Monday, June 29, 2020
When Christians are Great in the Eyes of God
If it’s worth saying once, it’s worth saying twice.
If it’s not worth saying twice, it’s not worth saying once.
So I’d like to go back to my time at Toledo, Ohio’s Grace Presbyterian Church over 30 years ago because, well, uh, it’s worth repeating.
The church was about 60% black and 40% white when I left.
It was 100% black when I was called to be its pastor.
During the interview/interrogation for becoming pastor, a nice middle-aged woman asked, “So Dr. Kopp, how will you feel about being the pastor of a black church?”
I replied, “God doesn’t like black churches…or white churches…or yellow, red, brown or any other color churches…Our God inspired Paul to write, “There is no Jew or Greek, male or female, slave or free in Jesus. If you are one with Jesus, you are one with all of God’s children. If you ain’t, you ain’t!’…Our God inspired our nation’s Declaration of Independence to announce to a fallen world so it could get back up, ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness’…Just like all true believers, I am with Martin Luther King, Jr. in saying, ‘I have a dream – I have a passionate commitment – that all God’s children will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character.’”
Essentially, I was saying people who love Jesus love like Jesus and Jesus cares about souls not skins.
We’ll go a little deeper on that a little later.
Of course, racists come in “red and yellow, black and white,…[and brown]…They are not precious in His sight. Jesus doesn’t like the racists of the world.”
So it wasn’t long after starting that I had some problems with black racists.
There was one woman who was especially nasty to me.
My first nine years on the corner of Lincoln and Main were awful.
Only after we…
Well, that’s not water under the bridge.
As Jose Saramago wrote, “They say time heals all wounds, but we never live long enough to test that theory.”
Praise God all relationships are reconciled in heaven by grace through faith in Jesus.
Heaven is something to look forward to before the end.
We overcame, survived and are moving into the future with our greatest ambition, highest goal and most fervent prayer to honor Jesus by the book as enlightened by the Holy Spirit who never contradicts Jesus by the book.
When I was called on Father’s Day and asked if I’d like to take a church in Florida, I said, “No, I’ve only been in Belvidere for 15 years and I’m only getting started. We’ve cleared out the tares, especially through this CCP COVID-19 thing, given the church back to Jesus and I believe God is sending reinforcements who don’t care about politics or denominations or secular correctness or anything else but Jesus. Just Jesus. Knowing Him and making Him known. Belvidere is my home and the greater Rockford area is my mission field. I have more zeal and energy for my call than ever before. So let me recommend…to you.”
Back to Toledo, I went to Judge Robert Penn, an elder in the church, and complained about a black woman hating me just because I’m white.
He said, “She’s just like some white people who hate black people just because they’re black. She’s ignorant!”
People who care more about skins than souls are ignorant.
Let us be clear about this with enthusiasm and without equivocation.
All lives matter to God.
Black lives, white lives, yellow lives, red lives, brown lives and any other color of lives that populate the planet.
All lives matter to God and all lives matter to people who love God; and anybody who doesn’t believe that is just ignorant.
Let’s say it twice, three times, four times or a billion times because it’s the best news for all times: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16).
If you don’t know that and aren’t making that known, you’re ignorant.
If you don’t know God cares about all souls with no respect for the skins, you’re ignorant.
For the trillionth time, here’s why: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that whoever believes in Him will not perish but have eternal life.”
Only the really thick-headed, dim-witted, dumb and damned because they’ve been too ignorant to be intimate with Jesus by the book don’t know that and make that known.
Only the ignorant haven’t figured out there will never be any peace until God is seated at the tables of school boards, church boards, city councils and legislative and executive and legal branches of government.
Only the ignorant don’t know no lives will matter until all lives go through Jesus to each other.
Only the ignorant don’t know there will never be reconciliation until we approach each other through Jesus.
Only the ignorant don’t know there will never be justice or peace until we see each other as Jesus sees everybody.
That’s why people who know Jesus make Him known.
We want people to be saved.
We want people to be saved so they go to heaven after the last breath and live in harmony with everybody else going to heaven by grace through faith in Jesus in the mean times.
That’s what we want because that’s what Jesus wants…and commands.
Christians are great in the eyes of God when we trust and obey Him.
