A New Father, a New Family, and a New Name

Leslie Lynch King, Jr

Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God (First John 3:1).

You’ve never heard his name, but Leslie Lynch King, Jr became the most powerful man in the world in the summer of 1974.

He was born in the State of Nebraska in 1913, and two weeks later Leslie’s mother fled her home to escape a physically abusive and alcoholic husband. She took her infant son with her to Michigan and soon married a paint salesman.

The hardworking and kind salesman adopted the baby, giving him a new father, a new family, and a new name. In an instant, Leslie King became Gerald R  Ford, Jr. He was one man but with two names. The old things had passed away and all things became new. The younger Ford was catapulted into the pages of history when he became the 38th President of the United States upon the resignation of Richard Nixon.

Adoption is a legal act whereby a child is separated from its biological parents and placed permanently into a new family. In adoption, the rights and responsibilities of one set of parents is terminated and the child is brought fully into a new family. Once in this new family, every legal difference between the adopted child and any biological children comes to an end. All the children legally become joint-heirs together in the family.

Through faith in Jesus, the sinner – not a cute cuddly baby – is adopted into the family of God. By this great legal transaction, God the Father lovingly makes the sinner His child forevermore. In salvation, we receive a new Father, a new family, and a new name. O! What love of God to be made a child forever of the King.

But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name … and redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons (John 1:12; Romans 4:5).

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A God of Order

Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words of this prophecy, and keep those things which are written in it; for the time is near (Revelation 1:3).

The past few months I’ve been watching the construction of a house. It began with the clearing and leveling of the land. Then the builder laid a foundation and put up the walls. Finally came the roof. There was an order to the process.

God is a God of order.

The Book of Revelation is filled with symbolism which many find mysterious, but the word revelation (Rev 1:1) means unveiling of truth, to make what was hidden visible, so every symbol is identified directly in the text or elsewhere in Scripture. Each of the 66 books of the Bible stands alone but also functions as a compliment to the other books, each building upon the other.

Revelation opens with a blessing upon those who read and obey God’s Revelation of Jesus Christ. But have you ever wondered why such a blessing is withheld by the Holy Spirit until the final book in the Scriptures? Why not begin the blessing with Genesis when all of the Bible is a blessing to the one who reads and obeys.

We serve a God of order, and Revelation is last in the Bible for two great reasons: first, it gives us the climax to the story of Jesus. Genesis gives us the beginning of man and the beginning of God’s promised Saviour; Revelation gives us the end of man and the triumph of God’s Saviour.

The second reason is so very important. There are 65 other books of the Bible that must be taught and understood before the Revelation can be taught or understood. Without understanding the message of Genesis, Revelation lacks a solid foundation. Unless we comprehend the priestly service of Leviticus, Revelation confuses us about the priestly work of Jesus. Seeing King Jesus in the Gospels helps you apprehend the fulfillment of Christ’s kingdom.

Yes, Revelation comes with a blessing to one who reads and understands; but it is a terrible woe to those who don’t have the solid understanding of the first 65 books. Like building a house, no one begins with the tiles on the roof. A sturdy house begins with a foundation, then the walls, and the roof comes last. Anything else will end with confusion and disaster.

Revelation comes last in the Bible for a reason.

Three Crosses

For Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but made alive by the Spirit (1 Peter 3:18)

It was Friday morning, and the Roman governor of Judea was feeling the pressure. Pilate didn’t want to condemn Jesus, but gave in to political pressure. Rather than doing what was right, Pilate went against the advice of his own wife and did what was convenient for himself and his future (Mt 27:19; Jn 19:8).

Pilate released to the Jews a well-known terrorist named Barabbas (Mt 27:15-17; Lk 23:25; Jn 18:40). Barabbas was more than a convicted robber; he was also a notorious murder and terrorist. He was, as the saying goes, guilty as sin.

That Friday, three crosses were erected on the highway leading into the Jerusalem. Barabbas and two other robbers were set to be crucified for their crimes.  Now guilty Barabbas had been set free and the innocent Jesus of Nazareth would take his place. The Perfect would die for the imperfect, the Righteous in the place of the guilty, the Holy One and the Just for a murderer (Acts 3:14).

Imagine that a vile, guilty, condemned sinner named Barabbas would go free, while a Substitute would die on the very cross built for Barabbas.

The Bible says that The wages of sin is death (Rom 6:23). There is no way around the penalty for sin. A Just God must see that justice is meted out.

