Saturday, October 31, 2015

Building Our Own Arks

Heb 11:5  By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and he was not found, because God had taken him. Now before he was taken he was commended as having pleased God.
Heb 11:7  By faith Noah, being warned by God concerning events as yet unseen, in reverent fear constructed an ark for the saving of his household. By this he condemned the world and became an heir of the righteousness that comes by faith.
Jud 1:14  It was also about these that Enoch, the seventh from Adam, prophesied, saying, "Behold, the Lord comes with ten thousands of his holy ones,
Jud 1:15  to execute judgment on all and to convict all the ungodly of all their deeds of ungodliness that they have committed in such an ungodly way, and of all the harsh things that ungodly sinners have spoken against him."
2Pe 2:5  if he did not spare the ancient world, but preserved Noah, a herald of righteousness, with seven others, when he brought a flood upon the world of the ungodly.

We read in the above passages that Enoch and Noah were men of faith and their faith had an effect on how they lived and spoke.  The references in Hebrews speak to their lifestyle while the ones in 2 Peter and Jude speak to the words they proclaimed to the world around them.  So both of these men offer some insight as to what it is to walk with God and live by faith.

Another similarity is that both men’s “preaching” was concerned about the coming judgment of God upon the wicked.  What I find interesting as well is both men lived in light of coming judgment and by this their faith was commended or proven.  While they both are said to have spoken actual words to the lost around them, I think, if we try to make some practical application for ourselves, the preaching that they did and that we are to do isn’t just words but works.

We see this most clearly in Hebrews remarks about Noah in verse 7.  There it says that Noah had been given the word of God of coming judgment, in this case the world wide flood.  It then says that he began to construct the ark; in other words, he lived in light of the Word of God and future events; “yet unseen”, the Bible says.  It goes on to say that “by this” he condemned the world. 

It wasn’t just whatever he might have said to those who wanted to know what he was doing but his very act of constructing the ark was also how he “proclaimed” to the lost that judgment was coming.  Enoch teaches the same lesson as he is described as “walking with God”.  Both men lived in light of God’s revelation to them and their lives condemned those around them who lived only in the here and now. 

I believe in this sense we all have been called to be preachers of righteousness, not just in proclaiming truth but living in light of it.  Too many times our lives end up being an example of “do as I say, not as I do”.  But the Bible never gives Christians that option.  Yes, we will never be as consistent as we would wish; but Paul tells us to walk worthy of our calling, Eph_4:1  I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called.  Actually he exhorts us to do this three times in his epistles. 

I think we all know that in a very real sense it is how we live that says more about our faith than what we say.  While we are to be patient with each other’s sins and faults, we know that the world never will be patient with hypocrisy and they shouldn’t be.  We never have an excuse to live as if there is no coming day in which we will stand before the Lord.  Enoch and Noah were sinners just like we are but walking by faith is to live in a consistent way that shows you believe what God has revealed to us in his Word.  

Can this world see us building our arks?  Can they see us putting together lives that speak of the truth of God’s Word?  This is how our faith is commended as having pleased God like these two great men of faith.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Biblical Math

2Co 8:1  We want you to know, brothers, about the grace of God that has been given among the churches of Macedonia, 2Co 8:2  for in a severe test of affliction, their abundance of joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. 2Co 8:3  For they gave according to their means, as I can testify, and beyond their means, of their own accord. 2Co 8:4  begging us earnestly for the favor of taking part in the relief of the saints--

In normal math when the same numbers are added together they get the same sum every time and if one or both of the numbers change the sum is different.  In biblical math that doesn’t always work.  In the above case the Macedonians were under sever affliction which was resulting in extreme poverty.  But the text tells us these two things along with a third added up in a wealth of generosity.  That might make us shake our heads in confusion unless we are familiar with what the grace of God does in the life of a saint of God.

The normal way of thinking is that I will be generous once all of my needs are taken care of and if I have any disposable income left over I will consider giving it to someone in need.  But this was not how these Macedonians were thinking.  When Paul told them of the physical needs of the church in Jerusalem they begged to be able to help them out when they were perhaps no better off than those in Jerusalem. 

They were poor but they were also full of the joy of the Lord.  They knew that their sins were forgiven and that all things were theirs in Christ and an eternal inheritance awaited them and so whatever they could do to help the Lord’s work and the Lord’s people was of the utmost importance to them.  Knowing that our heavenly Father is taking care of us frees us from undue anxiety for temporal things and allows us to live by faith.  A weak faith will cause us to spend our time questioning God’s provisions for us and complaining and being dissatisfied.  We will hardly look to the needs of others if we think God is not taking care of us.  I think this is at the heart of Jesus’s words, “Seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness and all these things will be added to you.”

They were living in the joy of knowing Christ and so looking outward to be able to minister to others.  So while in the Macedonians persecution plus poverty plus joy added up to love and generosity; biblically the addends can be changed and yet the sum remains the same.  God doesn’t call everyone to suffer poverty yet all Christians are to be generous.  In this case the lack of persecution plus worldly riches plus joy still adds up to love and generosity.  Riches and poverty tend to make us hoarders and selfishness can be seen in those with much and in those with little.  Grace teaches us to turn loose of temporal things for the sake of Christ.

Of course the constant is that Christ has secured all our needs and given us great joy so that as Paul says, Php 4:12  I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need. Php 4:13  I can do all things through him who strengthens me.  He was freed from worry about himself so that he could do whatever God wanted him to do.  It is no accident that he later says, Php 4:19  And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 

It should be our prayer that no matter what the Lord adds or subtracts from our lives, they always add up to the same thing; consistent, loving, God-honoring living.