Monthly Archives: May 2010

The Wine Jesus Drank

All His Suffering For Us

For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

2 Cor. 5:21

Sometimes, I run across another blog post that worth posting in full. David Mathis with Desiring God Ministries asks a very pertinent question, “Jesus was offered wine twice while hanging on on that awful tree, why did he reject the first offer and accept the second”? The answer is beautiful and poignant.

The Wine Jesus Drank

By: David Mathis

Twice Jesus was offered wine while on the cross. He refused the first, but took the second. Why so?

The first time came in verse 23, “they offered him wine mixed with myrrh, but he did not take it.” William Lane explains,

According to an old tradition, respected women of Jerusalem provided a narcotic drink to those condemned to death in order to decrease their sensitivity to the excruciating pain . . . . When Jesus arrived at Golgotha he was offered . . . wine mixed with myrrh, but he refused it, choosing to endure with full consciousness the sufferings appointed for him (The Gospel of Mark, p. 564)

This first wine represented an offer to ease the pain, to opt for a small shortcut—albeit, not a major one in view of the terrible pain of the cross, but a little one nonetheless. But this offer Jesus refused, and in doing so, chose “to endure with full consciousness the sufferings appointed for him.”

The second time came in verse 35. After some bystanders thought he was calling for Elijah, “someone ran and filled a sponge with sour wine, put it on a reed and gave it to him to drink, saying, ‘Wait, let us see whether Elijah will come to take him down.’” Lane comments,

A sour wine vinegar is mentioned in the OT as a refreshing drink (Numbers 6:13; Ruth 2:14), and in Greek and Roman literature as well it is a common beverage appreciated by laborers and soldiers because it relieved thirst more effectively than water and was inexpensive . . . . There are no examples of its use as a hostile gesture. The thought, then, is not of a corrosive vinegar offered as a cruel jest, but of a sour wine of the people. While the words “let us see if Elijah will come” express a doubtful expectation, the offer of the sip of wine was intended to keep Jesus conscious for as long as possible” (Ibid., 573-574).

So the first wine (mixed with myrrh) was designed to dull Jesus’ pain, to keep him from having to endure the cross with full consciousness. This wine he refused.

And the second (sour) wine was given to keep him “conscious for as long as possible,” and thus have the effect of prolonging his pain. This is the wine Jesus drank.

Other condemned criminals would have taken the first (to ease their torment) and passed on the second (so as not to prolong their horrific pain). But Jesus would take no shortcuts on the way to our redemption.

At the cross, he drank the wine of his Father’s wrath down to its very dregs, and he did so for us—that we might enjoy the wine of his Father’s love, join him at the Marriage Supper of the Lamb, and live redeemed forever in the glorious presence of the one who took no shortcuts in saving us.

HT: Desiring God

The Blood of the Lamb

Christ’s Atoning Work

And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brothers has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God. And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.

Rev. 12:10-12

A few weeks ago, I was experimenting with electronic reading. At Best Buy, we sell the Sony E-Reader and Barnes and Noble Nook. I have examined their respective features pro and con, but I was not quite sold on either one. For months, I have been intrigued by the Amazon Kindle. I preferred an ereader with touch screen which at this moment Kindle does not produce. I decided to wait for the next generation model to see if they might produce a better interface. I was saving my Amazon gift certificates on-line for a possible future purchase.

However, the iPad made its debut and changed everything about electronic reading. Most reviews are saying that the Kindle application on an iPad is the best reading experience. Before, I made a decision about what ereader I wanted, I decided to download the Kindle application on my Mac Book Pro (I have since ruined the computer by spilling water on it) and then on an old Gateway laptop.

I purchased two books for my ereading experiment, Scandalous by D. A. Carson, and Unpacking Forgiveness by Chris Brauns. Today, I finished D.A. Carson’s work and found his insights as usual thoroughly compelling.

Scandalous discusses the glory of Jesus’ finished work on Cross and the power of his resurrection by explaining Matt 27:27-51; Rom. 3:21-26; Rev. 12:1-17; John 11:1-53, and John 20:24-31. Chapter three is an exegesis of Revelation twelve: The Woman and the Dragon. This chapter alone is worth the price of the book.

In that chapter, Carson develops a full teaching on the meaning of the phrase, “the blood of the Lamb,” from 12:11, “They overcame him [Satan] by the blood of the Lamb.” The blood of the Lamb is physical evidence that Christ’s life was poured out as our redemption (i.e., payment that frees us from slavery to sin). In other words, Christ’s blood shed is his death for us in all its saving power. Wayne Grudem defines for us the meaning of the blood of Christ in Scripture:

Scripture speaks so much about the blood of Christ because its shedding was very clear evidence that his life was being given in judicial execution (that is, he was condemned to death and died paying a penalty imposed both by an earthly human judge and by God himself in heaven).

