Sunday, July 9, 2017

Only Jesus Can Give You Spiritual Sight!

The following opening is from Pastor Stephen Cole, pastor of Lake Gregory Community Church, in Crestline, CA. Stephen is a graduate Dallas Theological Seminary-so I already admire his persistence and great sermonizing. A good pastor has a difficult row to hoe. If you are really, a good pastor not everyone in your church is going to like what you have to say! Why? Because even in our churches the spiritually blind abound. This is a long blog so before you start prepare yourself to read the whole blog if you are really interested in having spiritual sight to guide you through life. 

We’ve all heard “good news, bad news” jokes. Here are a couple aimed at me as a pastor (from cybersalt.org):

Good News: The Women’s Guild voted to send you a get-well card.

Bad News: The vote passed 31-30.

Good News: Church attendance rose dramatically the last three weeks.

Bad News: You were on vacation.

Luke 9 gives us good news and bad news, but it’s not a joke. It’s deadly serious! The best possible news is: Jesus! The worst possible news is: Jesus! For many, Jesus is good news because He opens their blind eyes and gives them eternal life. For many others, Jesus is bad news because they reject His gift of sight and they will face eternal judgment (see 1 Pet. 2:6-8 for the same truth).

In other words, Jesus always divides people into one of two camps: Those who believe in Him for salvation receive eternal life; those who reject Him are hardened in unbelief and face eventual eternal punishment (Matt. 25:46). There is no third category. So, be very careful how you respond to Jesus!

We come to the conclusion of the story of Jesus healing the man who was born blind. As we’ve seen, this miracle, which Jesus performed on the Sabbath, caused a division among the Pharisees: Some said (9:16), “This man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath.” But others argued, “How can a man who is a sinner perform such signs?” The prevailing group were those that contended that Jesus was not from God, who in a few months succeeded in crucifying Him. They couldn’t refute the reasoning of the blind man, so they threw him out of the temple (9:34). Our text picks up the story when Jesus found the rejected man and asked him a crucial question, bringing him to solid faith. The story concludes by contrasting the blind man’s faith with the hard hearts of the unbelieving Pharisees. The lesson is:

Jesus came to give sight to the spiritually blind, but also to bring those who think they see without Him to judgment.

To quote Jesus (9:39), “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” 


1. The blind see: Jesus came to give sight to the spiritually blind (9:35-38).

Jesus heard that the Jewish leaders had kicked this man out of the temple, which was a serious matter in that society. His neighbors would have shunned him out of fear of having the religious police target them. Although now the man was physically able to work for the first time in his life, no one would hire a man who had been excommunicated by the religious authorities. Probably many in the marketplace would also refuse to do business with such an outcast. But it was at this time, perhaps as he was standing in bewilderment outside the temple precincts, that Jesus found him and asked him the most important question in the world (9:35), “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” (The KJV and NJKV read, “Son of God”; but “Son of Man” is almost certainly the original text.) These verses contain five important lessons:

A. Jesus takes the initiative by seeking those who are blind.

“Finding him” (9:35) implies that Jesus was looking for him. Jesus said (Luke 19:10), “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” The religious crowd had rejected this poor man. He was an outcast from society. But at that very moment, Jesus went looking for him and brought him to solid faith by asking, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” The former blind man asked (9:36), “Who is He, Sir, that I may believe in Him?” (The same Greek word may be translated either “sir” or “Lord,” depending on the context. In 9:36, the blind man does not yet know Jesus as Lord, so it should be translated, “sir.” In 9:38, he recognizes Jesus as the Lord who opened his eyes, so there it should be translated, “Lord.”). Jesus’ reply must have thrilled his soul (9:37): “You have both seen Him, and He is the one who is talking with you.” The man had not yet seen very many people, but now he saw Jesus and he recognized his voice as that of the man who had healed him. And so he instantly believed in Jesus.

The Bible repeatedly stresses that if you believe in Jesus, it’s not because you came up with the idea first and went looking for Him. Rather, God chose you in Him before the foundation of the world (Eph. 1:4). He sought you when you were dead in your trespasses and sins and granted saving faith to you as His gracious gift (Eph. 2:1-9). Thus our salvation is “to the praise of the glory of His grace” (Eph. 1:6). If you chose Him by your own free will, then you can share the glory for your salvation. But if He chose you apart from anything meritorious in you, then He gets all the glory (see 1 Cor. 1:26-31).

