From the Pastor

 Pastor Mike Burns

 Victory Church

 903.567.2072 (Ext. 3002)                                   


Friday, November 10, 2023 3:27 PM

The Incarnation: Its Relevance

Friday, November 10, 2023 3:27 PM
Friday, November 10, 2023 3:27 PM

That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we looked upon and have touched with our hands, concerning the word of life— 2 the life was made manifest, and we have seen it, and testify to it and proclaim to you the eternal life, which was with the Father and was made manifest to us— 1 John 1:1-3 ESV

To call the incarnation "relevant" almost sounds patronizing. But we need to recognize the intimate connection between this important doctrine and personal passion for Jesus Christ.

I. It Opens Up Scripture

Until we grasp that Christ is God-in-flesh, the Old Testament will remain a collection of stories about how men and women struggled with the call to faith. The incarnation helps us to see that the Old Testament sets the stage for God to once again live with man as He did in Eden. On every Old Testament page, God promises a human deliverer who is also stronger than Satan (Gen. 3:15); both a suffering servant and an anointed king.

The reality of God-with-us is explained and applied throughout the rest of Scripture starting with Matthew. The New Testament is not simply a collection of ethical instruction, or even a commentary on the life of a certain Nazarene. It is the real-life story of what happened when God came to men that they might belong to Him. The New Testament is the answer to the Old Testament anticipation of a redeemer. Only in the incarnate Christ, are all of the promises answered with a resounding "yes!" (2 Cor. 1:20).

Near the story's last chapter, John heard these words from heaven: "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with then, and they shall be his people. God himself will be with them, and be their God" (Rev. 21:3).

II. It Makes God Accessible

In the Old Testament, God was accessible only through the mediation of prophets, priests, tabernacle, and temple. No Israelite could properly see God (John 1:18). John Calvin said the revelation of God prior to Christ was like a pencil sketch.

In Christ, God became accessible to us in a most familiar form. Six times in the opening of His first letter, John says, "We saw him!" (1 John 1:1-4). During Jesus' earthly ministry, the majestic God of heaven and earth cried out to the crowds, "Come to me!" (Matt. 11:28). If you want to know what God is like, study Christ. As Richard Phillips has written, Jesus' earthly posture, tone of voice, attitude, and reaction to events were those of God. "God is Christ- like."

III. It Reveals Our Only Mediator

At Mount Sinai Israel needed mediation; they were justly terrified by God's thunderings. "If we hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, we shall die." (Deut 5:25). God gave Moses as a temporary mediator (Deut. 5:27) who admonished the people to look for a better one!
(Deut 18:15). Of the man Jesus, Paul later wrote, "There is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men…" (1 Tim. 2:5). In His humanity Christ suffered our judgment for sin. In His divinity He endured that judgment to the very end.

IV. It Reveals God's Humility and Glory

Christ prostrated Himself to the earth because we needed rescue–that's humbling. God lowered Himself to gather to Himself His rebellious children. Even the earthly body of Christ was lowly. It was as crude as the tabernacle in the desert compared with the pyramids of Egypt or the ziggurats of Babylon. Christ willingly compromised His reputation by becoming a man (Phil. 2:7). Paradoxically, in Christ's humility, God also reveals His other-worldly glory. Phillips explains: "Jesus saw the event of His greatest earthly humiliation–the apex of His servant obedience–as His true glorification on earth. 'The hour has come that the Son of Man
should be glorified' (John 12:23)." Calvin boldly states that the richness of God's glory "is invisible until it shines forth in Christ… the majesty of the Father is hidden until it shews itself impressed" on Christ's image."

V. It Compels Us to Godly Living

"For the love of Christ compels us… those who live should live no longer for themselves, but for him who died for them and rose again" (2 Cor. 5:14-15). True godliness is lived out in a mutually loving experience with God. With biblical assurance, we usually think of the cross as the greatest manifestation of God's love. But if on the cross, Christ's descent reached the pit of hell, the incarnation was His first step in that agonizing descent. We need to know Christ as He truly is, God and man in one beautiful, glorious person. Knowing Christ ensures being changed by Him.

Friday, October 27, 2023 9:56 PM

The Middle East Crisis in Biblical Perspective Part 6

Friday, October 27, 2023 9:56 PM
Friday, October 27, 2023 9:56 PM

What are the spiritual roots of the Arab-Israeli conflict? Can the conflict be solved politically?

The Jewish Position
With Arab intentions so clear, why has Israel staked its future on a hope that it can secure peace by trading land? There are at least three key reasons.

1) Humanistic Leadership — Menachem Begin is the only Prime Minister of Israel who has been an observant Jew. All others have been marginal believers, if not atheists or agnostics. Accordingly, the prevailing philosophy among Israeli leaders has been humanism, with its faith in the goodness of Man. This philosophy has entrapped the leaders in self-deception, convincing them that if they will only be kind and gracious toward their enemy, then their enemy will reciprocate. It was this type of muddle-headed thinking that prompted Yitzak Rabin and Shimon Peres to believe they could charm and placate the Arabs through a policy of appeasement.

