Wednesday, April 22, 2015

NTDS (75): The Radiance of God’s Glory

Heb 1:3 The Son is the radiance of God's glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. NIV

There are few verses in the Bible that contain more theological depth than Hebrews 1:3. Countless hours could be spent on this one verse, but I want to look at four truths that are essential to understand who our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, really is.It is helpful in this case to use the KJV to really grab hold of the beauty of this verse. “Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power,” KJV

The first wonderful truth in this verse is contained in the word being. It is the word oon in Greek. The Greek scholar, AT Robertson says this about the word, “ Absolute and timeless existence.”  When people try to convince you that the Bible does not teach that Jesus is God, this one word describing Jesus, destroys that notion. It is equivalent to the word Yahweh or I AM ( the always exis tent one)in Hebrew. It proves that Jesus was not created, He always existed, and therefore He is God!

The next truth we see is that Jesus is the radiance or brightness of God’s glory. The word used for brightness can either mean reflective or original light. In the case of Jesus, both are true! John 12:44-46,
 “Then Jesus cried out, "When a man believes in me, he does not believe in me only, but in the one who sent me. 45 When he looks at me, he sees the one who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as a light, so that no one who believes in me should stay in darkness.”

John 14:9, “Jesus answered: "Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father.”

The brightness of His glory was revealed to Peter, James and John at the mount of transfiguration, recorded in Matt 17. Matt 17:2, “There he was transfigured before them. His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light.”  This was physical evidence that what this verse tell us about Jesus is 100% true! These men were eyewitnesses to the “brightness of His glory.”

The third great truth listed here is, that Jesus was an exact representation of God the Father. When you look at Jesus, you see God. Everything recorded in the Scriptures about Jesus, gives you a picture of who God is. As we look closely, we can see all of God’s nature and characteristics in Jesus and we can be sure it is an accurate rendering.

The last truth to grasp in this verse, is that Jesus is the one who holds everything together. Verse two of this chapter tells us that Jesus was the one through whom the universe was made. He is also the one who sustains His creation. The word for “sustains” can be translated uphold, carry or bear. That means that His creation will stand for as long as He wills it to.

We are told that He sustains creation by the power of His word. Just as he began creation by His word, he keeps it going by His word. It is by His word that all the physical laws of the universe that we observe, continue to operate properly. A cursory look at our universe would tell us that it had to be uniquely designed. One degree difference of earth’s tilt and we would be out of existence. A few miles closer to the sun and we would be ashes, a few miles further and we would be frozen. But by the power of His word, His creation stands. If at any time He chose to end the existence of the universe, He could do it by speaking a word. His word is all-powerful!

Oh the majesty and glory of our Lord Jesus! This verse alone, revealing these four great truths, should be enough to bring us to our knees in worship to Him. Those who lived with Him two thousand years ago, saw the perfect light of God. We see that same light through His word. His word is a lamp unto our feet and a light unto our path (Ps 119:105). It leads us into relationship with Him. I pray you are fully surrendered Him!

God bless you


Monday, April 20, 2015

NTDS (74): Because of His Mercy

Titus 3:4-5  But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, 5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.  NIV

Because of His mercy. God saved us because of His mercy! These four words need to be repeated over and over again in our minds. He saved us because or as some versions translate, according to, His mercy.

Why is this so important to understand? It frees us from the bondage of works. It reminds us that there is no work we have ever done or could ever do that will save us from the judgment of God. Without God’s mercy, we would all remain in our sin.

It means that we do not get what we deserve. Rom 6:23 says, “For the wages of sin is death…,” There is no doubt that because of our sin, our rebellion against God, we deserve to die. If we are depending on our works to save us, we are doomed to suffer God’s wrath. But, the second half of Rom 6:23 says, …”but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  The gift of life is given, because of His mercy.

The apostle Paul makes it clear in verse three of this chapter that we all lived in sin of one form or another. Titus 3:3, “At one time we too were foolish, disobedient, deceived and enslaved by all kinds of passions and pleasures. We lived in malice and envy, being hated and hating one another.”  I am sure you can see yourself in at least one of these descriptions.

He saved us, it says in verse 5, not because of any righteous act of ours, but only because of His mercy. It is because of that mercy that we should desire our lives be a reflection of His. We should be merciful as well. Does that describe you?

