As Good as Dead

March 31, 2010 at 1:17 pm | Posted in Common Expressions, Genesis | 8 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

In Genesis 20 Abraham’s fault is not so much a failure of faith as it is the sin of a believer. Believers do still sin.

And Abraham journeyed from thence toward the south country, and dwelled between Kadesh and Shur, and sojourned in Gerar.

Genesis 20:1

Abraham didn’t go all the way back down into Egypt, but he did go into enemy territory.

And Abraham said of Sarah his wife, She is my sister: and Abimelech king of Gerar sent, and took Sarah.

Genesis 20:2

Why didn’t he tell the whole truth? (Sarah was Abraham’s half-sister). The answer is because:

And Abraham said, Because I thought, Surely the fear of God is not in this place; and they will slay me for my wife’s sake.

Genesis 20:11

He was more afraid of men than he was of God. He lost his testimony before an unbeliever. The lost Abimelech acted with more integrity than the saved Abraham. As Christians, unbelievers are going to call us hypocrites anyway, just because they are looking for an excuse. We must not give them good reason to do it.

Look at Abraham’s age when Isaac was born:

And Abraham was an hundred years old, when his son Isaac was born unto him.

Genesis 21:5

You may have heard the common expression, “as good as dead.” God was waiting for Abraham and Sarah to be as “good as dead,” because when the flesh is dead the Spirit gives new birth.

And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned. And Sarah saw the son of Hagar the Egyptian, which she had born unto Abraham, mocking.

Genesis 21:8-9

Ishmael was probably about 17 – why was a 17 year old mocking a 3 year old? Ishmael is a picture of the first birth – born of flesh. Hagar is a picture of the Law. Sarah is a picture of grace. Abraham is a picture of faith. The flesh (disciplined and corrected by the Law) hates the Spirit-nature (born by grace through faith) because it is free.

And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and took bread, and a bottle of water, and gave it unto Hagar, putting it on her shoulder, and the child, and sent her away: and she departed, and wandered in the wilderness of Beersheba.

Genesis 21:14

Grace came first; then the Law came. The Law can only give birth to slaves. Slaves to the Law can never be free. Grace makes slaves to Christ truly free.

And the child grew, and was weaned: and Abraham made a great feast the same day that Isaac was weaned.

Genesis 21:8

Even the Spirit-man must be weaned, and must grow up. Babies hate their mothers as they are being weaned, but weaning is for their good – they must grow.

Turning Up the Heat – Part 3

March 30, 2010 at 1:37 pm | Posted in Bible Studies | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Previously we examined:

1. The position of the Refiner
2. The purpose of the refining.

Now, let’s look at:

3. The product of the refining

And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.

Malachi 3:3, emphasis added

The end result of the refining of silver should be what? Refined silver. Pure silver. And not just so the refiner can say, “Okay, it’s pure!” No, refined silver is ready to be used for something – to be offered up. The Master Refiner – the Lord Jesus – wants the purified silver to be an offering in righteousness, but not an offering of something just to be put up on a shelf and admired. A righteous offering is something that can be used for the Glory of God.

Now, let’s be clear, the Refiner doesn’t take a lost person, somebody who’s never been born again, and put him in the Silversmith’s cauldron, and turn up the heat and keep it up until he does enough good works to earn his way to heaven. No, we are not saved by works.

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

The Bible is very clear on that. But, as believers, sometimes we start to abuse the idea of grace. We read Ephesians 2:8-9 and we say, “Oh yeah, uh-huh, I’m a child of grace – grace has set me free… Now don’t talk to me about works! I’m all about grace, and I don’t want to hear anything about works!” And we fail to read what comes next:

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10

The Bible says we are created unto good works. You can not work for your salvation. But you should certainly be motivated to work because of it. God ordained some works for you to do – some good works – before you were ever created.

The purpose of the refining is to make us fit – suitable – to accomplish good works for the Refiner. Are you being refined today? Is the Refiner turning up the heat because you are holding on to those last few impurities?

