Robb Brunansky

The Proclamation of Thanksgiving

All those who have come to Christ in faith should take time this Thanksgiving to celebrate the victory we have in Christ by verbally recognizing His power in our lives to save and sanctify us. When Thanksgiving comes around, we truly have something to celebrate as Christians, because our God, the God of Israel, has won the victory through Jesus Christ. Shout to the Lord with joy and bless His name. 

As we march toward the Thanksgiving holiday, we are considering Psalm 100, which is appropriate and fitting to study this month. What we see in this text is that the Lord has called us to thanksgiving, to give Him thanks, and to recognize who He is and how He has blessed us. In Psalm 100, there are five principles that are critical for us to understand as we reflect on God’s call in our lives here.
The first principle is the Proclamation of Thanksgiving, as we see in verses one and four of the Psalm.
Readers of this psalm will discover that this point is found in verses 1 and 4, then the next two points are in verses 2 and 4. The last two points then stand alone in verse 3 and verse 5. The reason for this is because this Psalm is structured in such a way that the first and last items in verses 1 through 4 are parallel, the second and sixth items are parallel, the third and fifth items are parallel again, and then the fourth item in verse 3 stands alone. This was a common way to write poetry in the Old Testament, and it was a helpful memorization pattern to learn the Psalms.
So, the first point, which is the proclamation of thanksgiving, is found in verses 1 and 4. Verse 1 reads, “Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.” Verse 4, at the very end states: “bless His name.” These two commands are parallel and signify similar ideas.
The Psalmist begins with a call to shout to the Lord with joy! This word translated ‘shout joyfully’ was a word related to war and battle, and it was often a shout of victory. The Psalmist is exhorting people to celebrate the victory of God over His enemies. What is most fascinating about this verse is the people to whom the Psalmist calls to celebration. Notice he says, “Shout joyfully to the LORD, all the earth.” That last phrase, ‘all the earth,’ is especially noteworthy because it is a call to Jews and Gentiles alike. It is a call to all the nations to come and celebrate the victory of Israel’s God.
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Kept by Jesus Christ

As Christians who have assurance of eternal life, we must be people of strong and biblical convictions. We must know that we are heard by God, liberated from sin, protected from Satan, distinct from the world, and united to Christ. It is my prayer for our churches that, in an unstable world built on shifting sand, we would be people who embrace these immovable convictions built on the rock, the true God, our Lord Jesus Christ.

One of the blessings of being a believer in Jesus Christ is having a certain knowledge of our salvation and eternal destiny. This knowledge, however, must produce certain convictions throughout our Christian life.
We live in a time where people are often weak, wishy-washy, devoid of real convictions, and content to just go with the flow and swim wherever the tide of the world take them. The apostle John rejects all of that in the life of a believer, asserting that if we have eternal life, then we should be strong; we should have convictions; and we should have certainty as a defining mark of our spiritual lives. In 1 John 5, John gives us five convictions that we should manifest as Christians who know that we have eternal life.
The first conviction we should have as believers is that we are heard by God.
Our confidence about our salvation should lead to confidence in our prayers. When we come into the presence of God in prayer – to make requests, to cast our burdens upon Him, to seek His grace and His help in a time of need – we should come with confidence and boldness. This attitude in prayer should be expansive; John tells us we can ask for anything according to God’s will. We have a certain knowledge God hears us because we know that we belong to Him and that He will give us whatever we ask of Him that is according to His will.
The one qualifier is we must ask according to His will, referring to anything revealed in Scripture. If we go through the New Testament, we see hundreds of promises and commands from God we are called to believe and obey – and we should pray that God would strengthen us to believe and obey His Word. The amazing thing is that we can pray all of these things with confidence, knowing God will perform His work in us to answer our prayers.
The second conviction we have as a result of our certainty of salvation is that we are liberated from sin.
If we want to be strong and stand firm in the evil day, then we must be convinced that not only are we saved and have eternal life, but we must also have been liberated from sin. We cannot be the kind of people who, when confronted with sin in their lives, respond, “I can’t help it!” We can help it because we have been born of God. We know we can battle against sin and win because of what God has done for us in Christ.
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The Character of Love

Let’s not just tell people we love them; let’s show people we love them by how we treat them. That’s the character of love. It’s active. It shows itself in behavior. It meets needs. It is selfless, looking out for the other. It is not jealous; it is not angry; it is not rude; it does not keep an account of wrongs; it believes and hopes all things. John’s test is to examine ourselves by this standard and ask ourselves, “If I look at the character of love, is it obvious I am a child of God?” 

