His Master’s Crib

“The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.” (Isaiah 1:3)

What an indictment this is—not only against the people of Israel, but against men and women everywhere. All were created and made in the image of God (Genesis 1:26-27) for fellowship with Him, but even His own chosen people rejected Him, and most people everywhere all but ignore Him in their daily lives.

“Crib” is the same as “manger,” and when God became man, His human parents “laid him in a manger” (Luke 2:7), as there was no room for Him anywhere else. The animals knew Him, and so did the angels, but His people were unconcerned. “He was in the world, and the world was made by him, and the world knew him not” (John 1:10).

When He came into Jerusalem offering Himself as King of Israel, He rode on an unbroken colt, “whereon yet never man sat,” and the little “foal of an ass” (Luke 19:30; Zechariah 9:9) willingly submitted, knowing his divine Master and Maker. But the people of Jerusalem as a whole joined in clamoring for His crucifixion just a few days later.

The indictment against Israel could be lodged with even greater justification against America today. “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: . . . I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me” (Isaiah 1:2). The morals of our people seem to have been turned upside down, and God would say to us also: “Woe unto them that call evil good, and good evil; that put darkness for light, and light for darkness” (Isaiah 5:20).

Yet—in modern America, as well as in ancient Israel—“as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12). HMM

Salvation Apart from Obedience

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them. —Ephesians 2:10

Therefore, I must be frank in my feeling that a notable heresy has come into being throughout our evangelical Christian circles—the widely accepted concept that we humans can choose to accept Christ only because we need Him as Savior and we have the right to postpone our obedience to Him as Lord as long as we want to!…

I think the following is a fair statement of what I was taught in my early Christian experience and it certainly needs a lot of modifying and a great many qualifiers to save us from being in error.

“We are saved by accepting Christ as our Savior; we are sanctified by accepting Christ as our Lord; we may do the first without doing the second!”

The truth is that salvation apart from obedience is unknown in the sacred Scriptures. Peter makes it plain that we are “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, through sanctification of the Spirit, unto obedience” (1 Peter 1:2).

Lord, as I rejoice in the free gift of salvation, by grace through faith, remind me regularly that it is a salvation unto good works, that we’re saved to serve. Amen.

Our Lord Looks for Heavenly Minded Christians

Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, he with me where I am; that they may behold my glory…. John 17:24

I am sure that our Lord is looking for heavenly-minded Christians, for His Word encourages us to trust Him with such a singleness of purpose that He is able to deliver us from the fear of death and the uncertainties of tomorrow!

If we had actually reached a place of such spiritual commitment that the wonders of heaven were so close that we longed for the illuminating Presence of our Lord, we would not go into such a fearful and frantic performance every time we find something wrong with our physical frame.

I do not think that a genuine, committed Christian ever ought to be afraid to die. We do not have to fear because Jesus promised that He would prepare a proper place for all of those who shall be born again, raised up out of the agony and stress of this world through the blood of the everlasting covenant into that bright and gracious world above.

Notice that Jesus said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions.” If it is His Father’s house, it is also our Father’s house because the Lord Jesus is our elder brother. Jesus also said, “I go to my Father and your Father—my God and your God.”

If the Father’s house is the house of Jesus, it is also the house of all of His other sons and daughters! And we Christians are much better off than we really know!

More Than Consolation

Blessed is the man… his delight is in the law of the LORD. PSALM 1:1-2

It is my judgment that too many of us go to church on Sunday for the same reason that a child climbs into its mother’s arms after a fall or a bump or a fright—the child wants consolation!

We have fallen upon times when religion is mostly for consolation—for we are in the grip of the cult of peace. We want to relax and have the great God Almighty pat our heads and comfort us with peace of mind, peace of heart, peace of soul. This has become religion!

According to my Bible, there should be a people of God, a people called of God and subjected to a spiritual experience by God. Then they are to learn to walk in the way of Truth and the way of the Scripture, producing the righteous fruit of the child of God no matter what world conditions may be.

But there is a great misunderstanding among us. Too many tend to think that we get the flower and the fragrance and the fruit of the Spirit by some kind of magical shortcut, instead of by cultivation. Meanwhile, our neighbors are waiting to see the likeness of Christ in our daily lives!

Lord, I don’t want to be known as a Sunday-only Christian. I want my faith in You to be obvious to my family, coworkers, and neighbors. I pray that others will see the fruit of Your presence in my life today.

Avoid the Mold

And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. Romans 12:2

American brothers John and Isaiah Hyatt changed the world in 1872 by inventing the injection molding process. Through this process, plastics and other materials can be heated and forced into a mold. Once cooled, a perfectly formed object appears. Every day we pick up something created by injection molding.

When English scholar J. B. Phillips was looking for a way to paraphrase Romans 12:2 for The New Testament in Modern English (1958), the image of a mold came to mind: “Don’t let the world around you squeeze you into its own mould, but let God re-mould your minds from within.” The word “squeeze” pictures the pressure that is constantly exerted by sin (the flesh), the world, and the devil. The mold of the world takes many shapes, but none of them are original. They all question the authority of God—attempting to discount God’s Word and excluding Him from our priorities. As Satan said to Eve, “Has God indeed said?” (Genesis 3:1)

It is important to remember who formed our being—God has created us to be like Him—we do not fit into any other mold.

