Jesus’ Perfection

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Q. Last Sunday the speaker told us not to be too hung up on Christmas, because Jesus had to be dedicated, circumcised and fulfill all the OT requirements in order to be perfect. What’s your opinion on this?

A. I have not heard the speaker for myself, but based on what you reported I would disagree with his premise. To claim that in order to be perfect, Jesus had to fulfill all OT requirements is to state that He achieved perfection by works or performance, which is heretical.

First, Jesus is perfect because He is God:
Col 2:9 For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,
In fact, He is the standard by which perfection is measured. He did not have to fulfill His own laws to qualify. It’s His nature.

Secondly, perfection can never come through the Levitical priesthood or the Law:
Heb 7:11 Now if perfection was through the Levitical priesthood (for on the basis of it the people received the Law), what further need was there for another priest to arise according to the order of Melchizedek, and not be designated according to the order of Aaron?
Jesus is priest according to the order of Melchizedek, higher than the order of Aaron.

The only sense Jesus need to be perfected was through sufferings:
Heb 2:10 For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things, and through whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to perfect the author of their salvation through sufferings.
This does not refer to Jesus being deficient in any moral sense. It only points out that as God Jesus had not experienced human suffering. Therefore He had to be made perfect or complete by suffering what we went through to sympathize with our weakness:
Heb 4:15 For we do not have a high priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin.

I believe Jesus is perfect because of who He is, not because of what He had done. The latter flows out of the former, not the other way around. Doing follows being.

Stumbling Block (2 of 2)

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(Continued from yesterday)

But the greater problem the Jews had, in addition to stumbling over Christ, is that they set up their own stumbling block of iniquity:
Ezk 7:19 … for their iniquity has become an occasion of stumbling.
• Ezk 14:3-4 “Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their hearts and have put right before their faces the stumbling block of their iniquity. Should I be consulted by them at all? Therefore speak to them and tell them, ‘Thus says the Lord GOD, “Any man of the house of Israel who sets up his idols in his heart, puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity, …
• Ezk 14:7 For anyone of the house of Israel or of the immigrants who stay in Israel who separates himself from Me, sets up his idols in his heart, puts right before his face the stumbling block of his iniquity, …
• Ezk 18:30 “Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, each according to his conduct,” declares the Lord GOD. “Repent and turn away from all your transgressions, so that iniquity may not become a stumbling block to you.
• Ezk 44:12 Because they ministered to them before their idols and became a stumbling block of iniquity to the house of Israel, therefore I have sworn against them,” declares the Lord GOD, “that they shall bear the punishment for their iniquity.

Synonymous terms include lawlessness, and immorality:
Mt 13:41 The Son of Man will send forth His angels, and they will gather out of His kingdom all stumbling blocks, and those who commit lawlessness,
• Rev 2:14 But I have a few things against you, because you have there some who hold the teaching of Balaam, who kept teaching Balak to put a stumbling block before the sons of Israel, to eat things sacrificed to idols and to commit acts of immorality.

So the Jews stumbled over their own idolatry and iniquity, which separated them from God:
Isa 59:2 But your iniquities have separated you from your God; your sins have hidden His face from you, so that He will not hear.

Beware of stumbling blocks, and make sure you are not a stumbling block to others.

Stumbling Block (1 of 2)

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Q. Why is Jesus a stumbling block to Jews in 1 Co 1:23 “but we preach Christ crucified, to Jews a stumbling block and to Gentiles foolishness”? Didn’t God want His chosen people saved?

A. God wants His chosen people saved, but on His terms, not theirs. In Jesus’ days the Jewish expectation of the Messiah (the Christ, the anointed one) was that He will be a mighty conqueror, overthrowing the Romans and restoring the kingdom to Israel:
Mk 1:7 And he was preaching, and saying, “After me One is coming who is mightier than I, and I am not fit to stoop down and untie the thong of His sandals. (Also Lk 3:16; Acts 13:25)
• Acts 1:6 So when they had come together, they were asking Him, saying, “Lord, is it at this time You are restoring the kingdom to Israel?”

They were looking for a military deliverer, similar to the judges in OT times, only greater. Jesus, however, was gentle and humble in heart (Mt 11:29) and did not fit their expectation, so they stumbled over Him.

Secondly, the Jews were pursuing a law of righteousness (Rom 9:31) i.e. they were trying to establish their own righteousness by works. They did not pursue righteousness by faith, so they stumbled over the stone of stumbling and rock of offense i.e. Christ:
Rom 9:32-33 Why? Because they did not pursue it by faith, but as though it were by works. They stumbled over the stumbling stone, just as it is written, “BEHOLD, I LAY IN ZION A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE, AND HE WHO BELIEVES IN HIM WILL NOT BE DISAPPOINTED.”
• 1 Pet 2:8 and, “A STONE OF STUMBLING AND A ROCK OF OFFENSE”; for they stumble because they are disobedient to the word, and to this doom they were also appointed.

