Michael

Jan 112018
 

Psalm 2: Jesus Christ Reigns! – Part 1

Psalm 2 is a prophecy of Christ, that He would suffer and become King of the whole world. The New Testament is replete with citations and allusions to Psalm 2, showing that Jesus fulfills its prophecies and appears exactly as this psalm portrays Him.

The Greek word Christ, the English word Anointed and the Hebrew word Messiah all share the same meaning. They refer to the anointing by oil by which an Israelite king or priest, appointed by God, was installed into office. Jesus is the Christ, but His anointing was not with oil like the Israelite kings and priests. Jesus was anointed by God the Father with the Holy Spirit at His baptism (see Luke 3:22), as He shortly thereafter announced in Nazareth: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor.” (Luke 4:18).

Unlike the Israelite kings and priests, Jesus holds both offices of King and High Priest, which in the Old Testament were held by separate men. He is Christ the King, as Psalm 2 portrays Him. He is Christ the High Priest, as Psalm 110 prophesies (see Ps 110:4; and Heb 5:10). Thus Jesus reigns as both Lord and Savior of the whole world.

Background

In 2 Samuel Chapter 7, God made several promises to David through the prophet Nathan:

“I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son. When he commits iniquity, I will discipline him with the rod of men, with the stripes of the sons of men, but my steadfast love will not depart from him, as I took it from Saul, whom I put away from before you. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me. Your throne shall be established forever.’” (vv. 12-16)

David’s successor, Solomon, only partly fulfilled these promises: God was Solomon’s spiritual father; he ruled on David’s throne; and he built the temple as God’s house. However, Solomon died, his kingdom was divided and the temple he had built was destroyed.

The Prophet Isaiah also prophesied of the coming Christ: “Of the increase of his government and of peace there will be no end, on the throne of David and over his kingdom, to establish it and to uphold it with justice and with righteousness from this time forth and forevermore.” (Isa 9:7)

No earthly king could wholly fulfill these prophecies. They would be completely fulfilled only by Jesus Christ. During His earthly ministry, Jesus declared: “behold, something greater than Solomon is here.” (Matt 12:42) Referring to Jesus, the author of Hebrews connects the promises to David directly to the fulfillment of Psalm 2: “For to which of the angels did God ever say, ‘You are my Son, today I have begotten you’ [Ps 2:7]? Or again, ‘I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son’ [2 Sam 7:14]?” (Heb 1:5)

With this background, let us begin our look into Psalm 2.

Psalm 2

“1 Why do the nations rage
and the peoples plot in vain?
2 The kings of the earth set themselves,
and the rulers take counsel together,
against the Lord and against his Anointed, saying,
3 ‘Let us burst their bonds apart
and cast away their cords from us.’ ”

The psalm opens with a prophecy that Jesus would suffer. His apostles, quoting verses 1-2, testified that Jesus’ fulfilled this prophesy (Acts 4:25:28). The “nations,” “peoples,”, “kings,” and “rulers,” are represented by “both Herod and Pontius Pilate, along with the Gentiles and peoples of Israel” (Acts 4:27).

The psalmist asks the question “why”? It is a question Christians frequently contemplate when encountering a family member or friend who, after hearing the Gospel, rejects Christ (i.e., who He is; why He came; how He rules; etc.). It is the “why” of astonishment, as in “Do you know who and what you are opposing? Please, do not be foolish!”

In verse 3, Christ’s adversaries speak: “Let us burst their bonds apart and cast away their cords from us.” They thought by killing Jesus they would prevent His Kingship and kingdom. What man or woman is there, who while Christ was suffering, would not have thought His adversaries had won? However, His installation as King was already accomplished; His kingdom is not of this world; and His adversaries accomplished nothing, except to further His kingdom by crucifying Him, which as the apostles recognized: “your hand had predestined to take place.” (Acts 4:28)

To human understanding and the senses, His kingdom looked undone, but according to the Word of Christ, His kingdom would come through suffering. Therefore, in the works of God, we must always cling to the Word, because His works in the world and in our lives are often contrary to all human understanding and the senses.

