To Be After God’s Heart
David committed adultery with Bathsheba, murdered Uriah, and cost Israel thousands of lives by pridefully numbering the fighting men. Yet God calls him a man after His own heart. What is the meaning of this?
Most teachers I’ve heard on this subject have taught that repentance is what’s needed. They are not wrong. Psalm 51 is David’s song of repentance. It drives right to the heart of the matter, describing the repentant “heart” in verses 6, 10, and 17. After he sins, the man after God’s heart comes to God in heartfelt repentance.
But the key to understanding more fully what it means to be “a man after God’s own heart” is found in another phrase that the Bible itself places alongside the one with which we are so familiar:
“And when he had removed him, he raised up David to be their king, of whom he testified and said, ‘I have found in David the son of Jesse a man after my heart, who will do all my will’” (Acts 13:22).
Repentance is only one example of the larger issue. God says that “a man after my heart…will do all my will.” That is, to be after God’s heart means to be willing to obey, even when the thing commanded is exceedingly difficult. The repentant heart only comes into play after a stumble, because the command at that point is to repent. But the obedient heart is what God is actually after.
What separated David from Saul? That’s the contrast that set up the famous description of David. David is Saul’s opposite (1 Samuel 13:14). Both of them sinned. Both displayed occasional periods of stunning hardheartedness. But Saul was never an obedient man, whereas David was. When faced with a giant who taunted the God of Israel, Saul was able to consistently stifle the prompting of his conscience and of the Spirit (1 Samuel 17:11). David obeyed (1 Samuel 17:32). David had heart! Saul’s sacrifice of sheep (1 Samuel 13:13) and then unwillingness to slaughter other sheep (1 Samuel 15:14) demonstrated that Saul simply did what he wanted, not what he was told to do. Conversely, David was a man after God’s heart because he would obey God.
Christians today have made an art out of confession and repentance. Preachers rightly emphasize grace, but speak too little about the necessity of obedience. As a result, many Christians live in persistent sin, regularly confessed and subsequently repeated, yet they convince themselves, “God knows my heart.”
Well, to the one living in persistent disobedience, God does know your heart. He knows that it is not after His.
How then can a Christian have a change of heart? It begins with sincerely praying Psalm 51. Literally read it aloud as a prayer to God. But it doesn’t end there. There are acts of obedience that you must go forth and do. That’s the second step, the definitive step. To describe David, some translations render the second part of Acts 13:22 this way, “he will do everything I want him to do.” After repentance (according to 1 Samuel 15:11, even Saul cried out to the Lord all night), subsequent obedience to what you know God has told you to do is what will define you as being “after God’s heart.”
It’s not enough to keep a quiet time. Taking time to read the Bible and to adore, confess, thank, and supplicate (A.C.T.S.) is good, but quiet time alone is only enough to make you half-hearted. When Jesus says “abide in my love,” he’s not primarily referring to quiet time. Jesus’ command to “abide” in John 15:10 means “keep my commandments.”
The Sight and Sound theater portrayed David beautifully. You can listen to the songs from that production on Youtube. In one of them, David sings, “I am after your heart.” David’s obedience proved those words true. We should stop assuming that we are “a man after God’s heart” until we learn from Acts 13:22 what God is after. We can become like David, but to do so, we’re going to need to show some heart.
Fear gripped the heart of the King. News reached King Ahaz that the Northern Kingdom of Israel was in league with Syria to make war against Jerusalem. Israel was Judah’s brother, but now they were attacking with the enemy. Isaiah reports that “the heart of Ahaz and the heart of his people shook as the trees of the forest shake before the wind” (Isaiah 7:2).
Have you ever felt your heart shake like a leaf? Fear grips the heart when intimidating circumstances lay just over the horizon. Sometimes fear takes the strongest grip in a time a peace, because we have time to think about what might be coming. In the thick of a battle, who has time to think? But when we receive bad news of impending difficulty, like King Ahaz did, fear IS the battle.
In contrast to the fearful response of Ahaz in Isaiah 7, we have the example of the faithful response of Isaiah himself in Isaiah 8. He faced the same dire circumstances, but look how he faced them:
“And I went to the prophetess, and she conceived and bore a son. Then the Lord said to me, “Call his name Maher-shalal-hash-baz” (Isaiah 8:3).
