The Just Suffering for the Unjust

September 26, 2018 at 9:45 am | Posted in I Peter | 5 Comments
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For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

I Peter 3:18

The “Spirit” here is capitalized in the King James Version, and several other, though not all, translations. The capitalization leads the reader to believe that the Spirit being referenced is the Holy Spirit, the third Person of the Trinity, but could Christ have had a “spirit” other than the Holy Spirit? Matthew 26:41, Romans 1:3-4, Luke 23:46, and James 2:26 would seem to indicate that Jesus, in His full humanity, did have a spirit, although I still believe that I Peter 3:18 is talking about the Holy Spirit.

The term “quickened” means “made alive,” although “resurrection” normally refers to a physical body.

By which also he went and preached unto the spirits in prison;

I Peter 3:19

There has been much conjecture and dispute over the identity of these “spirits in prison.” I do not believe that they are lost sinners in hell. “Spirits” might mean some type of beings, but “souls” would be the way to refer to human beings.

Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

I Peter 3:20

“Preached” in 3:19 is thought to be “proclamation” rather than “convincing” or “exhorting” as in “preaching the Gospel,” so it is possible that the spirits are fallen angels, perhaps the demons who influenced the “sons of God” into mating with the “daughters of men” in Genesis 6. Christ would not have “preached” salvation to lost sinners or to fallen angels, and the Bible does not say that Christ went to the place of everlasting torment we call hell, although many people mistakenly derive that idea from:

He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.

Acts 2:31

This verse is actually quoting David in Psalm 16:10, speaking of sheol, the realm of the dead.

Some commentators believe that Christ went to preach to the Old Testament saints in the afterlife (“Abraham’s Bosom”) between His death on the Cross and His Resurrection, but this is not likely. Most Scripture supports absence from the body as being present with the Lord for believers.

Unbelievers are separated from God after death, and their damnation is finally determined at that point, although they have not yet been finally judged and cast into the lake of fire.

To understand I Peter 3:20 it is crucial to look at the context.

For it is better, if the will of God be so, that ye suffer for well doing, than for evil doing. For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

I Peter 3:17-18

The theme is “suffering.”

Thou hast ascended on high, thou hast led captivity captive: thou hast received gifts for men; yea, for the rebellious also, that the LORD God might dwell among them.

Psalm 68:18

This verse is quoted in the New Testament also:

Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men.

Ephesians 4:8

Christ made a public display of defeating Satan – a “triumph” is what the people in ancient Rome would have called it – but this public display is what we call the Crucifixion and the Ascension. It is not something that occurred during the the time when Jesus was in the grave – or wherever His Spirit was before His body was resurrected. I Peter 3:19 does say He went and preached unto the spirits in prison, but I think that is talking about His Spirit preaching through the obedience of Noah in the days of Noah. That is why Noah is brought up next.

Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water.

I Peter 3:20

Elsewhere, the Holy Spirit had Peter call Noah a preacher of righteousness.

For if God spared not the angels that sinned, but cast them down to hell, and delivered them into chains of darkness, to be reserved unto judgment; And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;

II Peter 2:4-5

The Holy Spirit – Christ’s Spirit – preached through the actions of Noah, preaching condemnation, but also righteousness, through Noah’s obedience.

Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was a preparing, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water. The like figure whereunto even baptism doth also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ:

I Peter 3:20-21

The same waters that condemned the world saved Noah, which is pictured in New Testament baptism. The same grave that tried to condemn Christ – and made it look like a victory for Satan – turned around and brought about Christ’s ultimate victory, as He used it to “preach” (“proclaim”) His authority and power over EVERYTHING having to do with sin: death, hell, the grave, principalities, powers, this world’s authorities, flesh, fallen angels, Satan.

Remember, we’re talking about suffering: the just suffering for the unjust. Christ could have beaten all His enemies without suffering, but He wanted to save the unjust: you and me.

Marriage Should Not be Secret

September 24, 2018 at 2:53 pm | Posted in Isaiah, Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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After the initial novelty of marriage wears off, it can be easy for some spouses to view our marriages as just a fact of everyday life – part of who we are and what we are allowed and not allowed to do because of the fact that we are married. Even Christian spouses, if not regularly involved in church ministry that emphasizes the importance of marriage, can forget that what is taught in the Bible must be applied not only to how we think about marriage, but how we live within our marriages. Most secular marriage counseling, and even much church-related marriage counseling and teaching, focuses on things like finances, parenting, scheduling and time management, jobs and careers, hobbies, communication, etc. If we’re not careful we’ll spend so much time and energy trying to figure those things out, that we will miss the significance of God’s true intentions for marriage, and will fail to plumb the depths of the greatest source of wisdom concerning marriage: the Word of God.

