Sunday, June 25, 2017

Just a Matter of Taste

“But he [Jesus] turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men.” (Matt. 16:23)

This sixteenth chapter of Matthew is proof positive of human inconsistency, whether the human is a believer or an unbeliever. In no time, it seems, after Jesus had commended Simon Peter’s spiritual perception (v. 17), He was forced to turn around and rebuke him for reasoning like the Devil. But the part of this verse that I really want to hone in on is Jesus’ use of the word “savourest” in describing Peter’s perspective. 

Whether spelled “savour,” or “savor,” as we do, the meaning is the same: “a quality in relation to the sense of taste.” It can also involve the sense of smell, as we see numerous times in Old Testament passages concerning the nation Israel’s sacrifices to God, and, in the New Testament, speaking of the one final Sacrifice, Jesus Christ (Eph. 5:2). In any case, it refers to our senses, as we know them, and God’s, which we can never know.

Jesus’ indictment against His disciple was that when it came to the prospect of a hell-defying Church (v. 18), and a glorious Kingdom (v. 19), he was ready to “dig in”; but when it came to the expectation of suffering and death (v. 21), he suddenly lost his appetite! Admittedly, it was Jesus’ death that Peter found especially repugnant, but had he walked all these months with the Lord, only to question His judgment now? Besides the fact that His Death and Resurrection were the prerequisite to the promised Church and Kingdom, not to the mention the only means of redemption from sin, there is a principle involved here. And Jesus spells it out in verse twenty-four: “Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.”

The surest way to know whether or not we have a taste for the things of God is to see how we react when God’s will goes against our own, especially when ours would seem to be more victorious—at least in the short run. How quick are we to spit out an unsavory situation, and substitute our own more palatable choice? When our side seems to be losing, our church and pastor pilloried and persecuted, or our loyalty to Jesus Christ threatens to cost us dearly, do we not only lack the stomach for it, but even the taste? If so, you and I, like Peter, do not savor the things of God, but the things of men.

We may appear to be good people. Just lacking in good taste. Sad…

Sunday, June 11, 2017

Get It Right

“For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it.” Hebrews 4:2)

         Water, as you know, is made up of two parts of hydrogen with one part of oxygen (H2O). But the fact remains, neither one by itself will ever quench your thirst. It takes the right combination of the two to get the desired result. This is what the writer of Hebrews is saying. As powerful as the Word of God is (v. 12), and as effective as faith in God may be (11:6), neither one will get the result you’re looking for – “profit [them]” -- without the other.

         The eternal Word of God is the fountainhead of all truth, and although it is infinitely inexhaustible, it is still possible to read and study it long and well enough to acquire a working knowledge of its principles and precepts; but unless, and until, faith is added into the mix, it will never truly come alive to us. On the other hand, the strongest faith is no more than blustery whistling in the dark if it’s not based on sound doctrine (Titus 2:1) and eternal precepts (Psl. 119:100). Some folks can “quote it (the Bible) by the mile, but can’t live it by the inch,” as they say; while others have enough faith to step out on nothing. But that’s the problem: they step out on nothing, literally!

         As one gospel song says, “You can’t stand on promises if you don’t know what they are.” But all the Bible knowledge in the world won’t save a soul or get one prayer answered if it fails to lay hold on the Truth, by faith. The Christian life is not a method; it’s a mixture, as the verse says, that requires two ingredients: the Word of God and Faith. Leave one ingredient out, and just like the formula for water, you’ll spend your whole life thirsty.

To get the right result you have to use the right formula.