Today, there are many religions, even some which claim to hold Christ in some measure of esteem. There are also many masters and idols that people serve without admitting to having a “religion” or a “god.” As a result, many people are outwardly passive in their unbelief, but in every generation there are active unbelievers who rage, plot and take counsel against Christ and His Word and kingdom, and like in this psalm – they reside both inside and outside the church.

There are governments which attempt to break God’s bonds with violence and laws against Christians and the Church. There are also governments, peoples and, yes, church bodies, which attempt to break God’s bonds by denying or twisting the teachings of God’s Word. What they regard as freedom, in reality brings the very bondage they seek to break!

The psalmist asks “why?” The short answer is unbelief. We see pictured in Psalm 2 the stark contrast between faith, on the one hand, and unbelief, on the other. Faith is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb 11:1), whereas, unbelief only takes hold of what it apprehends with human understanding and the senses.

  • Faith receives Christ, as the incarnate Son of God; whereas, unbelief sees only a man who could not save even himself.
  • Faith receives Christ as sent from God the Father; whereas, unbelief sees Christ as a human blasphemer.
  • Faith sees Christ as doing the will of the Father; whereas, unbelief sees rejecting Christ as doing the will of God.
  • Faith receives Christ’s forgiveness and a kingdom of grace; whereas, unbelief rejects Christ’s judgment and sees no kingdom at all.
  • Faith sees Christ’s reign as freedom from sin, death, Satan and hell; whereas unbelief sees Christ’s reign as “bonds” and “cords” (i.e., bondage and burdensome).

We will see as we read through the rest of this psalm that Christ will rule all people in one of two ways: His desire and reason for coming down from heaven and suffering the cross is to be our Lord and Savior and rule us by God’s grace through faith; however, for those who reject the grace of God in Christ, He will rule them by His wrath when He returns in final judgment. Amen.

Thank you for reading. Next week we will pick up Psalm 2 at verse 4, in which God sits in heaven laughing at the hubris of the unbelievers who plot against His Christ. Amen.

Jan 102018
 

One of the interesting responses I’ve received this week from our earlier articles is a question.

Do you believe in anything for sure?

Evidently, my acknowledgement of the vast differences among “believers” and the acceptance of “mystery” in many aspects of the faith has thrown some of you for a loop.

I’m glad it has.

Maybe now we can have some honest discussions.

Let me answer the question first.

I affirm without reservation the early creeds of the church (The Apostles Creed, The Nicene Creed, The Athanasian Creed).

These are the “non-negotiables” of the faith.

All “orthodox” Christians have believed all these things at all times in Christian history.

All orthodox Christians believe them today.

As the centuries have passed and we have divided into thousands of different sects, those doctrines are still the foundation of the faith.

As we have divided our sects have also built different doctrinal structures on top of that foundation.

We have endlessly enumerated our differences as doctrine and cultures have developed.

My group has a structure which I also affirm, “The Thirty Nine Articles of the Faith”.

Typically for Anglicans, we interpret those differently among ourselves…

My affirmation of my sects beliefs are not hills that I will die on as being the last word of the one, true, church.

They are my best understanding of the Christian faith at this point in my life.

The question we need to ask is “what does it mean to be a Christian in the first place”?

For me, it means that one knows and is known by Jesus Christ and has been received by Him into the family of faith.

Someone who has been “saved”, if you must.

This is where the problems start…

I know people in dozens of different sects that hold to different (and often contradictory) doctrines who know Jesus.

They are Roman Catholic, Lutheran, Reformed, Baptists, Anglicans, Methodists, Charismatics, Eastern Orthodox, and some have no affiliation at all.

They’re all “Christians”.

They all (whether they know it or not) hold to those non negotiable doctrines of the early creeds and confessions.

Thus, my conclusion is that while doctrine is important, knowing Jesus is everything.

We are all wrong about some things, but if you’re “right” about Jesus , you’re family.

It’s all about Jesus.

Now you know what I believe…

 

Jan 092018
 

Wartburg Watch reports on pastoral sexual assault… 

The insanity of Luther…

Religious architecture design awards…

Why become Roman Catholic…

The silence breakers…

The eight professions Americans trust more than clergy…

Living in God’s story-Epiphany…

Body life by org chart…

The last evangelical…

10 steps every church must take this year or die, die, die…

Perry Robinson with another excellent piece on the Hanegraaff/ Orthodoxy mess…

The unlikely crackup of evangelicalism…

Ordinary presence vs. ordinary absence…

Moody Bible Institute whistleblower fired…

When the time is right for awakening…

Did God ordain sin?

