All posts by Philip

Evening Thoughts (Saved From Death = Boundless Mercy)

Saved From Death = Boundless Mercy

No doubt many of my kind readers read the title and thought something along the lines of, “Well this will be a PB 101 writing on God’s sovereign grace and salvation of sinners from hell to heaven’s pure world.” While we rejoice to know that the Bible teaches that God did indeed redeem His family from the curse of sin, death, hell, and the grave to an eternity of majesty and excellence, this writing is not about that. Rather, my mind has become fascinated with a thought that proves to me just how little I know about the depths of God’s mercy. We know they’re new every morning. Right? Right! (Lamentations 3:22-23) We know His love never ends. Right? Right! (Jeremiah 31:3) So with knowledge of a never-ending love with a constant refreshing of mercy, how do we shortchange it? We may understand – in concept – the breadth and length of it, but I have failed time and again to give anything close to an accurate depth of it. So, kind reader, will you take a plunge with me?

Starting at the top, we understand that every sin of every child of God was laid upon the lovely head of our Saviour when He hung on Calvary’s cruel cross. (I Peter 2:24) Just typing that sentence is hard to bear, and the scope of it is completely incomprehensible to me. Yet, it is true that an innumerable host of sins from an innumerable host of people was borne by One some 2,000 years ago. Yes, that is mercy beyond compare, and grace far more abounding over sin! Because of that, we shall live with Him in glory some sweet day. “Wait! Wait! You said this was not going to be a PB 101 writing, right?” Right! Consider this groundwork. Because all of our sins were laid upon Him, He has already paid for things we have not yet done. Our future transgressions are already covered since He has the foresight to understand all that needed to be paid for. (Hebrews 4:13)

So, let’s lay some more groundwork to get to the thought that has fascinated and itched all along our brain. Sometimes as we age, we can look back and see ways that the Lord blessed us, spared us, etc. that we may not have known at the time. The only way I am alive today and made through my “dicey years” is by the grace of God. Like Paul, I continue to this very hour by that help. (Acts 26:22) Could we possibly know how many times our lives have been spared from natural death by God’s grace and providence? David said there was but a step between him and death. Every moment, breath, and heartbeat could be the last. On the highways and byways of life, jeopardy is on every hand. Yet, God’s mercy is seen daily when we live to rise for the day and lay down to close a day.

During my teenage years, I did a lot of really foolish things. The Lord spared me. By sparing me, the following has happened. Hopefully, I’ve learned from those years, but since my teenage years, I’ve done more foolish things. None of those foolish things would have happened had my life ended years ago. By sparing my life, the Lord took on more debit in my life because my sins have continued as well. Careless, idle words, wicked passions, hurtful actions, and the like have mounted over the years. All of those would be non-existent if my life had ceased! The Lord spared my life knowing full well how many more sins would come forth! He did it anyway, and further still, His Son died for them all those years ago!

Consider when King Hezekiah was told he would die. (Isaiah 38) Through prayer and supplication, the Lord turned the sickness and added 15 years to his life. The great sin that Hezekiah committed in the very next chapter (Isaiah 39) would not have happened. The son that reigned after him (Manasseh) was very wicked. This son reigned for 55 years (the longest in Judah’s history). How old was he when he took the throne? 12! Had Hezekiah’s life ended, Manasseh’s would never have happened! Therefore, the debit of not only Hezekiah’s future sins but also all of Manasseh’s wicked reign were taken on by God by sparing Hezekiah’s life. What depths of mercy and heights of love!

When the Apostle Peter was sinking in the waves of the sea, he cried out for the Lord to save him (Matthew 14). The Lord did. If he had not spared Peter, there would not have been 3 denials from Peter in the night of Jesus’s betrayal. All of Peter’s future thoughtless words would not have happened. The Omniscient One knew all this would come, and yet He spared Peter regardless. The times that the Apostles were in jeopardy in the book of Acts and received a natural deliverance is a testament to God’s boundless mercy. Yet, that mercy came with the knowledge of multiplied transgressions held in future days.

More examples could be given, but kind reader how deep are these depths? The songwriter once said of God’s love, “Could we with ink the ocean fill, and were the skies of parchment made, to write the love of God above would drain the ocean dry, nor could the scroll contain the whole though stretched from sky to sky.” Another songwriter wrote, “This Cornerstone, this Solid Ground, Firm through the fiercest drought and storm. What heights of love, what depths of peace, When fears are stilled, when strivings cease.” I have stood amazed at the mercy of God for quite some time now. However, the more I learn of it, the more I wonder how much of it I really understand or even comprehend.