The distinguishing mark of a follower of Jesus Christ is love for one another. Love for the people of God is essential for disciples because we cannot be disciples of Jesus Christ without genuine, Christ-like, Spirit-wrought love for His people.
It comes as no surprise that the Apostle John, who recorded the Upper Room Discourse in John 14-16, asserts that one test of true salvation is our love for one another in 1 John 3. John argues that the true children of God are characterized by love for one another, and so this forms the basis for a powerful test of salvation. If we do not love other believers as John describes in this passage, then we very well may be self-deceived about our spiritual condition. But if we see this love, that Christ has commanded, active in our lives, then there is great evidence that we have been born again and have eternal life.
This test concerning love comes right on the heels of John talking about the return of Christ and its impact in our lives. The return of Christ should move us to holiness, obedience, purity, and righteousness. Then John pivots from obedience to love without any warning because he wants us to see that there is an inseparable connection between righteousness and love. Obedience in our lives manifests itself in our relationships with others and characterizes those relationships with love.
We might all testify that the reality of our holiness, the depth of our obedience, is often best viewed as we relate to others in the body of Christ. It is often easy to act in a way that seems holy when we are alone. When our preferences are not challenged, when our desires are not at odds with the desires of others, when our opinions reign supreme, when the only person we discuss what to do with is ourselves – it is much easier to appear holy than when we collide with other people and their preferences, their desires, their opinions, and their decisions. Our sanctification is put to the test in relationship with other Christians. These are the fires that test the mettle of our holiness. And this is why John joins doing what is right with loving the brothers and sisters in Christ.
We need to see what kind of love John has in mind so that we ensure that we are truly loving one another as God commands and as His children will do by the Spirit’s power. To this end, John gives us two examples of love to test ourselves by: one negative and one positive, so that we might know if we are living one another as God commands. The first example is the negative example of Cain. Cain was jealous of Abel, and he was convicted of his own sin. John makes the point that Cain didn’t merely kill his brother, but he murdered a true worshipper of God in a violent rage.
Here are two brothers, and they should love one another – just like those of us in the body are brothers and sisters in Christ, and we should love one another.
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The Stages of Spiritual Maturity: Spiritual Fathers

Where are you today—are you a spiritual child? A spiritual young man? Or a spiritual father? What steps will you take to grow? If you are saved and your sins forgiven, Christian, you are called to grow in your faith, in spiritual maturity, and more into the likeness of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

In 1 John 2:12-14, the apostle John presents three stages of spiritual maturity to help affirm that his readers are saved by the blood of Jesus Christ and to exhort them to grow in their faith. Previously, we’ve looked at the first two stages that John wrote about – spiritual children and young men. Now we come to the final stage of spiritual maturity: Spiritual Fathers, which John describes in verses 13 and 14.
The Spiritual Fathers are those in the church who are the most spiritually mature. (Note that everything previously stated about the markers of spiritual children and young men applies to the Spiritual Fathers as well.) Spiritual Fathers have been forgiven; they know the Father; they are spiritually strong in faith; they know the Word, and they have learned how to find that way of escape when temptation comes along. These spiritually seasoned individuals aren’t perfect, but they understand how to fight the good fight of faith and apply it as a way of life.
We see one trait that is repeated of those who are spiritual fathers: they “know Him who has been from the beginning.” The “Him” John is referring to is Christ. But when John talks about knowing Christ, we must automatically add that if we have the Son, we have the Father; and if we have the Father and the Son, then we also have the Spirit.
The point John is making is that true spiritual maturity settles here: in an intimate, deep knowledge of the true and living God through an abiding relationship with Jesus Christ.
What happens between the stages of being a young man and a father?
At some point as a spiritual young man, you are in the midst of the battle, and you begin to understand the devil’s tactics; you become wiser to his schemes, and you know how to handle God’s word, understand how to employ prayer, put on the armor of God, and deflect the fiery arrows of the devil with the shield of faith. Something begins to become clear to you in a way it hasn’t before!
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Why Did Jesus Die? Propitiation and the Wrath of God

When we sin, we remind ourselves that standing with us before the Father is Jesus Christ. Jesus accomplished a perfect righteousness in our place and died on a cross, bearing the full weight of the wrath of God for us. Our total trust, our total reliance, and our total dependence are not in any notion that we are sinless (because we are not). Our total trust, reliance, and dependence are in the truth that Jesus, through His sacrifice and perfect righteousness, makes us acceptable in the presence of God.

