1 Peter 2:9 (Part 4) – Purpose: proclaiming excellencies

INTRODUCTION. The first letter of Peter provides a sound foundation for the newly converted disciple of Jesus Christ to begin their journey with their Savior, and the heart of their conversion is captured powerfully in 1 Peter 2:9-10. Here Peter declares the disciple’s new identity, their new purpose, and their new people.

This post is about the new purpose the disciple has received as a result of their new identity. (Also see post #544 on June 16, 2022, about the disciple’s new identity.)

But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. – 1 Peter 2:9-10

In the first chapter of 1 Peter, the apostle has already told us that we were redeemed from our futile way of life (1:18) by the precious blood of Christ (1:19) and that, by God’s great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope (1:3). As we have studied 2:9-10, we have learned about the four-fold identity that the disciples of Jesus received when they trusted Christ as Lord and Savior (see post #536 and #544). Now we are going to discover the purpose for this new identity. There is a purpose for God giving His people their new identity and there is a mission to which He has called us. We are called to proclaim.

CALLED TO PROCLAIM

The chosen race, the royal priesthood, the holy nation, the people for God’s own possession is the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. The church is now being gathered from all the nations of the earth to receive the unfathomable riches of Christ (Eph. 3:8) for the primary purpose of proclaiming the gospel to all creation (Mark 16:15).

The church is called to proclaim the excellencies of God. The one true and living God whom we proclaim is a God of excellencies. He has displayed His own glory in a creation of astonishing beauty and complexity, where His excellence is manifest in an abundance of life. His excellence has been made known in the wonder of the gospel, such that His perfect holiness is not violated by the forgiveness of sinners. His excellence has been visibly seen when the Lord Jesus Christ took on flesh and dwelt among us. The church is called to proclaim these excellencies.

Ever since Adam sinned, all people have come into the world as lovers of darkness and haters of the light (John 3:19-20). We are born as blind and dead lovers of darkness and we would forever remain in that wretched condition, but the one true and living God, in His grace and mercy, calls His enemies out of darkness and into His marvelous light. And so the church, the gathered assembly of redeemed wretches, is called to proclaim to the nations the transforming power of the gospel, for in the gospel God calls people from darkness into light.

But the church’s most important proclamation is to tell the world about Jesus Christ. In Jesus Christ we have a Savior and a Redeemer and a conquering King who is worthy of all our loudest praise. “Tell of His glory among the nations, His wonderful deeds among all the peoples. Say among the nations, ‘The LORD reigns!’” (Psalm 96:3, 10). In heaven now the voices of many angels say with a loud voice, “Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power and riches and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing” (Rev. 5:12). But what myriad angels are saying in heaven the church is now to be proclaiming on earth.

In Acts, the church was facing a growing hostility to their message about the resurrection. So, in light of the threats, the church prayed that the Lord would “grant that Your bondservants may speak Your word with all boldness” (Acts 4:29). In that instance and in every instance until Jesus returns, the church is to proclaim the glories of Jesus with all boldness regardless of threats. “We are not of those who shrink back to destruction” (Hebrews 10:39). We have been chosen and called to proclaim Jesus’ name to those who are in darkness. For Jesus warns us that “whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory” (Luke 9:26). Therefore, His church is to proclaim His excellencies.

APPLICATION

The true church is a chosen race and is a people who have been called to be holy so that we can proclaim His excellencies. Since that is the case; that is, since we have been chosen and called for the purpose of proclamation, each of us should evaluate how we are doing with our own proclamation. I offer several questions to help in our evaluation:

  • How do you intentionally seek opportunities for “proclamation” within your network of relationships? (season your speech with salt (Col. 4:6), let your light shine before men (Matt. 5:16), throw out baited hooks for fishing (Matt. 4:19))
  • What is your strategy for “proclaiming His excellencies” when an opportunity presents itself? In other words, have you considered how to move the conversation toward a gospel-related topic?
  • How can you increase the boldness of your “proclamation?” How can you prevent fear from producing disobedience?

SDG                 rmb                 6/29/2022                   #550

Ecclesiastes: A great man without a God-honoring purpose

INTRODUCTION. A post based on the Preacher in Ecclesiastes, who accomplished impressive things with his life, but approached the end of his life with depression and regret. How does a God-honoring purpose answer the questions that the writer of Ecclesiastes asks?

THE IMPORTANCE OF PURPOSE

Each disciple of Jesus Christ should be able to answer this question: “How will my life bring glory to the Lord?” And in answering this question, the critical component is PURPOSE or MISSION. The person who has a settled, clearly defined God-honoring Purpose for their life and who is living in light of that Purpose is very difficult to discourage and is difficult to stop.

Therefore, one of the disciple’s most urgent goals in his discipleship is to discover and develop the unique Purpose (or Mission) for which God has created him and called him.

Because this idea of Purpose is so foundational to joy and fulfillment in the life of the believer, I hope to write more about it in an upcoming blog, and it will certainly be covered thoroughly in my book on Discipleship (targeted for late 2022). For this blog post, however, I want to show how a lack of purpose results in a miserable life.

VANITY UNDER THE SUN

The writer of Ecclesiastes (probably King Solomon) refers to himself as “the Preacher” (Eccles. 1:1, 2, 12), which in Hebrew translates to “Qohelet,” which is how I will refer to him. In my reading of Ecclesiastes, I see Qohelet as a man in late middle age or even old age, who is looking back over a full and productive life and assessing the value of what he has done with his life and seeking to determine his legacy.

But here’s the problem: it is impossible to assess value without a God-honoring purpose. How can you assess the value of accomplishments that were arbitrarily chosen and were absent of any enduring purpose? The fact is that there can be no meaning to a meaningless goal.

Speaking of which: We are getting ready to recycle some old National Geographic magazines, and there is one in the current stack for recycling that just caught my eye. The cover of this November 2016 issue has a picture of Mars, the red planet, and the article about it is called, “Race to the Red Planet.” Here is surely a classic picture of fallen man pursuing a meaningless, godless goal that can have no purpose. I have not (and will not) read this article, but the goal is evident. Some group of over-funded, egotistical people are prepared to spend billions and billions of dollars and risk people’s lives to be the first to land on the planet Mars. Ecclesiastes has a word for this: Vanity. This is what man does when he has vast resources and lots of ego and ambition and no God-honoring purpose.

