Thursday, January 2, 2020

Guest Post: Reflections on a Reasonable Faith

A false idea exists in both the world and in the church that faith and reason do not go together when, in fact, one cannot exist without the other. When God called out, “Adam, where art thou?” it was not Adam’s physical location He was asking about but his moral and spiritual relationship with his Creator. As a bumper sticker says, “When you feel far from God, guess who moved?”
We move on to the prodigal son, who demanded to receive his inheritance before the designated time, which would have been after the death of his parents. Instead of investing his inheritance wisely, he spent it all on harlots and wild living. It could be when those he thought were his friends saw that he had exhausted his resources, they deserted him, leaving him destitute, thus showing what kind of “friends” he had accumulated on his downward path to poverty and shame.
God wants to get our attention. “Come now, and let us reason together,” says God to His wayward children. His Word has much to say to us in regard to this exhortation. He wants us to meditate upon it day and night. My earliest memories of my father were of seeing him on his knees with his open Bible. I never had to try to memorize the Bible. I had heard it so many times in our family devotions and had read it so often in my personal study that it became a part of me.
A wedding is coming. It will take place in heaven. As the hymn says, “What a day that will be, when my Jesus I shall see. When He takes me by the hand and leads me through the Promised Land...what a glorious day that will be!” This should be our eager anticipation.
When someone asks, “How soon do you think the Rapture will be?” I often respond, “How soon do you want it to be?” The story is told of a preacher asking his audience, “How many of you want to go to heaven?” All the children raised their hands except one small boy sitting in the front row. When the meeting ended, the preacher sat beside the lad and asked, “Don’t you want to go to heaven?”
“Oh, yes, sir,” he replied.
“But when I asked all those who wanted to go to heaven to raise their hands, you didn’t raise yours.”
“Oh, sir, I thought you meant right now.”
Of course we want to go to heaven, but there is so much we want to do on earth first that we lose our sense of urgency. We are the Bride of Christ. How tragic if we lack the eagerness of anticipation that the bride ought to have as the day of her wedding draws near! On the one hand, we desire to be with Christ. We know that the Lord loves us, but to think of standing before the I AM is awesome beyond belief. May we all look with renewed longing for His promised coming.
It is amazing that God wants to reason with us, His creatures. The Word speaks much of understanding. What does this mean? God may explain why He has done certain things, but He will not consult with us about anything nor debate issues. He does not look to us for advice but delights in our obedience. We are to love God with our whole heart and love our neighbor as ourselves. Jesus said this was the essence of the law and the prophets.
God has no obligation to explain Himself to us. Even so, God says, “Come now, and let us reason together” (Isaiah:1:18). I think this is His way of trying to share His heart with us. I often think of how great God is and marvel that He would desire our fellowship, but such is His heart. With salvation, all things are become new, and that includes the beginning of an intimate relationship as between father and child.
Scripture says, “Wisdom is the principal thing; therefore get wisdom: and with all thy getting get understanding” (Proverbs:4:7). God is not trying to force anything upon us, but he wants us to understand and to delight in the relationship that He desires to have with His children.
Of course, faith is not a leap in the dark  and the hope of a soft landing. We must seek to know where God wants us to go and what His will is for our lives. He wants us to know. He wants us to understand. He does not wish to treat us as slaves but as dearest friends. How astonishing! How glorious! Abraham was called “the friend of God.” Jesus said to His disciples, “Henceforth I call you not servants...but friends” (John:15:15). This is hard to fathom—that we could be God’s friends, and not only His friends but the dearest objects of His heart’s affection.
How well George Matheson expressed this truth, which came, as he said, “like a dayspring on high”:
Oh, Love that will not let me go!
I rest my weary soul on thee;
I give thee back the life I owe,
That in thine ocean depths its flow
May richer, fuller be.
O Light that followest all my way,
I yield my flick-’ring torch to thee;
My heart restores its borrowed ray,
That in thy sunshine’s blaze its day
May brighter, fairer be.
O Joy that seekest me through pain,
I cannot close my heart to thee;
I trace the rainbow through the rain,
And feel the promise is not vain
That morn shall tearless be.
O Cross that liftest up my head,
I dare not ask to fly from thee;
I lay in dust life’s glory dead,
And from the ground there
            blossoms red
Life that shall endless be. Amen.
We are commanded to love the Lord with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength and our neighbor as ourselves. This is not a suggestion from God but a command. Jesus said, “When you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, or your heavenly Father will not forgive you.” That’s hard for us to face, but the language is clear. Jesus goes on to explain that “If ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses” (Matthew:6:15). This is part of what we know as the “Sermon on the Mount.” It pierces our hearts. I remember a long cab ride when I was trying to explain the gospel to the driver. He claimed that he had never sinned. I quoted the same scripture to him and asked him if he had followed this admonition: “Do you love your neighbor as yourself?”
