Monday, July 16, 2018

God Sanctifies Us! - I Thessalonians 5:23, 24

Sanctification is a big word that describes the mighty work God does in our lives after we have come into His Kingdom. We know our sanctification is part of our Lord’s will for our lives because our Lord requested our heavenly Father sanctify everyone who comes to faith in Him. In Jesus’ “High Priestly Prayer” He interceded in this way: “Sanctify them in the truth: your word is truth.” (John l17:17) I will share three truths about our sanctification in this column.

Our sanctification reflects God’s character. Paul writes, “Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (I Thessalonians 5:23) The writer who comments on this Scripture in The ESL Study Bible says, ‘God initiated the reconciliation of Christians with himself and is now at peace with them.” Our Lord wants us to be at peace with Him and others and to enjoy inner peace. Such peace is something only God can provide; our fallen world has absolutely no way to provide it.

Our sanctification also reflects God’s faithfulness. Paul writes, “He who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it.” (I Thessalonians 5:24) Since our Lord is faithful to accomplish all of His promises our sanctification is secure with Him. Praise God that we can rely on God’s faithfulness; if we had to sanctify ourselves we would utterly fail.

Our sanctification is wholly God’s work. Jesus speaks of God the Father’s standard for perfection in these words: “You therefore must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Matthew 5:48) Paul understood how widely he missed that standard. He writes, “Not that I have already attained this or that I am already perfect but I press on to make it my own because Christ Jesus has made me his own.” (Philippians 3:13) Since Paul understood how far short of perfection dare we hope to be any closer in our own strength? Certainly not!

Jude describes the work of God the Father in our sanctification. He writes, “To those he called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ” (Jude 1) Matthew Henry writes, “Our corruption and pollution are from ourselves, but our sanctification and renovation are from God and his grace.” In addressing the church in Corinth Paul says he is writing “to those sanctified in Christ Jesus.” (I Corinthians 1:2) There is no sanctification apart from Jesus’ death on the cross and His resurrection from the grave. We also rely on the sanctification of the Holy Spirit. Peter describes his readers (“elect exiles of the Dispersion”) as being “in the sanctification of the spirit.” (I Peter l:2) Matthew Henry writes, ‘The purpose of calling or converting men is to bring them to glory and virtue.” When our Lord brings people to glory and virtue He brings glory to God the Father. He and the Holy Spirit are also glorified because they, too, are involved in our salvation and our sanctification.

Praise God the Father that in His love He sent Jesus to die on the cross to become our Savior. Praise Jesus that He was obedient to the Father, even to death on the cross. Praise the Holy Spirit for showing us our need of Jesus Christ. God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit for their further works of grace to accomplish our sanctification.

David Oldfather

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Inseparably Linked

     As we celebrate our Lord and Savior’s birth this month we must keep in mind that He ultimately came to be our Savior. Matthew writes, of Mary, “She will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.” (Matthew 1:21)

     When the angel appeared to the shepherds he told them that a very special birth was going to occur in Bethlehem. If, in fact, any birth can be called “ordinary”, Jesus’ birth certainly was not that. Each birth is a miracle, but when Jesus was born He came for a very specific purpose. When the angel spoke to the shepherds he told them, “For unto you is born this day in the city of David, a Savior, who is Christ the Lord.” (Luke 2:1)

     Jesus came not only to live a sinless life and point people toward faith in God, but He came to die to be the Savior, mankind’s only hope of reconciliation with God. Peter, filled with the Holy Spirit, (see Acts 4:8) testifies why Jesus came in response to religious leaders’ questions. They asked him by what power or in whose name did he heal the crippled man. He responded, “Rulers of the people and elders, if we are being examined today concerning a good deed done to a crippled man, by what means this man has been healed, let it be known to all of you and to all the people of Israel that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom you crucified, whom God raised from the dead—by him this man is standing before you well. This Jesus is the stone that was rejected by you the builders, which has become the cornerstone. And there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved.” (Acts 4:8-12) This verse makes us recognize that Jesus did not come to be a Savior, He came to be our only Savior! Jesus alone can save people from their sins.

     Christmas is inseparably linked to Calvary. Calvary would hold no meaning for us had not the only sinless one been born according to God’s will and plan, destined to die on the cross for everyone who will ever believe in Jesus. Christmas would be meaningless were Jesus an ordinary baby who lived an ordinary life and died without being the only one who could ever be the Savior.

     As we celebrate Christmas, let us also celebrate what Jesus Christ accomplished on Calvary—not only for us, but for everyone will be ever believe in him.

