Counseling One Another

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Counseling One Another

January 16, 2016
by Paul Tautges
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12 Ways to Combat Our Pro-Death Culture

Tomorrow is Sanctity of Human Life Sunday. Here are some ways we as believers in Christ may pro-actively combat our culture’s cheap and convenient view of human life and its anti-children, free-sex mindset.

  1. Educate yourself on the facts concerning abortion and the reality of its methods, but be prepared for heart-wrenching, stomach-turning, anger-provoking reactions that should grip your soul and change you forever.
  2. Pray for the end of legalized abortion in the United States of America—a bloody stain upon our land—and support pro-life political candidates.
  3. Teach your children, by precept and example, the inestimable value of each and every human life.
  4. Submit your will and body—within the holy context of marriage—to the first command given by the Creator, to be fruitful and multiply and—as much as is possible in the providence of God—keep your marriage open to receiving children.
  5. Recognize that the separation of physical intimacy from procreation is a doctrine of our modern culture, not a philosophy derived from Scripture or from natural function.
  6. If you choose to govern your life by “the contraceptive mentality,” recognize this as a philosophy of the world that does not originate from biblical revelation. Therefore, the believer is responsible before God to research and evaluate every birth control method and if it acts as an abortive agent it must be discarded due to its real, or potential, threat to the protection of an innocent, divine image-bearer.
  7. If you do not already treasure children, pray that God will replace your Self-orientation with the heart of Jesus who dearly loved children.
  8. Cherish motherhood as a high calling for women.
  9. Reach out as a Good Samaritan to unwed mothers by volunteering at a local crisis pregnancy center or home for girls.
  10. If you are infertile, or your once-open womb has been closed, ask the Lord to open your heart to having a role in the mission of adoption.
  11. Pray for your church to develop a gospel-oriented ministry to unwed mothers and infertile couples wishing to adopt.
  12. Graciously tell women who have had abortions, boyfriends and husbands who fathered those children, parents who forced their daughters to get rid of the shameful and embarrassing evidence of their child’s fornication, and the health care personnel who committed murder in the name of medicine—that there is forgiveness of guilt, the gift of hope, and new life in Jesus. Abortion is not the unpardonable sin. The blood of Jesus is sufficient to cover the sins of those whose hands are covered by the blood of innocent children.

It is clear that a mind surrendered to biblical truth cherishes every human life as a precious gift created in the image of God. Consequently, it is also clear that a biblical worldview allows no room for acceptance of abortion in any form. Our love for God should naturally lead to loving all that is dear to Him. God creates human beings in His image. Therefore, human life at every stage of development, beginning at conception, is absolutely sacred and must be protected.

Related Scriptures to read: Genesis 1:26-27; Psalm 127; 139:13-16; Exodus 21:22-23; 23:7; Numbers 35:33; John 5:24).

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January 14, 2016
by Paul Tautges
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What Is the Renewing of the Mind?

A critical part of the sanctification process is putting off the old self and putting on the new, “which in the likeness of God has been created in righteousness and holiness of the truth” (Eph. 4:24). However, this transformation requires first being “renewed in the spirit of [the] mind” (Eph. 4:23). The Apostle Paul taught this same pattern in the book of Romans: Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect (Rom. 12:1–2).

According to this passage, worldliness is primarily a mental disorder; that is, a misuse of the Christian mind. Instead of slothfully conforming our minds to think like the rest of the world, we as disciples of Christ must discipline ourselves to think God’s thoughts according to His Word.

The passage above from Romans begins with an urgent request in light of the mercy of God in bringing the redemption of Jesus Christ to sinners who are worthy of the wrath of God. Paul pleads, “present your bodies.” This passionate plea calls for the offering of the believer’s body to God for the service of holiness. This request is logical, because God owns us. “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:19–20). This bodily sacrifice, unlike the offerings of the Old Testament, is living. However, in order for this sacrifice to be pleasing to God, it must meet His holy standard, which is both negative and positive.

God’s standard for His disciples is negative in that we must not be “conformed.” The word “conform” comes from a verb which, in this context, means “to form or mold after something.” This word is traditionally translated in the passive voice in Romans 12:2: “be conformed.” This passivity has been popularized by some translations, such as that of J. B. Phillips. However, the Greek form also allows for the middle voice, which would read, “do not conform yourselves.” The middle voice places the responsibility for personal godliness where it belongs—on the shoulders of the disciples who are called to be holy. Consequently, this verse is not only telling us to beware of the world conforming us into its mold, but it also discourages us from patterning ourselves after the world by adopting its values, priorities, and attitudes. Since Jesus died to deliver us from the world, to follow its standards is not an acceptable response to God’s call to holiness. According to Galatians 1:4, Jesus “gave Himself for our sins so that He might rescue us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father.”