Like Barabbas, you and I are guilty as sin. We must receive the penalty of eternal death unless an innocent substitute is willing to take our place.

When Jesus died on the cross, He died in the place of every guilty sinner. All the sinner must do is believe that Christ’s death fulfilled the transaction of the guilty for the Innocent. Faith in Christ and His work alone – without any addition of our own effort – saves the sinner.

This message of salvation by God’s grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, is the consistent story of salvation in the Bible from Adam to Noah, from Abraham to David, from Barabbas to you.

Three crosses. One was meant for you, but Jesus took your place. Believe on Him today. This is the Good News of God’s salvation

The Kerux

One of the important roles in the ancient Greco-Roman world was that of the kerux. The kerux or herald was responsible for delivering the message (kerugma) of a political or religious leader. The kerux was a free man whose duty was to call out the message of his superior with a loud voice.

As the spokesman and messenger of the authority, it was the preacher’s duty to summon the citizens of a city (ekklesia) together to hear the message of the leadership.

Unlike the elders of a city, the preacher had no authority at all. He was only a messenger for the one who was in power. It was his message which carried the authority.

Preaching is not about the method or style of delivery. Preaching is not even about the one heralding the message. Preaching is about the message being proclaimed.

So what message are you proclaiming each day with your words and deeds?

When I came to you, I did not come with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Cor 2:1-2).

The Throne of His Father David

The Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David. And He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of His kingdom there will be no end (Luke 1:32-33).

Two thousand years ago, the angel Gabriel told Mary she would give birth to a Son who would rule and reign over Jacob’s descendants forever. This King was foreshadowed in the lives of the Old Testament patriarchs, foretold by prophets, announced by angels over Bethlehem, peeked at on the Mount of Transfiguration, proven in words and works at His First Coming, and set as a promise in a Second Coming.

Jesus was propelled forcefully by the Holy Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by Satan (Mark 1:12, 13). One of His temptations was Satan’s offer to receive all the kingdoms of the world and their glory (Mt 4:8). In a moment of time (Luke 4:5) Satan showed Jesus the glories of every kingdom throughout human history. Satan continued, All this authority I will give You, and their glory; for this has been delivered to me, and I give it to whomever I wish (Luke 4:6). Jesus could have the kingdoms of this world for but a moment of worship.

God is in control of all things and nothing happens outside of His good pleasure. He ordains the leaders of every nation (Rom 13:1) and has set both national boundaries and their times (Acts 17:26), yet the governments of this world are under the leadership of the god of this world (2 Cor 4:4). This is why Christians must be careful that patriotism not be our religion nor politicians our hope.

The glories of human history were offered to Jesus for a simple act of declaring the worth-ship of Satan. Instead, He went to the cross to redeem sinners. By His obedience to the Father, He will one day destroy the kingdoms of this world and create a glorious kingdom of God upon the earth that will have no end.

Enquiring Minds Want to Know

There used to be a gossip tabloid advertised with the line, Enquiring minds want to know. It’s true! The human mind is seldom satisfied with what it knows and mankind thirsts to know more.

Wanting to know more more sent Christopher Columbus to adventure out from Europe in 1492 and sail to North America. In 1804, the longing to know more brought adventurers Meriwether Lewis and William Clark into the Pacific Northwest and the west coast into the fledgling American nation. The search to know more about our solar system rocketed three Americans onto the moon in 1969.

There is nothing wrong with wanting to know more, but our need to know can also lead us astray spiritually. Americans now spend more than 2 billion dollars a year on fortune-telling, palm-reading, and other occult divinations. We study our horoscope to explain our behavior. Mediums and seers are sought for solving our problems. Prophets, tarot cards, and Ouija boards are consulted for advice about tomorrow.

But God, who knows all things, is quiet about most of the things we hunger to know. He hasn’t revealed everything we’d like to know, but what He has revealed in the pages of Scripture is sufficient to make us wise for salvation and lead us into all spiritual truth (2 Tim 3:15-16). The Bible is sufficient to grow us in living godly lives (2 Pet 1:3-4). Our quest for additional spiritual knowledge must be pushed to the side and our focus made upon the truths that God has revealed in His Word.

Yes, God has secret things that belong only to Him (Deut 29:29), but all that we need to know is found in the pages of the Bible.

Keeping Busy with Religion

O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! (Luke 13:34).

The Biblical history of Israel reveals a startling truth: they killed the messengers God sent to them.