With a short laugh, he said, “I haven’t done that for one second.”
“Well,” I replied, “the words of Christ are clear: if you hold anything against anyone, you must not expect God to forgive you any of your sins.” Of course, without the new life that Christ’s death imparts, such forgiveness was beyond his ability. What was impossible for the cab driver is incumbent upon us as followers of Christ.
This is difficult to face. What we call “The Lord’s Prayer” is really the prayer that Christ gave to His disciples and to us as well. We can address the Almighty God: “Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” (Matthew:6:9-13).
I often think how amazing it is that we could have a personal relationship with God and that He should call us His friends. This is awesome! I often tell God, “We are such pitiful creatures. You are so great. How can we even dare talk to You? You are without beginning or end; You are infinite in power and wisdom, yet You call us Your friends. What gracious condescension! O give me the ability to respond in like manner!”
The psalmist said, “When I consider thy heavens, the work of thy fingers, the moon and the stars, which thou hast ordained; What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? For thou hast made him a little lower than the angels, and hast crowned him with glory and honour. Thou madest him to have dominion over the works of thy hands; thou hast put all things under his feet” (Psalm:8:3-6).
Why should God want us to love Him? What could our love mean to Him? He really doesn’t need anything from us. Father, Son, and Holy Spirit dwelt in perfect harmony, complete in fellowship with one another for all eternity past. There is no question that man was made not only in the image of God but for a unique companionship with Him. That’s too much for us to even begin to understand!
Surely God didn’t need a companion in man. It was a special relationship that He desired. That relationship was lost when man sinned and God could no longer have fellowship with him. We don’t understand this loss, but I believe that every human being feels it. How deeply God himself must have felt that loss!
There is an emptiness in every human heart that only God can fill. God and man were meant to dwell in fellowship—in companionship. The angelic beings who did not follow Lucifer in his fall could never have this relationship with God, for as sinless beings, they could never experience the redeemed sinner’s debt of gratitude. Only man could (Luke:7:47).
The breach between God and man affected the entire universe. Romans 8 says that the whole creation groans in travail, waiting “for the manifestation of the sons of God.” I believe every human being knows that something is wrong with this universe that goes deeper than the headlines about war, murder, rape, robbery, and all of the evils in human society. There is something else behind all of this.
The old writers knew this and tried to express it. Dickens put it into his writings, as did Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, and many others. In contrast, the vast majority of films that Hollywood turns out today are not only repulsively immoral but generally shallow in their expression of what humanness is all about, and fail to reveal the emptiness in man’s heart. Many of our older writers presented the evil of man’s heart and, although they were not Christians, their writings were filled with examples pitting good against evil. That does not come out in the popular novels and movies of today, where God is not honored but often derided. They reflect God’s sad commentary: “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God” (Psalm:14:1; 53:1).
When we present the gospel, we must be prepared to reason. We know that the Word of God is living and powerful, the sword of the Spirit, yet we are given the privilege of sharing it with others. We must share the reasons for believing in God: “Be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear” (1 Peter:3:15). This raises a question. Why would anyone ask us for a “reason”? It presumes that we must have given some occasion to arouse the question—hopefully, the personal witness of our godly life.
We often hesitate to share the gospel because we don’t know how to begin. I think of the illustration my father used. He told of the barber who was shaving a man and raised the open blade above his head and said, “Are you prepared to die?” The man ran out of the barbershop in terror. Obviously, this is not a good opening in presenting the gospel!
I remember a well-dressed, well-coifed, and obviously wealthy woman sitting next to me on a plane. I tried a couple of times to open a conversation, but she remained aloof. I prayed to the Lord, “I have tried twice to find a way to talk with this woman so that I could present the gospel to her. If anything is going to happen, this woman is going to have to open the door.” I was reading Richard Dawkins’s book, The Selfish Gene, and had it in the pocket of the seat in front of me. I pulled it out to read it, and my seat companion looked at it and said, “Who would write a book like that?” That was the opening I was waiting for, and we had a wonderful conversation. She turned out to be a seeking soul.
There are those all around us who are waiting for someone to present the gospel to them. I once sat next to a man who was contemplating suicide. He was certainly ripe for the gospel. If we want to share the Good News with someone, the Lord will open the door. I do not advise trying to force the gospel on anyone. Let the Holy Spirit do His work. We must seek God’s direction if we are to be about His business effectively.
