THE PRICE OF A SIGNATURE

On the Fourth of July the USA will celebrate another birthday. It all began on July 4, 1776, when fifty-six brave men put their signature on a document called The Declaration of Independence. This wondrous document is built upon a premise that seems forgotten in our day, that premise being each person derives their rights from “their Creator,” the “Supreme Judge of the world” (God is mentioned four times — twice at the beginning at twice at the end), and the chief purpose of government is to ensure and protect those rights. The Declaration of Independence only contains 1,321 words, yet it is one of the greatest documents ever conceived and penned by man.

The document, which declared independence from the British, was signed by fifty-six brave men “with a firm reliance on the protection of Divine Providence, we mutually pledge to each other our Lives, our Fortunes, and our sacred Honor.” The fifty-six men from the thirteen colonies who penned their name on the document, twenty-six were lawyers, nine merchants, six farmers, six physicians, two statesmen, one planter, one surveyor, one shoemaker, one minister, and one printer. Eighteen of the men were under forty years of age, three in their twenties, and the oldest, Benjamin Franklin, was seventy years old. Two who signed it would later become President, two were to be fathers of future Presidents.

These fifty-six men knew the minute they signed the document they would be labeled as traitors by the British and there would be a price upon their head. They were risking their lives for the cause of freedom. What did it actually cost these men for signing the Declaration of Independence? I am afraid we have forgotten what it cost them. Not one of the signers escaped the battle for independence without suffering some loss or penalty.

Five signers were captured by the British as traitors and tortured before they died; twelve had their homes ransacked and burned; two lost their sons serving in the Revolutionary Army; another had two sons captured; nine of the fifty-six fought and died from wounds or hardships of the Revolutionary War; Layman Hall of Georgia had his property confiscated; George Walton of Georgia was imprisoned; Joseph Hewes of North Carolina died from utter exhaustion from the strain; William Hooper of North Carolina was driven from his home; John Penn of North Carolina had his health wrecked and died in 1780; William Floyd of New York was driven from his home and his property confiscated; Philip Livingston of New York had all his property taken from him; John Morton of Pennsylvania became forsaken by friends and died eight months after the signing; Richard Stockton of New Jersey was dragged from his bed in the middle of the night and thrown into prison; Caesar Rodney of Delaware died from cancer not long are signing; John Hart of New Jersey was forced from his home, his house burned and he lived as a fugitive; Roger Sherman of Connecticut efforts during the battle for independence took a toll on his health and was relieved of many of colonial duties; Lewis Morris of New York was a man of considerable wealth but lost it during the war; Carter Braxton of Virginia lost his wealth and his property seized; Thomas Heyward, Arthur Middleton and Edward from South Carolina were all thrown into prison; Thomas Nelson of Virginia lost his fortune and died in poverty; Francis Lewis of New York had his home burned and his wife taken prisoner; Abraham Clark of New Jersey had two of his sons captured and put in prison; John Witherspoon of New Jersey had his voluminous library burned; Francis Hopkinson of New Jersey had his home taken and became a fugitive; Thomas McKean of Delaware was so pursued by the British that he was forced to constantly move his family; George Ross a minister from Pennsylvania died in 1779 from broken health; William Whipple of New Hampshire developed heart problems which eventually took his life.

More examples could be given of the price paid by the signers of the Declaration of Independence, but a portrait of the noble character of these men is clearly imprinted on the canvas of history. The clothes these men wore were not held together by thread, but by principle, honor and a selflessness that led them to pledge their all for the cost of freedom. They had steel backbones forged in the fires of convictions and courage. These men were brave and  fearless who knew the consequences and penalties that awaited, yet they signed anyway, pledging their lives, their fortunes and their sacred honor.

One truth is certain, freedom was and is not free. For that one prize – freedom – these men signed a declaration and suffered horribly. Two-hundred and forty-three years later we must not forget the price paid for freedom nor forget the spiritual and political heritage of the birth of this nation. To forget our heritage is to head down a road that will eventually lead us away from liberty back unto tyranny. In a day when political correctness sees patriotism as offensive, it is a position that will find liberty being swallowed up in the quicksand of weakness and cowardice that will lead to loss of freedoms.

One can’t help but wonder in the day in which we live where so many want something for nothing; who feel like they are owed something without earning it or sacrificing for it; who don’t believe in personal responsibility; who contend there are no eternal principles on which to base one’s life or govern society; would such individuals pay one-tenth the price those 56 brave men paid for freedom and liberty? The answer is self-evident.

As we pause to celebrate the birthday of this Nation, let us not forget the sacrifice and commitment of those fifty-six stalwart men. While our Forefathers battled the British, we today are waging a battle for the very soul of America. It is a battle of greed versus sacrifice, spiritually versus secularism, God versus godlessness, good versus evil, decency versus indecency, right versus wrong, principles versus political correctness, responsibility versus irresponsibility. To the observing eye, that for which the signers of the Declaration of Independence gave so much, appears to be slowly slipping away from you and me.

The freedoms for which our Forefather fought and sacrificed for demands that we never yield to the tyrants of vice over virtue, for when we do, we will discover the brave signers penned their names in vain. May it not be so.

Have Blessed and Safe Fourth of July

Blessings,
Dr. Dan

THE IMPORTANCE OF THE OLD TESTAMENT

Recently I had the privilege to have lunch with two distinguished men in the ministry who I hold in high esteem. We discussed many topics, some weighty and some lighthearted. In our conversing, one of the men stated he had recently talked to a minister who said the Old Testament was irrelevant for our day and time and it was of little value for twenty-first century Christendom. Sadly, there are those who embrace such erroneous thinking. However, such a viewpoint is not only erroneous, but sorely lacking in theological insight and is a disastrous concept to embrace when developing NT interpretation. It is of necessity we not abandon the OT but to become familiar with its rich contents. Let me list eleven reasons why the Old Testament is of vital importance for modern-day Christendom. I could list more, but I must stop writing somewhere…so I will stop at eleven!!

First, the Old Testament lays the foundation for understanding the New Testament. In the OT we find the progressive unfolding of the revelation of God to man in regard to Jesus Christ. The OT is more than a history book of random stories, but the OT relates to man how God used imperfect people, events and promises to bring about His progressive revelation of a Savior. If we tossed aside the OT then we fail to understand that Christ didn’t just appear on the scene one day without announcement, but his arrival had been a progressive unfolding since Genesis 3:15 when God promised that a Savior would come from the Seed of a Woman to deal with Satan and sin. His birth in Bethlehem and subsequent work on earth, God had been unfolding since the Fall of Adam and Eve. Without the OT that truth would be lost.