Qohelet is a man of wide learning, vast material resources, formidable intelligence, and great energy. He appears to be a man who has all the ingredients for huge success as he pours himself into life. He has made great building projects and enjoyed all manner of sensual pleasures and has contemplated the complex riddles of life, but he lacks a God-honoring purpose. He has lived his life to please himself and to impress others, but now, as the end of his life draws irresistibly nearer, he realizes the vanity of it all. It is striving after wind. All is vanity, all is meaningless and futility under the sun. And death swallows it all.

Our hero lacks a purpose that has enduring value. He lacks purpose not because he is a fool and not because he is overtly wicked, but because he is a fallen human who does not know the LORD. This is the common problem of all fallen man since Adam. All of us come into this world without a God-honoring purpose. We have ambitions and goals and desires and energy, but we have no God-honoring and God-given purpose toward which we can channel all our desires and energy. And so we “strut and fret our hour upon the stage and then are heard no more.” Ours is “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury and signifying nothing” (from “MacBeth”).

Most people live and die without ever giving much thought to the purpose of their existence. Their life has no more influence, no greater legacy than that of a passing cloud. “As a flower of the field, so he flourishes. When the wind has passed over it, it is no more, and its place acknowledges it no longer” (Ps. 103:15-16). Then there are a few who seem to have a mission of sorts for their lives. They are ambitious and energetic and they strive to do great things and to make a difference in the world. Of those who thus strive, a small percentage succeed. Qohelet is a standout, a giant in this small percentage, and he serves as a spokesman for those who are unusually successful “under the sun.” And what does Qohelet have to say about being successful “under the sun?” “So I hated life” (Eccl. 2:17). “Thus I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun” (2:18). It seems that the reward for those who successfully strive after the wind is that they eventually hate life.

Although he cannot articulate it, Qohelet acutely senses his need for Purpose. He desperately tries to conjure up a satisfying reason for his existence by chasing purposes “under the sun,” but these earth-bound, death-ended purposes all fail.

There is a classic scene in the movie “Chariots of Fire” as Harold Abrams, a Jewish runner competing for England in the 100 meters in the 1924 Paris Olympics, makes his final preparations for the 100 meters gold medal race. He is talking to his trainer, but more to himself, as he contemplates the significance of this race. In his musing, we can sense how conflicted he is. His entire life has been lived for this moment, for this one event. To win this race has been his life’s single-minded obsession, but only now has he really considered the worth of his obsession. His rival, Eric Liddell, had refused to run on Sunday without the slightest regret, knowing that he (Liddell) served a greater King and lived for a God-honoring purpose. Liddell had thrown away the 100 meters final as if it was of no importance and he continued to be perfectly at peace, but Abrams, now in the race because of Liddell’s default, was distraught and desperate, for he knew he would not have peace even if he won this race. And so, he contemplates these things and finally says of the race, “Ten lonely seconds to justify my entire existence.”

Abrams ran fast to justify his existence, and Qohelet strives to accomplish great things to escape from a life of vanity, but the Preacher knows that all his grandest achievements are rendered meaningless by physical death. His finest accomplishments simply give death more opportunities to taunt him. For Qohelet, all his personal purposes are futile because death trumps man’s purposes. In his worldview, death reigns. No matter which path he takes, death is the master. Death has the final word.

GOD-HONORING PURPOSE TRUMPS VANITY AND DEATH

But the glory of the gospel of Jesus Christ declares that Christ has conquered death and Jesus gives to His disciples His purpose for their lives. “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations.” “You shall be My witnesses to the ends of the earth.” “To live is Christ and to die is gain.” “Follow Me, and I will make you fishers of men.” The disciple of Jesus Christ has a God-given, God-honoring Purpose for this life, and then has a promised eternity in heaven as we enjoy worshiping our conquering King forever.

SDG                 rmb                 6/28/2022                   #549

Jesus has options we don’t have (Luke 7:11-17)

INTRODUCTION. A post appreciating Jesus’ divine ability to perform miracles as evidence of His identity.

In the pages of the gospels, the Lord Jesus displays His deity in a continuous stream of divine miracles. Our Savior casually does what only God can do, and He does these things without fanfare or pretense, and He does them repeatedly, and He performs these miracles in the presence of many witnesses. These attesting signs point to one obvious conclusion: Jesus is God in human flesh.

I have been particularly struck by Jesus’ miracles in the gospel of Luke and over the next several weeks I hope to write my impressions of those events. But before we look at the Lucan miracles, I want to share a few thoughts about Jesus’ earthly ministry and how plainly His entire ministry attests to His identity.

JESUS IS AWARE THAT HE IS THE KING

By His regal demeanor, Jesus assumes His full authority over every situation. Jesus is the King, and He is fully aware of His royalty. As King, He is always the One directing the action and He is always the unrivaled focus of attention. In every scene, He is the most important person, and around Him mere mortals, both righteous and unrighteous, revolve.

Without the slightest trace of pride or condescension, Jesus reigns over all other men. Sinners appropriately fall before Him in worship, seeking His compassion and His forgiveness of their sins, and Jesus accepts their worship as His due while giving them the divine compassion and forgiveness they seek.

Even in the days of His flesh, when He had “taken the form of a bond-servant and been made in the likeness of men” (Phil 2:7), Jesus reigns. Jesus Christ wears His divine authority as an eagle wears its flight. As the eagle gives no thought to his flight, so Jesus gives no thought to His sovereignty. As the eagle soars because soaring is the essence of what it means to be an eagle, so Jesus reigns over all because sovereignty is the essence of being God.

Jesus reigns over His enemies and adversaries. While perfectly knowing His enemies’ vicious intentions, Jesus nevertheless directly confronts the Pharisees and the scribes and passes divine judgment on them. Without a trace of vengeance or hatred, Jesus condemns the self-righteous and warns them of the coming judgment. Jesus condemns and passes judgment because, as God, He has the authority to do so (Romans 9:18).

Jesus is God, and His miracles and demeanor and words consistently attest to that fact.

JESUS HAS OPTIONS WE DON’T HAVE

Since Jesus is divine and has authority over the normal operations of nature, He has options that we don’t have. As God, Jesus always has at His disposal the option to perform a miracle to remedy a situation. This post explores one of those situations from Luke 7:11-17.