Modern man has no time for God. An old hymn asks, “What will you do with Jesus? Neutral you cannot be. One day your heart will be asking, ‘What will He do with me?’” For all eternity, lost souls will be haunted by the realization that heaven’s door could have been opened to them by the Savior they rejected.
Happily, we can still proclaim that the door remains open and whosoever will may enter in. How much longer this may be the case we cannot tell. While there is still time, every true Christian ought to be alert to eagerly seize every opportunity that presents itself to share the good news of the gospel. It is our Lord’s “reasonable” expectation.

Thursday, December 19, 2019

Guest Post: The God of Prophecy

What does one say to a professed atheist when he demands proof that God exists? One could, of course, challenge him to prove that God doesn't exist—and to prove the preposterous scenario that the universe and even the human brain just happened by chance. In fact, since God is infinite, finite beings could never arrive at an indisputable proof either for or against His existence. Furthermore, "proofs" are really beside the point.
It is impossible to "prove" philosophically one's own existence—but who doubts it? Then why is a philosophical "proof" of God's existence demanded? Who needs "proof" that one's husband or wife or parent or child exists? If God really is, then He should be able to make Himself known. And if He can't do that, then whether He exists or not would be irrelevant to practical concerns.
Of course, the problem may not be that God isn't making Himself known, but that mankind fails to recognize Him when He does so. Even the natural world suggests such a probability. For example, although the entire universe is composed of energy, mankind was for thousands of years unaware of its existence—not because energy didn't manifest itself and its power, but in spite of that fact.
Could it not be the same way with the God who created energy? Surely He would be far more mysterious than anything He made—and thus even more difficult to comprehend. God is not an impersonal force like energy. He must be a personal Being with emotion, intellect and will, or He could not have created us.
The intricately organized universe God made adequately reveals His infinite intelligence and power. But it is something else for God to manifest His love and His will for mankind. To do so, He would have to make Himself known personally in such a way that a finite man would realize beyond a shadow of doubt that the infinite God was revealing Himself. How could He do so?
Suppose God thundered from the sky with an audible voice. How could one be certain that it was God who had spoken? Suppose He made some supernatural display of power. How could it be known that God had done it and that it was not a natural phenomenon? If He came as a man, who would believe that He was God? Yet how could He reveal Himself to mankind without becoming one of us? Suppose God manifested Himself in some transcendent form. How could anyone know that it was God and not some highly evolved extraterrestrial visiting earth? How, indeed! Miracles would not suffice, for skeptics could argue that highly advanced technology seems miraculous to those who don't know how it works.
Of course, each religion claims to offer the revelations of the true god or gods. Yet even in their basic concepts of deity there are sharp contradictions, which can't all be right. Hinduism, for example, embraces multitudes of gods and worships idols that supposedly represent them, since everything is god. By contrast, Islam denounces idol worship and pantheism/polytheism and it claims that its Allah is the only true god. Buddhism, on the other hand, needs no god.
Allah was, in fact, the name of the chief god in the Kaabah, the pagan temple that Muhammad "purged" by destroying the more than 300 idols it contained. Muhammad likely kept the name of this ancient, pagan moon god because it would help to convert idolaters to his new religion if they could be offered something familiar. Yet today's Muslims see no contradiction in this strategy.
The God of the Bible states unequivocally, "[B]efore me there was no God formed, neither shall there be after me. I, even I, am the Lord; and beside me there is no saviour" (Isa:43:10-11). Nor does He simply ignore the gods of other religions. He denounces them all, including Allah, as imposters who actually represent Satan or his demons: "they sacrificed unto devils, not to God" (Deut 32:17); "the things which the Gentiles [non-Jews] sacrifice [to their gods], they sacrifice to devils" (1 Cor:10:20).
It is not kindness, but cynicism and a denial of the meaning of language, to suggest that all religions are the same. It is an affront to Muslims to suggest that Allah is the equivalent of the many gods in Hinduism; or to tell a Christian that his God, who gave His Son to die for our sins, is the same as Allah, of whom it is specifically stated that he has no son. In fact, Christianity stands on one side of a theological chasm, with all other religions on the other side—a chasm that renders any ecumenical union impossible without destroying Christianity itself.
One cannot deny, for example, the irreconcilable conflict between the belief that Christ died for our sins and was resurrected (which is the very heart of Christianity), and the Muslim claim that someone else died in Christ's place. To sweep such differences under an ecumenical rug (as Roman Catholicism is attempting to do) is not kindness but madness. Nor is it possible to reconcile the claim of all non-Christian religions that sin is countered by good works with the Bible's declaration that works can't save, but that only Christ, because He was sinless, could pay the penalty for sin by dying in our place. And of course Christ's claim, "I am the way, the truth and the life: no man cometh unto the Father except by me" (Jn:14:6), is the strongest possible rejection of all other religions as counterfeits.
