ADAM’S MATCH

There is something our generation has dearly loved – that is, sports. It is no sin to love sports. Nevertheless, the recreational industry has many kinds of products to offer a 7-billion-plus population. Popular amongst these products are football (see, we don’t call it soccer where I come from), basketball, track events, golf, rugby, and the list goes on. Now, for the purposes of my post, I shall be using one of the team sports, specifically football. We know that the football industry is almost religious in appeal – both amongst the young and the old. To some, sadly, it is actually what they worship. It is no wonder, seeing that man craves to worship – whether the only true God or any other idol, including himself. Anyway, we know that when people associate or identify themselves with a certain football team, they actually speak as if they are very important shareholders in the club. You hear statements like, “WE almost outscored you guys.” Or even, “OUR best player showed YOUR (addressing a rival team supporter) best player a move or two.” One would almost expect him to pick up the phone and personally congratulate the player, as part of his responsibility as “part-owner” of the club. Even when a loss is incurred, the consistent supporter never deserts his recently shamed team – he feels the need to let everyone know that he still supports “the greatest team in the world”. Astounding loyalty! 

Now, picture two rival teams – and for the sake of OUR post, we shall not limit the number of active players or substitutes, not even the coaches/managers for each team. These two teams are on a faceoff, not for a mere golden cup or shield or plate, but for life itself. Up for grabs are ultimate power and freedom and eternal bragging rights. Now, I would plead with you, dear reader, not to analogize too much, since my job here is to try and paint a(n) (im)perfect picture with a dim pencil and an infant’s mind – hence, forgive my poor skill and very limited resources, but bear with me as we build the plot in your mind, if you shall. Back to our teams. On the one hand we have Team Adam – very skilled, very young, very promising. The coach is actually named Adam – he believes in himself so much. Adam has some famous players on his team: Dominion whom he has never really used, a highly skilled defender called Inherent-Righteousness who Adam boasts in so much, and a certain player he struggles with called Obedience. It is said that Obedience was specifically picked by the team owner but coach Adam has started experiencing some problems with this young turk. And then there is his strongest player, Mr. Will, Free Will – he is said to be very flexible and chooses at what time he gets to play. Coach Adam is sure that these will do the job, even though he has only actually used them in practice and during a number of friendly matches with Team Flora and Fauna before, a small team back at home. The owner of Team Adam has warned him to be careful with these guys, but zealous Adam is fully self-confident. After all, he has the backing of the owner who, as word around goes, has great plans on using Team Adam to completely shame the other guys and get the glory thereof. But the other guys are not to be undone – Team Diabolos. In fact, they have 3 coaches. But the guy in charge during this game is coach Diabolos himself. And their mascot is one Ophis, quite the sly guy. Among their top players are the many proteges of the three coaches. Coach Harmatia is a very deadly strategist, and his best player is actually his eldest son, whose name is Thanatos. He is said to have every answer to Team Adam’s tricks and moves and he ALWAYS scores. Thus, it has been agreed upon by all three coaches of this team that this precious player should be kept until injury time when he can drive the last nail into Team Adam’s coffin. Also in the team is a player who can penetrate Team Adam’s every shield. He is coach Diabolos’ true son, and he is known as Pseudomai. Diabolos has taught him how to use Team Adam’s strengths against themselves. Needless to say, he is very good at drawing the defense away from their positions, and creating such a highway for the other attackers to easily penetrate through and position themselves. Finally, coach Sarkos has two very prominent players, one, a very tall, highly skilled and handsome looking fellow called Kosmos, and word is that Adam has been really looking to get this kid on his side. He would gladly exchange him for the old but exerienced chap, Obedience, to team Diabolos – negotiations are ongoing. That is because he knows that Kosmos’ skill would work well to complement a certain upcoming player he has set his eyes on in his own reserve team, a young attacker called Epithymia. Coach Sarkos also has the midfielder known as Mataion. This player specializes in taking his opponents around in circles, totally frustrating them and killing the team’s morale. He just never seems to get tired, even after playing to the very last minute. These are the main players in the two teams, and the game must be played. 

