And Jesus answered them, saying, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit. He who loves his life loses it, and he who hates his life in this world will keep it to life eternal. If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him.”
- John 12:23–26 -

Jesus is acknowledging that the time for His crucifixion is near. We learn from the next verse (which we’ll look at in a minute) that He was troubled. And that’s not terribly surprising. It’s not that He’s just going to die an agonizing and ignominious death at the hands of those who have perverted His Father’s holy Law, and have subjugated His people under a yoke of slavery that no one in history has been able to bear (Ac 15:10). That would be enough to trouble any of us, certainly.

But Jesus’ trouble went deeper than that.

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Death by ObedienceJesus’ food was to do the will of His Father (John 4:34). He had come down from heaven, not to accomplish some sort of independent, personal agenda, but to carry out the will of the One who had sent Him (John 6:38). And that total, loving, delightful allegiance to His Father doesn’t stay in the realm of the theoretical. Jesus’ obedient submission to His Father’s will doesn’t keep Him on Easy Street. He had received a commandment from His Father to lay His life down (John 10:18), and He was intent on continuing His obedience.

To the Point of Death

Philippians 2:8 says that Jesus “humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death.” Surely, as the eternal Son of the Father, Christ had always, from eternity, obeyed His Father and experienced the joy and the fellowship of that obedience. But in His incarnation, obedience to the Father meant greater and greater opposition from all those who were around Him, until they eventually would kill Him.

Here is humility shining like the sun in its full strength. “How can it be, that Thou, My God, shouldst die for me?” The Author of Life humbly submits to death. The One who is without sin humbly submits to sin’s curse. The One who has life within Himself (John 1:4; 5:26)—the One who gives life to whomever He wishes (John 5:21), humbly releases His grip on His own life in submission to the Father and in love for those whom His Father has given Him. “’Tis mystery all: Th’immortal dies!”

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All true Christians understand how the cross has an effect in the past—because of it, we have our sins forgiven; and in the future—because of the cross we will go to heaven when we die. In other words, the cross directly affects our justification and our glorification. But what about the present? How does the cross affect our sanctification?

Time out. Stop. When you read that question (“how does the cross affect our sanctification?”), did you think I meant “how does the gospel affect our sanctification?” I didn’t. I meant the cross. The wooden cross on which Jesus was crucified. The actual death of Jesus. How does the death of Jesus affect our sanctification?  Continue Reading…

A Short Reflection on the Man Who Lived the Longest

Anyone who’s ever played Bible trivia knows that Methuselah lived longer than anyone else. He died at the ripe old age of 969. But have you ever wondered why?

Putting aside all of the environmental factors of a pre-Flood world (where lifetimes lasted a lot longer than they do today), I’m convinced the answer has more to do with the character of God than the physical constitution or health consciousness of Methuselah.

When Methuselah was born, the text of Genesis 5 indicates that his father Enoch began to walk with God in earnest (Gen. 5:21–22). Many commentators believe that it was during the time of Methuselah’s birth that God revealed to Enoch the reality of the coming Flood—which is why Enoch spent the next three centuries warning the world around him of God’s impending retribution (Jude 14-15). Continue Reading…

April 14, 2014

Facts on Tax

by Clint Archer

capone

Alphonse Gabriel Capone was born in Brooklyn New York in 1899. He was one of nine children of an Italian barber. By all accounts Al Capone was a naughty kid. He was expelled from his Catholic school at age fourteen for punching a nun in the face. He then joined a gang. At age nineteen married his pregnant girlfriend (to make an honest woman out of her?) and in search of gainful employment moved to gangsters paradise: Chicago. To describe his career as gainful would be to describe the ocean as moist.

Capone wrested control a vast racketeering syndicate that generated $100 million a year, mostly by smuggling voluminous quantities of booze past the Prohibition police, and then having ladies (the type not hired primarily for their education or personality) serve said liquor to other authorities in his lucrative speakeasy empire.

Al Capone’s crimes were legion. The checkered list includes:

-Bootlegging, i.e. smuggling and selling alcohol.

-Bribery, blackmail, extortion, intimidation, assault & battery, i.e. making people an offer they couldn’t refuse.

-Racketeering, i.e. a catch-all description of the vicissitudinous world of organized crime.

-Conspiracy to commit murder, attempted murder, and when he got it right—murder.

And yet he was never arrested for any of it! He was so legally wriggly, so resiliently rich, and so perniciously powerful that he simply buried any accusation; often literally. Witnesses mysteriously developed amnesia, or decided to try walking on water in concrete shoes. Cops clumsily misplaced evidence, though in the search for it fortuitously stumbled upon loads of extra cash they had forgotten they had. Judges made technical errors on arrest warrants, which put a debilitating cramp in the long arm of the law.

But all that was before the incorruptible agent Elliot Ness and his cohort of Untouchables got on the case.

Evade This

In 1931, Ness co-ordinated the arrested of the slippery kingpin, and charged him with the one crime Capone considered so small (in comparison with his murders and bootlegging operations), that he hadn’t even bothered to cover his tracks: the crime of tax evasion.

Capone had been making $100 million a year illegally, but the only thing they could prove for certain was that he didn’t pay taxes on those earnings. Capone was convicted of three counts of tax evasion and two counts of failing to file tax returns. This was enough for the courts to put him away for eleven years.

Christians who know their Bibles are already aware that there is only one person who takes death and taxes more seriously than the government, and that is God.

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Yesterday  I argued that mercy ministry that is done through the local church is not only biblical, but it is more effective than other alternatives.

For starters, every biblical instance of mercy ministry from the ascension forward is in the context of the local church. In the case of famine, food is collected by the church, for the “saints in Jerusalem” (Rom 15:25-31).  In the case of widows, support is collected by the elders, managed by the deacons, given to only those who are devoted to prayer and serving in their church (Acts 4:37, 6:1; 1 Tim 5:5-10).   Continue Reading…