The Awful Public Execution of Hell and the Cross

DissectingFor Lord’s Day, April 5, 2015

Dear Saints,

We were all struck by the typology of the Burnt Offering in Leviticus 1:6-7 last Lord’s Day.

 

(Image source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dissection)

Many agreed that the public execution typified by the flaying off of the animal’s skin and the deliberate dissection of it into pieces to be meticulously laid over the fires of the Brazen Altar is one of the scariest prefigurations of what hell will be for the unrepentant sinner who is not covered with the propitiatory (Mercy Seat) blood of the Lamb of God to satisfy the Father’s wrath and curse due to him or her for sin.

Mr. Delgado later shared a sobering insight as to how this type surely was alluded to by Jesus in Matthew 24:50-51 about Judgment Day and its aftermath upon an unbeliever:

The lord of that servant shall come in a day when he looketh not for him, and in an hour that he is not aware of, And shall cut him asunder, and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites: there shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

As you know, the animal in the Burnt Offering served as the substitutionary sacrifice for the vicarious atonement of what the offerer should suffer in hell if not for the Lamb of God ultimately prefigured in John 1:29 (and all through Revelation).  The exacting, clinical, cutting execution of the helpless animal represented the open and eternal punishment of God upon those in hell.  This is what Jesus, in our place, experienced in His public trial and public execution on the Cross.  Remember what Andrew Bonar wrote about Leviticus 1:6:

… the deliberate infliction is the most awful feature of justice. It leaves the sufferer hopeless. The stroke is awfully relentless, determined, righteous! Such too were the Saviour’s sufferings.

Let us meditate on this horrific picture of hell and the cross as we prepare to take the Lord’s Supper tomorrow evening in remembrance of what the Lamb of God did for us. Charles Spurgeon, in his March 31 morning devotion, gives us a frightening image to so prepare ourselves, with Isaiah 53:5 as his text, “With His stripes we are healed”:

The Roman scourge was a most dreadful instrument of torture.  It was made of the sinews of oxen, and sharp bones were inter-twisted every here and there among the sinews; so that every time the lash came down these pieces of bone inflicted fearful laceration, and tore off the flesh from the bone.  The Saviour was, no doubt, bound to the column, and thus beaten.  He had been beaten before; but this of the Roman licturs was probably the most severe …  My soul, stand here and weep over His poor stricken body.

Believer in Jesus, can you gaze upon Him without tears, as He stands before you the mirror of agonizing love?  He is at once fair as the lily for innocence, and red as the rose with the crimson of His own blood.

Dearly beloved, may you more deeply adore your Beloved as He reminds you with graphic pictures in the Lord’s Supper of how He went through hell for you on the cross so that you will never have to endure the eternal public exposure and execution of God.

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant

What Are You Doing for Jesus?

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For Lord’s Day, September 29, 2013

Dear Saints,

This Lord’s Day evening, we will further consider what is forbidden in the 6th Commandment, “Thou shalt not kill” (Exodus 20:13).  We will focus on this clause of the answer for Westminster Larger Catechism 136: ” … the neglecting or withdrawing the lawful and necessary means of preservation of life”.

Our featured Scripture will be Matthew 25:31-46, where Jesus talks about coming back to judge the world as He separates the sheep from the goats.  The sheep go to heaven, the goats go to hell, and both destinations are related to their contrasted relationships with Him as evidenced in how they met the basic life needs of the least of His brethren (vs. 40). I was reminded of this dramatic interpretation of the text by the incredible Christian songwriter and pianist, Keith Green (now with the Lord).  I encourage you to watch the linked YouTube clip. It’s powerful.

What made me remember this live performance (I have the album) is what Mr. Green said at the end of it: “The only difference between these two groups of people, according to these Scriptures, is what they did and didn’t do.”

Jesus said that as much as you do, or do not do, to the least of His people, so you do or do not do directly unto Him.  Paul knew first hand the truth of killing Christians being synonymous with crucifying the Body of Christ (Acts 9:4-5).  Jesus says in Matthew that neglect and withdrawal from taking care of His people is just as serious to Him.