The first time I taught this lesson, someone asked me, “How long will the refining last?” The refining will last until we are purified. But if you are asking me what can we do to shorten the refining process, my answer would be to let go of sin we are stubbornly holding onto. Now, that answer may feel like me stepping on your toes. And what’s even worse is that I highly recommend Bible study, prayer, church attendance, and Sunday School to help in your refining. If you don’t like those recommendations, your issue is not really with me. Your issue is with the Word of God and the Holy Spirit of God. If a person is stepping on your toes, it’s easy enough to get some protective foot-wear. But if the Holy Ghost is stepping on your toes, the best way I can think of to stop getting your toes stepped on is to move your feet – move them right in line with the Word of God. That’s the path – the only safe path – for your feet to go.

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.

II Timothy 2:15

Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.

Hebrews 10:25

And he spake a parable unto them to this end, that men ought always to pray, and not to faint;

Luke 18:1

And we are his witnesses of these things; and so is also the Holy Ghost, whom God hath given to them that obey him.

Acts 5:32

Let us thank God that our refining is not for vanity. You want to know how long a refiner refines and purifies silver and gold? The answer is, as long as it takes. I doubt the truthfulness of this illustration, since I suspect that looking into a pot of molten silver over extreme heat could cause blindness, but it makes a good point: A silversmith determines that the silver he is refining is pure when he can look down and see his own reflection in it. In the same way, the Lord Jesus is refining us until He looks down and sees an image of Himself looking back.

1. The position of the Refiner: sitting
2. The purpose of the refining: purified faith and obedience
3. The product of the refining: believers conformed to the image of Christ.

Vance Havner Warns Us to S.W.I.M. with Care

March 29, 2010 at 1:01 pm | Posted in Quotes | Leave a comment
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Time and time again we meet those who went to foreign fields or undertook vast enterprises under mistaken leadings. It is so easy to confuse our wants with God’s leadings. The work of the gospel is too often made the springboard from which to dive off into water too deep for us.

Vance Havner in “The Gardarene, Matthew 8:28-34,” from Reflections on the Gospels

Turning Up the Heat – Part 2

March 26, 2010 at 11:39 am | Posted in Bible Studies | 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.

Malachi 3:3

The Refiner in this Verse is Jesus Christ. Previously, we examined:

1. The position of the Refiner

This time we will look at:

2. The purpose of the refining

And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.

Malachi 3:3, emphasis added

The sons of Levi were the priests of Israel. They were dedicated especially to serving the Lord. From them the Book of Leviticus gets its name. Out of their ranks, the one high priest went into the place behind the veil, into the Holy of Holies. Those who serve the Lord in the most important ways, and who are closest to Him, must be especially pure. As a husband and a father, I am called in a special way to be especially obedient to God. I can’t be the husband God wants me to be or the father God wants me to be if I am not especially separated unto Him, and pure before Him.

Here are three pointers that I, as a royal priest, a servant of God – as someone who wants to be closer to God and to really get something out of the refining experience – will want to do. They have to do with obedience:

A. Obey immediately.

If ye love me, keep my commandments.

John 14:15

If I see one of my children standing in the road, in danger of being struck by a speeding truck, and I say, “Move now!” – I don’t want a debate about the reasons for moving now. I want immediate obedience. There are many good reasons for attending church services, but the best reason is that God has commanded it. When God commands it, I do not need an explanation. Delayed obedience is the same as disobedience.

B. Obey completely.

And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul,

Deuteronomy 11:13

When I tell my child to sweep the floor, I do not mean simply sweep everything into a corner and leave it there. I mean sweep it into a dust pan, pick it up, and get rid of it. It is good to give out Gospel tracts, but it is not a substitute for verbally telling someone (preaching) the Gospel when God gives us that opportunity. Partial obedience is the same as disobedience.

C. Obey sweetly.

If ye be willing and obedient, ye shall eat the good of the land:

Isaiah 1:19

When I tell my children to pick up their toys, they often sulk while doing it grudgingly. Sometimes I am guilty of praying like it’s just a chore, or reading my Bible like it’s just a chore. Giving is a command – cheerful giving is truly pleasing to God. Grudging obedience is not really obedience. Obey immediately, obey completely, and obey sweetly.

One purpose of the refining is to make us more obedient, but the main purpose of the refining is the purifying. When the silver is heated, the impurities rise to the top. The refiner, who is sitting, who is patiently and attentively – even lovingly – watching, immediately scrapes off the impurities. This is called the dross. The dross is discarded – thrown away. This is similar to the symbol of the branches that bear no fruit.