A very big part of trusting and obeying God is making Him known as Lord and Savior because we know Him as Lord and Savior.
Let me put that another way.
If we know Jesus as Lord and Savior, we make Him known.
That’s when we’re great in the eyes of God.
That’s what His great commandment (Matthew 22:34-40) and great commission (Matthew 28:16-20; Acts 1:4-8) are all about.
Knowing Jesus, we make Him known.
Again, if we know Jesus, we make Him known.
The great commandment: “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind. This is the greatest commandment of all. You prove it by loving your neighbor as much as you love yourself to prove you love the Lord your God.”
Christians are totally in love with God – emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, physically and materially. Everything we have is managed with Him in mind. We pray and try to love and honor God through all of our thoughts, creeds and deeds. We pray and try to love everyone around us with grace, mercy and forgiveness, seeking their best in all things no matter who, what, where, when or why without the need or expectation for response, regard or reward. We know the extent of our love for others measures the extent of our love for God. Partial is not total. Moderate is not total. Lukewarm is not total. Christians love God totally and totally love others as much as they love themselves to prove they love God. Totally!!!!!!!
The great commission: “Spread the Word! Be my witnesses in all of the world! Make disciples of all nations! Preach the Word, teach the Word and baptize people in the Word – in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit! You know Me! Now make Me known!”
Do you notice the connection between the great commandment and great commission?
If we love God, we love people.
That’s the great commandment.
If we know God, we make God known.
That’s the great commission.
If we are saved, we want people to be saved because God loves them, we love God and we love God by loving like God who wants everybody to be saved.
If we are saved by God, we are sent by God to save others because God wants them to be saved and we want to save them because we’re of the same mind.
Are you catching the drift?
Obviously, some don’t.
We know that because some pulpiteers and pewsitters are not making God known outside the doors of their religious clubs because they don’t know Him enough to make Him known because they would make Him known if they knew Him.
Or as an old missionary once told me, “You can’t give away what you ain’t got for yourself!”
Please don’t insult God’s intelligence (omniscience) by saying you know Him when you’re not making Him known.
Please don’t insult God’s intelligence (omniscience) by saying you love God when you’re not loving people enough to tell them how to be saved –experience existential relief in the assurance of eternal life in heaven – by grace through faith in Jesus.
Keeping the gospel to yourself isn’t love.
It’s something that isn’t good!
Let’s go deeper.
We’re great in the eyes of God when we keep the great commandment and great commission because they are inextricably woven together into the same fabric of faith.
You can’t love God and love people without sharing God’s love to prove you love God.
We are saved by God to be sent out by God to save the world because, remember, again, all lives matter to God.
Let’s go deeper.
God doesn’t want anybody to be left behind.
God doesn’t want anybody to go to hell.
God wants everybody to be saved and go to heaven.
So if we love God and love like God, we want everybody to be saved and go to heaven and we make that known by heralding Jesus as Lord and Savior.
Let’s go deeper.
People who know God make God known because they care about everybody’s marriages and health and jobs and all of their other existential needs but care most about what lasts forever.
Everything in life is temporary.
Eternity lasts, uh, forever.
Yes, we’re glad people come to church and we’re privileged to pass out food boxes and we’ve got great dinners and will resume them once the penal colony of Illinois is liberated and we’ve had programs that were really cool and we’d like to have more and we’ve got great…but the greatest of these is love – the love that goes beyond the temporary satisfactions to eternal salvation.
That’s why Peter said this to the man who asked him for some money: “I don’t have silver or gold, but what I do have, I give you. In the name of Jesus, get up and walk!” (Acts 3:1-10).
We don’t have enough food boxes to feed the world.
We don’t have enough gas cards or this cards or that cards or enough of anything to satisfy the existential needs of the world.
That’s all good stuff.
But it’s never enough and not nearly enough in the end.
None of it lasts.
But we have Jesus and He is forever!
All of that good-deed-doing-feeding-bellies existential stuff is good.
It expresses our love through care and compassion; and Jesus wants us to do that. Check out Matthew 25 if you need a refresher on our social responsibilities.
But it’s not the greatest expression of love.
The greatest love is to introduce people to Jesus as Lord and Savior.
That’s the greatest because it/He lasts forever in heaven/paradise.