Latino churches fear impact of Homeland Security decisions…

Dobson calls for a day of prayer and fasting to save Trump from impeachment…

How to find true love…

When “Catholic” isn’t “Catholic”…

Vindicating the Vixens…

Taylor Swift, Nazi Barbie?

Waiting for God’s good gifts…

Christian worship is no mystery…

Whose opinion really matters?

We live in two worlds…

The middle of the road on “watchblogs’…

Rick Thomas wants husbands to rate their wives…

When deportation is a death sentence…

Seven helpful devotional aids…

Thanks as always to EricL…support his businesses at top right…

 

Jan 082018
 

We’ve been “blessed” to be online now for over 16 years.

That’s a long time in “blog years”…we’ve outlasted a lot of sites and many of our critics.

We became well known for our coverage of Calvary Chapel, even though that’s a small part of what we do now.

There is a place for that kind of reporting, but we need to build up as much as we tear down…and we’ve made real efforts to do that.

I’m wondering what more we can do with this platform…what we should do with this platform.

Thus, I have some questions for you…

What do you read here on the PhxP?

What other blogs do you read?

Do you use other social media?

Podcasts?

Youtube?

What would you like to see more of here…and less of?

The question is really…how can we serve your needs better?

Answer here or email me at phoenixpreacher@gmail.com

 

Jan 082018
 

1. A limited emotional palette is a sign of emotional and spiritual immaturity. If the only two emotions you can express are “happy” and “angry”, seek counseling if you’re over six years old..

2. If reasoned discussion of issues bores you…see #1…

 

3. I wonder if the folks that take Genesis “literally” extend that literalism through the entire book…like where God visits his friend Abraham in person. I think the idea that God speaks “only” through the Bible is like telling your wife that you will be forever mute because you wrote her a letter once…

4. Systematic theology bleeds all the color and relationship our of the Bible…I don’t think the story of Abraham negotiating with God over the fate of Sodom is simply an example of “anthropomorphic” language…

5. My sports thought of the day…Lavar Ball is a cretin.

6. In both the Older Testament and the New, God speaks of “knowing” His people individually and intimately…I wonder if we’ve we’ve created doctrinal formulations that create a comfortable distance in that relationship…

7. I think the biggest lie that I was taught about religion was that “getting saved” was the end of the process…when in reality it’s really the beginning of life in the kingdom…

8. If you don’t know what it means to “do justice and righteousness” your other theological knowledge is lacking…

9. Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.(Ezekiel 16:49 ESV)

10. The Bible speaks of both “retributive” justice and “restorative” justice… I think we only understand the former even though all Christians are beneficiaries of the latter…

Jan 062018
 

Eternal Father, who at the baptism of Jesus revealed him to be your Son, anointing him with the Holy Spirit: grant to us, who are born again by water and the Spirit, that we may be faithful to our calling as your adopted children; through Jesus Christ our Lord; who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen. 

Jan 062018
 

Revelation 2:1-3

To the Church in Ephesus – Part 1

  • As we begin here we know that we have church because of Jesus – Jesus is the head of the Church. The local churches are the body.
  • This is not just a gathering of likeminded people. A gathering of likeminded people is a reminder of the Tower of Babel.
  • What sets local church apart from any other public gathering? In our Lutheran churches, and I am sure many of the liturgical churches, the liturgy begins with the statement – “In the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.”
  • This will alert the uninformed in case they thought they wandered into a Tony Robbins seminar or an Amway regional meeting (although in many cases, someone walking out of many big box churches may feel that they have just attended one.)
  • The local church and the local church body and the local church individuals are special – set apart and different from all other gatherings.

1 “To the angel of the church in Ephesus write: ‘The words of him who holds the seven stars in his right hand, who walks among the seven golden lampstands.

