WTS bookstore’s sale

Check it out. The bookstore has now different books for their sale of the week. There are some real golden opportunities here. Also check out the newest book on justification, this one from Westminster East’s faculty.

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Healed to Serve

Matthew 8:14-15

It is said by some that many people love to serve God, but in an advisory capacity only.

This story is told in the Discipleship Journal of 1987 (39), p. 5.

Franklin Roosevelt’s closest adviser during much of his presidency was a man named Harry Hopkins. During World War II, when his influence with Roosevelt was at its peak, Hopkins held no official Cabinet position. Moreover, Hopkins’s closeness to Roosevelt caused many to regard him as a shadowy, sinister figure. As a result he was a major political liability to the President. A political foe once asked Roosevelt, “Why do you keep Hopkins so close to you? You surely realize that people distrust him and resent his influence.” Roosevelt replied, “Someday you may well be sitting here where I am now as President of the United States. And when you are, you’ll be looking at that door over there and knowing that practically everybody who walks through it wants something out of you. You’ll learn what a lonely job this is, and you’ll discover the need for somebody like Harry Hopkins, who asks for nothing except to serve you.” Winston Churchill rated Hopkins as one of the half-dozen most powerful men in the world in the early 1940s. And the sole source of Hopkins’s power was his willingness to serve.

This truth is true of both of our main characters in this healing miracle. It is true of Jesus. For the power of Jesus Christ comes from His willingness to serve others. It was that willingness that led Him to the cross to serve us poor, needy, sinners by dying on the cross for us. As a result of that service, God the Father exalted Him above every name that can be named. In this little story of healing, however, we see Jesus demonstrating this desire to serve by using His almighty power to heal a fever.

Now, as a side note, we should notice that Peter was married. This was his mother-in-law who was sick. Paul, in his epistles, confirms that Peter was married, as well. This is significant for us, because the Roman Catholic Church forbids its priests to marry. They claim that the apostles left their authority to their followers, and the followers did likewise, all the way down to the present pope. However, if Peter, who is supposed to be the first pope, was married, then why can the Roman Catholic priests not get married? This is an unbiblical tradition of theirs, and it has caused many problems. As you know, some Roman Catholic priests have been guilty of molesting children. I believe that stems from this unbiblical tradition. Yes, Paul was unmarried. However, Peter was married. Therefore, there ought not to be a command one way or the other for pastors, or for laypeople, for that matter. Marriage is an honorable institution, given to us at creation, not after the Fall. It is something that God created, and it was good.

So, Peter’s mother-in-law was suffering from a fever. We don’t know exactly what kind of fever it was. Malaria was common in those days, as were several other dangerous fevers. Literally, she was burning up. Notice the differences between this healing and the previous healings. Peter’s mother-in-law does not even ask Jesus to heal her, wheeas the centurion and the leper do ask. That tells us that healing can come unlooked for from God. We don’t necessarily have to ask God for healing. Oftentimes, when we are at the end of our rope, and simply do not know what to do next, God will touch our lives and heal us.

Notice, however, that Jesus never heals us so that we can go on in our godless lives, ignoring the fact that God has healed us. What does she do immediately after Jesus heals her? She gets up and serves her Lord. And isn’t that the proper reaction to being saved? If God saves us, then shouldn’t we, out of gratitude, serve Him? In that way, Jesus is not like Harry Hopkins. Jesus really does expect something from us if He serves us. He expects our loyalty, devotion, adoration, worship, and service. Peter’s mother-in-law is a wonderful example for us. Jesus healed her, and she uses that healing for the glory of God by serving her Lord.

Well, that’s very well for her, because she had Jesus right in front of her. But what about us? We don’t have Jesus Christ right in front of us, do we? No, we don’t. But imagine yourself in her position. The great King of the universe was right in your room, and had just healed you of a deadly disease. What would you feel? Could you possibly feel indifferent to the God-man standing right in front of you? And yet, just because we cannot see Him, we usually do not get very excited about what Jesus has done in our lives. I would challenge us to remember what Jesus has done. We should be ecstatic for joy. Use your imagination and transfer the joy you might feel if you were in the shoes of Peter’s mother-in-law to your own situation. Imagine how joyful you would be! Imagine how ready you would be to do anything for the one who has healed you! And yet, that is exactly what Jesus Christ has done for us spiritually. Every one of Christ’s miracles is a picture of how salvation happens for us. We were burning up in our sin and misery. And we faced the much worse burning of hell itself. And Jesus touched us with one touch of His mighty hand, and we are forever different.

One more application comes out of looking at this miracle as part of a series. Notice that Jesus heals the leper, who was as good as dead, and the worst outcast of all. Jesus also heals the servant of a centurion. A centurion was not as much of an outcast as the leper, but he still could not enter the real temple of the Lord. Inside the court of the Gentiles, however, is the women’s court. Women of the Jewish faith were allowed to be closer to God than the Gentiles were. However, even they were still not allowed into the Holy Place. Jesus, you see, can make people from every class of people clean. He heals the leper, raising him from death to life. He heals the centurion’s servant. He heals the woman, Peter’s mother-in-law. We move closer and closer to God as we go through these miracles. And the lesson is that Jesus can make anyone clean. Therefore, we should not give up on anyone. Instead, we should serve without any prospect of getting something back, just as Harry Hopkins did.

