Placing our Hope in God Alone

“The king is not saved by his great army; a warrior is not delivered by his great strength. The war horse is a false hope for salvation,
and by its great might it cannot rescue.” Ps 33:16-17

A few years ago I had the opportunity to walk through the National Museum of the US Air Force in Dayton, OH. Moving from one hangar to the next I saw the evolution of aircraft from the Wright brother’s first plane to the modern surveillance drones of today.

It isn’t hard to be in a place like that and not have an overwhelming sense of patriotism as I see the military defense weapons and aircraft that our nation has used in the defense of our country and many other countries all around the world. Seeing these beautiful machines and their sheer size made me feel a little sorry for anyone that stood against them in a battle.

It makes me think about how Pharaoh felt about his horses and chariots, and the king of Babylon about his weapons of war. The same can be said about the Medo-Persians, Greeks, and Romans at different parts of world history. Whether the weapons are spears, swords, arrows, or chariots, tanks, and airplanes, our hearts can become fooled into thinking that it is the weapon and strategies that win the war. Sometimes we think we can simply outnumber the enemy with more soldiers, more money, more missiles, and more technologies. This is heady stuff and it can divert the attention of a nation away from their inherent weakness and need for God.

In Psalm 33, the unnamed psalmist recognized this prideful blindspot and seeks to refocus the attention of the worshippers of Yahweh. The king, he writes, is not saved by his army-no matter how great. A read through the Chronicles and any history book will give credence to this reality. Kings are overthrown, betrayed, killed in battle, poisoned, and even killed by their own sons in a grab of power. King David himself survived an attempted coup by his own son. Some rulers are better than others, but no ruler can exist without God’s help. The Lord puts the man on the throne or behind the desk, but it is God alone who keeps him there, and it is God who removes him.

The psalmist also recognized that the same is true about those warriors that seem unbeatable in battle. We laud those warriors that fight valiantly and bring to our nation victory over the enemy. Stories are told of campaigns where all hope was lost and then the hero emerged and snatched victory out of the jaws of defeat. But even the greatest hero among our warriors should not be hoped upon more than our God. Do not forget men like the mighty Goliath who boasted in his mighty size and ability to defeat Israel, even defying the Lord with mockery. That warrior’s great strength could not deliver him when a boy with a sling brought him to his death on the battlefield.

The warhorse was a great advantage to any ancient kingdom that sought to be a military powerhouse. The war horse was large, brave, and strong. He could charge into a mob of warriors with courage and bowl over those in his path, allowing his rider to swing his longsword or thrust his spear into the melee while remaining out of reach by the foot soldier. Any army that had a cavalry was an almost unstoppable force. Almost.

Knowing the confidence that men put in warhorses, he commanded that the kings of Israel were not to amass large numbers of them knowing that it would easily allow the king to seek confidence in his cavalry and not place his trust in the Lord. In modern weaponry, confidence is placed in ships, drones, fighter jets, missiles, and many other weapons that can unleash “shock and awe” in our enemies.

The writer of Psalm 33:16-17 should be heard. Anything we place our confidence in outside of God can and will fail. It is inevitable. As a matter of fact, it is worse than failure. These things that we place above our trust in God are an affront to Him, and they will not only fail but they will also be brought low as they have become a challenge to God for supremacy in our hearts. He will not allow anything else in His place.

Physically Healthy and Spiritually Bankrupt

“It is no secret that Christ’s Church is not at all in good health in many places of the world. She has been languishing because she has been fed, as the current line has it, “junk food”; all kinds of artificial preservatives and all sorts of unnatural substitutes have been served up to her. As a result, theological and biblical malnutrition has afflicted the very generation that has taken such giant steps to make sure its physical health is not damaged by using foods or products that are carcinogenic or otherwise harmful to their physical bodies. Simultaneously a worldwide spiritual famine resulting from the absence of any genuine publication of the Word of God (Amos 8:11) continues to run wild and almost unabated in most quarters of the Church.”
–Walter C. Kaiser, Jr., Toward an Exegetical Theology (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1981), 7-8.

Dr. Kaiser’s quote is a good reminder for those of us that are leaders in the church and will be stepping into pulpits and classrooms this coming Sunday. Serve a hearty meal of the Word to God’s people. Leave out the artificial fillers, by-products, dyes, and chemicals. Give them rich doctrine, deep theology, and filling and nutritious worship. Point them to God and leave them with a sense of awe. Make it your goal to have the best fed sheep in town who long to hear from God and love to sit at His feet.