“He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”
1 John 2:2
The word propitiation, as used by the apostle John in 1 John 2, has been the subject of much debate throughout the centuries. The question is this: Does John mean by propitiation that Jesus Christ, through His death on the cross, obtained forgiveness for us, or does John mean that through His death, Jesus not only obtained forgiveness for us but also satisfied the wrath of God against us? How you answer this question will either lead you to the gospel of Jesus Christ and a saving knowledge of God, or to a faulty understanding of who God is and what He requires as payment for our sins.
Some would say that God is not a God of wrath. They would say that God does not demand blood sacrifice to satisfy His wrath against sin and sinners. They claim that God is pure benevolence – a loving God, who would never have this kind of wrath that needed to be satisfied against sin. These people argue that this word means that Christ came and died and brought forgiveness, but that God did not need to have His wrath appeased because a loving God is not angry.
The problem with this view is that the Bible clearly presents God as angry not only with sin itself but also with sinners. In Psalm 2:12, the kings of the earth are enjoined to “Kiss the Son, lest he be angry, and you perish in the way, for his wrath is quickly kindled.” Our God is a God of wrath who becomes angry with sinners and sin – especially the sin of rejecting His Son. This anger toward sinners is just and warranted. It is the just anger of a holy God who rightly exercises wrath against what is truly evil and wicked.
David writes in Psalm 7:11 that God “has indignation every day.” What is it that makes God’s wrath necessary? It is the fact that He is a righteous judge, and the world is full of wicked people. God is not some petulant deity who becomes angry without cause. Our God, as a righteous judge, must exercise wrath against those who are wicked and defy His divine law. If he wasn’t angry at evil, he wouldn’t be righteous.
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The Week after Easter: When Sin and the Resurrection Collide

As believers, we are reminded afresh of the full forgiveness of our sins through the death and resurrection of Christ. The good news of the gospel never gets old to the heart of a redeemed sinner because we never stop needing grace. We know that never-ending grace is ours because of our Savior’s empty tomb.

Sin is not a popular topic to discuss in our world today. Our culture has virtually banished sin out of its vocabulary. Sin has been re-defined, re-labeled, re-directed, and even revered. People who sin are not sinners because nearly everyone is a victim.
The reality, though, is that you can erase sin from a culture, but you can’t erase guilt. There is the sense that all human beings have that we are guilty of doing wrong. We are born into this world having been created in the image of God, and because we live in God’s world as creatures who bear His image, we can never escape the reality of our guilt because of our sin.
What has been so fascinating and so tragic to watch over the past several years is that the more the world has tried to deny the reality of sin, the greater the guilt they feel. We can see the reality of that all around us. Wokeness, social justice, anti-racism, virtue signaling, false religions, vague forms of spirituality, mindfulness, psychology, and more – all attempting to do one thing: erase the guilt we feel over our sins and make us feel like we are good, righteous people. But all of these attempts at self-justification are ultimately futile and useless.
The real tragedy is that they don’t work at the spiritual level. Denying your sins will never erase your sins before a holy and just God. The real problem we have as sinful human beings isn’t that our existential happiness is hindered by sin; it’s that we are destined for an eternity under the wrath of God because of our sin. This is the tragedy of denying your sin; simply wishing it away or pretending your sin is virtue doesn’t deal with the problem of the wrath of God abiding on you. And you know that in your conscience, and you can’t escape it no matter what you do.
It’s into this setting of a world of sinners in need of real forgiveness from God that Mark begins the story of Jesus of Nazareth. Mark tells his readers from the outset that he has good news to share with sinful people about Jesus the Messiah, the Son of God. He ensures we understand at the outset of his Gospel that Jesus has come into this world to defeat Satan by bringing forgiveness to sinners. The miracles, the healings, the casting out of demons are external signs of a spiritual truth, that Jesus has the authority to do the most important thing for us that we need: to forgive our sins. That’s the good news of the gospel that Mark is writing about.
As this Gospel progresses, we learn in Mark 10:45 exactly how Jesus is going to provide forgiveness for our sins. He will do it in the most degrading manner possible, by giving His life for sinners on a cross. There’s one detail, though, that Jesus includes in Mark 10:34 that will vindicate Jesus’ claim that His sacrifice was accepted by God and brought forgiveness to sinners: He would rise again three days later.
Here, we come face to face with the most crucial fact of all: the resurrection of Jesus Christ.
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Incorruptible Love FOR Jesus

