Thursday, September 20, 2018

The Exposure of Hypocrisy

There is nothing concealed that will not be disclosed, or hidden that will not be made known” (Luke 12:2).

Jesus warned the crowds against hypocrisy and then said there would come a day when the mask would be ripped from the face of the hypocrite. When we come before the judgment seat of God, there will be a division between the genuine and the counterfeit. Everything will be revealed.

Jesus went on to say, “What you have said in the dark will be heard in the daylight, and what you have whispered in the ear in the inner rooms will be proclaimed from the roofs” (Luke 12:3). We in our culture speak of having skeletons in our closets. We don’t take these skeletons and prop them up in front of our houses. Each one of us is concerned to preserve his or her reputation, so we are very careful to keep our “dirty laundry” in our basements.

Exposure of our secret sins is one of the most devastating experiences we can undergo. To be stripped naked and have our weaknesses manifested publicly is terrifying to consider. I’m frightened to think of the Last Judgment when all my secrets will be made public. The only thing that keeps me from despair is that everyone else is going to be in the same boat. I imagine each of us will be too embarrassed to be concerned about the secrets of others!

What can make us able to stand in that Day of Judgment and exposure? It is that our nakedness is covered by the robes of Christ Himself. Thus, we are hidden in Christ on the day we are exposed. His righteousness covers our corruption. That is why we flee to Him without boasting about our own righteousness because those who are self-righteous will be exposed when the closet is opened.

Jesus goes on to warn about the Last Judgment and to tell us to fear God: “I will show you whom you should fear: Fear him who, after the killing the body, has power to throw you into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him” (v. 5). It is not Satan who has the power and authority to cast men into hell. It is God, and it is God we are to fear.

The Last Judgment is a fearful thing. It should make us uncomfortable and cause us to cling to Christ more tightly. Imagine again the dread associated with hell.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Strengthened By Grace - Episode 16 - "The Trinity - Part 2"

Episode 16 - "The Trinity - Part 2" - Our host, Matthew Dowling, discusses the unique qualities of the divine Person and the primary, though not exclusive, work of the divine Person.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Tithing and the New Church

Woe to you Pharisees, because you give God a tenth of your mint, rue and all other kinds of garden herbs, but you neglect justice and the love of God. You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone” (Luke 11:42).

It is important for us to notice both sides of this condemnation Jesus placed on the Pharisees, the super-pious of His generation. He mentions that the Pharisees were meticulous when it came to tithing, even tithing from their herb gardens, but that they were neglecting the weightier matters of the law. At the same time, Jesus does credit them for tithing when He says, “You should have practiced the latter without leaving the former undone.”

Statistics tell us only about four percent of professing Christians tithe. Maybe that is because we are so committed to Christ that we are finally a generation so consumed with the weightier matters we have neglected the lighter ones. Perhaps we are the first generation in history to focus wholeheartedly on justice and mercy, though we have been a bit negligent when it comes to tithes.

Does that strike you as a sound analysis of the Christian community today? Is it not more likely we are even worse than the Pharisees and ignore both the weightier and the lighter matters?

Some say the New Testament does not require tithing the way the Old Testament did. In the Old Testament, ten percent was required, while in the New Testament we are to give as we are prospered. This is a disputable position, but let’s grant the argument. Consider: Every benefit the new covenant Christian enjoys is a thousand times greater than what the old covenant believer ever had. Does it follow logically that our requirements for supporting the New Testament church are less than the requirements on the people in the Old Testament? I think we all know better than that. If we don’t want to be bound to ten percent, then we’d better be even more generous.

Jesus makes it absolutely clear: We are both to tithe and be concerned about the weightier matters as well.

If you are not tithing to the work of Christ’s kingdom, you need to pray for forgiveness. Consider this: What is the link between tithing and the “weightier matters” of the law? He who is not faithful in little things (tithing) will not be faithful in greater things, either. Are you prepared to compound your disobedience?

Monday, September 17, 2018

Strengthened by Grace - Episode 15 - "The Trinity - Part 1"

Episode 15 - "The Trinity - Part 1" - Our host, Matthew Dowling, discusses the doctrine of the Trinity, its scriptural basis, and its presence in the universal creeds.

Do Not Hide God's Light

Your eye is the lamp of your body. When your eyes are good, your whole body also is full of light. But when they are bad, your body also is full of darkness” (Luke 11:34).

We learn from Luke 11:16 that some in the crowd were asking for a sign from Jesus. The Lord replied that the casting out of demons was a sign for them. He goes on to say the great sign that will be given to that generation was the sign of Jonah. Just as Jonah preached to Gentiles, so the Gospel is going to Gentiles. Just as Jonah “died” and was “resurrected” on the third day, so Jesus is going to die and be resurrected on the third day.

Jesus goes on to point out places in the Old Testament where the Gentiles came to hear the Gospel. He contrasts them to the crowd of Jews before Him, who are scoffing. The Queen of Sheba journeyed to hear Solomon, says Jesus, but the Greater Solomon is before them now. The Ninevites repented at Jonah’s preaching, but the Greater Jonah is preaching to them at that moment.

The point Jesus is making is this: The sign is plainly revealed, but they are refusing to see it. Jesus’ miracles and His coming resurrection are as much sign as they need, but they are blinding themselves. Jesus illustrates His point with a story. He says if you want to have light in a room and you light a candle, it would be foolish to hide it under a bushel. Jesus then says the eye is the lamp of the body, the place where light enters. If we shut our eyes, it does not matter how bright the light, we remain in darkness.

Jesus is the light of the world. His miracles and His preaching were a bright lamp. God was not hiding His Lamp under a bushel but was putting Him in a high place to shed light over the entire world. They, however, were shutting their eyes. They were continuing in darkness because they were steadfastly refusing to see the Light.

Their deeds were evil, and they did not want to be exposed. Thus, they preferred the darkness. Jesus was saying that the problem of unbelief, in the final analysis, is not an intellectual one, but a moral one. God has made the message clear, but men prefer the darkness of sin.

What secret sins do you hide that you do not want to be exposed? Ask God right now to search your heart with His light and convict you of them. Confess them to the Father and expose them to His loving light.