Our Invitation to Rest

“Come to me, who all heavy burdened and I will give you rest” -Matthew 11:28

As we come to realize, we are indeed weary and heavy laden people. The spiritual poverty is real. The desolation of the soul exists worldwide. Many methods have undertaken to ease the restlessness.  The end result? More restlessness! You know because you tried it all. I know I did. I can have a successful career, house, wife, kids, friends, be well liked by all, even be honored in death yet never finding that rest in life. You want to know why? Neither you or I can give ourselves rest because we are not the source of rest. Only Jesus Christ.

For the unbeliever, they want nothing to do with God. They hate him and try to shut out those who try to share the Gospel with them. Or perhaps, they have questions about Him. Either way, Christ calls them to partake in His rest by coming to know Him. For the believer, they recognize that this journey is difficult. Many things plague their lives: persecution, hardships, temptations, complacency, and so forth. Moreover, they feel like God is not pleased with them. Even though Christ is acknowledged as Lord and Savior, He is viewed as someone with their arms crossed. Let me tell you something, His arms aren’t crossed, they are wide open for He bids all to come rest. May Christ reassure them in His rest that they are His children, His bride, His church, His elect and His remnant!

O what a comfort it is to all who are weary and heavy laden! This ain’t for those who think they are “just fine” on their own. Yet Christ calls them too for ultimately they are without true rest. As famously said by Augustine,  ‘Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our heart is restless until it finds its rest in thee.’ Until that is recognized, the restlessness remains. For only Christ can bring rest for He is our rest! Won’t you rest in Him today?

Truth or Territory- A Biblical Approach to Spiritual Warfare By Jim Osman (Book Review)

Spiritual warfare is often a hot topic in the church today. This book addresses two views on spiritual warfare: Truth (Scripture) or Territory (beyond Scripture), hence the title. Deliverance ministries are all the rage these days. With the latest strategies, methodologies, and revelations, non-discerning people are sure to be swept off their feet. Yet these preachers say “thus saith the Lord” to come off as legit. If you attempting to challenge or refute the message, you are labeled a religious spirit or heretic (how ironic). Not this book! This addresses spiritual warfare as a “battle for truth”.

What I enjoyed about the book is how it stays true to God’s Word. True spiritual warfare focuses on Christ; not trying to talk to Satan or his demons as deliverance ministries would tell you. Additionally, many proof texts in the spiritual warfare movement are refuted with its biblical context. What I would like to see is how demon possession is dealt in real life, not involving deliverance ministries. The solution is preaching the Gospel of course, but I have yet to see that with my own two eyes. What if you are walking down the street and someone who is demon possessed approaches you? What are you going to do? What if nothing works? Nevertheless, spiritual warfare is a hot topic that is a battle for the truth. Not only does this book succeed in defining it but also offering thorough explanations. It is worth reading and re-reading. I give this book a solid 5 stars.

There’s a playlist on Youtube in which Jim Osman and Justian Peters discuss more on the book. Check it out!

Notable Quotes

“Spiritual warfare is the most widely misunderstood subject in modern evangelicalism. When most Christians hear or read the words “spiritual warfare,” they envision some sort of mystical hand-to-hand combat that is waged with demons by certain types of prayers, mantras, incantations, or practices such as binding Satan, praying a hedge of thorns, exorcisms, or rebuking demons in an attempt to take territory from Satan and claim it for Christ.”

“We are at war over truth! Spiritual warfare is a truth war. We fight lies by advancing truth. When truth advances, God is glorified and the forces of darkness suffer defeat.”

“The gospel and the Word of God are the means of waging true spiritual warfare. Once we understand that true spiritual warfare is a war over the truth, then we are left with little doubt as to the identity of our weapon. It is the gospel of truth contained in the Word of Truth.”

“Ironically, while the modern church seems preoccupied with battling demons, it has developed complete apathy toward the truth. The modern church’s reckless disregard for truth has handicapped its ability to wage real spiritual warfare. The church has laid aside its one God-given weapon in favor of fleshly man-made weapons which can never tear down the mental fortresses in which men are held captive.”

 

 

 

Our Shining Savior

“The Light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it” John 1:5

Happy Monday everyone! Today I will announce that I will write devotionals every Monday! What better way to start the week with a brief devotional to get your minds upon the things of God. Today I want to share a verse that speaks so powerfully to me and it is found in John’s prologue in chapter 1. What better way to begin John’s Gospel by exalting Christ!

Jesus Christ is the light of the world (John 8:12). It is the light that has come from God and is God Himself (John 1:1). He is the eternal logos of God. Thus Christ is our Present Light who is always shining. The verb “shines” is present tense so there is no end. There is never a break or hiatus. There is never a substitute or replacement. Jesus Christ is our ever shining light. Like a lighthouse leading boats to shore, so Christ leads us to Him amidst the fog of darkness. Christ shines as our present light. Anytime. Anywhere!