The Glory of God in a Season of Pain

“So when Martha heard that Jesus was coming, she went and met him, but Mary remained seated in the house. Martha said to Jesus, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died. But even now I know that whatever you ask from God, God will give you.” Jesus said to her, “Your brother will rise again.” Martha said to him, “I know that he will rise again in the resurrection on the last day.” Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die. Do you believe this?” She said to him, “Yes, Lord; I believe that you are the Christ, the Son of God, who is coming into the world.” John 11:20–27

The glory of God and the love of God are not in conflict with one another. Some theologians try to pit one against the other saying that the sovereignty of God (intimately tied to His glory) cannot override His love for humanity., and therefore the love of God willingly overrides His sovereignty so that God actually submits to the will of His creatures.

John 11 is an interesting test of this idea. In verses 4-6 it says, “But when Jesus heard it he said, “This illness does not lead to death. It is for the glory of God, so that the Son of God may be glorified through it.” Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. So, when he heard that Lazarus was ill, he stayed two days longer in the place where he was.”]

In these verses we have the glory of God shown in His sovereign decision to allow the life of Lazarus to be overcome by death, with the divine purpose of God being glorified through His resurrection of Lazarus. To some Christians and many unbelievers, this is unthinkable—even monstrous. But this is because the unregenerate mind and the immature Christian mind attribute all discomfort, pain, trial, and even death, as only evil and that the only good that comes is from the avoidance of these things.

But the pain and suffering that occurs in this world is only a small part of the much bigger picture. And not only this, but the pain and suffering as well as the joy unspeakable that are available to humanity either through grace or denial of the offer of salvation are infinite. The present world and its pains and joys are only a small sampling of a greater reality that all of humanity shall experience personally one day.

Jesus, looking beyond the suffering and eventual death of His friend Lazarus knows that a greater lesson needs to be grasped and through the truth He will bring glory to His Father.

So, instead of rushing to the scene to be at His friend’s side, Jesus stayed two days longer to assure His disciples that Lazarus was dead and buried by the time they reached Bethany.

This means that when we are tempted to cry out “Why?” In our trials, we must not push aside the glory of God and begin to question the love of God. The Lord’s mind is vast and His plans are more infinitely complex that we can know or imagine; therefore we must never doubt His love.

Mary and Martha were correct in placing all of their hope in Jesus’ power to heal their brother. The issue was simply timing. Jesus could have healed Lazarus while he was sick (Jn 11:21-27, 32); or immediately after he had died; or long after he died in the future Day of resurrection (v. 24).

The sisters had hoped that the healing would be before his death, but after he had died, they found some comfort in the future resurrection when he would be raised from the dead.

But Jesus gave them immediate resurrection while also pointing them to the reality of the greater day of resurrection that they would still need to look forward to and hope in. We too must cling to this very same hope even without our own personal experience with an immediate healing or resurrection. Jesus proved to Mary and Martha, and by extension to us as well, that He is able to raise the dead—because He raised Lazarus from the dead, and He rose from the grave by His own power.

So the next time you find yourself doubting God’s love or not understanding how such pain could bring God glory, remember Lazarus. You might never understand God’s reasoning, but you must know this—God desires to be glorified and His love for us is infinite. Both are true and both are never super versed by His perfect plans.

Thus Sayeth the Lord: Why We Preach the Bible (weekend repost)

When stripped down to our historical foundation, IFCA International is a Bible movement. Our churches and ministries exist to preach Christ crucified (1 Cor. 1:23), a prospect that has never been acceptable to the world and is rejected by the apostate church. Like the Apostle Paul, we do not shrink from declaring the whole counsel of God (Acts 20:27). We believe that God has spoken without error and that His Word has never failed. We believe that the Word of God rules over the Church and God’s people, and that this authority extends to all humanity whether it accepts it or not. We believe the Bible, and this should have a direct impact upon how we minister in the preaching of the Word.

