Porcine Predilection Predates Powerful Prevailing Pardon, Prompting Personal Purity

November 11, 2009 at 9:30 am | Posted in A Little Alliteration, Salvation | 23 Comments
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I am not one of those people who think that the entire New Testament after the Book of Acts is just one long test to determine whether a person who has called upon the Lord by faith to save him, has in fact really been saved. I believe the vast majority of the writing in the New Testament epistles is directed toward believers so that they can glorify and serve God as they understand more about their salvation, and so that they can get the victory over more and more of their unredeemed flesh as they grow in Christ-likeness by the power of God.

However, it is true that a person who has been truly regenerated by God’s Spirit does in fact have a new “heart:” a new “nature,” a new ontological “self.”

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Titus 3:5

Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

II Corinthians 5:17

Although regenerated Christians will still sin, they should have a new relationship with sin. Before my “new birth” (my spiritual birth into the family of God), I was a slave to sin.

For when ye were the servants of sin, ye were free from righteousness.

Romans 6:20

And there was much about sin that I enjoyed. However, when Christ Jesus saved me from the power of sin, He set me free, and, while I did not become sinless, my love for sin was no longer greater than my love for God and His righteousness.

But now being made free from sin, and become servants to God, ye have your fruit unto holiness, and the end everlasting life.

Romans 6:22

If you have had some experience which you believe counts as being “born again,” but you still have no hatred for sin, and no real love for God, it is imperative that you examine yourself according the Scriptures.

Charles Spurgeon gave us a helpful illustration. He described a pig which was faced with a gourmet meal on one side, and a rotten pile of filth and garbage on the other side. The pig raced for the garbage, and disregarded the gourmet meal, because that is what pigs do.

pig slop

The “nature” of a pig is to root and wallow and indulge in filth. Suddenly God miraculously transformed the pig into a man. The man was disgusted to find himself wallowing in, and consuming, filth. He was also extremely embarrassed. He immediately scrambled out of the garbage pile, and started cleaning himself off. The next day, the man (who used to be a pig) was faced with the same two dining alternatives, and he went happily to the gourmet meal, and spurned the garbage. This happened almost every day, but once in while, the man (who had been a pig for a very long time before his transformation) forgot he was now a man, and compulsively immersed himself in the filthy heap of garbage. The difference now, though, was that when this happened, the man began to gag, and to vomit out the garbage, and he remembered he was now a man, and no longer a pig, and he once again felt embarrassed and dirty, and quickly left the garbage pile.

I hope that we see a picture of ourselves in this illustration. The salvation which God grants believers in Christ Jesus not only secures their home in Heaven, but it breaks the power of sin.

If so be that ye have heard him, and have been taught by him, as the truth is in Jesus: That ye put off concerning the former conversation the old man, which is corrupt according to the deceitful lusts;

Ephesians 4:21-22

Falling Out Before Men? Or Falling Down Before God?

November 10, 2009 at 11:11 am | Posted in Luke, Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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The sinful mixing of a little good with something bad to corrupt the truth of God is not something that is new. In the days in which the Holy Spirit was inspiring the Words which make up the New Testament, an “antichrist” spirit was at work spreading falsehoods (I John 4:3).

For example, “good works” are, Scripturally, good things (Ephesians 2:10), but they do not save souls (Ephesians 2:8-9). Angels are worthy of respect (Jude v. 8), but they are not to be worshiped (Colossians 2:18). Likewise, it is a good thing to be a “saint” (Philippians 4:21-22), but we should never pray to them (I Timothy 2:5).

The devil, throughout history, has found fertile ground in subtly substituting man-based theories of righteousness for the God-centered Truth of Scripture. Even today, there are those who stand on proclamations of faith while invoking praises to themselves among their followers. These are those who shake out their coats, causing audience-members to swoon and faint as if overcome with the power of God. Some call down “healing” on the same followers week after week for the amusement of the crowds. Among such, the ability to raise the dead is thought to be proof of the highest level of faith.