And now also the axe is laid unto the root of the trees: therefore every tree which bringeth not forth good fruit is hewn down, and cast into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but he that cometh after me is mightier than I, whose shoes I am not worthy to bear: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire: Whose fan is in his hand, and he will throughly purge his floor, and gather his wheat into the garner; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire.

Matthew 3:10-12

John the Baptist pointed to the ministry of the Lord Jesus, saying, “I baptize with water, but He will baptize with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.”

We look at that and we get all excited. We tell people, “When you get saved, He will baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and you will be ‘on fire,’” meaning “fired up” or excited. Then the person who has been saved can’t understand why he’s suffering. He thinks, “God must be mad at me.” Or he thinks, “The devil tricked God, and took away my joy… If I could just find somebody to give me an emotional experience to make me feel better – somebody to laugh or cry with me… I need to feel something positive.”

Friends, that “feeling” is going to last about as long as it takes you to get to your car in the parking lot after a church service. As I’ve heard attributed to Martin Luther:

Feelings come and feelings go
And feelings are deceiving
Our warrant should be the Word of God
Nothing else is worth believing

When we see where Matthew 3:10-12 is placed – in the middle of three examples of useless, nonproductive things – we can better understand its context.

The axe cuts down the trees which don’t bear fruit, and they are good for what? Burning. The winnowing fork picks up the wheat, and separates the chaff, and the chaff is good for what? Burning.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

I Peter 1:3-7

Many of us are scared to death to have our faith tried. “Oh Refiner,” we say, “I think you made a mistake! The fire’s too hot! Get me out of here now – I’m purged, purified, and refined! I’m proclaiming my faith!” But the truth is our faith is on trial every day. What kind of faith do you have at home? What kind of faith do you have when you don’t feel like serving the Lord? What kind of faith do you have when the Holy Ghost says, “Your body is My temple, and you are taking My temple places – and putting things in My temple – that make Me uncomfortable?” Does your faith go into action in the form of obedience?

I have never seen the bank where I send my monthly mortgage payments, but I write a check to them (almost) every month. Because I have a fear of being foreclosed on and evicted. I have faith in that bank. I believe it exists and that it can do what it says it can do. Do I fear God? Do I have faith in God? My mouth talks, and my actions talk – but when it comes to faith, my actions talk louder than my talk talks. The purpose of the refining is a stronger faith and a true obedience – purified, refined, purged of impurities.

1. The position of the Refiner: sitting
2. The purpose of the refining: purified faith and obedience

Next time, let’s look at:

3. The product of the refining

Night Visions Part 3

March 25, 2010 at 9:51 am | Posted in Zechariah | 4 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Zechariah Chapter 5 contains the vision that I like to call “The Legend of the Flying Scroll.” The other vision in Chapter 5 is the woman in the bushel basket. She wants to get out, but a talent of lead is placed on her, and she is carried to Babylon by two angels. She originally represents the idolatry of female gods. The Hebrew word for “wickedness” is a feminine-form word.

The years in Babylon had seemed to cure Israel of idolatry. What remained was the commercialism bred by the practice of idolatry. This is one reason why Babylon is referenced in the New Testament as the world system. The world cares little if you worship false gods – its motivation is to make a profit. Money, material wealth, toys, and the false security of finances are the new gods of the modern world. The love of money is the root of all evil.

Zechariah Chapter 6 gives us the last of Zechariah’s night visions – the vision of the four chariots and horses. These horses delivered judgment to the Gentile nations. This will occur during the “Day of the Lord” (the Tribulation).

Then the Lord tells Zechariah that three wealthy men are coming from Babylon to bring the funds to finish the temple.

Take of them of the captivity, even of Heldai, of Tobijah, and of Jedaiah, which are come from Babylon, and come thou the same day, and go into the house of Josiah the son of Zephaniah; Then take silver and gold, and make crowns, and set them upon the head of Joshua the son of Josedech, the high priest;

Zechariah 6:10-11

So Zechariah obeys the Lord and takes their silver and gold and makes a (multi-tiered) crown, and he crowns Joshua king. This is the first time in the Bible we see a priest being crowned king. When this happens it is symbolic of Christ, and it reminds us of Melchizedek, encountered by Abram in Genesis 14. He was also a priest and king combined in one, and a foreshadowing of Christ, Who is the True Great High Priest and the One True King over all kings.

Zechariah’s crowning of Joshua is also noteworthy because God judged Uzziah for trying to combine the priesthood with the kingship.