For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth. And the Gentiles shall see thy righteousness, and all kings thy glory: and thou shalt be called by a new name, which the mouth of the LORD shall name. Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God. Thou shalt no more be termed Forsaken; neither shall thy land any more be termed Desolate: but thou shalt be called Hephzibah, and thy land Beulah: for the LORD delighteth in thee, and thy land shall be married.

Isaiah 62:1-4

The children that God has entrusted into my care as a father have some pretty unusual names, and people have been known to occasionally give them a hard time because of it. For this reason, I’m the last person to make fun of someone’s name. However, there are some names – names that in years past were popular – that have simply gone out of style, and that you just don’t hear much anymore. Take, for example, the name “Beulah.” Do you know anyone named Beulah? It was a fairly popular name from 1890 to 1911 (which also happens to be the year that the famous hymn “Dwelling in Beulah Land” was published). In 1901 almost 4000 out of every one million baby girls were named Beulah. However, the popularity of the name plummeted rapidly after the turn of the 20th Century, and last year only ten out of every one million baby girls were named Beulah.

In Isaiah 62:4 the name Beulah means “married,” but the context is not, strictly speaking, marriage itself. Isaiah 62 is talking about how God will restore exiled Israel, and, in a greater sense, how He will regenerate, renew, and restore all His people in the New Covenant Church. However, it is a very relevant passage on the topic of literal marriage because it gives insight into how God – the Creator of marriage – expects marriage to be.

I. Marriage should not be a secret.

For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace…

Isiah 62:1

To hold our peace means to be quiet. We should not be quiet about our marriages. They are great vehicles for glorifying God. Fallen sinners do not naturally (nor should they) trust and commit to each other, but as Christians we do not wear the label of fallen sinners as our primary identity. We have been redeemed by God’s grace, and we are allowed and encouraged to advertise this reality.

… I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.

Isaiah 62:1

Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Matthew 5:14-16

Three groups of people immediately come to mind when I think about those who need to hear that Christian marriage is absolutely wonderful:

A. Young people who will soon be of the age to consider marriage or possibly get married

Marriage is not for everyone, but it is for most, and it is a great gift from God. It should be seen as a goal strive for and a victory to obtain, not as the end of freedom and the beginning of a life sentence of fun-denial.

B. Non-Christians

Whenever I see a pagan couple who claims to have a happy marriage, it is bittersweet. I’m thankful for the “common” grace of God that keeps them from killing each other, but I know that their marriage could be so much better.

C. People having marriage problems (whether they are Christian or not)

Every time you speak of your marriage you might be giving marriage advice or acting as a marriage counselor, whether you intend to be or not. The last thing someone struggling in his/her/their marriage needs to hear is another complaint or gripe about marriage. People need encouragement. They need to see how wonderful marriage truly can be. Is it bragging or boasting to sound off about how much we love our marriages? No! Because people are supposed to see our “good works” not so they can glorify US, but so that they may glorify OUR FATHER which is in Heaven!

For Zion’s sake will I not hold my peace, and for Jerusalem’s sake I will not rest, until the righteousness thereof go forth as brightness, and the salvation thereof as a lamp that burneth.

Isaiah 62:1

Don’t be bashful or withdrawn about your marriage. A torch is given for the purpose of lighting up the darkness and showing off the Truth.

Next time we will see the importance of spiritual growth within our marriages.

A Newlywed Pounding?

September 20, 2018 at 12:38 pm | Posted in Q&A | 2 Comments
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Question: Now I know what a “pounding” is in the context of church, but I still don’t know why it’s called that.

Answer: You’re referring to the practice of welcoming homeowners into a new home by helping them stock their pantry with groceries. I sympathize. The first time my wife and I heard about it in church (many years ago), they were calling it a “newlywed pounding,” and boy did we giggle through the rest of the service. Actually, my wife giggled, and I chuckled manfully in a deep baritone, but you get the idea. So we looked it up after church, and it seems to have originally been a Quaker practice, from the days when most food item staples were purchased by the pound: a pound of sugar, a pound of flour, a pound of butter, etc. Personally, I think it’s one of those things (like “potluck dinner”) that could probably use a name makeover.