Scripture’s emphasis on the blood of Christ also shows the clear connection between Christ’s death and the many sacrifices in the Old Testament that involved the pouring out of the life blood of the sacrificial animal. These sacrifices all pointed forward to and prefigured the death of Christ.

Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology: An Introduction to Biblical Doctrine (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1994), 579.

Now a little taste of D.A. Carson’s Scandalous on the blood of Christ:

All Christian blessings and resources are grounded in the blood of the Lamb.

Do you find yourself accepted before this holy God? If so, it is because of the blood of the Lamb. Have you received the blessed Holy Spirit? He has been poured out because of the blood of the Lamb. Do you have the prospect of consummated eternal life in glory? It was secured by the blood of the Lamb.

Are you in the fellowship of saints, brothers and sisters who love Christ, the church of the living God, a new body, the body of Christ on earth? This is bought, secured, and constituted by the blood of the Lamb. Are you grateful for the spiritual armaments that Paul tells us to deploy (Ephesians 6)? The entire arsenal is at our disposal because of the blood of the Lamb. May we go to God in prayer? It is because of the blood of the Lamb. Do we find our wills strengthened by the Spirit? That incalculable benefit was secured by the blood of the Lamb.

Every whiff of victory over the principalities and powers of this dark age has been secured by the blood of the Lamb.

D.A. Carson, Scandalous: The Cross and Resurrection of Jesus (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2010), 99.

Priests/Pastors After God’s Heart

As Jesus Was Dependent on the Father, the Priest is Dependent on the Son

So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, the Son can do nothing of his own accord, but only what he sees the Father doing. For whatever the Father does, that the Son does likewise.

John 5:19

Pastoral ministry is the overflow of the Life of God in us. We spend time with Christ, Christ reveals himself afresh to us, that illumination is brings insight, conviction, and transformation. The overflow of the Spirit’s illumination into Christ is Life and that Life encourages others to trust God and forsake sin (2 Cor. 4:7-12).

Life is walking with God in unending communion, enjoying his unlimited blessing, unconditional love,  and undeserved grace (John 10:10). Life is eternal, it is living in the realm where God lives. Life is salvation of the whole being including new birth, conversion, and sanctification. Ministry is can be lay or clerical if that ministry is grounded in Christ as its source of Life.

For the priest/pastor, ministry is not a profession, but the dynamic service of Life to others. A priest spends time with Christ, he receives from him the blessings, gifts, and anointing of the Holy Spirit (John 3:34). The priest then relies on the Holy Spirit in communicating and releasing the ministry of the Holy Spirit to the congregation. The priest is completely dependent on Jesus to bless him with the Holy Spirit for the encouragement of others. In the same manner that Jesus was dependent on the Father, the Priest is dependent on the Son (John 5:19, 15:4-5). Our pastoral ministry is effective in as much as it is dependent on Jesus.

In order to be pastors after God’s heart, we need to be profoundly rooted in a living friendship with Christ (not only of our minds, but also of our freedom and will), clearly aware of the identity we received at priestly ordination, and unconditionally ready to lead our flock where the Lord wills, not in the direction which seems most convenient and easy.

This requires, first and foremost, a continuous and progressive willingness to allow Christ Himself to govern the priestly lives of clergy. No-one, in fact, is truly capable of feeding the flock if they do not live in profound and authentic obedience to Christ and the Church; and the docility of the people towards their priests depends on the docility of priests towards Christ.

Pope Benedict XVI, “The Priest’s Mission as Guide” May 26, 2010.

What in the World Is “Propitiation”?

God Satisfies His Own Wrath

And He Himself is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the whole world.

1 John 2:2 NKJV

The blood of Christ is clear confirmation that Christ died a sacrificial death to pay for our release from the captivity of sin and bondage to Satan’s schemes. In other words, we owe our salvation to the death of Christ. His blood removes our guilt before God (1 Pet.1:18-19), cleanses ours stricken consciences (Heb. 9:14), gives us bold access to the Father (Heb. 10:19), on-going cleansing from our sin (1 John 1:7) and conquers all of Satan’s accusations (Rev. 12:10-11). We sinned, the penalty of our sin is death, Christ took our place, and died so that we might live. Jesus’ blood condemns death and in that death, the penalty of our sin was paid in full. In short, the blood of Jesus is the virtue of his death for our sins.

