Unstraightened Crookedness – Ecclesiastes 1:15

  Here in Ecclesiastes Solomon is describing a spiritual journey. It was HIS journey – which began under the tutelage of his godly father David. But Solomon was detoured and led away from the Lord by the lusts of his flesh. Generally speaking people are not free to sin or not to sin. Rather they are slaves to their own flesh – which means they are more prone to sin than not to sin. Every baby is a drug baby – with addictions in their blood – they are addicted to sin. And despite good parents and education, more often than not we all prefer the detours which take us away from godliness. While he was away, Solomon was tasting every possible sin – and crossing every conceivable line. When the Lord finally brought him to his senses, he looked back at the path he had been walking and tried to describe it. That description is what we find in the Book of Ecclesiastes. As he speaks to us in chapter 1, Solomon is still looking at life through only one eye. If you ever lost one of your senses, like sight or hearing, you’d survive, but your life would be different. If I broke my glasses and I couldn’t find an old pair, my life would get complicated in a hurry. At the very least I would misinterpret things going on around me. Perhaps a better illustration might be the loss of a single lense out of my glasses. With only a monocle, I would loose my depth of vision – I wouldn’t be able to judge distances....

Vanity of Vanities – Ecclesiastes 1:1-18

  How many Christians, do you suppose, have really studied this book? I wonder how many have even read this book more than a time or two. We are going to try to remedy that oversight beginning this evening. One reason why Ecclesiastes isn’t read more than once is due to it’s strange presentation. Most people haven’t got the slightest idea on how to read this book. First, unlike most of the Bible, it can be depressing. The Jews were not even sure they wanted it in their scriptures. And at times it seems to teach exactly the opposite of the rest of the Bible. Verse 4 is an example – “One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever.” Generations succeed one another – I get that. But, the earth abideth for ever? Doesn’t the Book of Revelation say that the world as we know it will be burned up and cast away? The key to the understanding of this book is found in the biography of Solomon. The penman of Ecclesiastes is David’s royal son. Verse 1 – “The words of the Preacher, the son of David, king in Jerusalem.” Most of your Bibles have a subtitle under “Ecclesiastes” which says, “The Preacher.” The title “Ecclesiastes” is a Latin transliteration of the Greek translation of the Hebrew word which is traditionally translated as “Teacher” or “Preacher.” Haven’t we been hearing a lot of Solomon’s meddling, I mean “preaching,” in his Book of Proverbs? Ecclesiastes might be looked upon as a sequel to Proverbs – or is it more accurately a prequel? When...

The Adrenalin of Battle – Ephesians 6:18

  This afternoon we will finish our little study on the panoply of the Christian – the armor of God. Paul has been painting a picture of the best-dressed soldier of Christ. His medium as been watercolors, rather than crisp, clean oils or even pastels. I say “watercolors” because the picture is metaphorical – allegorical. While generally accurate, the details of each piece have been left to our own eye and the light in which we are currently standing. We could probably study this same scripture again in a year’s time and come up with things we haven’t considered yet. It’s not because the scripture has changed, but the darkness of the day of battle changes. So we’ve looked at the breastplate of righteous, the girdle of truth, the shoes, the helmet of salvation, the shield and the sword of the spirit. Notice that our translators have not put a full stop at the end of verse 17. They have used a colon rather than a period, telling us it was Paul’s intent to add verse 18 to the rest of the armor. But he doesn’t explain what part of the panoply or what role prayer plays in all of this. At first glance prayer seems to me to be out of place in the context of the armor. It’s certainly NOT out of place in the larger context of our wrestling match against principalities and powers, but is prayer our night-vision goggles or a sniper’s rifle? I have never read of any Christian author using it this way, but I have a suggested explanation. Most commentators simply explain...

The Sword of the Spirit – Ephesians 6:17

  One of our hymns asks, “Am I a soldier of the cross?” For the child of God, the answer must be “Yes!” for this is our calling as long as we live in this world. Paul told Timothy – & through him he told us – to “endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.” The Word of God knows nothing of soldiers retiring after three tours at the battle front. The Christian has been called to a continuous, unrelenting battle up to the death. When the children of Israel crossed the Jordan and entered the land of promise – “a land of milk and honey” – they also entered a new kind of life – but it was not a life of peace and ease. They continued to fight the enemy, for there were as many adversaries in the land as out of it. And in the New Testament the believer’s relationship to Satan is much the same. Paul did not present the idea that Satan will cease to fight against the person who has trusted Christ. Nor did he present the Christian life as a tranquil, placid existence. Rather, Paul’s instructions anticipated a life of continuous conflict. And the more we resolve to be faithful to the Lord Jesus the greater the conflict will become. While our future prospect is that of being transported out of this earth into a new sphere in the heavenlies, as long as we live on his earth we will be in the midst of conflict. We now come to the offensive part of our panoply. Thus far we have...