Jesus Christ stands absolutely alone, without rival, in His perfect, sinless life, His death for our sins, His resurrection. The promise of His second coming is also unique to Christianity and separates it from all of the world's religions by a chasm that cannot be bridged by any ecumenical sleight-of-hand. Muhammad never promised to return, nor did Buddha. Only Christ dared to make this promise. Nor would such a claim by anyone except Christ be given any credence, for the decayed remains of all of the others occupy graves. It is Christ alone who left behind an empty tomb. That undeniable fact is reason enough to accept His claim to Deity and to take seriously His assertion that He would return to this earth in power and glory to execute judgment upon His enemies.
That the Bible, which provides the historical account of the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, is unique for this and many other reasons becomes obvious from even a superficial comparison with all other sacred scriptures. The Hindu scriptures, for example, are obviously mythological. There is no historical evidence that the characters ever existed or that the fantastic tales refer to real events that actually occurred.
The same is true of much that is recorded in other sacred writings, including the Book of Mormon. Not one pin or coin or tiniest shred of evidence of any kind has ever been found to verify that the peoples, much less the events, to which the Book of Mormon refers were real. Not a mountain, river or any piece of topography or geography described in the Book of Mormon has ever been located. In contrast, the world's museums contain vast stores of evidence of all kinds confirming the accuracy of the Bible.
The Bible does not waste its time, as philosophers so foolishly have for centuries, in any attempt to provide some philosophical "proof" for the existence of God. The God to which the Bible bears testimony is capable of communicating with mankind and promises to reveal Himself to all who sincerely desire and seek to know Him. "Ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart" (Jer:29:13), says the Old Testament; and the New echoes the same promise: "He [God] is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him" (Heb:11:6).
In communicating Himself and His will, God provides both subjective and objective evidence. The Bible is full of accounts of God having given tangible "signs" to those who wanted to know Him and His will. To "put out a fleece" is a common expression that is understood worldwide. It comes from Gideon's use of a sheep's fleece as a sign: asking God for dew on the fleece and not on the ground one morning, then dew on the ground but not on the fleece the next (Judg 6:36-40).
God has, in fact, given a "sign" to the entire world for all generations. That sign is the land and people of Israel. God refers to "Israel my glory" (Isa:46:13) and says of her, "in whom I will be glorified" (Isa:49:3). How would this come about? By God's specific dealings with Israel before a watching world, after having prophesied precisely what would happen (2 Chr:7:20). Referring to the rescue of Israel at Armageddon, the subject of many Old Testament prophecies, Ezekiel:38:23 declares, "Thus will I magnify myself, and sanctify myself; and I will be known in the eyes of many nations, and they shall know that I am the Lord."
The Bible declares that the prophecies it provides concerning Israel supply the irrefutable evidence for God's existence—and for the fact that He has a purpose for mankind. History is not merely happenstance. It is going somewhere. There is a plan. Biblical prophecies declare it irrefutably.
Prophecy, which reveals God's plan in advance, is the missing element in all sacred scriptures of the world's religions, because false gods cannot provide it. Prophecy is not to be found in the Koran, the Hindu Vedas, the Bhagavad-Gita, the Book of Mormon, the sayings of Buddha, the writings of Mary Baker Eddy. In contrast, prophecy comprises about 30 percent of the Bible.
Significantly, the God of the Bible identifies Himself as the One who accurately foretells the future and makes certain that it happens as He said it would. In fact, God points to prophecy as the irrefutable evidence of His existence and the authenticity of His Word: "For I am God, and there is none else. ...Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, my counsel shall stand..." (Isa:46:9-10).
There are two major topics of prophecy, both of which must be studied if one is to have any understanding of the Bible: 1) Israel; and 2) the Messiah, who would come to Israel and through her to the world. These two major topics involve specific fulfillments of prophecy that cannot be denied and which prove God's existence.
Exactly as His prophets foretold, because of their sin God scattered His people, Israel, throughout the entire world (Lev:26:33; Deut 4:27; 32:26; 1 Kgs 14:15; Neh:1:8Jer:9:16; 49:32, etc.). Yet, amazingly, they remained an identifiable ethnic and national entity. That is miraculous. Moreover, for 2,500 years since the Babylonian captivity, and for 1,900 years since the Diaspora at the destruction of Jerusalem in a.d.70, in fulfillment of other prophecies, the scattered Jews have been hated and persecuted as Satan has sought to destroy them. Yet they survived—another miracle.