God’s standard for disciples is also positive: “be transformed.” The Greek word translated “transformed’ comes from the word from which we get “metamorphosis.” John Stott notes that this word

is the verb used by Matthew and Mark of the transfiguration of Jesus. And although the evangelists vary in saying that it was his skin, his face and his clothing which shone, Mark is clear that he himself “was transfigured before them.” A complete change came over him. His whole body became translucent, whose significance the disciples would not be able to understand, Jesus implied, until after his resurrection. As for the change which takes place in the people of God, which is envisaged in Romans 12:2 and 2 Corinthians 3:18 (the only other verses in which the word occurs), it is a fundamental transformation of character and conduct, away from the standards of the world and into the image of Christ himself.

This complete transformation into the image of Jesus is the work of the Holy Spirit: “But we all, with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, just as from the Lord, the Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:18). However, this work of the Spirit requires personal discipline on the part of the disciple, which begins with renewing the mind, “beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord.”

The word translated “renewing” means to cause something “to be new and better.” That is, renewing the mind means washing out the worldly ways of thinking which inhabit the Adamic nature by filling it with a new, fresh supply of God’s way of thinking as found in the Scriptures. The “mirror” in which we behold the Lord Jesus is the Word of God (see James 1:23). Ephesians 5:26 says that Christ sanctifies His church by means of “the washing of water with the word.” It is the disciple’s personal responsibility to meditate on the Word of God day and night (Ps. 1) and take “every thought captive to the obedience of Christ” (2 Cor. 10:5) so that what does not glorify Christ may be rejected. Philippians 4:8 provides a great litmus test for all our thoughts: “Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is of good repute, if there is any excellence and if anything worthy of praise, dwell [think, meditate] on these things.” Biblical counselors will want to use this verse as a test in order to help their counselees learn to discern their thought patterns. For example, counselors may want to have those who are struggling with impure thoughts print the text of Philippians 4:8 in large letters, frame it, and set it on top of their televisions or computers so that God’s standard becomes the guide for what is viewed. This is merely one example of the use of Scripture to confront existing thought patterns. This discipline of renewing the mind will lead to the promised reward—the full approval of the will of God, that which is “good and acceptable and perfect” (Rom. 12:2).

[Excerpted from the book, Counseling One Another]

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January 13, 2016
by Paul Tautges
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Ephesians 4 Conference in Yorkshire, New York

One thing I enjoy doing as part of this blog is to promote biblical discipleship training and equipping opportunities. Sometimes these are events that I am speaking at, but most times not. I feel I have been so blessed by the people who have invested in my life and wish to be a blessing to others.

One upcoming 2-day conference that I want to tell you about, and am privileged to speak, at is the Ephesians 4 Conference hosted by Biblical Counseling Ministries of Yorkshire, New York. BCM is a mission outreach under the accountability of Central Baptist Church. There is NO CHARGE for this training.

MAIN SESSION TOPICS:
          Walk Worthy (Ephesians 4:1-10)  –  Pastor Ben Phillips
          Equip the Saints (Ephesians 4:11-14)  –  Dr. Ed Bulkley
          Speaking the Truth in Love (Ephesians 4:15-16)  –  Dr. Bob Froese
          With Renewed Minds (Ephesians 4:17-24)  –  Dr. Paul Tautges
BREAK OUT SESSION TRACK:
          Fundamentals of Biblical Counseling
          Basic Training for Addictions Counseling
          Good Soil Evangelism and Discipleship Training
BREAK OUT SESSION SPEAKERS:
Fred and Lauri Bucci
Dr. Bob and Ruth Froese
Steve and Melanie Hammond
Brian Wright
Dr. Ed and Marlowe Bulkley
Pastor Michael Robinson
Dr. Frank Snyder
Pastor Paul Phillips
Eric Blom
Pastor Jeff Bartz

The Ephesians 4 Conference is February 4-6, 2016. To register, visit their website. There is NO CHARGE for this training. If you have questions, call 716-353-3686.

