Search:
test

March 15, 2017: Anointing Jesus

Today’s Bible Reading: Deuteronomy 1-3, Psalm 62, Matthew 26:1-16, Romans 9:19-33 Matthew 26:1-16: The movement towards Jesus’ death, betrayal, execution (and then resurrection) now appears inexorable. Once again, Jesus predicts his death (26:1-2). And, indeed, in the background, in the smoke-filled rooms of the religious leaders of the time, there is a plot being hatched to kill Jesus (26:3-4). There is only one hitch: they cannot do it now. They are too afraid of the “people” and their response (26:5). A deed that cannot be done in the light is seldom a good deed. Evil deeds like darkness, hiding. The popular vote is not always a token of moral uplift, and a mass of people can be deceived to go in the wrong direction; but those who fear God will not ultimately fear the occasional reversals that come in the court of popular opinion. We have a different Master, whose love is secure, and whose...

Continue Reading

March 14, 2017: Sheep and Goats

Today’s Bible Reading: Numbers 33-36, Psalm 61, Matthew 25:31-46, Romans 9:1-18 Matthew 25:31-46: This is no doubt one of the scariest passages in the whole Bible, and from the lips of Jesus. It does though first need to be correctly understood before its full weight can be appropriately felt and applied. The critical text to notice is the repeated, first positively and then negatively, statement of Jesus’. “As you did to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me” (25:40). “As you did not do to one of the least of these my brothers, you did not do it to me” (25:45). Behind this is the theology of the church, so well understood by the apostle Paul, that the church is Jesus’ body, and that when we persecute the church we are persecuting Jesus (Acts 9:4—“why are you persecuting me,” when Saul was persecuting the church). In other words, when...

Continue Reading

March 13, 2017: Talents

Today’s Bible Reading: Numbers 31-32, Psalm 60, Matthew 25:14-30, Romans 8:18-30 Matthew 25:14-30: Carrying on with Jesus’ teaching about how to get ready for his return, now is the famous parable of the talents. A “talent” was a monetary unit worth around twenty years' work for a laborer. In very rough contemporary terms, then, if we say a reasonable but not expansive working wage was about $50,000, each unit equates to about $1 million. This is not a small amount of money. They are being given a considerable responsibility. The story unfolds along familiar lines—they are each given responsibility according to their abilities. One receives five talents, another two, and another one. The ones with five and two talents find ways to multiply what they have been given. But the one with one talent instead buries the talent to keep it safe. Why does he bury the talent? Because he is afraid (25:25). While then the other...

Continue Reading

March 12, 2017: Be Ready

Today’s Bible Reading: Numbers 28-30, Psalm 59, Matthew 25:1-13, Romans 8:1-17 Matthew 25:1-13: The Master storyteller takes another story from contemporary life, familiar to his original hearers, and uses it to bring into sharp focus the lesson he has been teaching them. Imagine a wedding. Imagine two sets of bridesmaids. As sometimes happens, the bridegroom is much delayed—so much so, in this instance, that the bridesmaids become drowsy and fall asleep. Suddenly the bridegroom arrives! They all hurry to get ready for the wedding. But only one set of “virgins,” the young ladies attending the wedding, had prepared for the circumstance of the bridegroom being delayed—they had extra oil for their lamp. The other set of bridesmaids had not prepared. When they asked for extra oil from those who had some, they were refused because then there would not be enough to go around. So they have to hurry out and buy some more oil...

Continue Reading

March 11, 2017: Be Found Faithful

Today’s Bible Reading: Numbers 26-27, Psalm 58, Matthew 24:34-51, Romans 7:13-25 Matthew 24:34-51: As Jesus looks ahead to his return, he makes the amazingly strong statement in verse 36, that should forever have prevented anyone from predicting when he was going to return. What does Jesus mean when he says that even the Son does not know the day and hour? Apart from underlining the futility of human prediction—which it surely does—how can it be possible that God the Son has any area of knowledge that is lacking (for part of the definition of God is that he is omniscient)? I will leave the imponderables to the commentaries, but suffice it to say at this point that God the Son as fully God knew all, but here he showed his submission to the Father’s will as an example to us of humility. However you understand the divinity and humanity of the Son, though, both fully God...

