And Jesus Said Unto Them


This is a follow-up to yesterday’s post

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Taking my life decade by decade, I’d confess these would be the relatable refrains of the Almighty to my heart in each scale of my journey:

  • As a child I was drawn to a Sunday School God with stories of braveries and miracles on flannel graph and innately knew my own story was being fitted to join in somehow.
  • In my teens and twenties it was the sternness and forgiveness, the judgments and mercies, of God in the prophets that shaped me.
  • In my thirties and into my forties, I was positively rabbinical in my poring over the Old Testament and discovering the Father’s heart as broken and pleading for His wayward children and making for them a way out of their wilderness.
  • Later in my forties, I uncovered Jesus from the Pentateuch – bridging it to the Gospel in the New – and seeing how everything points to Him, how He connects the dots, learning how one can preach the Gospel from there and not perverting it with works-salvation.
  • And so far in my fifties, I’m rediscovering the stand-alone story of ‘chesed‘ throughout all of Scripture and the intimacy of God-come-near in Jesus – the Good News that is only good and really all that God has left with us to preach – and that it’s amazingly enough.

These were the overtures of God in each stage of my faith journey. It would also seem that God has ‘themed’ His communications to the Church throughout her history. Each ‘generation’ of followers of the Lord Jesus has been faced with its own challenge – a direct question taken from the Gospels in various settings.

The Cry and Call of God to His people has been ‘generation-specific’ in the changing eras of Church history. Each version has had to answer to a divinely inspired challenge and respond in their crisis of belief to the stewardship of the Kingdom set before them. Allow me to show you what I mean*:

  • The ‘First-Generation’ Church:

  • This was the age of martyrdom and following Jesus at great cost. It seems their testimony was asked to stand up to the query of Jesus:

    Will you lay down your life for My sake?”
    (John 13:38)

  • The 4th Century Issue:

  • A concerted effort to de-deify Jesus had been in the mix for (then) hundreds of years, and the matter was settled by the Church at the Council of Nicea, where church leaders drove the stake in the ground once and for all declaring Jesus to be One and the Same with the Father. It seems, then, they had to answer to:

    What do you think of the Christ? Whose Son is He?”
    (Matthew 22:42)

  • The Dark Ages:

  • The merciful end to this prolonged spiritual black hole of Church corruption gave rise to ‘reformers’ whose identities suffice with easily recognizable last names: Hus, Luther, Knox, Wycliffe, and Calvin. These – and a host of others – stood unapologetically on salvation by grace through faith and not man’s work nor payment of indulgences. It’s plain to see their kind answered to:

    Did I not say if you believe you would see the glory of God?”
    (John 11:40)

  • The Age of ‘Open Doors’:

  • Carey, Taylor, Livingstone, Judson, Goforth, Moon, Studd, Brainerd, Aldersey – to name a few – each left the comforts and conveniences of home and security to take the living Gospel to the ends of the known earth, causing the Church to explode onto the global stage. God’s challenge to stay man’s notion of enlightenment and secularism was accepted by these selfless men and women who answered “yes” to:

    When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith(fulness) on the earth?”
    (Luke 18:8)

  • 20th Century Prosperity:

  • Industry and the rise of technology made the West the most affluent society on earth – and with it, materialism, individualism, greed and selfishness. To His people living under the difficult yoke of Western prosperity, God issued an invitation to lay up treasures in Heaven by surrendering their bank accounts on earth to His glory. Many, but not most, and certainly not all answered in the affirmative to:

    Do you love Me more than these?”
    (John 21:5)

  • The Beginning of the ‘Great Falling Away’:

  • Paul told his disciple Timothy it would happen in the ‘last days’ and we’re here, folks. Religious pluralism, rampant hedonism, pervasive secularism, radical inclusivism and forced tolerance are a swelling tide coming down on the landscape of the world, and the Church is a weakened bulwark against it. Many are being drawn away and perishing. Who will stand? Who will remain firmly in faith? Jesus asked His own –

    Will you also go away?”
    (John 6:67)

    And they said:

    Where else would we go? You alone have the words of Life.”
    (John 6:68)

Is this our generation’s question?

Or is there another?

I have an idea there’s another one for us – and, Lord willing, I’ll share it in the next podcast. Bless you, friends, for giving me your time in these posts. Until next time…

In His joy!
Pasture

• • • •

Note: I must give credit where it’s due, so these ‘generation-specific’ questions from the Lord Jesus were taken from an article by O. S. Hawkins I’ve kept on file for the last decade.