LUKE 7:11-17. This event takes place early in Jesus’ Galilean ministry. Jesus is going along with His disciples and a large crowd, and as He is approaching a city called Nain, He and the crowd are met by a funeral procession coming out of the city. It turns out that the man who had died was the only son of a widow from Nain. That is the context for this story.

Given this context, we would all agree that there are no options for the widow. Humanly speaking, the only possible outcome for this scene is that the dead man will be buried and will be mourned and then his widowed mother will need to find some means of survival, since all the men in her life who could provide for her are dead. In a funeral, there simply are no options. Death is final and it eliminates all human options. There may be burial options, but there are no outcome options.

So, no one in the crowd around Jesus or in the funeral procession was expecting anything but a burial. The widow’s only son was dead and it was a sad day. Jesus may witness the funeral and He may experience the sadness of the day, but like all other human beings, He had to bow before the finality and the power of death. Or did He?

13 When the Lord saw her, He felt compassion for her, and said to her, “Do not weep.”

“He felt compassion for her.” It is amazing to think that Jesus Christ, the Son of God, feels compassion for wretched human beings like us, but here the Lord feels compassion for this woman He has never met before. He is emotionally moved and feels her pain and sorrow.

But what Jesus does next is what is truly astounding. For Jesus not only feels compassion for this destitute widow, but He also decides to act. We mentioned before that Jesus has options that mere mortals do not. For us, death eliminates options. Death always has the final word and all funerals end in burials. But Jesus is no mere human. Jesus is God veiled in human flesh and as God, death is subject to Him. He decides when death gets the final word. And on this occasion, Jesus chose to deny death its usual victory.

14 And He came up and touched the coffin; and the bearers came to a halt. And He said, “Young man, I say to you, arise!” 15 The dead man sat up and began to speak. And Jesus gave him back to his mother.

It is hard to imagine a more unexpected set of circumstances. Jesus walks up to the coffin to stop the funeral procession, then issues a command to the dead man. When was the last time you were at a funeral and someone issued a command to the dead person? You would have to assume that the person speaking to the corpse was out of their mind. But Jesus, in front of a vast crowd, commands the corpse to get up, and the corpse obeys! Upon hearing the voice of God, death releases its hold on the dead man and the man sits up in the coffin and begins to speak. Then Jesus, in an act of compassion, gives the revived son back to his mother.

The crowd is understandably stunned.

16 Fear gripped them all, and they began glorifying God, saying, “A great prophet has arisen among us!” and, “God has visited His people!”

In the face of this astonishing miracle, fear grips the crowd. They have just witnessed the impossible and such power in their midst is frightening. Perhaps they grasp the truth of their own words, “God has visited His people!”

SDG                 rmb                 6/25/2022                   #548

Psalm 110 – The return of the conquering King

INTRODUCTION. A detailed interpretation of Psalm 110 which acknowledges the mysteries of the psalm from an Old Testament perspective and reveals the true meaning of the psalm in light of the Incarnation and the soon-coming return of the Lord Jesus Christ.

So opaque were the mysteries of Psalm 110 that Hebrew scholars wrote virtually no commentaries on this psalm. Not only was the imagery within the psalm very difficult to understand, but the events that are taking place and even the characters involved were beyond the grasp of a scholar from the Old Testament era. Not long before His crucifixion, Jesus the Messiah questions the Pharisees about the meaning of Psalm 110:1 and receives only confused silence in reply. For, indeed, if our teaching is restricted to the Old Testament texts and our thinking is limited to an old covenant frame of reference, the psalm is virtually impossible to interpret. Here is the text of the psalm (from NASB):

The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand
Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”
The LORD will stretch forth Your strong scepter from Zion, saying,
“Rule in the midst of Your enemies.”
Your people will volunteer freely in the day of Your power;
In holy array, from the womb of the dawn, Your youth are to You as the dew.

The LORD has sworn and will not change His mind,
“You are a priest forever According to the order of Melchizedek.”
The Lord is at Your right hand; He will shatter kings in the day of His wrath.
He will judge among the nations, He will fill them with corpses,
He will shatter the chief men over a broad country.
He will drink from the brook by the wayside; Therefore He will lift up His head.

Yes, with an Old Testament mindset, the psalm’s mysteries are unsolvable. But Christ has now removed our old covenant veil. Now Christ has come in His humble first advent, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief, to accomplish His work of redemption by dying on the cross for His people and He has been raised from the dead to prove that His atonement was accepted by the Father. So, we now preach Christ crucified and proclaim Christ raised from the dead, but we also declare that Christ will return in power and glory to reward the righteous and judge the unrighteous.

So, as we read Psalm 110 through the lens of the New Testament, we see that this psalm gives us a picture of what must soon take place when Christ returns at the end of the age. When we understand the context of this psalm, the beauty and the power of these prophecies come through like thunder.

The rest of this post, then, will be a meditation on Psalm 110.

BASIC FACTS. Psalm 110 was written by David under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit about a thousand years before Jesus Christ appeared in the flesh.

110:1. “YHWH says to my Adonai” This phrase would have been incomprehensible to a Hebrew living before Christ, because the verse presents God speaking to God. But how can God speak to God? For Deuteronomy 6:4 says, “The LORD (YHWH) is our God, the LORD is one!” But if God is one, how does He appear here in Psalm 110:1 as two?

Now, however, after Jesus Christ has come in the flesh, it has been revealed that our God is Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. Knowing this, we can understand that, in this verse, God the Father (YHWH) is speaking to God the Son (Adonai), and He tells Him to “sit at My right hand until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”

This phrase sounds mysterious until we consider when this conversation takes place. For this exchange between God the Father and Jesus Christ, God the Son, occurs after Jesus has accomplished His work of redemption on the cross and has ascended back to heaven (John 19:30; Acts 1:9; Rev. 5:6-14). God the Father (YHWH) is welcoming God the Son (Adonai) back into heaven and back to His seat at the Father’s right hand. The Father tells Jesus the Son to wait “until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.”

This last phrase looks forward to the end of the age when the glorified Lord Jesus will come from heaven on the last day (Rev. 19:11-16) to judge the unrighteous (Rev. 19:21).

The first verse of the psalm, then, sets the stage of the psalm by showing us the victorious Jesus Christ awaiting the Father’s command for Him to return to judge the earth.

110:2. Now the Father’s command is issued. In 110:1, the Son was at the Father’s right hand awaiting the command for Him to return, and this is that command. To paraphrase, the Father tells the Son, “Go, My Son! You are the King. Stretch forth Your scepter (symbol of the King’s power and authority) from Zion (the place of the King’s rule; see Psalm 2:6) and vanquish Your enemies!” With the Father’s command, the Son prepares for His glorious return.