Surprising. Isaiah’s response was to continue on with ordinary life. As if the threat of war wasn’t barking at the door, Isaiah and his wife live their life as a married couple, and the Lord blesses them with a child. God even tells them what to name the child, which turns out to be quite a mouthful. Why the strange name?
“for before the boy knows how to cry ‘My father’ or ‘My mother,’ the wealth of Damascus and the spoil of Samaria will be carried away before the king of Assyria” (Isaiah 8:4).
The name meant that God was going to deliver his people! The threat that Ahaz feared would not be Judah’s undoing. In the mysterious ways of God, “the cloud you so much dread is big with mercy and shall break.”
But that wasn’t the end of the story. Because Judah didn’t look to God for deliverance, but instead relied upon Assyria, although they would get short-term deliverance, their long-term prospects were still dire. Before too long, Assyria would overrun them. God used Assyria to rescue Judah from Israel and Syria. Now God will use Assyria to discipline Judah.
So, what will Isaiah do now? This time God isn’t promising to take the suffering away. Will Isaiah say with Job, “the Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord” (Job 1:21)? Or will Isaiah succumb to fear?
“For the Lord spoke thus to me with his strong hand upon me, and warned me not to walk in the way of this people, saying: “Do not call conspiracy all that this people calls conspiracy, and do not fear what they fear, nor be in dread. But the Lord of hosts, him you shall honor as holy. Let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.” (Isaiah 8:11-13). The strong hand of the Lord sustained Isaiah’s faith. Isaiah kept his eyes on God and refused to fear what so many in Jerusalem feared.
Isaiah then reveals the secret of his strength. It wasn’t in long hair like Samson. It was a source of strength that is available to every child of God, no matter the circumstances we are facing.
“Bind up the testimony; seal the teaching among my disciples. I will wait for the Lord, who is hiding his face from the house of Jacob, and I will hope in him. Behold, I and the children whom the Lord has given me are signs and portents in Israel from the Lord of hosts, who dwells on Mount Zion. And when they say to you, “Inquire of the mediums and the necromancers who chirp and mutter,” should not a people inquire of their God? Should they inquire of the dead on behalf of the living? To the teaching and to the testimony! If they will not speak according to this word, it is because they have no dawn” (Isaiah 8:16-20).
While most of Jerusalem’s children were trying to tell the future, Isaiah anchored himself in the Word of God. He preserved it among his family and all the disciples who would rally to it. “To the teaching and to the testimony!” was his battle cry. They ran to the Word. They hid themselves safely in the Word!
The Word of God tells us to “fear not” at least 366 times, one for every day of the year, even on a leap year. The key point is that fearing God means trusting him with our future. In the long term, we all must die and face judgment. But trusting in Christ for the forgiveness of sin and for eternal life removes our fear of death. “Oh death, where is your sting” (1 Corinthians 15:55)? In the short term, we ought not fear circumstances, because however dire they look, it is easy for God to reverse them! If God can send the Assyrians (of all people) to blindside Judah’s enemies to their North, then God can use anything at any time to do whatever He pleases. No situation is ever difficult to God. God doesn’t fret. God’s love isn’t reckless. Everything that happens on earth is completely under His control (Psalm 33:11, Proverbs 16:33, Daniel 4:35).
Church, let’s take the perspective of Isaiah rather than the approach of most of the people of Jerusalem. We are the remnant. Let’s not fear what they fear. Instead, let us rally around the Word of God and support one another with God’s fear-crushing words.
