Reverence in Marriage (Part 2)

June 29, 2011 at 9:05 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage | 12 Comments
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In Part 1 we discovered that the Greek word for the way wives are supposed to relate to their husbands is “phobos,” which is often translated as “fear,” although in Ephesians 5:33 it has been translated as “reverence.”

For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Ephesians 5:31-33, emphasis added

The reason the translators chose “reverence” as the English word for “phobos,” instead of “fear,” is because “reverence” is greater than simple “respect,” but it keeps the “fear” of a wife for her husband out of the area which is supposed to be reserved for God only. Husbands need love from their wives, but they need reverence more than love because reverence makes it possible to lead in love. Remember, husbands are commanded to love as Christ loved. Without willing reverence from the wife, the husband would be commanded to be so loving that he would never command. Christ didn’t love the Church even though He had to give it commands; He loved us so much that He had to give us commands.

Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God. Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as unto the Lord.

Ephesians 5:21-22

Notice that there is no general command for women to submit to men. Wives have a special duty of submission to their own husbands. Headship and submission are real, and they are not negated by Ephesians 5:21’s general command to be submissive toward others in our general attitude. In fact, you may be in a marriage where you have been extremely submissive, and it has, in large part, contributed to your husband being an overbearing jerk. Despite this, your continued submission and humility will often go a long way toward sweetening the marriage relationship when things begin to turn around.

Ye have heard that it hath been said, An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth: But I say unto you, That ye resist not evil: but whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if any man will sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat, let him have thy cloke also. And whosoever shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain. Give to him that asketh thee, and from him that would borrow of thee turn not thou away. Ye have heard that it hath been said, Thou shalt love thy neighbour, and hate thine enemy. But I say unto you, Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust.

Matthew 5:38-45

In a worst case scenario, your husband may be: (a) cold and indifferent like a stranger to you – in which case you are commanded to love your neighbor, which includes strangers; or (b) hateful and spiteful to you like your worst enemy – in which case you are commanded to love your enemy. God is in charge of justice. We leave the justice up to Him, and we are to show grace and mercy. Marriage may be the only place that some of us can truly learn the difficult virtue of Christ-honoring humility.

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Light Shows the Truth

June 27, 2011 at 10:12 am | Posted in Biblical Light, Selected Psalms | 8 Comments
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O send out thy light and thy truth: let them lead me; let them bring me unto thy holy hill, and to thy tabernacles.

Psalm 43:3

The are many dangers in trying to find our way in the dark. One of these is the probability of deception. It is difficult to be deceived when things are open and visible, but in times of darkness there is a strong possibility that things are not – in reality – what we are led to believe. Perhaps the greatest deception takes place in our own hearts when we choose to walk in darkness rather than in the light of God’s Truth.

But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God.

John 3:21

Darkness hides the way things really are. A light shined into a dark space will show what is truly inside. Jesus Himself is the Truth, and He always tells us the truth about ourselves. Ask Him to fully illuminate your heart and mind today, so that you will not be deceived.

Key Words for Bible Teachers: Truth and Type

June 20, 2011 at 12:17 pm | Posted in Biblical Teaching | 11 Comments
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If someone takes on the responsibility of being a “teacher,” and if what he is teaching is itself important, then the job of teaching becomes a very important job. If a teacher of anything “important” carries a great weight of responsibility, then a Bible teacher carries the greatest weight of responsibility of any teacher.

My brethren, be not many masters, knowing that we shall receive the greater condemnation.

James 3:1

Those who would teach the Bible are held accountable. They are responsible for wanting to see their students grow – and I don’t mean “grow” in the sense of an increased number of students, although that is often a good goal to have as well. Bible teachers should want their students to grow in faithfulness. They should also want the time of teaching to be “fun” (or at least enjoyable on some level). But most of all they should have a goal of being able to stand before God one day knowing that they have actually taught the Bible – regardless of the results.

Noah, Jeremiah, and many of God’s teachers and prophets did not see the earthly “results” they would have liked to see – but today they stand vindicated before God because they faithfully proclaimed and taught the Truth of God’s Word.

There are three principles that have helped me stay motivated, encouraged, energized, and focused as a Sunday School teacher: Truth, Type, and Treasure.

