Birthdays: Jeremy Pannell – Aug. 30th – Rodney Hiers – Aug. 30th
"I WAS BEFORE"
Saul of Tarsus was a moral man, a man with an excellent public record, a Pharisee and more. He was also a religious man, highly esteemed among his peers and a religious teacher taught by the greatest teacher of his day, Gamaliel. But after God was pleased to reveal His Son in Him, he made this confession: "Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief." (1 Timothy 1:13) Think about it, the very things men and women count as modern Christianity, the very professions they cling to and the very things most dare not question, he called blasphemy and unbelief! He was at that time an unbeliever. His preaching, religious activity and the righteousness he thought he had established before God was blasphemy. When did he find out what he was before? AFTER Christ stopped him on the road to Damascus and caused him to know the truth about who He was! Only in the "after" of regeneration, faith and being brought to the knowledge of the truth. How do men find out who Christ is? By the Spirit of truth taking the things of Christ and showing them to them! When He shows us in the gospel who Christ really is by showing us there what Christ did. What did Christ do? He, by His life and death on the cross, saved His people from their sins! When the Spirit of God revealed Christ to me a lost preacher years ago, He did so by teaching me what the scriptures actually say about His glorious Person and accomplished work. I was brought from one of the ways of death to the way of life, righteousness and peace in Christ. When I looked back and weighed what I believed before that, my view of God and the work of Christ before that, I too had to confess, "I was before a blasphemer.." Like Paul and the Ephesian believers, I trusted Christ "after I heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation." (Eph. 1:13) If there never was a before, then there's not an after! The word of truth is not "how to be saved" but rather "the gospel of your salvation." How that Christ saved you all by Himself through His sufferings and death, all by Himself and for His glory! His bloodshed for me and His righteousness imputed to me is all my salvation. His life laid down is my hope, not my life lived for Him! We see what we were before, lost blasphemers, when God is pleased to open our eyes to the truth!
--- Gary Shepard
When Pilate therefore heard that saying, he brought Jesus forth, and sat down in the judgment seat in a place that is called the Pavement, but in the Hebrew, Gabbatha. (John 19:13)
Man has no right to pass any sort of judgment at all upon the ONE who “rules in the heavens and among the inhabitants of the earth” (Dan.4:35) Nebuchadnezzar goes on to state, “there is none that can stay HIS hand or say unto him what doest thou?” (i.e.; question HIS doing much less HIS person.) Yet here at Gabbatha we see both Jews and Gentiles alike questioning and condemning HIM who is the “fullness of the GODHEAD bodily”. What arrogance that any worm of the dust should think it in any wise proper to judge the JUDGE of all the earth.
While it is clear that this examination was a contrived one which dared to put the LORD of all the earth on trial, yet in the common preaching of our day men are called upon to do the same thing as if they had that right and ability to continue to do so. We often hear men plead with others to “accept the LORD”, to “let the LORD in their heart”, or to otherwise make some sort of judgment on HIM whose way is past finding out. The underlying notion behind such “preaching” is that man is some sort of “sovereign” over his own “free will” and does indeed hold the LORD hostage until he makes up his mind as to whether or not to “allow” the LORD (who according to them is wringing HIS hands in hope that they will choose HIM) to save him.
The dire predicament that all men are in by nature does not afford them either the position, nor the ability to make such a “choice”. All men are “dead in trespasses and sins”, not merely wounded but without hope. Men cannot and will not choose the way of the LORD because they are bound in the very darkness of a Stygian midnight in which they cannot see spiritual things. “Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3)
It is the height of arrogance for any potsherd of the earth to think that he might “contend” or bargain with HIM who has the power to “destroy both soul and body in hell”. This is why the LORD said that HE had hid these things from the wise and prudent and revealed them unto babes. None shall be saved except that man for whom the LORD JESUS CHRIST did obtain eternal redemption. They are those who are made manifest by a broken and contrite heart which are made to see their own just destruction played out before their very eyes and compelled to cast themselves upon the mercy of the Eternal JUDGE. “Blessed is the man whom thou choosest, and causest to approach unto thee.” (Psalm 65:4)