Jesus

Blue Jeans and Storybook Expectations

Blue Jeans and Storybook Expectations

When I was high school (1967-1971), the dress code at my school prohibited blue jeans. While I didn’t mind the restriction that much at the time, I know that many of my classmates longed for greater freedom and what they could wear.

A couple years after graduation, I returned to the school to visit my former band director. By then the dress code had changed and every student I saw at the school was wearing blue jeans. It was almost as if the written code had been replaced with an unwritten one that necessitated jeans.

3 Promises of the Father to the Son

3 Promises of the Father to the Son

In Psalm 2, we read that the Father promises the Son all the nations of the world as his “heritage.” Verse 7 says, “The Lord said to me, ‘You are my Son; today I have begotten you. Ask of me, and I will make the nations your heritage, and the ends of the earth your possession.’” The Father thus pledges to give the nations of the world to His Son as His inheritance.

Is it even within the realm of possibility that the Father would renege on a promise to his Son such as we find in Psalm 2? Absolutely not, it’s totally absurd to even think of such an occurrence! The Father will keep His promise of giving His Son the nations of the world as His inheritance.

Outliers and Me

Outliers and Me

What we hear instead of watchfulness for Jesus’ appearing is that the church must be about fulfilling the Great Commission as though that excludes teaching about the rapture, the coming tribulation, the Second Coming, or the millennial kingdom.

I believe Jesus regarded His command to preach the Gospel as inseparably intertwined with watchfulness for His return. Let me explain why.

The Reformation and the Gospel

Luther 95 Theses This coming October 31st marks the five hundred year anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation. On October 31, 1517 Martin Luther posted his 95 Theses on the door of the Wittenberg Castle Church in Germany. These 95 Theses became the foundation of the Protestant Reformation, which for many restored the biblical ideal of justification by faith and thereby the purity of the Gospel message.

Earlier in 1517, a friar by the name of Johann Tetzel began selling indulgences in Germany as a mean to raise funds for the renovation of St. Peter’s Basilica in Rome. By purchasing an indulgence, one could gain the release of a sinner from purgatory or help ensure one’s own salvation. For example, if someone suspected that Uncle Joe was not quite ready for heaven when he died, dropping several coins into the box carried around by Tetzel would remedy that situation by instantly delivering Uncle Joe from purgatory into heaven.

Luther condemned this practice of indulgences, the subject of several of his 95 Theses. It’s easy to see why he objected to such manipulation of the people.

Justification by Grace Along with Works

In the Roman Catholic Church of Luther’s day, justification had become a lifelong process through which one received grace through the church and its sacraments that enabled him or her to do the good works necessary for salvation.

Can you see how such teaching would create much uncertainty regarding one’s final status before God? How could anyone know if they had been faithful enough in avoiding sins so that God would pronounce them righteous or justified at the end of their life?

The priests of Luther's day must have dreaded seeing him walk into their confessional booths.

This is why young Luther spent hours at a time confessing his sins to a priest. He believed that getting into heaven that he confess all his sins and live as good a life as possible. As a result, he meticulously and fervently confessed everything he thought might even possibly be a sin. The priests of Luther's day must have dreaded seeing him walk into their confessional booths.

Justification by Faith Alone

As Luther studied Scripture, he realized that God did not base our salvation on a combination of grace and personal merit. He saw that our justification, or our righteous standing before God, did not result from a lifelong process of resisting sin and doing good works, but rather took place the moment we place our faith in Jesus.

The word the Apostle Paul used for justification denoted a judge in his day pronouncing a not guilty verdict upon the accused person standing before him. Sinners, like the person standing trial, are declared righteous once and for all time. It's not something that happens over time.

Justification takes place the instant we call out to the Lord in saving faith, not at the end of our lives. In Romans 5:1, Paul says “since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God.” Our right relationship with God comes instantly; He declares us righteous the moment we believe.

