of the world (e.g. 1 Pet. 1:10-12; Titus 1:2-3.) For a puny would-be potentate – in reality a dissipated, vacillating puppet of the Roman overlords – to suppose that he could make Christ perform on demand was ludicrous. The Lord Jesus is not malleable to men’s perverted notions.

Checkmating Ourselves

Far too many moderns reduplicate the same mistake in different forms. They suppose that Jesus is there to be reinterpreted according to their thinking. Rather than a holy God who “…commands all men everywhere to repent,” they suppose that He is a grandfatherly type of being who would never dream of separating anyone from Himself for an eternity of punishment. Or they simplistically think that He indulgently turns a blind eye to our sinful desires and thought-life. To others, the Lord is little better than a life-ring to desperately grasp when they get into trouble, or a miracle-working genie whom we may call upon to gratify our desires for the sensational or the supernatural.

The Lord Jesus Christ will not submit to a chess game of our own devising. He is not a pawn, but a king. Bearing this in mind, our legitimate response must be to bow to Him and say “God be merciful to me a sinner” (Lk. 18:13); and “My Lord and my God” (Jn. 20:28)!  Afterwards we say, “Speak Lord, your servant is listening” (1 Sam. 3:10) and “Lord, what do you want me to do” (Acts 9:6)? This is the best kind of life: one lived in obedience to our Lord and King.

The High Cost Of Liberty

Monday, February 28th, 2011

TO DOWNLOAD THE ARTICLE IN PDF., CLICK HERE: The High Cost Of Liberty

“The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, Because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to the captives And recovery of sight to the blind, To set at liberty those who are oppressed; To proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” Luke 4:18-19

The author of the American Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson once penned the following regarding armed revolution:

We have had 13 states independent 11 years. There has been one rebellion. That comes to one rebellion in a century & a half for each state. What country before ever existed a century & half without a rebellion? & what country can preserve it’s [sic] liberties if their rulers are not warned from time to time that their people preserve the spirit of resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as to facts, pardon & pacify them. What signify a few lives lost in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from time to time with the blood of patriots & tyrants. It is it’s [sic] natural manure.[i]

Despite this incendiary rhetoric and all of his contributions to the founding of the United States of America, Jefferson never shed a drop of his own blood to create or defend liberty.

You Say You Want A Revolution?

The recent unrest in Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Iran, and other despotically ruled nations once more shows the innate human desire for freedom from tyranny. It remains to be seen whether these protests will produce political situations where freedom may flourish. Yet on a higher level the Lord Jesus Christ “preached freedom for the prisoners…to release the oppressed” through the shedding of His own blood (Luke 4:18; Eph. 1:7.) He was willing to suffer the heinous torture of crucifixion in order to free repentant sinners. Rather than sending others to die for spiritual liberty, Christ Himself gave His life on the cross. By pouring out His blood He paid the redemption price to liberate people from the tyranny of sin, Satan, the grave, and hell. His resurrection shows that the rescue has been accomplished. Only the Lord Jesus can grant true eternal freedom to lost sinners.

To obtain “a better resurrection” many of the Lord Jesus’ followers have suffered physically and emotionally (Heb. 11:35.) Old Testament Israel experienced tremendous oppression from numerous occupying powers. As a nation Israel currently disbelieves in their true Messiah Jesus (“Yeshua” as His name is in Hebrew); for them the “times of the Gentiles” continue (Lk. 21:24.) They will not recognize Him until He comes to defend and rescue them from the ire of the nations at the end of the Tribulation period (Zech. 12:1-13:1; Matt. 23:37-39.)

Freedom Worth Suffering For

Today millions of Christians around the world continue to suffer and die for their faith; yet their stories often go unreported in the western media. Nonetheless, one day the great Deliverer the Lord Jesus Christ will come to rescue His servants from those who mercilessly persecute them (2 Thes. 1:4-10.) What is more, He will liberate both them and the creation itself from the bondage and pain that sin produces in this world (Rom. 8:14-24.) The freedom that Jefferson and other people pine for is but a pale reflection of the far greater program of liberty that God will inaugurate through His peerless Son. His work will encompass every nation and extend far beyond this planet as it currently is (Rev. 21-22; Isa. 9:6-7.) If you have never done so, call on Him for salvation, confessing your hopeless condition as a sinner, and He will save you (Rom. 10:9.) Or if you already have received Christ as your Lord and Savior, continue on in the struggle – “fight the good fight of faith” (1 Tim. 6:12)! The kingdom that God will establish in the age to come is worth suffering the loss of everything in this age (Acts 14:21-22; Matt. 16:24-27; Mk. 10:30.)[ii]


[i] Thomas Jefferson, “Letter to William S. Smith, 13 November 1787;” accessed here on 2/28/11: http://odur.let.rug.nl/~usa/P/tj3/writings/brf/jefl64.htm ; emphasis mine.