B. Jesus alone has the power to open blind eyes.

Opening blind eyes is a God-thing (Ps. 146:8). As the former blind man pointed out to the Pharisees (John 9:32-33), “Since the beginning of time it has never been heard that anyone opened the eyes of a person born blind. If this man were not from God, He could do nothing.” As Jesus’ dialogue with the Pharisees at the end of this chapter shows, this miracle was also a parable about salvation. Just as opening the eyes of one born blind is something that only God can do, so saving a soul is something that only God can do. It takes His mighty power to impart new life to those who are spiritually dead in their sins.

While (as we’ll see in a moment) to be saved, sinners must believe in Jesus, they cannot believe simply by exercising their own will power. As John 1:12-13 states, “But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.”

Or, to use the blindness and light metaphor (2 Cor. 4:4, 6), Satan “has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” Then, how can we gain spiritual sight? Paul continues, “For God, who said, ‘Light shall shine out of darkness,’ is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.” Just as God’s power spoke light into existence, so His power opens blind eyes when He saves a soul.

C. To move from spiritual blindness to sight, admit that you’re blind.

Of course, the man who was born blind had no problem admitting that he could not see. That was obvious. But the proud Pharisees thought that they were the only ones in Israel with spiritual sight. They imply this when they railed against the former blind man (9:34), “You were born entirely in sins, and are you teaching us?” And they imply it in their sarcastic question to Jesus (9:40), “We are not blind too, are we?” But Jesus replied (9:41), “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.” In other words, if they would have admitted their blindness, Jesus would have healed them by forgiving their sins. But since they insisted that they could see, they remained in their sins.

One of the main things that keeps people from gaining spiritual sight is that they refuse to admit that they’re blind. They think that they’re good enough to qualify for heaven. They may admit that they need a little boost from God. But they minimize their sins. They won’t admit that they’re totally blind and that they don’t just need bifocals; they need sight! As the old hymn, “Rock of Ages,” put it:

Not the labors of my hands can fulfill Thy law’s demands;

Could my zeal no respite know, could my tears forever flow,

All for sin could not atone; Thou must save and Thou alone.

So, to move from spiritual blindness to sight, admit that you’re blind.

D. To move from spiritual blindness to sight, believe in Jesus for who He is.

Jesus’ question to this formerly blind man is the most important question you can ever answer: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” You must answer that question, either now or at the judgment, when it will be too late. Your eternal destiny hinges on answering that question rightly: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” To answer it rightly, answer these three questions:

1) WHO IS THE SON OF MAN?

The former blind man asked Jesus (9:36), “Who is He, Sir, that I may believe in Him?” That question parallels Jesus’ question to the twelve (Matt. 16:15), “Who do you say that I am?” It’s the most important question in all of life to answer correctly. Faith is only as good as its object. If you believe in a false Jesus, you cannot be saved, any more than if you believed in an idol. So this question is crucial so that you believe in Jesus for who He is.

The title “Son of Man” is used over 80 times in the Gospels, including 12 times in the Gospel of John, plus four other times in the New Testament (The Zondervan Pictorial Encyclopedia of the Bible [Zondervan], ed. by Merrill Tenney, 4:203, 5:485-486). It almost always occurs on the lips of Jesus referring to Himself. It was not an accepted or widely used messianic designation in Jesus’ day. He may have used it because it avoided the political overtones that “Messiah” carried at that time. It was a way of alluding to and yet veiling His messiahship. It shows Him to be the representative man, the last Adam, and thus has nuances of humanity in it.

But it also has overtones of deity, stemming from Daniel 7:13-14, where the Son of Man receives an everlasting kingdom where all people serve Him. At Jesus’ trial, the high priest commanded (Matt. 26:63), “I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Christ, the Son of God.” Jesus replied, alluding to Daniel 7 (26:64), “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you will see the Son of Man sitting at the right hand of Power, and coming on the clouds of heaven.” In John’s Gospel, the term is always associated either with Christ’s heavenly glory or with the salvation He came to bring.

D. A. Carson (The Gospel According to John [Eerdmans/Apollos], p. 376) argues that in light of John’s usage of the term, “Jesus is inviting the man to put his trust in the one who is the revelation of God to man…. Jesus himself is the Word incarnate, the one who uniquely reveals God.” Carson also points out that the term in John is connected with Jesus’ role as judge (5:27), which relates to John 9:39-41.