However, just before this game, it is rumored that Free Will already had his agent make a decisive deal with Diabolos, which could spell disaster for Team Adam. Adam is thus desperate to get Kosmos, even at the expense of Obedience, although Diabolos said that Adam needs, in addition, to acquire his son, Pseudomai, if the deal must happen. As I wrote, negotiations are underway. The question on everyone’s mind is, shall Adam buy the package? The club owner has warned him against buying any new players, especially from Team Diabolos, seeing that even players in Team Flora and Fauna were not fit for him. The match is about to begin, and looking at things, especially knowing how Coach Adam prides himself in his ability (in fact, he is known to have dubbed himself as The Special One), and further seeing how his best player, young Free Will, is about to jump ship, not to mention Coach Adam’s plans to sell Obedience quickly to Team Diabolos, one can only assume that things are about to get as thick as charcoal smoke. It is only a matter of time before the highly talented Thanakos dominates the league with his thunderous goals. Only one player has ever been known to outdo Thanakos at his own game – a player from Team Adam. But we have been told that he is sitting this out until “the appointed time”. His name is Logos; Logos Adam II. Few, including Diabolos, have actually seen him play but it is rumored that he does not prefer to wear the team’s expensive shoes, though he does not mind wearing the team colors. We can only wait for his debut in this tight game. After all, it seems coach Adam has all things well set out and does not prefer to have Logos start, though there is a contract that binds him from keeping Logos on the bench for long. Hence, we shall undoubtedly see Logos Adam II in action. Meanwhile, loyal fans are streaming in, and from the looks of it, all who come from the town of Anthropos are on Team Adam’s side. They are desperately hoping coach Adam knows what he is doing and fully support him in all his decisions. With all the bets they have placed on THEIR team winning this game, they have no other choice – after all, it is a matter of life; life and death! The dye has been cast. The day’s referee is the best in the entire world – he is called Perfection.

Let the game begin!

OF SATAN AND TRUE POWER!

The next strongest power to God is not the President of the United States or North Korea’s Supreme Leader, neither the EU nor the UN – no. It is not even your inner self and the ability to control your mind and saturate it with positive thoughts and images. Alas, it is Satan himself! Surprised? You should not be. Nevertheless, Satan remains unrecognized and unacknowledged by many and MAINLY ignored by those who have come across his name, especially amongst professing Christians. And that is exactly what he wants from us – that we may be ignorant of his schemes, and thus underestimate him. Yet, Scripture EXPLICITLY warns us against performing this subtly destructive error. How many professing Christians have unrighteously suffered simply because they erroneously thought that their paltry human power somehow exceeds that of Satan? Salvation from sin does NOT mean that we suddenly become some kind of supernatural beings with the ability to see through walls and walk on water – sadly, there are some who (mis)interpret Christianity in this way. Consider, again, that Scripture does not leave us without sufficient warning and right direction. The writer of it, Who is God the Spirit, so lays out the vast power and worlwide influence of this “lion”, prowling about ready to devour whoever stands averse to him and his ways. The word of God identifies Satan as one with such great authority that he is rightly called “the god of this world”! He stands as one with great dominion – able to “cast down a third of the host of heaven” and succeeding in his mass deception for he has “blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, Who is the image of God”, even working “all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception” to finally lead them into a state of eternal ruin and endless misery. He is furthermore called “the prince of the power of the air”, and THE evil one”. In fact, Christ Jesus Himself twice identifies Satan as “the ruler of this world”! Yes, we know, for John the beloved apostle testifies thus, that “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one”, that is, the whole world of unbelievers. 

Having said that, I do not wish to part with many illustrious words concerning the devil, lest I am mistakenly deemed as praising this creature, for that is still who he is – God’s creature (and moreso, God’s created tool). The triune and thrice holy God is Satan’s God – for he is no atheist, even though he is not an elect believer. Since God created this creature, his creaturely power cannot; yes, shall NEVER attain to God’s level, even though he were to deceive the entirety of this world a million times over. For the Sovereign God has not only demonstrated His infallible wisdom and infinitely greater power over Satan by turning the desperately wicked hearts of godless rebels around that we should give all glory to Him alone, but He has also altogether masterfully vanquished the poisonous effect of sin, which Satan so mercilessly set loose upon us in the Garden after mankind colluded with the deceiver (foolishly, to his own destruction). And how was this powerful salvation accomplished but that Jesus Christ, THE ALMIGHTY ONE, purchased lost; no, even dead men, reviving them once more to life; a life holy and consecrated to His eternal Father and our God. This elevated fiend; this very ancient foe, and would-be destroyer of mankind, Satan, is NO match for God, even though we, in our mere human strength, are no match for him. 