Do you know what it feels like to be a leaf shaking in the wind? Do you, like Ahaz, sometimes tremble that way? You’re not alone. Rich Mullins, like so many Christians, felt like a leaf shaking in the wind, and wrote the following words about it. Let’s close this teaching against fear with what he said:
“Well sometimes my life just don’t make sense at all
So hold me Jesus ’cause I’m shaking like a leaf You have been King of my glory Won’t You be my Prince of Peace
And I wake up in the night and feel the dark It’s so hot inside my soul there must be blisters on my heart
So hold me Jesus ’cause I’m shaking like a leaf You have been King of my glory Won’t You be my Prince of Peace
Surrender don’t come natural to me I’d rather fight You for something I don’t really want Than to take what You give that I need And I’ve beat my head against so many walls Now I’m falling down I’m falling on my knees
And this Salvation Army band is playing this hymn And Your grace rings out so deep It makes my resistance seem so thin
I’m singing hold me Jesus ’cause I’m shaking like a leaf You have been King of my glory Won’t You be my Prince of Peace
You have been King of my glory Won’t You be my Prince of Peace”
Maturity Is Suffering Well
This morning I sat across the table from a charismatic faith healer. He excitedly told a story of encountering a paraplegic in a park. As his story goes, back then, he was not yet mature in his belief that “it is always God’s will to heal; healing in this life is promised in the atonement; we just need to grow in faith to be able to receive it.” So, when he saw the man in the wheelchair, he couldn’t muster the courage to approach. However, after passing the man several times as he strolled his laps around the park, like a vulture circling his prey, he finally garnered the intestinal fortitude to descend upon the man and offer to heal him in Jesus’ name.
The man welcomed the idea. So the faith healer took off on what would be his first adventure in trying to offer the prayer of faith. He prayed and prayed. But the man wasn’t healed. The faith healer was temporarily disheartened. What he saw with his eyes didn’t seem to match what he believed in his heart. As the faith healer eventually got in his car and drove away, he comforted himself with a thought: “I could see in the man’s eyes that I offered him hope of being healed and that was what he needed that day.” I wonder if the look in that man’s eyes changed as hope faded while he watched the faith healer drive off into the distance.
Another proponent of this kind of faith healing, Steven Furtick, the popular pastor of Elevation Church, wrongly interprets Mark 6:5 in a way that lends itself to incidents like the one in the park. Says Furtick,
“The power of God was in Jesus, the healing power of God, the restoring power of God, the same power that made demons flee was in Nazareth, but Jesus could not release it. Because it was trapped in their unbelief. And there’s one thing that even Jesus can’t do. One thing that even the son of God can’t do. Even Jesus cannot override your unbelief. I see y’all looking at me like, ‘Is that true? I thought He could do anything.’ It said, ‘He could not.’ He wanted to. He was prepared to. He was able to. The power of God was in Nazareth, but it was trapped in their perspective.”
The Greek word in Mark 6:5 is edynato, which is a negation of dynato, meaning power. Edynato does indeed mean “to not have the power” or “to not be able”. But in what sense? Hebrews 13:8 teaches us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever,” so there is never any want of power within Himself. He was every bit as powerful on that day in his hometown of Nazareth as He is any day and anywhere else in the Universe. We’re talking about the One through whom all things were made (Hebrews 1:2).
To be “not able” in Mark 6:5 referred to submission to the will of the Father, a will He also shared. It didn’t refer to subservience to the will of the men of Nazareth. It was the Father’s will in Mark 6 to pass over the wicked hearts of the people of Nazareth. Jesus “could do no mighty work there” only in the sense that God did not will to grace them with sign gifts to confirm Jesus’ messianic claim. His purpose was often to do miracles in the presence of faith, and in this particular case, He purposed to meet a lack of faith with an absence of miracles. It was His divine prerogative, not a constraint external to Himself, that limited Him from doing mighty works there.
Jesus didn’t marvel at their unbelief because His usually reliable superpowers were suddenly neutered by their kryptonite-like unbelief. Jesus marveled that the people who watched him for decades as He lived among them still didn’t recognize His true identity. Indeed, apart from the miraculous lifting of the veil (2 Corinthians 3:14-4:6), no one sees Him for who He is. It’s amazing how blind all people are apart from grace. The real miracle is that He ever chooses to open the blind eyes of underserving people like ourselves.
“Growing in faith to receive your miracle” is not a biblical description of spiritual maturity. Growing in faith does not mean increasing in ability to receive what God “wants to give” but which He is somehow prevented from giving on account of human unbelief.
Here’s a better definition of maturity: suffering well. God has dominion over all things, including our suffering (1 Peter 1:1,6,7,10-12, 3:17, 4:11, 4:19, 5:11). Suffering is for a little while, whereas glory in Christ is for eternity (1 Peter 1:4,13,24, 4:13, 5:10). Growing in grace by taking to heart apostolic teachings, like those of 1 Peter, is the true path to spiritual maturity.