Second, the Old Testament is filled with types and shadows which Christ fulfilled them all. When one studies the OT Tabernacle, every piece of it pictures some aspect of the character and work of Christ. The Jewish Feast Days speak of Christ. The Passover depicts the work Christ. When one looks at the sacrificial system of the OT, it foreshadowed the day when John the Baptist would point to Jesus and cry out, “Behold, the lamb of God which has come to take away the sin of the world” (Jh 2:29). Without an understanding of the OT sacrificial system and the reason for it being instituted, the statement of John the Baptist would make no sense. The OT is filled with many such examples where Jesus fulfilled the types and shadows to the last dot on the i.

Third, without the Old Testament we would not know Jesus was the one sent from God. The Old Testament is filled with signposts (prophecies) along the way that were for the purpose of giving recognizable proofs so one could know if Jesus was the true one sent from God or an imposter. The OT prophesied Jesus would come from the tribe of Judah, come from the line of David, would be born of a virgin, would be born in Bethlehem, would have to flee to Egypt for a short time after his birth, would grow up in Nazareth, would be crucified, and would rise from the dead and the list goes on. Matter of fact, there are some 300 prophesies dealing with Christ’s first coming. Christ fulfilled every one of them to the letter. If we tossed aside the OT how would we know He was truly the Son of God whom the Father promised or an imposter?

Fourth, the Old Testament is important for without it we would not have an understanding of many of the Jewish customs mentioned in the New Testament. We would not understand why the Pharisees got angry when Jesus said, “I Am.” We would not understand why Jesus cleansed the temple courtyard during one of the Passovers. We would not understand why some of Jesus disciples, who were zealots, were excited when they saw the miracles Jesus performed (John 6). We would not understand why the Pharisees hated Jesus so.  We would not understand why the Jews were so nationalistic.  Without the OT there is so much in the NT that would leave us baffled.

Fifth, without the Old Testament the first book of the NT, Matthew, could not be understood. Matthew’s target group was the Jews, and he is constantly referring to OT passages, Jesus being the fulfillment of those passages. If we only had the NT, we would not know why the Jews were looking for a Messiah or King and the question of the Wise Men would make no sense, “Where is he that is born King of the Jews?” Without the OT we could not grasp why Matthew spent so much time proving that Jesus was the ONLY rightful heir to the throne of David.

Sixth, without knowledge of the OT we could not grasp the preaching of the disciples in Acts. They considered the OT important for they were continually preaching Christ was the fulfillment of the OT Scriptures. Their messages were filled with OT passages. The sermon of Stephen to the Jews would make no sense without an understanding of the OT (Acts 7). Philip’s encounter with the Ethiopian eunuch would leave us scratching  our heads as to its meaning without the OT (Acts 8). Many more such incidents in Acts could be cited, which without the OT one would not be able to comprehend.

Seventh, without the OT one could not understand many of the names and titles given to Christ in the New Testament. The names given to Christ are anchored in the OT, and without the OT we would wonder why those names were attached to Him. Names such as the Son of Man, the Seed, Messiah, One greater than Moses, High Priest, Good Shepherd, the Lamb of God, Emmanuel, I AM, Weeping Prophet, Wonderful, Prince of Peace, etc. are all OT names. Those names cannot be adequately understood outside their OT context.

Eighth, without the Old Testament one cannot understand the book of Hebrews. The book of Hebrews is centered upon the theme that Jesus Christ is superior to all the OT types and shadows that foreshadowed Christ and He is superior to the greatest of men in the OT. Without knowledge of the OT one might as well remove Hebrews from the NT for it would be incomprehensible.

Ninth, without the Old Testament there is no chance of understanding the book of Revelation. The last book in the Bible is hard enough to understand as it is, but one who dismisses the OT will never unlock the mysteries of Revelation. There are 100s of clear reference taken from the OT found in John’s apocalyptic writing. To just name a few, allusions are made from OT books like Genesis, Exodus, Nahum, Ezekiel, Isaiah, Ezra, Jeremiah, Psalms, and the list goes on. Dismiss the OT and Revelation remains locked.

Tenth, the OT is important because of the many valuable lessons we learn – both positive and negative. Paul stated that the stories in the OT are given to us as examples from which we can learn (Romans 15:4). If we removed the OT we would never know such powerful and positive stories as the  Walls of Jericho come tumbling down, David and Goliath, Ruth and Boaz, Esther, Abigail, and the list goes on. As well, we have many stories that serve as warnings like David and Bathsheba, the failure at Ai, the failure of Israel to listen to the prophets, and the list goes on. The many stories in the OT serve as both an encouragement to us as well as a warning.

Eleventh, the OT is important because it reveals a God who has revealed Himself to humanity as Holy. All of God’s dealing with man is based upon the foundation of God’s holiness. Only that which can comply with God’s perfect holiness can ever come into His presence. Since man is sinful and cannot comply with God’s demands, the OT is the unfolding of the plan of God of how sinful man can be brought into a relationship and fellowship with a holy God. The OT reveals God’s holy-love has provided in our place a Substitute, Jesus Christ, who lived in our stead the holy life we cannot live and then took upon himself the just judgment we deserved for us not being able to comply with God’s holy demands. In Christ our God has provided for us the means of forgiveness of our sins and restored fellowship and communion with Him. It is in the OT we first learn of this amazing provision. Without the OT the NT work of Christ could not be fully understood. The OT teaches us the nature of God and the necessity of the atonement of Christ.

In summary, those who say the OT is unimportant are shortsighted and fail to grasp the full intent of the wondrous of work of God in Christ. Doing away with the OT would be like beginning a story at the middle of a book, much is missed by skipping the first half. Let us always remember, all that came before Christ (the OT) was fulfilled by Him, and all that comes after Him is determined by Him! Those who do not let their footsteps venture over the pages of the OT are missing much that God has to say and will never fully grasp the richness of the character of God the Father and the fullness of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Now, get to reading the Old Testament!

Blessings,
Dr. Dan

ATHEISM AND THE PROBLEM OF FAIRNESS

I have always been intrigued by the atheistic German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche (1844-1900) and what made him tick. Nietzsche popularized the phrase “God is dead.” While possessing a brilliant mind, his philosophical writings reveal a man whose hand penned such venomous thoughts it leaves a rational person scratching their head how one can be filled with such rage and contempt against Christianity and the existence of God. Sadly, his rantings found him spending his last years alone and in a state of insanity.

Nietzsche believed that objective morality did not exist, stating that “good and evil were only images” and all  “moral systems are immoral.” Yet I recently read a quote of his in which he appealed to an objective standard of fairness. In an essay he wrote in 1874 entitled On the Use and Abuse of History he wrote, “Very few serve the truth, for only a few possess the pure will to be just/fair, a very few of whom possess the power to be able to be just.”