So the correct answer to “Who is the Son of Man?” is, “He is the eternal Word who took on human flesh and offered Himself as the sacrifice for our sins (John 1:14, 18; 3:13; 12:23, 32, 34). He is risen from the dead and one day He will judge all the living and the dead (5:27). He is the one in whom we must believe.

2) WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO BELIEVE IN HIM?

In a nutshell, it means to trust Jesus to do what He promised to do. He told the woman at the well that if she asked, He would give her living water (4:10). She asked and He gave! He told the royal official whose son was sick (4:50), “Go, your son lives.” He believed Jesus and left for home and found his son healed. Here, He told the blind man to go to the Pool of Siloam and wash. He went and washed and came away seeing. Jesus promises to give eternal life to whoever believes in Him (3:16). To believe in Him means that you stop believing in your own good works as the way to heaven (as the Pharisees did). To believe in Him means to admit that you’re a sinner and to trust that His death on the cross will atone for all of your sins. Trust Him as you would trust a doctor by taking the prescribed medicine. But there’s a third question that you need to answer to move from spiritual blindness to sight:

3) DO I BELIEVE IN HIM?

This blind man had obeyed Jesus implicitly by going to the pool and washing. He miraculously experienced having his eyes opened. He had borne witness before the hostile Sanhedrin to the point that they kicked him out of the temple. But he still needed to answer this question: “Do you believe in the Son of Man?”

So, don’t take the question for granted! You may think, “I grew up in the church. I’ve always believed in Jesus.” But, do you trust in Him personally as your only hope for heaven? Perhaps you have always tried to obey the Bible’s teaching and lead a moral life. Great, but do you believe in Jesus as your Savior from your sin? Maybe you’ve even preached the gospel to others. Charles Spurgeon (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit [Pilgrim Publications], 36:232) tells of a preacher he knew who got saved while preaching his own sermon! Finally, a saved person in the congregation recognized the change that had come about during the sermon and he cried, “The parson’s converted. Hallelujah!” Everyone broke out in cries of praise and they all joined in singing the doxology! So each of us needs to answer the question, “Do I believe in Jesus?”

But, how can you know if your belief is genuine? After all, we’ve seen several instances in John where people professed faith in Jesus, but it wasn’t genuine saving faith. There are other signs of new life in Christ, but this former blind man reveals these:

E. When you truly believe in Jesus, you gain spiritual sight, confess Jesus as Lord, and bow before Him in worship.

He was blind, but now he saw (9:25). He testified of Jesus as Lord as best as he knew how to these intimidating Jewish leaders. As I mentioned, the Greek word in 9:38 should be translated, “Lord, I believe.” He confessed Jesus as Lord. And, he bowed before Him in worship. At this point, he may not have fully understood that Jesus was God manifest in the flesh. But he was giving Jesus far more honor than one would give to an ordinary man or even to a prophet (John Calvin, Calvin’s Commentaries [Baker], p. 389). Carson (p. 377) says that while it is not clear that he was yet addressing Jesus as “my Lord and my God,” as Thomas did after the resurrection, it is likely that he was “offering obeisance to Jesus as the redeemer from God, the revealer of God.”

Can you say, “One thing I do know, that though I was blind, now I see”? Do you openly confess Jesus as your Lord? Do you bow before Him in worship, not just outwardly, but in spirit and in truth (4:24), and not just on Sundays, but all through the week? Those are some of the marks of genuine saving faith.

But, sadly, the story does not end there, with the blind man seeing. It goes on to warn us by showing that there are some who think they see, but they’re really blind:

2. The seeing blind: Jesus came to bring those who think they see without Him to judgment (9:39-41).

While the blind man illustrates those who progress in faith to the point of worship, the Pharisees show us that some regress irretrievably in unbelief to the point of judgment. Jesus has already warned them (8:21, 24) that unless they believed in Him, they would die in their sins. Now, He says (9:39), “For judgment I came into this world, so that those who do not see may see, and that those who see may become blind.” When they sarcastically retort, “We are not blind too, are we?” Jesus answers (9:41), “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.” Briefly, note three things:

A. To stay in spiritual blindness, insist that you see on your own and thus have no need for the Savior.

As we’ve seen, the way to see is to admit that you’re blind. Jesus is in the business of opening blind eyes. But if you assert that you see quite well without Jesus, then He will leave you in your blindness. In other words, pride keeps you from grace. God resists the proud but gives grace to the humble (1 Pet. 5:5).

