Written by Nicholas T. Batzig |
Thursday, December 22, 2022
The Son is the priest who offers Himself without spot to God, and the Father is the priest in giving His eternally beloved Son as a sacrifice for the sin of His people. Jesus has been “given for us” by the Father (Isaiah 9:6) so that we might be reconciled to God.
In his outstanding book Christ Crucified: Understanding the Atonement, Donald Macleod gives an intriguing insight about the priestly role God the Father played in giving His Son up as an atoning sacrifice. He writes,
“[Luke 22:19 and Romans 8:32] point to a priesthood of God the Father, ‘giving’ or ‘giving up’ His only Son. . .What can we say as to the precise nature of the Father’s action at Calvary? The New Testament answer is breathtaking. He acted in the role of priest. Just as Jesus ‘gave’ His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45) so God the Father ‘gave’ His one and only Son; just as Christ ‘delivered up’ Himself as a fragrant offering (Eph. 5:2) so God the Father ‘delivered up’ His own Son (Rom. 8:32).”1
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By Campbell Markham — 12 months ago
Unlike our forebears, people today flounder in a sea of greed, materialism, and waste. Christians included. A bad attitude to money is a constant temptation. We must listen carefully to the words of Jesus in Proverbs on money, and we must also listen to the words of the incarnate Jesus on money: for he knew its power and danger, and had very much to say about it.
When my grandmother sold her 1976 Toyota Corona in 1996, the sun visors and doors were still covered with the protective plastic from the factory. The car’s original green paint was brilliant and immaculate, and it had been serviced within an inch of its life. In fact, when it rained Grandma had to go out with raincoat and umbrella because Grandad didn’t want to risk rusting their beautiful car.
It wasn’t just the car. Grandma only ever owned one electric toaster, a 1948 wedding present. It had flip down doors on either side, and you had to manually turn the bread. She only ever used one carving knife the one her blacksmith grandfather had repurposed, using forge and hammer from a worn-out steel file in the early 1900s.
In her last years, in the blazing Perth summers, she still cooled herself using a damp towel and electric fan, reluctant to waste electricity on her perfectly good split-system air conditioner.
Grandma was born in 1926, and so she lived her girlhood through the Great Depression. Her family had no car or cart, and they traveled by foot or bus. Her father, a school master, supplemented the family table by hunting rabbits. Her mother had to sell her beloved piano to buy food: “We ate the piano,” Grandma would sometimes say. Butter was scarce, and drippings on bread with salt and pepper made a frequent meal. (Dripping was the fat from a cooked roast, collected into used tins.) Grandma, like just about every other Australian in the 1930s, had to live frugally, and she never lost those childhood habits. She treasured and looked after every possession.
How different my life has been. I have had many cars, and I haven’t looked after any of them especially well. Cheap electric appliances come and go. My worn-out clothes are discarded instead of repaired. Every now and then we have to clear uneaten leftovers out of the fridge. If it’s cold, we put on the heater without much thought.
By any standard of history and place, the Australian middle class enjoys spectacular wealth. And with wealth comes wastage, greed, forgetfulness of the poor, pride, a sense of entitlement, and spiritual apathy.
These are not small dangers. And so we turn urgently to God’s word for help and guidance. Here are seven things the book of Proverbs teaches us about poverty and wealth, riches and want.
1. Wealth comes from the Lord.
“The blessing of the LORD brings wealth” (Prov. 10:22). If God is sovereign, if he governs all creation, then both riches and poverty come ultimately from him. Poor and barren Hannah recognized this: “The LORD sends poverty and wealth; he humbles and he exalts” (1 Sam. 2:7; Scripture quotes from NIV version unless otherwise noted). And Moses warned rich Israelites never to forget this:
You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.” But remember the LORD your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth. (Deut. 8:17)
Godliness and riches are linked: “Humility is the fear of the LORD; its wages are riches and honor and life” (Prov. 22:4). Psalm 112 concurs:
Praise the Lord.
Blessed are those who fear the Lord,who find great delight in his commands.
Their children will be mighty in the land;the generation of the upright will be blessed.Wealth and riches are in their houses,and their righteousness endures forever. (Ps. 112:1-3)
In a fallen world, however, the correlation is far from robust. The godly can be destitute (like Hannah, Job in his trials, Elijah, and Mary), and the godless can be rich (like Pharaoh, Nabal, Darius, and the glutton who pretended Lazarus didn’t exist). The rich should not presume that God smiles on them, nor should the poor assume that he frowns on them.
2. The Lord normally bestows wealth by hard work, frugality, and saving.
“Dishonest money dwindles away, but he who gathers money little by little makes it grow” (Prov. 13:11). “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty” (Prov. 14:23). “The plans of the diligent lead to profit as surely as haste leads to poverty” (Prov. 21:5).
And so indolent epicureans tend to impoverish themselves: “He who loves pleasure will become poor; whoever loves wine and oil will never be rich” (Prov. 21:17). “He who works his land will have abundant food, but the one who chases fantasies will have his fill of poverty” (Prov. 28:19).
