Friday, September 14, 2007

Jesus Stood the Test

A few days ago, I ran across a post that I thought was rather, well, a bit odd. The question was, "How long should deceased preachers be on the radio? "

I thought to myself, how long is too long? Especially if the preacher was a "giant" of his day (like J. Vernon McGee and the recently deceased D. James Kennedy)? What does it matter if we continue to hear the voices (via radio or cd) of these great preachers and evangelists long after they have gone to be with the Lord?

It's ironic. The author of that article (at twothree.net) provides his own good reason why great preachers should have their work continually available when he stated:



"I began to think of the other deceased guys who are on the radio - like Adrian Rogers, who died this past year, and whom I only recently discovered, and enjoy immensely." (bold mine)


There. We have the perfect reason for Christian radio to continue to broadcast the classic preachers. There will always be a new person and generation who may only "recently discover" them.

This week, I began reading a book called Jesus: Centerpiece of Scripture. It is a compilation gathered by the book's editor (Trude Cutler) of J. Vernon McGee's messages which had been preserved on audio cassettes.

The editor writes:



"May the Holy Spirit push back the clouds and open our minds and hearts to continually grow in the knowledge and appreciation of this wonderful Person--Jesus, the centerpiece of Scripture. ---Trude Cutler, Editor"


Push back the clouds.

Open our minds and hearts.

Continually grow in the knowledge and appreciation of Jesus.

Jesus - the centerpiece of Scripture.

That is surely a great title, for it is true that, as Jesus himself declared in John 5, "the Scriptures... testify of Me."

Jhn 5:36 But I have greater witness than [that] of John: for the works which the Father hath given me to finish, the same works that I do, bear witness of me, that the Father hath sent me.


Jhn 5:37 And the Father himself, which hath sent me, hath borne witness of me. Ye have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his shape.


Jhn 5:38 And ye have not his word abiding in you: for whom he hath sent, him ye believe not.


Jhn 5:39 Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. (bold mine)


Jhn 5:40 And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.


Jhn 5:41 I receive not honour from men.


Jhn 5:42 But I know you, that ye have not the love of God in you.


Jhn 5:43 I am come in my Father's name, and ye receive me not: if another shall come in his own name, him ye will receive.


Jhn 5:44 How can ye believe, which receive honour one of another, and seek not the honour that [cometh] from God only?

Powerful words from Jesus, himself!

When I first started reading this book, I felt as though I had heard most of it before. I also saw McGee's wording and teaching a bit "old school." But when I got to chapter 4, Why Jesus Was Tempted, I received so much more illumination into the meaning of why Jesus was tempted with those exact temptations than I had learned before; despite the fact that I have attended several previous Bible studies that touched on this very subject..

It is so true. I can never claim to have "arrived" in knowing all there is to know about God's Word! No one can! That is why we have this family of believers, each with their own gifts, to share insight into God's Word with others and illuminate our minds to become more and more in tune with the mind of our Savior, Jesus Christ. As Paul eloquently tells us in 1 Corinthians, [we] have "the mind of Christ."

1Cr 2:16 For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

McGee:


We are told in 1 Corinthians 15:47 that "the first man was of the earth, made of dust; the second Man is the Lord from heaven." But out there in the wilderness we find the Lord from heaven down yonder where it's earthy, laying hold of humanity's problems. he is down on the level where we are, and here God the Son won a victory for mankind - for you and for me - in the temptation.


If you saw the movie, "The Passion of the Christ," you would have noticed that Jesus was often surrounded by the powers of darkness and destruction; and, we saw Him grappling with the basic problems of mankind.

The book of Luke 3:23-38 gives Jesus' genealogy that goes all the way back to Adam. Then, the temptation of our Lord is given, for He was a man, and as a man, He "was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin" (Hebrews 4:15)

McGee:


Note that Jesus was "led of the Spirit" in Luke 4:1 - Then Jesus, being filled with the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit into the wilderness.