B. To stay in spiritual blindness, reject the gift of sight that Jesus offers to you.

Verse 41 is a gracious offer of salvation: “If you were blind, you would have no sin; but since you say, ‘We see,’ your sin remains.” Jesus is saying, “If you would admit your blindness, I would heal you and you would not come into judgment. But your stubborn rejection of Me keeps you in your sins.” Rejecting the light that God graciously gives leads to further hardening and judgment.

C. The result of rejecting spiritual sight is to be hardened in unbelief that culminates in eternal judgment.

There is a scary principle in the Bible: If you reject the light that God graciously gives you, He will confirm your rejection and leave you in your blindness. In Matthew 13, the disciples ask Jesus why He spoke to the people in parables. He responds (13:14-15) by citing the prophecy of Isaiah 6:9:

“In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says,

‘You will keep on hearing, but will not understand;

You will keep on seeing, but will not perceive;

For the heart of this people has become dull,

With their ears they scarcely hear,

And they have closed their eyes,

Otherwise they would see with their eyes,

Hear with their ears,

And understand with their heart and return,

And I would heal them.’”

This means that the way you respond to the question, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” has huge consequences! If you shrug your shoulders and say, “I don’t know,” or “I don’t care,” or “I’ll think about it later,” you’re closing your eyes to the light that God is offering you. He is not obligated to give you any more light. If you keep on rejecting His gracious offer of salvation, you may keep on hearing without understanding and keep on seeing without perceiving. Your heart may grow dull and you may die in your sins, only to face eternal judgment.

Maybe you’re wondering, “How can Jesus say here, ‘For judgment I came into this world,’ when John 3:17 states, “For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world would be saved through Him”? If you keep reading John 3:18-21, the concept of judgment is implicit in Jesus’ coming, although it wasn’t His primary purpose for coming. John 3:18-19 states, “He who believes in Him is not judged; he who does not believe has been judged already, because he has not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. This is the judgment, that the Light has come into the world, and men loved the darkness rather than the Light, for their deeds were evil.”

The purpose of the sun is to give light, but light by its very nature casts shadows. Jesus’ coming as the Light of the world means that the shadow of judgment is necessarily cast on those who reject Him. So by His very nature Jesus divides all people into two camps. Some allow the light to expose their sin and ask Jesus to cleanse them and give them sight. Others hate the light because they love their sin. They reject Jesus and come under His judgment.

Conclusion
How many times have I failed to heed the words of the Lord when it comes to really seeing? How many times have I chosen my own blindness to the real gospel that the Lord is trying to instill in me. Fortunately God is long-suffering and will not withhold sight to see the blindness we all possess because we want what we want. One day we wake up and realize it is all for nothing until we allow the Lord to be our sight.

So Jesus is either good news or bad news for you, and I assure you, He is no joke! Your eternal destiny hinges on your response to Jesus’ question, “Do you believe in the Son of Man?” Join the former blind man by responding, “Lord, I believe.” And fall at His feet in worship!

See you next blog,
Ted

Friday, July 7, 2017

The Fiery Trials Of Life

Have you ever been accused of things you really didn't do but someone made people believe you did? Now those that were told of your supposed wrong want nothing to do with you and you hurt inside desperately. Have you ever lost something or someone precious to you and you felt nothing but angry at the world, at God, because you just didn't deserve it? Now you desperately wish those things or that person could be restored to you. Have you ever been fired unjustly? The panic of not knowing what will happen next sets in or how you will feed your family, or will you be able to recoup your loses? Finally and just as important, have you ever done something really wrong and thought you got away with it? 

I've been in these scenarios and most people have. There is something I have got to tell you...something so important the rest of your life depends on you hearing me. GOD IS LIKE A REFINING FIRE! Things happen to us for seemingly no reason. Or we do things we deeply regret but hope that somehow there is no price to pay. There, inside those thoughts, inside those afflictions come the knowledge to help you understand that GOD IS LIKE A REFINING FIRE! We can't hide. You don't even have to believe in God for afflictions to come or for payday on the way for sins committed. God is no respecter of persons no matter how close you are to Him or how far away you try to distance yourself. We would love to blame the devil every time something goes wrong, but what about our sinful human nature that craves to please ourselves? Jesus said that we do battle on three fronts, the world, the flesh, and the devil. Where is your affliction coming from? What is the purpose of that affliction? I have good news for you:

