Oh thanks J5:wub: for starting up again!
(when I read on the main board that Gv.3 had tanked, I ran over to do the same). Hopefully, the mods can locate past posts from all of the threads! If not however, we still greatly appreciate all their efforts!
Music often inspires me to write. This should come as little surprise. Songs have a way of stirring the senses. Music alone can fill a heart with joy, and it can bring a grown man to tears. Little wonder that music has been a powerful instrument in the hands of men and even angels, for millennia.
That being the case, we should be all the more careful what kind of music we listen to. Lyrics, even when ignored, seem to find their way into our heart, shaping our attitudes and even our convictions. That is why I discourage God’s people from listening to secular music, no matter how innocent it may seem. The fact is, we often underestimate the power of music’s influence upon our lives.
In the church, doubtless most of our songs of worship and praise were shaped by our beliefs. But it is interesting to note that some of our songs actually in and of themselves shape our beliefs. Case in point, consider the following chorus: "He said if I be lifted up, He said if I be lifted up, He said if I be lifted up from the earth, I will draw all men unto me."
Granted, that chorus is 100 percent scripture. But without context, it leaves itself completely open to interpretation. Every time I’ve heard it sung, it has always been used to promote worship and praise. "If we lift Jesus up in praise," they say, "then He will begin to draw all men to Himself!"
Now, I’m certainly not against worship! I believe our churches need more of it. I believe with all of my heart that God moves powerfully in the service of the redeemed when we magnify His matchless name! But I also believe that we should let the right scriptures make that argument. One need only read through the Psalms to find ample motivation for expressions of unified praise.
One such example in the Psalms is a personal favorite of mine. It is Psalm 134, and it reveals a wonderful dynamic of congregational praise: "Behold, bless ye the Lord, all ye servants of the Lord, which by night stand in the house of the Lord. Lift up your hands in the sanctuary, and bless the Lord. The Lord that made heaven and earth bless thee out of Zion." It appears that God is indeed moved by our praise, to the extant that as we bless Him (verse 1-2), He turns right around and blesses us (verse 3)!
The Call to Context
I am a firm believer that as preachers of the gospel we should strive to proclaim the precious Word of God within it’sown context rather than creating our own. We can make all the right points while quoting all the wrong scriptures. Paul, in his second epistle to Timothy, gave this young minister of the gospel the following exhortation: "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (II Timothy 2:15 NKJV)
He didn’t suggest that Timothy take a casual approach to study, but rather admonished him to "be diligent." The Greek word spoudazo, used here by Paul, means to make haste, to exert one's self, endeavor, give diligence . No wonder then that Paul uses the term worker to describe Timothy. It is a matter of effort, of labor, and even zeal to pour over the scriptures in order to faithfully communicate it’s truths to the people. The term "rightly dividing" means literally to "cut straight," and is a rabbinic term which means to "properly interpret" the Word. As preachers and teachers of God’s Word we must be faithful stewards of the gospel, remembering that we "shall receive a stricter judgment." (James 3:1 NKJV)
How Would Jesus Be Lifted Up?
Let us read the passage of scripture from which our chorus is derived to determine what kind of "lifting up" Jesus said would "draw all men unto Him." It is found in the Gospel According to John 12:32-33. "And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me. This he said, signifying what death he should die."
Let’s look at that last sentence again."This he said, signifying what death he should die." Notice that it does not say, "This he said, that all men might praise Him." Though all men indeed should praise the Lord, Jesus was declaring that through His death He would draw all men unto Himself. His audience understood this claim quite readily, for they responded: "We have heard out of the law that Christ abideth for ever: and how sayest thou, The Son of man must be lifted up?" (John 12:34)
The audience that day understood that Jesus, in being lifted up, would die, which made little sense in light of their Messianic expectations of a military Messiah who would liberate Israel from the oppression of Roman rule. So then, from the very beginning of our study, we are faced with the fact that Jesus was not hinting at the power of praise, but rather the power of the cross! Let us look deeper into what else Jesus had to say about being "lifted up" in the scriptures...
In John chapter three, we find an earlier account of Jesus talking, this time with Nicodemus, about being "lifted up." Here is what our Lord had to say in verses fourteen through fifteen: "And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up: That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life." (John 3:14-15)
Remember, in John chapter twelve Jesus said that in His being lifted up, He would draw all men unto Himself. Here, being lifted up is associated with the promise of eternal life for those who believe. Also important here is how Jesus describes being lifted up. He said that it would be in the same manner that Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness. That is to say, that the Old Testament account of Moses and the serpent would act as an object lesson for what would ultimately happen to Jesus Himself. Turning to Numbers 21:5-9, let us establish the proper context for Jesus’ statement to Nicodemus by reading for ourselves what events took place: 5 And the people spake against God, and against Moses, Wherefore have ye brought us up out of Egypt to die in the wilderness? for there is no bread, neither is there any water; and our soul loatheth this light bread. 6 And the Lord sent fiery serpents among the people, and they bit the people; and much people of Israel died. 7 Therefore the people came to Moses, and said, We have sinned, for we have spoken against the Lord, and against thee; pray unto the Lord, that he take away the serpents from us. And Moses prayed for the people. 8 And the Lord said unto Moses, Make thee a fiery serpent, and set it upon a pole: and it shall come to pass, that every one that is bitten, when he looketh upon it, shall live. 9 And Moses made a serpent of brass, and put it upon a pole, and it came to pass, that if a serpent had bitten any man, when he beheld the serpent of brass, he lived. In this incredible narrative, we can see several ways that Moses’ serpent foreshadowed Jesus, His death on the cross, and it’s affect on mankind.
