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The Wednesday Word: “They Came to Marah”

Exodus 15:23

Moses and the multitude of Israel, tired, weary and thirsty from their three-day journey came to an oasis but, the waters were bitter and undrinkable. Eager hopes had been raised merely to be dashed and disappointed.

As we read this story, we see that the faithless Children of Israel murmured against Moses demanding of him, “What shall we drink?” (ver. 24.) They thought they were perishing with thirst. How asinine! The Lord had just opened the Red Sea for them to walk through, yet a few days later, here they were doubting that He could even provide them with a drink of water.

Notice how they were agitated and perplexed by their situation. Moses, on the other hand, began to pray (verse 25). He cried unto the Lord, and God answered. But, notice how the answer to his prayer came in a most unusual way. Among the surrounding trees, the Lord showed Moses a particular one which, under instruction, he cut down and threw into the waters. As a result, the waters were made sweet, and Israel was once more delivered.

What a great story of God´s provision. By the way, did you notice how the story has several gospel allusions?

First: The tree represents the Lord Jesus. There are several Scriptures which present Him under the picture or type of a “tree.” The most prominent one is, of course, found in the first Psalm. There it was prophesied that “He (Christ) would be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth His fruit in His season, His leaf also shall not wither, and whatsoever He does shall prosper” (v. 3).

Second: The tree in Exodus 15 had to be cut down. However, it was the children of Israel themselves who deserved to be cut down. They deserved to perish because of their rebellion. But, the tree was cut down instead of them. And so it is that faith sees Jesus, as cut down instead of us. Christ bore our sins in His own body on the Tree” ( 1 Peter 2:24).

Third: The tree was cast into the waters of Marah. In the gospel, we see Jesus cast into the waters of wrath and death. He sank into the depths of Judgment when the iniquities of His people assembled and met on Him. Now, because of the cross, the bitterness of wrath has been replaced with the sweetness of blessing. When the cross is applied, the bitter waters of life are turned sweet through the power of Christ Jesus.

Fourth: It was in response to the cries of an interceding mediator that deliverance came. Moses stood between an offended God and Israel. This again points us to the Lord Jesus. He stands between our sin and our rescue. No one among the people contributed to their deliverance. Indeed, their only contribution was their sin and unbelief.

There is one Mediator between God and man. There is one Peace-maker. We have been reconciled to God by Christ alone (2 Corinthians 5:18). And this is as it should be. What works of ours can compare to those of the Lord Christ? Our best works are defiled by imperfections. As the English preacher, John Berridge, lamented, “Even my repentance needs repenting of.” All our works combined could not make an atonement, but instead, they needed one made for them.

If we are ultimately saved by Christ plus our works, then works become one of our mediators. But the Scripture boldly asserts that there is but one mediator between God and man .. not two (1Timothy 2:5).

If our works mediate for us, then they are partly responsible for our peace. But the scriptures know nothing of this. Peace has already been made by the shed blood of Calvary plus nothing.

(Colossians 1:20).

And that´s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com  

The Wednesday Word: Did Jesus put God First?

Jesus loved God’s Law with a passion and upheld it at every turnaround. When asked about the greatest commandment, He affirmed that it was to love God with all the heart and mind (Matthew 22:36-39; Luke 10:26-28). According to Christ, there could be no competition and no rivals when it came to following and loving the Father.

But then Jesus loses the plot … or does He? He begins to teach that we should follow Him with the same kind of loyalty we give to God. Listen to Him and consider if these are the words of a good, moral man:

He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me; and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me” (Matthew 10:37).

“Whosoever of you that forsakes not all that he has cannot be my disciple” (Luke 14:33).

According to Jesus, if we love our families more than we love Him, we are not worthy of Him, and if anything claims our affection and keeps us from following Him, we are disqualified as disciples.

This is strange, for remember, it was prophesied in Isaiah 42:21 that Christ would magnify God’s Law and make it honourable. However, it sounds like He is doing the very opposite. In fact, it seems He’s setting Himself up as a rival to God for He’s demanding first place. A good man would encourage people to love and follow God first and foremost! Jesus, however, by requiring absolute loyalty to Himself blocks the way for us to keep the great commandment. He’s demanding the same type of loyalty and love that only God should have.

Then He dares to say,

“If you love me, keep my commandments” (John 14:15).