110:3. In this context, “Your people” must refer to the saints of the Lord Jesus. To put this in theological terms, “Your people” includes all the elect of all time. So, Jesus is returning with all of His people, but notice His people are “in holy array.” This speaks of the fact that His return occurs after the resurrection. The saints have been glorified in the resurrection (1 Thess. 4:14-17; 1 Cor. 15:50-55) and are now “in holy array” as they “volunteer freely” (joyfully join with the Lord Jesus as He returns to earth in judgment) “in the day of Your power.” (See also 1 Thess. 2:19; 3:13; 4:14; Rev. 14:1-5; 19:14). Thus all the glorified saints accompany King Jesus as He returns to judge the earth.

110:4. This verse serves as a parenthesis, taking us from the last day all the way back to eternity past when we hear the Father’s oath to the Son, saying, “You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek.” Here is another passage that exceeds old covenant theology, for according to the Law, the priesthood began with the anointing of Aaron and continued through Aaron’s descendants until no later than AD 70 when Jerusalem was destroyed. But Psalm 110:4 teaches that the priesthood of Melchizedek has always existed and the Lord Jesus has always been a priest forever according to that order. So, this verse establishes that the warrior King is also a priest forever.

This means that Jesus’ priesthood existed in eternity past long before the Aaronic priesthood began. Indeed, Jesus’ priesthood was established even long before Melchizedek appeared as a priest of God Most High (Genesis 14:18-20). Thus the Aaronic priesthood functioned as a temporary “type,” pointing forward to the permanent and eternal priesthood of the Son of God (Hebrews 7-10).

110:5-6. Having turned aside for a verse to declare the eternal priesthood of the Son, the psalmist now returns to the last day and to the terrifying judgment of the unrighteous by the warrior King. Jesus is returning with His glorified saints to judge the earth (Rev. 6:12-17; 19:11-21), and there will be no place to hide. These two verses are clear and need no comment.

110:7. After the dramatic action of the rest of the psalm, this last verse presents a curious conclusion. What is the significance of the warrior King “drinking from the brook by the wayside” and “lifting up His head?” But when we consider this for a moment, the message of this verse is revealed to be simple and yet very profound.

Up until this point in the psalm it would be possible to see the Lord (Adonai) as only divine. The Hebrew scholar who lived under the old covenant would have understood Adonai to be God, even if he could not understand what this psalm was teaching about how the LORD (YHWH) and the Lord (Adonai) related to one another. And so, the Old Testament Hebrew would have seen Adonai as being God but would never have conceived of Adonai as also being human, and, up until 110:7, that would have been a valid understanding of the psalm. So the scholar might conclude something like, “Somehow the Lord (Adonai) is going to come at the end and is going to pour out God’s wrath on the unrighteous.”

But the simple words of 110:7 throw that interpretation out the window, for “He will drink from the brook by the wayside.” Observe that this “He” of 110:7 is the same “He” of 110:5 and 110:6, which we have decided must be the Lord (Adonai). But how does the Lord “drink from the brook” and “lift up His head”? These are things that humans do, but the Lord, as God, does not drink from brooks and He does not have a head to lift up.

The solution to this conundrum is stunning. If the Lord (Adonai) drinks from the brook by the wayside and lifts up His head, it must mean that somehow the Lord has become human. Somehow the Lord, who is God and who is a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek and who is seated at the LORD’s right hand and who will come on the last day to judge the nations; the Lord is somehow both God and human. Yes, the Lord is both God and human and His name is the Lord Jesus Christ.

CONCLUSION

From an Old Testament mindset, Psalm 110 was a murky collection of mysteries. It was not possible for the Old Testament Hebrew to understand David’s inspired writing because God had not revealed enough in His word to untangle the knots.

But now that Christ has been revealed and has died, has been raised and has ascended, and now that God has given us His full revelation in a completed Bible, we can see that, almost a millennium before Christ appeared and at least three millennia before He returned, the Holy Spirit inspired David to give us a veiled preview of that final awesome day.

SDG                 rmb                 6/24/2022                   #547

Worshipers are Christ’s reward (Acts 20:28; Rev. 7:9)

INTRODUCTION. A meditation on Christ’s reward for perfectly accomplishing the work given to Him by the Father. Christ purchased a people, and they were purchased to worship Him.

One of the themes of the Bible is that Jesus came to accomplish the mission given to Him by the Father and having accomplished that mission Christ now has earned His reward.

SCRIPTURAL BACKGROUND

To begin this post, I wanted to present some Scriptures that support my opening statement.

‘Ask of Me, and I will surely give the nations as Your inheritance,
And the very ends of the earth as Your possession.’ – Psalm 2:8.

In this psalm, the LORD promises the Son that He will give Him the nations and the ends of the earth. That certainly sounds like this may be a prophecy of a reward.

27 All the ends of the earth will remember and turn to the Lord,
And all the families of the nations will worship before You. – Psalm 22:27

This verse speaks of worship, but the main context of Psalm 22 is of a man who is suffering agony as he is being put to death in the presence of his enemies. We now know that this psalm contains explicit prophecies of Christ’s sufferings that were fulfilled by Him on the cross. The point is that, in this psalm, the suffering was rewarded by worship.

1 The LORD says to my Lord: “Sit at My right hand
Until I make Your enemies a footstool for Your feet.” – Psalm 110:1

We see the LORD (YHWH) is speaking to the Lord (Adonai). We now know that “the Lord” is Jesus and that this conversation took place after Jesus accomplished His work on the cross, was resurrected, and ascended back to heaven to be at the right hand of the Father (YHWH). The Father is telling the Son to wait until the time comes for Him to return to earth to receive His full reward.

Isaiah 53, a passage about the “suffering servant of the LORD,” serves as a remarkably detailed prophecy of Jesus’ life and crucifixion. Then, after telling of the servant’s suffering, we read that the LORD “will allot Him a portion with the great, and He will divide the booty with the strong.” The picture is of one who suffers and then is rewarded because of his suffering.

In John 17:4, Jesus speaks of accomplishing the work He has been given to do by the Father. It is clear that “the work” Jesus was given was the work of redemption by His death on the cross. Then, in John 19:30, with His dying breath Jesus gives His cry of victory when He says, “It is finished.” Jesus accomplished His work of redemption and therefore is entitled to a reward.