Certainly Christ Himself has this power. However, the true measurement of faith is not an ability to impress men with spiritual gifts. It is the realization of our sin, compared to God’s holiness, while somehow yet receiving by faith the fact that He loves His true children unconditionally. The following passage of Scripture shows the attitude of the apostle Peter when he encountered Jesus Christ:

And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net. And when they had this done, they inclosed a great multitude of fishes: and their net brake. And they beckoned unto their partners, which were in the other ship, that they should come and help them. And they came, and filled both the ships, so that they began to sink. When Simon Peter saw it, he fell down at Jesus’ knees, saying, Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.

Luke 5:5-8

And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.

Luke 5:11

Give Him Your Heart

November 9, 2009 at 10:14 am | Posted in Salvation | 6 Comments
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Proverbs 23:26 says, “My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.” This is the plea of an earthly parent to his child, but God may be saying the same thing to you today. Have you given the Lord your heart? If so, do you know when, where, and can you describe it in detail?

Maybe you never have. Maybe everybody you know thinks you’re a Christian, but you know you’re not, and God knows you’re not. Your sin has separated you from God. Jesus Christ took your sin on Himself, and He took the punishment for it in your place on the Cross. He was sinless and perfect, yet He was tortured and crucified for every sin you and I ever committed.

The good news is that God accepted Him as the perfect and only possible sacrifice for sin, and showed His acceptance by resurrecting Him from the dead. He lives today, and you have only two choices: You must believe on Him, rejecting your own self-righteousness, or you must reject Him.

The King Who Will Return

November 6, 2009 at 9:23 am | Posted in Luke, parables | 10 Comments
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As Jesus and His followers approached Jerusalem at the time of Passover, rumors began to spread of a rebellion against Rome. People were worked up and excited over the idea that Jesus would establish the throne of David, and rule His people. However, instead of inciting violence, Jesus told a parable.

And as they heard these things, he added and spake a parable, because he was nigh to Jerusalem, and because they thought that the kingdom of God should immediately appear.

Luke 19:11

This parable serves as a warning to the people of God even today. It is a warning to stay busy until the Ruler of the Kingdom returns.

And he called his ten servants, and delivered them ten pounds, and said unto them, Occupy till I come.

Luke 19:13

What will believers on the Lord Jesus Christ do with the treasure of the Gospel message as we await the return of our King? Will we fail to guard it, and allow it to be taken from us and corrupted? Or will we, in seeking to protect it, hoard it up, and fail to put it to maximum use?

When the ruler in the parable returned to obtain an accounting of the treasure he had given the servants, he found that he could trust and reward those who had worked diligently with what they had been given.

And he said unto him, Well, thou good servant: because thou hast been faithful in a very little, have thou authority over ten cities.

Luke 19:17

Today is the day for believers to get busy, and stay busy, using the great gift of the Gospel message to do the work of our Ruler, anticipating His soon return!

A Fake in the Grass

November 5, 2009 at 11:20 am | Posted in Genesis | 38 Comments
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Satan can disguise himself, even as an angel of light (II Corinthians 11:14). A while back there was a trend in pop culture whereby, when a person looked faint and started to keel over, an observer would jokingly say, “Whatever you do, don’t go into the light!” This was making fun of the commonality of so-called “near-death” experiences, where people come back to consciousness saying they saw a bright white light, which they believe represented the “after-life,” and that they felt drawn to it, but decided to “come back” for the sake of their loved ones or whatever. Knowing that Satan can disguise himself as an “angel of light,” maybe the warning not to go into the light is more prescient than most people realize.

In Genesis Chapter 3, Satan chooses to disguise himself as a serpent.

Now the serpent was more subtil than any beast of the field which the LORD God had made. And he said unto the woman, Yea, hath God said, Ye shall not eat of every tree of the garden? And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden:

Genesis 3:1-2

We might wonder whether Eve should have known that serpents can’t talk. Was this her first encounter with a serpent? When my wife makes a bad decision because I’m not with her (which almost never happens), I think about Adam, and say, “If Eve would have stayed close to her husband, he could have told her, ‘That’s not a parrot, let’s get out of here!'”

Seriously though, Satan is a counterfeiter. He has a counterfeit righteousness (Romans 9:30). He has counterfeit ministers (II Corinthians 11:13-16). He has counterfeit believers (II Corinthians 11:26). He has counterfeit churches (Revelation 2:9). He even has counterfeit mysteries (Revelation 2:24).

