How the Knows are Gifted

August 31, 2017 at 2:53 pm | Posted in I Corinthians | 2 Comments
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Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant.

I Corinthians 12:1

This, to me, is the unifying theme of I Corinthians: The Holy Spirit, through Paul, did not want the Corinthians Christians to be ignorant. He wanted them to be “Knows,” not “Know-Nots.” Their single most identifying negative mark, as a church, was their squabbling and factionalism. Their single most identifying positive mark was their richness in spiritual gifts.

Ye know that ye were Gentiles, carried away unto these dumb idols, even as ye were led.

I Corinthians 12:2

Here, “dumb” means unable to speak, rather than foolish. Formerly idol-worshipers – so deeply entrenched that they were still possibly weak in their consciences in this area – they had been miraculously delivered by divine revelation.

Wherefore I give you to understand, that no man speaking by the Spirit of God calleth Jesus accursed: and that no man can say that Jesus is the Lord, but by the Holy Ghost.

I Corinthians 12:3

The Holy Spirit is identified as the Person of the Trinity that reveals to us that Jesus – despite His treatment as the vilest of criminals – is actually God incarnate.

Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit.

I Corinthians 12:4

Among the Persons of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is the One Who delivers the spiritual gifts and determines who gets which ones. There is diversity AND unity.

And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord.

I Corinthians 12:5

The gifts are given with the intent that they will be used to minister to the Lord Jesus. Again there is diversity AND unity.

And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God which worketh all in all.

I Corinthians 12:6

God the Father empowers the gifts so that His power is working in us as we use the gifts. Once again, we see the principle of diversity AND unity. The gifts are given by the living God in the Person of the Holy Spirit because of the victory and Ascension of Jesus Christ.

Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; One Lord, one faith, one baptism, One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

Ephesians 4:3-8

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Sin and Paranoia

August 29, 2017 at 4:41 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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The ultimate temporal consequence of sin is death. The ultimate ETERNAL consequence of sin is the “second death:” conscious torment in the lake of fire. Christians have escaped that consequence through the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. However, even Christians must prepare to face the mortality which awaits us at the end of our journey through this earthly life.

While we long to see our Lord face to face, we cherish our earthly life, and want to avoid careless or senseless danger, but, make no mistake about it, we do place ourselves in great earthly danger when we take for granted the grace that God has bestowed upon us, and foolishly sin against Him.

If any man see his brother sin a sin which is not unto death, he shall ask, and he shall give him life for them that sin not unto death. There is a sin unto death: I do not say that he shall pray for it.

I John 5:16

Christians should not scuttle through life in a state of abject fear, but we do need to be aware of the danger that unconfessed sin brings into our life. The difference between believers and unbelievers is not a careless disregard for our mortal safety, but a faithful assurance that the righteousness imputed to us by Christ allows us to confidently face circumstantial danger, and fiercely battle and overcome sin itself. Whereas, those who do not know Christ ought to tremble at every lightning strike, unsafe driver, outbreak of sickness, and “breaking news” alert.

The wicked flee when no man pursueth: but the righteous are bold as a lion.

Proverbs 28:1

The Psychic Hotline May be Hotter than You Think

August 24, 2017 at 4:00 pm | Posted in Q&A, Where There's a Way There's a Will | Leave a comment
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Question: (1) Are mediums and psychics really communicating with the spirits of dead people, or with demons? (2) Based on Deuteronomy 29:29, is it okay to even ask this question?

Answer: I tend to think the majority of “mediums” and “psychics” are really con artists that prey on gullible (sometimes desperate and distraught) people who want some type of closure with a deceased loved one, or some kind of hope that their future is going to be okay. However, the Bible does not rule out the possibility that some of them could be communicating with demons, either willfully or unwittingly. Satan is a great deceiver, and he would like for people to look anywhere besides the Bible for comfort, guidance, and truth. Possibly for both of these reasons, the Bible clearly condemns all of the following: fortunetelling, sorcery, witchcraft, magic, necromancy (trying to talk to dead spirits), soothsaying, sign-reading, consulting familiar spirits, divination, trance-induced visions, horoscopes, and false prophecy (Exodus 7:11; 22:18; Leviticus 20:6, 27; Deuteronomy 18:9-12; I Samuel 15:23; II Kings 21:6; Isaiah 8:19; Acts 8:9-13; 16:16; Galatians 5:20-21; Revelation 21:8).