But what about God’s commandment to love Him with all? Christ is now demanding we keep His law as a sign of love. This surely is strange, for Christ said,

“Think not that I have come to destroy the law or the prophets; I have come not to destroy (them) but to fulfil (them)¨(Matthew 5:17).

How can Christ claim that He is there to fulfil God’s Law, and yet show such apparent disregard for it? If He loved the Law, then he would want to establish it and not take people away from it!

Furthermore, He says,

“He that has my commandments, and keeps them, he it is that loves me: and he that loves me shall be loved of my Father¨(John 14:22).

What? Can this be right? We know that Jesus believed the great commandment about loving God with all, but now He implies that we should love Himself above all.

Furthermore, God, according to Jesus, approves of this double-mindedness, for, He says, if we love Him, the Father will love us! Has the Father changed? Is the great commandment to ‘love God with all’ still in force? It certainly looks as if Jesus has overthrown it and usurped the position that only God should hold. Can these be the actions of a good religious teacher? Could a good moral man set himself up to rival God for the love He receives from mankind? Of course not! Any mere man who taught like that should be rejected and denounced as an evil worker.

So was Jesus an evil worker? The only conclusion is that —yes indeed He was … if indeed he wasn’t God. But rather than show He was evil, these passages actually demonstrate that He was God in human flesh. We should love God with all, and that’s why it’s perfectly fine to love Jesus with everything. Our complete loyalty belongs to God, so it’s perfectly fine to be totally loyal to Jesus. We have no other God but Yahweh, so when we put Christ Jesus first we are on good gospel ground for Christ is Yahweh in human flesh appearing!

And that´s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com   

The Wednesday Word: Our Defender and Judge

January 15, 2020 5 comments

In the New Testament,

Repentance is mentioned 70 times;

Baptism is mentioned at most 20 times;

The New Birth is mentioned 9 times;

The ‘Lord’s Supper’ is mentioned 6 times;

But …

The Second Coming of Christ is mentioned no less than 318 times!

Mark it down, Jesus is coming back! In fact, one verse in every 25 verses throughout the New Testament, from Matthew to Revelation, points to the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ!

Listen to this, it is appointed once to die. And after death? The Judgment (see Hebrews 9:27).

Now, I´m not a prophet nor the son of a prophet, but I can tell the future. It´s the Judgment!!! That´s mankind’s destiny. However, there is no need for the Lord’s people to fear this event. The good news is that the blood of Christ has already settled all charges against us (John 1:29; Hebrews 9:26). The blood of Christ, God incarnate, has doused the flames of Hell for God´s elect.

In addition to that, our lawyer, Christ Jesus, is our Last Day Judge. They are one and the same. We are doubly saved and safe (1 John 2:1; John 5:13). Let’s say it again, our lawyer is our Judge!

Yes, you read that correctly. The end time Judge is none other than the Lord Jesus Christ, the very one who is presently our advocate.

This is why we read in 2 Timothy 4:1, “I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick (living) and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom;”

In Old Testament times, defending the accused was such a sacred duty that the judge refused to delegate the work to an attorney. He served as the defender of the accused. The Jewish Encyclopedia explains: “attorneys at law are unknown in Jewish law.Their legal code required judges to always lean to the side of the defendant and give him the advantage of every possible doubt.”

What a system! God, Himself, defends and judges the accused among His people. May we feed and meditate upon these glorious gospel truths.

Christ, the good news from Heaven, is our Advocate and Judge. We are and will be defended against all the accusations of Satan. Our eternal salvation does not depend on how useful we are, but on how efficient Christ is in saving sinners.

Jesus is our King, our Priest, our Advocate and Judge. What a remarkable arrangement. Talk about a deck stacked in our favour. Our advocate is the Lamb who was slain for the sins of His people. No charges can, therefore, stand against us. Bring on an onslaught of accusations. They are routed by our heavenly legal dream team. The blood of the Lamb saved us 2000 years ago, and now Christ ever lives to apply the benefits of His purchase to His people. We are safe! We are saved.

Remember, we are not secure in our salvation because of our grip on the Saviour, but rather because of His grip on us. He loved us before time began. He came here Himself in the person of Jesus to secure our redemption with His blood. He sought us until He found us. Do you think that He will now let us go back into our sins and be lost again? Away with such nonsense! If a child of God ends in Hell, Jesus, the One who claimed to be the Truth, is made a liar because He has promised His sheep they will never perish (John 10:28).

