Sunday, January 29, 2012

"It Is Appointed for Men to Die Once"

Hebrews 9:27 makes the solemn, and factual, pronouncement in the title of this post.  An appointment with death awaits everyone; it cannot be escaped, short of interruption by the 2nd coming of the Lord Jesus.  And "after this [death] the judgment."  That can't be avoided, either.  The wise will prepare for the inevitable.

Jesus spent His entire teaching ministry trying to persuade men that, while life on earth is important, the true priority is to prepare for what happens after this earthly life ends.  "Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth...but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven" (Mt. 6:19-20).  But how many people truly have fixed their priorities where they ought to be?

"The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved" (Jer. 8:20). 

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Acts 1:3--"Many Infallible Proofs"

God has never asked us to believe anything without evidence.  Yes, there is an element of trust, but that does not mean a blind leap in the dark, contrary to evidence.  In Acts 1:3, the historian Luke--and that's what he was, an historian who had done his research (Luke 1:3)--affirmed that Jesus being alive after His death was confirmed by "many infallible proofs."  Two thoughts here.

"Many" proofs.  Not just one.  Jesus did not make just one appearance after His resurrection, He made several, and some of them were prolonged interviews.  Enough to convince the honest heart.  More appearances wouldn't convince those who have no intention of believing, regardless of the evidence.

"Infallible proofs."  This translates one Greek word, a form of tekmerion.  It is found only here in the New Testament, but it common in ancient Greek.  It means something that is "surely and plainly known; an indubitable evidence, a proof.  Aristotle, Herodotus the historian, Galen the medical writer, Aeschylus the poet all use this word in the sense of "proof."  Luke is asserting, in no uncertain terms, that there is no doubt that Jesus was raised from the dead, and the evidence infallibly supports it. 

People do not reject Christianity because there is no evidence in support of it.  People reject Christianity for the simple reason that they do not like what it teaches.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Falling Short of the Grace of God

Hebrews 12:15 reads, "looking carefully (diligently, KJV) lest anyone fall short of the grace of God."  The Greek word for "looking diligently" is an interesting one:  episkopountes, from the word episkopos.  Skopos (English word "scope") means "to look"; the "epi" in front of it intesifies it--"looking diligently."  The only other place a form of this word is found is in I Peter 5:2 where elders are to have the "oversight" of the flock--in other words, to watch them carefully.  In Hebrews 12:15, the grammatical form of the verb is a present active participle, the present active indicating something we are always to be doing.

In other words, we are ever to be carefully, diligently watching out lest we fall short of God's grace.

And, as we noted in the previous post on I Peter 1:13, there is obviously something man must do--"look diligently."  Plus, the very idea of "falling short of God's grace" implies action on man's part, because how could we fall short of His grace if there was nothing we could do to obtain it?

One final note:  since the author of the book writes it to Christians, warning them about the possibility of falling short of God's grace, this would elminate any "once saved, always saved" concept from Christian teaching.  Why warn them about something if it could never happen?

The Bible never tells us that getting to heaven is easy, and it is simply because of God's love that He warns us of that fact!

Monday, January 16, 2012

I Peter 1:13--Resting Our Hope

I Peter 1:13--"Rest your hope fully upon the grace that is to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ."  Men are not going to be saved by grace alone.  Indeed, if grace alone were sufficient, all men would be saved, for "the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men" (Titus 2:11).  Faith is required--"without faith it is impossible to please Him" (Heb. 11:6).  But faith alone is insufficient, too, for "even the demons believe" (James 2:19).  No, there is something man must do to please God, and that is called "obedience."  Jesus is "the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him" (Heb. 5:9).  Grace is God's part; faith and obedience are man's.

Yet, when I stand before God in judgment, I will full well know that my obedience has been far short of His glory (Rom. 3:23).  And thus, ultimately, my only hope for eternal salvation is God's mercy.  There will be no boasting on the Day of Judgment.  Just eternal thanksgiving for something we have striven for, earnestly desired, served for...but not earned.