Reprobates Like Me

“Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons.” Paul speaks these words to Titus (Titus 1:12) identifying the pretty dark character of people among whom Titus will be ministering. What does that even mean? First of all, “always liars” points to a failure to grasp and honor the truth. “Evil beasts” addresses a failure to abide by a moral code. And, “lazy gluttons” communicates feelings of entitlement to gorge themselves with minimal investment or effort. These were some pretty low-level people–we would call them, reprobates. Hmmm, sounds a little too close to home for my comfort, but more on that later.

From a human perspective, Paul and Titus may just as well have sailed around the Island of Crete and have been done with it. And Satan would have had his way, if they would have. But Paul knew that God wanted these “Cretans” in the kingdom. Paul knew that Cretan fruit could be borne among the thorns on the island, and the key to producing that fruit was “sound teaching” communicating the love of God, and how people could be set right with God.

11For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation to all men, 12instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, 13looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, 14who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds” (Titus 2:11-14).

The hope for every reprobate on the island is held in those verses–the plan of redemption initiated by divine desire. We can even hear the words of Jesus in John 3:16-17 echoing through these words. “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.  For God did not send the Son into the world to judge the world, but that the world might be saved through Him.”

What God has done for every reprobate is communicated in Titus 2:11-13. In verse 11, God, through the incarnation of Jesus initiates this plan, that forgiveness through the blood of Christ opens the door to being transformed for the glory of God into the image of Christ (verse 12).

Paul is talking about Crete, the reprobates of the island who are “always liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons.” And he is affirming that they can be saved and transformed to lives of godliness!

But that’s not all there is…a new creation in Christ has the sure and certain hope, the confident expectation of seeing Christ again when He returns to take us home (verse 13). We look forward to this moment because we are His possession (verse 14), and He has delivered us from the clutches of sin for this very moment–eternal life with Him.

In verse 14, the Greek word for redeemed, means to set free, to deliver, to liberate, as from slavery. The kind of person who has this sort of assurance, should have joy, and be motivated to serve God by serving man, the “good deeds” part.

Amazing! Huh?

“Always liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons” sounds a lot like the world that I live in.  Failure to grasp and honor the truth. Failure to abide by a moral code, and feelings of entitlement to gorge themselves with minimal investment or effort.

Our culture, and society want to dispute the authority of the Scriptures, and the message of the Gospel. People today are tough, godless, liars, evil beasts, and lazy gluttons. There is a real spirit of darkness in the world, many spirits of darkness have been sent to keep people from accepting the Gospel, to keep the Gospel from gaining greater traction.

But, for God so loved the world…
But God so loved the Island of Crete…
But God so loved the United States…, California…, and Bishop…
That He sent His Son to redeem them.

From a human perspective, it would be easier to “sail around” Bishop. California. And the entire United States. Sometimes, we lose hope. We wonder if God is even working. But, God desires to bear fruit, yes, here in Bishop–fruit from among the thorns. And the Gospel of Christ is the only way to do just that! What amazing grace!

I have to remember God’s heart and His grace, and I need to remember that I, myself, was one of those reprobates, who is now a reprobate covered in the blood of His dear Son.

Grace seeks us out. Grace redeems us. Grace indwells us. Grace transforms us. Grace gives us hope. Grace has a future for us. But in the here and now, grace has a mission for us, to be the outpost of His grace to the world.

My faith in the Gospel to transform reprobates needs to be greater than my doubt for mankind. If I am to be obedient, I need to understand the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to save reprobates…like me.

For us all…Our faith in the Gospel to transform reprobates needs to be greater than our doubt for mankind. If we are to be obedient, we need to understand the power of the Gospel of Jesus Christ to save reprobates…like us.

Figgy Pudding and the World of Entitlements (Shepherd’s Echo)

[The Shepherd’s Echo is a reposting of a previously published TheShepherdsPen]

Ah, the Christmas season is upon us and we can anticipate the celebration the birth of Christ, often times with the benefit of those great, meaningful carols of old. O Come, Let us Adore Him. Silent night. The First Noel. And, of course, Away in a Manger. Songs of deep reflection and encouragement. It seems like we just can’t get enough of them. But then there are those “other” songs that cause us to wonder how they ever made it into the cache of celebratory carols. The one that really gets me is, We Wish You a Merry Christmas.

It is a popular secular sixteenth-century English Christmas carol whose origin lies in the tradition that the wealthy people of the community would generously provide Christmas treats to the carolers such as figgy pudding- a custard-like pudding containing figs that may be baked, steamed in the oven, boiled or fried.  Yum! Continue reading “Figgy Pudding and the World of Entitlements (Shepherd’s Echo)”

Natural Theology

What does nature tell us about God? We see from Genesis that God has made all of creation to glorify Himself. Part of the way He is glorified is by being worshipped as Creator of all. In fact, Psalm 97:6 tells us,
“The heavens declare His righteousness, And all the peoples have seen His glory.”