2) Desire for Acceptance — Throughout their long history, the Jewish people have had a desire for acceptance. When they demanded that Samuel provide them with a king, he warned them that a king would abuse and exploit them. But they refused to listen to Samuel’s warnings because, as they put it, “we want to be like all the other nations” (1 Samuel 8:20). God set the Jewish people apart to be a witness of Him (Isaiah 43:10-12), and they have never liked that role. Again, the Jewish leadership has deceived itself into believing
that if it will only give in to world pressure regarding the establishment of a Palestinian state, then the world will accept Israel. The truth is that no matter what Israel does, the world will continue to hate the Jews and their state.

3) American Pressure — Because the United States is Israel’s only ally in the world, they are particularly responsive to pressure from us. We may be their only ally, but we have been unwilling to come down decisively on their side because of our interest in procuring Arab oil and our desire to build an Arab coalition against terrorism. We are the ones, in fact, who forced them to the negotiating table to trade land for peace. It all occurred in 1991 when the Soviet Union collapsed and a flood of Jewish refugees began to return to Israel. For over a year, 2,000 to 3,000 refugees arrived each day! The Israeli government was swamped by the demands for food and housing and jobs. They appealed to the world bank for a $5 billion loan. The bank responded by saying they would provide the loan only if it were guaranteed by the United States. The Bush Administration dug in its heels and demanded that the Israelis start trading land for peace in order to get the loan guarantee. That is how the Israelis got started down the self-destructive road of appeasement.

The Folly of Appeasement

History makes it clear that a policy of appeasement always leads to war because it merely whets the appetite of the aggressor. But from 1991 to 2000, the Israeli leadership ignored the lessons of history and fervently pursued its policy of trading land for peace.
The turning point came in the summer of 2000 when Ehud Barak caved in to Palestinian terror and offered Arafat everything except the keys to the Knesset. When Arafat refused even to consider the offer, the eyes of the Israeli people were opened to the truth that Arafat was not interested in peace. They finally realized that he was determined to take all of Israel.
That realization produced an earthquake in Israeli public opinion. The voters decided to wash their hands of Barak and his party of equivocators. They turned to Ariel Sharon, a strong leader who had never been deceived by Arab intentions. Sharon was elected Prime Minister in February of 2001, and his determination to draw the line on what Israel is willing to surrender for peace has resulted in all the world coming together against Israel over the issue of Jerusalem, just as prophesied by Zechariah.

Next: Part 7 – Crucial Questions

Thursday, October 26, 2023 4:13 PM

The Middle East Crisis in Biblical Perspective Part 5

Thursday, October 26, 2023 4:13 PM
Thursday, October 26, 2023 4:13 PM

What are the spiritual roots of the Arab-Israeli conflict? Can the conflict be solved politically?

The Arab Aim
The goal of the Arabs is not the establishment of another state within Palestine. Rather, the goal is the incorporation of all the remainder of Palestine into a second Arab state. In other words, the goal is the annihilation of Israel. They have made this intention very clear in
several ways:

1) The Phased Plan of 1974 — This plan, issued while the PLO was headquarted in Libya, is Arafat’s “Mein Kampf.” It was issued after Arafat realized he would never be able to destroy Israel militarily. So, he proposed as an alternative, that Israel be taken slowly, piece by piece,
by using diplomatic pressure from the Vatican, Western Europe, the United Nations and the United States. Territory would be traded for a false promise of peace. And when enough territory had been gained, Israel would be attacked from within and destroyed. In other
words, it was a Trojan horse strategy. Feisal Husseini, who served as Arafat’s foreign minister until his death in 2001, admitted this strategy in the last newspaper interview that he gave. He said, “The Oslo Accords were a Trojan horse. The strategic goal is the liberation of Palestine from the [Jordan] river to the [Mediterranean] sea…”

2) Arafat’s Speeches — In May of 1994, just eight months after signing the Oslo Accords at the White House, Arafat gave a speech in Johannesburg, South Africa in which he called for a “holy jihad” to liberate Jerusalem. He also mocked the Oslo agreement as nothing but a
strategic ploy to gain time. He likened it to Mohammed’s treaty with the tribe of Koraish. That was a treaty in which Mohammed agreed to peace with the tribe of Koraish if they would allow him to pray in Mecca. Within two years, when Mohammed felt he had grown strong enough militarily, he abrogated the agreement, slaughtered the tribe of Koraish, and
conquered Mecca for Allah. The Johannesburg speech was only one of many similar ones that Arafat has given all over the Arab world to assure the Arab masses that the Oslo Accords are meaningless.