What struck me as odd in the quote above, is Nietzsche’s use of the words “truth, fair, just.” My question is, if truth is relative, which atheism contends; if there is no objective standard of right and wrong; if there is no Moral Law Giver; then how can one appeal to a standard of fairness or just(ice)? On what basis does one appeal to fairness? If there is no objective standard of right and wrong, fairness, or what is just, where is anyone’s value judgment regarding what is fair and just any better than another? If that is the case, then who determines what is fair and just? Where did the idea of fairness come from? Who determines what is fair and just? How is it that man instinctively knows when something is unfair and unjust? How did Nietzsche and those who follow in his steps know when they are confronted with fairness or unfairness? How can one appeal to any sort of standard of what is fair and just if an objective standard doesn’t exist?

It seems logical that Nietzsche’s very appeal to what is “fair” and “just” points to the fact that there is a universal, objective standard of fairness and justice that exists beyond ourselves. Those who embrace the thought of Nietzsche that “God is dead” and that truth is relative and there is no objective moral standard, then why appeal for man to act in a way that is fair and just? After all, if truth is relative then whose standard of fairness and justice is one going to appeal? And then if what is fair and just is subjective, then what is fair and just today may not be tomorrow. One may contend there is no Universal Law Giver regarding what is fair and just, but as soon as a person begins to argue and judge their value system as being better than another, one is giving nod to the fact that an objective standard of what is fair and just does exist!

Yes, the very appeal to what is fair and just reveals there is an objective standard of what is fair and just; it reveals there is a standard  beyond ourselves and our rational minds. If there is a Universal Law of what is just and fair then Nietzsche’s contention that “God is dead” becomes a mute argument. For the question arises, where did the objective standard of what is fair and just come from? For this writer the answer is self-explanatory….the existence of God becomes the best possible answer for the existence of such a standard.

In his book, Mere Christianity, C. S. Lewis, a former atheist, argued that the concept of fairness is so universal to human societies that it is evidence of the existence a Divine Law Giver. Lewis once argued that there was no God because “the universe seemed so cruel and unjust.” However, in reflection he continues, “But how had I gotten this idea of just and unjust? A man does not call a line crooked unless he has some idea of a straight line. What was I comparing this universe with when I called it unjust?” He concluded, “Thus in the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist — in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless — I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality — namely my idea of justice — was full of sense. Consequently, atheism turns out to be too simple. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never know it was dark. Dark would be without meaning” (C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, (Harper Collins, 1952), 38-39).

The Source of our sense of fairness and justice has to lie outside ourselves. There is a moral sense built into our nature whereby we judge the rightness or wrongness of our actions. The innate moral sense exists within us in one of two ways: either because God put it there or it is “nothing but a private idea of my own” (Lewis). Lewis poses the question, “How did I get this idea of just and unjust?” Our sense of fairness and justice comes from a transcendent God who is the Ground of all Being of all that is fair and just.

So, anytime an atheist appeals to “truth, fairness or justice” they are using language that violates their own “creed” and are appealing to an objective standard beyond themselves. Their very appeal is evidence of an Intelligent Law Giver, fairness and justice being characteristics of His holy nature.

Blessings,
Dr. Dan

EVERY DAY IS A GIFT!

Let me state at the outset: Every Day is a Gift!

The week of June 10-13 is forever etched in my mind. Until six years ago those dates were just early days in the first half of the month of June. It all began with an annual physical in March 2013 when some disturbing “numbers” cropped up. Back and forth visits to the Doctor, eventually led to me having, on June 10, 2013, a biopsy to determine if I had prostate cancer. Four days of anxious waiting followed as I waited for the results. Then on June 13, 2013, the phone rang delivering the “word” for which I had been waiting. It’s a phone call I will never forget. It was 6 p.m. My wife and I had just sat down to eat supper. I had only taken a few bites. WXII news was coming on the TV…and then the phone rang. The news of the world had to be put on hold as I awaited news regarding myself. The phone rang one more time before I could answer it, but I instinctively knew who was calling.

Answering the phone, I nervously said, “Hello.” The doctor didn’t mince words, he got right to the point. “Rev. Merritt,” he said, “I wish I had better news for you, but of the twelve samples we took nine came back cancer.” My heart sank as I listened in disbelief. I hoped I had heard him wrong. I thought to myself, “Surely he has gotten my samples mixed up with someone else.” But I had heard right. Yet, even in bad news there was some good news, as the doctor added, “We have caught this very early, your prognosis is better than 90% recovery rate. We will sit down and look at what are your best options for treatment.”

I honestly cannot remember much of what else was said because I was numb from what I had been told. I wasn’t the first person to receive such dreaded news and I certainly won’t be the last, but when it is you receiving the news that puts a different perspective on the situation. As I slowly hung-up the phone I tried to explain to my wife, as best as I could remember, what the Doctor had said. We both sat in stunned silence. I tried to finish my supper but my appetite had vanished like a leaf in a wind storm. The thoughts in my mind were twirling faster than a mid-west tornado. Over the years my phone has rung thousands of times, yet that phone call turned my world upside down and put me on a path of uncertainty.

For the next eight weeks my time was spent reading everything I could read on prostate cancer, talking to men who had traveled this same road, visiting several doctors discussing my best options, and finding shelter under the Wings of Christ and in the Words of Christ. I would be less than honest if I didn’t confess that there were many anxious and fearful days. There were times I felt like a trembling cat treed by a big-bad, barking dog. There were times I got by myself and wept. Our God wept through human eyes (John 11:35) so tears are a language He understands. Through it all the Lord was/is faithful (I Thes. 5:24; 2 Thes. 3:3) and His sustaining strength and grace was/is ever present. Though I had always known it, I now KNEW IT…Life is a Precious Gift!

After much prayer and consulting wise doctors, which I was so blessed to have, it was decided my best option was to take 43 radiation treatments. They began on Sept 10, 2013, and ended on November 7. There were times I thought they would never end, but “this too shall pass.” And it did. For the first five years afterwards I had follow-up check-ups every six months, with each check-up proving continued success of the treatments. Doing remarkably well, this past year my check-up was changed to once a year. I realize I will have to have check-ups the rest of my life. But that is ok. Each doctor appointment is a reminder that every day is a precious gift from the Lord.