Truth: Realize that, when we teach from the Bible, we are teaching the Truth. If what we are dealing with is not absolute Truth – Truth personified (“I am the Truth…”), then we are wasting our time. We would be better off just entertaining people and keeping them busy instead of worrying about our Bibles if we are not committed to Truth.

And now, behold, I go bound in the spirit unto Jerusalem, not knowing the things that shall befall me there:

Acts 20:22

Paul was speaking to the Church and he was giving sort of a farewell address. He had been with them, teaching them for some time, and he was about to go on a missionary journey. We usually think of being “free in the Spirit,” but the gift of the Holy Spirit comes with a great responsibility. He frees us from disobedience. He does not free us so we can engage in self-indulgence. This is real freedom, not the world’s idea of freedom. The world’s “freedom” is the worst type of slavery – slavery to self and to sin.

Save that the Holy Ghost witnesseth in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions abide me. But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God. And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.

Acts 20:23-27

As a Sunday School teacher, when someone leaves my class for good, I want to be able to declare truthfully before God that I am “pure” (innocent) of his “blood.” How can I do this? Only by declaring the whole counsel of God. If you are a Bible teacher can you say that you have talked to your class about the uncomfortable things of the Bible? Sometimes it’s relatively easy to tell students that “all things work together for good,” but have you told them about the sinfulness of boys and girls, of men and women? Have you told them about the holiness and righteousness and justice and wrath of God? Have you tried to explain what it meant for God to sacrifice His beloved Son? Of what it cost – and what the realization of that cost should mean in our lives – so we can be the children of God? When I presume to teach the Bible my attitude should be influenced by the thought that the students’ lives are in my hands.

Now if that sounds like an instance of inflated ego or boastfulness, let’s remember that, if they are in my hands, I am in God’s hands. I would rather be able to say that their lives are “in my hands” than that their blood is “on my hands.”

Type: We must realize that when we teach we are to make a “type,” an “imprint.”

But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.

Romans 6:17

The “form of doctrine,” the “type of teaching” handed down from the Apostles was known in the Greek language as the typos didache. A good illustration is the way old typewriters used to make an imprint on a piece of paper – or the way the seal or signet ring of an ancient king or Roman official would make an imprint in hot wax on a document. Bible teachers should deliver messages from God’s Word with such passion that it makes an imprint on the students – in such a way that they are “stamped” with orthodox teaching. Unless you are teaching a group of students that have an unusually large amount of Bible knowledge, or unless they are already under the teaching of someone else who does, they will not get the didache anywhere else. Children certainly do not get get it in school. It is not taught on television. Sadly, more and more these days, it is even absent from religious instruction. Your students will be prone to seduction by what “seems” good, by what “looks” good, by what “sounds” good, and by what “feels” good. We are living in a time when almost everyone does what seems right in his or her own eyes. A lesson plan can be erased, an arts and crafts project can be erased, a prize for being the best student can be erased. But a “type,” a permanent imprint, can not be erased.

A “type” must be pressed down hard. For a teacher this is hard work – the type must be held down for a while. It requires endurance, persistence, and determination. God has called you to deliver the typos – the imprint. Therefore, He will give you the strength and the ability – even the stubbornness or steadfastness – to do it.

We have seen the Truth and the Type. Next time, we will look at the Treasure.

Light Can Be Offensive

June 15, 2011 at 10:06 am | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, Biblical Light | 10 Comments
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When a person is sound asleep and someone suddenly shines a bright light right into his face, the sleepy person is going to have a tendency to get angry. In a similar way, the Light of the Gospel can be very offensive to a lost person.

My wife is a big fan of bright lights first thing in the morning. If she could have her way, she would spring out of bed and immediately turn on all the brightest lights in the house. That probably speaks well of her spiritual condition, because, as Christians, we should be lovers of light more than darkness. I have to admit that I like to wake up a little more slowly. If I get my way, I’ll get up, take a shower, and get dressed – all in the dark (which probably explains why my tie seldom matches my shirt and I’m wearing mismatched socks.)

We live in “dark days,” spiritually speaking. 21st Century America is very similar to the time period described in the Book of Judges. People are mainly doing “what is right in their own eyes” instead of what God has commanded. It seems like the people whose eyes are most adjusted to darkness are some of the the most influential in our society. This does not bode well for our future. When small men cast long shadows, it’s a sure sign that the sun is setting.