John 21:15-19 records an excruciatingly tough talk between Jesus and Peter that every Christian must consider to measure the authenticity of their faith.
Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love Me?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter answers, “You know I love You.”
“Then feed My sheep,” Jesus says.
A second time, Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love Me?”
“Yes, Lord,” Peter answers, “You know I love You.”
“Then shepherd My sheep,” Jesus says.
A third time, Jesus asks Peter, “Do you love Me?”
“Yes, Lord, for crying out loud,” an exasperated Peter answers, “You know everything. You’re omniscient. You know I love You. C’mon, You know I’m all in with You.”
“Then feed My sheep,” Jesus says.
Essentially, Jesus is saying, “I won’t be convinced you love Me until you prove it by loving Me by loving like Me with everyone everywhere all of the time.”
Remember, Peter denied Jesus three times during His passion.
Jesus wants to make sure that Peter is with the program.
That’s why Jesus is repeating the question.
If it’s worth asking once, it’s worth asking twice just to make sure.
Jesus labors the point because Christians are great in the eyes of God only when they know God and make God known as God commands in Matthew 22 and commissions us as officers in His salvation army in Matthew 28 and Acts 1.
The great commandment to love God by loving like God with everything that we’ve got and the great commission to make God’s saving Lordship known as the greatest expression of love because heaven lasts forever is good news for a world trying to figure out which lives matter.
All of them.
You, me, them and all of the below by order of all of the above.
All lives matter to God and people who love God.
Now is a good time to read John 3:16-17.
That’s the reason for the great commandment and great commission.
God loves the world.
All lives matter to Him.
Blessings and Love!
Monday, June 22, 2020
Good News for Bad Times
The disciples asked Jesus, “When will we know we’re in the end times? What will be the signs?”
Jesus answered, “Watch out! Wake up! Stay alert that no one deceives you! Many will come in My name, pretending to be for Me and even pretending to be Me, and there will be confusion, conflict, famine, disease, epidemics, earthquakes, wars, falling away from faith and unGodly behaviors even in church sanctuaries. These are some of the signs that the end is near. I am telling you now so you are not surprised when the end is near. I am telling you what to expect before the end. Just remember these signs are events leading to the end; and they will be like birthing pains that increase in frequency and intensity as birth approaches. You will know it is coming. You will know I am coming.”
Then Jesus went on to detail the signs and events that are coming with increasing frequency and intensity before the end of time, permanent defeat of the unholy trinity of satanos, Antichrist and false prophecy and establishment of the eternal Kingdom of God.
It’s called the Olivet Discourse because Jesus provided these prophecies while on the Mount of Olives.
The most detailed Biblical account is Matthew 24-25 with complementary texts in Mark 13 and Luke 21 along with important background in the Hebrew Scriptures, especially Ezekiel and Daniel, Paul’s epistles and, of course, Revelation.
Let’s start with Matthew’s account as an outline for the Word on what’s coming before Jesus comes back for us.
Before we do that, let’s turn to Isaiah to set the stage.
Isaiah 5 warned humanity is on a downward spiral into increasing depravity and distancing from God: “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness, who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter. Woe to those who consider themselves wise and judge themselves clever. Woe to those who are heroes at drinking wine, who are champions at pouring beer…”
Bob Hecox comes to mind.
He went to heaven a few years back; but as his days in time were drawing to a close, God gave a rhetorical question to him that he kept repeating over and over and over again before, in and after worship and Bible studies, “Do you know what time it is?”
Starkly, “Can’t you see the end is near?”
It’s so bizarre.
Isaiah was right on target back then and especially now; for when it comes to increasing intensity and frequency, the shamelessness of depravity and distancing from God is the real pandemic of modernity.
Again, this time using Peterson’s translation/paraphrase of Isaiah: “Doom to you who use lies to sell evil, who haul sin to the market by the truckload…Doom to you who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness in place of light and light in place of darkness…who hold such a high opinion of yourselves! All you’re good at is drinking – champion boozers…And then line your pockets with bribes from the guilty while you violate the rights of the innocent.”
Pretty prophetic, huh?
It’s no longer a fictional planet of comic books back in the early 60s.
We have become Bizarro World!
