Spiritual Cardiosclerosis #4

Sunday, April 18, 2021

“And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go” (Exodus 4:21 KJV).

Exactly what is “spiritual cardiosclerosis?” How can we avoid this invisible, destructive malady?

During Christ’s earthly ministry, Israel’s religious leaders were stricken with spiritual cardiosclerosis: “And when he [Jesus] had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other” (Mark 3:5). Instead of believing on Jesus as Christ—who had demonstrated His Messiahship via innumerable healing miracles—they rejected Him in unbelief! Alas, even the disciples fell prey to that terrible affliction of spiritual cardiosclerosis.

“For they considered not the miracle of the loaves: for their heart was hardened (Mark 6:52). When Jesus walked out on the water of the Sea of Galilee to meet the disciples in their ship, they were amazed at His ability to calm the storm that had troubled them for so long! Having forgotten His miracle of feeding the 5,000 several hours prior, they still found it hard to accept His extraordinary power. After miraculously feeding the 4,000 later, Jesus warned His disciples about the “leaven” of false doctrine deceiving and contaminating Israel. Lacking spiritual eyes to see spiritual truth, they assumed He was speaking of literal leaven or physical bread. “And when Jesus knew it, he saith unto them, Why reason ye, because ye have no bread? perceive ye not yet, neither understand? have ye your heart yet hardened?” (Mark 8:17).

The Lord Jesus even spoke of spiritual cardiosclerosis as causing divorce: “He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts* suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so” (Matthew 19:8). “And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart* he wrote you this precept” (Mark 10:5). (*In the New Testament, this is the translation of the Greek “sklerokardia,” from which we derived our English equivalent.)

When Messiah arrived, Israel was hardhearted….

Our latest Bible Q&A: “How can Luke 2:1 report ‘all the world’ was subject to Caesar Augustus?

Spiritual Cardiosclerosis #3

Saturday, April 17, 2021

“And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go” (Exodus 4:21 KJV).

Exactly what is “spiritual cardiosclerosis?” How can we avoid this invisible, destructive malady?

Despite having God’s revelation, Israel herself became spiritually hardened once she exited Egypt. As touching her wilderness wanderings, Psalm 95: “[1] O come, let us sing unto the LORD: let us make a joyful noise to the rock of our salvation. [2] Let us come before his presence with thanksgiving, and make a joyful noise unto him with psalms. [3] For the LORD is a great God, and a great King above all gods. [4] In his hand are the deep places of the earth: the strength of the hills is his also. [5] The sea is his, and he made it: and his hands formed the dry land. [6] O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.

“[7] For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand. To day if ye will hear his voice, [8] Harden not your heart, as in the provocation, and as in the day of temptation in the wilderness: [9] When your fathers tempted me, proved me, and saw my work. [10] Forty years long was I grieved with this generation, and said, It is a people that do err in their heart, and they have not known my ways: [11] Unto whom I sware in my wrath that they should not enter into my rest.”

Centuries later, when the Philistines stole the Ark of the Covenant from the Jews, the LORD God judged the Philistines most harshly: “Wherefore then do ye harden your hearts, as the Egyptians and Pharaoh hardened their hearts? when he had wrought wonderfully among them, did they not let the people go, and they departed?” (1 Samuel 6:6). Hundreds of years after this, King Zedekiah of Judah also fell prey to spiritual cardiosclerosis: “And he also rebelled against king Nebuchadnezzar, who had made him swear by God: but he stiffened his neck, and hardened his heart from turning unto the LORD God of Israel (2 Chronicles 36:13).

We now get to Christ’s earthly ministry….

Spiritual Cardiosclerosis #2

Friday, April 16, 2021

“And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go” (Exodus 4:21 KJV).

Exactly what is “spiritual cardiosclerosis?” How can we avoid this invisible, destructive malady?

Keep reading about Pharaoh, King of Egypt: “And the LORD said unto Moses, Go in unto Pharaoh: for I have hardened his heart, and the heart of his servants, that I might shew these my signs before him:…” (Exodus 10:1). “But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go” (verse 20). “But the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, and he would not let them go” (verse 27).