Jesus’s Power Over Circumstances

September 17, 2018 at 3:00 pm | Posted in Luke | 1 Comment
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After demonstrating His power over the weather and over demons, Jesus demonstrated His power over disease.

And, behold, there came a man named Jairus, and he was a ruler of the synagogue: and he fell down at Jesus’ feet, and besought him that he would come into his house:

Luke 8:41

Jairus was wealthy, powerful, and influential, yet he had no power in or of himself to save his beloved daughter.

For he had one only daughter, about twelve years of age, and she lay a dying. But as he went the people thronged him. And a woman having an issue of blood twelve years, which had spent all her living upon physicians, neither could be healed of any,

Luke 8:42-43

Jairus’s daughter was 12 years old, and this lady had been sick for 12 years. Unlike Jairus, the lady was neither powerful nor wealthy – in fact, just the opposite.

Came behind him, and touched the border of his garment: and immediately her issue of blood stanched. And Jesus said, Who touched me? When all denied, Peter and they that were with him said, Master, the multitude throng thee and press thee, and sayest thou, Who touched me? And Jesus said, Somebody hath touched me: for I perceive that virtue is gone out of me. And when the woman saw that she was not hid, she came trembling, and falling down before him, she declared unto him before all the people for what cause she had touched him, and how she was healed immediately. And he said unto her, Daughter, be of good comfort: thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace. While he yet spake, there cometh one from the ruler of the synagogue’s house, saying to him, Thy daughter is dead; trouble not the Master. But when Jesus heard it , he answered him, saying, Fear not: believe only, and she shall be made whole. And when he came into the house, he suffered no man to go in, save Peter, and James, and John, and the father and the mother of the maiden. And all wept, and bewailed her: but he said, Weep not; she is not dead, but sleepeth. And they laughed him to scorn, knowing that she was dead. And he put them all out, and took her by the hand, and called, saying, Maid, arise. And her spirit came again, and she arose straightway: and he commanded to give her meat.

Luke 8:44-55

Jesus’s Disciples thought He had arrived too late to save Jairus’s daughter, but they failed to fully grasp that Jesus has power not only over the weather, demons, and disease, but also the minutest circumstances. No one is too wealthy to need Jesus and no one is too far gone to be helped by Jesus. That’s the most important thing you can do for anyone with any kind of a problem: get them to Jesus.

The Prophet’s Reprieve

September 13, 2018 at 2:12 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | 1 Comment
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Some Bible commentators believe that Jeremiah 26 contains a second “temple sermon,” the first one being found in Jeremiah Chapter 7, but others believe that Chapter 26 references the same sermon, with an added emphasis on what happened after the sermon. Much of the Book of Jeremiah is non-chronological, so it is tough know for sure.

In the beginning of the reign of Jehoiakim the son of Josiah king of Judah came this word from the Lord, saying, Thus saith the Lord; Stand in the court of the Lord’s house, and speak unto all the cities of Judah, which come to worship in the Lord’s house, all the words that I command thee to speak unto them; diminish not a word: If so be they will hearken, and turn every man from his evil way, that I may repent me of the evil, which I purpose to do unto them because of the evil of their doings.

Jeremiah 26:1-3

These verses, and on down through Verse 6, sound like a summary of the temple sermon from Chapter 7, but the intervening chapters have given us more details and the backstory on the operations of Jeremiah’s enemies, and the conflict that existed between him (as a true prophet) and the false prophets. The false prophets did not always shout Jeremiah down. At times they listened to what he said with ears of unbelief, hoping to trap him or twist his words to use against him. They also, at times, mocked him for what he said. The Pharisees behaved similarly with Jesus, trying to trap Him and deliberately taking His Words out of context, especially after they perceived that He had generated enough support among the common people to make it difficult for them to simply put Him to death with impunity.

So the priests and the prophets and all the people heard Jeremiah speaking these words in the house of the Lord. Now it came to pass, when Jeremiah had made an end of speaking all that the Lord had commanded him to speak unto all the people, that the priests and the prophets and all the people took him, saying, Thou shalt surely die.