First, the scripture says that the people murmured against God. This, of course, draws a perfect picture of the human condition. Mankind is inherently sinful, rebellious and unthankful. Even after winning a decisive battle against Arad and the Canaanite armies, the children of Israel began to complain. And just as sin brought devastating consequences to the Israelites, it continues to wreak its havoc over the lives of men today, thus proving the need for a Savior. Sin’s poison paralyzes the spirit, and destroys the soul. Without an "antidote," the scripture plainly declares, "the wages of sin is death." (Romans 6:23) As a consequence to Israel’s disobedience, God sent fiery serpents among the people, and many of them died. Understanding their error, the people came to Moses to seek reconciliation, and the Bible says that Moses prayed for the people. Just as Moses was the mediator of God’s mercy on that day, so Jesus is our mediator. He alone brings us saving grace that can purge the poison of sin’s bite, as the scripture says: "For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." (I Timothy 2:5)
God responded to Moses’ prayer by instructing him to fashion a serpent out of brass and to lift it up upon a pole. He was to use the very symbol of their judgment as a beacon of healing! In much the same way, the cross has become a symbol of hope for those held captive under sin’s dominion..
The Preaching of the Cross
By itself, the cross is a symbol of judgment, punishment and shame. It was a stumbling block to the Jews because the scriptures declare, "cursed is every one who hangeth on a tree." (Galatians 3:13; Deuteronomy 21:23). To the Greek, it was foolishness, for surely no reputable person worthy of the honors of worldly wisdom would ever suffer the death of a criminal. It was ugly. It was torturous. It was even blasphemous. And yet...it was glorious! As Paul wrote: "For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent. Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God." (I Corinthians 1:18-24)
Our Lord and Savior was lifted up on the cross, just as Moses lifted up the serpent upon the pole. And even as the people gazing upon the radiant glare of the serpent were healed and saved from the pangs of death, likewise when we look to the cross today, beholding the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, we too can find restoration, healing and wholeness! Praise the Lord! (Colossians 2:10, Hebrews 12:2)
I Will Draw All Men Unto Me:wub:
Jesus told the crowd in John chapter twelve that if He was lifted up on the cross, that He would draw all men to Himself. The work has been done. He was crucified. He was buried. And Praise God, He rose from the grave! Because of the great sacrifice Jesus made on Calvary’s cross, it is now possible for Him to draw mankind to himself in a way that had never before been experienced. That is why the preaching of the cross must never cease in our churches! Paul said to the church in Corinth that he chose to know nothing among them, except Jesus Christ, and Him crucified. (I Corinthians 2:2) Without the preaching of the cross, without lifting high the blood stained banner and proclaiming salvation to the lost, our services become vain, our worship becomes empty.
I began this essay discussing the preeminence given to praise in the use of our text of study. I hope now that you can see that though praise is an indispensable part of our experience with God, it should not be promoted at the expense of proper biblical exegesis. To do so would undermine the power of Jesus’ words in John chapter twelve, and misrepresent a most powerful truth. He will draw all men to Himself! Calvary made it possible.
Reading the proper context into Jesus’ words gives them more power, and I believe that it is all the more humbling to know that He draws people by His initiative versus our own. God demonstrated His great love for us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. (Romans 5:8) That is what draws all men unto Him!
Beyond the Outer Courts
Giving the proper context to "lifting up" the Lord should in no wise deter us from the joyous praise and exaltation that is inherent in our apostolic churches today. We would do well to remember that the scripture teaches us to "enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise!" (Psalm 100:4)
The Bible shows us the power of praise in the story of Paul and Silas in prison, and in the remarkable presence and glory of God that filled Solomon’s temple when the people praised God in a unified voice. (Acts 16:25-26; II Chronicles 5:13-14). There are many examples in the scripture to drive home the point regarding the priority and power of praise. But I fear that without the proper emphasis on the crucified Christ, that we can fall into the trap of believing our praise to be our access to God, rather than His blood. For though we enter into His gates with thanksgiving, and into His courts with praise, we enter into the Most Holy Place only by the blood of Jesus. (Psalm 100:4, Hebrews 10:19)
Too many denominational churches are adopting a more "charismatic" approach to congregational praise and allowing the beauty of God’s manifest presence in that atmosphere to substitute for real fellowship with Him. I believe that the Lord wants us to move beyond the outer courts, beyond the gates, and into the one place where true atonement is found. Atonement can be described as "at-one-ment," that is, to be "at one" with God. This intimate fellowship is only found in the Holy of Holies. There, and only there, can we truly know God. As I already mentioned, Hebrews 10:19 states that we enter into that Holy Place only by the blood of Jesus. And though His shed blood makes access possible, many churches deny the application of that blood by refusing the only biblical means of appropriation, namely baptism in the name of Jesus Christ.