Why is a propitiation necessary? The pagan answer is because the gods are bad-tempered, subject to moods and fits, and capricious. The Christian answer is because God’s holy wrath rests on evil. There is nothing unprincipled, unpredictable or uncontrolled about God’s anger; it is aroused by evil alone.

Secondly, the author. Who undertakes to do the propitiating? The pagan answer is that we do. We have offended the gods; so we must appease them. The Christian answer, by contrast, is that we cannot placate the righteous anger of God. We have no means whatever by which to do so. But God in his undeserved love has done for us what we could never do by ourselves. *God presented him* (sc. Christ) as a sacrifice of atonement. John wrote similarly: ‘God … loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice (*hilasmos*) for our sins’ (1 Jn. 4:10). The love, the idea, the purpose, the initiative, the action and the gift were all God’s.

Thirdly, the nature. How has the propitiation been accomplished? What is the propitiatory sacrifice? The pagan answer is that we have to bribe the gods with sweets, vegetable offerings, animals, and even human sacrifices. The Old Testament sacrificial system was entirely different, since it was recognized that God himself has ‘given’ the sacrifices to his people to make atonement (e.g. Lv. 17:11). And this is clear beyond doubt in the Christian propitiation, for God gave his own Son to die in our place, and in giving his Son he gave himself (Rom. 5:8; 8:32).

In sum, it would be hard to exaggerate the differences between the pagan and the Christian views of propitiation. In the pagan perspective, human beings try to placate their bad-tempered deities with their own paltry offerings. According to the Christian revelation, God’s own great love propitiated his own holy wrath through the gift of his own dear Son, who took our place, bore our sin and died our death. Thus God himself gave himself to save us from himself.

John Stott, The Message of Romans: The Bible Speaks Today (Leicester: InterVarsity, 1994), 114.

Five Action Verbs of the Holy Spirit (Updated)



The Holy Spirit’s Ministry in the Book of Acts

But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

Acts 1:8 (ESV)

Biblically, the experience of the Baptism of the Holy Spirit can be described by the phrase, “one baptism, many fillings.” All believers are indwelt by the Holy Spirit at conversion, but presently they may not be experiencing all his presence, benefits, power, and gifts. Therefore, renewal is needed as we seek to obey Paul’s injunction, “Be continuously filled with the Holy Spirit” (Eph. 5:18).

1. “Baptized”-The baptism of the Holy Spirit is an overwhelming experience of the Spirit’s presence, power, and purity: a total submergence within the person of the Holy Spirit. This individual experience is instantaneous and may be reoccurring. The Baptism refers to the initial work of the Spirit in uniting believers to Christ as well as on-going encounters with the Spirit bringing refreshment and strengthening in the Christian life (Mark 1:8; Acts 11:16).

2. “Filled”-The phrase, “to be filled,” points to an inner penetration or pervasion of the Spirit into my whole being as a believer. Also, “release” and “infilling” are terms which express the Spirit’s work of totally, inwardly occupying a believer’s heart and life (Acts 1:4; 9:17).

[It should be noted, that “baptized” and “filled” are the same event and denote the totality of the Spirit’s working both within and without in the believer’s life.]

3. “Outpouring”-The outpouring of the Holy Spirit suggests an overwhelming experience of the Spirit’s person and presence as well as to the idea of abundance (i.e., without limitation) (Joel 2:28-29; John 3:34; Acts 2:17-18, 33; 10:45).

4. “Falling of the Spirit”- Falling connotes suddenness, forcefulness, and power (Acts 2:21; 8:16; 10:44).

5. “Coming Upon” or “Clothed With”- To be clothed with the Holy Spirit expresses an active, continuing endowment of the Spirit: possession by and investiture with the Holy Spirit (Luke 24:49; Acts 1:8; 19:6).

J. R. Williams, “Baptism in the Holy Spirit” in The New International Dictionary of Pentecostal and Charismatic Movements, Revised and Expanded, ed. Stanley M. Burgess (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2002), 355.

When we are baptized with the Holy Ghost self is effaced in a glory of sacrifice for Jesus and we become His witnesses. Self-conscious devotion is gone, self-conscious service is killed, and one thing only remains, Jesus Christ first, second, and third.

Oswald Chambers, Bringing Sons into Glory : Studies in the Life of Our Lord (London: Marshall, Morgan & Scott, 1996), 41.

Your Choice: React or Respond

What Injures Us? Difficult People or a Wrong Reaction in our Spirits?

Work at living in peace with everyone, and work at living a holy life, for those who are not holy will not see the Lord. Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.