The Apostle Paul often emphasized that God saves us totally by grace through faith apart from any merit of our own (see Titus 3:4-7 and Eph. 2:8-9). Good works come after our adoption into God's family, not before.

Luther based his revolutionary teaching at the time solely on Scripture. An allegorical interpretation of God’s Word had begun centuries earlier as a way for some to view Old Testament prophecy symbolically. As a result, those who interpreted the Bible in such a way viewed the Old Testament promises of a kingdom for Israel as something the church fulfilled spiritually.

Unfortunately, this allegorical way of understanding Scripture later eroded the purity of the Gospel as it opened the door for church tradition to contaminate biblical beliefs, especially those pertaining to salvation.

A Literal Interpretation of Scripture

Both Luther and John Calvin condemned such allegorical interpretations and the adding of human tradition to the teaching of Scripture. They brought their followers back to a literal way of interpreting God’s Word through two key principles.

The elevation of the Bible as supreme in all matters of faith became a key factor in restoring the sound scriptural teaching of justification by faith apart from good works.

The first such principle was that of “sola Scriptura.” This signifies that Scripture alone is our sole source and supreme authority when it comes to all matters pertaining to faith and practice. For the reformers, this meant that the Bible was sufficient for all spiritual matters and thus took precedence over all the traditions of the church and the teachings of all previous popes.

This elevation of the Bible as supreme in all matters of faith became a key factor in restoring the sound scriptural teaching of justification by faith apart from good works.

Secondly, Luther emphasized “Scripture interprets Scripture” as essential for interpreting the Bible. This precept stresses that all of Scripture is God’s Word and as such does not and cannot contradict itself. Scripture thus acts as its own commentary.

A section of the Bible where the meaning is clear can and must be used to interpret a related section of Scripture where the interpretation is less evident or open to several differences of opinion.

These principles of interpretation advocated by Martin Luther and the other Reformers forever changed the course of church history and remain the standard for biblical interpretation for most Protestant churches today.

These two principles of interpreting Scripture in a literal way had another significant long-term impact on the teaching of the church, one that did not appear until well after the time of the Reformers. This later result of interpreting Scripture literally will be the topic of my next article celebrating the 500 year anniversary of the beginning of the Reformation.

Can anyone guess what this future impact might be?

 

Eternity Amnesia

Sunrise As I read Paul David Tripp’s devotion today about “eternity amnesia,” I was struck by how well his comments help us understand the madness we see around us in the world today and also, sadly, to some degree in the church.

I’m referring to Tripp’s June 7 devotional in his book, New Morning Mercies, which I read again this morning. Because his words are so pertinent to the time in which we live and to our needs as followers of Christ, allow me to share some of what he wrote:

“It is sad how many people constantly live in the schizophrenic craziness of eternity amnesia. We were created to live in a forever relationship with a forever God forever. We were designed to live based on a long view of life. We were made to live with one eye on now and one eye on eternity.  You and I simply cannot live as we were put together to live without forever. But so many people try. They put all their hopes and dreams in the right here, right now situations, locations, possessions, positions, and people of their daily lives. . . . They demand that a seriously broken world deliver what it could never deliver even if it were not broken. . . .

“Your eternity amnesia makes you unrealistically expectant, vulnerable to temptation, all too driven, dependent on people and things that will only disappoint you, and sadly susceptible to doubting the goodness of God. Recognizing the eternity that is to come allows you to be realistic without being hopeless, and hopeful when things around you don’t encourage much hope.

"And Scripture is clear—this is not paradise, and it won’t be. Rather, this moment is a time of preparation for the paradise that is to come. . . ."

“The evidence is clear—there just has to be more to life than this. This broken, sin-scarred mess can’t be all there is. And Scripture is clear—this is not paradise, and it won’t be. Rather, this moment is a time of preparation for the paradise that is to come, where everything that sin has broken will be fully restored to what God originally intended it to be.”

Dr. Tripp asked this penetrating question, “Are you experiencing the schizophrenia of have eternity hardwired into your heart but living as if this moment is all there is?’

