The Lord’s Rescue

By Dr. John Greever

2 Timothy 4:18 “The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him be the glory forever and ever. Amen.”

This is the testimony of God’s servant who had known riots, prison, and persecution for Christ throughout his ministry.  He faced enemies from without and within.  And, in addition, he knew that he soon would face the final sacrifice in a martyr’s death (2 Timothy 4:6).  This final chapter of his final book that he would write contains what amounts to be his epitaph.  His faith in what God will do, above and over all things, is this: “The Lord WILL rescue me from every evil deed and will bring me SAFELY to His heavenly kingdom.”

Our precious Shepherd will do no less for us as he did for Paul.  Our Jesus will rescue us from every evil deed.  He will turn every satanic attack into good.  Every flaming arrow shot at us from the enemy’s bow will stick into our shield of faith (Ephesians 6:16).  Every action turned toward us in contradiction to God’s truth and love will by God’s providential power and grace be transformed into goodness for our souls (Romans 8:28).  Every evil deed becomes a stone to pave the way for God to bring us safely into His heavenly kingdom.

How can we not rise in praise to God and express joy in His provision?  Can we not say with the Apostle, “To Him be the glory forever and ever?”  Though we live in the land of the evil one, we live with the praise of our God.  What a miracle; what a magnificent mystery this is!

Sweet Christian friend, the Lord is with you in your sickness, your sorrow, your grief, and your fears.  He is daily abiding with you.  His care for you is a rescue mission; He will rescue you from every evil deed.  He will defend, deflect, and destroy the enemy’s plots against you.  Your Captain is mighty to save!  Will you not in faith yield to Him?  Will you not rest your anxieties upon Him?  Will you not surrender to His protective will and care?  It would wise to do so!  Lean into your troubles by leaning on the Lord!  And one happy, glorious day the most wonderful miracle will occur for you and to you: the Lord Jesus will rescue you by taking you home to heaven.  You will be “safely” delivered into His heavenly and loving arms FOREVER!  What joy will be ours then!  What peace is ours now!  Sweet friend, rest in Jesus, hope in Jesus, look to Jesus, and walk with Jesus all your days.  The troubled “now” is safe to trod, and the distant future glistens with the hope that cannot fail. Prayer: Dear sweet Lord, thank you for not abandoning me to my trials and tests of faith.  Thank you for standing with me and being faithful to Your promises.  In every experience of my life, help me to remember You above all the strife and trouble of my life.  And grant to me that I may have faith to know that You are rescuing me in ways I may never understand, and one day You will rescue me by taking me to heaven.  Please help me to live in the sunshine of Your promise and grant that I may live on the solid rock of future grace.

John Greever is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Fenton, MO and is a part of the leadership team for Founders Midwest. If you would like more information about Founders Midwest and the annual conference, be sure to check out our Facebook page or visit our website for more information.

Do Not Fear!

By Dr. John Greever

2 Kings 6:16 “So he answered, ‘do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

So often in life the quantifiable observation of things seems to render a negative and discouraging response from God’s people.  How often it appears on the surface that the devil is winning the day; so many people seem to support the devil’s side and be going his way.  We recall the words of Jesus in Matthew 7 that there are many on the road to destruction.  We see this, and we wonder if God has any people at all; we query if God has anyone left.  We join in the plaintiff chorus with God’s suffering people, “O God, when will You show up and grant us Your mercy and relief?”

But situations are often different than they appear.  So many times, the Lord is present, and we do not see Him; He is working, and we do not feel Him.  We must pray that God would so work in us that we would have Elisha’s eyes to see the unseeable, to trust our God for His provision concerning which the eye of flesh is blind, and to look to our God who often in providence is unobservable to our earthly perception. 

Yet, Elisha saw the Lord’s resources by faith; his faith was fueled by God’s promise and calling.  He surely was walking by faith and not by sight (2 Corinthians 5:7).  And what did he see with the eyes of faith?  He saw the great hosts of God mighty and strong, ready to protect him and rally to his side.  He saw that his covenant God, Yahweh, had at His disposal myriads of angels, waiting to rush to his aid at God’s beckon and call.  He saw that the enemies of God paled in comparison to the might and power of the covenant-keeping God.