The sum of all I am trying to write is this – that it is therefore in Christ ALONE (when we have faith in Him), and not in our ignorant and Scripturally unwarranted rebukes of Satan, that he is put to flight; that the devil is put in his place as PUBLICLY DEFEATED LORD OF DOOM AND DESPAIR! It is POSITIVELY in Christ alone, Who is our eternal and living hope and never-fading strength, that we are more than conquerors – dear friends, this is our only answer to all fears and despondence and unbelief. CHRIST JESUS! Struggling with doubt, bitterness, inward pain or any other form of sin? Rebuke Satan all the day and he shall be back every time you do so; turn to Christ in faith ONCE and you shall find that “the Lord is faithful” to deliver and “He will establish you and guard you against the evil one”, for His own glory, and in accordance to His holy word. Hence, the Christian should direct his plea of deliverance to the Lord Jesus Christ (rather than to his own power of rebuking) and make his supplication known to our able and willing Lord when tempted, sometimes beyond his ability, by the evil one, all the while giving thanks to our great God and Savior ALWAYS for saving his formerly ruined soul from its natural progression towards eternal destruction and utter despair. Jesus Christ came especially to destroy the work of the devil – and He left no stone unturned, finally triumphing in His eternal victory. Powerful beyond anyone’s imagination, Christ saves to the uttermost where Satan seems to reign undisputedly. The serpent is crushed under Christ’s potent foot – and we, Christians, the Church of God, on account of our mysterious union with Him, get to share in this position of glorious dominance and only so because we are in Christ Jesus, our Head and Husband. Hence, we are commanded to NOT act ignorantly due to the witty wiles of this prince of all that is evil – we ought to put on the whole armor of God, since we believe in Him. For this reason, we must be observant and see our frailty, for we are vulnerable even to Satan, BUT we MUST to a very much higher degree see our Deliverer, Who overcame ALL for our sake and to God’s glory! Christ took on a body of flesh; of weakness and pain and thirst and hunger, one that was prone to death, so that, at the fullness of time, Christ died on a Roman cross that He might challenge death in its own backyard, and He appeared once again alive forevermore, having settled matters with His own all-powerful hands! Christ, the greater David, has cut off Goliath’s head. Sin, death, Satan – none of these have dominion or any true power over the believer any longer! Hallelujah! How can we then not rest fully in Christ’s power – in Him? O, that we might know Christ “and the power of His resurrection, and may share His sufferings, becoming like Him in His death”. Let us, with the apostles and with the great choir of the redeemed, join in crying out, “Come, Lord Jesus!” Amen.

MY DAUGHTER: A Godly Woman

I wrote the following piece about one and a half years ago as I mused on how I would desire my daughter (if God were to graciously grant my wife and I such a gift) to be a godly woman. Having come so far, most assuredly by God’s grace alone, and the Lord Jesus having granted me a godly and beautiful woman, who I intend to wed in but a few days, I saw it fit to have this published here for the eyes of the world to behold the prayer of my mind. Melissa, dear, this is for us as we look forward to marriage and parenthood, God willing:

“OBSERVE the good things and those things of value, my dear; how they be hidden from sight and one has to search them out with much labor and resource. My daughter, let your conduct be so in life: combined with godliness, so shall you be the pinnacle of jewels, the crown on a wise king’s head. God holds all wisdom in His hand, yet His wisdom He has hidden from the great minds of intellectual men; to the sincerely humble, even to babes, He gives utmost understanding. Even the deepest spiritual truths, which flow from the wisdom of His inerrant counsel, does He reveal to those of a lowly and pure heart. Humility is a sure means to attain glory and the attention of God, but pride leads to humiliation. Here is a double blessing – the wise are humble; yea, the humble are wise. Even with meekness, the Lord’s inheritance is obtained.

My daughter, let your shapely frame stay hidden under the straight of your clothes (for in your youth, you shall wax as a peacock, but when evening comes [and it comes to all alike] how then shall you display the beauty of your feathers?). Why should you seek to beguile a man with your nakedness? How many a loose woman has led countless foolish souls to hell’s gate! Yes, this is the prime agency of a lack of love; for in seducing him, thy neighbor you have hated. Seek to become a beacon of life rather; and this by hiding yourself in piety – O, what beauty is to be found therein. The virgin’s grace and purity cannot be bought, neither with gold nor silver; nay, not with the rarest and most precious of gemstones. Yet, how many have given these away but for thirty pieces of coins (filthy lucre); their birthright carelessly discarded for a mere pot of lentil stew. A snare for their own souls they have become; prisoners to the dungeons of their own graves – O, the deep depravity of man; who shall tell us about it, that we might be saved? Know you not that amongst all His creatures, even amongst men, to you, O woman, has the Lord apportioned a part of glory that in the looking; at a single glance, an eye is captured in awe? Do you so despise this precious endowment from the Giver of gifts above? In His glory, God is prudent; He hides His treasures from vile men. Therefore, be like the daughter of the Most High who earnestly guards her heritage jealously, even with her own life; for in due time, God will provide its rightful possessor. O, what a great joy it shall be then!