Beloved, what are you doing to Jesus right now?  The answer is in how you treat His Church.

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant

 

Jesus Came Down from Heaven to Give us Heaven While Throwing Satan Further Down to Hell

IMG_9869For Lord’s Day, April 21, 2013

Dear Saints,

In my personal devotions this morning, something stood out to me I’ve found beneficial to meditate on today that I hope you too will find meaningful.

In John 6:38, Jesus says, “For I came down from heaven, not to do mine own will, but the will of him that sent me.”

This verse jumped out at me when the Jews murmured in verse 42 about Jesus saying that He came down from heaven.  Recently in our study of Revelation 9, we considered what Jesus said in Luke 10:18 to the disciples: ” … I beheld Satan as lightning fall from heaven.”

It’s such a stunning contrast to think about.  Satan was cast down; Jesus came down: that’s a huge difference.  The Father threw out Satan.  The Father sent Jesus.  Satan is the Deceiver.  Jesus is the Truth. Satan is the Destroyer.  Jesus is the Deliverer.  Satan is a created, fallen being.  Jesus is the Creator and exalted Lord.

Note that I am not highlighting this contrast to put Satan and Jesus on the same level.  Quite the contrary.  As the pre-incarnate Second Person of the Trinity, did Jesus not Himself throw Satan out of heaven?  And now as the incarnate God-Man, has He not since been throwing Satan out of his stronghold here on Earth?  In his sermon on Revelation 9:1-12, Joel Beeke said that in Luke 10:18, it is possible to understand Jesus as saying to his disciples, who were rejoicing that the devils were subject to them through His name, that He was literally watching the spiritual battle of Ephesians 6:12 happening through their ministry — that He was observing the Kingdom of Heaven that was at hand in Him advancing through them while Satan and his forces and his fiefdom fell at their feet.  Verse 19 would seem to at least allow that sense of the text as part of its meaning.  Either way, Jesus says in verse 20 not to rejoice in victory over demons so much as the fact that their names are written in heaven through their victory in Jesus.

This thought of heaven brings us back to John 6.  Jesus Christ, God’s own Son, is so very much above Satan, as powerful and destructive as he is.  Jesus Christ, the King of Glory of Psalm 2, 24, 45, 72, 110, etc., not only threw out Satan from heaven, but in the fulness of time, He came to overthrown the Devil’s dominion on Earth and give us heaven.  We know from our study in Revelation that Jesus is presently finishing the job through our ministry, and He will finish it in total on the Last Day!  Satan keeps trying to be God, and the Son of God keeps pummeling him for it.  In the end, Jesus will cast Satan further and finally into the Lake of Fire (Revelation 20:10).  But what we rejoice in most is its result for us: being lifted up out of the Devil’s clutches and laid down in the bosom of Abraham where we will enjoy eternal life.

“Then Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, Moses gave you not that bread from heaven; but my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.  For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world … I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst … I am that bread of life … This is the bread which cometh down from heaven, that a man may eat thereof, and not die. I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” (John 6:32-35, 48, 50-51).

Praise the Lord that by God’s grace, we have eaten of Christ that we may live and no longer be strung along by the Damned One who is nothing compared to the Holy One (Psalm 16:10; Acts 2:27)!

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant

The Rider on The White Horse is Conquering

For Lord’s Day, January 13, 2013

Dear Saints,

In my devotional readings this week, a verse really stood out to me in light of our Wednesday study of Revelation 6:1-8, where Jesus opens the scroll’s first four seals and unleashes the four horsemen (Himself being the first and leading the way):

“Verily I say unto you, There be some standing here, which shall not taste of death, till they see the Son of man coming in his kingdom.”  (Matthew 16:28)

Matthew Henry’s Commentary explains this verse:  