May we too have these faith-eyes to see what earthly eyes cannot see; may our faith-minds understand what earthly minds cannot perceive or grasp.  May God’s covenant promise to us in Christ float us over the waves of fear, holding us aloft from our dark forebodings.  For surely, as the people of God’s saving grace, we must know that He is providentially with us, and we must assuredly know, “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

Christian friend, I pray that the Lord will open your spiritual eyes to God’s wondrous and ever-present messengers of care and protection.  Do not look with earthly eyes; the arm of flesh can never avail.  Look with the eyes of faith and simple child-like trust.  Your God is with you!

Prayer: Dear Lord, I cannot see You or Your provisions with my earthly eyes.  Thus, I often wrongly think that You are absent in my situation.  Please give to me spiritual and eternal eyes, the eyes of faith, to see Your protection and care in my life.  Please take this fear away from me and give to me the calm assurance that I am safe in Your hands. Amen.

John Greever is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Fenton, MO and is a part of the leadership team for Founders Midwest. If you would like more information about Founders Midwest and the annual conference, be sure to check out our Facebook page or visit our website for more information.

Let Us Not Grow Weary

By Dr. John Greever

Galatians 6:9 “Let us not become discouraged in doing good, for in due time we will reap, if we do not become weary.”

One of the most common experiences of God’s faithful servants is weariness.  This is not always a sin, though it might lead to sin.  To be weary in the work of Christ may simply be a manifestation of our human weakness and the heavy burden we are required to bear.  George Whitefield, the famous 18th century evangelist, once said, “I never get weary of the work, but I often get weary in it.”  How true this is!

Christ’s servants are weary with the heaviness of responsibility, we are often weary by the seemingly incessant opposition and drain that it causes on us.  And the weariness we feel is such that we might feel as if it envelopes us and swamps our joy and hope.  These are risky times for God’s people.  We must never in the throes of weariness and discouragement make large life decisions (unless thrust upon us by divinely ordained circumstances).  We must seek to endure and persist to continue onward looking to the Lord for strength and enablement that we might abide.

Our text helps us to draw fresh insight in such weary times.  First, it reminds us that we must see discouragement for the monster that it is.  The command verb confronts our contemplation to quit; it will not allow us an easy out.  The Scripture says, “Let us not become discouraged.”  We must hold ourselves accountable and responsible.  We must not yield to the temptation to capitulate.  The Scripture does a marvelous job of focusing our attention by instructing us to do what is good.  This is our calling; this is our task.  We must be faithful and determined in this regard.

The Scripture also gives a wonderful promise (with a condition appended).  This promise fuels our determination and our constancy.  The Word of God states, “in due time we will reap, if we do not grow weary.”  O, what a wonderful harvest is coming for those who remain steadfast!  Every effort for Jesus (no matter how small and insignificant it may appear in our eyes) will be blessed for the glory of God.  We seek to endure because we know that in enduring, the Lord will work in and through our effort.  Others may not affirm us, and we may feel like a failure, but God is working for His glory in every staunch endeavor for Jesus.  We will someday find that much more was achieved than we first thought.  We MUST believe this and be strengthened by the promise in it.  Let us simply seek to “not grow weary” (and quit!) in the process.  Let us today bring to Christ our weakness and offer ourselves completely to His will and service.  And let us KEEP GOING for His glory!

Prayer: Lord, I feel so tired!  Please help me to keep on serving You as long as You want me to.  Please grant fresh strength and joy in my tasks, and help me never to back down or back up in the work to which You have called me.  I want to serve You and make a difference in Your kingdom.  Thank You for the privilege and the opportunity.  Amen.

John Greever is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Fenton, MO and is a former professor of Bible at Missouri Baptist University. He is a part of the leadership team for Founders Midwest and is a speaker at this year’s Founders Midwest Conference. If you would like more information about Founders Midwest and the annual conference, be sure to check out our Facebook page or visit our website for more information. To register for the conference click here.

Encouraged In the Lord

By Dr. John Greever

1 Samuel 30:6 “David was greatly distressed because the people spoke of stoning him, for all the people were embittered (literally, “bitter in soul”), each one because of his sons and his daughters. But David strengthened himself in the Lord his God.”

Has there been a moment in your life when your entire world seemed to cave in on you?  These are times when no matter how hard you try, nothing seems to work out right.  You beat and beat on the walls of the difficulty, and they just won’t budge.  There is a common saying, “If anything can go wrong, it will.”  It just seems at times when this little saying is a truism of life.

David’s world had caved in on him!  The worst that he feared most actually HAPPENING!  David lost his family, David lost all he owned, and those who had faithfully stood with him and supported him turned against him.  HE HAD NO ONE BUT GOD!