Light has a tendency to make things brighter and more clear. We use words like “luminous;” “luster;” “illuminate;” and “illustrate.” When things are clear – when they are seen in their “true light” – we can be prepared and alert. Can you imagine a security guard charged with protecting someone’s life and property, understanding the importance of staying awake, and yet deciding to turn the lights out during his watch?

People who desire to commit acts of shame or evil often seek out areas of darkness. Most nightclubs or barrooms are dark. Most major cities have a “bad side” of town where the streets are dark.

The “color” black (which is really the absence of light) is the color of mourning and sadness.

And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.

Genesis 1:2-4

God said the light was good. He didn’t say that about the darkness. And in the very beginning He divided them – He separated them. As Christians, we have the “Light of the World” shining within us. We shouldn’t try to turn this Light down in order to fit in with the world, nor in order to allow the world to keep sleeping, nor out of fear that we might offend the darkness with Light. We need to shine brightly into the darkest parts of the world.

We sing, “Send the light, the blessed Gospel light; Let it shine from shore to shore! Send the light, the blessed Gospel light; Let it shine forevermore!” Many Christians agree that we should send the Light, but few want to help pay the light bill. There is a financial cost, as well as a comfort cost, in sending forth the Light. There is also the cost of ridicule and embarrassment when we shine our Savior’s light.

Light can be very offensive. There’s a right way to be offensive and a wrong way to be offensive. I must remember that the Light does not ultimately come from me. It is the Light of God – hopefully reflected – but only reflected – off me. Satan got in trouble over this issue back when he was still an angel.

How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning! how art thou cut down to the ground, which didst weaken the nations! For thou hast said in thine heart, I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God: I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north: I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like the most High. Yet thou shalt be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit.

Isaiah 14:12-15

The name “Lucifer” meant “light-bearer” or “bright one.” He was not a light “source,” and neither are we – but we should be mirrors, and light “amplifiers.”

And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved.

John 3:19-20

Therefore have I hewed them by the prophets; I have slain them by the words of my mouth: and thy judgments are as the light that goeth forth.

Hosea 6:5

Christ Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament type of sacrificial offerings, but He wasn’t a “burnt offering,” because He produced His Own light.

Biological eyes are dependent on light in order to work properly. Even eyes that work well are useless in the dark. In Scripture lost people are compared to blind people – they are spiritually blind. It is not so much because their “spiritual eyes” don’t work. It is more because they are choosing to remain away from the Light. A lost person hates the true Light. He wants to remain in the dark. But God has given Christians the responsibility – and the awesome privilege – of shining His Light into the dark, and showing lost people the way out of the dark and into the light of His glory.

A Timely Word

June 13, 2011 at 11:37 am | Posted in Hebrews | 9 Comments
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In the New Testament, there are different Greek terms for “word,” which are translated into English. Two of these are “logos” and “rhema.” The Greek word “logos” is used 330 times in the New Testament. The Greek word “rhema” is used a paltry 70 times. However, so-called “televangelists” absolutely love to use the term “rhema word” to refer to specific instructions spoken by God today. They contrast this with the “logos word,” which they take to mean the Words of God written down in the Bible. The implication is that “rhema words” are somehow fresher than “logos words.” This implication is simply wrong.

A quick glance at Ephesians 6:17 and 6:19 may help clarify the matter. 6:17 says: “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God:” Traditional Christian doctrine holds that “the sword of the Spirit -” the offensive weapon wielded by believers who wear the armor of God – is the Holy Bible. Yet the Greek word used here is “rhema.”

6:19 says: “And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel,” The “utterance” given to the Apostle Paul in this verse is the Spirit-controlled speech which the Lord will grant him as he boldly preaches the Gospel. Yet the Greek word for “utterance” is “logos.”

The desire for a private revelation from God may be very tempting. All true Christians want to be guided in an immediate way by God. However, it is always a mistake to denigrate the Bible by making it seem stale. I do not know who may or may not claim to have a “word from God” for you, but I do know that God’s Holy Book is alive and well, and is as fresh and powerful as it has ever been.

For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.