“At the end of time, he shall come in his Father’s glory; but now, in the fulness of time, he was to come in his own kingdom, his mediatorial kingdom. Some little specimen was given of his glory a few days after this, in his transfiguration (ch. xvii. 1); then he tried his robes. But this points at Christ’s coming by the pouring out of his Spirit, the planting of the gospel church, the destruction of Jerusalem, and the taking away of the place and nation of the Jews, who were the most bitter enemies to Christianity. Here was the Son of man coming in his kingdom. Many then present lived to see it, particularly John, who lived till after the destruction of Jerusalem, and saw Christianity planted in the world. “

So while this verse took partial fulfillment in the Transfiguration, it continues more fully in these Last Days (Hebrews 1:2) until Judgment Day, a present reality which John saw more than any of the other disciples in his longer life and in The Revelation given to him.  As I read this text in Matthew, I couldn’t help but think of the Apostle John, not only for our study in Revelation 6, but because of the end of his Gospel account in the conversation between our Lord and the Apostle Peter:  

“Verily, verily, I say unto thee, When thou wast young, thou girdedst thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest: but when thou shalt be old, thou shalt stretch forth thy hands, and another shall gird thee, and carry thee whither thou wouldest not. This spake he, signifying by what death he should glorify God. And when he had spoken this, he saith unto him, Follow me. Then Peter, turning about, seeth the disciple whom Jesus loved following; which also leaned on his breast at supper, and said, Lord, which is he that betrayeth thee?  Peter seeing him saith to Jesus, Lord, and what shall this man do? Jesus saith unto him, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? follow thou me.Then went this saying abroad among the brethren, that that disciple should not die: yet Jesus said not unto him, He shall not die; but, If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee? This is the disciple which testifieth of these things, and wrote these things: and we know that his testimony is true.”  (John 21:18-24)

John speaks of himself and says we all know his testimony is true in the Gospel of John.  So is The Revelation of John about these Last Days entirely true:  “And I saw when the Lamb opened one of the seals, and I heard, as it were the noise of thunder, one of the four beasts saying, Come and see. And I saw, and behold a white horse: and he that sat on him had a bow; and a crown was given unto him: and he went forth conquering, and to conquer.” (Revelation 6:1-2 )

John shows us here again what is the theme of The Revelation of Jesus Christ and what Jesus was speaking of in Matthew 16:28: The Lion-Lamb is, at this moment between His first and second comings, advancing His kingdom throughout all corners of the earth.  It is a revelation to edify you who have eyes of faith to see that He not only will conquer, but He is presently conquering.

Remember from our Wednesday Night study of Revelation 6:1-8 that, “Your solace in life is not just, ‘Christ is on His throne’, but also, ‘Christ is on His horse’. Remember 1:7: ‘Behold, he cometh’. He comes now, and you are following Him, carrying His Gospel banner, with the Word in your hands, conquering and to conquer for Christ’s Crown and Covenant.  Remember to accept all things in life given to you by Christ as His way of you conquering the world for your King, and bow saying, “Worthy is the Lamb Who was Slain”. Be encouraged with John knowing that all your sacrifices are worth it, because they all contribute to this reality: Christ’s Kingdom Advances.”

Can you hear the advance of Christ and His horsemen mounted on their trusty steeds, galloping all around you?  Can you see all going on through the earth as dust rising from the feet of the white horse upon which King Jesus rides?  For Jesus is now riding forth, “Conquering and to conquer.”  Even as I write, and even as you read.

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant

On a Wing and a Prayer

For Lord’s Day December 18, 2011

Dear Saints,

I got a call late Thursday night to inform me of what had happened to my Mother. She had left on the plane that morning. I dropped her off at the San Diego Airport and we said our goodbyes. She was to fly straight to Philadelphia. She did not. Something went wrong.

The pilot apparently got on the intercom and, in a very slow and somber voice, said that he had an announcement to make that he had never had to make in his thirty-plus years of flying. He then said the airplane was fine, and they had enough gas. Then he repeated very carefully that he had an announcement to make that he had never had to make in his thirty-plus years of flying. Apparently even the flight attendant was scared, as she had no idea what was about to happen.

Imagine how you would feel with that announcement as you looked out the window over the mountains with no safe place to land. It was said that you could hear a pin drop in the cabin. Hearts were in throats.