And the crowns shall be to Helem, and to Tobijah, and to Jedaiah, and to Hen the son of Zephaniah, for a memorial in the temple of the LORD.

Zechariah 6:14

Zechariah’s visions occurred on February 15, 519, or 517 B.C. Sebat (Shevat) is the 11th month. It begins in January-February of the common calendar year, so the 24th day would be what most of us call February 15.

A Big Job

March 24, 2010 at 9:06 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Moses was 120 years old. He stood before all the people of Israel. As he did so he faced a group of people with a daunting task ahead of them. They were to go into the land of Canaan, drive out the giants, take on mighty enemy armies, and battle warriors who drove chariots of iron.

Moses could have tried to encourage the people with personal anecdotes, experiential wisdom, or an emotional pep rally. Thankfully, he obeyed the Lord instead, and inspired the people with the dependable Word of God.

Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

Deuteronomy 31:6

This promise applies to God’s people today. His blood-bought Church may rest assured that He will never leave it nor forsake it. However, faith involves putting this promise into action. When is the last time, dear Christian, that you, by faith, in keeping with Scripture, started something so big that only God could finish it?

The Top Story in Sodom

March 23, 2010 at 11:53 am | Posted in Genesis | 11 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , , ,

And God said unto Abraham, Thou shalt keep my covenant therefore, thou, and thy seed after thee in their generations. This is my covenant, which ye shall keep, between me and you and thy seed after thee; Every man child among you shall be circumcised. And ye shall circumcise the flesh of your foreskin; and it shall be a token of the covenant betwixt me and you. And he that is eight days old shall be circumcised among you, every man child in your generations, he that is born in the house, or bought with money of any stranger, which is not of thy seed.

Genesis 17:9-12

The covenant concerns Abraham’s seed. God was the Initiator of this covenant, and He also changed the names of Abram and Sarai, by adding “H’s” to their names. I’m no expert in Hebrew, but my understanding is that the fifth letter of the Hebrew alphabet is “H,” and that this letter represents grace.

Circumcision (“cutting around” the seed-multiplying instrument) was the outward show of God’s covenant people. Cutting off from – and setting aside unto – is a physical picture of a spiritual reality. True believers today are to be circumcised in their hearts.

In Genesis 18 the Lord comes to visit Abraham in disguise.

And the LORD appeared unto him in the plains of Mamre: and he sat in the tent door in the heat of the day;

Genesis 18:1

Keep in mind Abraham was 99 years old when this happened. For him, the “heat of the day” probably was especially uncomfortable.

And he lift up his eyes and looked, and, lo, three men stood by him: and when he saw them, he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground,

Genesis 18:2

Abraham was known for tents and altars. He knew that this world was not his home, and he was devoted to God.

And said, My Lord, if now I have found favour in thy sight, pass not away, I pray thee, from thy servant: Let a little water, I pray you, be fetched, and wash your feet, and rest yourselves under the tree: And I will fetch a morsel of bread, and comfort ye your hearts; after that ye shall pass on: for therefore are ye come to your servant. And they said, So do, as thou hast said. And Abraham hastened into the tent unto Sarah, and said, Make ready quickly three measures of fine meal, knead it, and make cakes upon the hearth. And Abraham ran unto the herd, and fetcht a calf tender and good, and gave it unto a young man; and he hasted to dress it. And he took butter, and milk, and the calf which he had dressed, and set it before them; and he stood by them under the tree, and they did eat.

Genesis 18:3-8, emphasis added

Note the haste and desire to serve and wait upon the Lord that Abraham displays. He truly was the friend of God. The Lord had come to destroy Sodom. But first He stopped to talk with Abraham, His friend, about it. At least three times in Scripture Abraham is called the “friend of God” (II Chronicles 20:7; Isaiah 41:8; James 2:23).

Abraham was the friend of God and Lot was a friend of the world. Newspaper journalists have a technique they use to get a lot of information into the first paragraph of a news story. They focus on the “who, what, when, where, and why.”

“Police report that John Doe was shot last night in Metropolis while trying to rob a bank.”
The who: John Doe
The what: He was shot.
The when: last night
The where: Metropolis
The why: because he tried to rob a bank

I want to use this technique to compare the differences between the friend of God and the friend of the world.