His comments sum up my motivation for writing. I write to remind myself and others that this life is not all there is. I seek to draw the attention of Christ-followers away from the drudgery of day to day living to the glorious eternity awaiting them in eternity. For those who do not rest upon Jesus for the forgiveness of their sins and eternal life, my desire is that they find true life and hope in Christ and in Him alone.

Yes, I have strong convictions regarding the timing of Jesus’ return for His church. But my overriding concern is that we do not place our hope in the fleeting things of this earth but look to Jesus’ return and the joy ahead for us.  I know just how easy it is to slip into hoping in the things of this life while forgetting the wonderful and glorious promises of life ahead for us in eternity.

Is not the angst and hatred we see many times on social media the result of putting all of ones hope in the things of this life rather than eternity? I am so grieved by what I see because it shows a longing for paradise in this life, which will never happen, and reveals a lack of any hope beyond our short stay here. Our lasting and yes eternal hope rests solely in Jesus and His promise to return for us, to take us to forever be with Him.

Who else but Jesus could accurately predict His death and the exact timing of His resurrection?

Jesus’ resurrection makes His promises sure. Who else could accurately predict His death and the exact timing of His resurrection? And, if His words are that accurate, then we can absolutely trust His warnings of the coming tribulation, His promise to return for His church, and His vivid description of His return to earth after the tribulation.

It’s when I forget about eternity that this life takes on a frightful dimension (and I get too caught up in making comments of Facebook, ones that I later regret).

One the other hand, it’s the sure hope of eternity that has sparked so much healing in my soul from the wounds of my past and keeps me joyously pushing forward in spite of the aches and pains of this life and in spite of the shifting winds of politics.

Let me close by repeating Dr. Tripp’s question (that by the way a year ago shaped the title of this blog), “Are you experiencing the schizophrenia of have eternity hardwired into your heart but living as if this moment is all there is?’

Maranatha!! Come quickly, Lord Jesus!

 

 

The Promise of Jesus' Return

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA Imagine the entire state of Texas covered two feet deep with silver dollars. If you have ever spent any time driving in Texas, you realize this is a huge number of coins. In addition, let’s say one of the coins is painted red.

What are the odds that someone could be blindfolded, walk into Texas, and pick up the red coin on the very first try? The chances of doing so would be exceedingly low, almost nonexistent. Peter W. Stoner, the former Chairman of the Departments of Mathematics and Astronomy at Pasadena City College placed the likelihood of doing so at 1017 or 1 in 100, 000, 000, 000, 000, 000.

Peter W. Stoner joined with Robert C. Newman to write the book Science Speaks in which they calculated the odds of any one person in history fulfilling eight key prophecies regarding the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus. Their calculation came out to the number above, 1 in1017 or same odds as the blindfolded person walking into Texas and picking up the red silver dollar on the first try.

Old Testament Prophecies of Jesus’ First Coming

In all, Jesus fulfilled forty-eight clear and specific prophecies during His first coming. Christmas reminds us of so many of these prophecies.

The prophet Micah, whose ministry lasted from about 750-700 BC, predicted Jesus’ birth in the town of Bethlehem (5:2). The scribes and chief priests knew this, but failed to investigate the claims of the wise men (Matt. 2:1-4).

Matthew recounts Isaiah’s prophecy and fulfillment that a virgin would conceive and give birth to a Son whose name would be Immanuel (see Isa. 7:14 and Matt. 7:22-23).

Other prophecies concerning Jesus’ birth include the killing of the Jewish children in Bethlehem (Jer. 31:15) and the journey to Egypt to escape the killing (Hos. 11:1).

I am sure you are aware of the many other prophecies that Jesus fulfilled through His birth, life, death, and resurrection. Including the specific promises referenced above, there are over 300 verses in the Old Testament that speak of Jesus’ first coming.

The Promise of Jesus’ Second Coming

What about Jesus’ Second Advent? Are there as many Bible references to it?