Dear daughter, do not boast of your outward charms, nor with outward beauty seduce men of rank and wealth. The tail of your quest has a deadly sting and it is near impossible to find the right cure. In this shall your boast be, all your days – in the fear of the Lord; this shall you entrap – the wisdom that comes from God. Let your comeliness arise from a heart given to the Lord. Then your life shall extend with glory and praise; your fruit shall be everlasting. Trust in God and do that which is right.

The heart of a submissive wife is like the morning dew in the desert; a glad home she builds and what peace of mind she brings to the thoughts of her husband! With a smile this woman can calm a volcanic Lord; she is his entire pride, the wife of his bosom. The woman that has an untamed tongue is worse than a drunk man. She brings constant sorrow to the door of her house; her presence is like a resting chair that is full of thorns, like porridge that is full of distasteful lumps. Outward beauty may call a man to you, yea, charm may seduce him to your bed but immediately dawn strikes, he shall behold your undesirable shame and to avoid your shackles, you shall never see him again. My daughter, be a woman of discretion: coupled with a gentle spirit and sincere piety, this, even a mad-man considers a precious gift that has come from God Himself.”

A God of Terror!

​What is terror? What places terror in the hearts of men when they are threatened with man-made laws? What causes their minds to be without peace when they are locked in the powerful grasp of the jaws of lawful justice? Have they ever seen this law in the flesh to fear it so much — handled it with their own hands? What objective measure can the judge give to show that his judgment shall terrify the offender — and in this manner prevent offenses from being further committed on account of such edict as might be given by him? A man, naturally considered, cannot fear that which cannot harm him — he cannot fear his child’s love for him, he cannot fear prosperous progress, he cannot fear fame and proclaim, he cannot fear knowledge and intelligence, he cannot fear pleasure and bliss. Fear is a direct result of terror. Thus, logically speaking, because men are unpredictable and have a knack for doing the wrong things; an affinity to being overly mischievous (it excites them), and can unexpectedly snap under intense pressure and commit injurous and heinous deeds to others or to themselves, it is thought that laws are necessary to keep these things in check; really, to keep the men themselves under a watchful eye for the benefit of all. This is the worldly understanding of the need for laws in the land. However, the truth is that even human laws are God ordained — no just law has ever merely originated from man as its primary source. The making of man-made laws only goes further to affirm the doctrine of Imago Dei, which is a Scriptural teaching that observes how that man is made in the image and likeness of the Lord God. Man, however, can only display an outward observance of any righteousness; a form of godliness only — often, even with extreme measures being applied, mankind finds a way to corrupt true observance; a heart-following devotion to laws, even those made by and for himself. Man cannot inflict pain upon himself and is not frightened of what he can twist to his own liking and selfish benefit. Sequentially, it would then be in order to say that terror itself comes from no other quarter than from the Divine Executor of eternal torment! Do you tremble at laws enacted against murdering your enemy, or those that are enforced against armed robbery (otherwise banks would be robbed every so often)? Does a certain sense of guilt and condemnation overshadow a child who has done that which they recognize to be wrong? I submit to you that there is an even greater dread from which such fear as yours should be utterly ashamed — God Himself. The Lord God is a terror to sin and those who dwell in it! Fear God — He deserves it and, furthermore, demands it from you, O mere mortal man!

Were you to be in a scenario where you are lost in a savannah plain and then to see a mature dark-maned lion and know that it had spotted you; if that lion were to start approaching you and start running in your direction, it would be very foolish indeed to run in its direction hoping for a loving embrace from it — rather, at that very moment you would certainly know, even more than you know anything else, that the lion is coming for your throat with its bone-crushing jaws and vicious claws. This beast can only cause even the bravest of men to flee in the opposite direction — for sacred life’s sake. You can look at the approaching lion and know experientially, with all certainty in the world, what terror is without conducting any experiment — yet you want me to prove to you, by your own finite standard, that God’s wrath, the God Who you deny exists (because your carnal sight does not behold His form), is terrifying beyond measure? Why does terror create the same effect in a child as in a growing man — that of fear — yet the cause of the terror is foreign, even in the case of hosted cancer, to the person being terrified? Is it not that the foreign object of terror itself commands such an effect regardless of any inherent factors within the object being terrified? And how would you prevent a foolish child, for instance, from tempting the occurence of such an event — is it not by appealing to their inherent fear through rightly relating the true and horrifying nature of the foreign object if they were to be found in such a circumstance as to encounter it? Is it not by highlighting the intensity of the terror and its destructive nature to such a one? In the same manner, I can only logically prove my terror of God to you, not by something in me only, that is my fear of Him, but also by His own sure word to fulfill such terror upon the rebellious and the disobedient; the children of wrath. My Gospel, if it is to be true, must include the terror of God and His holy wrath against the sinner, if I am to keep Him from viewing God as anything other than the terrifying enemy He is to sin. That God saves is a calming truth of the Gospel, but the symmetrical equivalence applies to His wrath against the unbeliever — it should cause the sinner to despair of all hope in himself or anything else, other than the unmerited mercy of God Himself. The Gospel must come after the law has been unleashed in its full gear of condemnation and death toward the law-breaker. If the sinner cannot see himself hanging by a slippery thread over the very flames of eternal hell, left in his deplorable state by God, then he cannot grasp at how blessed and deep the Salvation of God has gone; how wide the chasm is between him in his state of sin and the Salvation that is only found in faith in Christ Jesus — a plunge deeper than the very depths of hell of which each human being is justly deserving. The terror of God is not thus an impediment to the Gospel, but it’s very foundation, alongside the pure and gracious love of God. 