As to your second question, God’s will about certain things is intentionally hidden from us for our good and His glory. It is wrong for us to inquire into what He has chosen to keep secret for now. However, a question like this, which is just about how we are to think about those who attempt to violate Deuteronomy 29:29, is not itself a violation. It is right and good to think about anything God has revealed in Scripture, including the revelation that there are some things He has chosen not to reveal.

Living and Giving, Heeding and Proceeding

August 22, 2017 at 2:25 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment
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And he said unto them in his doctrine, Beware of the scribes, which love to go in long clothing, and love salutations in the marketplaces, And the chief seats in the synagogues, and the uppermost rooms at feasts: Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation.

Mark 12:38-40

Just warned His disciples of the scribes, not because the scribes would try to physically harm them, but because of the temptation of behaving the way that the scribes behaved. They were proud of their way of living, but there is also a danger of pride in giving:

And Jesus sat over against the treasury, and beheld how the people cast money into the treasury: and many that were rich cast in much. And there came a certain poor widow, and she threw in two mites, which make a farthing. And he called unto him his disciples, and saith unto them, Verily I say unto you, That this poor widow hath cast more in, than all they which have cast into the treasury: For all they did cast in of their abundance; but she of her want did cast in all that she had, even all her living.

Mark 12:41-44

God is less interested in our portion than He is in our PROportion when it comes to our giving.

Mark 13 contains the Olivet Discourse, which deals with end-times events. Jesus gave four signs or “birth-pangs” that would mean that the “time of Jacob’s trouble” – the Tribulation – was at hand:

1. The success of false Christs

And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you: For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many.

Mark 13:5-6

2. Nations in conflict
and
3. Natural disasters

And when ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars, be ye not troubled: for such things must needs be; but the end shall not be yet. For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in divers places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these are the beginnings of sorrows.

Mark 13:7-8

4. Religious persecution

But take heed to yourselves: for they shall deliver you up to councils; and in the synagogues ye shall be beaten: and ye shall be brought before rulers and kings for my sake, for a testimony against them. And the gospel must first be published among all nations. But when they shall lead you, and deliver you up, take no thought beforehand what ye shall speak, neither do ye premeditate: but whatsoever shall be given you in that hour, that speak ye: for it is not ye that speak, but the Holy Ghost.

Mark 13:9-11

This promise of Christ, that He will provide the words to speak for those persecuted for His sake, is not an excuse for those of us today to be unprepared when we know we are going to have opportunities to speak for Him.

Now the brother shall betray the brother to death, and the father the son; and children shall rise up against their parents, and shall cause them to be put to death. And ye shall be hated of all men for my name’s sake: but he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.

Mark 13:12-13

This makes it sound as if some will be saved during the Tribulation, but we need to be watching, and we need to be prepared, not for the signs themselves, but for Jesus Himself, and we must take heed not to be deceived.

And Jesus answering them began to say, Take heed lest any man deceive you:

Mark 13:5

But take ye heed: behold, I have foretold you all things.

Mark 13:23

Be careful NOT to listen to men more closely than you listen to Jesus.

Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is.

Mark 13:33

Be careful of earthly “wisdom.” Remember God’s Word and do it. Always be alert and praying. The word “straightway” is used 19 times in the Book of Mark. It means to go forward, to keep moving, to keep looking for the next opportunity to serve Jesus. Movement in the Kingdom of God is His prescription for combating spiritual depression and despair.

The Cause, Confusion, and Consequences: Problems with the Lord’s Supper

August 18, 2017 at 12:59 pm | Posted in I Corinthians | 2 Comments
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In I Corinthians Chapter 11 the Apostle Paul, after addressing some issues concerning head coverings in church services, also addressed abusive practices pertaining to the Lord’s Supper.

Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse. For first of all, when ye come together in the church, I hear that there be divisions among you; and I partly believe it.

I Corinthians 11:17-18

Like many of their problems, the cause of the Corinthian Christians’ problems with their observance of the Lord’s Supper was disunity. The nature of the disunity was made clear:

When ye come together therefore into one place, this is not to eat the Lord’s supper. For in eating every one taketh before other his own supper: and one is hungry, and another is drunken.

I Corinthians 11:20-21

The whole point of the Lord’s Supper was supposed to be fellowship and communion, but the rich church members were eating their own meals instead of sharing with the poor members, and apparently some of the poor were looking forward to a free buffet instead of an opportunity to remember Christ’s death. People were using the occasion as a reason for physical excess rather than spiritual worship.

The Holy Spirit through Paul identified their confusion: Worship must involve sacrifice. It is antithetical to selfishness.

Wherefore, my brethren, when ye come together to eat, tarry one for another. And if any man hunger, let him eat at home; that ye come not together unto condemnation. And the rest will I set in order when I come.

I Corinthians 33-34

Furthermore, this is an ordinance of the Church commanded by the Lord, so naturally there are consequences for doing it unworthily.

For as often as ye eat this bread, and drink this cup, ye do shew the Lord’s death till he come.

I Corinthians 11:26

Jesus is the reason for the whole affair – to remember that He instituted the New Covenant in His blood – so it is obvious that it should be a joyous but also a solemn affair.

Wherefore whosoever shall eat this bread, and drink this cup of the Lord, unworthily, shall be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.

I Corinthians 11:27

“Unworthily” is often said to said to mean that someone with unconfessed sin should not participate in the Lord’s Supper, but none of us are worthy – only Christ is. The context seems to plead for understanding “unworthily” as meaning something done without the proper dignity or motivation for being there, although the next verse does lend support to the idea that we must take an inventory of any sins which are keeping us from fellowshipping with the Lord with a clean conscience:

But let a man examine himself, and so let him eat of that bread, and drink of that cup. For he that eateth and drinketh unworthily, eateth and drinketh damnation to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body.

I Corinthians 11:28-29

“Damnation” here refers to consequential judgment, not eternal damnation.

For this cause many are weak and sickly among you, and many sleep.

I Corinthians 11:30

The consequences of eating and drinking unworthily in remembrance of Christ’s shed blood and broken body are revealed to be sickness and potential death.

Spiritually Disabled

August 16, 2017 at 3:24 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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Traditionally it has come to be known as the doctrine of “total depravity.” Stated simply, it is the idea that, because of the sinful condition into which all human beings are born, our moral default mode is that we are depraved, and lack the ability to love, trust, and worship God of our own volition. However, some theologians, fearing that the words “total” and “depravity” will be interpreted to mean that every human being, unless He is supernaturally changed by God, always does the absolute worst thing he can do in every conceivable situation, would prefer to use different terminology. Because it can often be demonstrated that even the worst sinners could sin more frequently, and in worse ways, than they are presently sinning or have sinned in the past, the term “radical depravity” is offered as a substitute for “total depravity.”

However, this might also require some explaining. We tend to think of the word “radical” as an adjective which refers to something “extreme.” A kid who backflips off his speeding skateboard into the back of moving truck has done something “radical.”

radical skateboard

A political group that wants the government pay for birth control may be called “liberal,” but a group that wants the government to pay for genital mutilation surgery is “radically” liberal. This is not the sense that theologians want to convey when speaking of “radical depravity.” What they are getting at is the sense of the Latin word for “root:” radix. A person who is “radically” depraved is a person who is depraved down to the “root:” the most basic foundational level of his ontology. There is within him, preventing him from making God-honoring moral choices, a core of depravity which skews or perverts his thinking, his emotions, and his very will, toward evil rather than good.