Yes, Dr. Grant Jeffries estimated that there are about 2,400 verses in the Bible dealing with Jesus’ return to the earth.

The Old Testament prophets speak often of Jesus’ return to earth as King and of His rule over a restored Israel. Isaiah 9:6-7 speaks both of Jesus’ birth and future reign on the throne of David. Isaiah 25:6-9 depicts the Lord’s future rule as a time of feasting, of the elimination of death, and of the wiping away of all tears.

Zechariah 14:9 says, “And the Lord will be king over all the earth. On that day the Lord will be one and his name one.” Many verses in the Psalms echo this same hope such as 99:1, “The Lord reigns; let the peoples tremble! He sits enthroned upon the cherubim; let the earth quake.”

Jesus describes His second coming in a couple places in the book of Matthew (24:29-31; 26:64). Almost the entire book of Revelation speaks of events leading up to Christ’s return, His coming in great glory and power, His defeat of the antichrist, and His future kingdoms.

Almost every epistle in the New Testament makes reference to Jesus’ appearing to take His church back to His Father’s house as Christ first introduced to His disciples in John 14:1-3.

The Bible is full of references to Jesus’ return and what that will mean for the end of history as we know it. As such, it has great implications for our lives.

What Does This All Mean?

In Matthew 16:1-3, Jesus chided the Pharisees and Scribes for not recognizing Him as the Messiah. While they recognized the signs of an approaching storm based on the sky, they could not “interpret the signs of the times.” They missed recognizing their Messiah due to their misunderstanding of prophecy.

What does that say for us who have eight times more verses relating to the end times than what they had for Jesus’ first arrival on earth?

What does all this tells us about our hope?

  1. Jesus’ return to earth is an extremely important event in God’s eyes. Why would we have so many more verses regarding Jesus’ return than for His first coming if this were not the case? Clearly, the Lord wants us to be ready and watching as He so often instructs us in Matthew 24-25. If Jesus chided the Pharisees for ignoring the signs of His coming, how much more does He expect us to be aware of the indications of the end times?
  2. The study of future things is not something to be ignored or overlooked. God gave us 2,400 verses for a purpose; He intends for us to know about His return and be aware of the signs of His return. This subject is not simply something for theologians to discuss; it’s intended for all of us to study and know.
  3. We are not meant to live solely focused on this life. Clearly, the multitude of verses points us to eternity over and over again. We are not meant to live as though this life represents the sum total of our existence.

The Lord intends us to put our hopes in eternity and let the joy ahead for us filter back to relieve our anxieties and fears.

I like the way Paul David Tripp refers to our lack of attention to eternity:

        It is an item on each of our theological outlines, but we don’t actually live as though we believe it. We all say that we believe that this is not all there is. We say we really do believe that there is life after this one ends. Our formal theology contains the fact of a new heaven and a new earth to come. But we tend to live with the anxiety and drivenness that come when we believe that all we have is this moment.[i]

In 1 Peter 1:13 the apostle says, “. . . set your hope fully on the grace that will be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” Our hope is not in this fleeting life where disappointments and frustrations so frequently rule the day. All too quickly our health fades and then what?

That’s why Scripture so frequently speaks of Jesus’ return and our future hope. It’s meant to relieve our striving as though this life were all that matters.

Prophecy gives us hope for tomorrow. Regardless of what we face today, a much, much better day is coming.

Prophecy gives us hope for tomorrow. Regardless of what we face today, a much, much better day is coming. As followers of Christ, we will live forever in immortal bodies that will never grow old or get sick. That alone should make us rejoice.

Since Jesus fulfilled all 48 specific prophecies regarding His first appearance on earth, He will certainly fulfill all the prophecies of His return. We can count on all the predictions of the last days coming to past just as the Bible tells us. God’s Word will never fail to come to pass.

Jesus is coming again!

Maranatha!

