VIDEO The Everlasting Light

The Everlasting Light

Has not the Scripture said that the Christ comes from the seed of David and from the town of Bethlehem, where David was? John 7:42

Bethlehem is mentioned more than 35 times in the Old Testament. It was the birthplace of David and became known as the City of David. It’s also the birthplace of the Son of David, Jesus. Through Bethlehem flows the lineage and descent of the Savior, as the prophet Micah predicted: “But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of you shall come forth to Me the One to be Ruler in Israel, whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2).

When Jesus was born, there were three major continents known to scholars—Europe, Asia, and Africa. Asia was chosen, but Asia has many countries. Micah selected one country, Israel, with three districts—Judea, Galilee, and Samaria. Judea was chosen, but Judea had thousands of villages. Yet seven hundred years before Christ, Micah pinpointed the very town of His birth—Bethlehem.

This is one of more than three hundred predictions about Christ from the Old Testament. If you ever harbor nagging doubts about the truthfulness of Christianity, spend some time in the Old Testament and look at what it says about Jesus.


Everlasting Light: CCF Alabang Christmas Cantata [12.21.14]

Yet Again, a Major Hyper-Grace Error

Although the hyper-grace movement is not quite the rapidly spreading fad it was a few years back, it continues to entrench itself into the hearts and minds of millions. That’s why, to this day, I get requests from leaders in America and abroad to come and address this aberrant teaching. And that’s why my book on the subject continues to be translated into different languages. The need remains acute.

To be clear, there are many wonderful truths presented by hyper-grace teachers, who are our brothers and sisters in the Lord. They are life-giving truths. Jesus-centered truths. Transformative truths. To each of these truths, I give my hearty “Amen.”

But these truths are mixed with dangerous, even deadly errors.

Recently, a colleague forwarded me an email with hyper-grace teaching, asking how he should respond. He, in turn, had received the email from a friend who was quite enthusiastic about the content. Yet the content was clearly in error, making two main points.

First, the email claimed that God didn’t judge the nation of Israel for its own conduct but rather for the conduct of the High Priest. If the High Priest was righteous, the nation would be blessed. If the High Priest was sinful, the nation would be cursed.

The implication, then, is that God deals with us based on the righteousness of Jesus (our great High Priest) alone, not based on our conduct. As stated in the email, “What the high priest was before God, so was the entire nation before God.”

Second, the email stated that, if we are truly believers in Jesus, God doesn’t see us (and our sin) when He looks at us. Instead, He sees Jesus. Consequently, we are told, “If God sees Jesus perfect, then He sees you perfect.” As a result, “you cannot lose your right standing because Jesus Christ is your High Priest.”

Are these claims true? Certainly not. In fact, whatever truths they contain (pertaining to the finished work of the cross and the Savior’s ongoing work on our behalf) are obscured because of their errors.

To respond, then:

1)  There is not one verse in the entire Old Testament that says that God blessed the people of Israel because the High Priest was righteous (even though the nation was in sin) but then judged them when they were righteous (but the High Priest was in sin). Not one verse.

In contrast, we are told over and again how God judged the people of Israel because of their sin. Just read Leviticus 26 and Deuteronomy 28 (the blessings and curses). Where do these chapters say a word about the High Priest? (I agree that we are not under the Sinai Covenant, but remember, the first claim in the email pertained to this covenant.)

2) The High Priest made atonement for the people on Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement; see Leviticus 16), but if anyone in Israel did not afflict himself that day as prescribed by the law, that person would be cut off from the people. So, the atonement did the person no good unless he did his part.

3) Throughout the New Testament epistles, believers are rebuked for their sin. (Paul wrote like this, as did James and Peter and John and Jude.) Of course God sees us in all our imperfections and doesn’t just see Jesus.

And what does Jesus say in Revelation 2-3? He rebukes those He loves, calling out sin in the church (Rev 3:19). If God only saw Jesus, He would never rebuke and correct us.