David Oldfather 

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Wisdom vs. Child-like Faith (Matthew 11:25)

We read the words, “Jesus wept” twice in Scripture. John records one of those times, after the death of Lazarus. Jesus asked, “Where have you laid him?” (John 11:34) When they replied, “Come and see, Lord” (v. 34) Jesus wept. (v. 35) Matthew Henry wrote, “Jesus Christ was really and truly man, susceptible of the impressions of joy and grief. Christ gave this proof of his humanity in both senses of the word; that, as a man he could weep, and that as a merciful man before he gave proof of his divinity.” On the other occasion, our Lord wept for Jerusalem. Many people did not know the things that make for peace (Luke 19:41).

   In Matthew11:25 Jesus describes people who reject Him and miss the true peace only He can provide. They were (and still are) “the wise and understanding”. Some of those “wise and understanding” people were religious leaders when He was on Earth. They knew about God, but hated that He challenged their authority and schemed to arrange His crucifixion. They had no idea that the crucifixion has always been central to God’s plan to provide salvation. Today, people in their “wisdom” express doubt that God even exists. If He does, they think they can do quite well without Him. Their “wisdom” blinds them to the Gospel and the life that matters most—eternal life.

   Jesus declares that God has revealed “these things” (the message and activities of the kingdom of heaven) to “little children.” The chief priests and scribes confronted Jesus because children were crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David.” (Matthew 21:15) They asked, “Do you hear what these are saying?” (v. 16) He replied, “Yes, have you never read, ‘Out of the mouths of infants and nursing babies you have prepared praise.” (v. 16) Matthew recorded a conversation between our Lord and His disciples in which they asked, “Who is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?” (Matthew 18: 1) Jesus called a child to stand among them (v. 2) and replied, “I tell you the truth, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven.” (v. 3)

   Little children love to sing praises to God and are open to the Gospel. They lack the “wisdom” that produces and arrogant resistance to the Gospel. They learn to love many Bible personalities and narratives and are drawing toward faith in Jesus Christ.

    Please pray that people who are deceived by worldly wisdom will come to see the truth of the Gospel and embrace it in child-like faith. Remember that our Lord wept over those who lacked the peace He wanted them to have.  We should weep over those who lack the faith God has granted us in His grace and mercy and make the most of every opportunity we have to share the Gospel with them.

David Oldfather

Friday, September 15, 2017

Quick….Slow…Slow (James 1:19)

One of my YMCA trainers sometimes encourages her class to do some arm and leg movements quick, quick slow. Doing the exercise at different speeds allows us to use our muscles in different ways and increase agility. The variety of movements and speeds benefits our bodies in different ways.
James’ words of instruction do not advise us to do certain things quick, quick, quick slow, but to do them quick, slow, slow. Following his God-given instructions will enhance our spiritual lives.
James encourages us to be quick to hear. Having two ears is much more valuable than the better
aesthetic look we would have with only one ear. Having two ears means we wisely spend much more time listening than speaking. It means we should be much more ready to listen than to speak. Each time we pray we should ask ourselves how much time we are spending listening for what our Lord has to say rather than hurrying through requests and rushing off to do other things we “must” do. We should also ask how quick we are to hear what others want to tell us whether that be information, encouragement or constructive criticism.

James also advises us to be slow to speak. Some people will become impatient when we respond slowly and might even take that slowness as a sign of intellectual weakness. But taking time to think about how we will respond helps us avoid hastily spoken words we may immediately regret. We can never take them back, as much as we would like to do so. Taking time to respond may give our Lord time to bring to mind words that will edify, bless or encourage the other person.

James also advises us to be slow to anger. Being slow to anger makes it less likely that we will do or say something angrily that we will immediately regret. Notice that James does not say, “Never be angry.” Think about the day our Lord drove the money changers out of the temple in righteous indignation. Paul writes, “Be angry and do not sin, do not let the sun go down on your anger.” (Ephesians 4:26) From these verses of Scripture, we see there is a time to be angry but it should be brief and for good cause. Some things aren’t worth getting angry about and we may stumble into sin when we do. Other times confrontation in righteous indignation is demanded. Wisdom comes in knowing the difference. Examining being quick to hear, slow to speak and slow to anger will bless others and work to our benefit.

David Oldfather

God Sanctifies Us! - I Thessalonians 5:23, 24

Sanctification is a big word that describes the mighty work God does in our lives after we have come into His Kingdom. We know our sanctific...