The Helmet of Salvation – Ephesians 6:17

I assume that none of us are under any delusions – this armor is figurative, not literal. I have known pastors who asked their membership to pretend to put on each piece. Together they pulled down the helmet of salvation and strapped on the breastplate of righteousness. The intention was to make every realize that despite being figurative, this is figurative of something real. I have heard of churches where the membership was told to put on the Christian armor as they were getting dressed in the morning. It was an effort to make people realize that they are in a spiritual battle every day of their lives. But since this is allegorical, it tends to make interpretation a bit difficult. As I tried to point out that the preparation of the gospel could be interpreted different ways. I think that it is preparation for evangelism, which necessitates a knowledge of the gospel intellectually, not just being in a state of salvation. And this helmet of salvation involves similar interpretational problems. Isn’t this letter being addressed to people who were already children of God? Paul is not exhorting his readers to trust Christ for salvation. No Roman soldier would think of going into battle without a helmet to cover his head. At that time this helmet was probably a cap made of leather onto which metal plates had been fastened. A few helmets were made of solid metal – cast in the form of a head-covering, but that was most likely too expensive for the common soldier. But whatever the external form, its purpose was the same – to...

The Shield of Faith – Ephesians 6:16

  The word “shield” is relatively common in the Bible, being found sixty-six times in the Old Testament. Not only is it fairly common, but it is also fairly complicated. It can refer to many different related things: Sometimes a shield was made of metal and sometimes it was of the skin of an animal. Sometimes it was a piece of military equipment, but at other times it was a decoration. Sometimes it was real and literal and sometimes it was used figuratively. And then we come to the New Testament. The prevalence of the shield in the Old Testament is magnified by it’s rarity in the New Testament. Ephesians 6 is the only place where we find it in the New Testament. One of the curious things about the shield is its application to the Lord. Roughly a third of the references talk either about the shield being given by God or actually being God. “Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy gentleness hath made me great.” You can use a concordance to find these references, but I’ll just read a few verses. “Thou hast also given me the shield of thy salvation: and thy right hand hath holden me up, and thy gentleness hath made me great.” “He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.” And then there is that other point – the Lord is our shield. “After these things the word of the LORD came unto Abram in a vision, saying, Fear not, Abram: I am...

The Shoes of Gospel Preparation – Ephesians 6:15

  When Aimy Zeweniuk was here a few weeks ago, she came up to me and said, “I really like your shoes; can I have them?” She was joking of course about taking my shoes – because they were obviously too big for her. But she was not joking about admiring my brown wingtip brogue dress shoes. If she could find a pair in her size she’d buy and wear them. Emphasis on fashion has shifted over the years. It used to be that men wore wingtips but women didn’t, and now it’s the other way around. And shoes used to be nothing more than protection from stones, thorns and burning sand. But now they are fashion statements, and those fashions change from year or year, season to season. Paul showed he had some concept of the importance of footwear for the soldier as well as the traveler. I wonder how he became aware of the Roman military panoply. Were his comments based on general knowledge, or had he made some specific observations? After he has told us to be sure our waists are girded with truthfulness and we are wearing the breastplate of personal, practical righteousness, he says, having “your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace.” In Paul’s day, Romans, as well as Jews, normally wore lightweight sandals consisting of a leather sole tied on the feet with leather thongs. Sometimes they were decorated with metal or even jewels. But when a soldier was sent into battle, he laid aside his lightweight sandals and put on a pair of heavy, thick-soled shoes. Sometimes there...