It has been six years now since I got that shocking phone call and I am here to tell you, the LORD IS FAITHFUL. He was with me every uncertain step I took. His promise that He will never leave us or forsake us is true. That He is a Shelter in times of storms is true. That He is our Certainty in uncertain times is true. That He is an Anchor when the ship of life is being tossed to and fro  is true. That He is a Rock that never trembles when we are trembling is true. That He who is the Prince of Peace is able to speak peace to the troubled waters of our souls is true. That He is our Foundation when we feel like we are sinking in quicksand is true. That He is our Strength when we are weak is true. That He is our Burden-Bearer when the load is too heavy to carry is true. That He is our Wisdom when our minds are perplexed is true. That He is our Great Physician when sickness invades our lives is true. That He is our Rest when our soul is restless is true. That He is our Courage when we are cowards is true. That He is our Light in our darkest hour is true. That He is our Way when we can’t see the way is true. That He is the All-Sufficient One when our sufficiency is lacking is true. That He is the Great I Am who is in the present tense of our every circumstance is true. Yes, the Lord is faithful.

And again, I am here to tell you every day is a precious gift from the hand of the Lord.

We never know when that life-altering phone call or knock at the door will come. But I can assure you when you answer the phone, He already knows the contents of the message you are about to hear. I can assure you when you answer that knock at the door, He already knows who stands on the other side and why they are there. We can always be assured He is there no matter what we are confronted with or what we go through. He is there and that makes all the difference in the world, in eternity…and in our lives.

The Lord He is faithful…and every day is a precious gift.

Blessings,
Dr. Dan

PERILOUS TIMES ARE HERE

Paul, before he departed this world for his heavenly reward, wrote his swan song letter to Timothy, his son in the faith. Timothy was residing in Ephesus, serving as spiritual advisor to those who comprised the church in a city where unrestrained living abounded. Pagan religions flourished, whose major characteristic was gross immorality, which had become an accepted part of the culture. Paul had organized a church in Ephesus, and Timothy was seeking to bring stability to a church which was being greatly influenced by the culture. The young evangelist was encouraging the church to influence the culture, and not the culture influencing the church. Paul’s letter to Timothy was one filled with encouragement to remain faithful and be courageous in spite of a corrupt culture.

In Paul’s words to Timothy, he warns of a time in the future when times will become so perverted and violent it would make the conditions of Ephesus seem like a Sunday School picnic. Paul writes, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come” (2 Tim. 3:1). Anyone who has not been living in a cave or on a deserted island, knows we are living in extremely dangerous, violent and vicious days. The last couple of decades, times have rapidly grown worse and worse. Evil is rampant. No longer are children safe in school. No longer can one feel safe attending a House of Worship. No longer is a child even safe in their mother’s womb, as abortion on demand is applauded and encouraged. No longer is morally depraved behavior frowned upon, but is embraced as normal. Mass shootings have now become common place, the sanctity of life has been tossed overboard, perverted moral behavior has become accepted as normal. We have become a society devoid of a moral compass and seek to rid society of any reliance upon the God of the Bible.

The conditions of the day have developed quickly over the last two decades, but Paul predicted, through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, that such times would come in the last days. Let us dissect Paul’s words to get the full impact of the warning issued when he stated, “This know also, that in the last days perilous times shall come” (2 Tim. 3:1).

Paul says, “This know.” The Greek word “know” (ginosko) is in a tense which means that what Paul is writing is something so important that it must be heeded, it must be acknowledged, it must be recognized as something of such vital importance it cannot and must not be ignored. It is critical one listens.

What does Paul want us to know? “that in the last days perilous time shall come.” The word translated “perilous” (chalepos) is only found two times in New Testament. The word was used to speak of words that were harsh, ruthless, and wounding; words that were hard to bear. The word was also used in reference to animals that were fierce, vicious, savage and extremely dangerous. As well, the word was used to speak of an environment beset with high risk or danger. So, Paul is clearly warning that in the last days, before the Lord returns, harsh, vicious, savage, dangerous, ruthless, hard to bear times will be prevalent.

The only other time in the New Testament the word translated “perilous” (chalepos) in 2 Timothy 3:1, is found in Matthew 8:28. The verse reads, “And when [Jesus] was come to the other side into the country of the Gergesenes, there met him two possessed with devils, coming out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man might pass by that way.” The phrase “exceeding fierce” is a translation of the same Greek word translated “perilous” in 2 Timothy 3:1. The word chalepos is used to picture the behavior of two demon-possessed men, whose actions were fierce, unruly, dangerous, vicious, and made the environment they inhabited beset with extreme danger and high risk. If one reads the whole story in Matthew, those who lived in the area of the two demon-possessed men kept their distance from them because it was too dangerous and too risky to be around them.

It seems clear that Paul was warning us that the time would come when the world would be such a dangerous place to live that each day would carry with it its own risk of survival. One is living in a state of denial if one doesn’t recognize we live in such a world today. Society has spun out of control to such an extent that the harsh reality is that we are living in times that are exceedingly fierce, dangerous, and high risk. It is as if the floodgate of evil has been opened. Yet in spite of the rampant evil of today, sadly, sin creates a deceptive blindness to its destructiveness.

It is no coincidence the Holy Spirit inspired the use of word translated “perilous” in 2 Timothy 3:1 that was used in Matthew 8:28 in connection with demon-possession. This writer believes we are living in times when demonic influenced behavior is being manifested throughout our society. What we are witnessing in our society today goes beyond ordinary “meanness” or moral laxness, but what we are witnessing today is evil and moral depravity that is demonically influenced. We are witnessing before our eyes demonic activity being released that is cruel, vicious, fierce, hard to bear,  dangerous, and destructive. And the Bible warns such evil will only grow worse and worse (2 Tim. 3:13).

Why, though, should we be surprised! When society seeks to defiantly establish a secular and godless society devoid of recognition of a Supreme Law Giver, the downward spiral is set in motion. There can be no moral society without recognition of a Moral Creator; to do otherwise is to sink further and further into moral depravity and the spread of unrestrained chaos. The conditions we are witnessing today, society has invited upon itself. Our ousting of the God of the Bible has been replaced with demonic activity that can only be halted by repentance and a return to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

As Christians how are we to respond to the perilous times in which we live? We are not to retreat in fear, but each day we must walk in the assurance that Jesus Christ is Lord. We must rely daily upon His power, knowing that He who lives in us is greater than the power of the devil (I John 4:4). We must seek to be a witness to those in the grip of sin of the redemptive power found in Christ, who alone can deliver one from the sinfulness that pervades the culture. Although the culture around us is sinking deeper into darkness, let us embrace the opportunity to shine the Light of Christ’s redemptive grace, which is able to recuse and deliver those sinking beneath a tidal wave of evil and fear.

In the midst of “perilous” times, hope is found in the Christ of the Cross who, not only predicted such times would take place, but promised when such times come to keep an eye on the Eastern sky….for His Second Coming is drawing near.