It is interesting that we are so often eager to obtain mercy for ourselves, but find it hard to grant mercy to others. However, Jesus said this, “Blessed are the merciful, for they will be shown mercy.” (Matt 5:7) 
James tells us that being merciful it is a critical piece of evidence proving our relationship with Christ. James 2:12-13 “Speak and act as those who are going to be judged by the law that gives freedom, 13 because judgment without mercy will be shown to anyone who has not been merciful. Mercy triumphs over judgment!”

Peter says, “In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade — kept in heaven for you…” (1 Peter 1:3-4)

How could we possibly be unmerciful people when we have been shown such great mercy? Because of His mercy, we should be quick to forgive and quick to show mercy to others. 

Jesus told a parable about a man who owed a king an enormous debt, one that he could never pay. The master showed mercy and canceled the debt completely. That man then went to another servant, who owed him a small debt and demanded immediate payment. Since the servant had no money, the man, showing no mercy, had the servant thrown into prison. Once the king found out what had happened, he called the man back. Lets pick up the story in Matt 18:32-35

 'You wicked servant,' he said, 'I canceled all that debt of yours because you begged me to. 33 Shouldn't you have had mercy on your fellow servant just as I had on you?' 34 In anger his master turned him over to the jailers to be tortured, until he should pay back all he owed.35 "This is how my heavenly Father will treat each of you unless you forgive your brother from your heart."

I think you can see the heart of God in this matter. We have been forgiven so much. God’s mercy on us is immeasurable. We are to called to be people of mercy as well. In our human nature, it would be impossible to show the kind of mercy that God does, but by the power of the Holy Spirit, dwelling in us, all things are possible.

I pray that we, who are believers in Jesus Christ only because of His mercy, will reflect His glorious mercy to the world.

God Bess you


Thursday, April 16, 2015

NTDS (73): Hold Fast

Titus 1:9  He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it.  NIV

Titus was one of the apostle Paul’s companions, who had served with him on his missionary travels. He was now the leader of the churches in Crete. Paul’s letter to Titus is one that he could have written to any pastor or church leader today.

In verse 1 of this letter, Paul says that there is knowledge of the truth that leads to Godliness. Some false teachers, who had gained an audience in the church, were already distorting this knowledge. Paul is telling Titus to appoint elders in each of the churches in Crete and that one of the requirements for these men is that they firmly hang on to the truth of God’s word, encouraging people with “sound doctrine.”

This exhortation, important as it was in that time, could not be more relevant in today’s church. In verse 10, Paul says that during this time there were many “mere talkers and deceivers.” What a description of what is happening in the church today.

Though this was written to elders, who were the pastor/teachers of the time, it should be true for all of us. Each believer needs to “hold fast” to the truth that has been taught. Paul was speaking of the message that had been proclaimed by the Old Testament scriptures and by Jesus and the apostles. This of course, is what we have in the Bible. This message never changes. Beware of teachers who claim that they have “new insight, new revelation or new interpretations” of God’s word. Paul sums them up in Titus 1:16,
“They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good.”

Notice that when we keep within the confines of God’s truth, we can encourage others with that truth and refute those who oppose it. This is so important for us. We want to be able to encourage other people in their relationship with the Lord. We need to know His truth and apply it correctly in order to do that. All of us can be used in that way. You do not have to be a “leader” in the church to encourage others with the Word of God.

We should also be equipped to refute those who would distort His word for their own purposes. We must hold fast to “sound doctrine.” The Greek word used here literally means to “hold oneself opposite,” meaning opposite of those who teach false doctrine. It implies an “adherence to” or “caring for” the truth. That takes an effort on our part. We need study the Word ourselves and choose faithful teachers to instruct us. Teachers who do not stray from the truth laid out for us in scripture.

The great thing is that when we do this, not only are we able to encourage others, we are strengthened and encouraged ourselves. The more we study His word, the more we understand His love and grace. Nothing will encourage you more than that!
So study and learn His word. Hold onto it with everything you have. Allow the Holy Spirit to teach and guide you in your study. Don’t be swayed by anyone who does not hold to the message taught by Jesus and His apostles. It is the truth, it is inerrant, and it is infallible and reliable in every way!

God bless you,