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January 12, 2016
by Paul Tautges
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God Wants You to Nag Him

If God chose to answer one of your prayers, today, which one would it be? What have you been begging Him to do for a long, long time? Years? Decades? What is it that occupies your prayers? What is it that drives you to your knees? What is it that keeps you awake at night? Whatever it is, thank God for it because He is using it to develop prayer as a lifestyle, a spiritual discipline that will grow your faith. Too many of us are content with “saying prayers.” But God wants more. He wants us to practice a lifestyle of prayer. In fact, He wants us to nag Him to fulfill His will in our lives and the lives of those whom we love.

In Luke 18:1-8, Jesus tells His disciples a parable to convince them of the value of persevering in prayer.

The Purpose of the Parable (v. 1)

The word “parable” means, literally, “a placing beside.” A parable is a simple comparison that is made for the purpose of teaching spiritual truth. Luke informs us that Jesus told this parable to convince His disciples they “ought always to pray.” Continuous prayer is a necessity; it is a spiritual duty, and moral obligation for a disciple of Christ. Followers of Jesus are not to “lose heart,” that is, to give in to evil, to lose heart, or to play the coward. Instead, Jesus says, we are to obtain the strength and courage we need through prayer.

The Persons in the Parable (vv. 2-5)

There are two main characters: an unjust judge and a widow. The unrighteous judge probably worked by bribery only, as was common in Jesus’ day. This man did not fear God nor respect man. He spoke one language only—the language of money. The widow was being oppressed in some manner, but being poor and unable to bribe the judge, she found herself helpless and, therefore, in need of legal protection. However, because of her persistence the judge came to her aid simply to get her off of his back.

The Promises in the Parable (vv. 6-8)

Jesus then contrasted God with the unjust judge and gives us four promises. God will bring about His will for His children. Therefore, we should pray, pray, and pray some more.

  • God will vindicate His children. To vindicate means to bring justice for someone. Follow Jesus’ logic in this verse: If this unrighteous, uncaring judge will answer the persistent widow then will not God, who is both righteous and caring, answer the persistent prayers of His people who cry to him day and night? God knows when and where His children need protection and He will provide it.
  • God will answer persistent prayer. Though we may cry out to God day and night, we are assured that He hears us and will answer. The fact that we must wait does not mean something is deficient in God’s care for us. Herschel Hobbs writes, “This does not mean that God is indifferent to our cries. To the one praying it may seem that He delays His answer. But He is longsuffering upon us. It may be that even though we pray, our hearts are not conditioned so as to receive the answer. We often say that our prayers are not answered. But ‘no’ is an answer. What we mean is that we do not always get what we want.” One of the reasons we must wait for God’s answer is that there is change needed in our hearts without which we will not be able to fully receive His answer. During our time of waiting, God is strengthening our faith. But rest assured, He will answer in His time.
  • God will answer prayer in His time. The word delay brings up the issue of timing. When does God answer? He answers, but not always according to our schedule. An illustration of this is found in Jesus’ healing of Lazarus (see John 11). When Jesus heard the request to come heal Lazarus, he stayed where He was for two days longer (v. 6). Why? So that God would receive greater glory and more would believe (vv. 14-15). God has His own schedule. He will answer us, but it will be in His time—not ours. This should not make us apathetic and complacent (Who cares anyway?). Instead, it should produce in us a greater perseverance. God often uses delay to stir up our faith so that we pray even more.
  • God will reward persevering faith. When Jesus returns, “will He find faith on the earth?” Our world will become more and more like that in the days of Noah—faithless, filled with evil, and the majority of people will be deceived. In Matthew 24, Jesus warned His disciples: “Then they will deliver you up to tribulation and put you to death, and you will be hated by all nations for my name’s sake. And then many will fall away and betray one another and hate one another. And many false prophets will arise and lead many astray.” But there is blessing that awaits the faithful. Believers who persevere in prayer until Jesus returns will find great reward: “Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).

[This blog post is a brief summary of last Sunday’s sermon at Cornerstone Community Church, which you may listen to here.]

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January 9, 2016
by Paul Tautges
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Ears Wide-Open

“Guard your steps when you go to the house of God. To draw near to listen is better than to offer the sacrifice of fools, for they do not know that they are doing evil,” says the Preacher (Ecclesiastes 5:1). Ecclesiastes is an immensely profitable Old Testament book that is also widely neglected by believers today. Therefore, I was thrilled when I learned one of our church’s small groups was studying the book this year. The study guide each person in the growth group reads during the week is Philip Ryken’s commentary. Here’s a few thoughts from Ryken that are good for us to think about on a Saturday night.