Continue Reading

March 10, 2017: Fig Tree

Today’s Bible Reading: Numbers 23-25, Psalm 57, Matthew 24:15-35, Romans 7:1-12 Matthew 24:15-35: These verses have caused considerable head scratching among faithful Bible believers, and it is important that we hold to the teaching here with consistency to avoid shrillness and clear mistakes without love and acceptance of legitimate differences of opinion. The first part of this section most clearly refers to the fall of Jerusalem in AD 70. The Jewish historian Josephus describes these days—a four-year long siege—with particular harshness and devastating impact. The “abomination that causes desolation” (24:15) is a quotation from the Book of Daniel, which may have first been interpreted as referring to the sacrilege of the altar that took place in 168 BC under the Maccabees but (“let the reader understand”) was intended to finally find its fulfillment in the yet more devastating desolation of AD 70. The temple was torn down, starvation, cannibalism, horrors unimaginable. The church historian Eusebius...

Continue Reading

March 9, 2017: Endure and Proclaim

Today’s Bible Reading: Numbers 21-22, Psalm 56, Matthew 24:1-14, Romans 6:15-23 Matthew 24:1-14: Having denounced fake religion, Jesus’ disciples point out to him how impressive the temple buildings were. Perhaps they thought that this at least was a sign of something genuine and honoring to God. Jesus, however, prophesies that—which has come true—that even the temple will be destroyed. He is now our temple, and through him we have access to God, we worship in Spirit and in truth. In the next section, Jesus casts his eye towards the end. The key interpretive grid for these verses (which run all the way to verse 51, and that end with a parable that explains his teaching) is that Jesus again and again insists that no one knows the day or the hour when the end shall come (24:36). We are to watch out then for those who come prophesying say, “Here he is,” or “There he...

Continue Reading

March 8, 2017: True Religion

Today’s Bible Reading: Numbers 18-20, Psalm 55, Matthew 23:25-39, Romans 6:1-14 Matthew 23:25-39: Jesus’ denouncement of pharisaic, fake religion continues. Such fake religion is characterized, next, by a concern for external cleanliness over against internal (23:25-26). Washing, ritual cleaning—all these are ways to cover up the malice within. This, then, has a repercussion and an effect. Such fake religion creates “whitewashed tombs” (23:27), movements and people that look great on the outside, but really are hiding death and decay within. And, finally, fake religion has a rather ironic, if not devastating, tendency (23:29-36). First it kills the prophets. Then it builds tombs to commemorate them. To live in the time of a prophet, and to be pierced by his words, is a distinctly uncomfortable experience. Fake religion gets rid of prophets. It does not want to have God’s Word pierce, but rather silent the prophets—even kill them. However, prophets tend (albeit sometimes after their death)...

Continue Reading

Sola Giveaway

500 years. 5 Solas. One Night Centered on God. As a thank you for signing up to One Night Centered On God, you can be entered in our $100 giveaway to be used toward exhibit books or music (or both!) during the event on March 17th. Here's how it works. 1. Contact your friends, let them know you are going to One Night Centered on God event on March 17th, and ask them if they would like to attend. 2. Let us know you have invited your friends and would like to be entered by emailing us at conferences@godcenteredlife.org and using the subject line "$100 giveaway." 3. That's it. We will notify the $100 giveaway recipient prior to the event with instructions on how to pick up his or her $100 exhibit credit. Tickets and Information The schedule for Sola: One Night Centered on God for Friday, March 17, has now been released. There is a special...

Continue Reading

March 7, 2017: Straining at a Gnat

Today’s Bible Reading: Numbers 15-17, Psalm 54, Matthew 23:13-24, Romans 5:12-21 Matthew 23:13-24: For Jesus to denounce “woe”—both a warning and a declaration of impending judgment—is a serious enough proposition that it would make the bravest quake for fear and only a fool ignore. What was the the result of these woes? Did they repent? Some perhaps did. Many did not. Let us consider carefully the kind of religiosity that Jesus clearly denounces as not only wrongheaded, but woeful. First of all, they shut the kingdom in other people’s faces and won’t enter themselves (23:13). They do not follow Jesus, and they make it very difficult for other people to do so. How many religions are there that not only oppose Jesus, but do everything they can to stop other people from following Jesus! Then, their proselytism is unbounded: they travel over land and sea just to win a single convert (23:15). Proselytism is the zeal...

Continue Reading