The Breastplate of Righteousness – Ephesians 6:14

  I am surprised once in a while by one the Lord’s minor miracles. Three weeks ago, the Lord laid on my heart a review of the Christian’s armor, and today that brings us to “the breastplate of righteousness.” Next Wednesday, our on-going devotionals from Proverbs brings us to chapter 10 verse 2 – “Treasures of wickedness profit nothing: but righteousness delivereth from death.” And a few weeks ago Brother Stewart began reading a great commentary on the Book of Romans. He pointed out to me that I should look at the word “righteousness” as found in Romans 3. Among several other verses there we read – “God hath set forth (Christ) to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.” It’s as though the Lord wants me to look at a single subject from several different angles. And here in Ephesians we find it in the context of our day-to-day living. “Stand fast therefore, having your loins gift about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness.” In the Roman army, it was a commander’s responsibility to see that the soldiers who went into battle under his command were adequately equipped to meet the enemy. And as we have seen, Christians have been called as soldiers of the Lord Jesus Christ. We have a faithful Commander, the Captain of salvation, who has provided all the armament we...

The Girdle of Truth – Ephesians 6:10-18

  There is an enemy of Christ who is out to destroy the Lord’s Kingdom and to silence His subjects. And that means you and I are in spiritual danger. The Satanic attack against us may be physical or it may be entirely spiritual. Probably most often it is a combination of the two. And they are designed to keep us from serving and bringing glory to the Lord. Satan cannot take the child of God from the Saviour, but he can destroy our service. And because of these assaults Paul reminds us to “put on the whole armor of God” – the Spiritual panoply. Each piece protects us against some aspect of the wiles of the Wicked One. And if we omit any aspect of our protection we are in danger of joining Achilles. In the “Iliad” the Greek writer, Homer, described a man named Achilles. According to the story Achilles’ mother so loved her son that she would do anything to protect him. Thetis had been told that the water of the river Styx would make her child immortal. So she carried him to the river and holding him by one heel she baptized him. She tried to “immerse” her baby in the water of the river but she failed in her purpose. By holding that heel the water couldn’t touch that small portion of her baby’s foot. Later during the Trojan war the heel of poor Achilles was hit by an arrow, and he died. Every Christian has an Achilles’ heel, but it may not be on his foot. The Bible teaches, and Bible believers know,...

The Panoply of God – Ephesian 6:10-12

  For years, one of the most popular writers in Christian circles has been a man named George Barna. According to Wikipedia, “Barna has written more than 50 books, mostly addressing cultural trends, leadership, spiritual development, and church dynamics. They include New York Times bestsellers and several award-winning books. He has sold more books based on survey research related to matters of faith than any author in American history. His work is frequently cited as an authoritative source by the media. Barna has been hailed as ‘the most quoted person in the Christian Church today’ and has been named by various media as one of the nation’s most influential Christian leaders.” He is quoted everywhere, and I have put some of his statements in the bulletin from time to time. While he might be helpful in some ways, we must remember that trends are not as important as Truths. I know what society is doing from what the Bible says as much as from what the news media says. And I’m not planning on changing my theology or my practice to suit the current trends. And besides, it appears to me that Barna sometimes dispenses conflicting opinions. In one statement he seems to be saying that Christianity is alive and well. And then in the next he seems to be saying that we’re in serious trouble. I suppose that, depending on your point of view, both statements are true. Clearly, Christianity is lagging behind other religions in its market position – market share. Cults and foreign religions are growing far more rapidly than Bible Christianity. So in this sense...

Submitting to Christ’s Mediatorial Rule – Isaiah 45:22-25

  Our study of Holy Scripture must never be a mere academic exercise – or for the sake of scholarship. Because, among other things one of the dangers in knowledge is pride. “I have memorized John Gill’s book, therefore I am more knowledgeable than you are. And since it is a theology book, I am even more spiritual than you.” Remember, a part of Satan’s temptation of Eve was in the area of knowledge. And when you stop to think about it, the suggested information was not bad or evil in itself. “Ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.” “And when she saw that it might make her wise, she took of the fruit and did eat.” To be able to fully explain all that there is to know about the Lordship of Christ, doesn’t necessarily make us better Christians or even better people. Did Adam and Eve learn more about good and evil? In a sense, yes, they did, but it was to their detriment, not betterment. If Bible doctrine doesn’t improve our relationship to the Lord, then it may be more dangerous than helpful. To know more of God’s holiness can be a blessing, but it can also be used of Satan to bring someone under conviction to the point of suicide. Bible doctrine is only properly understood when it renews our heart and sanctifies our conduct. And that includes what we might learn about the Mediatorial Lordship of Christ. What influence should this information and doctrine have on our heart and life? Remember, the devils also believe in God, in the deity of Christ,...

