Posts Tagged ‘ Devil ’

Don’t Fear the Reaper

I am doing a short series! We are going through some of the sayings of Jesus that can be … confusing … difficult … misapplied … whatever!

What does this mean? I will look at passages that I have personally heard misapplied, misunderstood, or simply confusion expressed over what Jesus meant.

Also, one of these should be appearing on The Domain for Truth later this month to help out SlimJim with some coverage of his blog while he travels. (No worries. I will share it here on this blog when it happens!)

Two weeks we looked at blasphemy of the Holy Spirit.

Last week we looked at Jesus saying Christians should be perfect.

Now, what is our next passage? (Maybe you already have an idea based on the title.)

Fear the One Who Gives a Damn

“A disciple is not above his teacher, nor a servant above his master. It is enough for the disciple to be like his teacher, and the servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more will they malign those of his household.
“So have no fear of them, for nothing is covered that will not be revealed, or hidden that will not be known. What I tell you in the dark, say in the light, and what you hear whispered, proclaim on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.

Matthew 10:24-28, ESV

Firstly, thank you in advance for your forgiveness for my play on words, but it is appropriate. Because we are discussing the one who literally damns people to Hell.

Secondly, if you search the simple man of God posts, you will find strong evidence that I am a big fan of – not so much Blue Oyster Cult who sings “Don’t Fear the Reaper”, though I do appreciate their talent – Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure and Bill & Ted’s Bogus Journey. That is the source of my quote for the title of this post.

Why do I like those movies?

I am a huge sci-fi nerd, and I also like making connections with the gospel. And, if you click on the titles of the movies up above you will see how I did that with these movies.

The connection today, though, is that our society has a tendency to misconstrue our fear of death.

Whether it is the personification of Death as the Grim Reaper or some other source, we are often told to have a fear of what is to come after this life if we are apart from Christ.

And the biggest source of fear that even many churches have preached?

Satan.

The Devil.

Lucifer.

Beelzebub.

Choose your name/title.

Perhaps you have heard people speaking of watching out that the Devil could drag you to Hell, or maybe that (like in Bogus Journey) the Grim Reaper will lead you either to Heaven or Hell.

Well, guess what. Neither of those are true in the least.

Firstly, we have two concepts of Hell that we need to deal with:

  1. The idea we have of a malevolent being taking us to a fiery (or frigid) place to be tormented comes largely from Norse mythology. We got a slight glimpse of this from Marvel’s Thor: Ragnarok a couple of years ago, when Thor’s half-sister Hela appeared. This was a twisting of the original mythology, because Hel was really the one who was half dead/half alive (look it up, if you can stomach it) who was a trickster and liked to torment people in a place of rivers and fire.
  2. Christianity does have something that we expect to see that is similar yet also quite different:

    2 Peter 2:4For if God did not spare angels when they sinned, but cast them into hell and committed them to chains of gloomy darkness to be kept until the judgment;
    Jude 1:6And the angels who did not stay within their own position of authority, but left their proper dwelling, he has kept in eternal chains under gloomy darkness until the judgment of the great day.

    When Peter said “hell” it was the Greek word “Hades”. The Hebrew equivalent is “Sheol”. So the current place we think of as Hell is a prison for fallen angels. (Think back to Genesis 6, those few verses before Noah is mentioned.)

    And secondly: Revelation 20:7-15 discusses that Satan, the Antichrist, the False Prophet, Death, and Hades are all thrown into the Lake of Fire, the place of eternal torment. Oh, and it finishes with all those who are not found in the Lamb’s Book of Life being thrown in, as well.

What does this mean?

Notice, the Devil is not dragging people into Hell. He, and many others, are thrown in. Either they are in chains now, or they are in the burning lake of fire in eternity.

Who does the throwing?

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? And not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. But even the hairs of your head are all numbered. Fear not, therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows. So everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven, but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven.
Matthew 10:29-33

The Lord Himself casts those who rebel against Him into eternal torment.

Therefore, when Proverbs says repeatedly something along the lines of “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom and knowledge,” it is very literal.

We should begin with a fear (yes, a dread) of God, because we are sinners in need of forgiveness.

Then, our fear can turn to that respect and awe when we realize the Christ was sacrificed so that we could have that needed forgiveness. All we must do is repent (change our entire way of thinking) and believe. (And the Holy Spirit helps with these, too!)

Don’t fear the reaper. Or the Devil. Or anyone else.

Only fear God.

And I pray that fear leads to the knowledge of the Son of God and His work on the cross for your salvation.