Studying “the will of God” in 1 Peter is very helpful along these lines. “Thelema” is used 4 times (2:15, 3:17, 4:2, 4:19). The usages alternate between 2 different senses in which God has a “will”. The revealed will of God (2:15, 4:2) are the prescriptions of God that we are commanded to live by. These are the things that are revealed to us. It’s our job to obey His will, in this commanding sense of the word. The secret will of God (3:17, 4:19) refers to God’s decree. This includes everything that God has determined to come to pass. We don’t live with knowledge of such things (like the identity of the elect, the day of our death, whether or not God will heal a particular ailment). That’s why we call it the “secret” will of God, drawing on language from Deuteronomy 29:29. It’s our job to trust His will, in this sovereignty sense of the word (James 4:15).
Spiritual maturity means living according to the revealed will of God while trusting Him with His secret will. Rather than fretting all the time about whatever circumstances God will allow to come into our lives, maturity is concerned about pursuing holiness. Holiness is not an option, but a command, a necessity, and a joy (1 Peter 1:13-21, 2:11-12, 4:1-6). This, I think, is the kind of growth in the faith that Peter was concerned that we have. Grow in godliness by the pure milk of the Word (1 Peter 2:2).
My paralyzed Uncle Herb was, in my estimation, one of the most mature Christians on earth during his latter decades on earth. He never mustered faith to receive a healing. He trusted God’s plan, even where that plan included suffering. He remained joyful. He used to write out copies of the Bible by hand. He prayed unceasingly. He went around town in his wheelchair evangelizing whomever he could. He watched and waited for the second coming of Jesus. Strive for that kind of maturity.
Thankful in 2020
The human frame was not made to live in constant crisis mode. Adrenaline can give a needed boost in the event of a crisis, but adrenaline is a toxin in the system if it pulses there for too long. Living in perpetual crisis mode is sure to produce anxiety problems and may even result in emotional or physical breakdown.
Somehow I suspect the media isn’t worried about our wellbeing. They have news to sell, and nothing sells like a crisis. In 2020, they had four major ones for sale. Let’s consider these in a better light. Let’s ditch crisis mode in favor of giving thanks.
First, the media has been offering Covid-19 for sale as a crisis. To be fair, when it first arrived, it looked like it might be a crisis. Here was a highly contagious airborne virus that killed 3% to 10% of those who contracted it. But when the data came in, that estimation steadily diminished, first by a factor of 2, then by a factor of 5, then of 10, and now of over 100 (the mortality rate is now hovering somewhere around .1%). Average life expectancy in the USA was 70 in 1960; It was 78 in 2018 and 2019, and it’s 78 in 2020. Imagine that! The year 2020 hasn’t reduced life expectancy to year 2000 levels (77 years), 1990 levels (75 years), 1980 levels (74 years), 1970 levels (71 years), let alone 1960 levels or the twenty-some-odd years people were expected to live during the Black Plague. Christians should receive this news with an “amen, praise the Lord, Hallelujah”, but the media may never come out of their crisis mode.
Second, the media is offering Racial Injustice for sale as a crisis. Everyone agreed on who had the most punchable face in America when that man knelt on another man’s neck for over 8 agonizing minutes. But the media discovered a way to transpose that face over the faces of every cop in America. Then it was every “white” face in America. Racial grievance replaced sports as the hottest ticket in town. “White Fragility” became the biggest book of 2020 and even many churches jumped on the bandwagon, promoting books like Nathasha Morrison’s “Be The Bridge”. But Christians already have a Bridge. His Name is Jesus. His finished work already destroyed every racial dividing wall of hostility. He already made us into a new race in Himself, where there is no Jew or Greek, slave or free, or any such derogatory thing as “white” or “people of color”. Christians should receive this news with an “amen, praise the Lord, Hallelujah”, but the media may never come out of their crisis mode.