I pray that we love Christ so greatly that our souls feel that Christ deserves more love than we have toward him, so we continually cry out to Him to help us love Him more. I pray that we love the Lord Jesus Christ with an incorruptible love.

In the final verse of Ephesians, Paul brings up something he has not mentioned at all previously in the book: the believer’s love for Jesus Christ. Five times he has mentioned Jesus’ love for us, and eight times he describes our love for each other, but he saved this final category for the very end. It is as if everything Paul had written in this incredible letter (and everything God’s grace accomplishes in us) is supposed to lead us to loving Christ. Inevitably and gloriously this is the all-important goal of Christian life. And not just any kind of love: it is an incorruptible love for Christ which marks out a true Christian.
Thomas Vincent began The True Christian’s Love to the Unseen Christ with this:
The life of Christianity consists very much in our love to Christ. Without love to Christ, we are as much without spiritual life as a carcass when the soul is fled from it is without natural life…Without love to Christ, we may have the name of Christians, but we are wholly without the nature.
Where there is no love for Christ, there is no true Christianity.
That’s why this Ephesian church, some 30 years later in the book of Revelation, was threatened by Christ to be destroyed. Although they had all of their doctrine right and were fastidious about kicking out false teachers, they had neglected true love for Christ. The same warning applies to each church that has lost its love for the Savior.
Nevertheless, the goal of the gospel is true love for Christ, incorruptible love for Christ in our hearts. This should be the heart’s desire of every church that seeks to honor and follow the Lord.
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The Grammys and Spiritual Warfare

The enemy is real. He is dangerous. And he wants to destroy you. He is operative in the hearts of the ungodly, and we must realize that everything wrong with everything around us is part of the spiritual war. There are children of light and children of darkness. There are children of God and children of the devil. People are enslaved to sin, or they are enslaved to righteousness. We serve God, or we are held captive by the devil to do the devil’s will.

Many people were rightly shocked and outraged after a music awards show this past Sunday night produced a Satanic-themed performance for attendees and viewers. While these emotions are right, it should come as no surprise to Christians that demon-filled adulation and worship is becoming more mainstream as our world and society grows more wicked by the hour.
If anything, performances such as the one on Sunday night should bring us full circle to the fact that our earthly lives that are defined by what is happening and what has happened in the heavenly places. What happens in this world is but a manifestation of what is happening in an unseen world around us, where spiritual battles are underway for the souls of every human being within every world event around us. No one should be oblivious that there is a spiritual war going on or which side will be victorious in the end.
The Bible exhorts us to walk worthy of our calling, seeking to walk with a renewed mind, in love, in light, in wisdom, and filled with the Holy Spirit. Yet, we are confronted by the stark reality that we have spiritual enemies desperately trying to oppose us, to hinder us, and to destroy us. These spiritual forces of wickedness do not want us to be controlled by the Spirit; they do not want us to walk in light or love; and they do not want us to be a display of God’s wisdom as we live as the unified body of Christ.
Christians must understand the reality of spiritual warfare and its implications for us as believers. Understanding this reality is transformative for how you view everything happening in our world today and all the various people involved.
Here’s the reality: we are all in a spiritual war.
The enemy is real. He is dangerous. And he wants to destroy you. He is operative in the hearts of the ungodly, and we must realize that everything wrong with everything around us is part of the spiritual war.
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