Friday, April 18, 2014

The Sign of Jonah - Three Days and Three Nights

Three Days and Three Nights

Scripture states that Jesus rose THE third day, IN three days, and AFTER three days (Matthew 16:21; 26:61; 27:63).

Only three full days – seventy-two full hours – will satisfy all the numerous statements of the New Testament.

Jesus gave only one sign, the sign of Jonah, to prove He was truly the Son of God – the time He would be dead (Matt 12:38-40; 16:4).

Jesus ate the Passover with His disciples on the evening of the fourteenth by Moses' law. The first day of the Jewish year was the spring equinox.  It has 12 hours of day and night.  Passover was 14 days later, a Tuesday night. (Ex 12:6-8; Matt 26:17-20; Mark 14:12-17; Luke 22:7-15).

The crucifixion began at 9:00 AM Wednesday morning, and Jesus died after the darkness ended at 3:00 PM Wednesday afternoon. (Matthew 27:45-50; Mark 15:25,33-37; Luke 23:44-49).

Jesus was buried hurriedly as the preparation day ended and the high Sabbath day, Thursday, was about to begin (Mark 15:42; Luke 23:54; John 19:14,31,42).

The women who followed Jesus rested the high Sabbath day, Thursday, of the Passover before buying and preparing their spices on Friday.  This was the only day they could do the preparations. (Mark 16:1 cp Exodus 12:16).

The women bought their spices and prepared them on the regular workday between the two Sabbaths days this week (Mark 16:1 cp Luke 23:55-56).

The women rested during the weekly Sabbath day, Saturday, after buying and preparing their spices the previous workday (Luke 23:55-56 cp Exodus 20:10).

Jesus rose from the dead as the weekly Sabbath ended – three days and three nights after burial – as prophesied (Matthew 12:39-40; Mark 8:31).

While it was still dark, the morning of the first day of the week, the women found the tomb already empty (Matt 28:1-6; Luke 24:1-3; John 20:1).

The gospel record of Jesus Christ's death, burial, and resurrection prove His identifying sign of three days and three nights (Matthew 12:39-40).

Thursday, February 20, 2014

If you were the devil, where would you attack yourself? by Tim Challes

One Great Question to Ask a Friend
February 19, 2014

When I was a child my family owned a cottage—a beautiful cottage where I spent every summer of my childhood. On those long, warm, summer evenings, we would sometimes have friends and neighbors from up and down the road converge on our property for giant games of capture the flag. Those were grand nights—the kind of nights that form indelible memories.

One of the things I loved to do when we played capture the flag was to set trip lines. I would string a rope between two trees and wait in the dusk for some unsuspecting person to stumble across it and go down. Looking at it through adult eyes it sounds like a recipe for a cracked skull or broken ankle, but it seemed like good, clean fun back then.

The memory of stringing trip lines flashed into my mind recently, because something I read in a book took me out at the knees, so to speak. And down I went.

Vaughan Robert’s little book True Friendship has a lot to commend it, but there is one thing that stood out more than any other. Before I get to it, though, allow me a brief aside. I’ve thought often about this old blog post from Bob Kauflin:
If I glean two or three sentences from a book that affect the way I think and the way I live, that’s time well invested.
But even if I don’t read as many books as others, I read. If I’m not reading, I’m relying on my memory. Which seems to be decreasing daily. So I read. I once heard someone say that books don’t change people - sentences do. If I glean two or three sentences from a book that affect the way I think and the way I live, that’s time well invested. So I read. Books give me the opportunity to learn from and about godly, bright, insightful people I’ll never meet. So I read. What I know will always be dwarfed by what I don’t know. So I read. Books help me become more effective at what I do. So I read.
I read for the same reasons. Like Bob, I forget almost everything I read. But I don’t mind, because I don’t want or need to remember everything, so long as I find those two or three sentences that will be resounding in my heart and mind a week or month or year from now.

In Roberts’ book I came across one of those lines, one of those sentences, that has stuck with me and, I think, will continue to do so. It was a question, a simple question aimed at doing what every Christian wants to do: Destroy sin and pursue holiness. Roberts was talking about the kind of friendship men ought to have with one another and the kinds of questions they should be asking each another as they go through life together. Here is what he wants his friends to ask him: If you were the devil, where would you attack yourself?

Yes, that simple question was the trip line. And it leveled me. It’s an obvious question, I suppose. I feel like the guy who discovers that great television show when it’s in its final season and everyone else has been talking about it for years. Yet I don’t think I have ever asked the question of myself and I’m certain I have never asked it of a friend. I’m equally certain a friend has never asked it of me (and I’ve got some pretty good friends who ask me some pretty good questions).

Here’s the thing: We know that Satan and his demons have made a long and scrutinizing study of humanity. They have had millennia to study us, to get to know us, to learn how to tempt us. They have had thirty-seven years to study me, to get to know me, to learn how to tempt me. They have studied us as humanity since the Garden of Eden and I presume they have studied me as an individual since the day I was born. And they must always be asking themselves, “Where can we attack him? Where is he weak? Where is he prone to sin? Where is he lax? Where is he undisciplined? Where is he giving up?”

What I find so helpful about Roberts’ question is that it anticipates an attack in my areas of weakness and calls me not only to identify those vulnerabilities, but to involve a brother in strengthening me right there.

Why don’t you consider asking the question next time you’re with a friend. If you were the devil, where would you attack yourself? The answer will show you exactly where you can help, strengthen, and pray for your friend.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Lord keep us from evil

A Calvinist and a Fundamentalist Walk Into a Bar...