Third, the media is offering Climate Change for sale as a crisis. There have been wildfires in California, an unusually high number of hurricanes, and there may even be evidence of a degree or two variation in average global temperatures in recent decades. But Christians know the God who controls fire, wind, and air. We know that He promised to never again destroy the world with a flood. And since shoreline real estate in Florida hasn’t gone down in value after all these years of the media’s fear-mongering, it appears that even the free market knows what’s really not likely to happen. Christians, of all people, should be saying “amen, praise the Lord, Hallelujah”, but the media may never come out of their crisis mode.
Fourth, the media is offering The Election for sale as a crisis. It’s the end of the world as we know it, or so they would have us believe. But Christians know the God who turns the heart of King like a watercourse. We know that God wrote US history and no matter how the media tries to rewrite what has already happened in the past, what God has written for the future is sure to come to pass. Amen. Praise the Lord. Hallelujah.
The media may never come out of their crisis mode. Indeed, they make more money when they amp things up. Maybe that’s why a lot of people look at me strange when I say that I’ve loved the year 2020. To me, the four so-called crises of 2020 never looked the part. They never really got my adrenaline up. It’s not that I simply said “meh”, indifferent to the suffering of others. Rather, I didn’t buy the media narrative that each of these things were existential threats. I wasn’t indifferent this year; I actually did quite a bit of speaking out in 2020. It’s just that what I said usually cut in the opposite direction of what the media was trying to sell. I ran the data through the filter of God’s Word. Then I refuted the narratives that contradicted the Biblical worldview. And I wasn’t the only one. Cornerstone Church has taken this approach throughout 2020. It is the way of thankfulness over against the media’s crisis and grievance industry. The waters of thankfulness are pleasant, and we hope you’ll join us here.
Stop judging. Jesus taught that, so it’s really important to stop judging. Judge. Jesus said we should judge right after He said not to judge, so it’s really important to judge. How can these things be?
It turns out that the Lord means for us to stop judging “by mere appearances” and, instead, “judge with right judgment” (John 7:24). That makes sense. We’ll make wrong judgments if we jump to conclusions, but we’re going to need to make a lot of judgments just to exist in this world, so the real issue is our moral obligation to make right judgments.
So, that leads to the question I would like to address: “Are Christians judgmental?“. I’m writing this article to those who answer “yes”, because, in my judgment, those who accuse Christians of being judgmental are themselves judging by mere appearances. If you say “Christians are judgmental”, here’s why you should stop with that, and receive the good news that follows.
To prove the point that judging is necessary, consider the judgments you are making right now as you read. “Do I like this article? Is it worth reading, or is it too long? Do I care what this guy has to say?”
Rest assured, you began forming your judgments about this article the moment you began to read and synapses began firing in your brain. It’s likely you even had your mind made up about this article—whether or not you generally approve of it—before you began to read it, based upon who the author is to you. If I were your pastor, and you voluntarily sat under my teaching of God’s Word on a weekly basis, then you would be largely predisposed to judge this to be a trustworthy article. But my intended audience here is those who happen to think that Christians tend to be judgmental people, so some of your judgment of this article is based upon judgments you formed about me as a Christian even before you started reading the article.
Now, to label someone “judgmental” is to criticize their character. The adjectival form of the noun “judgment” is not merely a statement of the fact that the person makes judgments, which is only a function of having a brain. To call someone a “judgmental Christian” doesn’t mean that this Christian is able to decide between different brands of orange juice at the grocery store. It means that this Christian has the morally repugnant tendency of looking down upon others who hold views different than their own. Judgmental connotes a major character flaw.
So, for the sake of all that is tolerant and woke, may I ask you to open your mind for this 5-minute read? Perhaps the narrative that “Christians are judgmental” is a mere judgement by appearance. If, in your judgment, Christians are judgmental, I’m asking you to not follow your heart on this one (Numbers 15:39), but read on, because the narrative isn’t right, and I can prove it. If you’re concerned to not be judgmental yourself, stop judging by mere appearances and judge with right judgment.
Let me begin by agreeing that Christians make a lot of unpopular judgments:
Non-Christian religions are false.
LGBTQ behaviors are sinful.
Heterosexual behaviors outside of marriage are sinful.
Socialism is evil.
Abortion is murder.