“The context [of the above exhortation] is that of a worshiper walking into the house of God, the holy sanctuary. In the days of Solomon, ‘the house of God’ would have been the temple in Jerusalem, but what he says applies to any sacred place that is set aside for the worship of God. As we go to worship, the Preacher is telling us to watch our step! There is a right way and a wrong way to enter the courts of thanksgiving and the gates of praise.

The right way to approach God in worship is to come with our ears wide-open. The Preacher assumes that when people go to the house of God, there will be something for them to hear. That ‘something’ is the Word of the living God. The house of God is a place for the reading and the preaching of the Word of God. So the first questions we need to ask ourselves as we prepare for worship are: Am I ready to listen to the voice of God? Is my heart open to spiritual instruction? Are my ears attentive to the message I will hear from the Bible?”

“The trouble, of course, is that it is hard for us to listen. So many other voices clamor for our attention. Even when we enter a quiet place for worship, the noise of the surrounding culture is still ringing in our ears. It is easy to let our thoughts wander, but hard for us to hear the voice of God. Like headless chickens, sometimes we go through the motions of worship without ever getting our minds engaged. It is better to listen, the Preacher says, making another one of his wise comparisons. It is not just a little better for us to listen to the Word of God but totally better.”

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December 30, 2015
by Paul Tautges
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The 10 Most Clicked-On Posts for 2015

As another year comes to a close, please accept my thanks for being a regular (or new) reader of this blog. This year, there were over 230,000 visits to Counseling One Another. In 2016, by God’s grace, my goal is to continue to share lessons I’m learning, provide you with biblical encouragement for your personal growth in Christ, and make you aware of resources that will help to equip you for one-another ministry in your church.

Here are the 10 most popular posts, beginning with #10 and going backwards. Consider passing this on to a friend or two, to introduce them to this blog.

Exposing the Sin of Overeating

Does Romans 13:8 Teach It Is a Sin to Borrow Money?

A Dozen Reasons God Hates Lying and Liars

3 Criteria for Righteous Anger

36 Purposes of God in Suffering

8 Responsibilities of Church Members to their Leaders

37 Ways to Love One Another

6 Reasons to be a Faithful Member of a Local Church

When Jesus Confronts “Borderline Personality Disorder”

….And, the #1 article for the 4th year in a row:

20 Ways Satan May Seek to Destroy You

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December 28, 2015
by Paul Tautges
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Actively Being Still, Knowing God Is God

Psalm 46 exhorts us to “Be still and know that He is God,” but we often mistakenly equate being still with being passive. However, the opposite is true and necessary. Being still is much like waiting on the Lord; it’s an active discipline. Actively being still is a remedy for sinful fear, it is a means of replacing fear with fear, which is, fearing the Lord more than we fear anything, or anyone, else. That is the theme of the book, Courage: Fighting Fear with Fear, by Wayne and Joshua Mack.

In Chapter 12, “Yes, but How?”, the authors teach us that fighting fear requires meditation on truth which, in turn, trains us to know God and grow in our understanding of who He is. By doing this, we grow in the fear of the Lord. Six important truths are given to us to think deeply upon.

  1. Be still, and reflect on our own sinfulness, unworthiness, and inadequacy. “Again and again throughout Scripture God reminds us of how desperately wicked and undeserving we are apart from Him and His grace. Read through Romans 1-3; Ephesians 2; Colossians 1-3; 1 Timothy 1; and 2 Timothy 3; and note what these passages say about your nature.”
  2. Be still, and ponder God’s so great salvation (Heb. 2:3). “The apostle Peter believed that an understanding of and a reflection upon our so great redemption should motivate us to live all our lives in the fear of God (1 Peter 1:17-19).
  3. Be still, and think about God’s attributes. “If you stop thinking about God or if you think of Him wrongly (i.e. unbiblically), His influence in your life will be minimized, if not eliminated all together.” Read Isaiah 6:1-8; Revelation 1:12-19; Exodus 34:8).
  4. Be still, and reflect on the mighty works of God. “The connection between doing this and developing godly fear is clearly illustrated in Exodus 14:31….If you want to develop and sustain a healthy fear of God, be still, and reflect often on the mighty acts of God.”
  5. Be still, and reflect on the judgments that God has sometimes pronounced on men for their lack of godly fear. “Study, for example, the story of Nadab and Abihu found in Leviticus 10:1-3. These men were burned to death with fire from heaven because they trifled with God and His worship.”
  6. Be still, and reflect on the blessings God has brought into your life and into the lives of others. “Psalm 67 indicates that when people observe the blessings of God in the lives of others they are motivated to fear God. It declares, ‘God blesses us, that all the ends of the earth may fear Him’ (Ps 67:7)….This same concept is repeated in Psalm 40:1-3.”