Hebrews 4:12

More Strange Weapons: A Stone (God’s Will Is Functional)

June 10, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Posted in Biblical friendship, Strange Weapons | 2 Comments
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In a previous lesson we saw that the weapon of a millstone reminds us that God’s will is like a weapon in spiritual warfare in that stones are foundational.

This time we will see that stones are also functional. Stones do a variety of jobs. In Bible times they not only made up the buildings, they were sometimes the tools for building. Sometimes they were also monuments for remembering. Other times they were weapons for throwing. God’s sovereign will is the ultimate in functionality. It not only creates or allows all circumstances, but it functions and operates in all circumstances.

Under the heading that “Stones are Functional” I want to use the memory device “CPR:”

Career: When you are building a career, will you trust God’s will, and seek out a “vocation” (a calling from God)?

Priorities: When you are considering your priorities, will you trust God’s will and let Him order your priorities and arrange your time? His Word settles the “first things.”

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.

Matthew 6:33

Things that are “added” are things that come “later.”

Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.

Revelation 2:5

The best place to get back into God’s will is the place you got out. Do the “first works.” The freedom we have in the Spirit is not freedom to do what we want. Relaxation is not true freedom. True freedom is freedom from the selfishness of sin, and it is the freedom to obey God. The good works that God has ordained for us to do are prioritized by His sovereign will.

Relationships: When you are building your relationships, will you trust God’s will and let Him pick your friends? God has appointed your spouse to be your special friend over and above other people in your life. Beyond that, He has sovereignly appointed who your neighbors happen to be, who your acquaintances happen to be, and even who your fellow church members happen to be. These people are in your life for a reason – they are not “random.” Trust God in your relationships – you need this weapon on your side in spiritual warfare.

The strange weapon of God’s sovereign will can be found in every locality and in every situation, because, in spiritual warfare, the place where you are subject to being attacked is everywhere: at home, at church, on your job, in your relationships, in Bible study, in prayer, in Christian service.

Stones are wonderful weapons because of their functionality. They can roll down mountains and crush cities, or they can fit in your pocket. There is nowhere you will not be able to see the weapon of God’s will at work in the battle.

Stones are foundational, stones are functional, and stones are used for friction.

The weapon used by the woman in the tower to kill Abimelech was a millstone. A millstone is a large stone placed on top of another stone. These stones are usually round, and they are used to grind against each other and smash into powder or “flour” the kernels of different kinds of grain (i.e. wheat or corn) that are fed between them. A millstone works by grinding and crushing, and it produces friction. Do not think that God’s will is not going to involve you in a great deal of friction.

John answered, saying unto them all, I indeed baptize you with water; but one mightier than I cometh, the latchet of whose shoes I am not worthy to unloose: he shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost and with fire:

Luke 3:16 (emphasis added)

Notice that this verse says “and” with fire, not “in” fire. It is speaking of the heat of persecution not a “fiery” emotional manifestation of the Holy Spirit.

Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you:

I Peter 4:12

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

Christ the Lord – the Great Refiner – the Great Purifier of the Church – uses heat – friction – to purge impurities out of the hearts and lives of His people. If you have been a Christian for very long, then God’s sovereign will has sent circumstances into your life, sickness into your life, suffering into your life, even people into your life – to grind on you – to scrape away the rough edges and the impurities, so that you may be more conformed to the image of Christ.

The millstone in Judges Chapter 9 – the millstone that killed Abimelech – was the perfect weapon for the time and place of its use. It crushed Abimelech and cost him his life, his reputation, and his would-be kingdom. God’s will is perfect. Will you love it and trust it? Or will you try to resist it and be miserable? It is a weapon which we observe, not a weapon which we yield. The way to take advantage of this weapon is to stay close to God.

Therefore and Wherefore

June 8, 2011 at 10:41 am | Posted in Romans | 1 Comment
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For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all.

Romans 11:32

All have sinned and come short (Romans 3:23). All are included so that “all” can be saved. Everyone is included in those to whom we should preach the Gospel. If we say that there is no use in giving the Gospel message to some, we are denying our faith in God. It’s just as wrong to exclude the highly esteemed as it is the pariahs of society. To whom should you preach the Gospel?
-criminals?
-child molesters?
-child abusers?
-murderers?
-hard-working “honest” folks?
-your mom and dad?
-your brother and sister?
-famous people?
-CEOs?
-Sunday School teachers?
-Preachers?