Life’s Biggie

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While existentialists have been pondering the answer to life’s Ultimate Question for generations, I don’t think they’ve ever understood the (right) question in the first place. To question the existence of God and the accountability of man is the sure path to never finding true bliss and meaning and puts them on a circuitous treadmill of, well, never arriving.

[Relax. This is not a multi-layered philosophical post that is designed to raise more questions.]

The Bible doesn’t spend a whole lot of time trying to prove the existence of God. It’s intrinsically and automatically assumed. From the outset…He is. First book, first chapter, very first phrase of the very first verse…

In short, the only written record in mankind’s possession that can boast to contain only truth from heaven, and has remained unilaterally unchallenged and supernaturally preserved, assumes we are here by Intelligent Design, and so asks, “What will you do, then, with such information?”

Those who challenge such a claim reveal only one thing about themselves: they don’t want any such God to tell them what to do.

• • • •

Aldous Huxley, grandson of Thomas Huxley who was Darwin’s colleague, stated in his article, “Confessions of a Professed Atheist“:

“I had motives for not wanting the world to have meaning…For myself, as no doubt for most of my contemporaries, the philosophy of meaninglessness was essentially an instrument of liberation. The liberation we desired was simultaneously liberation from a certain political and economic system and liberation from a certain system of morality. We objected to the morality because it interfered with our sexual freedom.”

• • • •

One’s matrix of understanding must begin with “In the beginning God…” before meaning and fulfillment can even be hinted at. If there’s any other subject that replaces God in that sentence (i.e., chance, evolution, myself) life becomes an unsolvable riddle and cruel mystery.

For the ones with eyes to see, however, our quest is not finished. It’s not enough to acknowledge we are here by the agenda of Another. There is now, for us, a comma, followed by a “therefore” and brought to a clearly defined response.


“He is God, therefore I…”

In Bible times there were these poignant questions asked by God (or on behalf of God) to some of the more familiar people of both testaments. Questions that changed their course dramatically:

  • Where are you, Adam?
  • Who is on the Lord’s side?
  • What is the meaning of the bleating of these sheep, Saul?
  • Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth, Job?
  • Whom shall I send? Who will go for us? (A two-fer for Isaiah!)
  • Saul, Saul, why are you persecuting Me?

Looking back on my own life, the most life-changing question I was ever asked, I was asked in front of 2,000 people. In my mid-teens, I’d just knelt at a church altar, laying my life down for God…for only God knew what. I was still puzzled by what it all meant as my feet slogged back to a pew in the rear of the cavernous auditorium.

What did I sign up for, Lord?

Can You confirm something? Anything?

My youth pastor must’ve known something I didn’t, for he asked for some testimonies by show of hands:

Who came to receive Christ tonight?
(Hands held aloft)

Who confessed sin and rededicated your lives back to God tonight?
(Many hands everywhere)

Who came to dedicate your life to a specific mission for God?
(A dozen or so hands, maybe?)

Did I? I didn’t know. Nothing so much…specific…as generally offered…

But still, my hand went up slowly.

I must’ve caught his eye way back there in the back with hundreds and hundreds of people between myself and Pastor John. Yeah, right.

I see you back there, Scott,” he smiled from the podium.

You have GOT to be kidding me. He. Saw. Me. And singled me out. My heart was swallowed up by my stomach.

Did you come to this altar tonight to surrender for preaching ministry?” he asked, somewhat slyly.

And there it was.

Boom.

Clear as crystal.

In a micro-second, I then knew why I was on the earth. I was fourteen years young and I already had the answer to my own why.

Yes sir,” I responded, my voice cracking from the back.

And here was my humblest yes – not to Pastor John, but to God Himself. And 2,000 witnesses.

I thought so,” he said into the microphone, his amplified voice cracking too.

• • • •

So I ask you, in closing. Why are YOU here? What big answer is YOUR life to give?

• • • •

Thanks for reading today, beloved. Sorry I’ve not posted all week, but, you know, life…but anyway, in tomorrow’s post I want to follow up this piece with another that offers some of Christ’s most important questions for His followers – taken directly from the Gospels. I think you’ll find them to be just as pertinent for us now as they were then.

Selah,
The Pasture