Being still before the Lord requires us to consistently meditate on biblical truth in order that we may know God, and even ourselves, more fully. As we do so, we grow in our childlike trust in Him to overcome all our fears.

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December 23, 2015
by Paul Tautges
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Thinking About “What Child Is This?”

The famous Christmas carol What Child Is This? was written around 1865 by the Englishman William Chatterton Dix (1837-1898).

What child is this, who, laid to rest, on Mary’s lap is sleeping?
Whom angels greet with anthems sweet, while shepherd’s watch are keeping?
This, this is Christ the King, whom shepherds guard and angels sing:
Haste, haste to bring Him laud—the babe, the son of Mary!

Why lies He in such mean estate where ox and ass are feeding?
Good Christian, fear—for sinners here the silent Word is pleading.
Nails, spear shall pierce Him thru, the cross be borne for me, for you:
Hail, hail the Word made flesh—the babe, the son of Mary!

So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh—come, rich and poor, to own Him:
The King of kings salvation brings—let loving hearts enthrone Him.
Raise, raise the song on high—the virgin sings her lullaby:
Joy, joy, for Christ is born—the babe, the son of Mary!

The carol’s major theme is the humanity of Christ as the lyrics turn our attention to the child who is sleeping on Mary’s lap. Who is this child? It is God who became man: “Hail, hail the Word made flesh—the babe, the son of Mary!” It is the Eternal Word (John 1:1), who broke into human history as the God-man Jesus Christ, through whom God “is pleading” with sinners to repent and be reconciled to Him. As we examine the lyrics, there are three aspects to the life of Christ which emerge.

His Humble Birth
The Son of God was not born in a fancy, sterile hospital, but instead was birthed “in such mean estate.” His humble birth is explained in Luke 2:1-7. Be sure to take time to think about Philippians 2:3-7, which explains the selfless mindset which led to His entering this world of sinners.

His Humiliating Death
The carol also draws our attention to the cross, which is the reason the Son of God became incarnate: “Nails, spear shall pierce Him thru, the cross be borne for me, for you.” The author of Hebrews tells us that the Son of God took on flesh and blood in order to be our sacrifice (Heb. 2:14-15). Philippians 2:8 teaches us that the humility of Christ ultimately led to the obedience of death—“even death on a cross.” No more humiliating form of death existed in that day, but our dear Savior “endured the cross, despising the shame” (Heb 12:2) and humbly trusted His Father (1 Peter 2:20-23).

His Heralded Worth
The hymn writer is also careful to help us remember that it was a king lying in that manger—not merely a king, but the King. “So bring Him incense, gold and myrrh—come, rich and poor, to own Him. The King of kings salvation brings—let loving hearts enthrone Him.” Here we are reminded of the inestimable worth of Jesus Christ.

The life, death, and resurrection of Christ combine to give us the ultimate illustration of the biblical principle that humility leads to honor (See, for example, Philippians 2:9; Proverbs 15:33; 29:23; and James 4:6). This is the way it is in God’s economy. Those who clamor to exalt themselves will one-day be put to shame, but those who humbly submit to God and wait for Him to exalt them will one day be honored.

What child is this?
• He is the almighty Creator who humbled Himself and was born of human flesh.
• He is the resurrected Savior who endured the humiliation of the cross to provide salvation for sinners.
• He is the exalted Lord whose humility will be rewarded with praise, for all eternity.

He is your Creator. Is He your Lord? Is He your Savior?

If not, come to Jesus today; respond in faith to His invitation: “Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.”  (John 5:24).

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December 22, 2015
by Paul Tautges
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Why “Hark! the Herald Angels Sing” Is My Favorite Christmas Carol

I will never forget the first time I sang Hark! the Herald Angels Sing as a genuine believer in Jesus Christ. It was Christmas 1984. I had been saved about seven months. Though I had sung the carol my whole life, for the first time I understood the words I was singing and could feel tears begin to well up. The message that had escaped me for nineteen years was now crystal clear as if a floodlight had been turned on.