VerseD: John 10:10

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.
John 10:10, ESV

The Deceiver will try to drag you down, to doubt yourself, your life, your salvation.

But Jesus defeated him at the cross! When worries come, focus on Christ!

VerseD: James 4:7

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
James 4:7, ESV

It is especially hard for the devil to attack you if you remain close to God.

Read your Bible, live with a church family, and pray.

Different Teams: Two Fathers

On Sunday, February 10, 2019, I preached my first sermon for our little church. Other than weddings, it was first time I have preached since 2014. That was the year I finished my homiletics classes at seminary which in turn helped me get through speaking at my mom’s “Celebration of Life” service.

It felt nice to be actively researching and writing like that again!

Anywhat, I thought I would share the outline with you. (Even some of the stuff that was adlibbed, and a few sentences were left out.) Unfortunately, I do not think it was recorded, so you have to miss my dramatic pauses (and awkward pauses) and other small things.

As a brief introduction, during the third of four prepared songs, the fire alarm in the school we meet in sounded off. The band played an extra song, and then I was able to get started. A friend pointed out that I missed the opportunity to say that much of what passes as Christian teaching today should set off a fire alarm of warning!

-Daniel


Sunday, February 10, 2019
Different Teams: Two Fathers  —  John 8:37-59

When a new pastor preaches, we pull out all the bells and whistles! It’s always scary when someone not Scott preaches. Even the building got scared and cried!

INTRO:

Caitlin and I have wanted kids of our own. I have wanted my own since I was almost four years old, telling my parents “I want to do better than you!” I meant it as a compliment, meaning I wanted to build on what they had been doing for my brother, sister, and me. Maybe someday I’ll learn to actually say what I mean (apart from sermons and teachings, of course!)

Today, we do not have our own kids. Almost four years ago, my Sis-in-law gave birth to Maxwell, our first nephew, and on November 1, 2017, our niece Rosalie came along. Needless to say, we have been ecstatic to visit and spend time with them, even doing the nitty-gritty dirty stuff that comes with babies. Just this past February first, my brother and his wife welcomed our nephew Dominic! We are so excited to eventually meet him.

In the mean time, as you’ve heard, Bill and Kendra welcomed Jovie on January 30, and we live in their home currently. That little girl is going to be so loved, because she has two parents who have waited for her and an “auntie and uncle” who are unable to be with our niece and nephews as much as we’d like.

Now, it would be horrible if little Jovie were to grow up thinking I was her father. I love her to death, even knowing her less than two weeks, but I will probably never love her more than Bill. Should anything (God forbid) happen to her parents, and we had to take over that responsibility, you had better believe we would do our darndest. Regardless, we are going to make sure she knows who her parents are and how much she is loved by them.

Could you imagine, though, if she lived like I were her father – as great as I am *wink* – and came to treat her father like a stranger?

As Pastor Scott has been leading us through John, we have been hearing about a similar situation as Jesus confronts the Jewish leadership. We are in John chapter eight, and last week we heard how we are either a slave to sin or a slave to righteousness and how the truth can set us free to righteousness.

Today, we will look closer at Jesus’ comparison in John 8:37-59 of the two households these two “slaves” represent.

MESSAGE:

Remember that Jesus is speaking to the leadership, the Pharisees and teachers, when beginning in verse 37 He responds:

“I know that you are offspring of Abraham; yet you seek to kill me because my word finds no place in you. 38 I speak of what I have seen with my Father, and you do what you have heard from your father.”

Jesus acknowledges that they are biologically related to Abraham. They know that Jesus claiming to be God’s Son essentially equates Himself with God, which, for any other person in history, would be blasphemy, a sin punishable by death in Judaism. But we continue in verse 39:

“They answered him, “Abraham is our father.” Jesus said to them, “If you were Abraham’s children, you would be doing the works Abraham did, 40 but now you seek to kill me, a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God. This is not what Abraham did. 41 You are doing the works your father did.”

If you are in any way like me, you might think, “The works Abraham did? Like telling his wife to tell a lie (of omission) to other people (saying she was his sister, which is true, instead of his wife), going to war with people, and laugh at God’s promises? Or maybe have an affair my spouse suggested? Those works of Abraham?”

Instead, Jesus is probably referring to Abraham believing through doubt. His “lying with Hagar” to produce Ishmael was an act of faith, but very misguided. This is the act of one who is still a slave to sin. No, Abraham had doubts, until the actual son of promise came: Isaac. Then, when God said to sacrifice this son, Abraham had no hesitation to follow God in faith. Isaac’s birth was probably that defining moment when Abraham went from slave to sin to slave to righteousness. God had proven Himself faithful, so, somehow, God could make a great nation out of this son, even if Abraham did not understand. He heard the truth of God, and he believed.