He is also our Permeating Light. “In Him was life and the life was the light of men”  (John 1:4). O how our lives were consumed by darkness. So much so that it was our light. We couldn’t see outside of it, only in it. Yet the light of Christ comes bringing to light of our sinfulness, depravity and rebellion. And only through the Gospel can the light of Christ comes through. It won’t be through self-realization, epiphanies, or resolutions. How can we since we won’t? The depraved sinner chooses to be cloaked in darkness , yet Christ exposes the darkness with His light so that He “takes us out of the kingdom of darkness into His marvelous light” (1 Peter 2:9).

Lastly, He is our Persistent Light. As long as we live in this fallen world, darkness is always present. Yet it can never prove superior to Christ our Light. Thus it can never be snuffed out nor extinguished. Thus we can hold fast to Christ for He always shines bright no matter how dark it is! Amidst the pressing darkness, Christ is our persistent light and the darkness cannot overcome it.

Theology Matters 6: Biblical Theology

As we learn the Bible, we learn it’s progression as the unfolding story of redemption. Consider the puzzle as it is comprised of many pieces. Each piece is different, not displaying the full puzzle on it’s own. It may give an idea, but a relatively small one at that. It is vague at best. However, it gradually makes sense when the pieces come together. Upon completion, it is a beautiful masterpiece!

How much more do we see that when Scripture is seen in its fullest ? Every story and every book in the Bible shows continuity and progression. Covenants are unfolded, laws are given, promises are offered, and each points to something greater. Or better yet, Someone Greater. In today’s post, I want to discuss biblical theology and what it entails.

In consideration of biblical of theology, it is imperative to see that Christ is the full picture of Scripture. Christ is the tapestry in which all the puzzle pieces come together. Consider His Words to the Pharisees, “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness about me” (John 5:39).  You can read Scripture all you want, but without Christ as the goal , then you’ve missed the point. You can’t read Scripture without Christ, you can’t know Christ apart from Scripture, lest you make misconceptions.

Christ is the focal point binds Old and New Testament together. Although there is a 400 year gap between both Testaments, The Bible maintains the continuity of God’s redemptive work. For instance, there are foreshadows and typologies that point to Christ before His primary advent. Even in the fall’s aftermath, God promised a “seed” that will crush the Serpent’s head (Gen. 3:15). Or how Christ would be the suffering servant in Isaiah 53? Or how post-Resurrection we see what Jesus does to verify Himself, “and beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, He explained to them what was written in all the Scriptures about Himself “(Luke 24:27) .Although there are concepts and precepts, one must always ask- “how does it point to Christ?” He is ultimate hermeneutic.

In understanding biblical theology, one can see that Scripture interprets Scripture. Why do you think we have concordances and cross-references? Scripture is a vast treasure through and through, from Genesis to Revelation and biblical theology is Scripture’s snapshot. It works hand in hand with systematic theology despite their distinct roles. Systematic looks at doctrinal matters, while biblical theology looks at progressive revelation in the Bible. One looks at the progression (Biblical theology), while the other looks at the finished work (systematic theology).  Therefore, both are necessary to know and grow in our theological pursuit.

Next time, the importance of Christian history will be discussion in continuation of the theology matters series. You can read all my posts in the series here.

Additional Resources

https://www.gotquestions.org/biblical-theology.html

https://www.crossway.org/articles/3-ways-to-define-biblical-theology/

https://www.ligonier.org/learn/devotionals/need-for-biblical-theology/

 

Let Nothing Hold You Back

“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,  looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.” – Hebrews 12:1-2

How often are we as Christians bound by something. Be it addiction or distractions, such deterrence hinder us from thorough fellowship with Jesus. But my friends, we must let go. We are in this race in which the saints of old and countless others before us have completed. We are in this race in which Jesus Christ has completed with a perfect record that none before or ever will surpass. And now we are in this race in which we must complete. But as I just mentioned, Jesus set this path before all of His people, His holy church, to partake and complete. No dropouts lest you be disqualified from the Kingdom.

Although we run, there are many pitfalls, detours, and deviations to knock us out of the race. Moreover, there are things in we carry that attempt to hold us down. Sin my friends, is the ultimate deterrence as it keeps us from fellowship with God. But thanks be to our Lord Jesus Christ sets us free from our shackles and calls us to run towards Him.