“And Moses and Aaron did all these wonders before Pharaoh: and the LORD hardened Pharaoh’s heart, so that he would not let the children of Israel go out of his land” (Exodus 11:10). “And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, that he shall follow after them; and I will be honoured upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host; that the Egyptians may know that I am the LORD. And they did so” (Exodus 14:4). “And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh king of Egypt, and he pursued after the children of Israel: and the children of Israel went out with an high hand” (verse 8). Again, the Egyptians themselves suffered spiritual cardiosclerosis: “And I, behold, I will harden the hearts of the Egyptians, and they shall follow them: and I will get me honour upon Pharaoh, and upon all his host, upon his chariots, and upon his horsemen” (verse 17 ).

Other Gentiles in the Old Testament experienced a similar fate: “But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him: for the LORD thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that he might deliver him into thy hand, as appeareth this day” (Deuteronomy 2:30). “For it was of the LORD to harden their hearts, that they should come against Israel in battle, that he might destroy them utterly, and that they might have no favour, but that he might destroy them, as the LORD commanded Moses” (Joshua 11:20).

Unfortunately, now Israel will undergo spiritual cardiosclerosis….

Spiritual Cardiosclerosis #1

Thursday, April 15, 2021

“And the LORD said unto Moses, When thou goest to return into Egypt, see that thou do all those wonders before Pharaoh, which I have put in thine hand: but I will harden his heart, that he shall not let the people go” (Exodus 4:21 KJV).

Exactly what is “spiritual cardiosclerosis?” How can we avoid this invisible, destructive malady?

In medical science, “cardiosclerosis” is characterized by the rapid increase of scar tissue in the myocardium (heart’s muscle tissue). The death of myocardial fibers causes the heart to become physically hard. However, the Bible refers some 40 times to a far more devastating affliction. Today’s Scripture is its first appearance; nearly half of those verses apply to Pharaoh of Egypt, oppressor of Israel.

“And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt” (Exodus 7:3). “And he hardened Pharaoh’s heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said. And the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh’s heart is hardened, he refuseth to let the people go” (verses 13,14). “And the magicians of Egypt did so with their enchantments: and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, neither did he hearken unto them; as the LORD had said” (verse 22). “But when Pharaoh saw that there was respite, he hardened his heart, and hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said” (Exodus 8:15). “Then the magicians said unto Pharaoh, This is the finger of God: and Pharaoh’s heart was hardened, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said” (verse 19). “And Pharaoh hardened his heart at this time also, neither would he let the people go” (verse 32).

“And Pharaoh sent, and, behold, there was not one of the cattle of the Israelites dead. And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, and he did not let the people go” (Exodus 9:7). “And the LORD hardened the heart of Pharaoh, and he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had spoken unto Moses” (verse 12). “And when Pharaoh saw that the rain and the hail and the thunders were ceased, he sinned yet more, and hardened his heart, he and his servants. And the heart of Pharaoh was hardened, neither would he let the children of Israel go; as the LORD had spoken by Moses” (verses 34,35).

Pharaoh will suffer even more spiritual cardiosclerosis….

Whose Appeal Do We Seek? #2

Wednesday, April 7, 2021

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV).

Do we aim to please God—or men?

In John chapter 9, Christ healed a blind man, whom the unbelieving Pharisees subsequently persecuted: “[19] And they asked them, saying, Is this your son, who ye say was born blind? how then doth he now see? [20] His parents answered them and said, We know that this is our son, and that he was born blind: [21] But by what means he now seeth, we know not; or who hath opened his eyes, we know not: he is of age; ask him: he shall speak for himself. [22] These words spake his parents, because they feared the Jews: for the Jews had agreed already, that if any man did confess that he was Christ, he should be put out of the synagogue.

As opposed to seeking man’s appeal, today’s Scripture exhorts us to be “approved unto God.” If we lack God’s approval, however, He considers us a “castaway:” “But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (1 Corinthians 9:27). Our service is unacceptable to the Lord who died for us and rose again (2 Corinthians 5:15). Having our fellow man’s applause, we are practically useless to our Saviour’s cause! Brethren, let us be mindful of the following passages.

“Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free” (Ephesians 6:5-8). “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God; And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:22-24).

Whose Appeal Do We Seek? #1

Tuesday, April 6, 2021

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth (2 Timothy 2:15 KJV).

Do we aim to please God—or men?