But perhaps the Jews also got stuck with Jesus’ words, thinking He might be referring to Hagar and Ishmael, as we see back in verse 41:

They said to him, “We were not born of sexual immorality. We have one Father—even God.” 42 Jesus said to them, “If God were your Father, you would love me, for I came from God and I am here. I came not of my own accord, but he sent me.

Do not be confused by Jesus’ words here. This is Trinitarian talk. What is the Trinity? God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. The Son willingly submits to the Father. Jesus is not saying He had no desire to come live amongst us, merely that His Father sent Him and He willingly obeyed. It is like two best friends and/or a husband and wife: “What do you want for dinner?” “Whatever you want.” “How about our usual?” “Yeah, that sounds good.” (Because we are slaves to our stomach, sometimes, am I right?) Obviously, though, we are talking about something much more serious.

But if we are not listening for what God is actually saying, we can easily misunderstand, as Jesus explains picking up in verse 43:

Why do you not understand what I say? It is because you cannot bear to hear my word. 44 You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I tell the truth, you do not believe me. 46 Which one of you convicts me of sin? If I tell the truth, why do you not believe me? 47 Whoever is of God hears the words of God. The reason why you do not hear them is that you are not of God.”

Do you see it? As a people, the human race, we want our own truth. We want to hear what we think is right, what we think we know. We are slaves to our own desires, which are often sinful. He is talking to the Pharisees, but here Jesus is telling all of us that this is a sign that we think we may be sons of God, but we are the offspring of the Great Deceiver, Satan.

Just look at the world today:
We are told truth is what we make it … as long as you follow the crowd.
People are basically good … unless they disagree with me, then they are evil incarnate.
Everyone’s truth is true for them … unless you say there is only one truth (which is in and of itself a singular truth claim).

This could be like me saying “I raised Jovie.” Sure, I have held her a few times, maybe even changed a few diapers and helped feed her, but it is not exactly true that I raised her. But what if she got older and believed it? She would say Bill is her daddy, but she spends all of her time with me. Or Bill says, “Hi, Jovie! It’s daddy!” and she slaps him in the face and then holds my hand.

How would Bill feel? (Probably quite angry, and mostly at me!) Probably heartbroken.

I would be a father of lies for Jovie, but she would be treating me with love. Bill would be shunned, even if she told people that Bill is her parent.

This is what Israel has largely done. This is what all of humanity as largely done. We refuse to believe the truth, and instead we shun and full-on rage against God, basically slapping Him in the face with the way we live. The scary thing is that this can even be found in churches, people who say they are Christians but live completely contrary to Christ’s teachings.

This can be seen by the way we villainize people of other churches or who are a part of another political party or voted for certain politicians. This can be seen by the way we tell others what the Bible says, and it is either completely out of context (because we have not been reading it) or we unrepentantly, unapologetically do the same thing as others. This can be seen by the way we refuse to forgive each other, get angry at others, and come up with excuses for why we keep sinning.

This can be seen by quoting a certain serpent, and asking “Did Jesus really say … ?” Or even responding as the Jewish leadership did, back in verse 48:

The Jews answered him, “Are we not right in saying that you are a Samaritan and have a demon?”

The Samaritans notoriously only followed the Torah, the first five books of the Bible: Genesis through Deuteronomy. It is like some teachers today saying we don’t need the Old Testament, because Jesus is only in the New Testament.

Both this and saying Jesus has a demon is like those teachers who say “Jesus and biblical authors lived in a different time. They wouldn’t understand the world today.” (I agree!) Or that the miracles may or may not have happened. Or that most of these teachings were only for people at that time and place.

It is also saying that Jesus is intentionally deceiving people. But how does He respond? In verse 49 Jesus responds:

Jesus answered, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father, and you dishonor me. 50 Yet I do not seek my own glory; there is One who seeks it, and he is the judge. 51 Truly, truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never see death.”

Basically, those who believe and follow Jesus will not taste death, meaning we will inherit eternal life through Him. The Father wants to glorify His Son, and it is denying Jesus’ Sonship that keeps us under judgment and heading toward the flames of punishment.