  • A personal greeting to each church
  • Who are the angels? Actual angels? The pastors? The church itself?
  • John is commanded to write to each local church and he is to write the specific words uttered by Christ to that particular church. The words he records are prefaced with the formula, “The words of him who . . .” This is the New Testament equivalent to the familiar Old Testament phrase, “Thus says the Lord.”
  • A little factoid – The phrase formula is used 21 times in the Minor Prophets, 65 times in Ezekiel, 30 times in Jeremiah, and 8 times in Amos
  • Jesus walks among his churches. Jesus is involved in his churches.
  • His right hand. The right hand is his hand of blessing.

“‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.

  • What would it mean today if Jesus said “I know your works.”? Jesus knows the works of the church because he is intimately walking around and working in his church.
  • It seems to me that many times people think of Jesus knowing things just because he is Jesus – or better, that he is the old Johnny Carson character the Great Carnack. No, Jesus has an intimate experience with us and our issues – good and bad.
  • But these are good deeds that Jesus commends – these are the deeds Paul taught them of and laid out for them in Ephesians 2:10
  • Their toil – their hard work – this is the work of the ministry.
  • Their patient endurance without giving up – they were standing firm.
  • They have an intolerance of evil and false teachers – this was the major part of their toil above – just the constant onslaught of challenges and false teachings directed at them.
  • The first generation of Ephesian believers took Paul’s words to heart and practiced great discernment in what they allowed to be taught in their churches.
  • However, that was in the 50s and 60s – but look some decades later it looks like they are still standing strong and fighting the same battles.
  • One thing to note and Jesus does this a lot – Jesus calls out false teachers and the false teachings in the church. We are not to have the attitude that we need to accept all who are coming in and out of the church.
  • A note: these false teachers are Christians or Christian imposters. They are not those coming from other religions trying to steal away Christians to their religion. They are those who come along side and say “what we teach is what Jesus taught or what the church teaches.”
  • This is important because the Ephesians are commended for testing others and calling them false. Jesus is commending their no tolerance policy to those who teach falsely. We will see this throughout the letters to the 7 churches.
  • As we will now see, a major part of their toil was work in the battle against false doctrine, a constant source of turmoil in Asia Minor (Eph 4:14). In our modern age, the greatest virtue of all is tolerance while at the same time the most evil vice is to show intolerance of other people’s beliefs and actions. We can see just how distant America’s values are from Christ’s values.
  • The biblical Jesus is much different than the American Jesus who would never call anyone evil.

I know you are enduring patiently and bearing up for my name’s sake, and you have not grown weary.

  • It appears that the generation perhaps the generations that followed did so, as well. All churches must continue in this vein because false teachers are everywhere.
  • Of course, today we must watch out for them not only in our midst but in their ability to enter our homes through the internet, television, and the wide availability of books. Charlatans like Todd Bentley quickly draw a following. More subtle false teaching in the form of Joel Osteen, Brian McLaren, and Rob Bell influences thousands of less discerning believers. Today, false teaching in the form of much loved novel’s such as The Shack and self help The Secret being promoted by the popular culture via television personalities like Oprah Winfrey who are able to sneak past the lowered defenses of well-meaning Christians.

Next week, part 2, we will see what Jesus has against the church in Ephesus.

 

Jan 052018
 

The book is trending on Twitter and sold out everywhere after being released a week early.

It purports to be one salacious story after another describing what an awful, incompetent, buffoon the President of the United States is.

I could hardly sleep knowing it would be available this morning.

I neither like nor respect Donald Trump and I want to read and believe anything wicked about him.

I am a glutton for anything that feeds my contempt of him.

 

Sure, there are some questions about the authors track record and veracity, but who cares when your “enemy” is being drawn and quartered?

Who needs fact checking when the material suits your preconceived opinion?

Why am I writing this instead of devouring these tales?

Because I saw something sick in me that I have too often seen in others… that being a willingness, yea, a desire,  to believe the very worst about people you have political or theological or philosophical disagreements with.

I saw a lack of concern with truth in favor of having my beliefs reinforced, even by falsehoods.

That…is sin.

This book is in reality porn without pictures, stories meant to arouse and stimulate and to appeal to our basest nature.

The author admits that some of it may be fabricated.

It is unworthy of a Christian mind.

I still want to read it.

God have mercy…

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