In this day and age when God is presented as an inexperienced and weak-willed ever-smiling parent who spoils his children with all manner of goodies and has given them freedom to do whatever they themselves deem right and progressive (which is no freedom at all, but only hopeless bondage in sin); in these times when God is said to be all-love and all-inclusive and all-accepting and no terror and no judgment and no wrath whatsoever, we must be at the forefront declaring the whole counsel of the triune God, Jehovah! The thrice-holy God has declared by His own word, recorded in holy writ, that He is an ever consuming fire; a dread to all who do not know Him in righteousness and truth. He calls the elect to eternal salvation by both His fearful terror and His comforting love — to cause them to run from sin and to have them desperately and joyfully run into His shelter of mercy. Like the apostle Paul, we should also not be ashamed of this double-edged Gospel which not only saves the elect but condemns all ungodliness and unrighteousness. Happiness shall dwell with those children of God who obey His Gospel — there shall be no terror forever, for it is taken away from them by that precious blood shed by Christ Jesus on the cross at Calvary. Since, for the elect, salvation ultimately means no pain and no sorrow and no crying and no death, we can confidently assert and preach that the terror of God is what brings wailing and gnashing of teeth; that brings eternal torment; that brings intolerable sorrow and pain that shall never end; that brings the second death upon the unrighteous sinner. The terror of God is fully demonstrated in hell upon all who do not repent and believe the Lord Jesus Christ through the glorious Gospel He brought from above by His own appearing and which He preached in word and deed, dying that we might be saved from God’s terrible wrath. Praise God for Christ Jesus, Who has delivered the Christian from this terror — there is now no condemnation for us! Praise the triune Jehovah! Amen.

A Struggling Man of Faith!

​Can I be candid with you, friend? Allow me, kindly, to relate a small battle I have been (still am) engaged in. I have, very recently, been struggling with prayer. My prayer life has hit a snag and it feels as though I cannot get through; as if I keep repeating the same monotonous cry upward to God. It tempts me to give up completely; to finally cave in to my assailing anxieties. Some particular areas I have been really struggling with are these: how do I reconcile God’s sovereignty with my true desires? How can I truly and sincerely say, “Lord, may Your Sovereign will be done”, and at the same time trust in my heart that my desires, those dearest to my heart, have been well received by that same Lord Who we pray to? What if I never see the expected answer to my prayers? Are my supplications and petitions being offered in vain, then? Should I then just trust God in passivity, seeing that His will must be done, though mine does not actualize, even with my offering of prayer to Him?

These are some of the questions I find myself fighting with and struggling to understand, especially during certain periods of my life. For now, my passion for the things I used to desire has fallen to almost zero level, except for one new great passion introduced to me a few weeks ago. Life is not making it simpler — except for a certain amazing demonstration of grace that God has shown me, recently. I feel like I have reached a dead end; a wall of despair stands in my way, and I wonder whether my shouts of help can be heard on the other side. Do not get me wrong: I have not stopped having faith in God, nor do I question His benevolence. I am fully aware that the status I am in right now is all of grace: I deserve no breathe in my lungs, no extra heartbeat after I pen this, no inherent right to walk and talk and reason and see and hear and taste and touch and feel and say and write — yet, the Lord daily gives me such privileges without malice or stinginess! May the Lord be praised for His goodness and faithfulness. Amen! All these are things that we have been so used to that we, many times, ungratefully expect and implicitly demand them of God — O, may we never grow used to God’s grace and mercy. None deserves these things and more that the Lord freely gives — no one can call these things “rights” in the presence of the thrice-holy God. Hence, dear reader, do not confuse my questions for apathy in theology or a deliberate effort to deny the goodness of God’s grace in our lives. Yes! I am fully aware that God is good and gracious to us, every single passing day! Yet, I find myself asking these questions numerously; becoming anxious for these matters. I do not say this to excuse myself, but because it has to be stated — I am a burdened man because I am simply a man. 