These judgments are hard, but are Christians judgmental for making them? Before shouting “Yes!” at your cell phone or computer, reserve your judgment until you’ve heard my side of the story. Due process demands that you do. “The one who states his case first seems right, until the other comes and examines him” (Proverbs 18:17). You’ve heard the accusation of judgmentalism levied against Christians who hold these views, but are you willing to hear our defense? We agree that these judgments are hard, but hard is not the same as judgmental.
Second, before I offer my defense, consider the kinds of judgments I am not defending:
All denominations besides mine are false.
Tattoos are inherently sinful.
All dancing is from the devil.
Drinking alcohol is always wrong.
Other races are lesser.
Sadly, there are Christians who make these judgments. That doesn’t make them judgmental. It makes them wrong—in some cases disgustingly so. I’m not here to defend them. Among the thousands of born-again evangelical Christians that I know, I can’t think of one who believes any of those 5 things. So, it’s a safe assumption that such judgments are not coming from us but are vestiges of an imperfect past or are caricatures of the kind of judgments the Christians of today make. Let’s be honest, it’s judgments like the first 5 I listed—and especially the LGBTQ one—that has the world calling Christians “judgmental” today.
Those two caveats stated, my defense to the charge that Christians are judgmental rests on the logical assertion that all moral judgment requires a standard, and Christians have the right one. To condemn anything as wrong in any way, whether it be racist, bigoted, dishonest, hateful, judgmental, or whatever, is to say that it fails to meet the standard. But by what standard are we to judge morality?
John Locke advanced the enlightenment view that has shaped the West—namely, that human reasoning—basic common sense—gives us the standard. Democracy builds on this idea by claiming that the moral sensibilities of the majority will be the standard upon which a moral society can be built. I support democracy, but after the West has just experienced the bloodiest hundred years in human history, and now with opinions of moral right and wrong more divided than ever, is the Lockian standard of morality really tenable?
Whereas enlightenment thinkers begin with the fundamental assertion that morality is based on human reasoning, Christians begin with the Bible as our moral compass. That is not to say that logic has no place in our moralizing. We believe that knowledge of right and wrong was built into the human conscience (Romans 2:15) when God made us all in His image (Genesis 1:26). But something went drastically wrong when humankind fell from innocence (Genesis 3), so the human conscience has become far from infallible. There are noetic effects to sin. We all have fallen natures, so even our ability to reason about morality is fallen, hence our need for God to tell us what is right and wrong. Since we’re made in the image of God, consciences can dole out flashes of light, but because we’re fallen creatures that are prone to corrupt thinking, only special revelation from God can light up the room.
Into the darkness of depraved humanity, God spoke His Word through the writings of prophets and apostles. That special revelation—the Old and New Testaments of the Bible—gives us God’s standard of morality. It is objective truth.
Now, before you give up on this argument for the simplistic reason that you don’t believe the Bible, consider the alternative. Apart from there being this God who has spoken, there is no such thing as morality. If humans are evolved fish that emerged without purpose from a primordial soup, then how one fish treats another fish doesn’t matter at all. Nothing is morally right or wrong in any objective sense. Furthermore, if there is a God, but that God has not spoken, then humanity would remain in just as much darkness as would be the case if there were no God at all. God’s character would in that case be the objective standard, but having no access to know what that standard is, humanity would still be groping in the dark.
So, my argument is that the Bible is the true standard of moral authority. Moreover, raising the stakes on this proposition, if the Bible were not the standard revealed by God, then there would be no knowable standard and there would be no basis for anyone ever making a moral claim. It would be meaningless to shame someone for racism, sexism, bigotry or judgmentalism. There could be no such thing—not objectively speaking. There could only be the emoting of walking fish, or a crybaby saying “I don’t like what you do”. Without the Bible, there is no standard.
If you really hate the judgmental things people say, then you better fall in love with the God who speaks. Without His Word, there is no standard, so you’re standing on mush as you push against the moral evils you see in this world. This world will feel like one frustration after another to you unless you get this footing.
For Christians to make judgments that non-Christian religions are false, LGBTQ behaviors are sinful, heterosexual behaviors outside of marriage are sinful, socialism is evil, or abortion is murder is merely to exposit what the Bible obviously says. The Bible is absolutely clear about each of these things. Anyone who disagrees about that can contact me to set up a public moderated debate where the folly of your disagreement will be shown for what it is. But the point is that Christians are merely agreeing with the standard. To make judgments based on the Bible is not judgmentalism but fidelity to the God who spoke. The standard-less accusations of those who disagree now carry the burden: By what standard are you assessing anything as morally wrong?
