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Recently, I was reading through the twenty-second chapter of Luke’s Gospel and what caught my attention was the way in which Satan continued to have his way with Judas. Take a moment and read Luke 22:1-6.
Luke says in verse 3 that “Satan entered Judas.”That phrase could mean many things, but I think its safe to say Satan began to sway and lead Judas at this critical point. Judas’ engagement with Satan begins with initiation, whereby Judas being led by Satan goes to the Chief Priests and hatches this plan, but then it moves from initiation to continual cooperation because in John’s Gospel, the Apostle John says after the Passover dinner, Satan enters Judas again (Jn. 13:27) and Judas leaves the room, apparently to tell the Chief Priests and the Pharisee’s where Jesus was going to be later that evening so they could arrest Him. So what began with initiation has led to continual cooperation, and then transitions to culmination, where the evil intention is acted upon. In Judas’ case the culmination was sealed with a kiss, when he handed Jesus over to the soldiers.
Track the progression! It begins with initiation, moves to continual cooperation, ends with culmination, and results in damnation: After betraying the Lord Jesus, Judas feels remorse for his act and punishes himself by committing suicide, and in Acts 1, the Apostle Peter says, “Judas left to go where he belongs” which is a euphemism for Hell. Judas went to hell not because he committed suicide but because he never at any point in his relationship with the Lord repented and allowed the Lord to actually be the Lord of his life.
Now please consider Judas’ life: Judas heard Jesus teachings’ for over 3 years, he witnessed the many miracles Jesus did during that time, he associated with the people of God on a regular basis, and yet given all of that, he never trusted Jesus as Lord (Jn. 6:64; 70).
Maybe you’re reading this and you’ve had the privilege of hearing the Gospel preached week in and week out, you’ve seen the Lord work powerfully in others’ lives and you’ve benefited from being in relationship to the people of God, but you’ve never personally trusted Jesus as the Lord of your life. If that’s true, let me say this to you: If you don’t yield control of your life over to the Lord Jesus, then at the big, intense, critical moments of life you’ll be swayed and led by spiritual forces that seek to deceive and destroy you, just as Judas was.
The truth is, being in close proximity to the teachings of Jesus, the miracles of Jesus and the people of Jesus is not the same thing as being connected to the Life of Jesus.
One of the major developments of the Protestant Reformation was the return to Scripture as supreme authority. The Reformers coined the phrase sola Scriptura (Scripture alone) to summarize this conviction. To rightly understand the Reformers conviction that Scripture is our highest authority, we need to understand what the Scriptures are, how God authored the Scriptures, and what Jesus said in regard to them.
The Scriptures are the expression of God’s mind given to us in written form. The term Scripture means sacred writing and the word Bible comes from the Greek word meaning book. Therefore the Scriptures are a book of God’s sacred writing. It’s a collection of 66 books, written in three different languages (Hebrew, Greek, Aramaic) written from 3 different continents (Asia, Africa, Europe) over a span of fifteen hundred years (from about 1450 B.C. to about A.D. 90) by over forty different authors. These people were not alike. They came from various levels of society and from very diverse backgrounds. Some were kings; others were statesmen, priests, prophets. There was a fisherman, a tax-collector, a tentmaker and a physician. Their opinions on any other subject would have been as wide and diverse as ours is today. Yet together they produced a volume that is uniquely unified in its message. The message is, in short, a single story regarding the restoration and renovation of the entire material and immaterial universe through Jesus Christ!
Before His death and resurrection, Jesus told the disciples that a day would come when He would no longer be in their presence but that the Holy Spirit would come and would remind them of His life and teachings so that they could write and teach accurately that which Christ accomplished (Jn. 14:25-26; 16:12-15). The Scripture, unlike any other book, is a book written by both God and man. There was a partnership between the Holy Spirit and the human authors as the Spirit guided them in the process. God was working with their unique personalities, their unique backgrounds, unique life experiences, their education, to enable, or to inspire the writing of Scripture in such a way that they wrote all that God wanted them to say without excess or error (2 Pet. 1:20-21, 1 Cor. 14:37). We call this divine inspiration. As one theologian wrote, “The belief that God wrote Scripture in concert with human authors whom he inspired to perfectly record his words is called verbal (the very words of the Bible) plenary (every part of the Bible) inspiration (are God-breathed revelation). Very simply, this means that God the Holy Spirit inspired not just the thoughts of Scripture but also the very details and exact words that were perfectly recorded for us as Scripture.” As Evangelical Christians, we value and love the Scripture; we cannot simply ignore parts of the Bible as primitive, dismiss other sections as culturally irrelevant, or explain them away by human reasoning. Paul tells us, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work” (2 Tim. 3:16-17, emphasis added).
The most important reason for believing the Scripture to be the Word of God and the sole authority for Christians in all matters of faith and practice is that this is what the Lord Jesus taught. Jesus highly esteemed the Old Testament; He continually quoted it (Mt. 4:1-11), saw His life as a fulfillment of it (Lk. 4:16-21), and declared, “I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished” (Matt. 5:18). An iota is the smallest letter of the Hebrew alphabet, so what Jesus was saying was that even the most minute parts of the Mosaic Law are authoritative. Because our Lord Jesus trusted the Scriptures as the Word of God and submitted to it as an authoritative revelation, we do the same.