Blessings,
Dr. Dan

VALUABLE LESSONS LEARNED FROM MY MOTHER

Sunday is Mother’s Day. If your mother is still living honor her and tell her, “I love you.” If your mother has passed-on, as mine has, remember her lovingly and contemplate what valuable lessons and truths you learned from her that has helped shape the person you are today.

My mother was a vibrant and talkative woman who never saw a stranger. She was an avid reader and loved to pen her thoughts on paper in the form of poetry. Her laugh was contagious. Her journey on earth spanned 82 years, ending nearly twenty years ago in November 1999. The qualities that made up who she was were stolen from her the last two years of her fruitful life by that heartless thief known as Alzheimer’s disease.

As I contemplate the truths I learned from my mother, I would like to share twenty lessons and truths that she sought to instill in me that have helped shape who I am today.

She taught me to be truthful and honest when dealing with others. If one is not truthful it will come back to haunt you because you have to remember what you said; and, worse, you will lose the respect of others.

She taught me to eat my vegetables, especially my green beans, because they are good for you. I still remember the lecture I got because I said I didn’t like green beans. I can’t eat green beans today without her voice echoing in my ears about how lucky I am to have something to eat and that there are those who have no food at all who would be thankful to eat them!

She taught me to not chew gum in church, school, and the library. Those were places that demanded my respect. Now into my sixth decade of life I still can’t bring myself to chew gum in those three places.

She taught me to seek not to be selfish because the world doesn’t revolve around me. When we think of others, we are happier than when we only think of ourselves.

She taught me to try and help someone during the day through an encouraging word, a smile, sharing a laugh, or a kind deed. You will not only bless someone else but you, as well, will receive a blessing.

She taught me to respectfully stand when the National Anthem was being played. I am to show respect and admiration for the flag and what it stands for. People died that the flag might fly, and I am to honor her. To this day I still get chills every time I hear sung the National Anthem.

She taught me not to be part of the crowd just to be a part of them, but to stand on my convictions even if it means to stand alone. As a minister I am thankful that lesson was instilled in me, because there are times when standing for the truth I may stand alone.

She taught me to be courteous and polite to others if I expect them to be courteous and polite to me. To say “Please” and “Thank You” and words you can’t use too much.
She taught me to do right because it is the right thing to do. You don’t do right just when someone is watching or because you “feel” like it, you do right because that is what you are supposed to do.

She taught me not to give up when undertaking a task. If I failed, she taught me to regroup and keep trying until I succeeded. If you want something out of life it must be earned not handed to you.

She taught me to watch the company I kept because who I hung around would shape who I became. She told me if I hung around skunks, I would smell like one. That was good advice when I went off to college in the hippie era and drugs and alcohol were easily accessible.

She taught me to respect others even if I didn’t agree with them, and if I couldn’t to turn and walk away. I have done my best to do that, and, yes, there have been many times I have had to walk away!

She taught me not to spend more than I make. Always save at least a dime out of every dollar. Don’t become a slave to debt by buying things you can’t afford. That has been good advice I am glad I have heeded through the years. The government should heed my mother’s advice!!

She taught me to keep up with current events so as to be an intelligent American citizen. Don’t be an uninformed citizen but one who knows what is going on so you can be part of the solution to make society better.

She taught me to vote. She never told me how to vote, but to intelligently examine each candidate and make a wise decision based upon my moral and biblical convictions. I can still hear her say, “If you don’t vote you have no right to complain.”

She taught me to read. My mother was an avid reader. She would devour the Reader’s Digest, which was her favorite, but she was widely read. The vocation I followed in life requires I constantly read, and I enjoy reading history, philosophy, theology, poetry, and anything that will expand the horizons of my mind.

She taught me after entering the ministry that each time I preached I was not to draw attention to myself, but the focus was to be on Christ. I have on many occasions heard the echo of her voice, “It is not about you, it’s about Jesus.”

She taught me that if I have problems there is a Heavenly Father above who is available to help give me strength and help me through life. She believed His strength is available to all if they simply ask Him.

She taught me not to jump to conclusions when someone acted or reacted out of character for what is normal behavior for them. There could be something going on in their lives unknown to me or others that caused them to respond or act the way they did. There have been times when this advice has proven wise in dealing with someone.

She taught me if you want to die a righteous death you must live a righteous life. She taught me that by the example of a life well lived. While I hope I have many more years to go, I hope I can emulate her example by a life lived in like manner.

Yes, my mother taught me many valuable lessons and truths. While I am still trying to incorporate them all into my life, I am most thankful I had a mother who sought to instill them in me.

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY.

Blessings,
Dr. Dan

ZECHARIAH: PROCLAIMING A GOD WHO REMEMBERS

The hardships of life often cause doubt to enter our minds as to whether or not the Lord has forgotten us. Our minds ponder, “The Lord has too much to occupy His attention to be concerned about my situation.” In honest moments we must all confess we have entertained such thoughts. Well, if you have had such thoughts you are not alone. As we leaf through the pages of the Old Testament, we meet a prophet named Zechariah. He was given by the Sovereign of the Universe a message to proclaim to a people who were experiencing hardships and wrestling with thoughts that the Lord had forgotten them. The message of the faithful prophet was clear: We can be assured the Lord God of heaven is a God who remembers.

Zechariah was born in Babylonian exile, but he came to Jerusalem when Persian leadership, who conquered Babylon, decreed the Jews could return to their homeland if they so desired (537 BC). He was a contemporary of the prophet Haggai who was older in age, but their messages supplemented each other. Together they encouraged and inspired the people in the midst of discouraging times to complete the rebuilding of the Temple, to spur the people on to righteous living, and to keep the Messianic promises and hope alive.

The name Zechariah means “he whom Yahweh remembers” or “Yahweh has remembered.” A priest, he was already ministering to those who had returned from the exile and resettled in the land when the Lord placed His hand upon him with a visionary message. He burst upon the scene with prophetic passion in November 520 BC, in the second year of the reign of Darius the Persian ruler (Zech. 1:1). His prophetic ministry lasted at least two years, most likely longer, but at least until December 518 BC (Zech. 7:1). Because of the opposition, hardships and lax spiritual commitment the people were encountering, Zechariah shared with them heavenly visions he had received that were to serve as encouragement and reassurance that God had not forgotten or forsaken them and to not lose hope in the Messianic promises given them.

His messages to the people were communicated to him in eight visions, which are filled with a wealth of significance for us today. They can only be briefly summarized as to their meaning.

(1) The Horsemen among the Myrtle Trees (1:7-17) – The horsemen had been patrolling throughout the earth and announce that all was within Divine control and to assure the Israelites that the Lord still loved them and in His Providential timing would restore Jerusalem and bless His people with His fragrant presence.