One of the most marvelous things about God’s redeeming grace is that when He enables a person to trust Jesus Christ unto salvation, the Holy Spirit regenerates that person – completely changing his ontology, and giving him a new ability that he did not before possess: the ability to truly love and serve God.

The label “disabled,” when applied to someone who has a physical or mental infirmity, has become controversial and has the potential to offend, so I’m not trying to disparage anyone’s physical condition, but the fact is, apart from the miraculous work of God, our “natural” minds and natures are truly disabled by the consequences of sin.

Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.

Romans 8:7

We get frustrated at people who disobey the law of God, including (far more frequently than we like to admit) ourselves. But we have to remember, people operating in their “carnality” – in their “flesh” – do not obey God because they CAN NOT obey God. They are totally disabled. Some physical and mental disabilities can be treated and even cured. However, our spiritual disability can ONLY be overcome by the Lord Jesus Christ.

There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus hath made me free from the law of sin and death.

Romans 8:1-2

A Fawning Farewell

August 8, 2017 at 4:51 pm | Posted in Q&A | 2 Comments
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Question: I don’t understand why the Egyptians would give the Israelites their gold and silver and jewels when they were leaving.

Answer: There are a couple of possible reasons found in Exodus 12:33-36. One, it could be that the Egyptians were anxious to get rid of them, since the plagues were obviously because of their presence in Egypt. They had come to recognize the truth: God was going to keep sending plagues until the Egyptians let them go, and they already thought of themselves as “dead men” because of all they had suffered. That is indicated by Verse 33.

And the Egyptians were urgent upon the people, that they might send them out of the land in haste; for they said, We be all dead men.

Exodus 12:33

Giving them gifts was a way to encourage them to hurry up and leave.

Second, Verse 36 indicates that this was a supernatural phenomenon where the Lord simply made it so that the Egyptians “favored” the Israelites with gifts without fully understanding why they themselves were doing it.

And the Lord gave the people favour in the sight of the Egyptians, so that they lent unto them such things as they required. And they spoiled the Egyptians.

Exodus 12:36

It says that they “spoiled” the Egyptians, which is language used when a victorious army takes away the property of a defeated army after a battle. The Irsaelites had won a war without lifting a finger (which means that God actually fought and won it for them).

There is another possibility which I stumbled upon while researching something else. Apparently all ancient cultures practiced some form of “exorcism” (casting out demons). In most cultures this was done by berating or commanding demons, trying to force them to come out of their hosts and leave. However, the form of exorcism practiced in ancient Egypt was quite different. Egyptians priests believed that the way to get rid of demons was to be extremely polite to them. This is pure speculation, but it is fun to imagine the Egyptians (wrongly believing that the children of Israel were under the influence of agents of Yahweh, whom they considered “demons”) trying to coax them to leave the land. “Would you mind taking my coat, sir? I shan’t need it anymore. Oh! and here you are mi’lady, please take this gold necklace and these silver earrings. We fixed you a canteen and a picnic basket for your trip into the wilderness. So sorry to see you go!”

The Servant Prophet

August 4, 2017 at 3:14 pm | Posted in Mark | 1 Comment
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Jesus the Servant was a Servant King, a Servant Judge, and a Servant Prophet. A true prophet teaches, but He stresses obedience. Prophetic teaching is about more than just imparting information. Many of us Christians are educated beyond our level of obedience. Jesus wants us to understand what He says, and to DO what He says.

What shall therefore the lord of the vineyard do? he will come and destroy the husbandmen, and will give the vineyard unto others.

Mark 12:9

Why would the Lord of the vineyard do this? Because of what had been done to His servants, messengers, and his son:

And he began to speak unto them by parables. A certain man planted a vineyard, and set an hedge about it, and digged a place for the winefat, and built a tower, and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country. And at the season he sent to the husbandmen a servant, that he might receive from the husbandmen of the fruit of the vineyard. And they caught him, and beat him, and sent him away empty. And again he sent unto them another servant; and at him they cast stones, and wounded him in the head, and sent him away shamefully handled. And again he sent another; and him they killed, and many others; beating some, and killing some. Having yet therefore one son, his wellbeloved, he sent him also last unto them, saying, They will reverence my son. But those husbandmen said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and the inheritance shall be ours. And they took him, and killed him, and cast him out of the vineyard.

