Sickness for God’s Glory

John’s Gospel inextricably connects the Word being made flesh and dwelling among us with the reality of our fallen, broken world. John 11 begins the second half of this Gospel with the miracle of Jesus raising his friend Lazarus from the dead. But the first part of the chapter, verses 1-16 which we are looking at, has Jesus delaying going to his dying friend until after Lazarus died.

See God’s glory in your sickness. Lazarus (not the Lazarus of whom Jesus spoke in Luke 16:20) and his sisters, Mary and Martha, lived in the village of Bethany, just outside Jerusalem. Lazarus lay sick, very seriously ill. Notice how Martha and Mary describe their brother in the message they send to Jesus: “Lord, the one you love is sick.” It is not, “the one who loves you,” or “your disciple,” but “the one you love.” At the heart of your relationship with God is the love of the Lord Jesus Christ to you. J. C. Ryle puts it well, “Christ’s love to us, and not our love to Christ is the blessed truth which we ought continually to keep before our minds. His love never changes: ours is wavering and uncertain.” Jesus loves you individually, just as he Continue reading “Sickness for God’s Glory”

Give Thanks in All Circumstances

Thanksgiving? Under these circumstances, you may ask. Look at how the election turned out. Look at the problems we face as a nation (many of which would be there had the election gone the other way). Look at the devastation from Sandy. Do you know that war seems to be breaking out in Gaza and Israel, with Egypt and possibly Iran about to get into the mix. Can you still give thanks?

In the face of all this do three things: be joyful always, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances! That’s how the Apostle Paul commands you to respond in 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.

Rejoice always! That is not the natural reaction to the suffering mentioned in v. 15. It is not the get even attitude of the world nor is it Continue reading “Give Thanks in All Circumstances”

Speaking ‘Amen’ to the Glory of God

If you have prayed a Christian prayer, you have used the expression, “. . . in Jesus’ name, Amen.” Many use it multiple times a day, hundreds of times in a year. Are the words just a convenient formality? Why do we say “Amen”? When should we? Look at 2 Corinthians 1:18-22 and Genesis 15 for answers.

“Amen” is a Hebrew word that expresses confidence, assurance, that God will do as he has said. It was used by the people of Israel, carried over into the New Testament church, and we still Continue reading “Speaking ‘Amen’ to the Glory of God”

“The Scripture Cannot Be Broken”

Sola Scriptura, “Scripture alone,” became one of the often-repeated mottos of the Reformation. Like many mottos, it has often been misunderstood and misused. But it is of crucial importance, today as well as nearly 500 years ago. One of the clearer expressions of Jesus’ own view of the authority of Scripture comes as he speaks to those who are about to stone him on a charge of blasphemy, recorded in John 10:31-42.

“Scripture alone” does not mean that Scripture is the only authority. Too often Protestants have lived down to the picture of “my Bible and I” standing against the world. It is instructive to read the reformers and note how frequently they quote early church fathers and more recent theologians. They did not see themselves as innovators. But they insisted that the Scriptures are the final, the ultimate authority. That was what Luther claimed as he said, “Here I stand.”

Nor should “Scripture alone” be taken to mean that the reformers believed that the Bible was God’s Word and the church of Rome did not. Rome, with the reformers, agreed Continue reading ““The Scripture Cannot Be Broken””