Malachi 2: 17-3:6 You have wearied the LORD with your words. "How have we wearied him?" you ask. By saying, "All who do evil are good in the eyes of the LORD, and he is pleased with them" or "Where is the God of justice?" "See, I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come," says the LORD Almighty. But who can endure the day of his coming? Who can stand when he appears? For he will be like a refiner's fire or a launderer's soap. He will sit as a refiner and purifier of silver; he will purify the Levites and refine them like gold and silver. Then the LORD will have men who will bring offerings in righteousness, and the offerings of Judah and Jerusalem will be acceptable to the LORD, as in days gone by, as in former years. "So I will come near to you for judgment. I will be quick to testify against sorcerers, adulterers and perjurers, against those who defraud laborers of their wages, who oppress the widows and the fatherless, and deprive aliens of justice, but do not fear me," says the LORD Almighty. "I the LORD do not change. So you, O descendants of Jacob, are not destroyed." (NIV)
It does not say in verse 2 that he is like a forest fire, or like an incinerator's fire. It says that he is like a refiner's fire. A forest fire destroys indiscriminately. An incinerator consumes completely. But verse 6 says, "I the LORD do not change; therefore you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed—you are not destroyed."

A Word of Warning and a Word of Hope 
He is a refiner's fire, and that makes all the difference. A refiner's fire does not destroy indiscriminately like a forest fire. A refiner's fire does not consume completely like the fire of an incinerator. A refiner's fire refines. It purifies. It melts down the bar of silver or gold, separates out the impurities that ruin its value, burns them up, and leaves the silver and gold intact. He is like a refiner's fire.

It does say FIRE. And therefore purity and holiness will always be a dreadful thing. There will always be a proper "fear and trembling" in the process of becoming pure. We learn it from the time we are little children: never play with fire! And it's a good lesson! Therefore, Christianity is never a play thing. And the passion for purity is never flippant. He is like fire and fire is serious. You don't fool around with it.

But it does say, he is like a REFINER'S fire. And therefore this is not merely a word of warning, but a tremendous word of hope. The furnace of affliction in the family of God is always for refinement, never for destruction.

Four Questions About This Text 

Now, to unfold this text, let me ask four questions, and point you to their answers in the Scripture in the time we have.

Who is like a refiner's fire?
Why must he be like a refiner's fire?
How can we experience his fire as refining and not consuming?
What is life like in the refiner's fire?
1. Who Is Like a Refiner's Fire?

Verse 3 gives the answer. As I read it, look for three individuals.

Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me, and the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight, behold, he is coming, says the Lord of hosts.
Three Individuals Mentioned

The first individual mentioned is "I"—"Behold, I send . . . " This "I" is identified at the end of the verse: "Says the Lord of hosts." The speaker is Jehovah, God the Father.

The second individual mentioned is Jehovah's messenger who prepares the way. "Behold, I send my messenger to prepare the way before me." Who is this? Well the New Testament quotes this very verse to identify John the Baptist, the one who came to prepare the way for Christ (Matthew 11:10; Mark 1:2; Luke 7:27).

But you don't have to read in from the New Testament that this is a kind of prophet whom God would raise up in the last day. It says in Malachi 4:5, "Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the great and terrible day of the Lord comes." So the first messenger mentioned in 3:1 that God will send to prepare his way is a kind of Elijah or one like Elijah. That is why Luke 1:17 says that John the Baptist went before Jesus in the Spirit and the power of Elijah.

The third individual mentioned in verse 1 is "the Lord who comes to his temple." "And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant in whom you delight."

The Identity of the Third Individual

This is another messenger, different from the first. Who is this person? Three things point to the divine Son of God and Messiah.

He is called "Lord"—a term that Malachi would not apply to Elijah or John the Baptist. This person is someone greater.
The temple is said to belong to him: He will suddenly come to "HIS temple." Of whom could you say that he is the owner of the temple of God?
This person seems to be almost identical with Jehovah, not only because Jehovah's temple is his temple, but also because he seems to take the place of the word "me" in the first half of the verse. It says, "Behold, I send my messenger [Elijah=John the Baptist] to prepare the way before ME . . . " But then he switches without any difficulty and instead of saying, "And I will suddenly come to my temple," he says, "And the Lord whom you seek will suddenly come to his temple." It looks as though "me"—Jehovah—is virtually interchangeable with this other person called the Lord, who owns the temple of God.
So I conclude that the messenger of the covenant, the Lord, the owner of the temple of God, is none other than the Son of God, who is with God and is God, and who came into the world and made himself known to us personally in Jesus Christ.