The WHO for Abraham: Abraham talked with the Lord Himself.

And the men rose up from thence, and looked toward Sodom: and Abraham went with them to bring them on the way. And the LORD said, Shall I hide from Abraham that thing which I do; Seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I know him, that he will command his children and his household after him, and they shall keep the way of the LORD, to do justice and judgment; that the LORD may bring upon Abraham that which he hath spoken of him.

Genesis 18:16-19

The Lord knew that Abraham would command his household – that he would be a spiritual leader, a spiritual husband, father, and grandfather.

And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know. And the men turned their faces from thence, and went toward Sodom: but Abraham stood yet before the LORD.

Genesis 18:20-22

The WHO for Lot: The angels went on to Sodom to see Lot, but the Lord didn’t go in to fellowship with Lot in his sin – in his worldliness.

And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;

Genesis 19:1

The WHAT for Abraham: The friend of God received the promise of the blessings.

Is any thing too hard for the LORD? At the time appointed I will return unto thee, according to the time of life, and Sarah shall have a son.

Genesis 18:14

The WHAT for Lot: Lot, the friend of the world, received the warning of condemnation with the world.

For we will destroy this place, because the cry of them is waxen great before the face of the LORD; and the LORD hath sent us to destroy it.

Genesis 19:13

The WHERE: Abraham was in a tent. Lot was in a city.

The WHEN: Abraham was visited in the day. Lot was visited at night.

And there came two angels to Sodom at even; and Lot sat in the gate of Sodom: and Lot seeing them rose up to meet them; and he bowed himself with his face toward the ground;

Genesis 19:1, emphasis added

Abraham, the friend of God, walked in light; Lot, the friend of the world, walked in darkness.

This may surprise you: Lot was a saved man.

And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked: (For that righteous man dwelling among them, in seeing and hearing, vexed his righteous soul from day to day with their unlawful deeds;)

II Peter 2:6-8

The Bible tells us this plainly, because we might have trouble believing it otherwise – especially considering what happened next with Lot:

But before they lay down, the men of the city, even the men of Sodom, compassed the house round, both old and young, all the people from every quarter: And they called unto Lot, and said unto him, Where are the men which came in to thee this night? bring them out unto us, that we may know them. And Lot went out at the door unto them, and shut the door after him, And said, I pray you, brethren, do not so wickedly. Behold now, I have two daughters which have not known man; let me, I pray you, bring them out unto you, and do ye to them as is good in your eyes: only unto these men do nothing; for therefore came they under the shadow of my roof.

Genesis 19:4-8

This is often explained away as the extreme “hospitality” required in ancient Eastern nomadic culture when Bible commentators try to help us understand, but we need to take a hard honest look and ask ourselves, “How did Lot get to such a state? How could he offer his own daughters to satisfy the lusts of the world?” And before we get too excited and critical, we must ask ourselves, “Are we offering our daughters to the world?”

I doubt that you would throw your daughter to a mob of Sodomites… but what happens when you send your daughter out into the world unprotected? Many fathers let total strangers come to their home and pick up their daughters. (Maybe a real “strict” father will insist on meeting a young man for five minutes.) Has God commanded you to protect your daughter and defend her honor? Do you trust the world to protect her and protect her honor? How many fathers just “go along” with what everyone else is doing?

Ephesians 6 tells us that when the devil attacks we need to stand. James 4:7 tells us to resist the devil.

When the devil attacks we are to fight. Is there a scarier enemy than the devil? Yet when it comes to a choice between standing and fighting versus running away, the Bible to tells me to stand and fight the devil, not to flee from him. What the Bible tells me to flee from is fornication (I Corinthians 6:18) and youthful lusts (II Timothy 2:22).

I would not let my daughters play with a hand grenade. If I did, somebody should call child protective services on me. But letting my daughters go off with strangers unchaperoned is more dangerous than playing with a hand grenade. I know many Christian parents who pray that God will protect their daughter while she’s out on a date with their approval, and I’m all for praying. But would you pray for me if I asked you to pray that I would be filled with the Holy Spirit so I would have the ability to knock over a liquor store? That would be foolish! You don’t send someone off with an encouragement to sin while telling them that you will pray for them to get away with it!

I know that we don’t live in the culture of the ancient East, and that our society is different. But I’m not answerable to society! I’m a Christian – I’m answerable to God.