Some will inherit the benefits of the hard work, frugality, and saving of others. “Houses and wealth are inherited from parents” (Prov. 19:14a). The godly will want this for their children: “A good man leaves an inheritance for his children’s children, but a sinner’s wealth is stored up for the righteous” (Prov. 13:22). A patrimony does not however come without its dangers: “An inheritance quickly gained at the beginning will not be blessed at the end” (Prov. 20:21).
3. Greed is evil.
Gordon Gecko, the fictional Wall Street swindler, urged that “greed is good.” Scripture urges instead that greed is godless. The greedy fall easy prey to “get rich by corruption, stinginess, and bribery” schemes: “A greedy man brings trouble to his family, but he who hates bribes will live” (Prov. 15:27).
By Daniel DeWitt — 8 months ago
He pointed them to to the rooms off the hallway, what he described as various denominations. This is because as believers study their Bibles they will develop convictions that move them beyond the minimal commitments of basic Christianity. The rooms represent different layers of shared beliefs that culminate in the kinds of nuances that distinguish Pentecostals from Presbyterians, and Lutherans from Baptists.
C.S. Lewis has led generations through the wardrobe and into the magical land of talking Fauns, lampposts, and the benevolent lion. But Lewis led just as many—likely more—into a far more powerful place, a hallway. Yet Lewis made it clear, he didn’t desire for any of us to stay there.
This is what C.S. Lewis had in mind when he talked about the hallway in his influential work Mere Christianity. The hallway represents the entry point into the Christian faith. The hallway can be well summarized by historic Christian statements, like the Apostle’s Creed. The hallway represents those basic things every Christian must believe, those unifying and foundational truths at the heart of Christian faith.
As great as this hallway is, however, Lewis didn’t want people to stay there. He pointed them to to the rooms off the hallway, what he described as various denominations. This is because as believers study their Bibles they will develop convictions that move them beyond the minimal commitments of basic Christianity.
By Guy Richard — 1 year ago
God’s timing is not ours. For another thing, God promises to answer our prayers by at least giving us “Spiritual good things” in response. And if God answers our prayers, then we no longer have any reason to give up praying on account of unanswered prayer, because there is basically no such reality for Christians. God works every time Christians pray!
Not long ago, a man came up to me after a sermon I preached on prayer to tell me that he was no longer interested in praying. His wife had died a few years earlier, and, in the months leading up to her death, he had prayed earnestly for the Lord to spare her life. But God had not answered, and his wife died. His question to me on that Sunday morning was, “Why should Christians pray if God doesn’t answer our prayers?”
This question is one that should be very familiar to us all. We have no doubt all had experiences just like the one this bereaved young man had. We may not have lost a spouse, like he did, but we have certainly prayed and had those prayers seemingly go unanswered. This young man’s question is one that all of us have wrestled with, at least to some degree: “Why should we pray if God doesn’t answer prayer?”
I want to suggest that Luke 11—among other places in the Bible—teaches us that God does, in fact, answer prayer. Isn’t that the obvious take away from Jesus’s words in verses 9 and 10? In verse 9, for instance, Jesus says: “And I tell you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” It is interesting to me that Jesus doesn’t say “might” here but “will.” The one who asks willreceive; the one who seeks will find; and the one who knocks will have the door opened. And then—as if that wasn’t clear enough—Jesus follows with verse 10 to drive the point home even further: “everyone who asks receives,” everyone “who seeks finds,” and to everyone “who knocks it will be opened.”
But how can Jesus actually be saying this? Doesn’t He realize that God doesn’t always answer everyone who asks, seeks, and knocks? What about the person who asks for $1 million? Surely Jesus doesn’t mean to suggest that this person will always “receive” $1 million. As the only perfect theologian ever to walk the face of the earth, Jesus no doubt knows what James would later tell us explicitly, namely, that we can’t “ask wrongly, to spend it on our passions,” and expect that we will always receive what we ask for (James 4:3). Jesus no doubt knows that; and, yet, I find it fascinating that He doesn’t feel the need to say everything He knows here in Luke 11. He has no trouble leaving His statements about prayer unqualified and giving the impression, at least in these verses, that God always answers every prayer we make by giving us exactly what we ask for. Why would Jesus do this?
I think Jesus is responding to our question, “Why should we pray if God doesn’t answer prayer?” He is responding to it by saying, “God does answer prayer.” He answers every prayer we make—because everyone who asks receives; everyone who seeks finds; and to everyone who knocks, the door will be opened. But Jesus is quick to explain that while God answers every prayer we make, He doesn’t necessarily do so on our timetable or by giving us exactly what we ask for. This is what Jesus spends the rest of His time unpacking in Luke 11, as we will see.
The first thing Jesus wants us to understand in what remains of Luke 11 is that God doesn’t always answer prayer on our timetable.