But out of David’s distress, he sought the Lord.  In his time of weeping and trouble, David “strengthened himself in the Lord his God.”  Did David remember the time God delivered him from beasts while protecting and caring for sheep?  Did David remember that good and glorious day in the Valley of Elah when the Lord empowered and guided his hand to slay the giant, Goliath, with a single stone launched from his slingshot?  Did David remember those psalms he wrote that God had inspired in his heart?  Surely David did all of this, and he also PRAYED.  He turned to the Lord, and he sought the Lord’s protection, provision, guidance, and help.  And God did help him.

Every Christian has multiple times and multiple contexts throughout life when we are overwhelmed, strenuously burdened, and we despair of what to do. It is in these times when we are in danger of quitting, turning back, and giving up.  But we must never give in to these allurements of darkness; we must strengthen ourselves in the Lord. 

But how can we do that?  When in the throes of depression, and discouragement let us read the sweet promises of God contained in the Scripture.  Let us feed on the heavenly manna of the Lord’s assurance that He is with us, watching over us, and providentially leading us to green pastures and cool streams of water to quench the thirst in our souls.  Let us remember that if God chose us before the foundation of the world, if God paid for our sins in the sacrifice of Christ on the cross, and if God is preparing a place for us in heaven to share His glory, then WE WILL ENDURE this present trial, and we will come through the valley of hardship with a clearer picture of God’s truth and a sweeter aroma of His friendship with us in Christ.  If all is not well now, it will be well when we see the outward accomplishment of God’s shepherdly care.  Never fear, only trust!

Prayer: Dear heavenly Father, help me to fight against despair in my life! Help me never to give in to the dark thoughts in my mind and heart. Help me to look to You in faith and help me to strengthen myself in Your promises and presence. Thank You for being present with me when I need You the most. I love You! Amen.

John Greever is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Fenton, MO and is a former professor of Bible at Missouri Baptist University. He is a part of the leadership team for Founders Midwest and is a speaker at this year’s Founders Midwest Conference. If you would like more information about Founders Midwest and the annual conference, be sure to check out our Facebook page or visit our website for more information. To register for the conference click here.

Treasures in Earthen Vessels

By Dr. John Greever

2 Corinthians 4:5, 7 “We do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord…We have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the surpassing greatness of the power will be of God and not from ourselves.”

Sometimes, surprisingly, the most precious treasures are found in common containers.  God has chosen to place His surpassing transcendent gifts and realities in lives that the world shuns as not worthy.  Of course we are not worthy, but that is the point; our unworthiness magnifies God’s worthiness when God extols His greatness in our insufficient and weak humanness.

The real problem is that those who perceive themselves to be wise and intelligent keep imposing their broken perception (which they wrongly judge to be magnificently insightful) onto God’s eternal wisdom.  And without fail when this is done, human analysis and projection falls far short of the glorious truth of God.  Human wisdom becomes, in point of fact, foolish.

The Lord in His glorious wisdom and will chooses the weak, the small, and those whom the world treats as nothing to exalt and magnify His name and power.  This is to the glory of the Lord!

One of the tragic effects of sin in the human fabric of being is the loss of mental ability to reason in accord with ultimate reality.  As a result, we constantly see things from a “lower” perspective; rather than a “higher” perspective – God’s perspective.  Thus, we continually evaluate incorrectly, and we make mighty and assertive pronouncements that sound intelligent, but in fact, are magnificently inane.  We would do well to heed the command of the heavenly Father made to Peter when he dared to insert his opinion in a holy moment on the Mount of Transfiguration, “Be quiet, and listen to Jesus” (Luke 9:35, paraphrase).

Yes, we would do well to begin always with the clear teaching of the text of Scripture, then apply our intellectual capacities to the text in a way that honors what the text says, so that the truth of God is maintained in human contemplation. 

The point is (according to our text) that our humanness is to become the glass through whom the greatness and power of God are magnified for all to see.  We must not, and we will not, rob God of His glory to elevate ourselves; this is IDOLATRY!  We preach Christ, not ourselves; we have the treasure of the gospel in our human weakness and brokenness that the power of God may be exalted.  Then others will be drawn to Jesus, not to us; we are simply servants of our Lord by being servants of His message of hope.  There is no greater way to dignify and ennoble our human frailty and smallness than to be the container for the transcendent life and message of God.  We say with John the Baptist, “He must increase, and I must decrease” (John 3:30).  As we get lower, He is higher in the perception of others; this is the way to enshrine our significance.