The WHY: Abraham chose to be a “Hebrew” – a stranger – a pilgrim passing through this world. Lot and the people of Sodom considered this world to be the end-all – their final home. And they denied the power of God to destroy with fire.

The Apostle Paul warned Timothy to turn away from those that have “a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof:” (II Timothy 3:5). The next Sodom will be worldwide. I don’t want my family to see that day. I want my family looking forward to Heaven – not looking back to the world like Lot’s wife.

In the Bible narrative, Lot passes off the scene. Abraham – and as far as we know, the Lord – never got “a Lot out of the world.” Lot argued all the way from Sodom. He had to be literally taken by the hand and dragged out by God’s grace. He wound up getting drunk in a cave and committing incest with his daughters. Only the grace of God can save us from this present world.

The Bridegroom Cleans His Bride’s Wedding Gown

March 22, 2010 at 10:25 am | Posted in Eternity | 10 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

The custom of modern weddings is for the bride to wear white. White symbolizes her purity. This is a good and fitting tradition. But it is not always completely accurate. These days few and far between are brides who have kept themselves totally pure up until their wedding day.

The bride of Christ is His church – the body of believers to whom He has granted eternal life. Christ is a pure and holy Bridegroom. He is coming to claim a pure and holy bride.

That he might present it to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish.

Ephesians 5:27

In fact, there will one day be a great feast, or “marriage supper” for Christ and His bride.

Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honour to him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and his wife hath made herself ready.

Revelation 19:7

Just as there are few brides who have remained completely pure until their wedding day, there are few (maybe none) Christians who have been completely sinless since the day of their salvation. Yet, we see that Christ’s bride will indeed wear white:

And to her was granted that she should be arrayed in fine linen, clean and white: for the fine linen is the righteousness of saints. And he saith unto me, Write, Blessed are they which are called unto the marriage supper of the Lamb. And he saith unto me, These are the true sayings of God.

Revelation 19:8-9

It has not fully been revealed to us exactly how the impure members of Christ’s church will be transformed into His holy, unblemished bride. It may well be that our impurities will be purged away before the judgment seat of Christ. But, it is certain that the fine white linen of righteousness we will wear will be our Lord’s imputed righteousness, and not our own self-generated good works (Titus 3:5).

Eternal life is neither earned, nor kept, nor enhanced by our own power or goodness. The invitation to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb is an invitation to come receive a free gift.

And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.

Revelation 22:17

We sometimes use the word “freely” to mean “having the quality of unlimited access.” If someone invites us to freely enjoy the buffet, we go back for seconds and thirds and fourths until we are stuffed. There is a connotation of easy access to God’s great riches in this verse, but the primary import of the Greek word dorean is something that is given without cost, something received even though it is undeserved. God will make His bride pure; that is His gift. He has not left it up to us to purify ourselves or keep ourselves pure in our own power.

In this site’s category called “Eternity” the past several postings have focused on the doctrine of eternal security. Starting with I Corinthians, I have taken at least one verse from every subsequent book of the Bible, except Jude, and shown that, when God grants you eternal life, He makes you His child. You receive a new ontological “heart.” You are a new creation. You are sealed with the Holy Spirit, and God will not take your salvation away. You can not “lose” it, and you can not “reject” it. No man will make God a liar by causing Him to break His promises.

This is not an excuse to presume upon God’s grace and willingly or carelessly practice sin. If you find that you love sin more than Jesus Christ, regardless of what religious experience you may have had, or what you have been told, you need to make sure you have actually trusted in Jesus Christ personally unto salvation, and not merely your own “decision” or a special unscriptural formula.

Here are the previous lessons on eternal security:

Delivery and Birth (I Corinthians)
The Deposit on Your Soul (II Corinthians)
It All Depends on What Your Definition of “OF” Is (Galatians)
All in the Past (Ephesians)
Who “KEEPS” Me Saved? (Philippians)
Perfect Unbreakable Love (Colossians)
Learning to Like Eternal Life (I Thessalonians)
Eternal Destruction (II Thessalonians)
Temporarily Saved Is Not Really Saved at All (I Timothy)
Get Over Yourself, because You Can’t Get Over on God (II Timothy)
Eternally Paid in Full (Philemon)

The Author of the Story that Never Ends (Titus, Hebrews)
Eternal Security Does Not Have an Expiration Date (I Peter)
The Legend of the Unsaved Christian (II Peter)
The Everlasting Anointing (I John)
The Things that Will Last (II John)
Eternal Infamy vs. Eternal Honor (III John)

Turning Up the Heat – Part 1

March 19, 2010 at 9:30 am | Posted in Bible Studies | 10 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

Lord, let us hear from You. Thank You for Your patience, for Your love, for Your saving grace. One of the benefits of our salvation is having ears to hear. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. In the precious name of Christ I pray. Amen.