Furthermore, and just as the Bible declared (Jer:30:3,10-11; 31:8-10; Eze:11:17; 28:25, etc., etc.), the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob have been brought back to their own land after all these centuries. Such an incredible event has never happened to any other people and certainly has no natural explanation. The Bible prophecies are so specific and numerous that no one can deny Israel's rebirth as a miracle of God. But that is not all!
The prophets also declared that in the last days Jerusalem would have a special importance for all nations. Not only would this occur during the Millennium when Christ was reigning there on David's throne, but just prior to His return. Zechariah:12:2-3 declares, "Behold, I will make Jerusalem a cup of trembling unto all the people round about....I [will] make Jerusalem a burdensome stone for all people...." God was saying that the eyes of the entire world would be upon Jerusalem for fear of what would occur there.
At the time of this prophecy, about 2,500 years ago, Jerusalem was in ruins and surrounded by desolate desert and swamp. Nothing could have been more ludicrous than to suggest that one day the concerned attention of a modern world of more than 5 billion people would be focused upon this unlikely place. Yet that has been fulfilled precisely as foretold!
Whether atheist or believer, Hindu, Muslim or Jew, all mankind knows that the next world war, when it occurs, will break out over Jerusalem! Israel comprises only one-sixth of 1 percent of the land occupied by the Arabs. Why the great concern today over this tiny piece of arid real estate that lay abandoned for centuries? Yes, Jerusalem is sacred to Catholics, Muslims and Jews. But that doesn't explain why the whole world is concerned with establishing peace in the Middle East. Moreover, neither Catholics nor Muslims existed when these prophecies were made.
The Bible's prophecies concerning the Jews, Jerusalem and Israel are specific, preposterous, and impossible—yet fulfilled. There is no other explanation than that God is the author of the Bible, the Jews are His chosen people, and Israel is their land—and Jesus is the Christ.
In view of this great "sign" that God has given to the world, can anyone honestly be an atheist? Or can anyone deny that Jesus Christ is the only Savior? His advent was prophesied, as well, by the same prophets and is intimately connected to Israel. All that the prophets foretold concerning the coming Messiah was fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth—and the early church used that fact in proclaiming the gospel (Acts:2:22-36). So should we.
Study the biblical prophecies concerning Israel and her Messiah. I give many of them in Whatever Happened to Heaven? and Global Peace and the Rise of Antichrist. We need to get back to prophecy and use it in persuading others to turn to Christ as Paul did (Acts:17:2-3Rom:1:1-5). Yet prophecy is the most neglected biblical topic in the church today. Not so for Bereans!
We will return to this important topic from time to time if the Lord tarries and spares us to do so.
By Dave Hunt

Monday, November 11, 2019

Guest Post: Defeating Death by Dying

Part 2
Tom: You’re listening to Search the Scriptures Daily, a program in which we encourage everyone who desires to know God’s truth to look to God’s Word for all that is essential for salvation and living one’s life in a way that is pleasing to Him.
In this first segment of our program, we’re going through Dave Hunt’s book When Will Jesus Come? Compelling Evidence for the Soon Return of Christ. 
Now, Dave, you titled chapter 6 of your book, “Victory in Defeat.” For some people out there, they’re thinking, Oh, yeah, well, that sounds like you’re putting a positive spin on something that really didn’t turn out as one would expect or hope. But right after that title you quote John:12:24—this is Jesus speaking: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone, but if it die it bringeth forth much fruit.”
Dave: Well, Tom, God pronounced judgment upon man for sin. “The soul that sinneth, it must die.” He told Adam and Eve, “On the day you eat thereof you will surely die.” And God himself cannot just wave a magic wand, He can’t just pat us on the head and say, “Well, try again. Do better next time,” or, “I’ll forgive you this time.” He can’t do it. He cannot violate His own Word. So death was pronounced upon mankind, and the human race has to die. It’s not a matter of the Messiah’s going to come and rescue the Jews from the Roman armies. That’s what they wanted, and they thought. But He’s going to have to pay the penalty for our sins.
Tom: And only He could, Dave, because it’s an infinite penalty, right?
Dave: Exactly, exactly. The wages of sin is death, but we’re already dead in trespasses and sins. There is no human being who could pay that penalty except through the second death, the Lake of Fire, for eternity. But they will never pay it off. But Jesus Christ, who alone had life, He had life to give—nobody else had any life to give—and He gave His life for us. That’s the simple story of the gospel of Jesus Christ. Christ died for our sins, according to the Scriptures. Was buried, rose again the third day according to the Scriptures.