 We see His glory in creation. Romans 1:20 says,
For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made…”

 Wow! Let’s unpack that a bit. “Since the creation of the world…” That means from the beginning. God has made His invisible characteristics known to man from the beginning. Before the Old Testament, before the coming of Christ to earth, before the revelation of the New Testament, God made His invisible attributes, His eternal power and His divine nature known to man.  I am sure I cannot fully understand what this means but I have a few ideas.

Just the sheer intricacy of nature reveals the hand of a designer; someone greater than ourselves is here. As the Psalm says, the heavens declare His righteousness. We understand from the fullness of nature that we are not alone. No one on earth has made a mountain, star, water, or even dirt for that matter. We also see that He is a creative God. The bray of a donkey, the beauty of a sunset, the fall colors. We can understand that God has a deep appreciation for aesthetics; can you say music? His eternal power is seen in the magnitude of the earth, the sky, and the entirety of the cosmos. Wow!

We can see that His divine nature is one of order. The earth rotates, giving days and tides. The earth revolves giving seasons for planting. The rain falls giving rivers; that flow to the sea with fish in them. Then the water evaporates into the sky only to fall again as rain to water the earth, which provides food. We can also see in nature His divine plan to take care of us. He desires to send rain and give fruitful seasons (Acts 14:17). He is not a God who ignores those who He’s created. He is not apathetic.

These are just a few of the gleanings we receive from the natural world, but to what end? For what Purpose? If you look at the big picture, from the very beginning it was God’s desire to make Himself known to man. In the garden He had a very personal relationship with Adam. He desired to reveal Himself to all of mankind because our God is a relational God. He wants us to know Him. Even before the prophets. Even before the promise of the Messiah in the Old Testament. Even before the revelation of God in Christ – He is the perfect image of God (Colossians 1:15). Before the understanding of the New Testament, man had the assurance that God was. He was involved, creative, BIG, relational, orderly, compassionate, caring, and righteous… and yes, relational.

Yes, God has always wanted to be known. He is not hiding behind a cloud, or turning a deaf ear. He is there and wants an eternal relationship with everyone (2 Peter 3:9). As the verse says, He can be understood by what has been made. The rest of Romans 1:20 is a reminder,  “so that they are without excuse.” What does that mean? It means we cannot simply deny that God exists and get away with it. We cannot say, “Gee God, I never saw any evidence that you existed, otherwise I may have believed in you.” That won’t fly.

Go outside and check out the trees, mountains, rivers, animals and the stars. See how God has revealed Himself through nature. Next step? Check out His Word and see how He so desired an intimate relationship with you that He sent His Son Jesus, to establish a right relationship with Him through His death and resurrection (John 3:16-17).

All Systems Go

What an amazing sight to see the snow on the Sierras and the Whites. As I thought about it, it occurred to me that although they are very gorgeous on their own, they are also part of a bigger system, the universe. Just think of it, our God is a systematic God. He is the Creator of everything and His creation has such incredible order. Our God loves order!

The snow pack we receive is not just beautiful to look upon but there is purpose. God gave us the mountains. They are a little higher up than the rest of the earth, where it is colder. These mountains are able to sustain the snow pack, sometimes through the entire year. God allows the earth to receive sunlight melting some of the snow. This part of the ecosystem provides much of our water. These mountains are actually part of the entire ecosystem of earth. Along with the rain they function to provide us enough water to drink. What a system! Continue reading “All Systems Go”

Figgy Pudding and The World of Entitlements

Ah, the Christmas season is upon us and we can anticipate the celebration the birth of Christ, often times with the benefit of those great, meaningful carols of old. O Come, Let us Adore Him. Silent night. The First Noel. And, of course, Away in a Manger. Songs of deep reflection and encouragement. It seems like we just can’t get enough of them. But then there are those “other” songs that cause us to wonder how they ever made it into the cache of celebratory carols. The one that really gets me is, We Wish You a Merry Christmas.

It is a popular secular sixteenth-century English Christmas carol whose origin lies in the tradition that the wealthy people of the community would generously provide Christmas treats to the carolers such as figgy pudding- a custard-like pudding containing figs that may be baked, steamed in the oven, boiled or fried.  Yum! Continue reading “Figgy Pudding and The World of Entitlements”

The Great Exchange

What comes to mind when you think of the greatest deal of all time? Do you think of the Louisiana Purchase? How about your biggest sales deal? Perhaps it is a sports trade.  Or maybe it’s the ultimate scheist you pulled off in grade school. Well, let me give you one that you may want to consider as one of the best. God offers up eternal life to anybody who believes on his Son Jesus Christ. Let that sink in. God offers eternal life to anybody who believes on his Son Jesus Christ. That means God invites everybody to enjoy fellowship with Him. Murderers, thieves, rapists, politicians, criminals and sinners of all kinds, and yes, even church-going people.

Now you have to admit that is a pretty good deal. When was the last time you got something for nothing? Certainly something of this magnitude is noteworthy as there is nothing we could do to earn this gift anyway. What in the world could we have to offer to cover all of our transgressions? We do know that for us to be brought into a right relationship with God the Father, righteousness needs to be involved. Continue reading “The Great Exchange”