Dear Christian friend, you have in your weak and insufficient human life the grandiose truth and life of Christ.  You cannot be honored higher than this!  Live in the joyful reflection of this reality; become the light of Light to those in darkness around.  Shine with joy, gratitude, love, and humility; give the glory to Jesus and His gospel.  No matter what others think about you or say about you, you are wonderfully honored by being simply a humble vessel for the incomprehensible treasure of God.

Prayer: Dear Lord, keep me from exalting myself!  Help me to remember that I have no higher significance than that which You gave to me by choosing me, saving me, and placing the life of Christ in me.  Help me to learn to go lower, so I can exalt You.

John Greever is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Fenton, MO and is a former professor of Bible at Missouri Baptist University. He is a part of the leadership team for Founders Midwest and is a speaker at this year’s Founders Midwest Conference. If you would like more information about Founders Midwest and the annual conference, be sure to check out our Facebook page or visit our website for more information. To register for the conference click here.

The Fragrance of Life

By Dr. John Greever

2 Corinthians 2:14-16 “Thanks be to God, who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and manifests through us the sweet aroma of the knowledge of Him in every place.  For we are a fragrance of Christ to God among those who are being saved and among those who are perishing; to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life.”

We each have an impact on those around us; our lives bear a fragrance that others can detect.  The fragrance of life may be initially detected by what we do and how we live, but the real source of our fragrance of life is what we truly are, what we really are on the inside.

Christians bear this fragrance in their lives; this is the “sweet aroma of the knowledge” of God in “every place.”  We cannot help it, we live out the fragrance of the knowledge of God in our hearts, and this knowledge bears forth an inevitable aroma of sweetness that others can sense.  They sense it before they see it; they sense it before they even know it.  Yes, “we ae a fragrance of Christ to God.”

But to the “perishing” we are an “aroma from death to death”, but to the saved, we are an “aroma of life to life.”  There is nothing more attractive than the aroma of life!  We smell the sweet savor of life in the one who has Christ as life.  This aroma soothes, comforts, encourages, and undergirds us; we live with the joyful sensation that there is life in this person’s life.  What a powerful attraction this is!  To those who seek life, life is beautiful and sweet!  But for those who breathe the air of death, darkness, and destruction, life is a contradiction to their very existence; thus, life smells like death.  In such cases the smell of life actually repels those existing in death; there is repulsion and a negative reaction to life for those abiding in death.  This is the explanation of John 3:19 concerning the rejection of Christ: “Light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than the Light.”  Christ was hated by those living in death; therefore, they crucified Him.

Dear Christian friend, do not be surprised if the LIFE that is your life does not attract those in death; they are not drawn to you; they do not even understand you.  But you will find that your life in Christ will be a light that draws other Christians to you.  We may not be large in number, but the sweetness of the aroma of fellowship and common life between us is a taste of the sweetness we will have in heaven together.  Enjoy the fragrance of life!

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank You that You made me in Christ to have the life that is true life.  Please grant that my life will have the true fragrance of that life and use my fragrant life in the lives of others.  And may this be for Your glory always. Amen.

John Greever is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Fenton, MO and is a former professor of Bible at Missouri Baptist University. He is a part of the leadership team for Founders Midwest and is a speaker at this year’s Founders Midwest Conference. If you would like more information about Founders Midwest and the annual conference, be sure to check out our Facebook page or visit our website for more information. To register for the conference click here.

Never Abandoned

By Dr. John Greever

Hebrews 13:5b “He Himself has said, ‘I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you.”

The writer of Hebrews very likely drew from God’s promise to Joshua in the Old Testament where the Lord made the very same promise to Joshua as he took over the leadership of Israel when Moses died (Joshua 1:5).  But this promise from God is not just for one or two of His choice people; rather, it is the glorious promise of the Lord God to each one of His people wherever we may be and whenever we may live in history.  God promises to stick with us and by us, no matter what!  The greatest gift that God can give to anyone is HIMSELF.  He says to us as we trudge down the road of life facing come what may: “I am with you, I will not desert you, and I will not abandon you.”  No matter how difficult the journey, I am with you, and I will not abandon you.  No matter how weak we are, how sick we are, no matter how far astray we feel from God, God’s absolute promise (a promise cannot fail) is this: “I will not leave you, desert you, or abandon you; I am with you always.”  This was also the precious promise of Jesus to His disciples as they would see to obey Him in making disciples (Matthew 28:20).