Heb. 12:14-16 (NLT)

Reacting is resisting and rejecting God’s working in the midst of a disappointing circumstance. Our reacting leads to anger deepening into a bitter and unteachable spirit. Reacting to a circumstance is denying that God has a higher purpose in our difficulties (Rom. 8:28). Reacting comes from the flesh which prefers pleasure and convenience over spiritual growth and the glory of God.

Responding is trusting that our Heavenly Father has a divine appointment in our trials and tribulations. Responding comes forth from a thankful heart drawing us into the Holy Spirit’s wellspring of grace. We must evaluate our circumstances by our biblical knowledge of God instead of, as we have a propensity to do, evaluate our knowledge of God by our circumstances.

Do we believe what the Bible teaches about God’s character or do we judge God’s intentions by the difficulty of our circumstances, disappointments, and setbacks? Responding trusts that God in his wisdom has sovereignly cultivated circumstances in our lives for us to meet Christ and be transformed by his grace (James 4:6).

Responding is choosing to trust our Lord with people and their bad attitudes, difficult circumstances, persistent disruptions, confusing situations, and unexpected disappointments (Heb. 11:6).

Holiness, that is responding, consists of daily yielding to God our experiences of the Fallout of the Fall: sinning people, selfish actions, broken things, and disrupted plans (Phil. 3:7-8). The issue of holiness is not what people do to us, but how we respond to their fallenness (Heb. 12:14-15). Our choice: respond by thanking the Lord for difficult people and situations or react with burning anger toward God and others over my frustrating circumstances.

Amy Carmichael says that nothing anyone can do to to us can injure us unless we allow it to cause a wrong reaction in our spirits. Only our reaction can bless or burn.

Paul Billheimer, Mystery of God’s Providence (Wheaton, IL: Tyndale, 1983), 15.

An Easy Going God?

More on the Wrath of God

Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

Rom. 5:9 (NKJV)

In my previous post, I discussed the most misunderstood attribute of God, his wrath. The wrath of God should not be confused with the anger of man. We get angry, easily offended, and overwrought in our emotions. We project our emotional outbursts onto God assuming that he responds to disappointment and frustration in the same way we do. But, God’s anger is not capricious. He is not easily ticked off like we are. God’s concern is sin and its destruction not whether his personal rights are being violated.

And he passed in front of Moses, proclaiming, “The Lord, the Lord, the compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness, maintaining love to thousands, and forgiving wickedness, rebellion and sin. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished . . . .

Exodus 34:5-7

The kind of God that appeals to most people today would be easy-going in his tolerance of our offenses. He would be gentle, kind, accommodating. He would have no violent reactions. Unhappily, even in the church we seemed to have lost the vision of the majesty of God. There is much shallowness and levity among us.

Prophets and psalmists would probably say of us, “There is no fear of God before their eyes.” In public worship our habit is to slouch or squat; we do not kneel nowadays, let alone prostrate ourselves in humility before God. It is more characteristic of us to clap our hands with joy than to blush with shame or tears. We saunter up to God to claim his patronage and friendship; it does not occur to us that he might send us away. We need to hear again the Apostle Peter’s sobering words, “Since you call on a father who judges each man’s work impartially, live your lives. . in reverent fear.” (I Peter 1:17) In other words, if we dare to call our judge our Father, we must beware of presuming on him.

It must even be said that our evangelical emphasis on the atonement is dangerous if we come to it too quickly. We learn to appreciate the access to God which Christ has won only after we have first cried, “Woe is me for I am lost.” In R.W. Dale’s words, “It is partly because sin does not provoke our own wrath that we do not believe that sin provokes the wrath of God.”

John Stott, The Cross of Christ (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity, 1986).

All That Is Christ’s Is Ours

The New Covenant

After supper he took another cup of wine and said, “This cup is the new covenant between God and his people—an agreement confirmed with my blood, which is poured out as a sacrifice for you.

Luke 22:20 NLT

Covenant is an eternal binding promise that two parties will love one another unconditionally. This eternal covenant is not a contract. In a contract, the relationship is based on performance, if the terms of the contract are broken, the relationship is terminated under penalty. In a covenant relationship, love is the basis of the relationship. If the covenant is broken, the offended party pursues the offender winning back their heart through discipline, grace, and love (Jer. 32:40-41). Obedience and mutual affection is all that is required for enjoyment of the full blessing of the covenant.

Under the New Covenant, God promises to pursue us in order to create a people all his own. God desires that we would be a people who would obey him from our hearts by a faith that works through love (Gal. 5:6). God promises four things in the New Covenant that the Old Covenant could never deliver: heart-felt obedience, personal experiential knowledge of God, Holy Spirit-empowered living, and life-transforming forgiveness (Ezekiel 36:25-26).The New Covenant is better than the Old Covenant for the New Covenant empowers us, the covenant partner, to keep God’s most precious commandments (Ezekiel 36:27).

