Babylon and Pride

Man has been seeking his own glory ever since he rebelled in the Garden. The Old Testament characterizes Babylon as a uniquely egregious manifestation of man’s pride, a nation that rose to worldly glory and ended in utter destruction and desolation. According to the book of Revelation a new version of Babylon will manifest in the end times, and it will again end in absolute destruction. Note how the pride of Babylon is described in three Old Testament passages: In Genesis 11:4 the people of Babel (Babylon) endeavor to build “a tower whose top will reach into heaven.” Isaiah says of the king of Babylon: “But you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God…I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’” Isaiah 14:13a,14 Jeremiah writes: “‘Though Babylon should ascend to the heavens, and though she should fortify her lofty stronghold, from Me destroyers will come to her,’ declares the Lord.” Jeremiah 51:53 Babylon is described as desiring to ascend into heaven, of wanting to be like God. In contrast to prideful Babylon, note how Jesus is described in the New Testament: Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things. Ephesians 4:9-10 Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a...

A LAMENTATION FOR REALITY

What a year we have all been through! COVID, riots, the election, conspiracy theories on the right and left, racial animosity, defunding the police, wildfires and hurricanes—tension is high and trust is low. It all feels a bit unreal, which caused me to ponder what the Bible teaches about reality. What is real and how can I know? Is God real, does the Bible give a true depiction of reality? These important questions can only be answered, affirmatively or negatively, by faith. If God is real and the Bible is true, then we become privy to knowledge that we could not otherwise possess. Not least among these truths is that God is a moral Spirit and the universe He created is both spiritual and moral. Further, the spiritual and moral have primacy over the merely physical and natural. To say this differently, the spiritual and moral are in a very important sense more real than the natural world which we all experience through our reason and senses. They are more real because the natural world that we currently experience is merely temporary and will be done away with. But the spiritual and moral world, which underpins the natural world transcends time and space, being itself eternal. When the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. Because this is so, the church has long understood that her first allegiance is to that spiritual and moral reality, even, and especially if, that reality came into conflict with the secular world around her. This formed the backbone of the Christian worldview for centuries. Further, in our earthly lives, we are citizens...

Whose Job is the Ministry / Owning our Priesthood

The Apostle Peter tells us followers of Jesus Christ in I Peter 2:9 that we “are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation…so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light.” The Apostle John instructs us “He has made us to be a kingdom, priests to His God and Father.” Revelation 1:6 What is the Priesthood to which the Apostles refer?  Do I view myself as a priest of God?  If I am a priest, what are God’s expectations of me? Join with us in reading and considering the teaching in the attached Ministry in the Marketplace book “Who’s Job is the Ministry?” where these and other pertinent questions we as men of God should understand and be ready to answer. The book “Who’s Job is the Ministry?” will be, in part, the underlying support theme for the Ministry in the Marketplace Zoom Webinar on January 16, 2021.   It is suggested reading in preparation for the webinar. Click on the image cover below to download a free electronic copy or click on this link to order your hard...

Presumption & Surrender

“Thus says the LORD, “Let not a wise man boast of his wisdom, and let not the mighty man boast of his might, let not a rich man boast of his riches; but let him who boasts boast of this, that he understands and knows Me, that I am the LORD who exercises lovingkindness, justice and righteousness on earth; for I delight in these things,” declares the LORD.”  Jeremiah 9:23-24 Recently, God has impressed upon me the issue of presumption. I define presumption as those expectations (however illegitimate) I have placed upon God; how He should act, how He should treat me, how He should treat others, how He should treat those who persecute/harm me, how He meets my needs, etc. Over time, it has become clear to me that presumption is a soul crushing, silent, cancer of character which must be continually identified and purposefully removed to avoid harm to me and others around me.  Apart from the filter of the Bible, one may not even realize how much presumption they have in their life. In many ways it is like the sin of covetousness; you don’t even recognize it as sin until the Bible defines it for you. Then you need to ask God to show you this sin in your life and repent. Admittedly a painful process, but powerfully healing. In developing my view of presumption, I found Romans, Ecclesiastes and 1 Corinthians to be mirrors to the souls of all men and a powerful reminder of the impact of presumption on a man’s life. Specifically, presumption can send a man to hell, leave a man with...

The ‘Feel-bad’ Religion

As it is, I rejoice, not because you were grieved, but because you were grieved into repenting. For you felt a godly grief, so that you suffered no loss through us.  (2 Corinthians 7:9) Paul is telling the church of Corinth and everyone subsequently, a very important truth; that the Christian faith is not a feel-good religion.  Indeed, sorrow is central to Jesus’ teaching: Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.  (Matthew 5:4) Mourning precedes assuagement, the fullness of which is deferred to the eternal state.  The word in Greek that is translated ‘mourn’ is πενθέω penteo ‘to lament’, or ‘grieve as for the dead’ and is apposite because all must die to self to gain Christ; that is the ‘godly grief’ of which Paul speaks. Elsewhere in Scripture, remorse and contrition are recognized as essential emotions in approaching God, David realizes that no sacrifice can be holy or honorable unless it proceeds from heartfelt remorse. …a broken and contrite heart, O God, you will not despise.  (Psalm 51:17) Jesus contrasted the stance in prayer of the haughty Pharisee and humble Tax Collector who: …standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’  (Luke 18:13) Only the Tax Collector will be made righteous before God, and that because of sorrowful humility. It is essential that all who would hope for forgiveness realize they stand as the Tax Collector, an object of wrath.   Tears cannot soften the heart of God; seven times Jesus informs his disciples that the unrighteous will bewail their fate (eg. Matthew 8:12).  Mercy...

Like-mindedness

2 Corinthians 13:11 “Finally, brethren, rejoice, be made complete, be comforted, be like-minded, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you.” Romans 15:5 “Now may the God who gives perseverance and encouragement grant you to be of the same mind with one another according to Christ Jesus,” Mind (phroneō) – to be of the same mind, i.e. to agree together, cherish the same views, be harmonious Here we have two of many examples in the Bible where we are commanded to be like-minded with other believers. I ask myself in today’s world with all the differing opinions and thoughts, how do we do this? This is a huge problem if we think this means we need everyone to think and act exactly like us. Paul says to imitate him as he imitates Christ (1 Corinthians 11:1) and that he and the other apostles have the mind of Christ (1 Corinthians 2:16). The only way we can agree, cherish the same views and be harmonious is by imitating Paul as he imitates Christ. The same mind we seek is Christ’s, rather than convincing others to agree with our thoughts and opinions. I next ask myself what are some practical things that lead me to think I am seeking after the mind of Christ? What are key things to look for in like-minded brothers and sisters? This probably isn’t an all-inclusive list but i think it’s a good starting point. 2 Timothy 3:16-17 All scripture is from God and is authoritative in my life. 1 John 1:1-4, 2:24, 4:5-6 The interpretation of scripture is on...