(2) The Four Horns and Four Smiths/Craftsmen (1:18-21) – The four horns are four kingdoms that scattered Israel (Assyria, Egypt, Babylon, and Medo-Persia) and the smiths will scatter all powers that have opposed God’s people. All brute force will be put down. Such a proclamation was no doubt a source of relived comfort and encouragement to the people of God.

(3) The Man with the Measuring Line (2:1-13) – Zechariah sees a man holding a measuring line in his hand. The man says he is going to measure the city of Jerusalem. The vision declares God’s promise that Jerusalem will be expanded beyond the walls that surround them and the people will one day live in safety, as the Lord will dwell in the midst of them.

(4) Joshua Accused by the Adversary (3:1-10) – The prophet sees Joshua the high priest standing in filthy garments being accused by Satan before the Angel of the Lord. Joshua is a representative of the people. Satan is rebuked, and Joshua is given clean garments. The vision is symbolic of Israel’s forgiveness and restoration as God’s “priestly” nation. This vision is also a prediction of the one day coming High Priest—the coming Messiah, symbolized by a BRANCH and an omniscient, seven-eyed Stone!

(5) The Golden Chandelier/Lampstand and the Two Olive Trees (4:1-14) – The prophet sees a golden lampstand being fed oil from two olive trees. The two olive trees represent Zerubbabel the governor of Judah and Joshua the high priest (some scholars see the two olive trees as the Old and New Testament, others Law and Grace). The golden lampstand represents the Temple and there is provided an abundant supply of divine oil so the light and power for carrying out Israel’s mission can be accomplished.

(6) The Flying Role (5:1-4) – The prophet sees a huge scroll thirty feet by fifteen feet, written on both sides, flying over the whole earth. This vision speaks of God’s judgment upon those who are unrepentant of their sins.

(7) The Woman in the Basket (5:5-11) – The prophet is shown a basket that holds an ephah (three-fifths of a bushel). On the basket is a lead cover. An angel opens the basket to reveal a woman sitting inside, which represents sin/evil/wickedness. There appeared two women with stork-like wings who pick up the basket and carry it to Babylon. This vision pictures that evil must be removed from their lives and from the land.

(8) The Four Chariots (6:1-8) – The prophet sees four horses of different colors pulling four chariots, running in different directions throughout the whole earth. They are under the providential control of God as He carries out His promises and purposes. The people can be assured that every promise the Lord has made will be fulfilled and the wickedness of the nations will be judged and the His people will find peace in the fulfillment of the Messianic hope.

What message(s) can we glean from Zechariah and his visions? We learn that God is a God who remembers. That even in our discouragement, when it looks like God is slow in moving in our lives or when we even think He has forgotten us, in His sovereignty He continues to ride upon chariots of Divine Providence to bring about His purpose and to fulfill His promises to you and I. When circumstances prove difficult and obstacles confront us, we must remember that there is a reservoir of divine grace (picture in the oil) sufficient to help us through any struggle. When we feel we are sinking beneath the load, we are to hold on to Him who is called the BRANCH, whose eyes see our every plight. It is through trials that the walls of our character are measured, and it is through those very trials that the Lord expands the borders of our trust and usefulness. Zechariah exhorts us to put away our sin and develop an inner relationship with the Lord if we expect to experience His full blessings in our lives and experience the fragrance of His presence. God cannot bless sin, but will visit in the bounty of His strengthening presence when we put away our filthy garments. And when the Accuser of the Brethren, Satan, points an accusing finger at us, our Advocate, Jesus Christ, steps in to rebuke our Accuser and extends His forgiveness.

When the enemies of the Lord assail us, we must remember the prophet’s words that in the midst of the battle, victory comes “not by might, nor by power, but by my spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” (Zech. 4:6). And Zechariah truly gives us a anticipatory promise that someday the Messiah will stand upon the Mount of Olives (Zech. 14:4), His feet standing in ultimate victory over all His enemies…and His promise to you and me is that He now stands upon the mountains in our lives and by His Spirit empowering us to victory.

Press on my friend, we serve a God who remembers and not one word of all His good promises will ever fail!

Blessings,
Dr. Dan

 

NAHUM: THE PROPHET WHO PROCLAIMED LOVING-JUSTICE

Have you ever heard a sermon out of the book of Nahum? Probably not! Nahum is one of those Minor Prophets skipped over because it is perceived he doesn’t have a relevant word for the twenty-first century. However, the message within Nahum contains a freshness in its meaning in the midst of the oppression, violence and brutality we see today among the nations. His message is clear and plain: vengeance still belongs to the sovereign Lord and blatant disregard for God and violent treatment of others will bring certain judgment. Nahum teaches that God still hates brutality and will not allow any nation to continue in its inhumaneness forever.

Nahum means “consoler” or “comforter.” Nahum refers to himself as an Elkoshite (1:1). The exact location of Elkosh has been debated, either from the place later called Capernaum or a city in southern Judah. A man who had a passion for his people, he was filled with righteous indignation against the inhumanity of Assyria. His words were a comfort to those who had and were suffering under the barbaric cruelty of the Assyrians. The overarching theme of the book is the coming downfall of the Assyrians, truly one of the Jews worst enemies. His message was a consolation to Judah who had watched their brethren in the Northern Kingdom devastated by the Assyrians (722 BC) and who were a menace to them.

In dating Nahum’s pronouncement, it was after the fall of Thebes in Egypt (663 BC), as he writes of it as a past event (3:8-10); and it was before the fall of Nineveh, the Assyrian capital, which took place in 612 BC. So taking the middle ground, his pronouncement of loving-justice was about 645 BC.

Some background information about Assyria would prove profitable in revealing why judgment against them was forthcoming. Assyria made its appearance on the world scene in 14th century BC, its territory located in the northern part of present day Iraq. The first capital of Assyria was Assur, being named after its national god. Assur was located some one hundred and fifty miles north of present day Baghdad on the west bank of the Tigris River. Nineveh later became their capital. A warring and ruthless people, they sought to crush all who opposed their continual advancements. By the ninth century BC Assyria had become a dominate world force, having as their goal to further expand their territorial empire. As their power grew they began to pose a threat to Israel (the Northern Kingdom) and Judah (the Southern Kingdom). The Northern Kingdom, weaken by spiritual declension and weak and corrupt leaders, under the puppet leadership of King Menahem (c749-c737 BC), was forced to pay heavy tribute to Assyria (2 Kings 15:14-22). With the heavy burden of paying tribute to Assyria, Israel decided to revolt. The Assyrians marched into Israel, seizing the capital city of Samaria, and after three years of fighting destroyed the city (722 BC) (2 Kings 18:10). Thousands of Israelites were deported, and according to 2 Kings 18:11, “The king of Assyria did carry away Israel unto Assyria, and put them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan.” While the Assyrians were a thorn in the side of the Southern Kingdom, they were never able to capture them as they did the Northern Kingdom.