Therefore, seeing as how Christians are not judging by mere appearances, but are making right judgments based upon the standard of the Bible, Christians are not judgmental for espousing our unpopular views.
Those who make accusations against Christians in this regard are offered forgiveness for this on the basis of the shed blood of Jesus. Repent of this mistreatment of God’s children. Repent of violating and disparaging the law of God. Repent of autonomous reasoning that places oneself on the throne and regards the God who made you as irrelevant, like some relic of the past.
Jesus allowed Himself to be brutally beaten, mocked, ridiculed, hung upon a cross, and left to die in order to pay the penalty of sin on behalf of anyone who will turn to Him in repentance and faith. Place your faith in the resurrected Christ who offers salvation to all who repent and believe.
This offer is also extended to those who claim to be Christians but who reject the absolute authority of the Bible. It is impossible to retain Jesus while denying His Word. If His Word does not abide in you, then you do not remain in Him (John 15:7).
Perhaps you think that you became “woke”, while “fundamentalists” remain asleep. You fancy yourself to be more sophisticated and mature than “them”. But when you cut loose from Biblical authority, you lost with it everything that is genuinely Christian. How do you know that the reason for Jesus’ dying was to make propitiation? How do you know that He rose for our justification? How do you know anything about Jesus or His way of salvation apart from the Bible? You don’t. You are adrift. You no longer have a standard. You are in the same boat as the God-haters. You are adrift at sea with them, even if you think you’re retaining your Christian “tradition”. Unless you repent, you have no part with the Lord Jesus Christ.
The echo chamber of the world claims that Christians are judgmental. I ask those who make that claim to stop judging us by the subjective baseless preferences of your own random moral compass. Stop judging by mere appearance and make a right judgment.
Something is Stirring
Between the colonnades by the Sheep Gate in Jerusalem, the waters of the pool of Bethesda were quiet most of the time. Five roofs kept any rain from disturbing the water and walls kept the wind at bay. But from time to time, something stirred the water.
Was there an angel sent by God to stir the water and heal the first person who entered the pool? Or was the stirring caused by some unknown but natural source? Was the hope of healing nothing more than superstition? We are not told.
What we do know is that the pool of Bethesda had for 38 years offered not only promise but also disappointment to a certain sick man.
Jesus accomplished in the time it takes to speak a few words what the pool failed to accomplish in 38 long years. “Get up, take up your bed, and walk” said the Lord. With that, the sick man was healed.
Today, you can visit the ruins of the pool of Bethesda in Jerusalem. But we don’t need to go there to experience a supernatural touch from God.
There is a supernatural Person right here in our church. While this nation clamors about the pool, watching for the latest stir, Jesus is right here in the midst of the church, always with us. And Jesus is working in our midst…”My Father is working until now, and I am working” (John 5:17).
Do we recognize who it is that dwells among us?
Do we remember what He commissioned us to do?
Do we realize what power is available to us?
Let’s not be distracted by the stirrings of the culture in which we live. Instead, let’s look to Jesus and be stirred by His Spirit. Realize what He is doing right here and now among us.
–14 people just completed the New Member class
–27 are involved with Disciples Who Make Disciples
–14 are being discipled in Christianity 101
–new people are attending the church almost every week
–the kids and youth are growing stronger and reaching out
–new community groups and bible studies are starting
–there are short-term missions and possible long-term callings
–congregational singing has been growing stronger and stronger
The culture we live in is like the pool of Bethesda. It’s worse than that. It’s a cesspool. If you look too long at it, you’ll plunge like the sick man into the depths of despair.
But look to the King of Glory, whom the world does not recognize as He walks in our midst, and your eyes will be full of light. Keep looking and you’ll see the stirring of the water, not the water of any pool, but the Living Water that He makes well up inside of you. You’ll see that He is alive, and He is here.
Something is stirring at Cornerstone Church. It is the supernatural touch of Jesus. Come Sunday with an expectant heart, with eagerness to plunge into the water of His grace.