In Genesis 3:1 he first says, “Hey let’s discuss God’s Words – did He really say that?” He tricked Eve into following his example. Here is what God really said:

And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.

Genesis 2:16-17

Here is Eve’s subtle alteration:

And the woman said unto the serpent, We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden: But of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God hath said, Ye shall not eat of it, neither shall ye touch it, lest ye die.

Genesis 3:2-3

She subtracted from God’s Word. She added to God’s Word. Finally, she changed God’s Word. That’s what will happen every time we allow Satan to deceive us into questioning God’s Word.

And the serpent said unto the woman, Ye shall not surely die:

Genesis 3:4

Changes to God’s Word invariably become direct contradictions to God’s Word. Satan questioned God’s Word (Genesis 3:1). He denied God’s Word (Genesis 3:4). He made up his own word (Genesis 3:5).

Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it.

John 8:44

Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

Romans 1:25

Note the singular in Romans 1:25 – this is A lie and it is THE lie: you shall be like God. The “New Age” movement is not really “new.” It started in the Garden of Eden.

So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life.

Genesis 3:24

God drove Adam and Eve out of the Garden for their own protection. For them to eat of the Tree of Life after disobediently eating from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil could have been disastrous.

The categories of sin set forth in I John 2:16 are all present in mankind’s first sin:

And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, [the lust of the flesh] and that it was pleasant to the eyes [the lust of the eyes], and a tree to be desired to make one wise [the pride of life], she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat.

Genesis 3:6 (Bracketed phrases added.)

And the eyes of them both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together, and made themselves aprons.

Genesis 3:7

Even their very first attempt at self-righteousness – as useless as it was – was counteracted by the grace of God’s plan going into motion. I heard an illustration once of a tree being stripped of its leaves by two people. God’s original plan for trees did not include stripping the leaves to make clothes. This stripped tree grows into a Cross. The sinners cower in fear, trying to cover themselves.

And they heard the voice of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day: and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God amongst the trees of the garden.

Genesis 3:8

The sinners are trying to hide from God, which is useless. Aren’t all attempts at self-righteousness really attempts to hide from God that which cannot be hidden?

Now, picture Christ going up on this leafless tree – meant by men to be a symbol of death. He is crucified upon it. He makes an instrument of torture into a bridge of everlasting salvation, so the frightened ones can come to Him and be forgiven.

Notice that God is the One Who comes looking for Adam and Eve – not the other way around.

And the LORD God called unto Adam, and said unto him, Where art thou?

Genesis 3:9

Billy Sunday used to say that sinners can’t find God for the same reason criminals can’t find policemen – they’re not looking for them.

Here we see the first instance of blame-shifting:

And he said, I heard thy voice in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself. And he said, Who told thee that thou wast naked? Hast thou eaten of the tree, whereof I commanded thee that thou shouldest not eat? And the man said, The woman whom thou gavest to be with me, she gave me of the tree, and I did eat. And the LORD God said unto the woman, What is this that thou hast done? And the woman said, The serpent beguiled me, and I did eat.

Genesis 3:10-13

There are three questions in Genesis which many of us need to be asking ourselves:

1. Where are you? (Genesis 3:9)
2. Where is your brother? (Genesis 4:9)
3. Where is your wife? (Genesis 18:9)

Who “KEEPS” Me Saved?

November 4, 2009 at 10:18 am | Posted in Eternity | 8 Comments
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Some people have heard that they have to be righteous to go to Heaven. Therefore, they try hard to do “good deeds,” and to say “good words,” and to think “good thoughts,” and to be “good people.” When the idea that people can achieve “self-righteousness” is exposed to Scripture, however, only the most stubborn still hold onto the false belief that they can “save” themselves.

As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:

Romans 3:10

But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.

Isaiah 64:6

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Titus 3:5

Hopefully, upon learning of the futility of attempted self-righteous salvation, the unbeliever will repent and call upon Christ the Savior. There is rejoicing even in the presence of the angels in Heaven when this happens (Luke 15:10)! However, there is a strange thought circulating about, by which it is sometimes said that the salvation of the Lord, which comes by His grace through faith, can be lost, stolen, or rejected. In response to this strange thought, there is probably a nicer word than “heresy,” but I can’t think of it.

