Tag Archives: Book of Life

In Ezra, Christ is the ruler of Kings

26 May

A Scarlet Thread is a hint in the O.T. that gave us a picture of what the Messiah would be like. While not a picture of Jesus Himself, the book of Ezra does paint an allegorical picture of the gospel invitation and the Christian’s walk in the face of enemies.
In this book, we see Christ as the ruler of kings. He moves earthly monarchs to fulfill His will. Behind the movements of men and nations, there is the unseen and omnipotent hand of God. Three pagan kings are presented in this book, each one doing what he desires to do, yet fulfilling the purposes of God in their plans. God stirs up the spirits of those people by regeneration and makes them willing. God raises them out of slavery to sin into the liberty of the children of God. This is how the heavenly Canaan will be filled. God first calls, then He enables us to respond. Some choose to stay in Babylon, unwilling to leave behind the familiar world they’ve always known.
Cyrus’ proclamation is itself a picture of the general call of the gospel for people to leave this world and go to the Promised Land. The bringing back of the Jews from captivity represents the redemption of sinners by Jesus Christ.
An account is kept of the names of the people of the kingdom. Likewise our names are written in the Book of Life. “And anyone not found written in the Book of Life was cast into the lake of fire.” Rev. 20:15
Some who had no evidence of their priesthood were rejected. Ezra 3:62 If people have no evidence that by the new birth they are priests to God, through Jesus Christ, they have no rights to the comforts and privileges of Christians. See the parable of the marriage feast in Matthew 22:11-13.
When the tabernacle was being constructed in the wilderness, the people gave more than was needed, and had to be restrained from giving. When the first temple was constructed, the people gave generously at all stages of the construction and later for the worship. Now again, they are giving (Ezra 2:69) 25 tons of silver, 4 tons of gold, and 100 priestly garments.

In the New Covenant, we are not living in a theocracy. Our taxes support our society, and our givings are never referred to as a tithe, but only ever as offerings and gifts. We are to give cheerfully, willingly, deliberately, as God has prospered us.

Jesus as the Judge of All the Earth in Revelation

20 Oct

Read Revelation 20:11-15

Maybe I have an overly sensitive conscience, but I feel nervous around police and judges. Once, when I was called for potential jury duty, I took the stand to be asked a simple question. My heart was racing. I was sooooo  nervous! If I tremble before a human judge even though I’m innocent, what would it be like to stand before the Judge of all the earth, guilty?

The images of the end of the age are awesome, with horrible judgments poured out on the earth, and a vision of God on His throne so terrible, it says the earth and heaven fled away, and there was no place for them. (Rev. 20:11) People will be so terrified, they will prefer to hide in caves and ask the mountains to fall on them and hide them from the wrath of the Lamb. “For the day of His wrath has come, and who can stand?” Rev.6:14-17

One doesn’t usually associate wrath with a lamb. Lambs are docile, sweet and helpless. But this Lamb, who “as a sheep before her shearers is silent, so he did not open his mouth.” Isa.53:7, was also, “Christ, our Passover, slain for us.” 1 Cor.5:7 The Lamb of God came to earth the first time to handle the sin problem. Now He is coming to Judge the earth.

In Matt. 25:31-46, Jesus tells a parable about the Sheep and the Goats. It is set at the Last Judgment. Jesus is on the throne. We know this because the One on the throne refers to His Father. Also, we know that all judgment has been committed to the Son. John 5:22, Rom.2:16, Eph. 5:10, john 5:22

The sheep and goats are separated, with the sheep on the right and the goats at His left hand. Jesus here rewards His people for doing things out of love for Him. They are so unaware of their actions being commendable, that they are surprised to hear that He likens their good works to His brethren as good works toward Him, personally.

Also notice, He rewards His people first, in order to vindicate them before the unbelieving world. It’s amazing to me that He would equip us for good works, Eph.2:10, and then reward us for them. 1 Cor. 3:14,15 Good reason to cast our crowns before Him. Rev.4:10

Then He assigns the unbelievers to eternal torment using almost the same words He uses to praise the sheep. They also protest, claiming innocence that it was Jesus they failed to care for when they failed to care for “the least of these”. They were looking to get off on a technicality, but God knows their hearts.