[i] Paul David Tripp, New Morning Mercies – A daily Gospel Devotional (Wheaton: Crossway 2014), March 11

Hollywood Versus Our Hope

hollywood Imagine if you will, a man explaining to his fiancé his vision for their future once they are married.

Let's carry out this scene a bit further with the prospective bride responding something like this: "Let’s just concentrate on our life now before the wedding; we can talk about our honeymoon and life together after we get married”

Would you think that strange? Why would the future bride not want to talk about life after the wedding ceremony? We would wonder about the lack of excitement.

Is this not what we so often do as the church?

Jesus wants us to know about the future he has planned for us; He revealed many things about the glory ahead for us through His apostles.

Believers, however, remain fixated on what the Bible teaches about this life and spends little time contemplating their glorious future after Jesus appears. The result is an overall lack of excitement regarding Jesus' return.

How did we get here? What are some other causes of the focus on this life versus eternity?

Hollywood

How often have you seen depictions of lonely glorified believers sitting on clouds strumming harps? With such an idea of eternity, it’s no wonder believers lose their eagerness for heaven. Such misinformation dampens our anticipation and understandably so. Who would desire such a lonely and boring existence?

Better to live for the moment than wait for that.

However, Scripture tells us we will reign with Christ in His earthly kingdom and then forevermore throughout eternity. Doesn’t that sound much more exciting than sitting on a cloud?

Hollywood’s lame and misleading depictions of heaven fall far short of the glory ahead for followers of Christ.

I love the movie It’s a Wonderful Life, but someday as followers of Christ we will be so much more than aspiring angels jumping into icy waters to earn our wings. Scripture says we will “judge angels” (1 Cor. 6:3). I am not sure of all that implies, but it certainly distinguishes us from them and places us on a higher level.

Hollywood’s lame and misleading depictions of heaven fall far short of the glory ahead for followers of Christ.

I’ve heard that before

Back in the 1960s’ and 1970’s, eschatology became a hot topic. Many churches emphasized the imminent return of Jesus. I remember Jack Van Impe coming to my church to teach for an entire week about prophecy.

As time has passed, however, believers have lost their expectancy of Jesus’ return. Having looked for it for so long, I understand the sentiment that finds it difficult to believe He will appear anytime soon. After all, we have heard it before for so many years and yet nothing has happened.

However, as we see the prophecy begin to be fulfilled in our world today, if there was ever a time to be watchful, it is now!

When I read the signs of the coming time of tribulation in Matthew 24:3-14, I wonder if Jesus had a laptop in front of him and was reading from various news sites on the Internet as he talked to his disciples. His words in that passage so closely match what we see around us today; it’s difficult to imagine he was talking about a still future period of history.

Silence in Our Churches

Unfortunately, rather than becoming more watchful as signs multiply, churches remain mostly silent on the subject. How can believers be excited about their future hope if they never hear about it?

It’s difficult, if not impossible.

Murky references to eternal life or some distant kingdom do not stir our hearts or relieve anxiety over what we see around us.

Murky references to eternal life or some distant kingdom do not stir our hearts or relieve anxiety over what we see around us. John Eldredge said this in his book Desire, “C.S. Lewis summed it up, ‘We can only hope for what we desire.’ No desire, no hope. . . . Bland assurances of the sweet by-and-by don’t inflame the soul.”[i]

Passing references to heaven do not impassion us, especially in America where so many enjoy comfortable lives. Without a vision of the joys ahead for us after Jesus returns for us, it’s difficult to imagine heaven can be any better than our current existence with IPhones, smart TV’s, computer games, and a host of other things I could list.

Teaching Without a Two-world Perspective

When churches ignore a two-world perspective, they unwittingly make happy marriages, good parenting, wise financial planning, etc., our ultimate hope rather than Jesus’ appearing. Of course, biblically centered teaching on such things is essential. Without a two-world perspective woven into such instruction, however, these things can easily become our hope rather than Jesus’ return.