McGee continues to inform us that if Jesus needed to be "filled with the Holy Spirit," then you and I cannot face the temptations of this world in our own strength! Even Paul mentions that when he "wanted to do good, evil is right there."

Can anyone relate to this? I should say, can anyone not relate to this?

In Romans 8:3,4 Paul states, "For what the law could not do in that it was weak through the flesh, God did by sending His own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, on account of sin: He condemned sin in the flesh, that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us who do not walk according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

McGee:


Paul found out that in and of himself he could not live the Christian life at all. He could not meet and grapple with the issues of life, for in his flesh there was nothing good. And even though Paul approved of the Law, he was unable to keep it because of weakness of the flesh. But he found out that by walking in the Spirit of God he was enabled to live for God. That's the reason he could write to the Galatians:

I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and you shall not fulfill the lust [the desire] of the flesh. (Galatians 5:16)


Knowing that our Lord was filled with the Holy Spirit before He entered the wilderness gives us the ultimateclue that we need in order to fight against temptation in our Christian walk so as not to "fulfill the lusts of the flesh."

It is interesting to note that in the Greek, the word "drove" is ekballo,(from Mark 1:12) which means "to throw out." The Holy Spirit threw Jesus out into the wilderness. Jesus did not seek the temptation.

McGee:


His (Jesus') attitude at the time of the temptation was the same as it was yonder in the Garden of Gethsemane when He prayed, "Let this cup pass from Me."

Any person in the flesh today, in the battles of life, is foolish to say that he can meet temptation and come off the victor. Even our Lord prayed, "Let this cup pass from Me." But He also hastened to add, "Nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will" (Matthew 26:39).


Because the chapter is long, I will need to skip over some of what is written. However, in the subtitled section called, "Satanic Purpose," McGee points out that Luke 4:2 tells us that Jesus was tempted in every way (Luke 4:13) and when the devil had departed from Him, it was until an opportune time. The theme, so to speak, of the temptation was to offer Jesus "the crown without the cross." And, when Jesus asked the Father, "take this cup away from Me" the "cup" was to be that of His suffering when He was to be made sin for us.

McGee:


He committed Himself to His Father's will, although bearing your sin and mine was so repulsive to Him.


McGee goes on to describe that the three temptations described in Luke 4 are:
1. Physical temptation
2. An appeal to the mind
3. And in the realm of the spirit

In Luke 4:3, where Satan tempts Jesus to "command this stone to become bread," McGee states:


What's wrong with our Lord making the stones into bread? Well, my beloved, the wrong thing was that it exemplified Satan's philosophy, which is still in existence today and by which most men live. It's simply this: A man must live, and in order to live he must eat.


McGee goes on to stress that we live in a satanic society where people would do just about anything for a dollar because they've got to eat. Sell drugs, participate in illicit sex, steal, gamble, rape, murder...you name it.

McGee:


And, what's worse, this is Satan's low estimate of the human family. He has nothing but utter contempt for us today! Why in the world would we serve him when he absolutely despises us? He said in Job 2:4, "All that a man has he will give for his life." The inference is that man is physical, only an animal, that's all. But Satan was wrong about Job. Now listen to our Lord as He answers him.

But Jesus answered him, saying, "It is written, 'Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word of God." (Luke 4:4)

Our Lord uses the sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. Then He makes this statement, that man is more than physical. After man has satisfied his hunger and he's slaked his thirst and he's dressed up like a peacock; down deep underneath there's still that which needs to be satisfied. He is more than physical. He's more than an animal.


How many people do you think are distracted today by all things physical, simply ignoring the fact that they are, more importantly, spiritual beings in need of The Savior? Could they be missing the fact that in all their running "to and fro," their restless hearts still need to be reconciled back to God?