The murder of the Jewish prophets wasn’t by heathen immigrants or foreign armies, but by those busily following the Old Testament law of Moses.

Every day the Jews were offering their animal sacrifices by the thousands in the temple. They were diligent to pay their tithes – even of their salt and spices. They prayed many times a day. They memorized large sections of the Scriptures and even wore Bible verses tied to their arms and foreheads. They claimed to be devoted followers of God and as they were busy being religious they rejected the Word of God and killed His messengers. Their devotion was outward for show and had no inward reality. Jesus said that they rejected God.

False religion always hides among true godliness.

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will  … have a form of godliness but deny its power. And from such people turn away! (2 Timothy 3:1, 5).

Give Them Christ

Five hundred years ago, a Roman Catholic monk named Martin Luther (1483-1546) challenged the church of his day over un-Biblical practices. These religious traditions including the selling forgiveness of sins for money, worshiping artifacts, paying for your own sins in Purgatory, giving privileges to church leaders, the separation of priest from people, and praying to the dead. These practices shrouded and spoiled the Good News of Jesus.

Luther would have none of it. If it was not clearly given to the Church in the Scriptures it was forbidden. No special chairs, robes, or perks for priests. No Purgatory. No Pope. No priesthood. No forgiveness of sins by religious deeds. No altars, crucifixes, or statues of Jesus or Mary. No prayers to saints. No salvation outside of Christ alone by grace alone through faith alone.

Luther’s mentor pleaded with him to take it easy and not push so hard for reformation. “But Martin, if we get rid of all these things – the practices so many common people cling to – what will we give them in their place?

Luther replied firmly and intently, “Why, Sir, we will give them Christ! Yes, we will give them Christ!

We have more than our share of un-biblical practices and cultural traditions in churchianity today. These traditions of men are different than what Luther confronted, but are still against the Scriptures.

What we need – all that we need – is Christ.

I did not come to you with excellence of speech or of wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. For I determined not to know anything among you except Jesus Christ and Him crucified (1 Corinthians 2:1-2).

Cowboy Boots

An American Cowboy

As long as I can remember I’ve been a flip-flop and tennis shoe wearer; but after years of trying, my wife finally convinced me to buy a pair of cowboy boots last week. Had I known how beautiful, comfortable, and supportive they are to my feet, I’d have been born wearing them! (Sorry Mom).

Cowboy boots are amazing! Now I wear them all the time. I’ve even worn them to bed a couple of times. And if I may say so, they look really good.

Isaiah 52:7 reads, How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who proclaims peace, who brings glad tidings of good things, who proclaims salvation, who says to Zion, “Your God reigns!”

Honestly, feet are not very beautiful unless they’re in cowboy boots. Yet the Bible calls the feet of those who bring good news beautiful. Their feet aren’t attractive, but are made attractive by the news they carry.

For 43 years, the Athenians and Persians had been at war. Finally in 490 BC, a runner was sent from the battlefield of Marathon to Athens to proclaim the Greeks had defeated the Persians. The runner’s pathway was largely uphill and a difficult 26 mile journey. When he arrived in Athens, the herald shouted, “Victory!” and died. The man who ran the first “marathon” died bringing good news, but how lovely his feet must have been to the war-weary Athenians!

When Isaiah wrote, he was looking forward to the Good News of salvation in Jesus.  Through this Man is preached to you the forgiveness of sins; and by Him everyone who believes is justified from all things from which you could not be justified by the law of Moses (Acts 13:38-39).

Emancipation Proclamation

On January 1, 1863, at the height of the great American Civil War, President Abraham Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation. This executive order declared that more than 3 million slaves in the 10 rebellious southern states were free. As soon as a slave escaped his master, or a slave was met by Union troops, the slave was legally free. With this Proclamation, the ending of slavery in the United States became one of the goals of the War.

The Biblical word redemption is one of profound beauty. It describes a freedom bought by the payment of ransom. It was used in the ancient Roman world of the New Testament for a slave who was bought for the purpose of being set free. It’s the basis of our English word emancipation. 

In the Bible, redemption speaks of Christ’s freeing of His people from the power and penalty of sin through the shedding of His own blood. Guilty sinners who place their trust in Christ alone, receive pardon, and the Father casts away all of our sins as far as the east is from the west (Psalm 103:12).

The death of Jesus paid the price for our redemption. Upon Christ’s death, the Father forgave all our sins, delivered us from death unto life, and gave us an eternal inheritance in His household.

In Him, Jesus, we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7).