The danger comes from focusing our hope on temporal results where so many factors, including the sinful choices of ourselves and others, negatively impact the outcomes we so greatly desire. The New Testament teaches believers to expect trials and difficult times in this life (James 1:2-3; 1 Pet. 1:6, 4:12-13).

Scripture promises us paradise in eternity, not now. We set ourselves up for great disappointment when we define anything in this life as our paradise. That is our future, not our present reality.

Hard Pews

Many see eternity as an unending church service as John Eldredge also notes in his book Desire, “Nearly every Christian I have spoken with has some idea of eternity is an unending church service . . . . we have settled on an image of the never-ending sing-along in the sky. . . . And our heart sinks.”[ii]

Of course we will sing and worship the Lord throughout eternity as we get caught up in the glories of eternity and celebrate the full realization of all that He had done for us.

We are promised an amazing future that we can be excited about and celebrate!

Scripture, however, also speaks of our reigning with Christ during the millennium and then forever. We will have thrilling kingdom responsibilities and forever enjoy a restored earth. We will never get bored in eternity with the exciting future the Lord has specifically planned for each one of us.

Satan’s Opposition

Amir Tsarfati recently gave a sermon titled, “Bible Prophecy – God Gave It – Satan Hates It.” Does that not sum up well what we see today with Satan’s ever growing opposition to anything related to our future hope?

Of course, Satan does not want believers to be aware of the glorious future God has planned for them. Why would he want us to anticipate our future immortal bodies when he can drag us into despair over aging, sicknesses, and other aches and pains?

It also makes perfect sense that the devil would distract us from our future hope and bring division into the body of Christ regarding such things.

Bottom Line

God did not reveal so much about our future hope simply for seminary classroom discussions. No, he provided many details of what’s ahead so we as believers can rejoice in our thrilling hope and rise about the anxieties that so often drag us down.

In 1 Corinthians 2:9 Paul writes, “What no eye has seen, nor ear heard, nor the heart of man imagined, what God had prepared for those who love him.’ But the apostle does not stop there, he quickly adds in the following verse, “these things God has revealed to us through the Spirit.”

We have a glorious future beyond what we can imagine. And yet, the Spirit has revealed some things to us. The Lord did not tell us everything about eternity, but He revealed enough to let us know it will be wonderful beyond all we could hope for.

No one will be disappointed with heaven and long to be back on earth. That will never happen; count on it.

[i] Eldredge, John, Desire (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2007), pp. 64-65

[ii] Ibid., p. 111

 

 

 

Our Unfailing Advocate

gavel advocacy I remember Jay Leno on the Tonight Show mentioning that his whole life was videotaped for security reasons. Leno’s purpose in saying this was to introduce some incident between him and his cat, which he wanted us to assume was totally impromptu.

But what if . . . what if our entire lives, every waking moment, was somehow captured on video? Furthermore, what if this was available for any enemy of ours to use against us?

Far-fetched you might say?? Revelation 12:10 refers to Satan as “the accuser of the brethren” and as someone who “accuses” us as believers “day and night before our God.” Satan is able to recount incidents (and perhaps replay events) from my life and then bring charges against me, “Look at this display of unbelief! Did you see that lack of faith in his display of anxiety! Jonathan claims to be your child, but look at his prideful behavior. Surely he is not who he claims to be.” Satan never gives up in his relentless efforts to accuse us both in person and before our Father in heaven.

However, I John 2:1 says that when we sin, “we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.” Whew! I have someone to defend me before my Father, a never-failing advocate on my behalf. We are never left defenseless against Satan's attacks.

Romans 8:33-34 further describes this courtroom scene in heaven, “Who shall bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. Who is to condemn? Christ Jesus is the one who died—more than that, who was raised—who is at the right hand of God, who indeed is interceding for us.” Because we are justified before God, Jesus never fails to intercede on our behalf and defend us against all charges made against us.