But watch how the Jews responded in verse 52:

The Jews said to him, “Now we know that you have a demon! Abraham died, as did the prophets, yet you say, ‘If anyone keeps my word, he will never taste death.’ 53 Are you greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets died! Who do you make yourself out to be?” 54 Jesus answered, “If I glorify myself, my glory is nothing. It is my Father who glorifies me, of whom you say, ‘He is our God.’ 55 But you have not known him. I know him. If I were to say that I do not know him, I would be a liar like you, but I do know him and I keep his word. 56 Your father Abraham rejoiced that he would see my day. He saw it and was glad.” 57 So the Jews said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” 58 Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” 59 So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.

There is a bit to unpack here, but why did the Jews want to kill him? When Jesus said, “before Abraham was, I am”, he said in Greek, “Ego eimi”, very litearlly “I am.” I am sure you wall remember back in Exodus when God told Moses to tell the Israelites that “I am has sent you.” In the Greek Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible, our Old Testament) it says “Ego eimi”, and in Hebrew “Hyah.”

(So, if someone tells you to “Leggo my ego,” you just say, “Hyah! He’s got me!”)

Jesus was literally calling Himself the I Am – God.

This is a lot to process for anybody: Jesus, who was a man, claimed to be God incarnate. How would you respond to someone telling you they are God?

RESPONSE:

That is crux of this whole chapter: How do we respond to Jesus?

Do you believe He is the Son of God – God Himself?

Jesus sets the standard here: Either you believe His words and are an adopted son of God, or you don’t believe and are a child of the Devil. That’s it. No other options.

BIG IDEA: You are either on Team Jesus or Team Satan.

TRANS:

So what do we do with this? Here are some closing thoughts to take home.

APPLICATION:

I personally love apologetics – giving answers for the questions and attacks against Christianity. The thing is, we are all expected to be ready, as Peter tells us in his first letter, chapter 3, verse 15: but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense (Gr: apologia, where we get the word apologetics) to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect.

We are dealing with a fallen world, with people whose thinking is tainted by sin. We are gentle and respectful, because they may be completely unaware how hostile they are being and “such were some of you” (1 Corinthians 6:11). “Treat others how you want to be treated,” and all that. They are still slaves to their sin, not slaves to righteousness.

But also remember that we are not responsible for convincing others. We must be able to point them to the Word of God. Remember Jesus’ testimony: that Moses and the Prophets testified of Him, and His miracles signs and wonders prove His message.

But what is His greatest miracle that removes all doubt? Jesus’ resurrection from the dead.

Now, I know, it can be intimidating, even scary, perhaps even frustrating to have someone challenge your beliefs and God’s Word. Your pastors and elders are here to help you, of course, but this is why it is so important to read and know Scripture for yourself. We cannot always be there to help.

Besides, what was Pastor Scott’s message about last week? Focused on verse 32, “you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.” How can you know – really know – the truth if you do not make it your own?

You are either on Team Jesus or Team Satan. If you have no desire to study Scripture, you are in danger of proving which team you are on. If you are ashamed to tell people the truth of Christ, you are telling the world you may be on the other team.

This is not to say this automatically means you are not a Christian. If you are newer to the faith, you may still be learning what it means. Sometimes being challenged in our beliefs can be scary and intimidating, like a fire alarm going off in the middle of church. But this is why we continue meeting together: to encourage each other to grow, to find the answers, and to be spurred on to reading and sharing the gospel.

CONCLUSION

Don’t be like hypothetical me and Jovie, knowing her biological father is Bill but living like we are father and daughter. That is just like those who claim to be Christian but never read the Bible, are ashamed to share the gospel, and treat other people without love, respect, or kindness. You are either on Team Jesus or Team Satan. The best way to know is to fall madly, deeply in love with the Son of God, learn from and about Him, and share that truth with others.

VerseD: Ephesians 6:12

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
Ephesians 6:12, ESV

People are not your greatest enemy. The forces behind them – demons, the Devil, evil spirits – are your enemy.

Do not lash out at those who wrong or hurt you. Love and pray for them, pray against the spiritual forces of evil, in Jesus’ name.

VerseD: James 1:2-3

Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.
James 1:2‭-‬3, ESV

Most problems are not strictly attacks from the Devil. Rather, some are testing of our faith, some are discipline to help us grow, and some are merely our own actions.

Learn and grow through all of them (even the devil attacks).

VerseD: 1 Peter 5:10

And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.
1 Peter 5:10, ESV

The enemy does not want us to be joyful or successful in Christ and will fight us continuously.

But if we remain faithful, our Lord will heap His strength on us to not only keep us going but thrive and be ready for our eternal home.