They stumbled because they were disobedient to the word, which says “the righteous will live by his faith” (Hab 2:4).

In summary, Jesus is a stumbling block to Jews because their preconceived notions about the Messiah prejudiced them, and their pride led them to perform to save themselves instead of trusting in the cross.

(To be continued)

Obsolescence

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cassettes 2

Last year we renovated our home, which necessitated moving everything out of its place. Since we have to downsize eventually, instead of moving my library of books around I decided to give them away, except for a few hundred bibles and reference works, to benefit bible school students. I thought my holdings could be put to better use by future preachers and Christian workers than one retired pastor, so about 7,000 volumes were packed into 270 cartons and donated to a local Christian college.

That still leaves thousands of VHS and cassette tapes, consisting of sermons, lectures in theology and apologetics, and all kinds of conferences and workshops on my favorite subjects, taught by the best Christian speakers in my era. I thought while my eyes can’t read small print anymore, I could still watch videos and listen to recordings to learn for a few more years. However, after procrastinating a year, I finally donated the bulk of my audio and video library as well, filling 80 cartons, to the same college.

I still have the equipment to play those tapes, but technological advances, like time and tide, wait for no man. Heb 8:13 … He has made the first obsolete. But whatever is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to disappear. So before the VHS recorders and tape machines disappear from the college library altogether, I gave the tapes away while others can still use them.

I suppose the obsolescence factor is part of the life story for all of us. I remember when we first learned to use personal computers over 30 years ago, the IBM XT with 128-640 KB RAM was the mainstay in the business world. Then came the AT with 256 KB-16 MB RAM and a 20 MB hard drive, which was considered too advanced for home use. Today I have several thousand times more computing power and storage in my cell phone than that big, heavy, clunker.

So as one generation supersedes the previous, I think the best we can do is summed up in Eph 5:15-17 Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise, making the most of your time, because the days are evil. So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Many of us act like fools bumbling in life not knowing what the will of the Lord is. I pray that we can wise up, walk carefully, and make the most of our time. Only one life, ’twill soon be past. Only what’s done for Christ will last (CT Studd).

More from Grand-children

You don’t know what goes on in their little brains! Last Sunday there was a baptismal service in our daughter’s church. So after the kids got home KSP started practicing baptizing NCP! It’s good to bring up your children in church. They absorb the Christian worldview naturally. Prov 22:6 Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it.

SEL learned phonics in JK and practiced at home. This is her first attempt and she was at the bottom of the first column when the movie camera started rolling. It’s way better than the rote memory method we used when we were kids.

Disproving God?

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Q. My junior highs asked “Can God create a stone so heavy that He cannot lift it?” If He can such that He can’t lift it, then He’s not omnipotent. If He can’t, then He’s not omnipotent as well. Either way God is not omnipotent. How would you answer them?

A. Elementary. This is a common question posed by skeptics who think they can disprove God’s omnipotence or His existence, but it only betrays their ignorance.

The Bible asserts that all things are possible with God:
Mt 19:26 And looking at them Jesus said to them, “With people this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
• Mk 10:27 Looking at them, Jesus *said, “With people it is impossible, but not with God; for all things are possible with God.”
• Lk 1:37 For nothing will be impossible with God.
• Lk 18:27 But He said, “The things that are impossible with people are possible with God.”

But the same Bible also asserts that there are some things which are impossible for God:
Lk 6:18 so that by two unchangeable things in which it is impossible for God to lie, …
• Tit 1:2 in the hope of eternal life, which God, who cannot lie, promised long ages ago,
• 2 Tim 2:13 If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself.

So it is impossible for God to lie, and for Him to deny Himself. The superficial would claim that the Bible is self-contradictory, but the correct understanding is that with God all things that are consistent with His nature are possible. God cannot act against His nature. Because God is the “God of truth” (Ps 31:5; Is 65:16), therefore He cannot lie. Because God is the “faithful God” (Deut 7:9), He is faithful (1 Co 1:9, 10:13; 2 Co 1:18) and cannot deny Himself.

God gave us the ability to reason (Is 1:18), to use logic, therefore He will not do something that is self-contradictory, because that would be against His nature. Just as God will not draw a square circle, or make a two-sided triangle, He will not create a stone too heavy for Him to lift, because these things are non-sensible, contrary to His nature. God does not do things that are absurd to Him, though some things may be enigmatic to us who know so little.

So the short answer is “No”. God does not do self-contradictory things, because to do so would be to deny His nature. The issue is not a matter of power, His omnipotence, which is infinite because God is infinite. The issue is a matter of man’s limited knowledge, who thinks he can stump God with illogical contradictions when God gave him the ability to think in the first place. Such is the arrogance of man.