In the New Covenant, we are placed “in Christ” (Heb. 9:15). Like Jonathan and David (1 Sam. 20:16-17), who shared all their possessions: all that is Christ’s is ours and all that is ours now belongs to Christ. All that Christ purchased for us on the Cross is ours. All that the Holy Spirit bestows is ours. Our all that Father grants is ours in Christ (Eph. 1:3).

Fix your heart upon the great and mighty God, who in His grace will work in you above what you can ask or think, and will make you a monument of His mercy. Believe that every blessing of the Covenant of grace is yours; by the death of the Testator you are entitled to it all—and on that faith act, knowing that all is yours. The new heart is yours, the law written in the heart is yours, the Holy Spirit, the seal of the Covenant, is yours. Act on this faith, and count upon God as Faithful and Able, and oh! so Loving, to reveal in you, to make true in you, all the power and glory of His everlasting Covenant.

Andrew Murray, The Two Covenants and the Second Blessing (Fort Washington, PA: CLC, 2005).

What of the Wrath of God? (Updated)

Does Sin Provoke God’s Wrath?

For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.

Romans 1:18-19 (NKJV)

God’s anger is not vengeful, but is best understood as a firm and loving opposition to sin in all its forms and degrees. God’s wrath is a holy antagonism toward those attitudes and actions which oppose his Kingdom and destroy life and relationship.

God’s wrath is not arbitrary or capricious.  It bears no resemblance to the unpredictable passions and personal vengefulness of the pagan deities.  Instead, it is his settled, controlled, holy antagonism to all evil.

John Stott, The Letters of John, Revised Edition, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries (Leicester: InterVarsity Press, 1988), 88.

God’s wrath was absorbed by the Son who died in our place and bore our just judgment on the Cross. The death of the innocent and sinless Christ satisfies (i.e., propitiates) God’s wrath for penalty of sin has now been paid willingly by the Son.

A Substitute has appeared in space and time, appointed by God Himself, to bear the weight and burden of our transgressions, to make expiation for our guilt, and to propitiate the wrath of God on our behalf. This is the gospel.

R. C. Sproul, The Truth of the Cross (Orlando, FL; Reformation Trust Pub., 2007), 81.

HT: Of First Importance

Ascension Day

Why is Ascension Day Important?

And when he had said these things, as they were looking on, he was lifted up, and a cloud took him out of their sight. And while they were gazing into heaven as he went, behold, two men stood by them in white robes, and said, “Men of Galilee, why do you stand looking into heaven? This Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will come in the same way as you saw him go into heaven.”

Acts 1:9-11

The ascension is Jesus Christ’s physical return to heaven to be seated at the Father’s right hand after spending forty days on earth following his resurrection (Luke 24:50-51). The historical event that was the ascension is doctrinally important for Christ’s “going to the Father” (John 14:28) is the victorious culmination of his life on earth and his finished work on the Cross. Now, Jesus has made the way for us to enter into the presence of the Father that we might know Him face-to-face, speak to him in prayer, and hear his heart in love (Heb. 4:14-16).

Ascension Day is important because:

One, Jesus’ ascension was the “visible proof” that his victory over death and the devil had been accomplished. Nothing could hold him down. As believers, we can “hold fast our confession” for we are certain of his victory in the end. If Jesus can ascend to heaven, then he can also return “the same way he came” (Acts 1:11). If Jesus’ ascension was physical in space and time, then his coming again in glory will also be evident to all.

Two, the ascension allows Jesus’ ministry to expand for he now sits at the right hand of the Father no longer limited by geography. He intercedes for his people (Heb. 7:23-25), he pours out the Holy Spirit (Acts 2:33) and he walks in and among his churches (Rev. 2:1).

Three, the ascension is the promise that since we are united with Him in very aspect of his work, then we too will ascend to heaven with him in glory (1 Thes. 4:17). Jesus went to heaven as a forerunner and pledge from God that since he lives, we will live also (John 14:28).

While the removal of the guilt of sin was associated with His death, and the destruction of the power of sin with His resurrection, the removal of the separation caused by sin was associated with His Ascension, and herein lies the force of the Apostle’s word: “It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us” (Rom. 8:34), so in the assurance that “He Himself is the propitiation for ours sins” (1 John 2:2) the conscience and heart find rest. Christ’s righteousness has been accepted, His position is assured, and now access is possible to all believers.

W. H. Griffith Thomas, The Principles of  Theology (London: Longmans, Green and Co., 1930), 82.