Just this morning, I heard about how many women are addicted to shopping. They get themselves into so much debt (one racked up over $50,000 worth of credit card debt!!) that they can't even pay the minimum charges each month. Just how many clothes does one need, anyway? Could it be that they are substituting that "thrill" of buying new clothes for that deep, nagging desire of the soul that only God can fill? You could apply any type of addiction here. Most of the time, you will find that they are obsessed because of that hole in their heart which can only be mended and made whole through Jesus Christ!

McGee:


Nothing in the world can satisfy the human heart except the Word of God. [He emphasizes "restless mulititudes rush to and fro in this world, traveling everywhere.] If I could only get somewhere else, maybe I'd be satisfied." My friend, you will never be satisfied except with the Word of God. Nothing else will satisfy you.


McGee:

Will you notice the second temptation. It's psychological. Its appeal is to the mind.

Luk 4:5 Then the devil, taking Him up on a high mountain, showed Him[fn4] all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.

Luk 4:6 And the devil said to Him, "All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish.

Luk 4:7 "Therefore, if You will worship before me, all will be Yours."



What is Satan really saying to our Lord? His implication is this: "You are on the way to the throne, and I know You are going by way of the Cross. I have a detour for You. You can miss the horror of the Cross and come to the throne without the Cross." May I say to you, that is without doubt the most satanic insinuation in the world. This same appeal to the mind has gotten into the pulpits of America today, that we should be intellectual, that we should not preach the death of Christ, that the cross of Christ should not be held up. Yet the most brilliant of them all came yonder to Corinth, the city that boasted of its Greek philosophy. This man Paul, who knew their philosophy better than they knew it, came and said to them:

For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified. (1 Corinthians 2:2)

And he said:

For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing. (1 Corinthians 1:18)

Paul preaches the Cross because it is necessary for your salvation and mine. There's no other way. No other way.


McGee mentions a missionary named Dr. Edward Judson who observed, "My father suffered greatly in Burma, and as a result there has come into existence all these great missionary agencies of this day." And then he made this remarkable statement: "If you get anything without suffering, it's because somebody else suffered for you. And if you suffer and do not succeed, somebody else will get something because you suffered."

McGee:


Oh, what a glorious, wonderful truth that is. It contradicts the philosophy of Satan: "Miss the Cross; You don't need the Cross - its not essential. You can come to the throne without the Cross." Our Lord said, and will you notice this:

And Jesus answered and said to him, "Get behind Me, Satan! For it is written, 'You shall worship the LORD your God, and Him only you shall serve.'" (Luke 4:8)

Oh, Satan left out something. Satan said, "If You will worship me only for a moment, I'll give You the kingdom." Our Lord said in effect, "You left out something. You cannot worship without serving. If I worship you, I'll serve you. And we are to worship God only, and Him only are we to serve."


Oh man, is that some good word or what?? Sent chills down my spine to see the subtlety, yet enormously negative results, that would occur through Satan's twisting of Scripture in order to make us fall for his deceptions! But wait...it gets even better...

McGee:


May I say to you, this is a mistake that even some Christians are making today. They think they can serve God on Sunday, and maybe through certain Christian agencies, but that they can live their own lives to suit themselves. My friend, you cannot do that. It's impossible. Listen to Paul in Romans 6:16:

Do you not know that to whom you present yourselves slaves to obey, you are that one's slaves whom you obey, whether of sin leading to death, or of obedience leading to righteousness?

Don't you know, my friend, that whomever you obey, whatever livery or uniform you ward, you are the servant of that one? If you are serving sin, then sin is your master. Don't fool yourself.


Ahhh!!! That's an awesome "the truth will set you free" piece of Christian apologetics for you right there!!

McGee:


My friend, today when you serve sin, sin is your master. Our Lord says you are to worship only God, and Him only are you to serve. You can't worship Him without serving Him. And if you're serving sin you cannot worship God.


The third area of Satan's attack is spiritual. Notice verse 9 in Luke 4:


Then he [Satan] brought Him to Jerusalem, set Him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to Him, "If You are the Son of God, throw Yourself down from here."