When Scripture says we are justified, this signifies God’s proclamation that we are righteous solely because of Jesus and His death on the cross for our sins. Justification is a legal term indicating a judicial pronouncement made in a court of law. All the legal claims against us have been forever cancelled; they are nailed to the cross and we bear them no more (see Col. 2:13-15); God declares those in Christ forever righteous in His sight. Jesus is our righteousness (2 Cor. 5:21). In addition, Jesus remains our advocate, our defense attorney, always ready to defend us before the Father.

Romans 8:1 sums up this wonderful news, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.” Notice the apostle does not say there is “no condemnation” for the religious or for the moral or for those who always obey God. No, the promise is for those “in Christ,” for those who have a saving relationship with Jesus.

Satan can bring a whole flash drive full of condemning videos; it will never change God’s verdict of righteousness on those of us who know Jesus as our Savior. Jesus is the one who continually defends us and when you think of it, could there possibly be a better defense attorney in the entire universe?

Recently, someone asked me to make a value judgment on a politician’s character based on a short video of less than a minute. While the incident on the video certainly put the man in a bad light, I could not agree it exemplified his entire life. As I later reflected on the discussion regarding the video, I realized I am no better than that candidate. A great number of equally condemning videos against me could be paraded before my Father in heaven to which I could only lower my head in shame.

My confidence, however, rests solely in Jesus and His righteousness. He is my only defense against all the countless charges made against me, past, present, and future. This is what it means to be justified before Him: no future charge can ever change our righteous standing before God or interfere with our hope of someday reigning with Christ. Jesus is not only our unfailing advocate, but coming soon to take us to be with Him in heaven.

He alone is the reason we are secure in our hope of spending eternity with Him. This is why we can confidently look for His appearing. He alone is our unfailing hope.

Romans 8:31-32 says this about those in Christ, “If God is for us, who can be against us? He who did not spare His own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things?”

Some might claim, as they did in Paul’s day, that such grace opens the door to more sin. However, as the reality of what Jesus has done and continues to do for us sinks increasingly into our hearts, it energizes our desire to serve and love Him all the more.

Praise God for His amazing grace, love, and mercy! So undeserved but welcomed with much thanksgiving!!

What we Cannot See

Nick at Beep Baseball  

They come to bat with gritty determination in their faces, hit solid line drives, and run toward the bases with all the intensity of someone in the major leagues.

In the outfield they race toward the ball, sometimes diving, in order to make the put out before the batter reaches base.

On the bench, they listen intently and cheer loudly when their team scored a run.

Sound like baseball in any other league?  Not really. This league has a unique requirement for all its players . . . they all must be legally blind in order to participate.

On July 26, 2016, I witnessed the beginning of the playoffs for the National Beep Baseball Association World Series in Ames, Iowa. I met Nick, pictured above sprinting past first base, and experienced the sights, sounds, and emotions of beep baseball. The baseball beeps to help both the batter and fielders locate it. When the ball is hit, a base beeps and the hitter runs toward the sound.

Spiritually, we have much in common with the players in the Beep Baseball World Series playoffs. We believe God’s Word about the world yet to come, but it remains unseen. With eyes aided by the Holy Spirit, we see our Savior albeit still dimly, “For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face . . .”[i] We await Jesus’ appearing when we will not only see His glory face to face but be changed to be like Him.[ii]

In the meantime, we battle an unseen foe. The Apostle Paul says that our battle is not “against flesh and blood” but with spiritual powers of wickedness.[iii] In reality, we are all on a team battling together against Satan and his minions.

Unlike the players in the Beep Baseball League, we so often lose heart because of the unseen nature of our battle. The things we see so easily blur our spiritual focus for things that remain unseen. We lose our focus on the unseen and soon our heart for pressing forward through the struggles and difficulties of life.

Jesus, however, will soon appear; our faith will be sight! Until then we press on toward our upward call when Jesus takes us to forever be with Him.

[i] I Corinthians 13:12

[ii] 1 John 3:2-3

[iii] Ephesians 6:12