Mistakes People Make about the Lordship of Christ – Acts 5:27-32

  Are there any people living between the 49th parallel and the Rio Grande River, who suggest that Donald Trump is not the legal President of the United States? I can imagine that there are people, who for various reasons, make that kind of statement. But the fact remains that Mr. Trump is in the White House and he is wielding presidential powers. Similarly, there are a thousand times more people who say that Jesus Christ is not the Lord. They say that He is not the eternal Son of God. They claim that He is not the Messiah or the Saviour. They refuse to bow their knees before the Lord as King. But they will one day acknowledge Him – “I have sworn by myself, the word is gone out of my mouth in righteousness, and shall not return, That unto me every knee shall bow, every tongue shall swear” – Isaiah 45:23. “For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God” – Romans 14:11. And Philippians 2:10 – “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” This is not the only mistake people make about the Lordship of Christ. There are at least three which are often made by religious people – even evangelical people. And it’s these mistakes that I’d like us to briefly consider this evening. Many people confuse...

Christ is Lord Both Now And For Ever – I Corinthians 15:22-47

  In 1 Corinthians 15:45 Jesus is called “the last Adam. “ The word “last” is the Greek word from which we derive “eschatology” or the doctrine of last things. You could say that Christ is the “eschatological Adam.“ The first Adam surrendered himself to the prince of darkness who rules over this present evil age. The last Adam has come to defeat that prince of darkness and to bring forth the age to come. My point tonight is there is an overlapping between the age in which we live and the age which is to come. Satan is still the god of this world, and Christians still wrestle with their Adamic fallen nature. On the other hand, the last days are already here and have been for some time now. Eschatology isn’t something off in the distance, we are within its borders today. “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds” – Hebrews 1:1-2. Hebrews 6:5 reminds us that we have “tasted the good word of God, and the power of the world to come.” On the Day of Pentecost as Peter was preaching, he reached back into the prophesy of Joel and declared that both the trials and blessings of the last days have arrived. You might say that we are living in the period of the “already, but not yet.” The first step toward the last step – the...

The Extent of Christ’s Lordship – Revelation 17:7-14

  Three weeks ago, I brought to your attention, something special about the Lordship of Christ. It was that His Lordship was enhanced and changed when He completed the work of redemption. After Christ’s exaltation, the Father made Him Lord in ways He was not Lord before. In addition to his original and innate “ontological” Lordship was an added “mediatorial” Lordship. Then we considered how Adam and David were each promised a specific kind of lordship – dominion. Adam was the head of a race of people – the entire human race, to be exact. When he chose to sin against God, he did so as the representative of all his heirs. And similarly, Christ came into the world as the head of the people whom the Father gave to him. And Christ died paying the sin penalty for all of His people, eternally redeeming them. Then the Holy Spirit added David as another picture of Christ – actually as a father of Jesus Christ. As David was made a king, Christ is a king. As David ruled over Israel and a number of heathen nations, Christ is the true king of his people. But he is also King of all kings and the Lord of all creation. Christ’s special dominion as Federal head and King of kings was given to Him at the completion of His work of redemption. Some of that dominion will be more fully applied during the Millennium and later, but some of it is for this moment and forever. Even though all things are under God’s triune dominion, I Corinthians says, now that the...

David and Christ – Acts 2:29-36

  I said last Sunday afternoon that among the many types of Christ in the Old Testament two men make particularly important statements about the Lord. And I want to capitalize that word LORD, because the lesson I am trying to emphasize is this – Jesus Christ is the sovereign King over all things both by His divine nature AND through the covenant between the Father and the Son. In Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross, with the Father’s approval proved by the resurrection, Jesus has been made Lord in a special way which did not exist earlier. “There was given him dominion, and glory and a kingdom” – Daniel 7:14. Christ “is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto him” – I Peter 3:22. The God Man has authority and Lordship which is different from being simply – God. AFTER Christ “became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross… God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name.” He was exalted and given a name which He didn’t have before. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” These and other scriptures declare that this particular Lordship belongs to Christ as a result of what He accomplished on the cross. As we saw last week, Adam depicts Christ’s Lordship in that both are heads...