Does God see us as accepted because of the cross? As forgiven because of the cross? As His children because of the cross? Absolutely. Does He see Jesus, rather than us, when He looks at us? Of course not.

4) There are many verses in the New Testament that call us to persevere in Jesus, saying that if we do not, we will not be in right standing with God. Just read verses like this: John 15:1-7 (remember, this is addressing branches in the Vine, meaning in Jesus); Col 1:21-23 (note that word “if”); Heb 2:1-4; 3:12-14; 4:1-11.

Again, without a doubt, our righteousness come from Jesus. But if we abandon Him or renounce Him or refuse to obey Him, we forfeit that gift of grace, hence this warning: “Pursue peace with everyone, and holiness– without it no one will see the Lord. Make sure that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no root of bitterness springs up, causing trouble and by it, defiling many. And make sure that there isn’t any immoral or irreverent person like Esau, who sold his birthright in exchange for one meal. For you know that later, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected because he didn’t find any opportunity for repentance, though he sought it with tears” (Heb. 12:14-17).

In short, if the teaching in that email was right, these verses would not be in the Bible.

So, let’s continue to exalt God’s grace and swim in the ocean of His grace and glory in the finished work of the cross. But let us not be lulled into a false sense of security based on hyper-grace extremes which mix life-giving truths with deadly error.

By Dr. Michael Brown

Become Slaves of Righteousness

Romans 6:15-23

What comes to mind when you hear the word freedom? It’s usually associated with the right to live as we please and to pursue ambitions and dreams. But in reality, living for self is never freedom. When Paul said, “You are slaves of the one whom you obey” (Rom. 6:16), he was pointing out we have a choice of either sin or righteousness. So if we aren’t living for Christ, we’ll find ourselves enslaved to sinful desires, habits, attitudes, and thoughts.

God wants to free us from every form of bondage that prevents us from becoming the person He created us to be. This kind of freedom is not achieved by war but by the knowledge of truth and submission to Christ.

If you’re having trouble overcoming a particular sin despite repeated confession and repentance, there may be an underlying root fueling that sin. It doesn’t matter how many times you cut off the sinful fruit; if the root remains, it’ll produce a new poisonous outgrowth. And at times those roots spring from harmful emotions like anger, jealousy, bitterness, unforgiveness, or worry.

Instead of allowing such emotions to control us, we must let God’s truths fill our mind and influence our behavior. When we were saved, Christ freed us from the dominion of sin and gave us His Spirit to empower us to live righteously. On top of that, God has given us a new nature created in Christ’s likeness (Eph. 4:24). Therefore, we’re to consider ourselves dead to sin but alive to Christ (Rom. 6:11) and should present ourselves to God for obedience (Rom. 6:13). Remember, God has given us everything we need to live righteously for Him, so believers are never helpless victims of sin.

His Really Amazing Grace

“Paul, and Silvanus, and Timotheus, unto the church of the Thessalonians which is in God the Father and in the Lord Jesus Christ: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (1 Thessalonians 1:1) 

These are the very first of Paul’s divinely inspired words, and in this first of his inspired greetings, he set a pattern which he would later follow in all his other epistles. He would always begin with an implicit prayer that both grace and peace, sent from God the Father and His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, would be received and experienced by the ones to whom he was writing. Furthermore, “grace” always precedes “peace” in these salutations, because one must receive the grace of God before he can experience the peace of God.

By this strong emphasis on grace—preceding anything else he might write to the church or its pastor—he confirmed the great importance of God’s loving grace. Grace is the first essential in salvation and is the continuing vital essential in Christian living. The Thessalonians had already been saved by grace through faith, but now the grace of God their Father and Jesus Christ their Lord must also be lived out in their personal behavior, especially in their dealings with others, to whom God would also manifest His grace through them.