And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver: and he shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver, that they may offer unto the LORD an offering in righteousness.

Malachi 3:3

This Verse says He shall sit, and the “He” is the Lord Jesus. It is partially a reference to a time when He shall come to defeat the Antichrist, and shall establish His kingdom on Earth for 1000 years. Not all theologians believe in this, but many of those who do call it the Millennial Reign. But Malachi 3:3 also speaks of the work of Christ in the lives of believers today.

If you have been born again – if you have been saved – if your name is written in the Lamb’s Book of Life – if you have trusted Christ as your Savior – then this Verse applies to you. I want us to notice 3 things about this verse:

1. The position of the Refiner
2. The purpose of the refining
3. The product of the refining

The Position of the Refiner

When we look at the position of the refiner, we are a little concerned: “And he shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver…” Sitting is a position that we usually equate with laziness or a lack of concern.

[Let me pause here for a brief tangent on the topic of “sitting.” If you are a Christian boy or man – especially a teen-aged boy or young man – do not let yourself be caught sitting while someone else is working in front of you. A lady who is carrying something heavy should never have to excuse herself to get by you because you are loitering in her way. As someone who has been frustrated in the past by the failure of unbiblical church “youth groups,” I have seen this happen numerous times. If you are in a position of leadership in church youth ministry, or, more to the point, if you are a Christian parent or elder, please stress to teen-aged boys and overgrown “youth group” males that they are to be:

Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

Romans 12:11

The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labour.

Proverbs 21:25

Slothful is the Bible word for lazy. A Christian should be diligent, not lazy.]

Okay, back to the point: We see the that the Refiner in Malachi 3:3 is sitting – sitting before a hot cauldron or pot of molten silver. In this illustration, you and I, as Christians, are the silver. And we are in the heat, but the Refiner is just sitting. We are tempted to ask, “What do you mean He’s sitting? I’m in the fire! Things are really getting hot for me! I’m having troubles – troubles at work, trials at home, suffering in my body! Why is He just sitting? Doesn’t He care?”

The temptation to think this way comes from a misunderstanding about the nature of God. God is not a nervous parent, up at 2:30 a.m., pacing the floor, wringing His hands, waiting for the phone to ring, and muttering, “Why won’t My son call me if he’s in trouble? Why won’t My daughter come home – I don’t know where she is?” Nor is He snoring soundly while His children are getting into all sorts of trouble beyond the realm of His consciousness. No, the Refiner of silver sits because He’s in it for the long-haul.

I work in an office, and when I have some very important paperwork to attend to, I sit down and pay attention. The Refiner must pay close attention. He will not let the refining fire He’s attending cool down too much or get too hot. Our Lord sits as a Refiner because He is determined to do a thorough and complete job.

Another reason the Refiner is sitting is because He is the King, and is in total control. He’s sovereign. When an earthly king receives his subjects, he sits and they stand. They are nervous and stressed. They want their requests granted, but they are uncertain. The king is sure. He is calm and regal. He knows he has the power. If he declares it to be, it is so. Our Lord Jesus, the Master Refiner, is sitting because He paid a high a price for us, and He wants us to be pure. He’s not sitting because he doesn’t care – He’s sitting because he does care.

I believe it was Charles Spurgeon who used the analogy of an infant with a dirty face. This child is crying because his mother is vigorously scrubbing his face clean. The child is greatly agitated, but the mother is smiling, calm, and humming a merry tune. The mother has the peaceful and purposeful assurance that a clean face is the best thing for her child at that moment. How often we cry to the Lord to be relieved of our sufferings! We do not realize that the relief we are crying for would not be good for us. Our Lord loves us too much to let us stay defiled. He paid too high a price for His silver and gold to let it remain full of impurities.

That is the position of the Refiner: sitting. Next time, we will delve a little more into the the purpose of the refining.