Brought Near By the Blood of Christ

Ephesians 2:11-13

First dentistry was painless;
Then bicycles were chainless
And carriages were horseless
And many laws, enforceless.

Next, cookery was fireless,
Telegraphs were wireless,
Cigars were nicotineless
And coffee, caffeinless.

Soon oranges were seedless,
The putting green was weedless,
The college boy hatless,
The proper diet, fatless,

Now motor roads are dustless,
The latest steel is rustless,
Our tennis courts are sodless,
Our new religions, godless.

This is a poem by Arthur Guiterman’s book Gaily the Troubadour.  The remarkable thing about this poem is that it written in 1936! We live without God in the world. By and large, that is how people act. As Charles Colson says, “Men and women may assert that God exists or that He does not, but it makes little difference either way. God is dead not because He doesn’t exist, but because we live, play, procreate, govern, and die as though He doesn’t. ” We are a godless culture. In our small society in North Dakota, we can see it in many ways: the way greed makes us blind to the coming heaven, and intent on securing heaven here and now; the way we trample on other people’s rights and think we have a right to do that; the way we hate one another. This is exactly what Paul is talking about.

Paul wants us to remember something. He starts out in verse 11 with the word “remember.” Obviously, he is writing from a Jewish perspective. He uses the word “you” to describe the Gentiles. Therefore, he is writing from a Jewish perspective. And this is important, because his point is not so much that “he’s Jewish and you’re not, and he’s much better.” The point is rather a contrast between the situation before the Gentiles had Christ and the situation after the Gentiles have Christ.

So what was the situation like before Christ? Well, the Jews and Gentiles were not getting along very well. Jews had a rather nasty term for the Gentiles. They used to call the Gentiles “the uncircumcised.” That was one way that the Jews were distinguished from most of the pagans surrounding them, although we must note that the Egyptians were circumcised as well. However, when Paul speaks, he makes sure to include the Jews in the same boat. Remember what the OT says about circumcision? It says that the important thing about circumcision is not the physical sign so much as the thing to which it pointed, which was the circumcised heart. So when Paul goes on and on about the fact that the Jews only had the circumcision made by hands, he is implying that the Jews did not have that heart circumcision. Paul did the same thing in Romans in the first three chapters, when he proves beyond a shadow of a doubt that Jews just as much as Gentiles were under sin.

However, it is equally important to notice here the privileges that the Jews had. Paul also emphasizes those privileges. the Jews were the people of God. They expected a Messiah. They were ruled ultimately by God. They had the covenants of promise. They had hope. And they had God. These five things are just what the Gentiles did not have. The Gentiles did not have a Messiah; they were not ruled by God; they didn’t have the covenants of promise; they didn’t have any hope. And, as the poem has it which I just read to you, they didn’t have God. One can have many gods. But they didn’t have the one true God. This is what is so ironic about what Paul says here. The Gentiles accused the Jews of being “atheists,” because the Jews only had one God. However, the word “atheist” is the very word Paul uses here to describe the Gentiles, who had hundreds of gods! So Paul tells us that unless we have the one true God, we are really and truly without any god. Only the one true God has a Son. Only the one true God sent that Son into the world. Only the one true God commanded His Son to be a perfect sacrifice for our sins. Only the one true God can reconcile what is seeming irreconcilable.

And that is the burden of what Paul says in verse 13. The structure of this passage is the very same as in the first 7 verses. You will remember that the first three verses of the chapter tell us about how we were dead in sin and transgressions. Then, the next four verses tells us about what God did to save us. Verse 4 is the turning point in that great contrast, “But God.” Here in verse 13, we have a similar situation. Verses 11-12 tell us about how we were alienated from God because of our sin. We were cut off from the true Israel. We did not have the covenant promises for us and for our children. BUT NOW… things are different. We were once far away. A great illustration of this is in the temple. The temple had a court for Gentiles. It was nowhere near the Most Holy Place. We could never have entered. However, Christ has done what we could not. He has brought us into the Most Holy Place. That is the significance of the tearing of the veil at Christ’s death. Christ is our Great High Priest, who brings us into the very presence of God. He has done this by His great sacrifice of Himself on the cross. The new temple is the flesh of Jesus Christ, as John says. We can partake of the body of Christ when we partake of the Lord’s Supper. We are now near to God. God has reconciled us to Himself by the blood of Jesus Christ.

Is this your hope? Is this the covenant of which you are a part? Is this your Messiah? Is this your God? If this is not true of you, then you need to repent of your sin, turn to Jesus Christ, and entrust your life to Him. For in Him can be your only hope in life and in death. Is your religion godless?

Do you live as if God did not exist? There is a large difference between saying that God exists and living before the face of God, as the Latin has it, coram Deo. Do we live every minute of every day before the face of God? When we have secret sins, do we remember that nothing can be hidden from God? Do we take encouragement from the amazing sacrifice of our Lord?

The one great application that Paul is going to take from this great truth of reconciliation is that we should reconcile with one another. If we are reconciled vertically with God, then we should be reconciled horizontally with one another. As Paul says in verse 14: God has made the two one. We are one body in Christ. So let us not bicker amongst ourselves, and hold long grudges against people. Let us forgive one another because God has forgiven us. Then we will no longer be living as if God does not exist. But rather, we will taste and see that the Lord is good.