Let those of us who are born again, the elect of God according to His grace and mercy, remember that we did not save ourselves, and we are utterly incapable of “keeping ourselves saved.” Many modern translations of the Bible get a key phrase in Philippians 3:9 wrong. They say that righteousness is “through faith ‘in’ Christ.” The King James (not the New King James) Version hits the nail right on the head when it says that, “And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:” (Emphasis added.)

Today, as I type this, I am found in Jesus Christ. I am righteous in the sight of God only because the righteousness of His dear Son has been imputed to me. The eternal continuance of this gift of righteousness is not because of my great faith. It is because of the wondrous, magnificent, awe-inspiring, unchanging, never-ending faithfulness of Christ Himself.

Getting Your Feet Wet

November 3, 2009 at 1:34 pm | Posted in BiblicalSwimming, Ezekiel | 7 Comments
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There is a progression in Ezekiel 47 as God’s angel shows Ezekiel the marvelous waters flowing from the throne of the Lord.

And when the man that had the line in his hand went forth eastward, he measured a thousand cubits, and he brought me through the waters; the waters were to the ankles. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through the waters; the waters were to the knees. Again he measured a thousand, and brought me through; the waters were to the loins.

Ezekiel 47:3-4

The progression is upward and gradual. The waters reach Ezekiel’s ankles, then his knees, and then his loins.

When God wanted to show Ezekiel a picture of His grace in the form of great waters, He could have simply arranged for a great deluge to fall from above onto Ezekiel’s head. But He did not do this. Instead, the Bible has given us a great vision of God’s grace as a rising stream.

You may have seen someone approach a swimming pool or the shoreline at the beach, not yet knowing the temperature of the water. It is common on such occasions to see people testing the water with their feet. It is also common to see others sitting or standing in such a way that only their feet are getting wet. There is something reassuring and refreshing about cool water on our feet.

https://thetompostpile.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/img_1459.jpg

When Jesus demonstrated His great willingness to be a Servant to His Disciples, He washed their feet (John 13:4-16). Jesus did this for a number of reasons. One of them may have been to demonstrate that feet would be important in the Apostles’ ministry. On these feet they would go throughout the world, spreading the Good News of the Kingdom. Therefore, their feet, prior to their holy errands, needed to be cleansed and sanctified. Another reason may have been to remind the Disciples of the refreshment that comes with being in the presence of Jesus. In the dry and dusty lands of Bible times, cool water on the feet was a very refreshing thing (and it still is even today!) In fact, the first time the word “feet” appears in the Bible, it is in reference to washing, rest, and refreshment (Genesis 18:4).

For those who are weary from traveling in their own strength, but are a little wary of plunging head first into the deep end of God’s presence, God is patient to send His grace in a rising stream, so that new believers may first find refreshment and adjustment by going in ankle deep. Let us never make the mistake, however, of thinking that God’s grace is not deep enough to overflow the highest obstacles in our life.

…where sin abounded, grace did much more abound:

Romans 5:12

Eternal Destruction

November 2, 2009 at 9:21 am | Posted in Biblical Violence, Eternity | 22 Comments
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Some Bible words can be hard to understand. If you are going to get a grip on the idea of “propitiation” or “justification” (Romans 4:25, 3:25), you had better be prepared to stay up all night. There are other words, however, which are extremely self-explanatory. Take the word “everlasting.” Something that is “everlasting,” is something that…(all together now)…LASTS…FOR…EVER.

When God says something is everlasting, it may blow our minds a little. After all, most things in this world have a start and a stop, a beginning and an end. The sun comes up; the sun goes down. Plants spring up and grow; plants wither and rot. People are born; people die. In God’s realm of eternity, however, there is no true end or beginning. So while the conceptualization of “everlasting” may be difficult, the basic sense of it is not. This is a great encouragement to true Christian believers and a great condemnation to those who have rejected the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Unbelievers will experience punishment forever.

And to you who are troubled rest with us, when the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with his mighty angels, In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power;

II Thessalonians 1:7-9

However, believers have the assurance of knowing that their salvation may never be lost.

Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace,

II Thessalonians 2:16

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