So I often think, Tom, of Satan. He was confused. He probably still is confused. He’s brilliant beyond our imagination, but he doesn’t understand. For example, when it says, “the angels are kept in chains of darkness,” I don’t think it means they’re chained up somewhere. I think it means they cannot understand, and Ephesians 4 talks about their followers having their minds darkened. They cannot understand the gospel because they don’t want to.
So Satan, first of all, he inspires Peter to tell Jesus not to go to the cross. “Be positive, Lord! I know you’re discouraged, but take a positive outlook on it, Lord. You can do it.” When Jesus said, “I’m going to Jerusalem and they will crucify Me,” “Oh,” Peter said, “far be it from you, Lord. You can’t let that happen.” Well, without that there would be no salvation.
Tom: And he’s thinking defeat here. “No, no, let’s not take a defeatist’s attitude! Let’s get after this and be positive!”
Dave: That’s right. Good, positive mental attitude—positive confession, as some people would say in the Christian world. And Jesus said, “Get thee behind me, Satan!” So, it was Satan who inspired Peter like that. He said, “You don’t know the things of God; you’re talking like a man.” We have a lot of that in the church today, borrowing from the church.
And, Tom, you just finished a terrific video on psychology—so-called Christian psychology—and this is what they’ve done. They’ve taken from the world and they’ve tried to integrate godless psychology, atheistic psychology, with the Bible.
But anyway, it’s very clear he was inspired of Satan. But then, Satan later on inspires Judas to get Him crucified. So that tells me Satan doesn’t know. And 1 Corinthians 2, Paul says, “If the princes of this world had known they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.” And I don’t think that’s talking just about the leaders, human leaders, but the powers of darkness as well. So they thought it was defeat. The Pharisees, they’re laughing; they think that they have defeated Christ. “What are you doing on that cross?” they say. “I mean, if you’re the Messiah, come down! Prove it by coming down.” And the thieves say the same. It says, “They cast it in His teeth.”
“If you’re the Christ, if you’re the Messiah, save yourself and us,” and then they mocked Him, the crowd. “He saved others, Himself He cannot save.”
And I probably quoted that poem last week maybe, Tom: “In weakness like defeat….” Did I? I don’t remember, but it would bear quoting again:
“In weakness like defeat,
He won the victor’s crown,
Tread all our foes beneath His feet,
By being trodden down.
He, Satan’s power laid low,
Made sin, He sin ‘oerthrew,
Bowed to the grave, destroyed it so,
And death by dying slew.”
Now, that’s victory in defeat!
Tom: Dave, and it’s so contrary to the way we think. Now, I’m putting myself out here. You know, we want victory, we want the team that we love to win. That’s our mentality, yet what’s amazing about this is, and you point out in your book When Will Jesus Come?, the prophets had laid all of this out. It was there. They should have been able to see this except they were blinded by self, by their own ambitions, and so on.
Dave: Absolutely!
Tom: We’ll get into this religious establishment in a little bit.
Dave: Well, you have a lamb all through—the lamb that Abel offered. It was accepted by God, the lamb. And we’ve talked a lot about this, but you can meditate on it forever. The lamb that God provided in the place of Isaac when they went up that hill together, and Isaac said, “Well, here is the wood and the fire, but where is the lamb?”
And Abraham said, “God will provide Himself a lamb.” I think Jesus must have been referring to that statement when in John 8 he said, “Abraham rejoiced to see my day, and he saw it and was glad.”
So all the way through you’ve got the Passover lamb, you’ve got the sacrificial lamb, and you’ve got Isaiah 53: “He is led as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before its shearers is dumb, so he opened not his mouth.” Now, who would that be referring to? See, the Jews try to say, “Oh, well, that’s about Israel.” No, Israel was not…didn’t die to redeem themselves. But it talks about, “led as a lamb to the slaughter…as a sheep before its shearers is dumb, he opened not his mouth.” That was one of the things that the Rabbis marveled at: “Aren’t you going to give a defense? Don’t you have anything to say in your defense?”
And Jesus “answered not a word,” it says, because He was taking our place, and we had no answer. We are guilty. So, defeat—it seemed like defeat. The two on the road to Emmaus, Christ comes alongside and says, “What’s your problem? Why are you so discouraged?”
“Well, are you a stranger? You don’t know what’s been going on? Why, you know, Jesus of Nazareth, He did miracles, and we were sure He was the Messiah, but I guess He wasn’t. He couldn’t have been, because they killed Him.” So what seemed like defeat was really victory. The victory is Christ willingly giving Himself for us. Wow! Letting men hate Him, mock Him, and crucify Him.
And, Tom, I don’t think Satan understands that to this day. I think Satan is still trying to bait the hook with success, with popularity. And, you know, Tom, this is very important in our own lives. Because Jesus said in John 5 (He’s talking to the Rabbis), “How can you be men of faith, you who receive honor one of another and seek not the honor that comes from God alone?”