And that´s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com 

The Wednesday Word: Jesus, The Great “I AM”

January 8, 2020 2 comments

John 8:58 “Jesus said unto them, Verily, verily, I say unto you, before Abraham was, I am.”

According to the Old Testament, the ultimate name of God is “I AM” (Exodus 3:14). This same “I AM” appeared in the New Testament calling Himself Jesus. It is no wonder then that many of the Jews, in those days, thought Christ to be demon possessed.

Others thought Him mad: No sane man could come up with the audacious utterances that flooded from the lips of this carpenter! The Jewish leaders knew fine well that when Jesus announced, “Before Abraham was I am” He was claiming to be God. Every Hebrew who knew his stuff was aware that the ‘I AM’ was none other than Yahweh —the One True and living God who had spoken to Moses at the Burning Bush. But now this brash upstart of a Nazarene tradesman dares to walk around claiming to be Him.

The lead up to Jesus’ claim of being the Covenant God of Israel, the ‘I Am,’ is fascinating. The troubled Pharisees were, as usual, debating Jesus when Abraham was mentioned. One of their number as he, no doubt, sat stroking his grizzled beard, asked with a voice of disdain, and I paraphrase,

“Are you greater than our father Abraham, who is dead? and the prophets are dead: who are you making yourself out to be?” (John 8:53).

Jesus floored them with His answer, claiming that Abraham had not only seen his day but also (unlike the Pharisees) had been glad. This was too much for the religious stalwarts of Jewish society. Was there no end to the carpenter’s impertinence? Indignant, they responded with no small degree of sarcasm saying, “You are not yet fifty years old, and have you seen Abraham?” In other words, you haven’t even reached retirement age buddy, and yet you claim to be old enough to have seen the Father of our Nation.

Then Christ proceeds to drop a bombshell by announcing, “Before Abraham was I am.” In the Greek, the words for ‘I am’ are in the present tense (Ego eimi): Literally, Jesus was saying, ‘Before Abraham was I am continually!’ The Jews knew exactly what He was saying. They knew Christ was claiming, once more, to be the eternal God. Jesus was saying, “I am eternal. I have no beginning and no end. ‘I AM.’ There never was a time when I came into existence for I have always been. I am the eternal God standing here in human flesh.”

Notice how the Jews knew exactly what Jesus was claiming. See how they took up stones and tried to kill him. Stoning was the standard way by which blasphemers were executed. This attempted stoning, therefore, is a vital piece of evidence for it demonstrates that the Jews understood full well that Jesus was claiming to be God.

So how say you? The ancient Jews knew what He was saying and were enraged. They knew that Christ Jesus, by the claim of being the I Am was declaring that He was neither a created being nor a good teacher sent by God, but rather He was announcing Himself to be the eternal Yahweh who exists from all eternity.

How long then will you halt between two opinions? If Christ Jesus is the Mighty God, worship Him, trust him and follow Him. If He is not, rank Him alongside the evil workers of history. If you say He is only the Son of God but not God, you make Him a blasphemer. Why in the world would you want to follow a blasphemer? You should, instead, count Him as one who has, in a sinister fashion, led countless numbers to their doom in a lost eternity. But whatever you do, do not patronise Him by saying He was a good moral teacher, but not God.

We must never forget when Jesus declared Himself to be ‘I Am’ He was declaring Himself as the Eternal self- existent One.

He was saying, “I am the One who has existence in Myself.”

He was saying, “I am the one who made all things, and without Me was not anything made that is made.”

He was saying, “I am the one who sustains all things and upon whom all things depend.”

He was saying, “I am the one who decrees how long all things on earth continue for they continue only as long as I support them.”

He was saying, “No one exists without my permission and power, and when I take away their breath, they die.”

And that´s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com  

The Wednesday Word: FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT

January 1, 2020 1 comment

“Whether He is a sinner or not, I don´t know; one thing I do know, that, whereas I was blind, now I see” (John 9: 25).

Several believers I´ve recently met wonder about the reality of their salvation. They are in doubt because they cannot, with certainty, point to the day and hour of their conversion.

But does that matter?