Prayer is a holy privilege where the Almighty One has opened the door of His holy ears to receive our unworthy praise and to graciously consider our cries directed to Him — and He answers our prayers; that fact I cannot, in the least bit, deny. The Lord Himself taught us how to pray, how not to pray, and to patiently expect our heavenly Father to answer our prayers willingly, even joyfully. He commanded us not to be anxious for anything, and showed us by His own example that prayers offered to God are to be done in faith, and that we are to be content with His answer, knowing it is for His glory and our benefit. He assures us that our Heavenly Father is not indifferent towards even our basic needs that are necessary for life, seeing that He provides all things providentially for all creation. Prayer does bring assurance to the life of a believer, and it increases reliance on God’s ability and willingness to bless His creation and to align our desires according to His will. On our part it is a discipline that ought to be done delightfully, considering the One to Whom we pray and His glorious nature. This does not mean we cannot ask some of these questions, yet we should be quite careful about what we ask and how we ask it — always consider that the Lord is holy and gracious; always consider that we are undeserving of His goodness and what we deserve has not been fully meted on us. We should strive to seek God’s will by returning to His revelation, found only in His holy word; the holy Scriptures. Herein we find written solace for our wondering minds and our questioning hearts — and our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is strengthened and our fears quelled. It is from this source of peace that a very dear soul, seeking to alleviate my worries, reminded me of David’s written words, “Why are you cast down, O my soul, and why are you in turmoil within me? Hope in God; for I shall again praise Him, my salvation and my God.” The “why” is so appropriately answered by the “hope”; that we are ever to trust in God! My prayer is that this assurance which is found in hope, through prayer to Him Who hears the deep inexpressible groanings of our heart, would be fulfilled in me, leading me to praise Him Who died that His Church might live. I pray, as well, that it might be fulfilled in any other believer who is struggling with anxiety today. May the Lord Jesus Christ, our great Mediator Who ever lives to make intercession for us, be praised for His goodness, and for giving the undeserving, like me, the privilege to state our desires to Him, ask our questions with liberty, and to thank Him for His righteousness and His grace. Soli Deo Gloria!

Freedom: A Christian’s Privilege

​There is hardly such a thing as being so free as to be able to run your own life in absolute independence — free from the influence and sway of all circumstances; independently free. A man is enslaved to the limitations of this world and his own self, so he cannot claim to be master of these very limitations that hold him back somehow — that is daring to grasp at Deity! Yet, men have managed to figure out innovative ways of postponing the effects of sure circumstances, even if they cannot escape the inevitable hand of such occurences. This postponment has however not taken care of the problem of man’s limitation. Man, sooner or later, has to play to the uncontrollable tune of nature — he has a will that he exercises freely, but only according to its nature. The nature of a corrupt man is a corrupt will; the will does not govern the heart but is governed by the heart’s desires. A man cannot will to stop hating if in his heart he has not desired to stop hating — the heart is the source of the spring of the will. The will is bound to the heart and is a steadfast reflection of its desires. This is why man’s will can never be free to fly as it pleases — because it has a root, that is, the heart. Furthermore, mankind is a moral agent. This means that he is responsible for his own action, and he is accountable to the Moral Law-Giver — the envisioned will gives birth to performed action and this action is measured against a fore-set standard. It’s always back to square one for man — call it limited freedom, if you so wish. Man cannot escape responsibility because he is accountable and he cannot then will freely as his natural acts testify to his corrupt heart. So, where do we then find the libertarian freedom that men so boast to possess? 