No one can be excluded. Don’t deny the power of the Gospel. Don’t be ashamed.

For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.)

Romans 1:16

Romans Chapter 11 ends with a praise song.

For God hath concluded them all in unbelief, that he might have mercy upon all. O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out! For who hath known the mind of the Lord? or who hath been his counsellor? Or who hath first given to him, and it shall be recompensed unto him again? For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.

Romans 11:32-36

Romans Chapter 12 begins with a “therefore.”

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

Romans 12:1 (emphasis added)

I was taught that when you see a “therefore” in the Bible, you should always look and see what it’s “there for.” What has come before Chapter 12 in Romans:

1. Gentiles are sinners.

2. Jewish people are sinners.

3. Salvation is through faith.

4. God has not forgotten Israel.

5. Concern for Israel has practical applications for our lives.
a. Christians are to provoke non-Christians to jealousy.
b. Christians should be concerned for their “kinsmen.”
c. Christians should not be proud because God has chosen to save them.

6. Christians can be victorious in the battle of the flesh and sin against the Spirit.

One of my personal favorite lessons from the Book of Romans up to this point is that where sin did abound, grace did much more abound (Romans 5:20). That is very inspirational to me.

The “therefore” in Romans 12:1 is “there for” showing us that, now, taking into account all that we have learned in Chapters 1-11 (how to “get right” with God, and how to be concerned that others “get right” with God), we must practically apply these things, and “live right.”

The Redeemer Is Prophesied

June 6, 2011 at 11:01 am | Posted in Bible Studies, Genesis | 21 Comments
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I am now getting near the end of a long series of posts on the Book of Genesis. Since Genesis is the first book of the Bible, it has been fun to point out several things, ideas, or words, which occur for the first time in Genesis. We have seen the first plants and animals, the first man and woman, the first marriage, the first sin, the first murder, the first song, the first tears, the first rain, and the first interpreter.

Now we will look at the first time a very special Bible word is used in Scripture: “redeemed.”

The Angel which redeemed me from all evil, bless the lads; and let my name be named on them, and the name of my fathers Abraham and Isaac; and let them grow into a multitude in the midst of the earth.

Genesis 48:16

The Hebrew word is ga’al, and it means “to buy back,” or “to pay the price to set someone free from slavery.” When a sinner trusts Jesus Christ as his Savior, he is set free from the slavery of sin.

The concept of redemption is a key to understanding God’s plan of salvation, and it is a concept about which the Lord has much to say in the Bible. Below is a brief study guide on the Biblical concept of redemption:

Q. What was the price of redemption?
A. The precious blood of Christ. (I Peter 1:19)

Q. Can it be paid for with something else of value?
A. No, silver and gold are corruptible (I Peter 1:18), but the blood of Christ is incorruptible.

Q. To what were we enslaved?
A. Sin – such as serving divers lusts, hating one another, living in envy, living for self (Titus 3:3), and to vain conversation or empty living. (I Peter 1:18)

Q. What are we set free to do?
A. To serve the Lord diligently, not to be slothful or lazy. (Romans 12:11)

Q. Who is the Redeemer?
A. Jesus Christ, the Son of God. (Colossians 1:13-14)

Q. How did the Redeemer first appear?
A. As a young child. (Luke 2:25-40)

Q. How does the Redeemer continue to work?
A. As a Mediator. (Hebrews 9:14-15 and Job 9:32-33)

Q. How long does redemption last?
A. Redemption is eternal. (Hebrews 9:11-12)

Q. How long will the Redeemer last?
A. He always has been, always is, and always will be: “He lives” (perpetual present tense). (Job 19:25)

Q. Redemption sets our bodies free from the slavery of sin, but what about our souls?
A. The price has been paid for our eternal souls to be set free. (Psalm 34:22)

Q. How should being redeemed make us feel?
A. Our lips and souls should sing and rejoice. (Psalm 71:23)

Q. Do we deserve redemption?
A. No, God’s mercy allowed our redemption. (Psalm 44:26)

Q. Can anyone other than Jesus be powerful, influential, or wealthy enough to redeem me?
A. No, true redemption is through Christ alone. (Psalm 49:6-9)