3) Continued Terrorism — Even though the land-for-peace process initiated by the Oslo Accords has resulted in 97% of Palestinians being placed under the control of the Palestinian Authority, the violence against Israel continues to escalate. In the year following the signing of the Oslo Accords (September 1993 to September 1994), there were over twice as many Israeli terror fatalities than during the preceding year. Overall, Israel suffered 73% more terror fatalities in the two years after the 1993 deal than in the two years before it. And more Israelis were killed by Palestinian terrorists in the first five years after Olso than in the 15
preceding years! From the outbreak of the current Arab uprising in September 2000 until July 1, 2002, there have been 13,494 terrorist attacks against Israelis, resulting in 4,213 casualties, including 561 killed.

4) Palestinian Maps — The website of the Palestinian State Information Service contains a map of the projected state of Palestine that includes all of modern day Israel. This same map hangs on the wall of Arafat’s office and is used on shoulder patches of Palestinian uniforms.

5) Rejection of the Barak Offer — In July of 2000 the Israeli Prime Minister, Ehud Barak, decided to put Arafat to the test by offering him everything he had been publicly demanding. In short, he called Arafat’s bluff. To summarize the offer, he proposed giving the Palestinian Authority 96% of the West Bank and Gaza, 4% of Israel adjacent to Gaza, three-fourths of the Old City of Jerusalem and sovereignty over the Temple Mount, five neighborhoods in east Jerusalem, and the right of return for 50,000 Palestinians. Arafat got up, walked out of the room, and never returned. He did not even make a counter offer. Instead, he launched the uprising that began in September 2000.

Next: Part 6 - The Jewish Position

Sunday, October 22, 2023 6:53 AM

The Middle East Crisis in Biblical Perspective Part 4

Sunday, October 22, 2023 6:53 AM
Sunday, October 22, 2023 6:53 AM

What are the spiritual roots of the Arab-Israeli conflict? Can the conflict be solved politically?

The Arab Position

Let’s switch our attention for a moment to the Arabs. Just as God made a covenant with Abraham’s heirs through Isaac, He also made promises to Abraham’s descendants through Ishmael, the father of the Arab nations (Genesis 16:10-12 and 17:20). Here is a list of the
remarkable promises God made to the Arab peoples:
The descendants of Ishmael will be multiplied “exceedingly” (Genesis 16:10 and 17:20).
They will become a great nation (Genesis 17:20).
They will be given all the land east of Canaan (Genesis 16:12).
They will be given a personality like a “wild donkey,” and because of this, “their hand will be against everyone” (Genesis 16:12).
God has faithfully fulfilled all these promises:
There are 200 million Arabs today.
They constitute a great nation composed of 21 states.
They occupy 5.3 million square miles of oil rich land.

They are characterized by an inability to get along with anyone, including themselves.
In contrast, there is only one Jewish state with a population of 6 million squeezed into an area of only 8,000 square miles. That’s a population ratio of 33 to 1 and a land ratio of 662 to 1! And yet, the Arabs greedily demand the creation of another Arab state at the expense of the one Jewish state

The Palestinian Myth

Regarding the Palestinians, during the nearly 1,900 years that the Jews were dispossessed of their land:

  • There was never a Palestinian state.
  • Jerusalem was never the capital of any Arab state.
  • The Arabs who lived in the area considered themselves to be Syrians.
  • There was no Palestinian identity, culture, or language.
  • The concept of a Palestinian claim on the land is a propaganda gimmick developed after the Six Day War in 1967 when Jordan lost the West Bank to Israel.

The Arab Claim on Jerusalem

The same is true of the Arab claim on Jerusalem. The Arabs contend that Jerusalem is the third most holy place behind Mecca and Medina. But again, all this emphasis on the significance of Jerusalem has developed in recent years.
There is no mention of Jerusalem in the Koran, whereas it is mentioned 667 times by name in the Hebrew Scriptures. Although the Arabs claim that Mohammed came to Jerusalem and from there ascended into heaven, there is no historical evidence whatsoever that Mohammed ever even came close to Jerusalem. The real geographical focus of Islam is the city of Mecca. Muslims pray toward this city, and it is to this city that they are required to
make a pilgrimage once in their lifetime.
The real claim of the Arabs is based upon a portion of the Koran that states that once a land has been conquered for Allah, it must remain an Islamic land. The Arabs conquered the land and city in the Middle Ages when they drove the Crusaders out. They now feel compelled by the Koran to reconquer it.

There are two other motivations for the Arab desire to retake both Israel and Jerusalem. The first is rooted in the fact that the re-establishment of the state of Israel is viewed by Muslim clerics as a judgment of God upon the Arab peoples for their lack of faithfulness to Islam.
They must redeem themselves from this judgment by returning to the fundamentals of Islam and then, having been spiritually revived, Allah will empower them to regain both the land and the city.
The second factor is that the Arabs believe that their control of Jerusalem and its Temple Mount will certify their superiority over both Judaism and Christianity. The Temple Mount was the focal point of the Jewish faith for centuries because it was where the Temple was located. And it is believed that the Temple Mount is where the first Gospel sermon was preached by Peter on Pentecost, and thus was the site of the birthplace of the Church.

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