Saturday, April 6, 2024



Learning of God is not just study and head-knowledge. Having the Word is not enough. We need the Spirit to remove our blindness and to illuminate the Word. Therefore, David prayed:

Psalm 119:18 Open my eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of your law.

2 Corinthians 3:17–18 Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom. And we all, with unveiled face, beholding the glory of the Lord [through the Word], are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another. For this comes from the Lord who is the Spirit.

The Spirit enables us to understand:

Ephesians 3:16–19 that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.

Without the Spirit, the Gospel seems foolish and even offensive:

1 Corinthians 2:12–16 Now we [Apostles] have received not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God. And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual. The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. The spiritual person judges all things, but is himself to be judged by no one. “For who has understood the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?” But we have the mind of Christ.

Jesus exemplified how the Spirit works:

Luke 24:44–45 Then he said to them, “These are my words that I spoke to you while I was still with you, that everything written about me in the Law of Moses and the Prophets and the Psalms must be fulfilled.” Then he opened their minds to understand the Scriptures.

What if Scripture does not come alive for you? Ask God to show you if you have built a wall against His influence:

Philippians 3:15–16 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

Our Lord will answer:

1 John 5:13–15 I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life.  And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us. And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him.

Commit to trusting that He will answer your prayers:

Psalm 37:3–7 Trust in the LORD, and do good; dwell in the land and befriend faithfulness. Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in him, and he will act. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light, and your justice as the noonday. Be still before the LORD and wait patiently for him; fret not yourself over the one who prospers in his way, over the man who carries out evil devices!

Friday, April 5, 2024




Meditating on the glory of God is edifying, while contemplating our very obvious lack of glory is depressing, if we look at ourselves accurately (Romans 7:18-19). Even contemplating the mysteries of His glory uplifts our hearts, and there are many mysteries:

Hebrews 1:1–4 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

 Here are some of the perplexities. Jesus is already God who doesn’t change (Hebrews 13:8). “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” who even “upholds the universe.” How can He become “superior to angels” if already He is far superior to all of them?

 Oddly, it seems that Jesus had earned a glory that hadn’t been His prior to the Cross:

John 12:23–25 And Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.

Surprisingly, the moment of His greatest glory wasn’t when He created the world or even when He returns to set up His everlasting Kingdom.

Hebrews 2:9 …we see him who for a little while was made lower than the angels, namely Jesus, crowned with glory and honor because of the suffering of death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.

How would His horribly painful and shameful death be glorious? This is something that was necessary for Jesus to accomplish, and the world needed to see It to bring about worship and confession that Jesus Christ is Lord (Psalm 2:6–8):

Philippians 2:9–11 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father. (Isaiah 45:22-25)

Jesus’ sacrifice would even glorify the Father of love who had required this sacrifice and exalted His Son:

 John 17:2–3 “Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him.  And this is eternal life, that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent.

How could Jesus’ Crucifixion bring glory to the Father? For one thing, through the Cross, the Father had sacrificed what was most holy and precious, His beloved Son, to free us from the power of the Devil:

2 Corinthians 4:4,6 …the god of this world [Satan] has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God…For God, who said, “Let light shine out of darkness,” has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.

What was this “light of the knowledge of the glory of God?” The death of Jesus for the sins of the world! The Father had also shared in the glory of the Cross by sacrificing His Beloved. However, Jesus didn’t want to go to the Cross. He had been so tormented by His impending fate that he prayed: saying, “My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matthew 26:39).

There was no other way! The Apostle John had been given a vision to demonstrate why  Jesus had to die his horrible death. No one could be found worthy to open the scroll. Consequently, the Father’s plan could not proceed as intended. Therefore, John wept:

Revelation 5:5,12 “Weep no more; behold, the Lion of the tribe of Judah, the Root of David, has conquered, so that he can open the scroll and its seven seals…“Worthy is the Lamb who was slain, to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing!”

Why would this entitle Jesus to receive honor and glory? This was an earned glory, which had to be demonstrated before the world. Why? Jesus is not only God—omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. However, these attributes  aren‘t enough to win our devotion. These fail to prove that God was any more than an all-powerful tyrant. He also had to demonstrate a quality that had only been dimly perceived in the Hebrew Scriptures—that He also so loved the world,” (John 3:16), the fulfillment of all our hopes and heavenly dreams:

Romans 5:8–10 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

We  have such a glorious inheritance, but I had been suffering to such an extent that I was unable to shake the thought that my God might be a sadistic deceiver, and perhaps the Bible was no more than His tool of deception. And I was unable to prove otherwise, and so the doubt remained, and my torment could find no relief, until I realized that a sadistic deceiver would never have gone to the Cross for me. This understanding freed me to begin, once again, to trust my beloved Savior.

At the end of this age, He will reveal his glory once again:

Isaiah 66:19–20…”I will send survivors to the nations…that have not heard my fame or seen my glory. And they shall declare my glory among the nations. And they shall bring all your brothers [the Jews] from all the nations as an offering to the LORD, on horses and in chariots and in litters and on mules and on dromedaries, to my holy mountain Jerusalem, says the LORD, just as the Israelites bring their grain offering in a clean vessel to the house of the LORD.”