If you knew what someone would do to you – good and bad – for the rest of your life, it would likely affect your present actions towards them. Right? Right! If you knew that someone’s life could be better off by passing from the scene before they torched their own memory and good legacy, you might pray for such a deliverance. Right? Right! Yet, God knowing all these things and more, continually takes on the extra debit every moment of time He spares our life, breath, and being. What a boundless storehouse of mercy and love. To know the fulness of things like this in heaven with be grounds for ceaseless and perfect praise, which we will spend an eternity giving Him. May we begin anew to thank Him for kindnesses even today that exceed anything we could possibly comprehend. As another songwriter said, “Hallelujah! What a Saviour!”

In Hope,
Bro Philip

Evening Thoughts (What in the World Is All This?)

(Author’s Note: Since many of you have responded to my writings with questions about the hymnal we put together “Worship the King,” I am thankful to mention to you that the books are available and for sale. You can order them through our website at wtkhymnal.org)

What in the World Is All This?

Language is such a natural part of our lives that we many times don’t think about where things come from or how things are commonly used. For example, have you ever thought about sayings and clich├ęs like “I’m so hungry I could eat a horse” or “That’s too much sugar to make a dime.”? They are thrown about so commonly we don’t think about what they say in literal sense. Yet, when taken literally, many of these things could be considered absurd and ridiculous. And yet – funny enough – when we read the Scriptures, too many theological fancies have come about by not granting the same latitude when considering language. It has never ceased to amaze me that people will try to fable-ize Genesis 1 when the language is literal in scope (the evening and the morning were the 1st day, etc.) and then try to literal-ize the book of Revelation when the language is symbolic in scope (1,000 years, etc.).

When at least an equal sense of latitude is given to Scripture as we would our common expressions, I believe we will step into less theological black holes. For example, the word “world” is likely as misapplied as any word in Scripture due to the repetitious usage of the verse John 3:16. It is not only expressions that have multiple senses but singular words do as well. If I used the word “trunk” or “country,” you would need context to know if I was talking about a suitcase, elephant’s snout, base of a tree, or back of a car with the former and nationality, geographical area, or rural surroundings with the latter. Context matters, and language is a wonderful thing with flavors, nuances, and layers of usage.

So, now you ask me – kind reader – “What in the world is all this you are talking about?” How nice of you to inquire! And in pun as well! Consider the word “world” as we would consider the words “trunk” or “country.” At times the word might mean the globe on which we dwell. At others, it might refer to people in the earth, and yet at others, it might describe influences and manners that are observed and found. Scripture highlights these usages quite clearly with the proper context, and therefore, a verse like John 3:16 can be reasoned through with context, Scripture comparison, and a little common sense thrown in.

John 3:16 cannot use the word world to mean the globe itself based on the language of II Peter 3. Peter describes in some detail how the Lord will set fire to the globe itself and burn it up with the contents in it. This will happen in a moment, and all things still within this globe will dissolve forever. Does this sound like the action of a benevolent God toward that which He loves? Common sense answers that handily.

John 3:16 cannot refer to influences and manners due to the language of the verse itself. Too many verses in Scripture talk of Christ’s death fulfilling His Father’s will to be for people and not objects or intangible influences. Not only that, but John tells us in I John 2 that there are many influences in the world that are “not of the Father:” the lust of the eyes, the lust of the flesh, and the pride of life.

Therefore, we are left with the definition of world from this verse to mean people. So, the simple proposition becomes, what people? Is it some or all? Another simple Scripture comparison should answer this from later in the same book (John 17:9). Jesus says He prays for “them” and not the “‘world.” He then distinguishes who “them” are by describing them as those the Father gave Him. Therefore, the “world” from this verse could not possibly be the same people that God loved in John 3:16. What kind of sense would it make that Christ/God would love someone He wouldn’t pray for? Again, common sense answers that handily.

So, now I ask you – kind reader – what in the world is all this? What we have attempted to do above is hopefully logical, easy to follow, and above all sound. What makes it so difficult for so many to see? Is it simply a matter of revelation? (Matthew 11:25) Is it a failure to understand rules and usage of language? Is it a lack of common sense? I am no expert, but I suspect it is a combination of all, and with current cultural observation the latter 2 factors sadly become more common. As an engineer in my secular occupation, I am not expected to know a lot about language, and many of my peers seem amazed at my vocabulary and knowledge of language. I have tried to tell them numerous times that regular, devoted Bible reading can do more for that than other things I know. Sadly, I have observed trends where knowledge of language and understanding of its layers degrades as time marches on.

Now, what in the world do we do? I can think of no better method than to pray for those that God loved so much that His Son died for them if peradventure God may give them a little enlightening and refreshing down within their souls. Perhaps we may be the very tools He utilizes to assist them in coming to proper conclusions based on what the Scriptures teach. It has been and I hope will continue to be my fervent prayer that God would strengthen and add to Zion. Not for our glory, but for the edification of His dear people and the ultimate glory of His good name. While the world will one day be on fire and all the worldly influences gone forever, I’m supremely thankful to belong to a world of people “so loved” and adored by He who needs nothing that He gave everything for that world so that they would live forever at home with Him.

In Hope,
Bro Philip