So when verse 2 goes on to say, "But who can endure the day of his coming, and who can stand when he appears, for he is like a refiner's fire," I conclude that it is talking about the Son of God who came to us in Jesus Christ.

2. Why Must He Be Like a Refiner's Fire?

The answer is implied in the word itself. He must be a like a refiner's because we need to be refined.

We Need to Be Refined

We were created in the image of God with the potential to reverence God and trust him and obey him and glorify him, but we were born in iniquity and in sin did our mothers conceive us. We are shot through with the impurity of rebellion and unbelief, and we fall short of God's glory again and again.

You can prove this to yourself in many ways. For example, you can notice how readily your heart inclines to those things that will show your strengths to other people, and how resistant your heart is to communion with God in solitude.

So we are impure by nature and by practice. But God will have no alloys in heaven. "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." And yet he will have someone in heaven. He will have a redeemed people. His banquet hall will be full. And therefore he must be a refiner's fire. If he were only a forest fire, heaven would be empty. If he were only an incinerating fire, heaven would be empty. And if he were no fire, heaven would be empty.

Why God Won't Abandon Impure People Like Us

But how do we know heaven will not be empty? Or to put it another way, how do we know that God will not simply abandon impure people like us? We don't deserve salvation? Why are we not simply consumed? Why does Christ come as a refiner's fire and not a forest fire?

Verse 6 gives the answer? "For I the Lord do not change; therefore, you, O sons of Jacob, are not consumed." But by itself that doesn't make sense. What if God were changelessly bent on being a forest fire? What if he were changeless in unrelenting wrath? What sort of changelessness is it that guarantees that we are not consumed?

It is covenant-keeping changelessness. According to verse 1 the Lord comes as "the messenger of the covenant." The reason Jesus is a refiner's fire and not a forest fire is because God made a covenant. And Jesus is the emissary of that covenant. He confirms it and seals it with his blood. So his blood is called in Hebrews 13:20, "the blood of the everlasting covenant."

The book of Malachi began with a statement of how the covenant began. "'I have loved you,' says the Lord. But you say, 'How hast thou loved us?' 'Is not Esau Jacob's brother?' says the LORD. 'Yet I have loved Jacob!'" (1:2). This is what never changes—the free and sovereign choice of God to save sinners. "'I have loved you,' says the Lord . . . 'And I the Lord do not change. Therefore you are not consumed.'" Therefore, Jesus is a refiner's fire and not a forest fire.

3. How Can We Experience His Fire as Refining and Not Consuming?

Verse 5 makes it clear that when God comes, not everyone will be refined. Some will be consumed.

Then I will draw near to you for judgment; I will be a swift witness against the sorcerers, against the adulterers, against those who swear falsely, against those who oppress the hireling in his wages, the widow and the orphan, against those who thrust aside the sojourner, and do not fear me, says the LORD of hosts.
This is not the work of refinement, but the final judgment of condemnation. It is ever clearer in 4:1,

For behold, the day comes burning like an oven, when all the arrogant and all evildoers will be stubble; the day that comes shall burn them up, says the LORD of hosts, so that it will leave them neither root nor branch.
So when the Lord comes, some are refined and some are consumed. How can we be sure to experience the fire of God as refining and not consuming?

What the Answer Cannot Be

Notice very clearly what the answer cannot be! The answer cannot be: get rid of your own sin. If you got rid of your own sin, you would need no refining. Refining is for sinners! You can't answer the question, How do I qualify to get refined? by saying, Get rid of your sin! That's what refining does—it starts to burn up your sin? But how, then, does a sinner qualify to have his sin burned up? If it takes the merciful fire of God to destroy the rebellion of sin, what can a man do to have that mercy?

The Answer of the Whole Bible

And the answer of the whole Bible is: trust in the purifying mercy God! Or to put it the way Malachi puts it again and again: fear God—which means mainly fear to dishonor him with unbelief. Fear the irreverence of distrust. Fear the impulse to jump out of the refining fire of mercy into the forest fire of judgment because it looks cooler. Trust the goodness of God. Believe that his ways are the ways to infinite joy. Don't doubt his expertise as a Refiner.