They will see His glory and be humbled into joyous submission by His love:

Isaiah 52:13–53:4 Behold, my servant shall act wisely; he shall be high and lifted up, and shall be exalted. As many were astonished at you— his appearance was so marred, beyond human semblance, and his form beyond that of the children of mankind— so shall he sprinkle [cleanse] many nations. Kings shall shut their mouths because of him, for that which has not been told them they see, and that which they have not heard they understand. Who has believed what he has heard from us? And to whom has the arm of the LORD been revealed? For he grew up before him like a young plant, and like a root out of dry ground; he had no form or majesty that we should look at him, and no beauty that we should desire him. He was despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief; and as one from whom men hide their faces he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he has borne our griefs and carried our sorrows; yet we esteemed him stricken, smitten by God, and afflicted. (Isaiah 49:22–23, Micah 7:15–16)




Monday, April 1, 2024

The Protestant/Catholic Divide



Based upon conversations with Catholic friends, it seems that our primary disagreement is about the literal presence of the body and blood of Jesus in the Eucharist (“Communion,” “Lord’s Supper”). While Catholics believe that Jesus is physically present in the communion, most Protestants believe that He is not physically present. Why?

·       1 Corinthians 11:23–26 For I received from the Lord what I also delivered to you, that the Lord Jesus on the night when he was betrayed took bread, and when he had given thanks, he broke it, and said, “This is my body, which is for you. Do this in remembrance of me.” In the same way also he took the cup, after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in my blood. Do this, as often as you drink it, in remembrance of me.” For as often as you eat this bread and drink the cup, you proclaim the Lord’s death until he comes.

Which is it? Is Jesus literally and physically present in the elements or is the Communion merely a way of “proclaiming” and remembering what He has done for us?

This is truly an important question. It not only divides Catholics and Protestants, but it had also created the historic divide between Lutherans and Calvinists.

Jesus had also proclaimed to the crowds who had been following Him after feeding the thousands:

        “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him. As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever feeds on me, he also will live because of me. This is the bread that came down from heaven, not like the bread [manna] the fathers ate, and died. Whoever feeds on this bread will live forever.” (John 6:53-58)

However, Jesus often expressed Himself figuratively and parabolically (Matthew 13:13).  How then are we to understand these verses? If taken literally, Jesus had seemingly invited the crowd to cannibalize Him. However, none pursued Him with knife and fork. Instead, the Jews understood that eating human flesh was strictly forbidden, but that didn’t enable the crowd to understand His teaching as figurative.

So what did Jesus mean? Some claim that this teaching was an allusion to the Eucharist (Communion), which the Roman Catholic Church regards as a sacrament through which Jesus offers His actual flesh and blood as a necessary means of grace. However, none of His original audience would have had any idea about the Eucharist. Instead, they left in utter perplexity.

However, the context helps us understand to what Jesus was alluding. First, He criticized the crowd because they were following Him for the wrong reason. They had  miraculously been fed, and they were following Him for more of the same:

·       John 6:26-27 Jesus answered them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, you are seeking me, not because you saw signs [that He is the Savior], but because you ate your fill of the loaves. Do not work for the food that perishes, but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal.”

Instead, they demanded a sign like the manna that Moses had provided. What blindness! Jesus had just provided a great sign! To this, Jesus answered that He was the true manna, the bread of life:

·       John 6:33 “For the bread of God is he who comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.”

Consequently, Jesus is the Bread they required, not the manna. They had to feast upon Him, but how? Through His teachings:

·       John 6:40 “For this is the will of my Father, that everyone who looks on the Son and believes in him should have eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day.”

·       John 6:47 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life.”

No mention here of consuming His body! The crowd had been so spiritually blind that they failed to understand that Jesus used the metaphors of “manna” and the “bread of God” to say, “Ingesting the bread of life is a matter ingesting my words and believing in Me”:

·       John 6:47-51 “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever believes has eternal life. I am the bread of life. Your fathers ate the manna in the wilderness, and they died. This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

What gives eternal life: Believing or literally ingesting Jesus’ body? What did Jesus give “for the life of the world?” His body on the Cross! Seeing that they remained skeptical, He tried again:

·       John 6:63-64 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.”

Their problem wasn’t that they didn’t regard His body as literal food but that they didn’t believe. Life wasn’t a matter of eating and drinking. Instead, eternal life was a matter of believing “the words I have spoken to you” and not a matter of taking the Eucharist.

How did Jesus’ disciples understand His teaching? Did they think that they had to literally eat Jesus’ body? Evidently not! After Jesus asked them if they too would abandon Him:

·       John 6:68-69 Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.”

Peter understood that life was a matter of knowing and believing in Jesus and not ingesting His body. Life was not a matter of brilliant arguments, or even feeding thousands out of virtually nothing. Instead, it required the secret and inner work of the Holy Spirit:

·       John 6:65 “This is why I told you that no one can come to me unless it is granted him by the Father.”

Salvation is a matter of the gift of God—the regeneration of the heart and mind so that we will believe (Titus 3:5-7)

John 6:63-64 “It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life. But there are some of you who do not believe.”