The Water and the Blood
The old song goes, "What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus!" The blood truly can wash away all of our sins, but in order to do that it must be applied to our hearts and lives. In the scripture, the death of Jesus, and the blood of Jesus are intrinsically connected. Let us look at what the Bible says about baptism with regard to the death of our Lord: "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death..." (Romans 6:3-4a)
In Acts 22:16, baptism was administered to Paul to "wash away his sins," while Revelation 1:5 declares that Jesus "washes us from our sins by his own blood." There is no contradiction when we understand that it is through the waters of baptism that the blood is applied.
Consider the picture of baptism at Calvary, where the Roman soldier pierced Jesus’ side, and blood and water flowed. Those witnessing the crucifixion doubtless recalled being at the temple only hours before to have their Passover lamb killed at the altar. For under the altar was a trench, where the spilt blood was carried away by a stream of water that flowed under and away from the altar of sacrifice. According to Josephus, during the Passover at our Lord’s death, over 250,000 lambs were offered at the temple. There indeed was a river of blood and water that flowed from the temple. That river has ceased, but the river of Jesus blood still flows through the waters of baptism today. And applied to our hearts, it cleanses us from all sin, and brings us into a fellowship with the Father that no carnal means can duplicate.
That is why baptism in the name of Jesus is so important. It connects us to His death, it applies His blood to our lives for the remission of sins, and as Galatians 3:27 declares, "For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ." That is an intimacy that truly fulfills Jesus prediction, yea His promise, that if he be lifted up from the earth, He would draw all men unto Him!
Conclusion Our worship and praise is indeed a vital part of our services. But when we consider the words of our Lord in John chapter twelve, let us remember the sacrifice He was pointing to, so that we may likewise point others to the enduring power of the cross. In the end, it is Christ’s atoning blood that brings salvation to the nations, bringing men, women and children into a relationship with the Father that no earthly effort can afford. Let us therefore sing with joy and fresh understanding that old favorite hymn:
"At the cross, at the cross, where I first saw the light, and the burdens of my heart rolled away! It was there by faith I received my sight, and now I am happy all the day!"
In the The Blessed Name Of Jesus::wub:
Praying with all of youfor Easter celebrations, (worldwide), to beblessed, prosperous & joyous... enjoy!
Greater Grace Temple Bishop Charles H. Ellis III, Pastor
THE WHIP, HAMMER & CROSS
"LIVE" onstage at Greater Grace
March 19 & 21 - 7:00 p.m. (doors open @ 6pm) It's the gripping story of Jesus Christ and Calvary present "LIVE" onstage. The Whip, Hammer & Cross is a Motor City Easter tradition. Witness the power, the pageantry, and the color of this powerful presentation. It's FREE!
Plus, if you can't join us for this life-changing presentation, we invite you to watch it "LIVE" online !
(Go to main site or click on link to view.) Or Dvd's of the performance are also for sale!
WATCH: TOMB RAIDER - An illustrated sermon RESURRECTION SUNDAY MORNING
Sunday, March 23 - 10:00 a.m.
It's action-packed. The grave was no match for what God had ordained. Tomb Raider is the newest illustrated sermon from Bishop Ellis and the GGT Performing Arts Ministry. See it presented "LIVE" on Resurrection Sunday morning. One service only! (We'll also have a "LIVE" broadcast online. Don't miss it!)
PASTORS & CHURCH LEADERS CONFERENCE '08
MARK YOUR CALENDARS
9TH ANNUAL CONFERENCE IN DETROIT, MI
May 7-9, 2008
It's the place to learn about ministry. Pastors, ministers, church workers, and anyone interested in ministry should attend this conference. We offer dozens of classes on various ministries, plus you'll be blessed by our special guests BISHOP LARRY TROTTER, BISHOP PAUL MORTON, & BISHOP NOEL JONES. Also, musical guests THE SWEET HOLY SPIRIT CHOIR, AND THE NEVELS SISTERS.
More Details / Registration
Vendors are also welcome at this great event!
Here's a broadcast i love to listen to, quite regularly. it features a man named Bill Pearce, and it's called 'Nightsounds'. this happens to be the Easter message. you might hear some things that may surprise you.
to me, this guy has a magical speaking voice and he's a brilliant musician..and i think that he has the occasion to make topics that usually are debatable in a fiery way, at least, peaceably palatable to listen to. you have to have realplayer to listen, if you want the option to listen any time you want...it's free.. otherwise the program tends to be on at late night. http://www.itgm-radio.com/
u just scroll down and find the Nightsounds link in the right hand corner.