Thursday, March 27, 2008
Hebrews 11:31 tells us, “By faith the harlot Rahab did not perish with those who did not believe, when she had received the spies with peace.”
James 2:25 explains, “Likewise, was not Rahab the harlot also justified by works when she received the messengers and sent them out another way?”
The story in Joshua and the additional information given to us by the New Testament writers provides us with a lot to think about. What do we know from the story that shows us Rahab’s faith? In what way was she different than her fellow citizens?
In this short story, she explains to the spies that he knows that the Lord has given the Israelites the land. She admits the terror has fallen on them, all the inhabitants are fainthearted and that their hearts melted with lack of courage because of what they had heard God had done to other nations around them. It sounds like Rahab was not the only one who believed the stories they had heard about what had happened. The citizens as a whole were terrified. What made the belief of Rahab different than the rest?
It seems to me that she acted on her belief. She took the risk of hiding the spies instead of turning them in, she helped them escape, and she asked to be rescued. When she was told what it would take to be rescued, she believed what they said and did what they told her to do. I think that’s why James says she was justified by her works. James writes that faith without works is dead. But Rahab demonstrated her faith with her actions and in so doing was rescued when that pagan city was destroyed.Shouldn’t this teach us something about faith in Christ? So many times we hear what God has done, and sometimes there is a certain amount of awe and fear associated with it, but often it isn’t mixed with the actions that true faith produces. May God grant us the kind of faith that produces obedience.
Monday, March 24, 2008
Joshua was the man God chose to lead His people across the
Here is a tremendous promise related to Christian meditation. I say “Christian” to distinguish it from the various types of eastern meditation that are out there today. In order to meditate on Scripture, we have to take it in, perhaps memorize it and then spend time mulling it over and over in our mind, thinking about what it means and how it applies to our situation. This is not an easy thing to do in our culture that is so visually oriented and busy. But learning to do this has great rewards.
The first thing we see is that meditation on God’s Word will help us to observe and do all that is in it. God has given us His word to be followed and obeyed. Meditating on it helps us to do that.
Second, Joshua was promised that his way would be prosperous and he would have good success. Of course, prosperity and success in this context is not what we usually think of in our current culture. Prosperity and success here are measured in God’s terms based on a godly life that glorifies Him.
Psalm One offers a similar promise to the one who meditates on His law day and night. The psalmist tells us that we shall be like a fruitful tree rather than dry sawdust. Whatever such a person does shall prosper.
Isn’t that what we want in our lives? If we find ourselves falling short of this ideal we should look at the quality and level of our meditation on God’s Word. How are we doing in that area?
Friday, March 21, 2008
When the Israelites crossed the Jordan river into the promised land, there were only two who had been among the original group that had been delivered from
According to the book of Hebrews, there is a picture here that the Holy Spirit wants us to grasp.
You’ll have to read Hebrews 3 and 4 to see the whole context, but I’ll summarize the argument here. Hebrews 3:7 says “Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.” What that means is that today, we should not be like the people of
Hebrews 4:1 tells us that the promise of entering God’s rest remains. God’s rest is explained in that God rested on the seventh day after He had created the world. Since there remains the possibility that some would enter into it and since those to whom the message was first preached did not enter into it, there is still a designated time for some to enter that rest. The designated time is TODAY. His conclusion in verse 9 and 10 is that a rest remains for the people of God and the person who has entered into His rest has ceased from his own works as God did from His.
We so often find ourselves striving and laboring to try to achieve what God has already given us by His grace. When you picture God, do you picture Him struggling and toiling over events in the world? Do you think He is worrying about the political situation and the crises around the world? I don’t think so. God is offering us the opportunity of entering into the rest He is in right now. It means we cease from our labor like God did from His. The struggling to be acceptable and approved by God is over.But the people in the Old Testament weren’t able to enter in because of unbelief. The same thing will hinder our entering in. God calls upon us as His people to believe Him and trust Him and all of the promises He has made to us. Have you entered into the rest God has prepared for you?
Monday, March 17, 2008
The last time we saw that Adam was our representative when he sinned and therefore his sin is our sin and we became guilty in him. The great news in the gospel is that Jesus Christ is the second Adam. In other words, He also is the representative for the people who are in Him. Romans 5:15 and following says, “But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man’s offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.”
Verse 18 goes on, “Therefore, as through one man’s offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man’s righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man’s obedience many will be made righteous.”
The thing I see happening all the time is that Christians rightly recognize their status as sinners because of Adam, but they’ve somehow missed the point of this chapter which is that in the same way that Adam made us sinners, Jesus Christ made us righteous. One is as equally true as the other.
As we continue our study in the book of Joshua and the associated lessons, we are going to see over and over how Christ is the representative for His people and what He has done, we have done in Him.
Thursday, March 06, 2008
I think there is a lot of confusion related to terminology when it comes to discussing this subject. I don’t think that defining the baptism in the Holy Spirit involves whether or not spiritual gifts are present in the church today or whether or not speaking in tongues is involved. I also believe that as far as possible we should form our definitions from Scripture rather than by personal experience. That is why there is so much disagreement and confusion because of the fact that people’s experiences can and do differ.
Some very interesting patterns emerge when you look at what people are baptized in and what they are baptized into. It clears up a lot of ambiguity on the subject, but it does take some digging using a good interlinear Greek New Testament.
Saturday, March 01, 2008
One of the keys to understanding the Bible is the concept of a representative acting on behalf of his constituents. We in the
The same thing happens in the Bible. For example, we are taught that Adam represents those who are his constituents. Jesus Christ also represents His constituents. This relates to our study in the book of Joshua because God promises Joshua that every place he sets his feet in the Promised Land is his. Now obviously God isn’t giving Joshua personally all the land. He is giving it to Joshua as the representative of all the people.
We need to take some time and work through this because it is central to our understanding of some important Scriptures.
Let’s start with Adam. Look carefully at Romans 5:12-16. First we learn that sin entered the world through one man, Adam. Christians generally believe that Adam’s fall is what brought sin into the world. Sin brought death with it and as a result death passed to all men because all sinned. Now the problem is that most people think that this passage is saying that since Adam sinned, other people have a sin nature that they follow and so they also sin and bring death upon themselves. But this is not what the passage is saying. What the passage is saying is that when Adam sinned we all sinned in him. He sinned as our representative and this brought guilt on all of us before we even had a chance to show our own sinfulness by committing sins ourselves.
We know this is true because it is explained in verses 13 and 14. Verse 13 says that there was sin in the world before the law came, but when there is no law, sin is not charged to anyone. However, verse 14 says that in spite of this fact, people died before the law came even though they did not sin like Adam did by disobeying a specific commandment. What that means is that their death was a result of the sin of Adam which was imputed to them.In writing this, Paul says that Adam is a type of Christ who was to come. We’ll pick up on this more next time, but where he is going with this is that Christ also is a representative and what He did in that capacity is greater positively than the negative of Adam’s transgression.