Mark 12:1-8

If you’re rejecting one truth from God, you have no right to ask Him for a second truth to examine. The Jewish leaders rejected John the Baptist, so why were they examining the teaching of Jesus? Have you ever heard a professing Christian complain that, “I’m just not getting anything out of reading the Bible?” If we are not “getting anything” out of the Bible, it is because we are not “doing” what we do get.

A true prophet stresses obedience, and obedience brings responsibility. Prophets prophesy, but they don’t force people to act on their prophecies by putting a gun to their head or a sword to their neck. The responsibility to obey falls on the hearers.

And they send unto him certain of the Pharisees and of the Herodians, to catch him in his words. And when they were come, they say unto him, Master, we know that thou art true, and carest for no man: for thou regardest not the person of men, but teachest the way of God in truth: Is it lawful to give tribute to Caesar, or not? Shall we give, or shall we not give? But he, knowing their hypocrisy, said unto them, Why tempt ye me? bring me a penny, that I may see it. And they brought it. And he saith unto them, Whose is this image and superscription? And they said unto him, Caesar’s. And Jesus answering said unto them, Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to God the things that are God’s. And they marvelled at him.

Mark 12:13-17

Caesar’s image is on Caesar’s money, so it belongs to Caesar. God’s image is on me, so I belong to God.

Head Knowledge

August 2, 2017 at 3:26 pm | Posted in I Corinthians | 2 Comments
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I Corinthians Chapter 11 begins with a compliment (“now I praise you”) to offset the criticism of the previous chapters.

Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ. Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.

I Corinthians 11:1-2

Paul could exhort people to follow him because He followed Christ. The Holy Spirit had him praise the Corinthian Christians for remembering the ecclesiastical practices that he put in place among them when he was in Corinth, but he was also aware of a problem concerning what the women were wearing on their heads during church meetings.

But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.

I Corinthians 11:5

The women that were “prophesying” were not necessarily giving new revelation, but rather “proclaiming” the Word. Short hair on a woman in 1st Century Corinth was disgraceful. It was the sign of a prostitute or of a woman who had been sanctioned for immoral behavior. For Christian women, it showed a defiance of authority – of getting out of rank.

For if the woman be not covered, let her also be shorn: but if it be a shame for a woman to be shorn or shaven, let her be covered.

I Corinthians 11:6

“Shorn” referred to a short, manly haircut; “shaven” meant completely bald. The women in church were not forbidden from prophesying OR praying. They were forbidden from getting out of rank. Men and women have equal standing before God, but different roles in church.

But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; and the head of the woman is the man; and the head of Christ is God.

I Corinthians 11:3

Head coverings symbolized their submission. God is the head of Christ; Christ is the head of the man; the man is the head of the woman – in marriage and in church. Head coverings in Bible times symbolized submission and purity. Going to church without a head covering, for women, and especially daring to pray aloud or prophesy without it, was a show of defiance.

For a man indeed ought not to cover his head, forasmuch as he is the image and glory of God: but the woman is the glory of the man.

I Corinthians 11:7

There were symbols of the proper rank for BOTH men and women.

Judge in yourselves: is it comely that a woman pray unto God uncovered? Doth not even nature itself teach you, that, if a man have long hair, it is a shame unto him? But if a woman have long hair, it is a glory to her: for her hair is given her for a covering.

I Corinthians 11:13-15

The symbol for men: short hair and no head covering. The symbol for women: long hair and head covering. Head coverings – either in the form of veils or hats – do not carry the same stigma today; they do not have the same symbolic meanings, although I would argue that hairstyles do carry symbolic meanings, and that it would be wise for men and women not to distort God’s ordained roles with hairstyles that are confusing. What a person has to say about his or her gender, these days, is more important than actual hair length. Modesty and distinction (Deuteronomy 22:5) should be the main criteria in our choices about our outward appearance.


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