In Acts 20:28, Paul charges the Ephesian elders to “shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood.” The only possible interpretation of this verse is that Jesus is God and that, by His death on the cross, He has purchased (redeemed) the church, which is all those who will believe in His name. Again, we see that, by His death, Jesus merits a reward. We see almost the same thing in Ephesians 5:25 where Paul teaches that “Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her.” This expression means that Christ died for the church. He purchased her for Himself and He is entitled to the church’s worship.

Finally, in Revelation we read:

“You were slain and purchased for God with Your blood men from every tribe and tongue and people and nation.” – Revelation 5:9

Here the heavenly creatures are praising the ascended Jesus (the Lamb) because He has purchased a people with His blood. Then in the new heaven and the new earth (Rev. 7:9-10) we read:

After these things I looked, and behold, a great multitude which no one could count, from every nation and all tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and before the Lamb, clothed in white robes, and palm branches were in their hands; 10 and they cry out with a loud voice, saying,

“Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb.” – Rev. 7:9-10

Here we see those whom Jesus (the Lamb) redeemed from every nation in heaven worshipping Jesus. Thus, we see that Jesus was rewarded for shedding His blood to purchase a people, and His reward is those people worshipping Him for all of eternity.

THE SCRIPTURE APPLIED

With these passages presented as background, we will now apply this teaching to the Lord Jesus, His work on the cross, and His merited reward.

Jesus was sent from heaven to earth by the Father to accomplish a mission, the mission of redemption. Jesus’ mission consisted in two parts: 1) live a sinless life of perfect holiness and righteousness, fulfilling and obeying the entire Law; and 2) die on the cross as an atoning sacrifice to pay for the sins of His people.

If Jesus accomplished His mission, the Father would raise Him from the dead as a visible sign that Jesus had accomplished His mission perfectly and then would give Jesus the Son His merited reward, which is an inheritance of a myriad of people from every tribe and tongue and nation worshipping Him for all of eternity.

In that sense, then, my personal salvation is not about me at all. Oh, it is true that I eternally benefit from God’s gracious work in rescuing me from judgment and in granting me eternal life through faith in Christ. But while I benefit from God’s saving work in my life, my eternal benefit of salvation is incidental to the purpose of my salvation. For God’s purpose in my salvation is for me to give unending praise to God the Son, the Lord Jesus Christ. Christ has finished His mission and, therefore, has earned His promised reward. Myriads of myriads of people were chosen by the Father before time began (Eph. 1:4) and were promised to the Son to be His worshipers on the condition that the Son perfectly accomplish the work that the Father had given Him to do, and that condition has been met. Therefore, all those worshipers who were promised to the Son must now be gathered into the church. The Father’s promise and the Son’s performance guarantee that every worshiper purchased by the Son (Acts 20:28; Rev. 5:9) will certainly be gathered in by the gospel call and will glorify and praise the Son forever and ever (Rev. 19:1-8).

Therefore, brothers and sisters, as those who have been chosen by the Father and purchased by the blood of the Son and made alive by the effectual call of the Holy Spirit, let us fulfill our intended purpose of giving glory to Jesus Christ. Now, while we live in this life, let us offer ourselves as living sacrifices (Romans 12:1) as we witness to Jesus to the remotest part of the earth (Acts 1:8). Then, in the new heaven and the new earth, we will praise Him forever with a loud voice saying, “Salvation to our God who sits on the throne, and to the Lamb” (Rev. 7:9).

SDG                 rmb                 6/22/2022                   #546

Drive your roots deep and let your voice be heard

INTRODUCTION. Some comments about the need for disciples of Jesus to be firmly rooted in Christ and to boldly proclaim Him in these end times. Firm roots and a bold voice will prevent the follower of Christ from being overwhelmed by the rising evil of our age.

There is no place for the disciple of Jesus to hide anymore.

If your spiritual desires are to maintain a low profile and to be anonymous and to whisper some religious platitudes under your breath, then the last thing you want to do in this day and age is to be a disciple of Jesus. (John 15:18-20; etc.)

In the past, the American church-goer could be rewarded with respectable friends and people for their children to marry and connections for their business interests. “Being a Christian” was just part of the majority American culture, part of the American dream. In that halcyon bygone time, Christians did not proclaim the gospel to non-Christians. Christians typically went from birth to death without ever telling a single non-Christian anything about Jesus or sin or heaven or hell or how Christ had transformed their life and their eternity. Their faith was closely held, a private thing, a secret known by their friends at their church. And for a long time this sort of harmless, secret, nice, voiceless “Christianity” worked just fine and these Christians got all the benefits of the blessed life.

Meanwhile, the Great Commission languished and Christ had few witnesses and the evil of the world continued to fill the void. And yet even in this, Christ was building His church and the gates of Hades were not prevailing against it (Matt. 16:18).

But the days when “being a Christian” was part of the majority American culture are now far behind us, a small speck in the cultural rear view mirror. Whether the American dream still exists is debatable, but it is clear that America has become hostile to the person who openly follows Jesus. As a result, only a robust, vigorous, active, persevering, bold, joyful, vibrant faith will be of any help in these last days.

If your faith is only nominal; that is, if yours is a “faith” that goes through the outward motions but has no real substance, your masquerade will be shattered by the persistent and pervasive evil of our age. A nominal faith will be revealed as a sham and will be useless for you and for the kingdom of God.

But what if your faith is a genuine saving faith, but is weak or joyless or tepid or hesitant or wavering? In this time when evil and lawlessness are rising unabated and the righteous are vastly outnumbered by the ungodly, a weak, wavering, shrinking-back faith, even if genuine, will prove to be a useless faith. If your light for Jesus is to shine before men (Matt. 5:16) and if you would be Jesus’ witnesses in the world (Acts 1:8), then your devotion to Jesus must be placed on the lampstand (Matt. 5:15) and the truth of the gospel must be proclaimed from the housetops (Matt 10:27). A faith that remains in the closet to be retrieved for a few hours on Sunday will avail you nothing. Jesus will have disciples who are fully and unconditionally devoted to Him until death (Luke 14:26-27), or He will not have you at all (Matt. 10:32-33; 12:30). Therefore, if you examine yourself (2 Cor. 13:5) and see that your faith is hesitant or wavering, you should begin immediately to drive your roots deeper into Christ.

