Monday, February 9, 2009

How to Keep from Stumbling...Behold the Lord

Apostates are a major cause of stumbling for the people of God as they enter in among us and soil and stain the bride of Christ with their sensuality, carnality, and rebellion all disguised as spirituality.

God in His love, mercy, and grace has told us in His word how to keep from stumbling in these days of apostasy. In Jude 17-25, Jude gave four instructions to follow if we would stand firm, not stumble, and resist the apostates: (1) Believe God’s Word (17-19), (2) Build our Christian life (20-21), (3) Battle for backsliders (22-23), and (4) Behold the Lord (24-25).

If we want to keep our feet on the ground spiritually, walk straight, and not stumble, not only must we believe God’s Word, build our Christian lives, and battle for backsliders, we must also yield ourselves fully to the Lord. This well-known benediction contains a wealth of spiritual truth for the believer to receive. It shows the majesty and glory of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and places our focus, worship, and hope on Him who alone is able to keep us from stumbling and make us stand in the presence of His glory blameless and with great joy.

The Lord Jesus Christ is going to present His bride the church, those redeemed by His blood, blameless, in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing, before the throne of His Father. The Father has covenanted with the Son that all of His people will one day see and share His glory. The purpose of salvation is not simply to rescue sinners from hell but for the grand purpose that God may be glorified for all eternity. Our salvation is to result in the praise of His glory (Ephesians 1:6, 12, 14).

Today there are spots and blemishes in the church, but on that day God’s people shall be blameless. There will have been a full and complete separation between the true and the false and Satan will find nothing to accuse. The bride will be arrayed in the righteousness of Christ to the glory of God.

Knowing this the believer has a strong motive for living for Christ and obeying His Word. We want to live for Him because He gave Himself up for us and we want to be pleasing to Him and bring glory to His name. As we behold the Lord and focus on His glory and His return we will live pure and holy lives – “Beloved, now we are the children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we will be. We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, because we will see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure” (1 John 3:2-3).

When we behold the Lord, what is it about Him that we see?

First we see that the only wise God is our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. In His perfect and wise plan of redemption, God the Father has provided the only way that He can save sinners without violating His own perfect nature and character. While it is true that Jesus Christ is our Savior, it is also true that God the Father is our Savior because without His perfect plan of salvation and without His willingness to sacrifice His Son for us because He loves us, there would be no Savior. In the Father’s perfect plan of salvation, sinners are transformed into worshipers of God through love and obedience to Jesus Christ and great gratitude to the Father Himself for His willingness to sacrifice His only Son, His Son whom He loves. God is our Savior through Jesus Christ our Lord. Jude had this in mind when he wrote, “To those who are the called, beloved in God the Father, and kept for Jesus Christ” (1).

Next we see the glory of the Lord. Glory is the sum total of all that God is and all that God does. Everything about Him is glorious! His glory is so great that no man can look directly into His glory and live. Glory has the idea of substance or significance. As we get glimpses of His glory, of His significance, we are transformed into the same image from glory to glory. By beholding the Lord’s glory we understand that He is all significant and that everything is about Him and nothing about anyone or anything else. We are to live for His glory and seek glory for His name and in everything we do, whether we eat or drink, we are to do all to the glory of God.

Then we see the majesty of the Lord. Majesty means greatness or magnificence. Only God is great. When we praise God we praise the most magnificent Person in the universe. Not only does the Lord have all significance, He also has all magnificence. He is not simply King but He is King of kings. He is not simply Lord but He is Lord of lords.

Then we see the dominion of the Lord. Dominion has to do with God’s sovereignty or rule over everything. The Greek word means strength or might but it carries the idea of complete control over everything. He alone has the right to rule and reign because He is glorious and majestic and worthy of dominion. God is in control even in the middle of apostasy. Even when wicked men were nailing His Son to the cross, God was in control and what men intended for evil, God intended for good. And not only that, He is causing all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28).

And finally we see the authority of the Lord. Authority is the right to use power. All authority belongs to Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior. As we yield to Him, we share His authority and accomplish His will so that it is from Him and through Him so that the glory goes to Him.

Truly our God is an awesome God. He is wise and loving, He is glorious, He is majestic, He is sovereign, and He is powerful, before all time and now and forever, Amen.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Asa was the third king of the Kingdom of Judah. The Bible records that he began his reign by walking in God’s will. As he trusted and obeyed the Lord for 35 years, he was blessed with success.

However, one who truly walks in the center of God’s will does not walk on a broad meandering thoroughfare. The centerline of God’s will is razor-thin. One step to the left or right can take you out of God’s perfect will, and 1000 miles in either direction can be just as damaging as that first step.

In that 35th year of his reign Asa took his first big step – a stumble, really – out of God’s will, and trusted the King of Syria instead of the Lord. “And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the LORD thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand.” (II Chronicles 16:7)

Instead of repenting, and getting back on God’s narrow path, Asa continued to order his own steps, ignoring the Holy Spirit’s counsel which had been given to his great-great-grandfather, David. (Psalm 37:23)

Even when God allowed him to contract a disease which reminded Asa that he had stumbled and was using his feet to walk away from the Lord, instead of back to the Lord, the reproof was not taken. “And Asa in the thirty and ninth year of his reign was diseased in his feet, until his disease was exceeding great: yet in his disease he sought not to the LORD, but to the physicians.”

God, help us to follow You on the paths of righteousness, for Your name’s sake. (Psalm 23:3)