And now listen to the old rascal. He becomes pious; he knows a verse or two of Scripture also.

"For it is written:

'He shall give His angels charge over you,
To keep you,'
and,
'In their hands they shall bear you up,
Lest you dash your foot against a stone.'"
(Luke 4:10,11)

Satan moves not in the realm of the spirit - actually the realm of faith. "Do the spectacular! Demonstrate that You are the Son of God. Show them! Prove it to them, then they'll accept You, they'll believe You."

Eve looked at the forbidden tree, and the third thing she noticed was that it was designed to make one wise. Apparently she thought, "I'll be a little smarter than I am today by eating the fruit of that tree" - esoteric! "I'll get something that will lift me up" -the pride of life.

May I say to you that Satan can quote Scripture, and it was Shakespeare who said that the devil can quote Scripture for his own purpose. I ordinarily agree with Shakespeare, but he's wrong there. The devil can never quote Scripture for his purpose, but he certainly can misquote it for his purpose, and he did misquote it here. He left out that which was all-important--that is, he didn't fully quote the verse: "He shall give His angels charge over you, to keep you in all your ways" (Psalm 91:11, italics added). He left out the final four words. God the Father had a way for His Son, and it was not God's way for Him to throw Himself down from the temple. Oh, one of these days Christ will come in the clouds of glory, but it will be in accordance with the Father's will. Now it is not God's will. Faith is our quietly waiting upon God, doing His will.

You know, friend, for you and for me there are two great dangers today. We always think of unbelief being the great danger. Actually, that's not the only danger. The danger on the other side is presumption. Anyone today who will stick his hand in a sack of rattlesnakes and say "God can keep me from harm" is a fool. He is presuming upon God. Couldn't our Lord Jesus cast Himself down from the temple without harm? He certainly could! Why didn't He? Because He was moving by faith. In other words, Satan was saying, "No longer trust Him. Don't go in all His ways, go in Your own way now."

It's an awful thing to see folks moving in these two directions, unbelief on one hand and presuming upon God on the other. It's frightful today.

[W]hat right has little man to presume upon God and command Him to do anything? Our Lord can keep us in all His ways, and we are to walk in faith, but let's not presume on Him, my beloved. Unbelief is a danger, but presumption is a danger also.

Why Was Jesus Tested?

Jesus was tested, first of all, to demonstrate that we have an impeccable Savior. I have One today in whom I can have utmost confidence. He's able to save to the uttermost. All power, He said, was given to Him in heaven and in earth. I have that kind of Savior. He stood the test.

And second, there is a Man in glory today, at this very moment, who knows me and sympathizes with me. And when I go down through the darkness of this life and come to the battles I must fight and to that place where I cannot win in my own strength, Christ Jesus is there for me, and He knows me; He understands.

[H]ow wonderful that I have an Advocate with the Father, wonderful that when I need somebody to understand me and to help me, He's up there for me! My friend, though the whole world would turn against you today, if you are His, He's for you. And it is because He went yonder through the evil darkness of that satanic temptation on our behalf. Out in the wilderness He faced what I face and you face. Then He went to the Cross to die a death that you and I cannot go through!


The King of love my Shepherd is,
Whose goodness faileth never,
I nothing lack if I am His
And He is mine forever.

Where streams of living water flow
My ransomed soul He leadeth,
And where the verdant pastures grow,
With food celestial feedeth.

Perverse and foolish oft I strayed,
But yet in love He sought me,
And on His shoulder gently laid,
And home, rejoicing, brought me.

In death’s dark vale I fear no ill
With Thee, dear Lord, beside me;
Thy rod and staff my comfort still,
Thy cross before to guide me.

Thou spread’st a table in my sight;
Thy unction grace bestoweth;
And O what transport of delight
From Thy pure chalice floweth!

And so through all the length of days
Thy goodness faileth never;
Good Shepherd, may I sing Thy praise
Within Thy house forever.