By Tim Challies

It’s not a joke, you know. As we make our way through this life, we face some powerful enemies. In the second chapter of Ephesians, Paul describes the pre-Christian past of the people in this church. As he does that, he tells them that three powerful forces were arrayed against them: the world, the flesh, and the devil.

These people had a deep inclination toward evil that came from their inmost parts (“the passions of our flesh”), they faced a powerful opponent from outside themselves (“the prince of the power of the air”), and all the while their whole environment was opposed to them (“this world”). They were outside of fellowship with God and, therefore, were “children of wrath.

And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind.

For some time now, and especially since I read Thomas Brooks’ Precious Remedies Against Satan’s Devices, I have been pondering the way these forces were, and in some ways still are, opposed to me. Though through faith in Jesus Christ I have been delivered from the dominion of these forces, I have not yet been fully and finally delivered from their influence. Each of them continues to oppose me, and at times—too many times—I succumb, choosing sin in place of holiness. No wonder then, that the Anglican Book of Common Prayer leads Christians in this prayer: “From all the deceits of the world, the flesh, and the devil: Good Lord deliver us.

I have a theory about these three influences and the way different Christians understand them. There are many theological tribes within Christianity and I believe that each of them has an imperfect balance in their understanding of the way these forces operate against us. Let me give just three examples. Each example is imperfect, of course, but I believe there is a thread of truth in each.

Fundamentalists tend to have a deep suspicion of the world—a world that is full of sin and adamantly opposed to God and his purposes. In my experience, Fundamentalists are quick to look to the world and to hold the world responsible for sin and the temptation to sin; hence, they battle hard against worldliness and look to worldly pleasures and entertainments with deep and lasting suspicion. If Fundamentalists are out of balance, it is toward the evil influence of the world and away from the influence of the flesh and the devil.

Pentecostals tend to lay the blame for sin and temptation at the door of the devil and demonic forces. They often have a heightened sense of demonic activity and influence. When they face the temptation to sin, or when they feel or discover opposition, they are quick to see the influence of Satan and to find ways of standing fast in the face of that kind of power. If they are out of balance, it is toward the evil influence of the devil and his forces and away from the influence of the world and the flesh.

Calvinists have a deep sense of their own depravity. After all, Calvinism begins with the T of TULIP—Total Depravity. We believe that humanity is totally depraved, so that sin extends to our every part. In his grace God restrains us from becoming as sinful as we could possibly be, but we are all still sinful to the furthest extent; the heart, the mind, the will, the desire, the inclination—all of it—is marked by the Fall. As we consider the enemies of our souls, we tend to focus on the flesh, assuming that temptation arises from within more than it arises from without. If we are out of balance, it is toward the influence of the flesh and away from the influence of the world and the devil.

All of us, I am convinced, need to understand that evil takes many forms, that it arises from within and from without, that we face enemies physical and spiritual. To emphasize one at the expense of the others is to lower our guard. Perhaps the most helpful response is not to diminish our own emphasis, but to elevate the others. When we understand the vast array of forces against us, we better understand Christ’s power in conquering them, we better arm ourselves to resist, and we better anticipate the day of the Lord’s return when their influence will be finally and completely broken.

Monday, January 6, 2014

I'm Better Than You by Tim Challies

I'm Better Than You 

January 06, 2014
I’m kind of a jerk. For as long as I’ve been able to think about myself, my heart, my life, I’ve known that I’m a sinful person. I’ve never doubted the reality of my depravity. And if there ever had been any doubt, being married and having children and immersing myself in a local church has provided all the proof I, and they, need.
I’m just plain better than you. Somewhere deep inside I believe it’s true and too often I live and act like it’s true.
But lately I’ve been considering one simple and disturbing aspect of this sin: I’m better than you. At least, this is what I believe in most of life’s situations. I’m just plain better than you. Somewhere deep inside I believe it’s true and too often I live and act like it’s true.

This is the old sin of pride, I suppose, the one we talk about so often but deal with so seldom, the one many people put at the root of all sin. And it’s amazing to me how much of my sin comes down to it. I think I’m better than you. Too often I’m just plain convinced of it.
When you choose to go left, my heart judges and condemns you because I am convinced it would have been better to go right. I don’t have nearly all the information you have, and probably only half the wisdom, yet in my heart I am convinced you would have made a far better decision if only you would have asked me to guide you.
When you lead your ministry, I have trouble following because I see all the things you are doing wrong, all the ignorant decisions you are making. I don’t know much about children’s ministry or music ministry or evangelism ministry or whatever else it is you lead, but I still have it all figured out. Come chat and I’ll be glad to set you straight.
When you are given a privilege or responsibility, something that puts you in a position of trust or authority, I am certain that the privilege should have gone to me. I suppose you will do okay, but I think we all know I would have done better. After all, I’m better than you.
This thread, this conviction of my own superiority, runs deep in the background of my life.  This thread, this conviction of my own superiority, runs deep in the background of my life. If you’re honest with yourself, you may well find that it’s in your life as well.
It matters. It matters because while God calls us toward Christlikeness, we prefer to call others toward us-likeness. God calls us to hold all things up to the light of his Word, while we prefer to hold all things up to the light of our own judgments and our own determinations. Ultimately, we all long for conformity to us rather than to Christ.
This makes us useless counselors. We are useless counselors unless we can counsel from Scripture and toward holiness rather than from our own arrogance and toward conformity to us. This makes us miserable because we are always convinced life would be easier and better if only others were more like us. This lessens our usefulness to God and his kingdom because we spend so much of our time lamenting all the things others are doing wrong rather than joining them in doing things their way. This increases our sin and hinders our holiness.
I’m kind of a jerk, I know it, and still I have the audacity to want you to be like me. It’s baffling. It’s gross. It’s sin. It’s pride.