Q. How much time is there before it is too late to be redeemed?
A. The offer of redemption is for a limited time only – you must by faith receive Jesus, and trust in the price He paid, before you die and before He comes back. (Hebrews 9:27 and Luke 21:27-28)

Q. Should we keep quiet about our redemption?
A. No, the redeemed of the Lord should say so. (Psalm 107:2)

Q. What is the role of the Holy Spirit in redemption?
A. He seals us unto the day of redemption. (Ephesians 4:30)

More Strange Weapons: A Stone (God’s Will Is Foundational)

June 3, 2011 at 11:23 am | Posted in Strange Weapons | 7 Comments
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Strange Weapons: A Prod, a Peg, and a Pitcher

More Strange Weapons: A Stone and a Bone

Last time, I reviewed the Biblical account of Abimelech’s death.

Then went Abimelech to Thebez, and encamped against Thebez, and took it. But there was a strong tower within the city, and thither fled all the men and women, and all they of the city, and shut it to them, and gat them up to the top of the tower. And Abimelech came unto the tower, and fought against it, and went hard unto the door of the tower to burn it with fire. And a certain woman cast a piece of a millstone upon Abimelech’s head, and all to brake his skull. Then he called hastily unto the young man his armourbearer, and said unto him, Draw thy sword, and slay me, that men say not of me, A woman slew him. And his young man thrust him through, and he died. And when the men of Israel saw that Abimelech was dead, they departed every man unto his place. Thus God rendered the wickedness of Abimelech, which he did unto his father, in slaying his seventy brethren:

Judges 9:50-56

Before I start making the application, we need to remember something very important about God’s will: God’s will is perfect.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:1-2 (emphasis added)

Many people will acknowledge that the Bible is infallible and inerrant. But if God’s Word is perfect, so must His will be perfect also. If you hold an extravagantly expensive diamond up to bright light, it will reveal a myriad of different views – all breath-taking. Even the slightest change of perspective will cause the viewer to see new refractions of light through its facets. The clarity, color, and cut of some diamonds seem to offer endless worlds of beautiful variations. However, even the most exquisite diamond will eventually reveal some flaw somewhere in its make-up. God’s will is like a diamond without a single flaw. If we could inspect God’s will from every angle, each millimeter of movement around it would reveal only more absolute perfection for all eternity. God’s will is completely FLAWLESS.

Faith is a great challenge for Christian believers, and it is prone to much misinformation and misunderstanding. Faith is not me pronouncing my will to God. It is trusting that His will is right, and will ultimately be for my good – even when His will seems completely against my will.

The Bible calls the woman who hurled the millstone down from the tower at Abimelech a “certain” woman, meaning she was a “particular” woman. She was distinguished from the others by the fact that she is the one who threw down the stone. But, in our idiom, we have another meaning for “certain:” someone who is “sure,” someone who is absolutely convinced. Are we “certain” men and women when it comes to trusting God’s will in our lives? Do we know that all things work together for good (Romans 8:28) to those who love God, who are the called according to His purpose? Or do we have uncertainty – do we think a few things can’t really work out for good?

The weapon of a millstone reminds us that God’s will is like a weapon of spiritual warfare in that:

I. Stones are foundational.

Stones form the underlying structure of things. In the Old Testament, the millstone was one of the basic, foundational tools for sustaining life.

No man shall take the nether or the upper millstone to pledge: for he taketh a man’s life to pledge.

Deuteronomy 24:6

It would have been difficult to grind grain for making bread without a millstone. In the New Testament, we have better Bread. Jesus said, I AM the Bread of Life. He proclaimed that He was the foundational Rock of the Church – all other ground is sinking sand. Upon this Rock I shall build My church, He said – that He is the Christ – the Son of the Living God. If we are going to utilize the advantage of God’s sovereign will in our spiritual warfare, we are going to have to build our house upon the Solid Rock of Jesus Christ. Anything that we are hoping to build to last is going to have to be built on Jesus.

A. The foundation concerning God’s will is for building.

We must build our lives on the foundation of God’s sovereignty. When the people of Thebez ran into a tower to escape Abimelech, that seemed like a foolish plan. Abimelech was setting towers on fire, and battering doors down. But he could not defeat God’s will. God’s will was for him to die in defeat and disgrace – and God accomplishes His will.

