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The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction. My son, hear the instruction of thy father, and forsake not the law of thy mother: For they shall be an ornament of grace unto thy head, and chains about thy neck. (Pro 1:7-9 KJV)
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Though he were a Son, yet learned he obedience by the things which he suffered;
(Heb 5:8 KJV)
This verse has provoked me to think a lot over the years. What does it mean that Christ learned obedience? How would suffering teach him obedience?
Jesus did not need to learn to obey, as though he was disobedient. As such, suffering could not teach him to obey. Jesus learned experentially what it was to obey and to suffer because of that obedience. We complain, often and loud, when our disobedience leads to our suffering. Jesus did not complain when our disobedience led to his suffering. This puts him in direct contrast to Adam.
Scripture makes clear that Adam was not deceived by the lies of the serpent. He knew that God had not lied or withheld anything from them. He knew they would not become gods. He knew they would die. Yet he went ahead and ate from the fruit. Why? I think Adam looked at Eve and loved her more than he loved God. He chose to sin and join Eve in judgment, rather than obey and trust God. He learned suffering through disobedience, rather than obedience through suffering. Seeing no hope of saving Eve, Adam despaired and joined her in sin. Ironically, his love for Eve failed immediately, and he ‘threw her under the bus’, blaming her (and God) for his own sin.
The contrast goes further. Adam attacked his wife, the one he had pledged to love. By contrast Jesus suffered betrayal by Judas. Judas is often shown in movies as a loner, always slinking somewhat outside the circle of the apostles. This is mistaken in my view. David prophesied of Judas’ betrayal in the psalms, speaking of the one who went arm in arm with Christ to worship. The new testament makes clear that James, John, and Peter were Jesus’ innermost circle of trusted disciples. I think David shows Judas to be Jesus’ best friend among the disciples. He is a countertype to the type of David’s great friend Jonathan. Jesus suffered betrayal by His friend in contrast to Adam’s betrayal of Eve. He chose Judas as a disciple even though He knew that Judas was going to betray Him.
What is the point of all this?
Are we willing to learn obedience through suffering? Are we willing to obey the Lord knowing that doing so means that we will be betrayed? That we will be scorned? Are we willing to love those who spit on us? Who viscerally hate us and want to kill us? Are we willing to lose everything we have, everyone we love, in order to have Christ?
Because if we are not, then we will have just the nation that we have today.
We are all the recipients of an inheritance. The great blessings God has given us in this nation. The inheritance of our families: their history, name, and reputation. The freedom to worship the Lord and proclaim His gospel of forgiveness, redemption, righteousness, and holiness. Many more could be listed.
What are you doing to pass on your inheritance to your children?
There is a biblical command and purpose to education children, particularly young men. But it is missing today in America. I write what follows, not from the lofty vantage point of sterling success, but rather the bittersweet mixture of success mixed with much failure.
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Doth not wisdom cry? and understanding put forth her voice? She standeth in the top of high places, by the way in the places of the paths. She crieth at the gates, at the entry of the city, at the coming in at the doors. Unto you, O men, I call; and my voice is to the sons of man… Now therefore hearken unto me, O ye children: for blessed are they that keep my ways. Hear instruction, and be wise, and refuse it not. Blessed is the man that heareth me, watching daily at my gates, waiting at the posts of my doors. For whoso findeth me findeth life, and shall obtain favour of the LORD. But he that sinneth against me wrongeth his own soul: all they that hate me love death. (Pro 8:1-36 KJV)
Baseball was my favorite game as a boy. I loved everything about it. The crack of the bat, the burn of sliding into base, the satisfying thumph of a ball caught in my mitt, it all thrilled me. I hated to lose, vowing never to quit no matter what the score. And I exulted in winning. The best part about winning was there was no doubt. Our team had fought and was victorious. We had beaten the other guys, it was right there up on the scoreboard where everyone could see it. I’d be so excited, it seemed like the sun would come up before my eyes closed. The following days were full of anticipation for the next ballgame, the next win. It was wonderful.
Sports are wonderful in their simple profundity. There is a clearcut goal: score more points than the other guy and you win. Practice, practice, practice, learning how to play the game and play it well. Relish the competition and rise to the occasion. Do the little things right, while keeping your eye on the goal. Never give up. I could cliche on and on.
But here is the thing about winning: you must hold to a fixed definition of what it means to win. Otherwise, anyone can claim at any time that they have “won”, by simply changing the definition. Such a delusion can be laughable in a game. It is tragic and deadly in a war. And we are at war now.
I’ve watched over the past two years as many of my brothers and sisters in Christ have re-defined what it means to win. We’ve bought into many varying definitions, but have forgotten the only one that counts: the righteousness and glory of God.
You say that the stock market is up, up, up. The book of James says, why do you show partiality to the rich, is it not they who oppress you? And what does Wall Street have to do with New Jerusalem?
You say that our enemies are humiliated and exasperated. Christ said to love your enemies, do good for them, and pray for them, lest God take His hand off of them and begin to chastise you.
You say that adulterers and fornicators are being exposed. Yet we ought rather the fear, rather than rejoice, for their sin is far less than what we think we have hidden from God and man.
When I look on a 10x holocaust of the unborn, I do not see winning.
When I look upon $20 trillion in debt ($60,000 for every person), that is rising by $1 trillion every year ($3000 for every person) for the next 10 years, I do not see winning.
When I look at some $200 trillion in unfunded liabilities ($600,000 for every person), I do not see winning.
When I look at a war that has raged for 17 years, with no end in sight, I do not see winning.
When I look at the fervent embracing of reckless immorality, I do not see winning.
When I look at the weaponization of government against its citizens, I do not see winning.
Again, I could go on and on.
So then, you may ask, what would be winning, what would you see?
I would see God the Holy Spirit pour out mercy and repentance across the land. I would see churches filling with people asking “What must I do to be saved?” Those same churches falling on their faces asking God to forgive them for burying their coins. Then all the nation would seek the Lord and His Christ and He would set us free. And the glory of God would be the rally point from coast to coast.
That is how I see winning.
Do we truly want to understand the gangrenous nature of modern American culture, society, and government? Then we must look at our own hearts and minds, for that is where it started. Where it ends is either repentance or fiery judgment, no other choices exist.
Freedom is a word ever on the lips of Americans. Yet it is a word that precious few, even those who claim the name of Christian, know truly. Because freedom is not opened by the working of our will. The door to freedom is Christ and Christ alone, and the key is death to self and living unto God. And few there are that find it.