Jeremiah 26:7-8

This almost makes it sound like an angry mob scene, and I’m sure there was plenty of hostility, but it was really the commencement of a legal proceeding – what we would call a trial – against Jeremiah. There were four groups of people here: priests (the Temple leaders); (false) prophets; and “all” the people (the crowd). Conspicuously absent from the list are the “princes” – the civil leaders or government office holders or advisers to the king.

Why hast thou prophesied in the name of the Lord, saying, This house shall be like Shiloh, and this city shall be desolate without an inhabitant? And all the people were gathered against Jeremiah in the house of the Lord.

Jeremiah 26:9

These are the formal charges, which amounted to a charge of blasphemy based on the fact that Jeremiah pointed out the destruction of Shiloh despite the presence of the Tabernacle there, and said that the same fate would befall Jerusalem despite the presence of the current Temple, where he had just preached and was now being tried.

At this point the princes make their appearance.

When the princes of Judah heard these things, then they came up from the king’s house unto the house of the Lord, and sat down in the entry of the new gate of the Lord’s house. Then spake the priests and the prophets unto the princes and to all the people, saying, This man is worthy to die; for he hath prophesied against this city, as ye have heard with your ears.

Jeremiah 26:10-11

Jeremiah didn’t really “defend himself” with any sort of legal maneuvering or sophisticated argumentation. He knew that whatever he had said when he was prophesying/preaching was just a recitation of what God Himself had told him. He told his accusers to repent or perish. The Babylonian invaders had already invaded the city and deported a vast number of Judeans.

Then said the princes and all the people unto the priests and to the prophets; This man is not worthy to die: for he hath spoken to us in the name of the Lord our God.

Jeremiah 26:16

The princes sided with Jeremiah, validating his prophetic credentials, and even the crowd apparently was swayed by his integrity. Of course, nobody really repented, but at least God made it so that public opinion was momentarily opposed to executing His servant.

Another of the Lord’s prophets, Uriah, did not receive the same result.

And there was also a man that prophesied in the name of the Lord, Urijah the son of Shemaiah of Kirjathjearim, who prophesied against this city and against this land according to all the words of Jeremiah. And when Jehoiakim the king, with all his mighty men, and all the princes, heard his words, the king sought to put him to death: but when Urijah heard it, he was afraid, and fled, and went into Egypt; And Jehoiakim the king sent men into Egypt, namely, Elnathan the son of Achbor, and certain men with him into Egypt. And they fetched forth Urijah out of Egypt, and brought him unto Jehoiakim the king; who slew him with the sword, and cast his dead body into the graves of the common people. Nevertheless the hand of Ahikam the son of Shaphan was with Jeremiah, that they should not give him into the hand of the people to put him to death.

Jeremiah 26:20-24

How to Fight Evil

September 11, 2018 at 12:39 pm | Posted in I Peter | 3 Comments
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As Christians, we are being prepared for glory. We should be prepared for being prepared. Look for opportunities to show God’s glory, and then you will see coming trials as opportunities instead of obstacles.

Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.

I Peter 3:8

In order to prepare for trials we must begin to sow the seeds of love among each other. Normally, we speak of the principles of the harvest in relation to reaching the lost, but love among the brethren (including the “sistren!”) is also something we must “cultivate.” If we can’t love our friends and family, we will never be able to love our enemies.

There are three levels to fighting that involves evil:
1. Fighting good with evil is the Satanic level.
2. Fighting evil with evil (or returning good for good) is the earthly – or fleshly – level. Sadly, most Christians hover at this level.
3. Fighting evil with good is the Godly level – the Christ-like level.

For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile: Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it. For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.

I Peter 3:10-12

This level will require vigilance in four areas:

1. We must control our tongues. Don’t be like many preachers who are quick to condemn Peter as a hot-head, and an example of someone who was always writing checks with his mouth that his actual conduct couldn’t cash, for we are often just as bad, and many times much worse.

2. We must have a hatred of sin. As we cultivate the garden of love, we must aggressively pull out weeds.

3. We must go out of our way to pursue peace – to be a thermostat, not just a thermometer.

But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

I Peter 3:15

4. We must sanctify Christ as our Lord. The fear of Him keeps us from being afraid of anything else. I should be afraid to rebel against Him. I should not be afraid to commit my life to Him. His will is perfect (Romans 12:2).

We must be prepared to give an answer, but we are witnesses, not prosecutors.

Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ.