Does it matter who rises up against us if God is with us?  If God is for us, does it matter who is against us (Romans 8:31)?  Does it matter how hard the challenge might if God is with us?  Does it matter if we are strained beyond the scope of our ability and faith if God is with us?  If God is with us, we can climb over the walls that shut us out if we look to the Lord (Psalm 18:29; 2 Samuel 22:30).

In our Lord and through our Lord, we have the strength to march on.  In our Lord and through our Lord, all that is needed will be provided in God’s way, in God’s time, for God’s work and for God’s glory.

But there is something else – something embedded in the promise that we must not miss.  By giving us this promise, God is promising that He Himself will be with us.  He will fellowship with us, He will tenderly draw near when we are lonely, and He will sweetly open our hearts to feel the pulse of His love for us that we might be strong and motivated to keep running the race set before us (Hebrews 12:1).  God promises His child in this verse sweet communion with his Creator and Savior that satisfies the soul.

There simply is no greater promise in all the Bible than this – God promises to be with us and never abandon us.  Sweet Christian friend, your sins will not take God from you, your weaknesses will not make you Savior leave, and your circumstances will not cast Him from you.  As the Bible says in Romans 8:37-39 there is ABSOLUTELY NOTHING that can take God’s love from us, nor take us from God’s Himself.  Wherever God’s love is, there God Himself is in intimacy and sweetness.  Rest in this promise and keep going!

Prayer: Dear Lord, thank you SO MUCH for sticking with me.  There are times I am so disgusted with myself that I wonder why You would stay with me, but You do.  I can do nothing but worship You, thank You, and lean hard on You.  For in so doing, I honor You.  Amen.

John Greever is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Fenton, MO and is a former professor of Bible at Missouri Baptist University. He is a part of the leadership team for Founders Midwest and is a speaker at this year’s Founders Midwest Conference. If you would like more information about Founders Midwest and the annual conference, be sure to check out our Facebook page or visit our website for more information. To register for the conference click here.

Servants of Christ

By Dr. John Greever

1 Corinthians 4:1-2 “Let a man regard us in this manner, as servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.  In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy.”

The history of the church of Jesus is a history of bloodshed, violence, mayhem, and suffering.  We read with amazement Paul’s description of what it was like to be an apostle of Christ in the first century: “For I think, God has exhibited us apostles last of all, as men condemned to death; because we have become a spectacle to the world, both to angels and to men.  We are fools for Christ’s sake…we ae weak…we are without honor…we are both hungry and thirsty, and are poorly clothed, and are roughly treated, and are homeless.  We toil, working with our hands; when we are reviled, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure; when we are slandered, we try to conciliate; we have become as the scum of the world, the dregs of all things, even until now (1 Corinthians 4:9-13).”  Who, pray tell, would want this job?  Who would stay in this job with all one has to endure to remain?

The answer to these and other questions is found in the first two verses: “Servants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God.”  Paul could not be bought or bribed, because his heart and his mind were committed to Christ and the gospel.  He had met and had been changed by the resurrected Christ.  This life and this world held no charm for him.  He was a man set apart for God, and his heart passion was invested in Christ and the gospel.

There is nothing greater than this!  This world has no adequate reward or riches to compensate for its toil and sorrow.  This world’s treasure is but a passing treat that soon melts into oblivion, leaving only the bitter taste of lost dreams and terrible disappointments.  How sad that many people give their love, their joy, and their lives to this world that is passing away (1 John 2:17)!  And eventually, and inevitably, their lives are lost because they invested poorly.

The Christian is reckoned to be poor and shameful in the eyes of the world, but to God he or she is precious beyond compare.  The child of God hopes for no earthly gain or worldly reward.  The child of God is bereft of this world’s power and prestige.  However, God’s people are rich in heavenly joy and treasure.  We seek here in time and space only to be good servants of Christ and faithful stewards of the gospel of the cross.  It is enough for us that God is pleased with us; we need nothing else.  In His joy, we have joy; in His approval, we are content.  Dear faithful Christian, do not grieve over lost earthly wealth or approval.  But rest content in God’s will, God’s way, and God’s promise; He is enough for us!

Prayer: Dear Lord, keep me from seeking worldly acclaim, and help me to instead seek Your will and way for my life.  Help be to be a faithful follower of Jesus and help to live so as to be a trustworthy proclaimer of the gospel of Christ, my Savior and Lord.