See if the Godless American socialists and communists in sheep’s clothing polluting Springfield and DC along with their “useful idiots” on college campuses and in entertainment, media and marketplace aren’t warped mirror images of the Bizarro World credo: “Us do opposite of all Earthly things. Us hate beauty. Us love ugliness. Is big crime to make anything perfect on Bizarro World…[No capitalists or Free enterprise on Bizarro Word]…Us guarantee losing money for you!”
Bizarro is the world where everything is opposite of truth. Up is down, first is last, good is bad, wrong is right, logic is illogical, giving is taking, insanity is sane, liberty is tyranny, sky is green, trees are blue, greeting is goodbye, leaving is hello, vice versa and…
Wait a second!
Are we talking about a comic book or not so comical bizarro America right now?
Isaiah was right.
Jesus was right.
Of course, they were/are right.
One was inspired by God and One is God!
So let’s take a closer look at the recording of our Lord’s prepper while on the Mount of Olives.
Jesus said we’ll know the end is near as preface to His return, the ultimate defeat of all darkness and eternal victory and establishment of the Kingdom of God when we see the increased frequency and intensity of confusion, conflict, famine, disease, epidemics, earthquakes, wars, apostasy and wolves in sheep’s clothing or the accomplices of Antichrist wearing masks of decency to conceal their evil intentions.
These will be tribulating times for Christians: “Then they will hand you over for persecution, and they will kill you. You will be hated by all nations because of My name. Then many will take offense, betray one another and hate one another. Many false prophets will rise up and deceive many…Lawlessness will multiply, the love of many will grow cold.”
We don’t need more exposition because America has become a leader among the losers for illustrating the depravity and distancing from God that’s the real pandemic of our time.
All we have to do is turn on the news and read the papers and look around and check our closets to know bad is becoming worse: “They are going to throw you to the wolves and kill you, everyone hating you because you carry My name. And then, going from bad to worse, it will be dog-eat-dog, everyone at each other’s throat, everyone hating each other. In the confusion, lying preachers will come forward and deceive a lot of people. For many others, the overwhelming spread of evil will do them in” (Peterson’s translation/paraphrase).
No wonder Biblical prophecy is called history written in advance.
Let’s keep going because it’s coming.
Jesus tells us to watch for something especially unholy and horrific: “When you see the abomination that causes desolation, spoken of by the prophet Daniel, standing in the holy place, then it’s very close.”
The “abomination of desolation” referred to the profaning of the Temple by bringing unholiness into that sacred place in the 1st century.
The “abomination of desolation” refers to the profaning of churches by bringing unholiness into sanctuaries ever since with increasing frequency and intensity.
Some people think our Lord’s Olivet Discourse was prophecy for His time alone and some people think our Lord’s Olivet Discourse was prophecy for our time and the end times.
Another quick parenthesis before getting back to that parenthesis.
I’m just scratching the surface of my relationship with Jesus by the book as enlightened by the Holy Spirit who never contradicts Jesus by the book but I am scratching! Or as I like to say, “I’d like to tell you everything that I know but I don’t have five more minutes. What I’m saying is dig for yourself if what I’m learning has alerted you to the times. I’ll get back to digging deeper a little later.
Anyway, I am convinced the Olivet Discourse was for the 1st century and this century and whatever times are left.
The Romans destroyed Jerusalem’s Temple in A.D. 70 and sacrificed a pig in the Temple which anyone remotely aware of Jewish law and sensitivities knows absolutely horrified believers in the God of Abraham and Hebrew Scriptures.
So Jesus was talking about the 1st century.
We also know Jesus was talking about this century and the end times because the apocalypse to John that most of us call Revelation was given to John about 30 years after that and Revelation is the most vivid charting of what is to come in harmony with the Olivet Discourse.
So when someone asks if Jesus was speaking about what was going to happen in the 1st century or in the future, the answer is a resounding yes.
Hebrews 13:8: “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.”
Getting back to the Olivet Discourse, here’s the good news for bad times: “The one who endures to the end will be delivered.”
Again, Peterson: “Staying with it – that’s what God requires. Stay with it to the end. You won’t be sorry, and you’ll be saved.”
There it/He is!
Hang with God and we won’t get hung up in the hassles of life and the end times that are going to be tribulating.
There is good news for bad times if we stay stuck to Jesus.
Things are going to be tough for those left behind.