Paul also closed every epistle with a prayer that the grace of the Lord Jesus would continue to be with all who read them. Finally, the last of his inspired words (written while he was in prison) to his young disciple Timothy were: “The Lord Jesus Christ be with thy spirit. Grace be with you. Amen” (2 Timothy 4:22).

Each true Christian life must begin, continue, and end in the sustaining grace of the Savior. Indeed, the very last revealed words of God Himself in the Holy Scriptures are: “The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. Amen” (Revelation 22:21). Thank God for His amazing grace. HMM

Hope to the end

1 Peter 1:1-16

Our present reading is taken from the first epistle of Peter, a letter full of pastoral teaching, but without a trace of a priestly spirit.

1 Peter 1:2

Christians were not ashamed of the doctrine of election in the olden time, but styled each other “the elect.” We are chosen to be holy, and who shall deny the Lord’s right to choose men for such a purpose? Well may the apostle proceed to bless the Lord as he thinks of this choice favour.

1 Peter 1:3-5

Observe that the inheritance is kept for the saints, and the saints for the inheritance. Christ who has gone to prepare heaven for us has sent the Holy Ghost to prepare us for heaven.

1 Peter 1:6

It is not merely that we are in manifold troubles, but we are in heaviness through them; the iron has entered into our soul. This is a needful part of those trials which are meant to chasten us. If the rod does not make the child smart, of what use is it?

1 Peter 1:7-9

Peter’s Master once bade him feed the sheep, and here he does so very sweetly: every word, yea, every letter, is full of an infinite sweetness. Jesus is with us, faith in him is our strength, and his love fills us with unutterable joy. All this we daily experience. Do we not?

1 Peter 1:14-16

Children should be like their parents. Nature itself prompts the son to imitate the father; and shall not grace have equal power? Shall not the new birth be even more influential than the first? Shall not the children of the thrice holy Jehovah exhibit something of their great Progenitors spirit and character? It must be so, or we shall have serious reason to doubt whether we are children of God at all.

 

O Lord, with sorrow and with shame,

We meekly would confess

How little we, who bear thy name,

Thy mind and ways express.

 

Give us thy meek, thy lowly mind;

We would obedient be;

And all our rest and pleasure find

In fellowship with thee.

 

Let’s Take It Personally

Lord, thou wilt ordain peace for us: for thou also hast wrought all our works in us. (Isaiah 26:12)

What a difference it makes when we humans cease being general and become pointed and personal in our approach to God! We then come to see that all that God did was for each of us.

It was for me that holy men spoke as they were moved by the Holy Spirit. For me Christ died—and when He arose on the third day it was for me. When the promised Holy Spirit came it was to continue in me the work He had been doing for me, since the morning of the Creation!

So, I have every right to claim all of the riches of the Godhead in mercy given. What a blessed thought—that an infinite God can give all of Himself to each of His children!

He does not distribute Himself that each may have a part, but to each one He gives all of Himself as fully as if there were no others.

All that He is and all that He has done is for us and for all who share the common salvation.

 

Peace Whatever Exposure

“I will make them a covenant of peace, and will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods.” Ezek. 34:25

It is the height of grace that Jehovah should be in covenant with man, a feeble, sinful and dying creature. Yet the Lord has solemnly entered into a faithful compact with us, and from that covenant He will never turn aside. In virtue of this covenant we are safe. As lions and wolves are driven off by shepherds, so shall all noxious influences be chased away. The Lord will give us rest from disturbers and destroyers; the evil beasts shall cease out of the land. O Lord, make this thy promise good even now!

The Lord’s people are to enjoy security in places of the greatest exposure: wildernesses and woods are to be as pastures and folds to the flock of Christ. If the Lord does not change the place for the better, He will make us the better in the place. The wilderness is not a place to dwell in, but the Lord can make it so; in the woods one feels bound to watch rather than to sleep, and yet the Lord giveth His beloved sleep even there. Nothing without or within should cause any fear to the child of God. By faith the wilderness can become the suburbs of Heaven, and the woods the vestibule of glory.