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Tag: truth





These are the words that are engraved in the perimeter walls of our county courthouse.  I had the occasion to read them again last night.  The first time I stopped to read those words, they fascinated me.  This time, they bothered me.  In particular, what bothered me was the word “justice.”  For as I stood reading those words, I had to admit to myself that I don’t know what true justice is.  I can tell you what I believe justice is in my mind, but how do I define true justice?  As I stood outside staring at the engraved words, I was speechless.  I felt as if I was standing before a judge, with all the evidence presented against me, and the judge asked me what I think the verdict should be.  In my heart, and out of pure selfishness, I would blurt out “NOT GUILTY!” Truth, however, which is what I claim to desire, says “I am guilty.”  The verdict, then, is that I am guilty of not knowing what true justice is.  It should be noted here that the etymology of the word “verdict” explains that the word is formed from two roots: ver, meaning true, and dit, from the verb to say. An accurate transliteration of the word verdict would be a true report.

The following parable is an example of true justice.  It is found in the gospel of Matthew, in the 20th chapter.

“For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire workers for his vineyard. And after agreeing with the workers for the standard wage, he sent them into his vineyard. When it was about nine o’clock in the morning, he went out again and saw others standing around in the marketplace without work. He said to them, ‘You go into the vineyard too, and I will give you whatever is right.’ So they went. When he went out again about noon and three o’clock that afternoon, he did the same thing. And about five o’clock that afternoon he went out and found others standing around, and said to them, ‘Why are you standing here all day without work?’ They said to him, ‘Because no one hired us.’ He said to them, ‘You go and work in the vineyard too.’ When it was evening the owner of the vineyard said to his manager, ‘Call the workers and give the pay starting with the last hired until the first.’ When those hired about five o’clock came, each received a full day’s pay. 10 And when those hired first came, they thought they would receive more. But each one also received the standard wage. 11 When they received it, they began to complain against the landowner, 12 saying, ‘These last fellows worked one hour, and you have made them equal to us who bore the hardship and burning heat of the day.’ 13 And the landowner replied to one of them, ‘Friend, I am not treating you unfairly. Didn’t you agree with me to work for the standard wage? 14 Take what is yours and go. I want to give to this last man the same as I gave to you. 15 Am I not permitted to do what I want with what belongs to me? Or are you envious because I am generous?’ 16 So the last will be first, and the first last.”

I have read this parable many times, and have received greater understanding since I have heard the gospel of the kingdom of God.  But as I pondered this parable again in light of the words engraved upon the walls of our county courthouse, I was humiliated.  I knew that I would be one of the first to say “Lord, that just isn’t fair!”  For how could it be fair that some workers had toiled all day in the heat of the sun, while others, who stood idle all day, come in at the last hour, do a little work, but earn the same compensation?  Of course, I had to realize that I was viewing this parable from a very jaded, temporal perspective, instead of from a true, eternal perspective.  For if the reward is eternal citizenship in the kingdom of heaven, then the amount of time one spends laboring in the vineyard of this life is of little relevance.  I should be rejoicing that one performed any labor in the landowner’s vineyard, and that we both have equity in this spiritual commonwealth.  Instead, the selfish, corrupt heart of mine prohibits me from seeing the truth, and I want merely my own brand of justice – “pay more to the one who worked more!”

Lord, have mercy upon my tarnished, shallow soul.  Forgive me for petitioning you to exact my own perverted brand of justice.  Forgive me for attempting to know better than you what truth is.  Forgive me for not exhibiting the mercy that you have shown me, when true justice would demand that I receive no mercy at all.

in_the_beginning“In the beginning, God created.”  These are the first five words in the book of Genesis.  Perhaps you have seen these words dozens of times.  You have probably memorized them.  And, more than likely, each time you look at those words, your frame of reference when reading those words is time.  We tend to think of the phrase “in the beginning” as a point in time when a process starts.  That is quite natural, since we exist in a temporal world where we measure time.  But the words “in the beginning” have another meaning.  It also means, in order of priority, the first, chief, principal, or choice part.  In other words, in terms of priority, the first thing we should remember is that God created.  The chief thing to remember is that God created.  In everything, we must remember God created.  In times of lack, we must remember God created provision.  In times of temptation, God created a way of escape.  Everything that God creates has eternal implications; even the best creations of man are merely temporal.  Today, focus on that which is eternal.  Today, remember in every situation you encounter, God created.

backwards bicycleIf you watched the video that was included with yesterday’s devotional, you saw some powerful truths wonderfully illustrated with the backwards bike.  One of those truths that was conveyed is that our minds become more rigid the older we get.  That truth reminded me of this passage:

Rom. 7:15 For that which I do, I know not. For what I would do, that do I not; but what I hate, that I do.