Here is how Scripture views it — man is either a slave to righteousness or a slave to sin. A man’s freedom is constrained to whichever state he’s in – freedom to do righteousness or freedom to do sin! Hence, a man can only be either righteous or a sinner. There is no other condition in which a man may be in. To be in sin spells only disaster — a man is bound in it, and thus bound to death. Sinners have absolutely no freedom — they may create multiple illusions which lead only to death and call them free options, yet in truth they have only chosen what was available to them, that is, death. The highest freedom man can ever and shall ever attain is the freedom of the will IN CHRIST (which actually means that he is still bound, but now to Christ Jesus through righteousness). This can only be as a person yields to the Holy Ghost and to the bondage of obedience to the Sovereign Lordship of Christ. This happens only when the man’s heart is changed; given new desires — hence the will is able to choose that which leads to life. The notion of libertarian freedom is destroyed in the sense that men actually either abuse it (those who use their perceived freedom as a license to sin) or they do not have it (those that are still bound to sin). How is it that Christ would tell men who would have freedom of will that they have to deny themselves? If men were free, they would have been encouraged all the more to embrace their nature. Moreover, they would not deny themselves because they could not will aright — they refused because they could not receive; they did not have the power in their will to accept Christ’s words and perform them. That beats the whole notion of libertarian free will of man. Had we such a potent will, Christ would have told us to save ourselves – to hasten and come out of our sorry state using our own power and by our own selves. If we had such free will, the death of Christ was, then, of no use whatsoever. But if we are slaves who needed to be set free from our deep bondage to sin – then, it follows that Christ Jesus came to ransom us, poor and defeated race of Adam, from sin’s bondage. And at what price? His very own blood! 

We have read of a man like Nebuchadnezzar, the great Babylonian king of old, who conquered the whole world but in his bondage could not see how much of a prisoner he really was — a prisoner to his own self and to sin! Did God violate Nebuchadnezzar’s free will when He had the evil king go mad? He was still bound to self — he was in no way free to save himself from his own conceit that he indulged in! It was Ravi Zacharias who rightly said, “We are too possessed by ourselves.” Look at man — take a good look at him. He is too bound up in the current affairs of this world; the temporal peace of this world; the social state of this world; the corruptible treasures of this world; the material goods of this world; the abominable idols of this world; the seductive powers and manipulative influences of this world; the greedy profits of this world; the carnal respect and short-lived approval of this world; the sexual pleasures and temporary comforts of this world; the abusive might and vain knowledge of this world; the crooked dreams and indulgent ambitions of this world. Natural, unregenerate man is too concerned with the present life of this world that is soon to pass away. He wants to rule the world and take of its pleasures — whatever the cost. The result is that he ends up being more wound up in this poor world. Man is a slave to this carnal world and he cannot see his prison until he is set free by God! In fact, he not only cannot set himself free but even this – he willingly entangles himself more and more in the fleeting pleasures and rebellious sin of this wicked age. When it comes to the willingness and the ability to be free, man is dead! Give man true freedom and do you know what he will choose? Filth! Rubbish! Vile and detestable dung is what he desires and so shall have. Corruption! Bondage to wicked sin! Oh, do not be fooled by the outward morality and the kind gestures of civilization; the modest grooming that modern unregenerate man shows to you. He does so because there is a law etched into him that yet holds him back — that reminds him of his moral agency. Were it not for conscience, which God, for His own high purposes and for the sake of preserving man has placed in him, man would long ago have perished! O, the wisdom and mercy of God — who can understand His ways? Man still has some sense of justice and righteousness – but again, being carnal-minded, he holds it in unrighteousness! If left to his own, without the threat of justice and punishment; without the law of God; without the restraining hand of the Almighty; without the reality of death and the torments of hell, mankind would long ago have consumed himself. Which sin is it that man is incapable of doing? All the vile acts that we have heard happened throughout history – were they not committed by a man just like you and I? They certainly were not committed by a demon, or a phantom, or some primitive god, were they? Absolutely not! Man would go as far as killing God — he had the chance and he did not hesitate to take it! Man is the chief perpetrator of sin — bound to it as a slave, he is fully mastered by it. And would he be the corrector of such fault? Can man correct his damnable error? How can a slave correct his master? How can sin destroy itself? Man is incapable of righteousness without the intervening Almighty power of Jehovah! Man, I repeat, is dead — dead to righteousness for he is dead in sin. He is dead in his wretched and damnable sin and Divine Justice requires him to rot in hell for all eternity — justifiably so, for man did commit eternal injury upon the commands of God. Hell and destruction are every man’s portion by right of fairness and justice — BUT GOD. Yes, “but God” — what a sweet conjunction we come across in Holy Writ. God is rich in mercy and loving-kindness. He greatly delights in gloriously displaying these to the universe by saving bound men — by setting the slaves of sin free! What a wonder; what a blessing; what Grace. How indebted to God is the man that is set free indeed. It is that freedom that is only found in the Lord Jesus Christ, Who died that His people might be saved. Truly, whom the Son of God sets free is free indeed. Shall you remain in your bondage, O sinner? Shall you not cry out to this great deliverer of slaves; shall you not beg Him on your knees like a man begging for dear life; shall you not turn to Him by faith and ask that He may grant you this freedom? Has He granted you this freedom — be ever thankful for His grace. May God have mercy upon sinners today, in Christ Jesus our Lord and Savior. Amen!

A HOPE THAT DELIVERS!