It does if one holds to decisional regeneration, (i.e., we get saved by making a decision). In that case, it would seem that indeed, this matters much. It´s because, however, there is a failure to grasp the eternality of the Gospel that people fall victim to such punishing thinking. By the way, I like what John Stott says on the matter. He says, “A decision is involved in the process of becoming a Christian, but it is God’s decision before it can be ours. This is not to deny that we ‘decided for Christ’, and freely, but to affirm that we did so only because he had first ‘decided for us.’

The gospel we preach is as old as God. God chose a people for Himself and did it because of the good pleasure of His will and purpose (Ephesians 1:11; 3:11).

Salvation is of the Lord! It is His purpose to save His sheep.

Jesus, the Good Shepherd, always comes looking for His sheep. Sometimes when He finds us, we have a dramatic conversion experience. Other times there is a quiet and gradual realisation that the shepherd has died and risen for us. We are not always able to pinpoint the exact moment we passed from death unto life. But we know that it has happened.

Jesus has always taken the best care to find His sheep. He says, “Behold, I, even I, will both search my sheep, and seek them out…. and will deliver them out of all places where they have been scattered in the cloudy and dark (Ezekiel 34:11-12).

It´s no wonder then if you cannot point to the day, nor the place, nor the means which the Lord used to bring about your conversion. These are deep mysteries. But, here´s the thing, can you with an honest heart say, “One thing I know, that, whereas I was blind, NOW I see?” Has the Spirit of God shown you your utter helplessness and ruin? Do you realise that of yourself you are hopelessly incapable of performing a single act whether of doing or believing-which would recommend you to His favour?

Once you were spiritually blind to Jesus, now you see.

Once you saw no beauty in Jesus; you didn´t see your need of Him.

Once you wondered how people could love an invisible Person.

Once you were blind to the glory of His Person.

Once you were blind to the wonders of His love.

Once you were blind to the infinite value of His precious blood.

Once you were blind to the perfection of that redemption work by which He lived, died and rose again.

As believers, we can say we once were blind, but now we see! Since we are no longer blind to the gospel, we are propelled to thank and bless the God of all grace (Acts 8:39). To open our blind eyes, and give us life required the omnipotent power of the One who once stood by that grave in Bethany and cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth! And Lazarus came out, bound hand and foot with grave-clothes.

I don’t believe for a moment that we will be questioned at the gates of the celestial city as to the day and the hour of our conversion. If we are found in Jesus, we will enter heaven with His righteousness upon us. And that perfect righteousness will be a passport which neither earth, nor hell, nor heaven itself can dispute.

And that´s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com    

The Wednesday Word: When the Spirit Moves!

December 25, 2019 Leave a comment

Salvation is by the blood and righteousness of Jesus Christ. Redemption and Reconciliation, not rules and regulations, are the heart of the Gospel; … nothing else will do (Ephesians 2:8-9).

I contend, therefore, that if the preaching of Christ crucified once more becomes the dominant theme of our pulpits, we will see revival. My friend Joseph Terrell nails it when he describes good churches like this, “Preaching Christ and Him crucified…nothing more, nothing less, nothing else!”

We all want to see a revival and a genuine moving of God´s Spirit. Indeed, many theories are being advanced for the accomplishment of such a move. Exciting music, for example, is touted by many as the way forward … but this is a silly notion. Singing endless verses about ourselves and our feelings will not bring an outpouring from heaven.

BTW, I´m not advocating that our services should be cold and heartless. Some people, it seems, mistakenly think they are more spiritual and dignified when they sit in silence without so much as a flinch. Sometimes, however, the problem with those dear folk is they don’t know the difference between dignity and rigour mortis.

May our times of fellowship glorify God with, not just any music, but with the music of the Gospel … the music of thanksgiving for the Saviour and His blood. The Holy Spirit is resident in such praises. He is the Master Conductor of the Music of Grace. He tunes our hearts to love the sound of the Good News.

Also, when the Spirit moves, we will once more hear from our pulpits the old, old story of a finished salvation. In this way, Jesus will be again discovered as Redeemer, Friend, Brother, Advocate, Intercessor, Forerunner and All-in-all.

When the Spirit moves, we will not hear of a work which is half of the believer and half of God. Such an unholy alliance is not discovered in the Bible. As the old-time preacher, John Berridge, said, such a work, if it were possible, would be like yoking a snail to an elephant.