I Peter 3:16

We must constantly maintain (perform maintenance on) our conscience. Con means “with” and “science” means “knowledge.” Our conscience is what we “know with.” It is like a mirror. It should show the truth, but it only works when there’s light. If a mirror gets dirty, it gets distorted. It can make us think we’re okay, that we look fine, when we are not okay, or when we’re actually filthy. If it keeps getting dirty, eventually it gets blackened. It shuts out all light, and we are left thinking good is evil, and evil is good.

Lord, I pray that the light of Your Truth would shine brightly into our lives – even if it is painful at first. Help us to love the light and reflect the light. Help us to be glory reflectors, shining Your light on a dark, dark world. Please bless those who gather to obey You, and those who have applied themselves to the study of Your Word to show themselves approved. Help us to be unashamed workers. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.

Does God have to Investigate the Future?

September 6, 2018 at 9:57 am | Posted in Q&A | Leave a comment
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Question: A while back, I was listening to a sermon on Ephesians Chapter 1, and I was having trouble understanding the idea of predestination, even though I couldn’t say it’s not a real thing when I read Verses 3-5: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ: According as he hath chosen us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before him in love: Having predestinated us unto the adoption of children by Jesus Christ to himself, according to the good pleasure of his will,”

Then, I realized that God can see the future, so He just looked ahead into time, and saw the ones who would choose Jesus, and then He predestined them to be saved. Is that the right understanding?

Answer: I don’t want to discourage your acceptance of the doctrine of predestination, because you are right in saying that it is clearly spelled out in those verses (and others), but there are two problems with your understanding of it.

1. God is omniscient and immutable and eternal. This means that He knows everything, and there has never been a time when He did not know everything, and His knowledge cannot grow or diminish, and, therefore, He can never learn anything new. Your theory has God looking ahead in time to see what people will do, and thereby acquiring some new information, and this is not possible with God (Psalm 147:5).

2. For God to base His decision as to who will be saved on finding out who will make the wise choice to trust in Christ, He would have to accept the merit of human beings in the salvation that He offers by His free grace, and that is a contradiction in terms. We add no merit, including human wisdom or making good choices, to God’s salvation. He receives all the glory for it. Since it is by grace, we have no reason to boast, for we contributed nothing to it. The only reason anybody ever has chosen, or ever will choose, Christ, is because God first chose him or her (II Timothy 1:9; Romans 11:6; Titus 3:5: Ephesians 2:8-9).

The Nude Dude in a Rude Mood

September 4, 2018 at 11:34 am | Posted in Luke | 3 Comments
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In Luke 8:22-25 Jesus demonstrated His power over the weather by calming a storm with a simple command as He and the Disciples were sailing across the Sea of Galilee.

He went on to demonstrate His power over demons.

And they arrived at the country of the Gadarenes, which is over against Galilee. And when he went forth to land, there met him out of the city a certain man, which had devils long time, and ware no clothes, neither abode in any house, but in the tombs.

Luke 8:26-27 (emphasis added)

This crazy man living in the graveyard, naked, is often referred to as the “Gadarene Demoniac.”

When he saw Jesus, he cried out, and fell down before him, and with a loud voice said, What have I to do with thee, Jesus, thou Son of God most high? I beseech thee, torment me not. (For he had commanded the unclean spirit to come out of the man. For oftentimes it had caught him: and he was kept bound with chains and in fetters; and he brake the bands, and was driven of the devil into the wilderness.)

Luke 8:28-29 (emphasis added)

And Jesus asked him, saying, What is thy name? And he said, Legion: because many devils were entered into him. And they besought him that he would not command them to go out into the deep. And there was there an herd of many swine feeding on the mountain: and they besought him that he would suffer them to enter into them. And he suffered them. Then went the devils out of the man, and entered into the swine: and the herd ran violently down a steep place into the lake, and were choked. When they that fed them saw what was done, they fled, and went and told it in the city and in the country. Then they went out to see what was done; and came to Jesus, and found the man, out of whom the devils were departed, sitting at the feet of Jesus, clothed, and in his right mind: and they were afraid.

Luke 8:30-35 (emphasis added)

Being properly dressed is a sign of sanity. Clothes were invented by God as a reminder that we are not what we once were, but that our sins can be covered by the righteousness of Christ. Saved people have entered back into a right relationship with God, but not (with the exception of Christian marriage) into the “naked and unashamed” condition that Adam and Eve enjoyed before the Fall. One reason why immodest dress is unbiblical is that clothes should not draw attention to what they are meant to cover up.


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