He knows the time for joy, and, truly,
Will send it when He sees it meet;
When He has tried and purged thee duly,
And finds thee free from all deceit.
He comes to thee all unaware,
And makes thee own his loving care.
The way to experience the fire of Christ as refining and not consuming is to trust his promise to bring us through the fire to endless joy. Salvation is by grace through faith in the purifying mercy of God.

4. What Is Life Like in the Refiner's Fire?

The most important thing to say is that it is a life of confidence in God. And the foundation of our confidence is this promise: The furnace of affliction in the family of God is always for refinement, never for destruction. "I the Lord do not change; therefore you are not consumed, O sons of Jacob!" Which simply means that life in the refiner's fire is a life of trust in the unchanging, purifying love of God.

And perhaps the next most important thing to say is that there is no painless path to heaven. Why? Because Jesus said, "Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God." And it is no more possible to become pure painlessly than it is to be burned painlessly. Purity comes through the refining fire. And the fire has two forms: one is the fire of affliction and the other is the fire of intentional self-denial.

The Fire of Affliction

We see the first fire, for example, in

1 Peter 1:6–7, "Now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold, which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ."
James 1:2–4,"Count it all joy, my brethren when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing."
Hebrews 12:5–10, 14, "My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord . . . for the Lord disciplines him whom he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives . . . If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children . . . he disciplines us for our good that we may share his holiness . . . Pursue holiness without which no one will see the Lord."
The Fire of Intentional Self-Denial
And the other form of purifying fire is the fire of intentional self-denial. We see it for example in

Matthew 5:29–30, "If your right eye causes you to sin pluck it out . . . and if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away."
1 Corinthians 9:27, "I pommel my body and subdue it."
Romans 8:13, "If by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body you will live."
Unshakable Trust in God's Purifying Fire
What is life like in the refiner's fire?

More than anything else it is the unshakable trust that all the paths of the Lord are steadfast love and faithfulness.

And on the path to purity and heaven the other truth is this: no pain, no gain.

Both things are true: the Lord is like a refiner's fire; and a refiner's fire is a fire.


Pastor John Piper preached the sermon He Is Like a Refiner's Fire. One of the most powerful sermons I have ever read next to Dwight L Moody's Sinners In The Hands Of An Angry God.  I recommend that people who are going through fiery trials take heed to understand that GOD IS A REFINER'S FIRE, BUT IT IS FOR OUR GOOD NOT OUR DESTRUCTION!

See you next blog,
Ted

Tuesday, July 4, 2017

Sane People Want To Know" Why Isn't Hillary Clinton in Jail?

OK I held off long enough talking about this last election and all the idiocy that has been produced out of it. I have never seen such a divided America, nor such pure hatred for all things conservative from the Left. Not that I care about all the vitriol from them because I have found all their arguments to be in the realm of the ridiculous. However, we have had some substantially hard divisions since the Reagan era. The liberal press has fed most of it. College professors and high schools have fed their lies as well, but now it is even down to the kindergarten level. How do I know that...from kindergarten teachers! Families are divided as well. Many can't even talk to each other without a firestorm erupting. So much of it over a well known FOOL like Hillary Clinton.

At least consider this:

She said a few months ago that she feels safe enough to “come out of the woods,” exactly the time for a Trump administration special prosecutor to launch a broadside.

Mentally strong people don’t need five months to overcome setbacks. Thomas Edison famously said: “I have not failed 10,000 times. … I have succeeded in proving that those 10,000 ways will not work.” Instead of dwelling on setbacks, true leaders are resilient and persistent. Their passion for their mission—or goal—is independent of external circumstances.

Hillary says she’s been licking her wounds in the woods since November. Why can’t she pull herself together?

On the campaign trail, Trump promised supporters he would “lock her up” for what he considered to be criminal activity. He even told Clinton to her face: “If I win, I am going to instruct my attorney general to get a special prosecutor to look into your situation. Because there have never been so many lies, so much deception.” If he were president, he added: “You’d be in jail.”

I realize the Trump and Clinton families have a history of amity, including the public friendship of Trump’s eldest daughter Ivanka and Hillary’s daughter Chelsea. Which may explain why Trump has withdrawn his campaign promise to prosecute her, telling New York Times reporters she already “suffered greatly.”

Hear me out: The most loving act President Trump can do for Clinton is give her the professional and institutional help that will uphold justice—and prevent her from further hurting herself or others. Hillary is professionally dead anyway, but if she really wants to finish her life with some sort of sanity and enjoyment she needs to check in for long term mental care. She has caused a lot of damage to this nation.