A famous Christian musician once declared that, although he was not ashamed of his faith, he wished to create music with a “universal appeal.” Whether Christian, atheist, Buddhist, or whatever, he wanted all people to enjoy his songs. Another well-known Christian musician disliked his band being labeled “Christian” because that would discourage non-Christians from listening to their work. A celebrity Christian counselor once explained why his writings contained no Scripture verses. Had he included Bible references and quotes, his literature would have had a much smaller audience and his unsaved peers would have never endorsed him!

These are but a few examples of the pitfalls of Christian “fame.” While we might have started out with good intentions, increasing popularity causes us to run the risk of compromising the truth so as to continue “broadening our appeal.” Once endeavoring to draw people to behold the glory of God, we now seek to lure them to see the glory of self. The stigma of being an “outcast for Christ” is simply too much for us to bear. Hence, at the expense of the Lord’s approval, we strive to continue charming our fellow man! Unfortunately, doctrine means nothing to us at that point, for our goal now is to say and write whatever will grow our church, ministry, business, social life, and so on. We remember those striking words of Christ uttered so long ago, just as applicable today: “Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets” (Luke 6:26).

Never should we forget the major thrust of John 12:42,43: “Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him [Christ Jesus]; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue: For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.Here is our choice, dear friends. We either love the praise of men, or we love the praise of God. It is impossible to seek both….

Christ Liveth in Me

Sunday, April 4, 2021

“I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20 KJV).

“He is risen” is not a simple blasé cliché!

When Jesus’ disciples came to His tomb on that glorious Sunday morning nearly 2,000 years ago, they were startled to find it empty! Angels inform them that He has resurrected, but they are still in shock (Matthew 28:1-8; Mark 16:1-8; Luke 24:1-8). Jesus Christ Himself must later explain the Scriptures to them regarding what happened those last few days (Luke 24:44-46).

However, until Paul’s ministry, Christ’s finished crosswork is not preached as good news for salvation. Peter and Israel’s other apostles simply preach that Jesus Christ is now resurrected to “sit on [David’s] throne” (Acts 2:30)—that is bad news for much of Israel, for they still reject Him, weeks and months after His resurrection and ascension. Throughout early Acts, Israel’s apostles warn her that Jesus Christ is coming back to judge them.

When we come to the Apostle Paul’s ministry, we learn that we Gentiles can benefit from Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. Israel’s rejected Messiah is now our way to heaven! Yes, Israel hated Him, and demanded that He experience the most awful method of execution devised, but God allowed it in order to accomplish His will. Satan attempted to hinder God’s will by having Christ killed, but all that did was provide the method whereby God could save us pagan Gentiles. Calvary’s finished crosswork frees us from Satan’s evil system and gives us a chance to be God’s people (Acts 26:17,18)!

As people who have trusted Jesus Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins, that crucifixion is our death to self and sin, and that resurrection is our raising to walk in newness of life—His life (today’s Scripture; cf. Romans 6:1-11)!

Indeed, Jesus Christ is alive, and He lives in and through those who walk by faith in God’s Word to them, Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon! 🙂

HAPPY EASTER!

*Adapted from a larger Bible study by the same name. That study can be read here or watched here.

Excruciating Thursday

Thursday, April 1, 2021

[Reader discretion advised: Christ’s sufferings are graphically described below.]

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man” (Hebrews 2:9 KJV).

His three years of earthly ministry have expired, but His greatest work is yet to come!

During the all-night interrogation in the “kangaroo court,” His sentence is passed—execution by crucifixion. They have scourged, beaten, and punched Him. Covered in their spit, they laugh at Him, and strike His head with a rod to force on the crown of thorns. His back shredded, His skull possibly fractured, His beard ripped off. His massive blood loss weakens Him further. Having been stripped of His clothing, He struggles to carry His heavy cross to Mount Calvary: Simon must carry His cross for Him. The crowds watch Him, laughing and jeering. His little flock looks on in total shock.

They lay Him on the wooden cross, yanking His limbs to nail them in place. His bones unbroken, but exposed, and His limbs dislocated. They pierce His hands and feet with long spikes, severing the median nerve in the hands, causing permanent hand paralysis. They raise up that cross, and He hangs, slowly suffocating due to His own weight. Every breath becomes increasingly difficult, His lungs fill with fluid, His heart becomes progressively strained. Eventually, He cannot breathe, and thus dies.