A man can be outwardly conformed to the Christian way of life while he is inwardly conformed to the spirit of this world. Sinclair Ferguson

Recommended Reading: 1 Peter 1:13-16

A Right View of Repentance

Acts 2:37-39

Preaching the truth about Jesus Christ in Acts 2, Peter left thousands of listeners asking the same question: “What shall we do now?”

The apostle’s response is simple: “Repent, and . . . be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins” (Acts 2:38). As a result, 3,000 people were added to the new church that day (Acts 2:41).

Is this the message of most churches today? Does it seem strange that Peter said “repent” instead of “believe”? Actually, Scripture often uses these concepts interchangeably. You see, repentance and faith are really two sides of the same coin: Both are essential for salvation, and each is dependent upon the other.

In terms of salvation, you cannot separate faith and repentance—both happen simultaneously. In order to be saved, you must place faith in Christ for the forgiveness of sins, and that faith decision requires a change of mind (repentance) about your way of life. Yet many people mistakenly believe they must change their way of living long before they can make a faith decision for the Savior. The truth is, repentance does not mean that we must completely change our ways and “clean ourselves up” so we can receive Christ as Lord.

If you’re holding off on a decision for Christ until you think you are “ready” or “worthy,” you’re waiting in vain. Jesus is ready to receive you right now. Only as a child of God will you find the power—His power—to truly become the person you were created to be.

How the Earth Is Filled

“For the earth shall be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.” (Habakkuk 2:14)

The very first command given to Adam and Eve was: “Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth” (Genesis 1:28). This might seem to imply there had been a previous population (so-called “pre-adamites”), but the word “replenish” (Hebrew, male) means simply “fill.” Actually, in the King James Old Testament, it is translated by the Old English word “replenish” only seven times, whereas it is translated “fill” or “filled” or “full” some 250 times. The precise meaning is “fill.”

Even today, with our so-called “population explosion,” the earth is far from being filled with people. One thinks of our vast deserts, and inaccessible mountain ranges, plus the frozen wastes of Antarctica, for example. It may, however, once have been filled in the much more habitable world before the Flood, but it also was “filled with violence through them” (Genesis 6:11, 13). This, in fact, was the very reason God sent the great Flood to “destroy them with the earth.”

The time is coming, however, as seen in Nebuchadnezzar’s prophetic vision, as interpreted by Daniel the prophet, when a great stone—representing the future kingdom of God—will have “filled the whole earth” (Daniel 2:35). Then the great doxology of the psalmist will be reality. “And blessed be his glorious name for ever: and let the whole earth be filled with his glory; Amen, and Amen” (Psalm 72:19).

The prophet Isaiah also spoke of this time. “They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain: for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea” (Isaiah 11:9). The later prophet Habakkuk in our text beautifully echoed these words of Isaiah. HMM

Believe the Right Things

And he said unto them, Ye are from beneath; I am from above: ye are of this world; I am not of this world. I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins. —John 8:23-24

Because the heart of the Christian life is admittedly faith in a person, Jesus Christ the Lord, it has been relatively easy for some to press this truth out of all proportion and teach that faith in the Person of Christ is all that matters. Who Jesus is matters not, who His Father was, whether Jesus is God or man or both, whether or not He accepted the superstitions and errors of His time as true, whether He actually rose again after His passion or was only thought to have done so by His devoted followers—these things are not important, say the nocreed advocates. What is vital is that we believe on Him and try to follow His teachings.

What is overlooked here is that the conflict of Christ with the Pharisees was over the question of who He was. His claim to be God stirred the Pharisees to fury. He could have cooled the fire of their anger by backing away from His claim to equality with God, but He refused to do it. And He further taught that faith in Him embraced a belief that He is very God, and that apart from this there could be no salvation for anyone….

To believe on Christ savingly means to believe the right things about Christ. There is no escaping this.

Don’t let me ever back down from this vital truth of Who You are. Amen.

Caution: Our Ego Will Try to Act Spiritual

Not of works, lest any man should boast. Ephesians 2:9

Boasting is particularly offensive when it is heard among the children of God, the one place above all others where it should never be found. Yet it is quite common among Christians, though often disguised somewhat by the use of the stock expression, “I say this to the glory of God!”

Another habit not quite so odious is belittling ourselves. This might seem to be the exact opposite of boasting, but actually it is the same old sin traveling under a nom de plume. It is simply egoism trying to act spiritual. It is impatient Saul hastily offering an unacceptable sacrifice to the Lord.

Self-derogation is bad for the reason that self must be there to derogate. Self, whether swaggering or groveling, can never be anything but hateful to God!

God is very patient with His children and often tolerates in them carnal traits so gross as to shock their fellow Christians. But that is only for a while. As more light comes to our hearts, and especially as we go on to new and advanced spiritual experiences, God begins to impose disciplines upon us to purge us from the same faults He tolerated before.

After we have learned our lesson the Lord may restore what He has taken away, for He is more concerned with our souls than with our service. But sometimes our boasting or belittling hurts us permanently and excludes us from blessings we might have enjoyed.