This famous carol was written by Charles Wesley. Charles and his brother John were major instruments of the Lord’s work during the third great awakening in England. On Sunday, May 21, 1738, after reading Martin Luther’s commentary on Galatians, Charles was converted. He testified, “I now found myself at peace with God, and rejoiced in hope of loving Christ…I saw that by faith I stood; by the continual support of faith.” John was converted three days later.

After their conversion to Christ, the Wesley brothers were filled with an unquenchable zeal for preaching the Good News. However, the established Church of England considered their preaching “old-fashioned” and became closed to their ministry. As a result, they mounted horses and took to open air preaching in the fields and streets. History records that John traveled over 200,000 miles on horseback in England, alone. Concerned that “converts” be properly discipled, John formed what became known as Methodist societies, which later developed into churches and eventually a separate denomination itself.

While both brothers were itinerant preachers, Charles possessed a love and talent for poetry, which he used in the writing of more than 7,000 hymns. John Woodbridge, in Great Leaders of the Christian Church, writes, “There was scarcely a day in the fifty years following his evangelical conversion in which he did not set down some lines in verse. His last hymn was dictated from his deathbed when he was too weak to hold a pen.”

Kenneth W. Osbeck writes in 101 More Hymn Stories, “’Hark! the Herald Angels Sing’ is … thought to have been written approximately one year after his dramatic…conversion experience of 1738.”  The tune for the carol, which we are familiar with, is called “Mendelssohn” and was written by “one of the master composers of the early nineteenth century, Felix Mendelssohn. He was born into a Jewish-Christian home on February 3, 1809, in Hamburg, Germany, and died at Leipzig, Germany, on November 4, 1847.  Mendelssohn was a highly acclaimed boy prodigy, making his first public appearance as a pianist, at the age of nine. Felix Mendelssohn was not only a noted performer and conductor, but also a prolific composer throughout his brief life-time.”

Let’s think about the theology of this Christmas carol by noting the main theme of each verse and its developing points. I will then direct you to specific Scriptures which form the basis of these truths.

Verse 1: THE PROMISED ONE HAS COME

Hark! the herald angels sing, ‘Glory to the newborn King; peace on earth, and mercy mild, God and sinners reconciled!’  With th’angelic host proclaim. Angels are messengers of God who proclaim His announcements.

  • Angels brought news to Zechariah that he was to be father the forerunner of Christ (Luke 1:5-25).
  • Angels brought the news to Mary and Joseph concerning the birth of the Son of God (Luke 1:26-38).
  • Angels announced the birth of Christ to shepherds in the fields (Luke 2:1-21).

“Are they not all ministering spirits, sent out to render service for the sake of those who will inherit salvation?” (Heb 1:14).

Jesus Christ is the promised Messiah. The Jewish people were told by the prophet Micah that the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem of Judea. Luke 2:1-14 records the fulfillment of that prophecy.

Verse 2: ETERNAL GOD DWELLS WITH MORTAL MAN

Christ the everlasting Lord!

  • Jesus Christ is eternal God (Micah 5:2; John 1:1; Rev 1:8)
  •  Jesus Christ was born at God’s perfect time. Late in time behold Him come does not mean His birth was late. No, it was at the perfect time. “But when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the Law,in order that He might redeem those who were under the Law, that we might receive the adoption as sons” (Gal 4:4-5).
  •  Jesus Christ is virgin born. Offspring of the virgin’s womb (See Isa 7:14 and Luke 1:26-27). This of course was fulfilled by the Holy Spirit overshadowing Mary so that she conceived the child supernaturally.
  • Jesus Christ is the God-man. Veiled in flesh the Godhead see; hail th’incarnate Deity, pleased as man with man to dwell, Jesus, our Emmanuel. “For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him” (Col 1:19).

Meditate on the humility of the Son of God, which moved Him to give us His life in order to purchase ours.

Verse 3: RIGHTEOUS GOD REGENERATES UNRIGHTEOUS MAN

Hail, the heav’n-born Prince of Peace! Hail, the Sun of Righteousness.