The images in the last few chapters of Revelation are sobering. Read Rev. 20:11-15 again. You see the awesomeness of the One on the Great white throne, the reanimation of the dead from the sea and the graves, all standing now before the Judge. Books will be opened, and people will be judged “from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds.” Rev. 20:12

The most important book seems to be the Book of Life. “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” Rev. 20:15

I know everyone has a different story to tell about how they were saved. Some see the beauty of the gospel, some see the reasonableness of it, some see the awesome sacrifice of Christ. I feared judgment. I recognized, even as a child, that I was guilty, and that God would be just in condemning me to hell. When I heard the good news, that He had also provided a way to escape the judgment, I ran for it.

That’s not a bad thing. It’s one approach to preaching the gospel. “…some save with fear…” Jude 1:23 The good news isn’t good news unless we first hear the bad news. How can we have assurance of our salvation and confidence that we can stand before the throne of this Awesome One without fear? The answer definitely doesn’t rest in us. I can’t “keep” myself in the faith, any more than I got myself into it. Salvation is God’s work from start to finish. He is the “Author and Finisher of our faith.”  Heb. 12:2 He chose me, so He keeps me. (Rom. 8:29). They are links of the salvation chain, we are secure because of Christ.

There are many theological terms we read in our Bibles, without really understanding them: justification, sanctification and propitiation come to mind. Most believers get the general idea of those words, but couldn’t give a clear definition.

We’ll focus on justification for a moment. I’ve heard that it means God looks on you “just-as-if-you-had-never-sinned”. While it might be a helpful way to remember, I think it’s a weak definition. Justification is actually a legal term. Since we’re dealing with the Supreme Court of the Universe, it’s helpful to speak legal-ease. Justification, as it is used in the Bible, primarily means to be declared righteous. That is exclusively the idea that the Apostle Paul means. James uses the term, but he uses it in reference to how our works validate our faith in the eyes of men, not how we stand or fall before God.

Justification differs from sanctification, which is the process by which God progressively makes us holy. The first thing we need is to have the death sentence removed from over our heads. When we believe in Jesus Christ; repenting of our sin and resting in the finished work of Christ as our Substitute, God declares us “NOT GUILTY”. We are free! “And Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness.” Gen.  15:6 and Rom.5:1,2, Rom.8:1

As the Judge of the earth, He has the right to do that; to let a guilty person go free. But as a holy and just God, He could not do that without going contrary to His nature, which He cannot do. “He cannot deny Himself.” 2 Timothy 2:13 If only there was a way……….There is a way! His name is Jesus. Because Jesus was our Substitute, who paid in full for our sin, God can legitimately justify us.

So when we flee to Jesus for safety, we are hidden in Him, and in that sense, God now looks on us “just-as-if-we-had-never-sinned”. When God the Father sees us hidden in Christ, He sees only the perfect righteousness of His son. Col.3:3 A great exchange has taken place. Our sins on Christ, Christ’s righteousness imputed, or made over, to our account. O sweet exchange!

Justification by faith alone is a beautiful, life-changing, uplifting, soul-assuring doctrine. Never tire of praising God for justifying you. Because you are justified, you will not be condemned on that awful day. The worst words anyone will ever hear will be, “Depart from Me. I never knew you.” Matt.7:23

Yet, “there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ…” Rom.8:1

“It is in the substitutionary death of Christ that sin is overcome and wrath is averted, so that God can look upon man with pleasure, and man can look upon God without fear. Sin is expiated and God’s wrath is propitiated.” John Stott

Prayer– “Lord, how awesome You are. You are our Creator and our Saviour. The truth of a future judgement would be terrifying, if we weren’t secure in Christ. ‘Thank you’ is so inadequate to express our feelings about saving us from hell and promising us Heaven. +Help us to share the gospel so that others won’t have to face the wrath of the Lamb.”

Questions– When we stand before Jesus, will He be our Saviour or our Judge? If you are unsure, spend some time in prayer, asking God to save you, or if you are saved, to give you assurance of your salvation, so you don’t need to fear death and judgement. –Was fear of judgement a factor in your conversion?

Response– How familiar are you with theological terms? Look up the meaning of the following terms: justification, sanctification, adoption, redemption, propitiation.

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