So I must be willing to have my colleagues or the people around me think, Well, the guy’s in defeat. I’m not seeking their acclaim. I’m not seeking to please them or to have them applaud me for being victorious, or whatever. We must seek the honor that comes from God, and the keyword there is alone.
“Oh, I would like the honor that comes from God, but I like the honor from men, too.” Jesus said, “You’ve had your reward. If you get honor from men, you have had your reward.” And Jesus said, “I receive not honor from men.”
And, Tom, that’s one of the things that really troubles me in the church. We could begin to name them, and I won’t—I don’t want to embarrass these people—how many of them out there have phony doctorates? When did these guys ever do the probably six years…my oldest son, you know him, he has a PHD in philosophy. He’s a very bright guy, Phi Beta Kappa and very brilliant. I think it took him six years to get that with the dissertation and so forth. And these guys, they are nobody last week, and next week they’re “doctor!” “Doctor this and that….” And, Tom, they want to be—they even demand to be called “doctor.” Jesus said, “Don’t be called Rabbi, Rabbi, Rabbi.”
Tom: Dave, along that line—the antithesis of what you’ve just stated, you know—you mentioned Satan earlier: his whole deal was to, even to the Lord of glory, to have Him bow down and worship him. So…
You also talked about, Does Satan really understand this? and so on.
Dave: I don’t think so.
Tom: When Self is so elevated…you could start with Nebuchadnezzar, for example, exalting himself. And you just…on a radio program the other day, a person who called and asked me about how self-love began, and I started with Friedrich Nietzsche—remember?—chiding Christians for not loving themselves enough, and he went insane!
Dave: Of course, it began with Eve; began with Satan.
Tom: But the point is that pride was there, a self, and blindness is going to follow that so quickly. It’s amazing.
Dave: Well, Tom, let me make it clear to our listening audience: I have nothing to be proud of and everything to be ashamed of. We have nothing but God’s grace that brought us where we are today and allows us to do anything for Him. I love that old hymn:
“Not have I gotten but what I’ve received,
Grace has bestowed it since I have believed.
Boasting excluded, pride I abase,
I’m only a sinner saved by grace.”
And, Tom, there are people, the “positive confession” people—many of them in the charismatic movement—you can hear them on TBN or elsewhere; you can read their books in the Christian book stores: “Oh, to say, ‘I’m a sinner saved by grace…’ No, no, no, you’re not a sinner now! Well, you’ve been cleansed!”
Well, we have been cleansed, but if we’re not sinners saved by grace, if we will not always for all eternity be sinners saved by grace, why does the last chapter in the Bible tell us that God’s throne is also called the Throne of the Lamb? Why will Jesus always appear as the crucified One, a Lamb freshly slain throughout eternity? If that’s not a reminder of who we really are and what it cost Him to redeem us…so we will always be sinners saved by grace. And so it takes a certain amount of “defeatism” (if you want to call it that) to admit I am a sinner, I’m hopeless. There is nothing I can do to earn my salvation—nothing I could do even to please God. The Bible talks about pleasing God, but how do I please Him? By allowing Him to be my life, and not trying to be something for Him.
I love, again, what David said: “What shall I render to God for all his benefits?” What am I going to do, some great thing? “I will take the cup of salvation and call upon the name of the Lord.” I’’ll acknowledge that He is everything that I need and He has done everything that I need, and I will just rest in His victory.
Tom: Dave, this brings us to, in your chapter 6 of When Will Jesus Come?, the religious establishment. Now, there is pride for you! There’s self-righteousness, there’s blindness, because of what they were going to lose—jealousy of Christ and so on.
Dave: You’re speaking of the rabbis, of course, at that time. Wow! And, Tom, it’s pretty much the same today in many places.
Tom: Well, let me quote so our listeners will get an idea of what we’re talking about here. This is in John 11, and I’ll just read verse 47: “Then gathered the chief priests and the Pharisees a council, and said, What do we? for this man doeth many miracles. If we let him thus alone, all men will believe on him: and the Romans shall come and take away both our place and nation.”
Dave: So, Tom, there you have it. They acknowledged that He did miracles, just as Nicodemus did in John 3: “Rabbi, we know that you’re a teacher come from God: for nobody can do the miracles that you do, except God be with him.” So they acknowledge Jesus did miracles. They even acknowledged that He had raised Lazarus from the dead. He had been dead four days. Jesus raised him from the dead, and they said, “We will kill Lazarus along with Jesus.” So maybe it’s beyond blindness. As you’re pointing out, it’s selfishness, it’s pride. Defending…it says, “The Romans will come and take away both our place and our nation.” So they are defending themselves. All they want is—and, Tom, you know, that is so foolish, because…
Now, I’m a few years older than you are, Tom. You’re getting there.