Scripture is the expression of God’s mind, therefore, we encourage all Believers to memorize, meditate, study and share His truth. We trust the Holy Spirit to use the Scriptures to make us more like Jesus, both individually and corporately as the church.
 Gerry Breshears, Doctrine: What Christians Should Believe, pg. 48. Crossway, 2010
One of the most shocking statements that Jesus makes comes after Jesus invites a man to become one of His disciples and the man responds by saying, “I will Lord, but first…” And in this man’s case he says, “First, let me go and bury my father.” That seems like a reasonable request. In that day, as in ours, it was very much expected of children to honor their mother and father based upon the Ten Commandment’s exhortation to do so, and a proper burial of your parents certainly is a way to honor them.
According to Dr. Darrell Bock within the Jewish culture a proper burial was such a major concern that it was a religious, social, and ethical priority that took precedence over everything in your life. So when Jesus invites this man into discipleship and the man responds by essentially saying, “I will Lord, but first let me bury my father,” it’s the ‘best’ possible reason in the world for delaying discipleship to Jesus Christ! And Jesus will have none of it.
He responds to this man’s seemingly reasonable request by saying, “Let the dead bury their own dead…” Wow! This is a scandalous statement coming from the lips of Jesus. What in the world is He saying? Is Jesus being cruel? Is He being harsh with this man? Jesus makes this shocking statement to make His point, and His point is that even the ‘best’ excuse for delaying discipleship to Him is no excuse!
Jesus, by making this statement is telling this man (and us) that discipleship to Jesus transcends all other allegiances and priorities and nothing should get in the way of it or postpone it!
So many people postpone becoming a follower of Jesus by telling themselves something such as, ‘when I’m older, then I’ll get serious about Jesus’ or ‘when I’m married and have kids, then I’ll dive into discipleship.’ Others say, “When I have my life figured out, and I’m not so busy, then I’ll begin to really follow Jesus.” And Jesus by shocking this man with these words is essentially telling this man, “No more delays. You need to stop making excuses, and stop delaying discipleship and begin today. Stop thinking that at some indiscriminate point in the future you’ll get serious about Me, make up your mind to get serious about Me today!”
If you’re someone who has been postponing your relationship with Jesus so you can pursue something else, even something the world tells you is honorable, please catch what Jesus is saying here. Jesus is telling you that you’ll always find another reason for delaying discipleship to Him until tomorrow if you don’t make up your mind and determine in your heart to really follow Him today!
 In the Mishnah, M. Ber. 3.1 reads, “He who is confronted by a dead relative is free from reciting the Shema, from the Eighteen Benedictions (the prayer of Israel), and from all the commandments stated in Torah.”
In Luke 2:1-7, Joseph and Mary travel from Nazareth to Bethlehem to take part in a census that Caesar Augustus ordered. Now the trip fromNazareth toBethlehem was no picnic, we’re talking around 90 miles, and one translation says, “Mary was great with child” meaning she’s ready to have this baby! Now let me ask the women who have been pregnant and ready to give birth, would this 90 mile trip, while you’re “great” with child be a little bit of an inconvenience for you? Wouldn’t you absolutely everything to get out of this trip? Yes, of course you would, yet Mary couldn’t.
So often the things in our lives that we see as major inconveniences, the challenges that we would get out of if we could but simply can’t, are the situations that God wants in our lives to fulfill His purposes in us and through us…just like this episode of traveling nearly 100 miles while Mary is “great” with child. God uses Caesar Augustus’ decree to fulfill His promised rise of a special ruler from Bethlehem. God’s providence is seen throughout this episode.
When you find yourself in painful, frustrating situations in life, things that you wouldn’t choose for yourself, but you can’t legitimately get out of, you can be certain that God is working providentially, behind the scenes to fulfill His purposes in and through you.
What situations in your life right now are out of control? What situations in your life are painful, and frustrating, and you’d get out of them if you could, but you can’t? Those are the situations, the events in your life that God is using. The response on our part isn’t to try and figure it out, or to resist necessarily, but to trust that God is working…and I’ve found that when I’m going through painful situations, or frustrating events that I have to tell myself over and over again that God is at work right now working out all situations and events for His good purposes.
As the Apostle Paul tells us “God causes all things work together for good for those who love Him and have been called according to His purpose” and the “all things” certainly include our pain and frustration over situations and events. So consistently tell yourself, “God is at work in this painful situation and I’ll trust Him” because if you don’t keep telling yourself that, the natural human response is to doubt whether God loves you, whether He’s really in control or not, whether you’re saved or not, whether He’s really good or not, or to question if you’re being punished for something. That’s moralism, not the Gospel, so you got to keep telling yourself, “My God is a providential God and He uses all things to bring about His good purposes, and I’m going to trust Him with my pain and frustration.”
God uses circumstances beyond our control to shape our lives for certain purposes. It was good enough for His Son, it’s certainly good enough for us!