Therefore, look to Him! Run to Him! Don’t look at yourself. Let go of what holds you down so that you would grow in fellowship with Christ. This is a race and a pursuit in which it is worth it all to leave all things behind. Count it all as lost, so that Christ would be gain! (Philippians 3:8) Decrease that He may increase! (John 3:30) As we run the race, so we spur one another to keep running! No competition here, just coherence. Let us point each other to Christ. And let us also, invite others to know Christ so that they may run the race.

Let us all continue to look unto Christ in which gives us endurance in running the race and perfects our faith. Let us therefore, cast away that which clings onto us. Friend, let nothing hold you back. Let it die. For it deserves no privilege in the life of a child of God. He has died to see you free, so why live bound in chains? Take no detours in the race for they will keep you there. Take no shortcuts as they are mere illusions. In this race, looking unto Jesus is the way to go. Onward!

Theology Matters 5: Systematic Theology

As  we continue in this wonderful series on Theology Matters, today I want to discuss systematic theology and its importance to the church. Normally, systematic theology is reserved for seminaries, when it applies to all Christians.

What is systematic theology? It is looking at the different doctrines of the Bible. It is systematic in the sense in while we categorize teach one. It is not to diminish what Scripture says, but to maximize what Scripture teaches on a given topic how it is used throughout the Bible. For instance, my first post discusses the attributes of God in which all is taught in Scripture. It is not limited to just a passage, chapter or book, but all of the Bible is taken into account.

And since it is all found in Scripture, systematic theology displays continuity. It doesn’t get any better than that. The Bible is ultimately a reliable source within itself. No secondary sources needed. No having to add to the Bible as if there was something missing. Likewise, there is nothing having to subtract from the Bible as if there was something unfitting.  It stands the test of time and eternity!

Therefore, all of God’s people can seek to know God more through the Scriptures in all generations. Additionally other doctrines such as the doctrine of Jesus Christ, the Holy Spirit, man, sin, heaven, hell, church, Scripture, spiritual gifts, the last days (eschatology). The list can go on and on but here are several so that we grow in our understanding. This is more than being informed but being transformed through what we’ve learned. Furthermore, not only do we grow spiritually but we grow in appreciation of who God is; not what we make Him out to be. That also applies to other doctrines in Scripture.

In short, systemic theology ends misconceptions with clarification. And that is something that Christians need as many come in from the world with misconceptions and skepticism. However, that also applies within Christians themselves with their Christian cliches and buzzwords, completely distortion the truth for convenience. The beauty of it all is that it is all found in Scripture. Pray that God would help us in growing in our understanding !

Additional resources

https://www.gotquestions.org/systematic-theology.html

Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

Systematic Theology by Louis Berkhof

 

Theology Matters 4: Holy Spirit

More than a force, but a Person

Ah the Holy Spirit, otherwise known as the third Person in the Trinity. He is first seen “hovering over the waters” (Gen. 1:2), as well as partaking in the creation of man (Gen 1:26-28). He likewise is seen all throughout the OT in prophets, priests and kings. Also seen in judges, and some of temple builders. He is likewise in the promise of the New Covenant, as He will pay an important role as the Comforter. He is likewise promised through Jesus Christ prior to His death and resurrection (Gen. 16:7). After Christ’s ascension, we see the Holy Spirit poured out to all who belong to God (see Acts 2). He continues His work this very day.

Functions in the life of a Believer

Oftentimes, we see many bizarre practices that are attributed to the Holy Spirit. But biblically speaking, it is completely different. This is not to deny the power, but to clarify the function. First and foremost, it gives evidence that one belongs to God. Otherwise you’re not a true believer. This indwelling of the Holy Spirit is part of regeneration. A vessel once used for unrighteousness, is now a temple for God’s Spirit to dwell, and to transform a soul from the inside out. From a heart of stone to a heart of flesh. Friend, if there’s such practices without transformation, have nothing to do with it. It is nothing more than a spiritual high but no change. It wears off like a drug until the next fix. Likewise, emotionalism can be deceptive of transformation. Not to deny we have God-given emotions, but emotions alone do not entail transformation. Likewise, we can say that the outflow of transformation is emotion. In short, no Holy Spirit, no transformation. No other “experience” can do this.

Regeneration is a monergistic work of God, meaning it is a solo act. Only God can do it, not us! However, sanctification is synergistic where God and us take part in which both grow. This is a lifelong process until the next state which is glorification in which we will have new bodies which will be sinless.

As we walk in sanctification, the Holy Spirit teaches and brings to remembrance all the things Christ has shared (John 14:26) , and convicts the world in sin, righteousness and judgment (John 16:8). And for those who are believers, it confirms that they’re a child of God (Rom. 8:14, 16), that they are sealed for eternity (Eph. 1:13), and spiritual fruit is expected throughout the course of one’s life. (Gal. 5:22-23).

 

Been away for a while, but hope to finish up this series. Check out here for all posts on the theology matters series