Yes, a rapture or snatching away or lifting up to heaven when Jesus comes back to take His Church will mean believers will avoid the really and undesirably awful times that are coming. Yes, it’s going to get worse as those birth pains increase in frequency and intensity. So for those like those in our government, news media, entertainment, education and even some churches pretending to be for God who can’t wait to get rid of us, we will be glad to be gone by rapture.
Some texts to read up on that are John 14, 1 Thessalonians 4 and 1 Corinthians 15.
Yes, there will be time for those left behind who will be given another chance to receive Jesus into the head, heart and gut to overcome tribulating times in the assurance of eternal life in heaven.
I remember reading the old Scot William Barclay, among the greatest tradition-historical Biblical scholars of all time, who said the Olivet Discourse teaches history is going somewhere because history is His story.
We cannot mess up the victory that’s coming for Jesus and everyone who loves Jesus and loves Jesus by loving like Jesus to prove they love Jesus.
Or something like that.
There is good news for bad times if Jesus is in our heads, hearts and guts.
Paul wrote about it in 1 Thessalonians 1:8-10: “The news of your faith in God is out. We don’t even have to say anything anymore. You’re the message!...You deserted the dead idols of your old life so you could embrace and serve God, the true God. People marvel at how expectantly you await the arrival of His Son, who He raised from the dead – Jesus, who rescued us from certain doom.”
There it/He is!
He rescued us from existential depression.
He rescued us for eternal life in heaven/paradise which generates the strong, calm and serene sanity to overcome the mean times.
In short, the message of the Olivet Discourse within the entire context of Biblical and Christological revelation is Jesus saves!
I’ve often confessed I should have spent more time reading the Bible than reading books about the Bible.
I am convinced I would have been a better man, husband, father, son, brother, pastor and patriot if I had spent more time reading the Bible than reading books about the Bible.
That’s because reading the Bible, like worship and anything we do to increase our intimacy with God, always yields existential relief in the certainty of eternal salvation.
When I am asked how someone – anyone because Jesus loves everyone and invites, “Come to Me, all of you!” – can “get” saved or have that personal relationship by grace through faith in Jesus that guarantees existential relief and eternal salvation, I say, “Confess, repent, believe, be baptized, be saved!”
Confess or admit your rejections of God, repent or turn to God, believe or trust God as your Sovereign and Savior, mark yourself for God in worship and immersion into Him and you will know you are saved and feel like you are saved and always overcome and rise above the unholy trinity of satanos, Antichrist and false prophecy that are damned yet determined to destroy your soul.
I tell anyone who is serious about a saving relationship with Jesus to read those red letters over and over and over again.
Those red letters in the Bible are the direct quotes of Jesus.
If you don’t have a red letters Bible, get one.
Read the red letters if you want to know what Jesus is all about.
You’ll find out He’s all about loving you and wanting the best for you and enabling you to live victoriously through tribulations to eternal triumph.
Read the red letters if you want to know what you are supposed to be all about as a Christian or follower of Jesus.
You’ll find out it’s about loving Him by loving like Him with grace, mercy and forgiveness.
If you want to know what it means to be a Christian, read the red letters.
You can read all of the red letters in an evening without CNN, Fox and all of the other dope box merchants of bad news.
Think about it.
Spend at least one night without the lies and hyperbole that are lies and deceptions that are lies and lies covering lies to cover lies in a spiral of never ending lies that betray the spirit of Antichrist because that’s one of its trademarks.
Leave the lies for the truth – Jesus by the book! – that sets you free for life, liberty, happiness and heaven.
Read the red letters over and over and over again.
Jesus defines Christianity.
No one else.
Not Joel or Pope or President or China or Antifa or BLM or MLB or NFL or CNN or Fox or Bob or the Catholics or Protestants or Jews or Mormons or Muslims or anyone else.
Let Jesus love you.
Let Jesus define Himself for you.
Don’t imagine or reimagine Jesus.
Just read the red letters and let Jesus speak for Himself on your behalf; for remember, ultimately, that is what He is all about.
Jesus loves you!
This I know!
For the Bible tells me so!
When we read the red letters of Jesus, we’re not worried about what’s coming because we know He’s going to carry us away to be with Him in the end.
Blessings and Love!