WHERE WE ARE IN HISTORY

On the timeline of world history, in the unfolding of great world events, the “thousand years” (Rev. 20:1-6) of relative peace for the ingathering of the church have drawn to a close, and now the testing and the cleansing of the church ingathered has begun. The devil has been released from his prison (Rev. 20:7), “having great wrath, knowing that he has only a short time” (Rev. 12:12). His time is short and he is not playing games. We are now in Satan’s hour and he is bent on proliferating evil and destruction, and on fanning sin into a blazing inferno. Therefore, those who do not take a bold, firm stand against him (Eph. 6:10-18) and who do not persevere in a robust, overt righteousness will simply be swept away by the flood of wickedness.

The Lord has released the devil (Rev. 20:3) and is allowing him to test His people (Revelation 11:7; 13:7) to see who will shrink back (Hebrews 10:38, 39) and who will stand firm (Rev. 2:10). We are in an evil time, but it is evil that most plainly reveals righteousness, and the darker the darkness, the more brilliant the light.

CONCLUSION

In his second letter to Timothy, Paul warned about the circumstances of the last days:

1 But realize this, that in the last days difficult times will come. For men will be lovers of self, lovers of money, boastful, arrogant, revilers, disobedient to parents, ungrateful, unholy, unloving, irreconcilable, malicious gossips, without self-control, brutal, haters of good, treacherous, reckless, conceited, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, holding to a form of godliness, although they have denied its power. – 2 Timothy 3:1-5

It is my opinion that we are in these “last days” and that Christ will come soon to rescue His oppressed church. But even if I am wrong, the “difficult times” Paul described are certainly upon us and those who love righteousness must persevere in the face of growing opposition. This means the disciple of Jesus must earnestly seek the Lord and must drive their spiritual roots deep into the saving soil of Christ.

SDG                 rmb                 6/20/2022                   #545

1 Peter 2:9 (Part 3) – Identity: holy nation, God’s possession

INTRODUCTION. The first letter of Peter provides a sound foundation for the newly converted disciple of Jesus Christ to begin their journey with their Savior, and the heart of their conversion is captured powerfully in 1 Peter 2:9-10. Here Peter declares the disciple’s new identity, their new purpose, and their new people. This post is about the disciple’s new identity as part of “a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession.” (See post #536 on May 27, 2022, about this same verse.)

But you are A CHOSEN RACE, A royal PRIESTHOOD, A HOLY NATION, A PEOPLE FOR God’s OWN POSSESSION, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; 10 for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy. – 1 Peter 2:9-10

In the first chapter of the epistle, Peter has already told us that we were redeemed from our futile way of life (1:18) by the precious blood of Christ (1:19) and that, by God’s great mercy, He has caused us to be born again to a living hope (1:3), but now, in 2:9-10, the apostle is going to tell us more about our new identity in Christ. In post #536, we examined “a chosen race, a royal priesthood.” Here we look at “a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession.”

A HOLY NATION

Those who have been called by God to be a royal priesthood constitute a holy nation. But before being called to salvation and into Christ’s kingdom, we were quite a despicable lot. The Bible has nothing good or noble to say about the heart and behavior of unsaved man. Without Christ, our “heart is more deceitful than all else, and desperately sick” (Jer. 17:9). Our sins are as scarlet (Isaiah 1:18), and we “have given ourselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness” (Eph. 4:19). The Bible declares that natural men are “inventors of evil” (Romans 1:30), that they are “disobedient, enslaved to various lusts and pleasures, hateful, hating one another” (Titus 3:3) and that, were we able to scan the entire spectrum of all mankind, we would find “there is none righteous, not even one” (Romans 3:10). Peter describes the former life of the very people who received this letter as “pursuing a course of sensuality, lusts, drunkenness, carousing, drinking parties, and abominable idolatries” (1 Peter 4:3). But if this appalling list of moral corruption describes the former life of these people, how can Peter now call them “a holy nation?” What could bring about such a seismic change?

These people are now a holy nation because they have met and trusted in the risen Lord Jesus Christ. Through natural means, it is impossible for “the Ethiopian to change his skin or the leopard his spots” (Jer. 13:23), and “everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin,” but “if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed” (John 8:34, 36). Jesus Christ has the power to deliver us from the power of sin. These former slaves of sin were freed from sin and became slaves of righteousness (Romans 6:17-18). As slaves of righteousness, they desire to be holy, and because Jesus has set them free from sin’s power, they are able to be holy.

Peter had experienced Jesus’ power to deliver from sin firsthand. The Scriptures tell us of the day when Simon Peter was washing his fishing nets by the Sea of Galilee. After teaching the people, Jesus told Peter to “Put out into the deep water and let your nets down for a catch” (Luke 5:4). When their nets were filled to the breaking point with fish, “Simon Peter fell down at Jesus’ feet, saying, ‘Go away from me, Lord, for I am a sinful man, O Lord!’” In that instant, Peter realized that Jesus was a holy Man and that he himself was not. In Jesus’ holy presence, Peter the sinner fell before Him and confessed his own moral bankruptcy. But instead of Jesus going away from Peter, He accepted Peter’s confession as repentance and attached him to His band of disciples. In that moment, Peter was changed from a sinner into a member of the “holy nation.”

A PEOPLE FOR GOD’S OWN POSSESSION

To understand what it means to be a “people for God’s own possession,” we need to examine both the Old Testament and New Testament contexts of this expression.

Under the old covenant established at Mount Sinai, God took the nation of Israel as His special possession. In Deuteronomy 4:20 we read:

20 “But the LORD has taken you and brought you out of the iron furnace, from Egypt, to be a people for His own possession, as today.” – Deuteronomy 4:20

This was done for no merits of Israel, but only to make the LORD’s glory known to the nations. As the nation of Israel had been set apart to be “a holy nation,” so Israel was also chosen as the LORD’s “treasured possession” so that He could display His glory through Israel. As the LORD’s own possession, Israel enjoyed His blessing during the old covenant (although Israel’s and Judah’s disobedience eventually led to both nations being destroyed by the LORD’s appointed conquerors). In this way, the chosen physical nation of Israel under the old covenant serves as a “type” of what was to come with the new covenant.