When you are in trouble – financial trouble, relationship trouble, sickness, confusion – will you go through the Door which is Christ Jesus, and hide yourself in the Tower which is Almighty God? The Name of the Lord is a strong tower – the righteous run into it, and they are saved.

B. The foundation concerning God’s will is broad.

Remember, Abimelech had a will, too, but Abimelech’s will was opposed to God’s will. Abimelech wanted to be King, and among his followers he was popular and supported. But man’s will is fickle and transient. People can love you and support you one day, and betray you and desert you the next day. God’s will is a foundation that is broad in the sense that it covers all contingencies, and remains firm. God’s will is a rock that you may fall upon – but it is also a rock that you may never fall off. God is immutable. God does what pleases God, not what pleases man. In the warfare of the Christian life, you are going to want a weapon that is dependable – that will not let you down. You are going to want to place your trust in God, not in men. Even when God’s circumstances make it seem like He doesn’t know what He is doing, and people are giving you what sounds like good reasonable advice, trust God, not people.

C. The foundation concerning God’s will is found at the bottom.

Remember, Abimelech wanted to be the “head.” He concocted his scheme to be King in his own “head.” And he was defeated when God’s strange weapon – His sovereign will in the form of a stone – struck him on the head.

The foundation of a building is located at the bottom – it is the base. When a foundation is too narrow, too limited, and you try to build on it, to build upwards, it gets too “top heavy.” The things stacked at the top fall easily and they fall hard – and they destroy much around them.

If you are building your life on the world’s ideas of the future, on your own ideas of the future, on what you can only see – apart from faith – with your own eyes trying to look into the future, then your plans are liable to fall easily, fall hard, and to destroy those around you. The 9/11 terrorists flew their hijacked planes into the top of the World Trade Center. They would not have caused much damage if they had hit a building with a broad base and a narrow top. Church steeples are more sharp and pointed the higher they go in order to symbolize the fact that the closer we get to God, the smaller we realize we are, and the bigger we realize He is. Abimelech was a terrorist who wanted to cause maximum destruction.

When the tower in Siloam fell, what did Jesus say? “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” God is sovereign – He’s in control.

God’s will, like a stone, is foundational. Next time, we will see that stones are also functional.

Reverence in Marriage (Part 1)

June 1, 2011 at 10:33 am | Posted in Biblical Marriage | 9 Comments
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Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, 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. So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loveth his wife loveth himself. For no man ever yet hated his own flesh; but nourisheth and cherisheth it, even as the Lord the church: For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall be joined unto his wife, and they two shall be one flesh. This is a great mystery: but I speak concerning Christ and the church. Nevertheless let every one of you in particular so love his wife even as himself; and the wife see that she reverence her husband.

Ephesians 5:25-33, emphasis added

There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment. He that feareth is not made perfect in love.

I John 4:18

“Reverence” in Ephesians 5:33 is translated from the Greek word “phobos,” meaning “fear.” It might sound contradictory to you as a wife if I tell you that the Bible commands you to both love and fear your husband. However, fear does not cancel out “agape” love, which was described in a previous lesson. Think of it in terms of how you love God. We are commanded to love God and to draw close to Him. Drawing closer to God always brings greater love and fear.

But when the Pharisees had heard that he had put the Sadducees to silence, they were gathered together. Then one of them, which was a lawyer, asked him a question, tempting him, and saying, Master, which is the great commandment in the law? Jesus said unto him, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself. On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.

Matthew 22:34-40

The Pharisees had a theory that if they could know which commandment was the greatest, then they could keep that one and be right with God, and thereby earn eternal salvation. Jesus tells them that “agape” is the greatest commandment. Think about why this is. For one thing, it is impossible to sin while exercising true “agape.” “Agape” seeks to show kindness and to move the other person to righteousness.

When I John 4:18 says that perfect love casts out fear, the Bible is not contradicting itself. The fear that is being cast out by perfect love is the fear of no longer being right with the person who truly loves you. When I love my spouse perfectly, then my spouse’s insecurity about her “standing” with me is cast out. In other words, perfect love casts out fear of loss of the relationship.

This will be further developed in Part 2.


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