  • Jesus Christ came to provide peace with God. Faith in the prophesied Prince of Peace is the only way for us as sinners to be at peace with God (Rom 5:1).
  • The resurrection of Christ ensures spiritual life for all who believe. Light and life to all He brings, ris’n with healing in His wings. Consider Romans 6:4.
  • God regenerates sinners by means of the new birth. Born to raise the sons of earth, born to give them second birth. The Scriptures are clear that God is the Author of the new birth. The Holy Spirit, by means of the Word of God, is responsible for the regeneration of lost, spiritually dead souls (See, for example, John 3:8 and 1 Pet 1:23).

Verse 4: THE SECOND ADAM RECREATES HIS IMAGE IN BELIEVERS

Rise, the woman’s conq’ring seed, bruise in us the serpant’s head.

  • The indwelling Christ provides victory over sin and the devil. (See Gal 2:20 and Heb 2: 14-15).
  • The indwelling Christ replaces sin with righteousness. Adam’s likeness now efface, stamp Thine image in its place: Second Adam from above, reinstate us in Thy love (See Rom 5:17; 2 Cor 3:18).

Hark! the Herald Angels Sing is a concise theology. It has endured the test of time because of its solid, rich, biblical message, which the angels announced.

  1. The eternal Son of God fulfilled the prophecies concerning the Messiah’s coming when He voluntarily laid aside His glory, was veiled in human flesh, and born of a virgin in Bethlehem.
  2. He came to reconcile man to God by becoming the means to obtaining peace and righteousness through His sacrificial death on the cross. Have you been reconciled to God through personal faith in Jesus Christ as your Lord, Savior, and Sin-bearer?
  3. Having been raised from the dead, He ever lives to give life to spiritually dead sinners causing them to become new creations of God who can live in the victory of his resurrection power. Have you been born again, as God requires? (Read the third chapter of the Gospel of John).

What a great message! What a great song!

[Note: This article was first posed on December 25, 2012].

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December 17, 2015
by Paul Tautges
Comments Off on The Arm of the Lord

The Arm of the Lord

In our Lord’s Day services this month, we’ve been studying the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), the song Mary sang when she visited her cousin Elizabeth and the unborn John leaped for joy in the presence of the unborn Messiah. This past Sunday, we looked at verses 51-53, which contains the phrase “He has shown strength with his arm.” This reference to the arm of God led us to consider what this imagery means.

God’s Deliverance of His People

When God drafted Moses to lead His people to deliverance, He commanded him: Say therefore to the people of Israel, “I am the Lord, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will deliver you from slavery to them, and I will redeem you with an outstretched arm and with great acts of judgment” (Exodus 6:6).

Later, in the Song of Moses, we read these words: Terror and dread fall upon them; because of the greatness of your arm, they are still as a stone, till your people, O Lord, pass by, till the people pass by whom you have purchased. (Exodus 15:16).

Psalm 77:15 also declares: You with your arm redeemed your people, the children of Jacob and Joseph. Deuteronomy 5:15 also speaks of God’s deliverance: the Lord your God brought you out of there [Egypt] by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm. Strength is so much a part of the arm imagery that someone who is defeated is said to have had his arms broken. For example, God said through the prophet Ezekiel, I have broken the arm of Pharaoh king of Egypt (Ezek. 30:21).

God’s Judgment of His Enemies

Deuteronomy 33:27 combines the two elements of protection for God’s people and judgment for His enemies: The eternal God is a dwelling place, and underneath are the everlasting arms; and He drove out the enemy from before you, and said, “Destroy!”

Isaiah 30:30 uses the arm imagery when speaking of the punishment of wicked, And the Lord will cause His voice of authority to be heard. And the descending of His arm to be seen in fierce anger, and in the flame of consuming fire. And, God says, My arms will judge the peoples (Isa. 51:5).

God’s Victory and Ultimate Salvation

Psalm 98:1 proclaims this victory: His right hand and His holy arm have gained the victory for Him. And, my personal favorite: The Lord has bared His holy arm in the sight of all the nations, that all the ends of the earth may see the salvation of our God (Isa. 52:10).

After looking at every occurrence of the “arm of God” in Scripture, we may come to this conclusion: The arm of the Lord refers to His omnipotent strength employed for the deliverance of His people and the punishment of His and their enemies. God is the mighty warrior who protects, defends, and delivers His people. He judges His enemies and leads His own to ultimate salvation. He did this in the past, for Israel, and will do it in the future for the bride of Christ. The One who came to Bethlehem—as Savior—will come again to the earth as Judge. He who testifies to these things says, “Surely I am coming soon.” Amen. Come, Lord Jesus! (Rev. 22:20).

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