When there is an Old Testament “type” (or “foreshadow”), there will also be a New Testament fulfillment. The nation of Israel was God’s old covenant possession, but since the old covenant has become obsolete (Hebrews 8:13) and Jesus Christ has inaugurated the new covenant in His blood (Luke 22:20), there now exists a new covenant people for God’s own possession. Israel was the “type” or the “foreshadow,” but the fulfillment of the type is made up of all the people whom God has called out of darkness into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9). In Titus 2:14, Paul writes of this new people:

14 (Jesus) who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. – Titus 2:14

With the coming of the new covenant, all those whom Christ has redeemed from every lawless deed have become “a people for His own possession.” Now there is no longer a physical people from a single nation but there are people from every tribe and tongue who are being gathered together in Christ to make up a people for God’s own possession. This people will be God’s forever possession, to proclaim His glory here on earth and then for eternity to sing His infinite praise. Through His own possession, God will be glorified.

We have now reviewed the four components of the disciple’s new identity. In the next post, we will consider the disciple’s new purpose.

SDG                 rmb                 6/16/2022                   #544

Scattering seed and inviting to the feast

INTRODUCTION. A study of two parables of Jesus and how they teach us to be obedient in our proclamation of the gospel.

I have been spending time in Jesus’ parables lately and have seen in them many new applications that I had not seen before. In this post, I want to review two parables, the parable of the sower in Matt. 13:3-9 and the parable of the wedding feast in Matt. 22:2-14 and see how Jesus teaches us about our task of being His witnesses (Acts 1:8).

THE SOWER WENT OUT TO SOW

We will begin with the parable of the sower in Matt. 13:3-9. This is one of the best known of the parables and is also one of only a few parables that Jesus interprets for us. In Jesus’ interpretation in Matt. 13:18-23, we find that the seed that is scattered is “the word of the kingdom,” which we would understand to be the gospel. We also discover what each of the soils represents and why the seed is unfruitful. Finally, we see that the seed is certainly potent and that, in the good soil, it produces a hundredfold, or sixty fold, or thirty fold.

It seems obvious that this parable is about proclamation, about evangelism. The sower is the disciple of Jesus Christ. We had already stated that the seed is the gospel. The places where the seed is scattered is any place and every place that the sower (disciple) goes. But let me make some other observations about this parable and about the sower himself.

SOME OBSERVATIONS ABOUT THE SOWER

Matt. 13:3 says, “The sower went out to sow.” Having acquired a big bag of seed, the sower intentionally goes out into the world to sow that seed. The sower’s purpose and aim is sowing his seed.

Also notice that the sower’s task is very simple. Sow the seed. That’s it. Sowing is an unskilled task that can be done by anyone who has seed. There is nothing sophisticated or nuanced about sowing seed. Any obedient worker can fulfill the task.

Observe that even though most of the sower’s seed is wasted and proves unfruitful, Jesus makes no comment about the sower’s wastefulness. The sower recklessly and indiscriminately scatters seed wherever it might go and yet there is no rebuke or criticism given. This is because the sower’s task is to sow seed. He is not responsible for the results. Just so, the disciple of Jesus is to scatter the seed of the gospel extravagantly and generously wherever he goes, believing that the Lord is sovereign over the harvest and that He will direct the seed to the good soil.

Thus, for the sower, the measure of success is faithfulness to their appointed task of sowing seed, and not the quantity of the harvest. The Lord is sovereign over the harvest, but He has entrusted the scattering of the gospel seed to His disciples.

THE MESSAGE TO US. Putting this together, then, the disciple of Jesus (the sower) is called to intentionally go out into the world and indiscriminately and extravagantly scatter the seed of the gospel anywhere and everywhere, recklessly sowing the seed, trusting that the Lord in His sovereignty will bring the harvest. (See also 2 Corinthians 9:6.)

INVITE THEM TO THE WEDDING FEAST!

Now we turn our attention to the parable of the wedding feast in Matt. 22:2-14. In this story, there is a king who wants to give a wedding feast for his beloved son. The king desires to have as many guests as possible at the feast, so he sends out his slaves to call those guests who had already been invited long ago, but those who had been invited refused to come. The king is enraged by the rudeness of his subjects and has them destroyed. Then he commands his slaves to go out into the main highways and invite anybody and everybody to his son’s wedding feast.

Although there are some important details to this story that teach us about the unbelief of the Jews and about the events of the end of the age, the main message of this parable is also about evangelism. Before we focused on the sower, but here we will concentrate on the slaves. The slaves represent disciples in the church. The king is God the Father and, of course, the son is the Lord Jesus. Thus the church has been sent out into the world to invite “as many as they find” to the wedding feast. The “wedding feast” represents the church with Jesus in heaven at the end of the age.

SOME OBSERVATIONS ABOUT THE SLAVES

The first thing I want to point out about this parable is that the slaves have been commanded by the king to invite people to the wedding feast. No other instructions have been given, no guidelines about who to choose or who to avoid. Therefore, the “slaves went out into the streets and gathered all they found” (22:10). They were indiscriminate about who they invited. If they found them, then they invited them. It did not matter whether they were evil or good. Whoever they found, they invited. That was their assignment from the king.

Notice also that this assignment was not complicated or difficult. There were no special skills or talents required to fulfill the assignment. No amazing spiritual gifts. Inviting people to the king’s feast was simple, an unskilled task that could be accomplished by anyone who would faithfully obey the king.

Finally, we see that, even though there are some false guests among those that are invited, the king does not rebuke or correct the slaves for inviting the wrong people. The king takes responsibility for the quality of those who are at the feast, while the slaves are responsible for the quantity. In other words, the measure of success for the king’s slaves was faithfulness to their appointed task of inviting guests, not the quality of the people invited.

THE MESSAGE TO US. Putting this together, then, the disciple of Jesus (“the slave of the king”) is called to intentionally go out into the world and indiscriminately invite as many as he can to “come to the wedding feast” (that is, call people to believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior), trusting that the Lord in His sovereignty will inspect all the guests.

SUMMARY AND CONCLUSION

What I have attempted to do in the interpretation of these two parables is to show that the Bible consistently calls the disciple of Jesus to the task of proclaiming Christ to the world indiscriminately and extravagantly so that many will hear the message and respond. These parables demonstrate that the disciple has been given the task of scattering the gospel recklessly and inviting to the feast extravagantly so that many will  come to faith in Jesus and to enjoy the final wedding feast.

