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Month: May 2011

The Unparalleled Cross

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“And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:8
People sometimes read the account of Jesus’ crucifixion as if it is an ancient event that does not pertain to them. Yet the Scriptures make it plain that everyone – Jews and Gentiles – must reckon with the crucified Christ and what His death on the cross means for them personally. One may not remain neutral in Calvary’s shadow. The Lord Jesus’ death on the cross sets Christianity apart from all other belief systems, and reveals the truth about everyone: ancient or modern; rich or poor; educated or illiterate – as well as every other human demographic.
A Unique Event In The Annals Of Human History
No humanly devised philosophy or religion could invent the Lord Jesus’ unparalleled sacrifice on the cross. Numerous belief systems have martyrs like Socrates or Joseph Smith; others have noted prophets and teachers like Gautama Buddha or Muhammed. Yet only biblical Christianity has the propitiatory offering of Christ, taking place on a despised gibbet of shame. As the classic commentator J.C. Ryle notes:
The cross is the grand peculiarity of the Christian religion. Other religions have laws and moral precepts, forms and ceremonies, rewards and punishments. But other religions cannot tell us of a dying Saviour. They cannot show us the cross. This is the crown and glory of the Gospel. This is that special comfort which belongs to it alone. Miserable indeed is that religious teaching which calls itself Christian, and yet contains nothing of the cross. A man who teaches in this way, might as well profess to explain the solar system, and yet tell his hearers nothing about the sun.

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Timeless Truth From CHM

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“In studying the history of Josiah and his times, we learn one special and priceless lesson, namely, the value and authority of the Word of God. It would be utterly impossible for human language to set forth the vast importance of such a lesson — a lesson for every age, for every clime, for every condition — for the individual believer and for the whole Church of God. The supreme authority of Holy Scripture should be deeply impressed on every heart. It is the only safeguard against the many forms of error and evil which abound on every hand. Human writings, no doubt, have their value; they may interest the mind as a reference, but they are perfectly worthless as authority.

We need to remember this. There is a strong tendency in the human mind to lean upon human authority. Hence it has come to pass that millions throughout the professing Church have virtually been deprived altogether of the Word of God, from the fact that they have lived and died under the delusion that they could not know it to be the Word of God apart from human authority. Now this is in reality, throwing the Word of God overboard. If that Word is of no avail without man’s authority, then, we maintain, it is not God’s Word at all. It does not matter, in the smallest degree, what the authority is, the effect is the same. God’s Word is declared to be insufficient without something of man to give the certainty that it is God that is speaking.

This is a most dangerous error, and its root lies far deeper in the heart than many of us are aware. It has often been said to us, when quoting passages of Scripture, ‘How do you know that that is the Word of God?’ What is the point of such a question? Plainly to overthrow the authority of the Word. The heart that could suggest such an inquiry does not want to be governed by Holy Scripture at all. The will is concerned. Here lies the deep secret. There is the consciousness that the Word condemns something that the heart wants to hold and cherish, and hence the effort to set the Word aside altogether.
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Providence, Human Caprice, & The Gospel’s Progress

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But after two years Porcius Festus succeeded Felix; and Felix, wanting to do the Jews a favor, left Paul bound. Acts 24:27
The seemingly haphazard and unfair events of the world often puzzle and frustrate human beings. Consider Paul’s plight: he was in prison on spurious charges of trying to incite a riot in the Jerusalem Temple and desecrating his ancestral traditions. Like his Lord, he was erroneously accused of being a threat to the state (cf. Luke 23:2, 5; Acts 21:28.) As the counsel for the plaintiff later put it: “…we have found this man a plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. He even tried to profane the temple, and we seized him, and wanted to judge him according to our law” (Acts 24:5-6.) Sadly, Paul’s experience was neither unprecedented nor rare among believers. From the first century onwards Christians have often been tagged with baseless accusations of political intrigue, ludicrous immorality (e.g. Cannibalism), and unfettered antinomianism (Rom. 6:1-2.)
Politics As Usual
While suffering this great injustice, Paul could have been freed at several points (most notably, Acts 26:32.) In the text that commences this article the unfairness of the apostle’s position is clearly displayed. His unjust detention was seemingly prolonged because the Roman official Felix wanted to gain political advantage and goodwill from the Jews as he departed for his next post. As I. Howard Marshall explains:
Such an action would have added to the feeling against him and could have led to charges being made against him at Rome. This may well have been the underlying principal reason for his failure to take any action earlier regarding Paul. By a slight injustice to an unpopular individual he hoped to curry favour with the Jews (he certainly needed to in view of his other conduct!); when he left the province, he did in fact avoid being impeached by the Jews (except for one group from Caesarea whose charge was quashed.)[i]
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Providence, Human Caprice, & The Gospel’s Progress

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But after two years Porcius Festus succeeded Felix; and Felix, wanting to do the Jews a favor, left Paul bound. Acts 24:27

The seemingly haphazard and unfair events of the world often puzzle and frustrate human beings. Consider Paul’s plight: he was in prison on spurious charges of trying to incite a riot in the Jerusalem Temple and desecrating his ancestral traditions. Like his Lord, he was erroneously accused of being a threat to the state (cf. Luke 23:2, 5; Acts 21:28.) As the counsel for the plaintiff later put it: “…we have found this man a plague, a creator of dissension among all the Jews throughout the world, and a ringleader of the sect of the Nazarenes. He even tried to profane the temple, and we seized him, and wanted to judge him according to our law” (Acts 24:5-6.) Sadly, Paul’s experience was neither unprecedented nor rare among believers. From the first century onwards Christians have often been tagged with baseless accusations of political intrigue, ludicrous immorality (e.g. Cannibalism), and unfettered antinomianism (Rom. 6:1-2.)

Politics As Usual

While suffering this great injustice, Paul could have been freed at several points (most notably, Acts 26:32.) In the text that commences this article the unfairness of the apostle’s position is clearly displayed. His unjust detention was seemingly prolonged because the Roman official Felix wanted to gain political advantage and goodwill from the Jews as he departed for his next post. As I. Howard Marshall explains:

Such an action would have added to the feeling against him and could have led to charges being made against him at Rome. This may well have been the underlying principal reason for his failure to take any action earlier regarding Paul. By a slight injustice to an unpopular individual he hoped to curry favour with the Jews (he certainly needed to in view of his other conduct!); when he left the province, he did in fact avoid being impeached by the Jews (except for one group from Caesarea whose charge was quashed.)[i]
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