Now imagine His spiritual suffering. Three hours into His crucifixion, His heavenly Father and the Holy Ghost have abandoned Him. For the first time ever, He is totally alone. Physical and spiritual darkness now cover the earth. The weight of all the world’s sin and sins of all time crushes His soul. God’s undiluted wrath falls upon Him, as it does on those suffering in hellfire. He cries out in agony. Hanging on that cruel cross, with His spiritual eyes, He observes Satan himself and all his evil creatures snickering and cheering. He looks out to see His disciples staring at His helpless disfigured body. Oh, if only they knew how His physical and spiritual bodies were being tormented, utterly tortured beyond imagination!

After six hours of excruciating pain, He finally lets Himself die….

Please check out our archived Bible Q&A: “Was Jesus Christ really crucified on Friday?

Two Sons and Two Fathers

Wednesday, March 31, 2021

“And they cried out all at once, saying, Away with this man, and release unto us Barabbas:” (Luke 23:18 KJV).

One son will be liberated to live, and the other Son will be sentenced to die!

At the time of Christ’s trial, Barabbas is a prisoner (Matthew 27:16). Barabbas is a murderer, a robber, and guilty of “insurrection,” or rebelling against the government (Mark 15:7; Luke 23:18,19; John 18:40).

It is Passover. Roman governor Pontius Pilate has a custom that, at the feast, he releases a prisoner, whomever the people desire (Matthew 27:15; Mark 15:6). “But the chief priests and elders persuaded the multitude that they should ask Barabbas, and destroy Jesus. The governor answered and said unto them, Whether of the twain will ye that I release unto you? They said, Barabbas. Pilate saith unto them, What shall I do then with Jesus which is called Christ? They all say unto him, Let him be crucified” (Matthew 27:20-22).

Israel’s chief priests, rulers, and common people all demand Christ’s crucifixion and Barabbas’ release, so Pilate gives the sentence (Luke 23:23-25). Guilty Barabbas is set free to live, and innocent Jesus Christ is condemned to be crucified. While Barabbas’ involvement in the matter seems insignificant upon first glance, God included it in His written Word because to provide us with an amazing illustration!

“Barabbas” means “son of the father.” Barabbas is a criminal, and he represents sinful, rebellious mankind who is worthy of death. He is bound by sin, and faces eternal death. Spiritually, sinful mankind is the son of Satan—man is of his father the devil (John 8:44). Jesus Christ, the Son of the Father, God, “knew no sin” (2 Corinthians 5:21), but took upon Himself our sins and was punished in our place.

Innocent Jesus Christ took the place of guilty Barabbas, which actually represented Christ taking the place of the whole world, suffering God’s wrath on our behalf! “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust…” (1 Peter 3:18). Thus, through Christ’s finished crosswork, we sinful sons of Adam (and Satan) can be freed from sin, and we can become the righteous sons of God.

NOTE: Saints, concerning our New Testament Survey Project, we have started the Book of Luke. It will take about 10 months to teach. Click here for the NT videos playlist, and scroll to the bottom.

No Favorites Before God

Tuesday, March 30, 2021

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works (Revelation 20:11,12 KJV).

Whether “small” or great,” they all stand before the Great White Throne Judgment!

For decades—yea, centuries—people have complained about the human “justice system” being “broken.” The guilty are usually not brought to trial. If they are, their sentence is often light or mild. Contrariwise, in a tragic twist of fate, the innocent are prosecuted in their place—and that punishment severe. Corrupt judges and lawyers perpetuate this unfortunate cycle. Actually, “the elite” do not suffer the penalty for their crimes because they have friends in high places protecting them. A bribe here, a blackmail there, a murder here, a “plea of ignorance/insanity” there—whatever it takes to escape justice they will surely do!

Atheism’s major weakness is simple: absence of a higher power ensures ultimate justice will never be carried out. Unless God exists, there is no chance of fairness. Howbeit, today’s Scripture says “small and great” will come before the Lord Jesus Christ to be judged (cf. John 5:22). Revelation chapter 20 continues: “And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.”

Whether poor or rich, peasant or monarch, unschooled or learned, commoner or celebrity, all unbelievers—having hearts of unbelief not faith—will be condemned to the Lake of Fire for all eternity. Despite their disparities, they are alike: all have failed to meet God’s standard of righteousness in Christ. “For the LORD seeth not as man seeth; for man looketh on the outward appearance, but the LORD looketh on the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7; cf. Jeremiah 17:9,10).