John Greever is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Fenton, MO and is a former professor of Bible at Missouri Baptist University. He is a part of the leadership team for Founders Midwest and is a speaker at this year’s Founders Midwest Conference. If you would like more information about Founders Midwest and the annual conference, be sure to check out our Facebook page or visit our website for more information. To register for the conference click here.

Christians, Fulfill Your Role as Priests of God

By Dr. Josh Wilson

On Friday, March 13th, President Trump took to Twitter to declare Sunday, March 15th, as a National Day of Prayer, asking that the citizens of this nation call upon God for protection and strength in times like these where we are dealing with the threat of the coronavirus (COVID-19). For us who are followers of the only living and true God, this was and still is an opportunity for us to fulfill our role as Priests to and for all the nations of the earth. So what exactly does that mean and how do we do it?

To begin, the Bible makes it clear time and again that the people of God also function as the priests of God. This concept is communicated early in the Old Testament in Exodus 19:6 where God says to the Israelites, “and you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.” Later in the Old Testament the prophet Isaiah writes in 61:5-6, “Strangers shall stand and tend your flocks; foreigners shall be your plowmen and vinedressers; but you shall be called the priests of the LORD; they shall speak of you as the ministers of our God.” This same concept is then communicated again in the New Testament. Twice in 1 Peter 2, the apostle writes that believers are a priesthood, holy and royal. Thrice in the book of the Revelation (1:6; 5:10; 20:6) believers are said to be a kingdom and priests to God who reign over the earth with Christ. Thus, we, the people of God, are priests of the God Most High.

According to the Old Testament, however, those who functioned as priests had to possess certain traits in order to even serve in that role. First, they had to be a Hebrew male. Second, they had to be from the tribe of Levi. Third, they had to be in good physical condition. Last, if they were seeking the office of High Priest, they had to be a descendant of Aaron, the first High Priest. How then do we, who for the most part do not possess any of these traits, qualify as priests of God? The simple, yet profoundly deep, explanation of how we are even qualified to be priests is that we are in union with Christ.

According to the New Testament, Jesus Christ is our High Priest, but not as a descendant of Aaron. Instead, Jesus was made a High Priest by God after the order of Melchizedek (Heb 5:5-10), which means that His priesthood is greater than any other Hebrew who ever held this office as a descendant of Aaron (Heb 7). Christ’s priesthood is greater not only with respect to His order, but also with respect to His work. His one-time sacrifice of Himself satisfied God’s divine justice and reconciled us to God once and for all (Heb 7:27; 10:12-14). Furthermore, because of His immortality He is always making intercession for us at the right hand of the Father (Heb 7:23-25).

Believers then, being united to Christ, partake of all His blessings (e.g. Eph 1:3) and participate in all of His works (c.f. Gen 3:15 with Rom 16:20). This is a deep mystery and one in which volumes more could be written. However, for the purpose of this article, let us simply understand that our union with Christ qualifies us to be priests of God. So how then do we fulfill our role as priests?

Briefly examining the office of the priesthood in the Old Testament helps us to understand how to fulfill our role as priests. One of the great responsibilities of the priests in the Old Testament was to come before God in the tabernacle on behalf of and for the benefit of the people. This responsibility was communicated symbolically through the shoulder and breast pieces that were worn upon the priestly ephod (see Exod 28:6-29). These two pieces, worn by the High Priest, had the names of the twelve tribes of Israel inscribed on them. Thus, the High Priest would come before God bearing upon himself the names of the people, making sacrifices and prayers to God for their sake.

Exodus 28:12   12 And you shall set the two stones on the shoulder pieces of the ephod, as stones of remembrance for the sons of Israel. And Aaron shall bear their names before the LORD on his two shoulders for remembrance.

Exodus 28:29 So Aaron shall bear the names of the sons of Israel in the breastpiece of judgment on his heart, when he goes into the Holy Place, to bring them to regular remembrance before the LORD.

However, not only would the priests come before God on behalf of the people, they would also minister to the people on behalf of God. They would do so by pronouncing God’s blessings upon them and by giving them knowledge and instruction from God through the Law.

Numbers 6:22-27   22 The LORD spoke to Moses, saying,  23 “Speak to Aaron and his sons, saying, Thus you shall bless the people of Israel: you shall say to them,  24 The LORD bless you and keep you;  25 the LORD make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you;  26 the LORD lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace.  27 “So shall they put my name upon the people of Israel, and I will bless them.”