16 If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law, that it is good.

17 Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

18 For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing; for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good, I find not.

19 For the good that I would do, I do not; but the evil which I would not do, that I do.

20 Now if I do that which I would not do, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.

21 I find then a law that, when I would do good, evil is present with me.

22 For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man.

23 But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.

I realized what Paul was saying here.  The old man, the old way of thinking, was still very much alive and working within him.  “But wait, Ron! Didn’t Paul also say that if any man be in Christ he is a new creation, and that old things have passed away?”  Yes, he did.  But think back to one of the first truths Destin discovered in yesterday’s video: knowledge does not equal understanding.  Just because I have knowledge of something, doesn’t mean I have successfully applied it.  Reciting Bible passages doesn’t change me; applying the passages to my life changes me.  Remember when Destin said that it took him eight months to ride a backwards bike?  He stated that it took him so long because he practiced only five minutes a day.  Now, watch this response to Destin’s video by this 17 year old:
This young man learned faster because he put more time into it each day.  He practiced for hours instead of minutes.
So what does this mean for us?  The first thing we must ask ourselves is how much time are we committing to learning and practicing the truths in the Bible on a daily basis?  Five minutes?  One hour?  Four hours?  How much time are you allowing yourself to learn more truths about the kingdom of God?  Once a week?  Twice a week?  The less time you commit, the longer it will take you to change.  

John the BaptistMatt. 11:But what went ye out for to see? A prophet? yea, I say unto you, and more than a prophet. 10 For this is he, of whom it is written, Behold, I send my messenger before thy face, which shall prepare thy way before thee. 11 Verily I say unto you, Among them that are born of women there hath not risen a greater than John the Baptist: notwithstanding he that is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.
What powerful words!  What an honor to be spoken of this way by the Lord Jesus Himself!  Notice what our Lord said – that of any human being born of a woman that has ever walked this earth, there has not been one greater than John the Baptist.  Yet, if this is the case, why don’t we hear more about him?  Why isn’t he spoken of more often in our churches?  The Lord Jesus did more than just call John the Baptist a great man.  Our Lord also used John the Baptist as a line of demarcation:
Matt. 11:13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John.
The Lord was even more explicit in the gospel of Luke:
Luke 16:16 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it.
Why was John the Baptist so significant?  Because God gave him the charge of heralding the greatest message that this world has ever heard.  That message was simply this – what God promised through Moses and the Prophets is now in your midst and within your reach.  What was it that God promised?  God promised to the nation of Israel a kingdom, a Messiah.  John’s announcement that this kingdom was now at hand, or within reach, was and is the gospel.  Today, that message is not only still true, but we are closer to the realization of that great kingdom today than they were 2000 years ago.  Kenneth Wuest, in his Expanded Translation of the Gospel of Mark, wrote about John this way:
“There came upon the human scene, John the Baptizer, in the uninhabited region, making a public proclamation with that formality, gravity and authority which must be heeded and obeyed, of a baptism which had to do with a change of mind relative to the previous life an individual lived, this baptism being in view of the fact that sins are put away.”  John the Baptist was more than a forerunner.  He was the man whom God chose to herald the greatest message this world has ever heard – repent, or change your thinking, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.  John the Baptist denotes the moment in the history of this world that we shifted from the promise to come to the promise fulfilled.  When you think of all of the great people that you have learned about in history, John the Baptist should be among the first.  

Law-ScrollIn our last post, we asked whether we, as Gentiles, are or were under the law.  As we ask that question, we must understand what the law is.  The law is the entirety of the first five books of the Bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, Deuteronomy).  That is the law.  It is the aggregate of all the commands, ordinances, statutes and judgments that God gave to Israel.  It is very similar to the law of a state.  Most states have a code, which is composed of individual ordinances.  So the Jewish law is more than the commands that God gave to Moses on Mt. Sinai; it is more than the over 600 commands written in the first five books of the Bible.  It is the whole of the first five books of the Bible.  The law is called Torah in the Hebrew Bible.  The word Torah is more closely translated as instruction.  So the first five books of the Bible can be called the instructions given to Israel.  It is in this law that the promise of the kingdom is contained.  Since the law was given only to Israel and no other nation, it did not, nor does not apply to Gentiles.  This is why God’s mercy is so significant.  God, in his mercy, extended the promise of the kingdom to Gentiles, even though the promises and the covenants were never given to them.  This is why understanding what the law is and who the law applies to is so important.