[ii] An abbreviated version of this article originally appeared on the Carryduff Gospel Hall website (http://www.carryduff.org/ ) the week of February 21, 2011.

Only one will not do…How many have you?

Wednesday, February 9th, 2011

TO DOWNLOAD IN PDF., CLICK HERE:Only one will not do

Today, February 9th, is the birthday of notable historical figures such as the 9th President of the United States, William Henry Harrison, and the 18th century philosopher and political agitator – not to mention inveterate infidel – Thomas Paine.  Contemporary figures such as Senator Jim Webb of Virginia, the diminutive actor Joe Pesci, and the actress Mia Farrow were also born on this date.  More pertinent to my situation: 38 years ago today I was born in Pottstown, Pennsylvania, USA.  This birth was somewhat surprising because I arrived 3 months early (I’ve always been partial to dramatic entrances!)  The local doctors looked at this scrawny baby who weighed a mere 2 pounds 7 ounces and opined that I only had a 30% chance of surviving.  Happily, there is a God who rules over all and determines the times appointed for men.  Thus, in His sovereign mercy He spared my life.

A Mother’s Faith & A Faithful God

Although premature and suffering from cerebral palsy – which would go undiagnosed until I was nearly two – I enjoyed many blessings.  My chief advantage was to be born into a household where the parents were devout Christians who had a personal relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and knew the value of intercessory prayer.  Anyone who has met my parents knows that my father is louder, larger, and much more forceful than my mother.  Nonetheless, in the early moments of my life it was my faithful Christian mother who offered a “Hannah prayer” to the Lord.  Those unfamiliar with this great woman of faith, Hannah, can consult 1 Samuel chapters 1 and 2.  Hannah prayed that the Lord would give her a son so that she could give him back to the Almighty for His service.  Similarly, my mother said, “Lord if you spare the boy’s life, I’ll give him back to You for Your work”.  I did not learn of this prayer for many years.  It was only after I began preaching and teaching from the Word of God that she told me of her “bargain” with the Lord.  In His grace, He honored that prayer and I have now been preaching His Word for over 20 years, spending nearly 12 of those in full time service for His glory.

Of course, my second birthday occurred 7 years after my first.  Thanks to the faithful witness of my parents as well as countless sermons heard in our local church, I was well-acquainted with the story of the Lord Jesus Christ.  I knew that there is a God who sent His Son into the world to die on the cross for sinners (1 Tim. 1:15.)  I also knew that not having the Son of God as my Savior left me in the dreadful state of being under the righteous condemnation of God for my sins (John 3:36.)  As a boy of 7, alone on my cousin’s porch, I simply asked the Lord to save me based on what His Word said: that His Son died for me and rose again so that I could be given eternal life.  John 3 famously describes the conversion experience as being “born again”.  It could also be translated “born anew” or “born from above”.  2 Corinthians 5:17 assures us that if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature.  On that summer’s day I passed from a state of spiritual death – that is alienation from God and His life – to a state of spiritual life – knowing God through His Son the Lord Jesus Christ (John 5:24; John 17:3.)

Happy Birthday To Me (Twice)

So on this day, my 38th birthday, I give thanks to God for His mercy and grace towards me: for allowing me to receive the Lord Jesus as my Savior and serve Him throughout my adolescence and adult life.  In my local church when someone has a birthday, we often sing a second verse to the well-known birthday chorus; the lyrics are as follows:

Happy birthday to you, only one will not do!

Born again means salvation, how many have you?

I am so thankful to write that I have 2 birthdays.  The natural one on February 9th, and the spiritual one on a specific day whose date I have forgotten from the summer of 1980.  Nonetheless, Christ lives within me and I live in Him (Col. 1:27; Rom. 8:1.)  If you cannot say that you have two, I urge you to read John 3 and consider where you stand with the Lord.  If you are to be saved from your sin and gain eternal life, you must receive the Lord Jesus Christ or to put it as He did, “you must be born again” (John 3:7.)