Malachi 2:7   7 For the lips of a priest should guard knowledge, and people should seek instruction from his mouth, for he is the messenger of the LORD of hosts.

In this way the priests functioned as mediators, coming on behalf of the people before God and coming on behalf of God to the people. It is not surprising then that Christ, the Great High Priest, is called the only true mediator between God and man (1 Tim 2:5) because He is both God and man in one person forever. However, let us not forget that because we are in union with Christ, we too partake in His mediating work, and so we, too, function as priestly mediators between man and God.

Thus, in one sense, God has made us His priests, through Jesus Christ, for the benefit of all the nations of the earth (see again Isa 61:5-6) so that we might bring the nations before God and bring God to the nations. Since we are priests representing the nations before God, God instructs His people in Jeremiah 29:7 to “seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.” Since we are priests representing God to the nations, Paul says of God’s people in 2 Corinthians 5:20, “Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God.”

Since, therefore we are priests of God, highly favored by Him through our union with Christ, let us fulfill our role as priests by approaching the Throne of Grace on behalf of the nations. Let us intercede for those who are sick. Let us intercede for the heads of state who are dealing with this crisis. Let us intercede for the people in our communities such as our healthcare workers, our first responders, our workers who are continuing to provide essential goods and services (truck drivers, grocery store workers, garbage collectors, etc.). Let us intercede on behalf of  those who will not be able to work for the next couple of weeks. Let us lift up to God the economic impact that people all over this world are going to be dealing with in the aftermath. Let us ask God that in His mercy He would bring an end to these times. Let us also ask God that in His grace, He would save those who are living separated from Christ and under His condemnation.

And let us also fulfill our role as priests by going before all the nations of the earth on behalf of God (see again 2 Cor 5:20). God in His mercy uses times such as these to remind people of their frailty, that they are but dust, and so He turns the attentions of their hearts to things eternal. With the Law in hand, let us call them to repent of their wickedness and rebellion to God. Through the power and proclamation of the Gospel, let us call them to surrender to the reign and rule of Christ. Let us hold forth to them Christ as the only object of faith and the only perfect savior and refuge in times like these.

Christians, many of you will have much time on your hands in the days ahead. I want to exhort you to make the best use of it because the days are evil. Do so by fulfilling your role as priests of God Most High.

Josh Wilson is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Park Hills, MO and is a professor of Bible at Missouri Baptist University and Old Testament at IRBS Theological Seminary. He is a part of the leadership team for Founders Midwest and has been a speaker at the Founders Midwest Conference. If you would like more information about Founders Midwest and the annual conference, be sure to check out our Facebook page or visit our website for more information.

Submission to Christ’s Word: A Sign of Christian Discipleship

By Dr. John Greever

Battle for the Bible:  In every generation the battle for the Bible rages.  The battle has different moods, tones, and contexts, but make no mistake…the devil fights against the Bible and Bible-believing people in every generation.  This battle will not end until Jesus Christ comes back.  This is the environment in which Satan opposes God and the gospel in human history.

Accurate Biblical Knowledge and Submission to God:  A vital component in this battle is “true knowledge of and submission to God’s Word, the Bible.”  What I mean by this is that a Christian in discipleship seeks to submit himself to Christ by submitting himself to the Word of God.  We show our obedience to Christ by being obedient to the Word of God.  Obedience to the Word of God (the Scriptures) means submitting to Christ by and through obedience to the Word of God.  The ingredients required for such obedient submission is true knowledge of the Word of God, a love for Christ that motivates us to obey, and the seeking of the glory of God through obedience.  True knowledge comes from the combination of a proper interpretive approach and a regenerate heart.  These are absolute necessities for rightly understanding the Bible and applying it to life.

Twisted Approach:  The contextual challenge today in the evangelical church involves a reversal of biblical pursuit.  Too often today people read about, think about, and embrace human thought and experience, and then they run to the Bible to see if this human idea and perspective is consistent with the Scriptures.  If this is the model of obedience, then it will ALWAYS lead to disobedience through deception.  The core difficulty in this model is that we begin with human perception rather than God’s Word.  Even if we compare ideas with Scripture, the center of concern in this model is with human thinking and feeling about things.  This leads to twisting the Scripture in order to make the human idea FIT into the biblical model.  This is often garbed in the idea that our human context is the meaningful determinative factor for finding true meaning in the Scripture.  This is tragic!  The Scripture ends up being totally different than what God intended because it is being used as a validation for human thought. This is not what being biblical is about.