The ruthless Assyrians were feared, despised and hated by the world for their callousness and the inhumane way they treated their captives. A vast amount of Assyrian history, beyond biblical records, has been preserved in ancient inscriptions that give detailed accounts of more than a few of their military encounters and battles. Historical inscriptions describe a people who were barbarically brutal, cruel and bloodthirsty. Assyrian records reveal they would impale their captives, often beheading them and piling their heads in the streets. As well, they would tie their victims down and torturously flay them while alive, their victim’s skins being trophies of triumph. Boys and girls would be burnt alive. They would slowly dismember their captives while alive, until they cried out for death. Men captured in war would have their intestines and private parts ripped out of them. Enemies would be buried alive up to their necks with only their heads exposed, their heads smeared with honey and ants poured on them one can only imagine the horror they experienced. Spikes would be driven through their victim’s cheeks or tongues and paraded through the streets. Their vicious cruelties make Mao Tse-tung, Stalin, Genghis Khan, and Saddam Hussein look like choir boys (For an excellent article on Assyrian brutality see Erika Belibtreu, “Grisly Assyrian Record of Torture and Death,” Biblical Archaeology Review, 17:01, (Jan/Feb 1991), 1-11).

When one looks at the viciousness of the Assyrians one understands why Jonah (8th century BC) did not want to go preach at Nineveh. He wanted God to judge them! However, being persuaded by “ a whale” of an experience, Jonah’s preaching gave the Assyrians a temporary reprieve as they repented. In time, though, they not only fell back into their cruel ways, they actually grew worse. Their time had now run out, and because of their extreme brutality they would experience the judging hand of God upon them. In 612 BC the Assyrians were overthrown by a coalition of Babylonians, Scythians and Medes and became an asterisk on the pages of history.

The message of Nahum is that God’s sovereign, loving-justice will eventually prevail. One may ask, “How can you use love and justice in the same sentence? Are they not two opposing terms?” Quite to the contrary, at the very heart of Nahum’s message is love, for it is God’s love that imposes judgment. If God didn’t bring the judgment of divine justice to bear on unrepentant ungodliness He would not be a Being of love. Love and justice are inseparably interwoven together, as God’s love for humanity and His people arouses His righteous-justice and in time reacts in judgment against those who continually live godlessly and mistreats His people.

God’s justice may seem to us slow in coming, but it is sure in coming. God is both patient and sovereign. While He gives men and nations opportunity to repent, He also warns them if they do not the hammer of judgment will fall. Just because judgment seems to be delayed from our perspective, we can be sure the Providential wheels of justice are turning and moving forward toward reckoning day. And as P.T. Forsyth so eloquently writes, “His justice does not sleep. The bolt of judgement which seems to come so suddenly from heaven, comes really from the heart of a storm which has been gathering long, and when it suddenly bursts forth it does with force…with force that flows forth from His holy-love revealed in the justice and judgment of the Cross” (P.T. Forsyth, “The Slowness of God,” The Expository Times, 11: 1900, 218-222). Amen!

Blessings,
Dr. Dan

OBADIAH: THE EDOM IN US ALL

Obadiah is a much over looked book in the Old Testament. Taking its place among the Minor Prophets, Obadiah’s twenty-one verses make it the shortest book in the OT. The message of the book is directed toward the people of Edom who looked on in fiendish glee as Jerusalem was overrun and plundered by foreign armies. While the book is a pronouncement of judgment against the ancient land of Edom, as shall be discovered, there is a treasure of truths contained within that are applicable for our lives.

The book is named after the prophet who received the vision (1:1). Obadiah means “servant or worshipper of the Lord.” The name Obadiah is associated with at least twelve other characters in the Old Testament, but none appear to be the Obadiah named in the book. Nothing is known of the prophet beyond what is found in the twenty-one verses preserved for us. From his own words it is clear he is a pious, patriotic, and passionate man who put into words the message burning in his soul.

The date of the book is open to debate by scholars. The two most likely dates are: (1) Eighth century BC; and (2) Shortly after 586 BC. There is a prophet Obadiah in the days of Elijah and Elisha, which if the same person would suggest the earlier date. However, few scholars contend it is the same Obadiah as the minor prophet. The later date seems more appropriate, as the prophecy of Obadiah was issued in a response to a time when Jerusalem was overtaken by foreign forces, who the prophet indicates the Edomites in some way conspired with the enemy (v. 15). That seems to indicate that the incident referred to is the 586 BC destruction of Jerusalem by Nebuchadnezzar. If such is the case, the date of the book is best dated sometime after the 586 BC strike of Babylon. The latter date would make Obadiah a contemporary of the prophet Jeremiah, which is indicated by similar pronouncements against Edom by the two prophets (Jer. 49:14-16 and Obadiah v. 1-4).

The book of Obadiah tells the story of two individuals, Jacob and Esau; two nations, Israel and Edom. Though twin brothers, their descendants became rivals. Jacob was the father of Israel, and Esau became the father of the Edomites. Through this ancient land of Edom, the Israelites, coming out of Egyptian slavery, marched as they came into the promised land of Israel. As they came into the land, they had difficulty with the Edomites who were nemeses of Israel from the very beginning. The Israelites and Edomites were continually antagonist. This struggle began in their mother’s womb, continued after they were born, and continued on in their descendants. They were always opposed to one another. Anytime calamity happened to the Israelites the Edomites fiendishly rejoiced. Obadiah issued a declaration that because of their active opposition to the Jews, judgment would eventually be visited upon them. The prophet’s pronouncement came to pass. While “the final fate of the Edomite kingdom remains completely shrouded in darkness,” the nation was eventually swept into the forgotten pages of history (Martin North, History of Israel, (London: Black, 1959), 294).

How does Obadiah’s prophecy against a now forgotten nation speak to us in the twenty-first century? One must remember that every passage has an interpretation, and it also has various applications. While the interpretation of the book focuses on the doom of Edom who was always actively opposing Israel, there is a practical application that we see in regard to the hostile opposition that existed between Jacob and Esau; between Israel and Edom.

We know from experience and from the teaching of the New Testament there is active opposition between the Old Man and the New Man; between the Flesh and the Spirit; between the New Nature and the Old Nature. Paul makes it clear in Galatians 5:17 that the New Man and the Old man, the Flesh and the Spirit are contrary one to the other. They are always opposed to one another. Yes, Jacob and Esau, Israel and Edom, is a picture of the perpetual opposition that takes place between the Flesh and the Spirit; between the New Nature and the Old Nature. The two irreconcilably are opposed to one another. There is an Edom in all of us.