Borderline Personality Disorder
Nearly nine in 10 Americans did not find Hillary to be “honest and trustworthy” going into the 2016 presidential election.(  http://www.nbcnews.com/politics/2016-election/poll-clinton-maintains-big-lead-voters-doubt-trump-s-temperament-n631351 ).While we can’t assess Clinton’s mental state, we do know that uncontrollable lying (mythomania) is common among individuals suffering from borderline personality disorder (BPD).

Individuals with BPD may also sustain romantic relationships solely for utility (think Hillary’s choice to cling to an unloving and unfaithful man in order to climb the political ladder). Another BPD trait can be difficulty with interpersonal relationships (think WikiLeaks revelations that Clinton staffers advised her to develop a sense of humor and learn to smile).

President Trump will keep his campaign promise—while still doing right by Chelsea—if he helps Hillary get the mental help she needs in an appropriate establishment. Meanwhile, Clinton will do propitiation for her unlawful deeds that endangered our country’s national security and President Trump will send the message that no one is above the law in America.


The Woman Who Sold 20% of U.S. Uranium to Russia
Ever heard of the Uranium One deal? If not, don’t beat yourself up. It’s not like the media let you know about it.

It’s amazing to see President Trump get pummeled by the press for alleged conversations with Russia about alleged inappropriate topics when we know—for sure—that, as Secretary of State, Clinton brokered a deal on behalf of the Obama administration that released control of at least 20%, and up to 50%, of American uranium production to the Kremlin.( https://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/crime/item/24659-the-clinton-crime-cesspool-will-trump-drain-it )

Wyoming was home to one of Uranium One’s biggest uranium mine holdings. Clinton’s deal, negotiated via the Committee for Foreign Investment in the United States, ensured that Wyoming uranium is now being exported and Uranium One changed from a public company to a private corporation in which Russian President Vladimir Putin’s company ARMZ owns 100% of the stock.

Uranium, when enriched, can be used to create nuclear weapons. It also can be used to power atomic energy plants. No worries.


Inventory Count
Hillary is innocent until proven guilty. That said, President Trump could fill a warehouse with files of evidence on her misdeeds for which he would be warranted in enlisting the aid of a special prosecutor.

Attorney General Jeff Sessions agreed to recuse himself from any Clinton-related probes. But Sessions could appoint someone else to investigate Clinton for these reasons:

Email Scandal: Why did she use a private, non-secure email address and server to send and receive classified information while Secretary of State? Why do WikiLeaks emails indicate that Hillary’s husband, Bill Clinton, colluded with former Attorney General Loretta Lynch on the results of the DOJ’s probe into her private server use when they met on June 29, 2016?

Sept. 11, 2012 Benghazi Terror Attack: Why did Clinton mislead Americans as to the cause of American death? (She blamed an obscure online video, even though virtually no one in Libya—or anywhere in the world—watched the video.) ( https://katiekieffer.com/let-me-be-clear/ ) Why was she unprepared for and unhelpful during the attack? What role may her proposal to smuggle arms to Syrian rebels have had in this attack?


Uranium One: Why did Clinton broker a deal that gave the Kremlin ownership of 20-to-50% of American uranium production, while the ( https://www.thenewamerican.com/usnews/crime/item/24659-the-clinton-crime-cesspool-will-trump-drain-it )Clinton Foundation proportedly profited to the tune of $130 million?

Campaign Crookedness: What was Clinton’s role in fixing the 2016 Democratic presidential nomination in her favor over Sen. Bernie Sanders? Why did she receive help from CNN commentator Donna Brazile on presidential debate questions?

Whitewater: What really happened in the Whitewater scandal? See for yourself. This goes back to all the lies coming out of the Bill Clinton whitehouse during his presidency. ( https://www.judicialwatch.org/press-room/press-releases/judicial-watch-obama-administration-withholds-draft-whitewater-indictment-of-hillary-clinton/ )

And that’s not even a complete list of Hillary’s alleged crimes. Bottom line, President Trump should pursue his campaign promise to investigate Hillary. He may feel she’s suffered greatly, but the American people have suffered far more. Besides, she appears to need serious psychological aid. She will only hurt herself and others by “coming out of the woods” to resume her old ways.

Who knows, Hillary Clinton might look great in orange pantsuits!

See you next blog,
Ted

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