The Lord did not come half-way and say, “I will help with your efforts.” That´s absurd. The work has already been completed at Calvary. A half and half salvation will damn its adherents, but Christ’s taking 100 % responsibility for us saves to the uttermost. It is grace, grace, grace from first to last. In Christ, we have complete salvation.

“Perish every human story,

Every system taught or tried;

God forbid that I should glory,

Save in Jesus crucified.”

When the Spirit moves, our pulpits will once more ring with the good news of the Lamb and His blood. This is the way of revival. We will again hear of the fountain opened for sin and uncleanness (Zechariah 13:1) and of that precious blood which “cleanses from all sin” (1 John 1:7) and purges the conscience (Hebrews 9:14).

When the Spirit moves, we will once more be thrilled with scriptures like this, “I, even I says Jehovah, am He that blots out your transgressions for My own sake and will not remember your sins” (Isaiah 43:25).

Think of it, our sins, no matter what their depth or filth, are forgotten … they are all cast behind His back (Isaiah 38:17). They are completely gone! Sing it loud and preach it often. Such a truth is worthy of our attention.

“My sin, oh the bliss of this glorious thought!

My sin, not in part, but the whole,

Is nailed to the cross, and I bear it no more;

Praise the Lord, praise the Lord, O my soul!”

And that´s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com   

The Wednesday Word: “NEITHER DO I CONDEMN THEE”

December 18, 2019 Leave a comment

“Neither do I condemn thee” John 8:11.

These are the priceless, life-giving words spoken by our Saviour to the woman taken in adultery. This poor creature was discovered in the actual act of fornication and dragged before Jesus by those who thought themselves righteous. These men knew full well Christ´s love and compassion for poor sinners and had no doubt heard His blistering denunciations against the Pharisees. But here was a case in which they were convinced Christ would be compelled to condemn this miserable woman.

There was no denial on her part. It appears she had nothing to say; … she was guilty. And like all of us when at first we stood guilty before God, we had no reason to give as to why a swift sentence should not be passed.

These men, the poor woman´s accusers, depended for their salvation upon their strict fulfilment of the ceremonial law and were judged accordingly. In other words, they relied upon themselves and their works. But when convicted by Christ´s words, “He that is without sin let him cast the first stone,” they were self-condemned and went out one by one.

There must have been surprise and joy on her part when He spoke the words, “Neither do I condemn you: go and sin no more.”

We must not forget, too, that these were not merely the words of a man, but the words of God. If He had condemned her, it would have been divine condemnation. But Jesus came not to condemn the world, but to save sinners. He will come one day to judge, but His mission then and now was and is to seek and to save those that were and are lost (Luke 19:10).

“Neither do I condemn thee.” What words of comfort to that poor woman! And He still says the same to all who come to Him with nothing to plead but His mercy.

Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you, go and sin no more.” In other words, “Don´t commit adultery again. Turn away from it. I believe she was empowered to do just that because of Christ´s bold declaration, “Neither do I condemn you.” Grace gives life and power while the Law alone brings death.

Jesus could have said, “Serves you right” But He didn´t! BTW, “ It serves you right” is the response of the Pharisee and the graceless Christian (so-called). Oh, that all who name the name of Jesus would beware of that condemning spirit! I am afraid that we, God’s children, are too apt to condemn each other for failure.

“Neither do I condemn thee.” To the young and old Christian, alike, these are sweet words. Are you fearful that because you have failed the Lord Jesus that you, therefore, don´t belong to Him? That´s a lie. Go to Him, though your failures are many, His words remain the same, “Neither do I condemn thee.”

“But, I´m not sure I am saved,” you say.

OK, let me ask you, do you want to be one of His?”

Yes!

You question your salvation, but do you doubt Him?

No!

Do you believe that He died and rose again?

Yes!

Do you believe that He is the Lord?

Yes!

Then, you are His. Go to the Lord Christ. Look unto Him. His words are, “Neither do I condemn thee.” The Psalmist’s words are right, “Like as a father pities his children, so the Lord pities them that fear Him (Psalm 103:13). For He knows our frame, He remembers that we are dust” (Psalm 103:14). His mercy is “from everlasting to everlasting” (Psalm 103:17). If it were not so, who would stand? No one. He must and will uphold us from beginning to end. To Him be all the praise and glory!

And that´s the Gospel Truth!

Miles Mckee

www.milesmckee.com