Like the Edomites, the Flesh is filled with pride (v. 3-4), which leads to self-sufficiency (v. 4), envy, hatred, indifference, unbrotherly conduct, gloating over the misfortune of others (v. 10-14). What a perfect description of the Old Man who opposes the New Man. Edom was guilty of pride, and pride is the root of all human evil. It is pride that defies God; it is pride the resulted in Lucifer becoming Satan; it is pride that creeps into the life of the Christian that actively opposes what the Lord is desiring to accomplish and bring to pass in us. There is an Edom in all of us.

While every Christian has an Edom within, that is not the end of the story.  Obadiah records in verses 15-16 that judgment is determined upon Edom, and Jacob (Israel) will reign again (20-21)! That Jacob will come out on top is certain, it is evitable and inescapable, for the Lord is forever against the opposition of Edom and no peace will be made with them. In the same respect, the Lord is against the Flesh, no peace can be made with it. There was no hope for Edom; there is no hope for Flesh. There was no reforming Edom; there is no reforming the Flesh. Just as peace was not made with the Edomites; we are not to make peace with the Flesh. The characteristics of Edom had all the characteristics of the Flesh. But, again, Jacob will reign and govern; the Spirit will reign over the Flesh.

It is by the power of the Cross and through the coming of the Holy Spirit we overcome the Edom within us. At the cross sin (the Flesh) was judged, and at Pentecost the power of the Holy Spirit was sent Who enables us to overcome in the Spirit the Flesh. Have we embraced the promise that Edom is judged and Israel restored? Have we yielded to the cross where pride, self-sufficiency, and all the negative characteristics of Edom were judged? Who is ruling in our lives, Esau or Jacob, Edom or Israel, the Flesh or the Spirit, the Old Man or the New Man?

There may be an Edom in us all, but Christ, the Prophet greater than Obadiah, has declared that Edom has been judged, the Flesh has been defeated, and deliverance has been provided. O, what a Savior

Blessings,
Dr. Dan

THE LOVE OF GOD AND SIN

John the Beloved writes, “God is Love” (I John 4:8). There is a misconception as to the meaning of the Love of God. Many picture God as a Heavenly Grandfather who lets the grandkids get by with anything without fear of any reprisal. Many people who live recklessly in sin hide behind the truth that God is love. They interpret God’s love to mean He is tolerant of any kind of behavior regardless of how ungodly it might be. After all, if God loves me what difference does it make how I live, for He will forgive me anyway. There are those in Christendom today who endorse all kind of bizarre and depraved lifestyles under the umbrella that God loves everyone and, in the end, it matters not how one lives; therefore, we must be tolerant, accepting, understanding, and nonjudgmental no matter how debased one’s behavior.

One who defines God’s love under the pretense of toleration regardless of the kind of behavior one engages in, does so because they either (1) have a total misunderstanding of the essence of Divine Love; or (2) they do so to give themselves an excuse to live as they please. In most instances I think it is the latter reasoning. Let it be said, the Love of God is not to be a shield to hide behind so one can indulge in deliberate unbiblical behavior. Such an abuse of God’s love is an offense to the holiness of God which necessitated the work of Christ…and called for it and provided for it.

One must forever embrace the truth that God’s love cannot be divorced from His holiness. God’s love flows forth from His holiness (His moral and transcendent purity), which of divine necessity effects judgement upon sin. God’s love seeks to bring about repentance and transformation in man, but He does so within holy-love’s character which detests sin. Judgment is holiness’ reaction to sin, which is the enemy of God and the destroyer of man. One cannot have an adequate grasp of the love of God in Christ Jesus until one has an understanding that God’s holy-love came to condemn sin which is incompatible with God’s holy nature. His love cannot be separated from His holiness The horror of the cross pictures the ugliness of sin in the face of holiness, yet the love of God is exhibited in Him bearing and judging sin in Himself as our Sacrifice for our noncompliance to the demands of His holiness. His love didn’t and doesn’t tolerate sin, but exposed its hideousness on the cross. His love didn’t excuse sin but judged it. There can be no offer of forgiving grace without an affirmation of the moral majesty of His holiness which despises sin. His love didn’t dismiss sin but in Christ dealt with sin.

God’s Loving grace has no meaning apart from His holiness which exposed on the cross sin in all its horror and the judgment it deserves. It is the holiness in God’s love that necessitated the cross. While in the Christ of the cross God provided redemption for humanity, the cross is foremost the self-justification of God to the world that He is holy and sin is an affront to His holy character. On the cross the holiness and love of God merged, revealing the darkness of sin and love of Christ who not only complied with God’s holiness but bore in Himself our judgement, paying the debt we owe for our inability to comply with the demands of His holiness. The message of the New Testament from John the Baptist, to Jesus, to Peter, to Paul, to John is “Repent.” In repentance we acknowledge the despicableness of sin is exceedingly sinful in the face of a holy God. True repentance is realizing that God took the broken law of his holiness so seriously that it entailed the perfect obedience of Christ and His death upon the cruel cross. The terror of sin’s judgment should fall upon us, but in love the judgment of our sin was laid on Him. At the cross we see the severity of God in His dealing with sin and we see the love God in Christ in the giving of Himself as the Sacrifice for our sins. Our salvation was not secured by dismissing judgment upon sin, but by judgment upon sin. God’s holy-love accepted and bore in Himself His own holy judgment upon sin. He being the only One who had the right to judge sin, absorbed in Himself the judgment we rightly deserved. Now that is LOVE.

One who claims Christ as Savior and continues in their sin, in an antinomian lifestyle, under the pretense that God’s Love will overlook their willfully sinful lifestyle, has failed to grasp the meaning of Christ’s death on the cross. His death was not to preserve us in our sin, but to save us out of our sin. His death was not for the purpose of making us comfortable in our sin, but for us to grasp the horror of sin for which Christ died and turn from those sins. His death was not for purpose of continuing in the old life, but walking in newness of life. His death was not for the purpose of tolerating sin, but seeing the blackness of sin and turning from it. His death was not for the purpose of being acceptant of sin, but expelling from our lives the very sins for which God judged in Jesus Christ. The judgment due us willingly became His, the repentance remains ours. It was because of man’s sins that Christ suffered; it was punishment of sin that fell on Him. And the worst of sins is to with ingratitude continue on in those very sins for which Christ suffered the judgment of the holy Father  on our behalf.

God in grace through Christ calls us unto Himself. Seeing that only holiness can be in communion with a holy God, by the grace of God He has made provision in Christ for us to come unto Him; and by a living faith in Christ we become partakers of that same eternal holy-love which God from everlasting to everlasting bestows upon His Son.  O, what a Savior.

Blessings,
Dr. Dan