Tom: I know. I’m a little gray here, Dave. I still have my hair though. [Laughs]
Dave: Yeah, you’ve got your hair. I lost mine long ago, I think in my late twenties. But anyway, this life is very short. I’m not going to defend myself, defend my territory, defend my reputation, whatever, for this brief time! All that matters is: What is God going to say? You know, it’s eternity. So you could be very easily deceived into thinking you’ve got to defend yourself now, I’ve got to make my way now, I’ve got to get what I’m going to get now. Well, that’s “Eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow we die.” But don’t forget that what counts is eternity, and we better live for eternity, not for time.
So Jesus, it says of Him in Hebrews 12, “Who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross.” Okay? Horrible to bear, horrible to bear.
Tom, I have a little saying, and even when I’m in the dentist’s chair—and I don’t take Novocain unless it’s going to be really, really bad…
Tom: No root canal?
Dave: No, I take Novocain for a root canal, but you get out of the dentist’s office and you’ve got a fat cheek, you know, and you can’t talk straight. I’d rather get it over with. So it’s horrible what Jesus endured, but it was for the joy set before Him, and I’ll say to myself when the pain is becoming overwhelming in the dentist’s chair, “This too shall pass. This too shall pass.” And you can say that about all of life: “This too shall pass.” No matter how horrible it is, or how wonderful it is! And, you know, the greatest athlete, the guy with all the gold medals who outdid everybody, finally he’s dying and all he has left are faded newspaper clippings. A lot of people don’t even remember him anymore. It’s the new gang now, the new athletes, and so forth, or whatever it is, Tom—the president, past president. So let’s please the Lord.
So it may seem like defeat now. Paul said, “When I am weak, then am I strong,” because Jesus said, “I want you to be weak. My strength is your sufficiency.” And Paul said, “In my weakness, that’s when I’m strong, because then I am not trusting myself but I am trusting the Lord.”
Tom: And again, Dave, that is so contrary to the way we think. You know, this is prophetically—I believe we are in the last days, and I can prove it from 2 Timothy:3:1-2, you know: “Mark my words, in the last days perilous shall come. Men will be lovers of themselves.” This is the “me” generation, and everything that you said is so contrary to our thinking, to the world’s thinking, and so on. It makes it difficult.
Dave: Tom, when I was a boy in school, even from grammar school on up, I was a fighter. I’ve been in more fights than you could count. And the thing that you hate—well, you were on the Judo team—what do you hate? You don’t want to lose! You just do not want to lose. I don’t want somebody to be better than I am in anything, you know. And that’s why we pay these athletes—immoral, most of them. The lives they lead is pitiful. The illegitimate children here and there, and the tragedies that eventually come out of it, drug abuse, and so forth. We’re paying their egos, and they don’t want to lose, and we don’t want our team to lose. Jesus didn’t lose, but from the world’s standpoint it looks like He lost, because the rabbis think they had done away with Him. But He came back three days later, rose from the grave, and if He had not died, if He had not accepted what seemed to be defeat…
Tom: And fulfilled every prophecy that was directed to the Messiah throughout the scriptures.
Dave: God’s judgment. So He submitted to His Father. It says in Philippians 2 that He humbled Himself. Just think of the Lord of glory, and He lets these punks (what are they?) hit Him, mock Him, these Roman soldiers. He could wipe them out with a word. And “He humbled Himself, became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.”
Tom, I’ve been falsely accused quite a number of times, and I can tell you—of this and that—and I can tell you one of the most difficult things: Sit in a room with men who are telling lies about me, and people are believing it. And okay, it’s not going to do any good for me to try to talk back because they are not going to believe a word that I say. So…“Okay, guys…” That’s what you want to say.
I think that’s one of the things I mentioned in Judgment Day!, Tom: Why hasn’t Israel talked back? Why haven’t they done a better job of propaganda? The Palestinians tell such lies. I don’t think it’s because the Jews are so humble. I think it’s they’ve come to the point where, “What is the use? The world is so against us. They will not believe. We tell them the truth; they will not believe us.” The UN does nothing but condemn IsraelIsrael could never get a point across at the UN.
So, Tom, we’re going to wait for God’s judgment. And this is what Jesus did, but He took the penalty for us that looked like defeat, and this was the victory that won our salvation.
Tom: Dave, when we come back to this next week, I want to talk about what the rabbis, the religious establishment, used and thought, “Oh, well, now we’ve got Him!” And that is Jesus’ claim to be God.