It has happened to us all. A day has come to pass where a dearly beloved one has been taken away from us never to be seen again in this present life; we have painfully watched as someone we knew and closely, even intimately, related with (maybe someone we couldn’t imagine life without) suddenly succumb to some unexplainably mysterious sleep — the slumber of DEATH! The thing with sleep is that there is the hope of getting back up after a matter of hours (or days in some cases) — such a notion is completely alien to death! It grabs violently, indiscriminately, unexpectedly and with a heart-rending finality. When it speaks, the message is not only clear and resounding, but it cuts through the very hardest of hearts. Death is not a cup of sweet tea — it is more like a bottomless mug of malodorous black mud that has to be ingested; ALL to the last torturous drop! Those affected by it cannot escape the glaring display of its dark art nor the lingering punch of its awful power. Its natural effect is a sorrowful heart and an unsettled mind. “I am so sorry, my bleeding heart”, you pitifully say to yourself. We have all been victim to this giant’s oppression, and shall one day become its sure target. Yes, death in its element is one ugly beast; a leviathan that man has not as yet, in fact shall never (alone), successfully tame. Hence it is incumbent upon every living man to not only consider and prepare himself for this faithful occurence, but to go further if he must hope that death is not the end! Herein lies the crux of the matter — if man shall live after death, what must he do? Furthermore, how shall he go about such an unattainable task? How is it that man can and shall defeat death altogether and have eternal life? Hope, O lovely hope, where art thou?

Hope is a tranquil word. It denotes an optimistic expectation — it is pregnant with life and abundance. It does not only calm the human heart to have hope; it goes further to infuse joy into us. How blessed the hopeful are; how glad their hearts; how settled their minds; how focussed their aspirations; how unshakeable their confidence; how vibrant their life! Yet, mere hope, as it stands alone, disappoints many a time. It disappoints men of business; men of politics; men of tact and wisdom; men of sport; men of dreams and ambitions; men of charisma and influence; men of patience; men of honor; men of valor; men of all tribes of the earth; men of love; men of life. There is not a son of Adam who has not been disappointed by hope in this life. Shall we then put our trust; our confidence in such a hope against mighty and certain death? I ask, is this not hoping against a weak and impotent hope? Death hears no answer from such a penetrable shield. If your hope cannot assure you beyond all shadow of doubt that it shall bear fruit and deliver life to you alive — your hope, if it can even be so called, is swallowed in death! Death is victorious over you and shall continue to be so until you can assure your soul confidently that a hope exists which can clearly injure and kill death. If such a thought seems far-fetched, or even foolish to you, then you would be best suited to live life like a brute animal, for then, if we follow your logic, we all die and are forgotten in the ocean of endless time! Such a person sees no use in hope — what a shriveled life that must be! To all who yearn for the culmination of hope, however, take heart and be joyful. The hope that conquers and that does not disappoint is no myth — such a hope is there for all who see it. And how shall you so see it?

Do you see Christ upon the Cross groaning in pain and crying out to the Father in desperation? Do you see Him die like a mortal, even as graves are opened and many among the dead are brought back to life? Why, do you not see Him cut the illustrious mane of death and dash his goring teeth in with a rod of iron as He takes His rightful keys, burying our sin with death itself? Moreover, what do you make of His glorious awakening by which He condemns death and displays the potent evidence of His sin-swallowing death-vanquishing life-giving body? I submit to you that there are a class of men who shall not be disappointed by hope. Hope has marked them for a prize and a crown for itself. Hope ever lives to be gloriously fulfilled in them — but, in them alone! These blessed men are identified not by the color of their skin, or by an outward physical mark, or by shape or size or intelligence. In fact, these men are not merely identified by how “good” they are — what sets them apart is their Faith, resulting in love which blossom into good deeds and a holy life before God. Christians — we are such heirs, even now possessors of an eternal hope! Christ Jesus, a true Man, has succeeded where none can nor shall. Here is the crown of it — it was all for us; for the true believer. Jesus has ever been in existence, being true God. He never once needed deliverance from cruel death, seeing that He is the eternal One. Consider that there is no wisdom, solution or trap that we can use to overcome death apart from this one Man. He owns it all. Only He can and does save those He will from death. Only He can, if you shall believe, give you the conquering hope. Jesus Christ IS our Living Hope! Such a hope is grounded in Faith in God, Who alone holds and gives eternal life. It is, therefore presently, a confident hope; a delivering hope; an indwelling hope; a saving hope; a glorious hope; a bearing hope; a sure hope. Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, with a repentant heart — ’tis the only thing that saves! May God grant you hope in Himself.

Amen!