Start with the Bible:  The correct approach of biblical discipleship and obedience to Christ is (and has ALWAYS BEEN) starting with the Scripture, and then applying the Scripture to human thought and life experience.  This is akin to using the Scripture as a searchlight that helps us see things in the dark by the light of truth.  In this way we are able to progress obediently, because we have the Scripture as our base, and we see other ideas and things through the biblical lens.  We should never start with anecdotal stories that seek to establish human ethics and moral standards, nor should we seek to build our Christian lives and work on the teaching and ideologies of human thinkers, especially human utopian and human-centered messianic thinkers.  We should seek as Christians to conform our thoughts, our viewpoints, our convictions, and our lives to Christ by obeying the clear, consistent, and certain teaching of the Scriptures.

Charles Spurgeon said something that really helps in this regard.  He wrote, “Always stand to it that your creed must bend to the Bible, and not the Bible to your 
creed, and dare to be a little inconsistent with yourselves, if need be, sooner than be 
inconsistent with God’s revealed truth. 
If your creed and Scripture do not agree, cut your creed to pieces, but make it agree with this book. If there be anything in the church to which you belong which is contrary to the inspired Word, leave that church.”

Jesus makes this point plain in His teaching.  He said in His high priestly prayer to the Father, “Sanctify them (His disciples) in truth; Your Word, O Lord, is truth (John 17:17).”  The Word of God, His truth, will set us apart from the world, and this is a good thing!  We are to be separated from the world by conforming to God’s truth, the Scriptures.  In this way, Christians will be non-conformists to the world.  This means that separation from the world and holy conformity go together.  Jesus strongly connects our discipleship with obedience to the Word of God, the Scriptures, in Luke 6:46, “Why do you call Me, ‘Lord, Lord’, and do not DO WHAT I SAY?”  Our faithfulness to Christ is seen in our obedience to Christ, no matter what others do or believe.

Thoughts for Consideration:  So, how might we seek to be more obedient in the Scriptures in our Christian discipleship, and how might this affect our connection to the world?

  • Stop trying to be “cool” and “relevant”, conforming to the culture.  No one was ever saved because they thought Christians were cool and relevant.  This is nothing more than conforming to the culture’s way of thinking. 
  • Stop forming ethical frameworks and moral standards by unverified anecdotal “evidence.”  I hear Christians state beliefs and convictions based on what they have heard is “going on.”  There are so many ways that stories can be twisted.  Never form opinions based on what you have heard.  This is also true of historical research.  Histories are often written with prejudice and bias preloaded in the historical record.  History can only be truly understood when objective analysis occurs from all primary sources.  We must learn again how to “test all things, and hold fast to what is good (1 Thessalonians 5:21).”  We are losing quickly the ability and the freedom to put things to the test.  We must never give in on this.  The Scripture tests all things, not the other way around.  The light of Scripture shows the quirkiness and mistakes of human thinking.  Human thinking can never be authoritative for the Christian outside of biblical teaching.  Even as we now feel the pressure to not talk about certain things, the courageous Christian will test all things by the Bible.
  • Stop looking for biblical support for human ideologies.  The problem with this is that it is the exact opposite of what God requires of us as His disciples.  We must study the Bible using the Bible as our measurement for all ideas.  Any moral idea that is not taught in Scripture must be discarded from moral and doctrinal standards in the church.  The only instrument that has divine authority to bind the human conscience is the Scripture.

Let us learn to define and characterize Christian discipleship with obedience to Christ’s teaching by submitting ourselves to the Bible and its truth.  Only then will Christians be safe from succumbing to human thought and unbiblical guidance.  Are we as Christians willing to conform our doctrinal beliefs and moral convictions to the teaching of the Holy Scriptures?  Are we while seeking to conform to the Scriptures also willing to be non-conformists to the world’s beliefs and standards?  This is the critical question of Christian discipleship in this world.  Only as we return to the Bible as our authoritative teacher, guide, and compass will we demonstrate true discipleship to Christ.  Let us remember that every falsehood in the church began by neglecting or denying the Scripture, as God’s inerrant, authoritative, and all-sufficient revelation.

John Greever is the pastor of First Baptist Church in Fenton, MO and is a former professor of Bible at Missouri Baptist University . He is a part of the leadership team of Founders Midwest and has been a speaker at the Founders Midwest Conference on numerous occasions. If you would like to attend the upcoming Founders Midwest Conference be sure to check out our Facebook page or visit our website for more information.