My mother thought she was going to die. She did not. Something went wrong with the pilot’s eye.

The poor man’s retina had detached. He had determined it was not wise for him to try and fly the next five or so hours all the way to Philadelphia. They landed in Phoenix, switched pilots, got folks new tickets, and were back up in the air. My Mother made it to Philadelphia. She did not catch her initial flight, but caught the next one from there to Stewart Air Force Base in NY, near where she lives. She had quite the story to share when she finally called me late Thursday night.

It is interesting that the pilot announced the situation the way he did. He sure had people scared. Folks imagine he was in a bit of shock, perhaps even evaluating his life and career while he shared the news, as it sounds probable that he’ll not be flying again. Please pray for him. He made a wise decision to keep people safe (and perhaps it will save his eye from going blind).

What if that was you in the cabin? And what if it wasn’t the captain’s retina that had detached, but an engine? What if you looked down over the mountains and knew it would be the last thing you set your eyes on in this life? Would you be ready? Ready to meet your Maker and Judge? What if you had it announced to you that you were about to die? Could you handle it? There will be such a day with such an announcement, and if not just before we die, afterward. Our departure from this life is the first death. There is a second death on Judgment Day awaiting those who have not made peace with God in this life by being reconciled to Him in Jesus Christ. They will look over the earth on their way into its fiery belly, never to return.

And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: (Heb 9:27)

 Think about it. And come to worship Jesus tomorrow, Who brings healing in His wings.

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant

Follow the Narrow Path

For Lord’s Day July 8, 2012

Dear Saints,

Last Lord’s Day evening, we began the last “mini-series” through the first half (officially) of the Larger Catechism on what we are to believe concerning God. This last series covers the topic of Judgment Day. You were encouraged to “Be Left Standing” based on Christ’s words about the End in Luke 21:34-36.

We continue this Lord’s Day evening and the next with the LC and Scripture on Judgment Day. In preparation, I strongly encourage you listen to or watch this sermon by Missionary Paul Washer on the same matter. It’s a powerful, controversial message labeled “shocking” that was given to more than 5,000 youth at a conference, and has since been downloaded more than 180 thousand times: http://www.sermonaudio.com/sermoninfo.asp?SID=52906154239

I came upon this gripping sermon (which I believe is the most listened to on SermonAudio) Monday morning looking for a sermon for me to sit under. The sermon is based on the following text:

Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves. Ye shall know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes of thorns, or figs of thistles? Even so every good tree bringeth forth good fruit; but a corrupt tree bringeth forth evil fruit. A good tree cannot bring forth evil fruit, neither can a corrupt tree bring forth good fruit. Every tree that bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them. Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity. Therefore whosoever heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them, I will liken him unto a wise man, which built his house upon a rock: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell not: for it was founded upon a rock. And every one that heareth these sayings of mine, and doeth them not, shall be likened unto a foolish man, which built his house upon the sand: And the rain descended, and the floods came, and the winds blew, and beat upon that house; and it fell: and great was the fall of it. (Matthew 7:13-27)

One thing that really stood out to me in Pastor Washer’s sermon was a comment he made on verse 13. He said that we have neglected in the American church to notice that it is not only a narrow gate we enter, but a narrow path we follow in being Christians. That’s worth meditating on today as you live your life for Christ into this Lord’s Day’s worship.

To get the context of what led to this message based on what he witnessed at the conference prior to preaching, visit http://tinysa.com/pw/background for a 12-minute interview. It’s sad and striking.

People don’t want to hear messages like this much anymore. I hope and trust you do. I plan on watching this again with my family within the next few days. My girls were looking over my shoulder at times watching it, and were captivated, volunteering “That’s powerful”, and saying they want to watch the whole thing another time. It is good that the church pays as much heed to Judgment Day as the world might. After all, not all who say “Lord, Lord”, will enter heaven. And remember in the text with Luke above that Jesus was preaching to worshippers in the Temple, who wisely came back to hear more (vs. 38).

Semper Reformanda,

Pastor Grant