Tuesday, September 06, 2005

Ezekiel: Guaranteed rescue from works-religion

Ezekiel 34:7-10 Therefore, ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; As I live, saith the Lord GOD, surely because my flock became a prey, and my flock became meat to every beast of the field, because there was no shepherd, neither did my shepherds search for my flock, but the shepherds fed themselves, and fed not my flock; Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the LORD; Thus saith the Lord GOD; Behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my flock at their hand, and cause them to cease from feeding the flock; neither shall the shepherds feed themselves any more; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them.

In Chapter 34, Christ instructs Ezekiel to preach against the shepherds of Israel. He exposes them for what they are - false preachers. They are not “Gospel preachers”; they are “preachers of Israel”. They say they are preachers of God but they are not Christ’s shepherds.

God’s elect are: diseased, sick, lost, scattered, become meat, wandering, and not sought after. They are hopeless, powerless, and undesirable. They see their sin and know their guilt before God. They are easy prey for false preachers (beasts of the field).

False preachers do not help God’s elect by pointing to Christ. Instead they cruelly preach self-righteousness. They point people back to themselves, telling each person to trust in their own individual meritorious works. They try to force God’s elect to plead their own righteousness to God. Their aim is to put everyone under bondage to the Law. They do not proclaim God’s Free Sovereign Grace.

Since these false preachers (who call themselves his shepherds) are concerned with themselves rather than God’s elect - Christ announces that he is against them. Legally and justly because of what they have done (therefore and thus) Christ commits to punish them forever.

Christ commits that he himself (I, even I) will collect and save each and every one of God’s elect. The elect are his flock - his and his alone. They are his loved ones and his responsibility. They are sheep - totally helpless without him. He teaches them of his Grace. He takes them out of false religion. He takes them away from those who preach the soul damning heresy of works-religion (will deliver my flock from their mouth). He will not let them despair under false teachers.

Here is a message of comfort to God’s elect. Christ guarantees that he will secure all of them under his wings; he takes them out of false religion; he teaches them of his Grace; he brings them to him using his true Preachers. Every one of God’s elect know that Christ, the LORD their God, is with them.

By Ray Bennetts

Friday, September 02, 2005

Amos: How Do We Seek Him?

Amos 5:10-15 compares the behavior of those who hate Christ and those who love him.

Amos 5:10-15 They hate him that rebuketh in the gate, and they abhor him that speaketh uprightly. Forasmuch therefore as your treading is upon the poor, and ye take from him burdens of wheat: ye have built houses of hewn stone, but ye shall not dwell in them; ye have planted pleasant vineyards, but ye shall not drink wine of them. For I know your manifold transgressions and your mighty sins: they afflict the just, they take a bribe, and they turn aside the poor in the gate from their right. Therefore the prudent shall keep silence in that time; for it is an evil time. Seek good, and not evil, that ye may live: and so the LORD, the God of hosts, shall be with you, as ye have spoken. Hate the evil, and love the good, and establish judgment in the gate: it may be that the LORD God of hosts will be gracious unto the remnant of Joseph.

Natural man “hates and abhors“ Christ as well as all those who confess Christ. God knows his enemies and he uses their sin to afflict his people (the just). God’s enemies “tread upon the poor”. These poor are the poor in spirit, those who have been humbled through the gift of the Holy Spirit. They “hate him....abhor him...tread upon the poor...take from him”. God has committed to punish all sins against him and all sins against his people. They will not reap benefits from any of their efforts in this life. Their works are meaningless (hewing stones and planting vineyards), they can not reconcile themselves to God, and they can not protect themselves from God’s wrath.

God’s elect, in reaction to afflictions sent by God to them in this life, turn from their filth, corruption, and self-reliance. They are enabled to see and understand that there is no righteousness in themselves or anyone else in this life. They seek the absolute righteousness of Christ. They “seek good and not evil” and they “hate the evil”. They reject free-will works-religion and rely exclusively on Christ’s Free Sovereign Grace. They seek and love the righteousness of Christ; they “seek good” and “love the good”.

God’s elect do not attempt to show off their righteousness to anyone. They “prudently” rest quietly (silently) in Christ’s righteousness. They display their knowledge of Christ through their words and their actions. God commits that he will come to (be with) those who seek him. They confess that he is with them (as ye have spoken) - and he is with them at all times. God “will be gracious” to all who seek him. He will give them what they absolutely do not deserve.

Joel 2:12-13 Therefore also now, saith the LORD, turn ye even to me with all your heart, and with fasting, and with weeping, and with mourning: And rend your heart, and not your garments, and turn unto the LORD your God: for he is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness, and repenteth him of the evil.

By Ray Bennetts