Read the rest here: Thus Sayeth the Lord: Why We Preach the Bible

Jesus and His Sustaining Power Over Creation

Back when I was a child, one of the most popular things to play on in the playground was a merry-go-round that kids would climb on and spin around until you would get dizzy. To make extra exciting, we would sometimes throw sand on it to make it slippery, and then everyone would climb on and we would have one person run around spinning it as fast as they could. The centrifugal force mixed with the slippery sand-covered deck would cause any unfortunate soul with a weak grip to be flung off of that merry-go-round. Last one left holding on was the winner. What fun!

We played that game before we understood the ideas related to physics, or had ever heard of centrifugal force. We just knew that if you go fast enough in a circle (as in carnival rides) you get pulled away from the center. It’s fun to think about these things, but they also remind me of what Paul wrote to the Colossians about Jesus Christ, the sustainer of the universe.

“And He [Christ] is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (Col. 1:17)

He is Before All Things

This means that Jesus has priority and primacy. “He is before all things” means that Jesus existed before anything was made. He existed before the universe began (John 1:1-2; 1John 1:1). He existed before Abraham, father of the Jews (John 8:58; Ex. 3:14). This is shown in Col. 1:17 when it says that “He is before all things,” not he was before all things. This isn’t poor grammar, but points to the eternality of Jesus Christ. This can also be clearly seen in the references to Jesus in Revelation (e.g. Rev. 22:13).

And in Him All Things Hold Together

Jesus Christ is not only the Creator of all of creation, but he is the sustainer of it all as well. Hebrews 1:3 says “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.”

The mighty power of Jesus which created the world with a word so that the universe leapt into existence, also is the same word that continuously since the creation sustains the universe by the same power.

The power of Jesus Christ is staggering when looked at in this way. Compare the fact that on the cross, not only could he have called down a legion of angels to save him, but he could have withheld his sustaining power from the universe and it would have all ended.

Even science is at a loss to explain how the universe is held together. Scientists don’t understand how the nucleus of an atom holds together. In describing the phenomenon, they call it “The Strong Nuclear force.” Here is how scientists from the Astrophysics Group of the Lawrence Berkeley National Lab describe it:

“The Strong Nuclear Force (also referred to as the strong force) is one of the four basic forces in nature (the others being gravity, the electromagnetic force, and the weak nuclear force). As its name implies, it is the strongest of the four. However, it also has the shortest range, meaning that particles must be extremely close before its effects are felt. Its main job is to hold together the subatomic particles of the nucleus (protons, which carry a positive charge, and neutrons, which carry no charge. These particles are collectively called nucleons). As most people learn in their science education, like charges repel (+ +, or – -), and unlike charges attract (+ -).”


We as Christians know who made and sustains the Strong Nuclear Force, gravity, the electromagnetic force and the weak nuclear force—Jesus Christ.

Consider what 2Peter 3:5-7, 10 says:
“For they deliberately overlook this fact, that the heavens existed long ago, and the earth was formed out of water and through water by the word of God, and that by means of these the world that then existed was deluged with water and perished. But by the same word the heavens and earth that now exist are stored up for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the ungodly. …But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.”

Did you catch the emphasis on the effect of the Word of God in those verses?
By God’s word the world was formed.
By God’s word the world was flooded.
By God’s word the world will be destroyed.

All the Lord has to do is remove his sustaining hand from this universe and all of creation will cease!

George Gamow, one of the founders of the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe wrote, “The fact that we live in a world in which practically every object is a potential nuclear explosive, without being blown to bits, is due to the extreme difficulties that attend the starting of a nuclear reaction.”
Gamow, recognizes the power of the Strong Nuclear force that keeps all of us alive.

Think of what will happen when the Lord who made the force removes his hand! John MacArthur writes, “Jesus must be God. He made the universe, existed outside and before it and preserves it.”

Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of the Colossian believers for a minute. They were being pursued, on one hand, by those who denied the deity of Jesus Christ. Paul set out to demolish that idea and leave them no other alternative than to see that Jesus is God.

On the other hand, they were also being influence by Jewish influences that said that Jehovah God was the creator of the universe and that he is to be worshipped, not Jesus. Paul, likewise demolishes the idea that Jesus is anything other than God himself.

Yes, God made the universe and God sustains it, and yes God is to be worshipped. But God has been revealed in his Son Jesus Christ. To worship God while denying His Son is unacceptable.

Colossians widens our understanding of Jesus Christ. We begin to see a glimpse of Who it was when John saw the risen Lord in Rev. 1:10-18. May God give us greater insight into the glories of Christ, or Lord.