- Henry W. Baker
*******
Resource: Jesus: Centerpiece of Scripture, by J. Vernon McGee, Thomas Nelson, Inc., Publishers, 1996 pp. 46-70

6 comments:

Susan Smith said...

Dear Christine:

This is a good post to end the week. It is nice to read as we bring in Shabbat.

Shabbat Shalom and much love to you and your family. (ss)

Doug said...

Great post! Classic ministries are like classic songs -- you don't get tired of hearing them over and over again. An no matter how many times you've heard it, there's always somebody who's hearing it for the first time.

Jaded said...

I'm not sure why anyone would want to stop broadcasting the messages of popular preachers just because they're dead. The message isn't dead...the need to hear the message isn't dea. The Bible is thousands of years old, and we still read that. Why silence the message just because the messenger has gone on to be with God?

Doesn't make any sense to me.

Christinewjc said...

IMO, the blogger named "seeker" who had posted the questions seems to be young and possibly could be a new believer.

The church he/she attends could have something to do with it, too.

Here are the questions posted over there. Anyone care answer them here?

seeker wrote:
So I guess that as long as people support them, they'll be on the radio. But that brings up some other interesting questions:

* are they keeping good, living teachers off of the radio?

* while radio may be fine, is it creepy to keep playing their videos on tv after they are dead?

* should their ministries shift or diminish as new leadership emerges or fails to?

* should ministries go on forever?

Who else is still on radio or tv, but now dead?


That last question is easy. Thousands of people appear in films on TV who had died many years ago. If it doesn't make a difference to the acting industry, why be concerned about radio or tv ministries?

seeker said...

Christin wrote: IMO, the blogger named "seeker" who had posted the questions seems to be young and possibly could be a new believer.

I am neither young (42) nor a new believer (21 years). I am also a pastor intern at my church.

But the reason I brought it up is that, while classic ministries should be heard, many like that of Billy Sunday or Moody are not. Why?

Also, I do think that the truth needs to be embodied in living people for each generation to hear. Before the days of video tape, the only way a preacher lived on was through books or disciples. As a budding preacher (you can listen to a few of my sermons at the link below), it is no fun competing with the likes of Vernon McGee - not that we are competing, but sometimes I do get discouraged that my preaching may not be needed - but in truth, it is surely needed for all the people who will never listen to xian radio.

I think that my question was an interesting one, not just a strange one. And unlike movies, which are single entities, most preachers have hundreds of sermons that get replayed, so I don't think the analogy is exact, though it may add some perspective.

My sermons:
http://www.twoorthree.net/podcasts/index.html

My Podcast URL:
http://feeds.feedburner.com/tot_podcasts

Christinewjc said...

Hi Seeker,

Love your screen name! Welcome to Talkwisdom! Thanks for correcting me regarding your age and the years that you have been a Christian believer.

I'm sure that there are many resources to be found on Sunday and Moody. Moody's work, in fact, is offered as an online course of study for the various Christian University students.

If you want to find out how to reach more people with your messages online, perhaps you might consider attending (or, get the cd/tapes later?) the God Blog Convention.

There are many excellent speakers lined up; including a speaker named "Rhett Smith" who witnesses to the MySpace generation:

New Media Ministry to the Myspace- Facebook Generation
Employing New Media Technologies Effectively In Youth Ministries
The demographic which would benefit most from a strong Christian presence in the New Media is America’s youth. Many youth ministries have tried and failed to reach the youth where they are at by setting up websites which end up being either unattractive or full of out-of-date content. Rhett Smith will share how New Media technologies provide youth pastors with powerful tools which enable them to reach the youth culture quickly and effectively with technology relevant to their day-to-day lives.


I attended the very first GodBlog convention at Biola U. back in 2005. It was really good! As a brand new blogger, I learned so much. This year, it's in Las Vegas (unfortunately for me, I can't attend) and I'm sure that there will be a lot of excellent advice and information shared.