We have been called to faith in Jesus so that, as His disciples, we can declare His glory among the nations (Psalm 96:3) and proclaim His excellencies who has called us into His marvelous light (1 Peter 2:9).

SDG                 rmb                 6/17/2022                   #543

Inauguration, identification, and commitment in Jesus’ baptism

INTRODUCTION. An examination of Matthew 3:13-17 with the goal of discovering why Jesus was baptized, then applying those ideas to the life of a believer/disciple.

When He was about thirty years old (Luke 3:23), Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist in the Jordan River. Here is the account from the gospel of Matthew 3:13-17:

13 Then Jesus *arrived from Galilee at the Jordan coming to John, to be baptized by him. 14 But John tried to prevent Him, saying, “I have need to be baptized by You, and do You come to me?” 15 But Jesus answering said to him, “Permit it at this time; for in this way it is fitting for us to fulfill all righteousness.” Then he *permitted Him. 16 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him, 17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”

The Scriptures are clear that Jesus was baptized. All four gospels unambiguously attest to this fact. But the question that must be answered is, “Why was Jesus baptized?”

WHY WAS JESUS BAPTIZED?

Let’s explore this question. We can start by saying what is not the reason Jesus was baptized. John the Baptist was “preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins” (Mark 1:4). In Matthew 3:6 we read that John was baptizing people “in the Jordan River as they confessed their sins” (Matt. 3:6). But since Jesus was sinless (John 8:46; 2 Cor. 5:21; Hebrews 4:15; etc.), He had no sins to confess, so He was not being baptized for repentance.

So, we are back at square one. “Why was Jesus baptized?”

MATTHEW 3:15

Jesus’ words in Matthew 3:15 seem to provide some helpful information. First, Jesus commands John to permit His baptism. In the Greek, this is an imperative, meaning Jesus is giving John a command. “Allow My baptism!” With this command, Jesus is telling John, “I know you do not understand why I am doing this, but I know why, and so I am commanding you to baptize Me and to trust Me about this.”

Notice also that John is to permit this baptism “at this time.” This phrase could also be translated from the Greek as “at the current time” or simply “now.” There is something about this particular time that is significant and that makes it “fitting” (or “proper”) for Jesus to be baptized at this specific time. This new information has changed our question to, “Why was Jesus baptized at this specific time?” As we consider the timing of this scene, we see that this is the time Jesus began His earthly ministry. And it is “fitting” (or “proper”) to mark the start of Jesus’ earthly ministry “in this way,” that is, with baptism.  

WHY JESUS WAS BAPTIZED AT THIS TIME

Putting these pieces together, then, we would say that it was appropriate and fitting to fulfill all righteousness for Jesus to mark the launch of His earthly ministry with baptism. To say this more simply, it was right (or righteous) for Jesus to mark the start of His earthly ministry with baptism. So, the answer to the question, “Why was Jesus baptized?” is that He was baptized to mark the start of His earthly ministry. But that is not the complete reason.

At His baptism, Jesus emerged from complete obscurity and was publicly identified as the Son of God when God the Father declared from heaven, “This is My beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17). Prior to this event, Jesus had been an unknown carpenter in the backwater town of Nazareth, quietly living His days with His mother and brothers. Now, by His baptism, His days of quiet obscurity are forever ended and His anonymity is gone. Through His baptism, He is now identified as the Son of God. Thus, a second reason for His baptism was His identification as the Son of God.

But there was another reason for Jesus to be baptized, for at His baptism, Jesus committed Himself to the cross. After He emerged from the waters of baptism, there was no turning back, there would be no distractions, there was no other possible ending to the story. His baptism was the visual sign that Jesus was committed to His mission all the way to His death. As Jesus went down into the waters of baptism, He was picturing His own physical death on the cross and subsequent burial, and when He was raised up out of the water, He was picturing His own glorious resurrection. His baptism, then, was also about His commitment to be obedient till death (Philippians 2:8).

APPLICATION TO THE BELIEVER

We have seen that in His baptism, Jesus inaugurated His mission, He identified as the Son of God, and He committed to the cross. But Jesus’ baptism has even more significance than that.

When I was baptized, after my pastor requested from me a verbal testimony of my faith in Jesus Christ, he said these words before he plunged me under the water: “Based on your profession of faith, IN IMITATION OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST and in obedience to His divine command (Matthew 28:19), I baptize you, my brother in Christ, in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Buried unto death in Christ (plunge into water), rise again to walk in newness of life (bring up out of the water).”

As believers, we worship a crucified Savior, but we also worship a baptized Savior. Jesus Christ was baptized, and He thus left His disciples an example of what we are to do when we make disciples, according to Matthew 28:19. And as Jesus was baptized as a sign of inauguration, identification, and commitment, so the baptism of a disciple is also a sign of inauguration, identification, and commitment.

In his public baptism, the disciple publicly inaugurates his discipleship and starts his lifelong walk with Jesus. Baptism is the fitting sign to mark the start of a disciple’s earthly journey with Jesus.

Also, in baptism the disciple publicly declares his faith in Jesus and vows to follow Jesus forever. His baptism publicly identifies him as a follower of Jesus Christ. From that moment on, the baptized disciple is always identified with the crucified and risen Savior.

Finally, in the disciple’s baptism he visually makes a commitment to follow Jesus until death, no matter the cost and no matter the consequences. To live is Christ and to die is gain (Phil. 1:21), and so as long as he draws breath, the disciple is a committed witness for Jesus Christ.

Thus, the disciple is baptized IN IMITATION OF OUR LORD AND SAVIOR JESUS CHRIST.

SDG                 rmb                 6/10/2022                   #542

The disciple’s job description (or “What is Discipleship?”)

INTRODUCTION. This post provides a link to what I am calling a disciple’s job description. This “job description” document attempts to describe the disciple of Jesus Christ in terms of the tasks and activities that the New Testament gives the disciple to perform. My upcoming book on Discipleship (targeted for completion some time in 2023) will include the finished version of this job description.

The job description is broken down into three categories: “Discipline and obedience,” which is what we might call “formal discipleship;” “Holiness,” which is the disciple’s conscious striving for practical righteousness as he wars against sin; and “Evangelism and witness,” addressing every disciple’s responsibility to proclaim the gospel and testify to the glory of Christ.

Here is the link to the current version of the list:

https://roysreflections.com/the-disciples-job-description-or-what-is-discipleship/(opens in a new tab)

SDG                 rmb                 6/8/2022                     #541