Night Visions Part 2

March 18, 2010 at 11:32 am | Posted in Zechariah | 5 Comments
Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

In the previous lesson on Zechariah we started looking at the prophet’s visions which came in the night.

1. The first was a vision of a Man on a red horse, the Angel of the Lord (Christ) leading an army of men on brown and white horses.

2. The second vision was a vision of horns and carpenters – dealing with the Gentile nations who had chastened Judah.

3. The third vision was a vision of measuring and reclaiming ownership, and of the Lord preparing again to dwell with His people.

4. In the fourth vision, there was a courtroom trial.

And he shewed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to resist him.

Zechariah 3:1

That vision concluded with a picture of the priestly ministry of Christ as the Branch – the Messiah Who would save His people, and be their One True High Priest. That vision also gave us a picture of Christ as the Stone.

5. The fifth vision was the vision of the candlestick and the olive trees. The candlestick, or lampstand, represented Christ (the Light of the World.)

Remember, Zechariah started off with a harsh message of repentance: Where are your fathers? Where are the prophets? Zechariah was having a rough night, but he was also getting to deliver some good messages of comfort… When suddenly everything screeches to a halt in Chapter 5!

Then I turned, and lifted up mine eyes, and looked, and behold a flying roll. And he said unto me, What seest thou? And I answered, I see a flying roll; the length thereof is twenty cubits, and the breadth thereof ten cubits. Then said he unto me, This is the curse that goeth forth over the face of the whole earth: for every one that stealeth shall be cut off as on this side according to it; and every one that sweareth shall be cut off as on that side according to it.

Zechariah 5:1-3

The “flying roll” that Zechariah saw was not the kind of delicious bread that we used to call a “roll” in north Louisiana. And it was not the kind of “roll” you find at Lambert’s, “the Home of the Throwed Rolls,” although those rolls sure do fly! And even though “The Legend of the Flying Scroll” sounds more like a Kung Fu movie than a prophetic vision, that’s what this “roll” was: a scroll.

It was huge scroll, too: 20 cubits by 10 cubits. I believe these measurements were meant by the Holy Spirit to point us to the porch of Solomon’s temple and the holy place before the Holy of Holies, which, I think, was also 10 X 20 cubits.

When you read Deuteronomy Chapter 27 you see the people on Mount Ebal and Mount Gerizim, and they are “amen-ing” the terms of the covenant, and agreeing to keep the Law:

Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.

Deuteronomy 27:26

Zechariah 5:3 tells us that the roll has a curse “for every one that stealeth,” which is the 8th Commandment, and a curse for “every one that sweareth,” which is the 3rd Commandment. If Zechariah saw this scroll opened like a book, then the 3rd and 8th Commandments would be the “middle” of the first and second of each half of the 10 Commandments (five on each side). Therefore, I believe the flying scroll represents the Law of God, which had to be dealt with on the way to the Mercy Seat in the Holy of Holies in Solomon’s Temple, and which brought curses upon God’s people (in accordance with their own prior agreement) when broken.

I will bring it forth, saith the LORD of hosts, and it shall enter into the house of the thief, and into the house of him that sweareth falsely by my name: and it shall remain in the midst of his house, and shall consume it with the timber thereof and the stones thereof.

Zechariah 5:4

When the people shouted all those “amens” in Deuteronomy 27 they really did themselves in, agreeing to keep the Law. However, the Law was not wicked. God had a purpose and a plan with the Law.

For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them. But that no man is justified by the law in the sight of God, it is evident: for, The just shall live by faith. And the law is not of faith: but, The man that doeth them shall live in them. Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

Galatians 3:10-13

If I open my Bible in the middle and lay the spine on my palm, face-up, it looks like the open flying scroll. Imagine a giant Bible flying through the air – a living Word – identifying and seeking those who have broken God’s law. Imagine it coming into your home – into the midst of your home – and remaining there. The roll of God’s law brings conviction. Conviction leads to a crisis (a crossroads). You don’t know which road to take, but you must choose one or the other. Christ is one Road: follow this Road, and you will be a new creature. Remaining under the curse is the other road: that road leads to condemnation. Christ became the curse for us, so that the flying roll would not have to enter our house and destroy it, and us with it.

The next post in the series – Night Visions Part 3 – finishes up in Zechariah Chapters 5 and 6.

Next Page »


Entries and comments feeds.