Sobering Up, Sobering Down, Sobering All Around

October 31, 2018 at 2:18 pm | Posted in I Peter | Leave a comment
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As Christians our attitude as we are being prepared for glory (especially in suffering) should be an attitude of expectancy. But how do we maintain this attitude? We can’t just go around looking up at the sky, hoping that Jesus will come back any second, and ignoring everything around us. We can’t be lazy, but we can’t be overly fanatical either (although, for those of us who have seen much apathy on the part of those who ought to be serving Christ zealously, it would seem something of a relief to have to cool down a hot-headed fanatic rather than trying to warm up a bunch of corpses).

But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

I Peter 4:7 (emphasis added)

“Be ye therefore sober” in that verse means to keep your mind steady and clear – to “stay cool,” to “chill out.” The opposite of “sober-minded” is “mania” or “frenzy.” At least 12 times in the Bible, the exhortation or option is given to be “sober” (II Corinthians 5:13; I Thessalonians 5:6,8; I Timothy 3:2, 11; Titus 1:8, 2:2,4,6; I Peter 1:13, 4:7, 5:8).

Revelation Chapter 12 is a great chapter to study and apply, but do not base your entire Christian life on Revelation Chapter 12. Some people are so excited about proving their interpretation of end-times prophecy that it’s like they think they’re on the planning committee. We need to move from the planning committee to the welcoming committee. When is Christ coming back? When He’s good and ready (and He’s already good).

But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

I Peter 4:7 (emphasis added)

And he cometh, and findeth them sleeping, and saith unto Peter, Simon, sleepest thou? couldest not thou watch one hour? Watch ye and pray, lest ye enter into temptation. The spirit truly is ready, but the flesh is weak. And again he went away, and prayed, and spake the same words. And when he returned, he found them asleep again, (for their eyes were heavy,) neither wist they what to answer him.

Mark 14:37-40

This may give us some insight into why the Holy Ghost used Peter to write I Peter 4:7. Like all of us, at one time he needed to learn the importance of being sober and praying.

And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

I Peter 4:8

Hatred stirreth up strifes: but love covereth all sins.

Proverbs 10:12

Love covers sins, the way that Japheth and Shem covered Noah’s sin, although Ham wanted to turn it into a spectacle.

Use hospitality one to another without grudging.

I Peter 4:9

It is important for Christians to share the homes that God allows them to manage.

As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.

I Peter 4:10

Identify and use your spiritual gift(s), or, more practically, USE and identify your spiritual gift(s).

If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.

I Peter 4:11

Marriage Should Not be Spurious

October 29, 2018 at 3:28 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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In previous lessons in this series on Isaiah 62:1-4, I said that marriage should not be secret or static. Now will see that marriage should not be spurious.

Thou shalt also be a crown of glory in the hand of the LORD, and a royal diadem in the hand of thy God.

Isaiah 62:3

Crowns and diadems are terms of royalty, sovereignty, ruling and reigning, kingship, but what do they have to do with marriage?

And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.

Genesis 1:26 (emphasis added)

Men and women are made in the image of God. We are to be accurate representatives of Him in His earth, and we are to exercise authority over every aspect of life in a way that shows Who He really is and what He is really like.

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them. And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.

Genesis 1:27-28

This is so-called “dominion mandate.” We are to subdue the earth and make it fruitful and productive and a place where every nook and cranny of it glorifies the Creator.

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him.

Genesis 2:18

Eve was a helper that was perfectly suited to Adam, but to help him do what? To help him accurately express God’s image in God’s world by exercising dominion and being fruitful. God made sure Adam understood this.

And out of the ground the LORD God formed every beast of the field, and every fowl of the air; and brought them unto Adam to see what he would call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living creature, that was the name thereof. And Adam gave names to all cattle, and to the fowl of the air, and to every beast of the field; but for Adam there was not found an help meet for him. And the LORD God caused a deep sleep to fall upon Adam, and he slept: and he took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh instead thereof; And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man.

Genesis 2:19-22

This was the first wedding and the first marriage. This was before sin entered into the world, so this is our ideal for Christian marriage.

And Adam said, This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.

Genesis 2:23-24

Marriage gives us joy, it gives us companionship, it gives us pleasure, it gives us friendship. It is good for problem-solving. It produces new human beings so that Jesus will get new disciples. But it is very much about symbolizing the crown of God’s royal authority in this world, and the diadem in His hand whereby He issues forth His Word. Married couples play a key role in bringing God’s will to pass and enforcing it in the world, so we must not be spurious image-bearers. We must not be out of order, with the wife leading when she should be following, and the husband following when he should be leading. We must not be at odds with each, any more than the Persons of the Trinity are at odds with each other, and we must not drop out of the world out of fear or laziness, and let it run to ruin. We are ambassadors of an invisible King, so we must make His presence known with our marriages, in order to bear His image accurately and genuinely (which is the opposite of spuriously).

In the next lesson we will see that marriage must not be somber.

Motivated by Fear?

October 26, 2018 at 9:25 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment
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Question: When I get tempted to sin, sometimes I overcome temptation out of fear of going to hell. Is this a sinful motivation?

Answer: There are two separate issues to address here. First, someone who has truly been born again is never in danger of going to hell. Christians are tempted to sin all the time, but someone who has truly been born again will be helped by the Lord, rather than condemned, when he or she faces temptation. If anyone reading this has any doubt whatsoever as to whether he or she has truly been born again, please click here, read the referenced Bible verses, believe them, and call upon Christ to save you this very moment.

Second, fear of the Lord is not a bad motivation for overcoming temptation and avoiding sin, as long as it accompanied by the motivation of remembering that Christ died and rose again to set you free from, not just the penalty for sin, but also the POWER of sin, and then to remember that all temptations faced by true Christians come to us pre-allowed by God Himself with built-in escape routes.

There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

I Corinthians 10:13

The But Chapter: Incomprehension, Indecision, and Ignorance

October 24, 2018 at 11:12 am | Posted in Luke | 1 Comment
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There are 16 buts in Luke 9. “But” can be a cop-out word that often simply nullifies whatever we say before it. “Honey, I think you look beautiful today, BUT…” “I promise I am going to clean up the house, BUT…” However, the “buts” in Luke 9 are very instructive.

1. The But of Incomprehension

Jesus gave the disciples their instructions, and then:

And they departed, and went through the towns, preaching the gospel, and healing every where. Now Herod the tetrarch heard of all that was done by him: and he was perplexed, because that it was said of some, that John was risen from the dead;

Luke 9:6-7

Herod was baffled and confused. He didn’t seem to comprehend the ministry of Jesus and His disciples. Herod had ordered the beheading of John the Baptist, and it may be that he knew it was wrong, and that his conscience was bothering him.

And of some, that Elias had appeared; and of others, that one of the old prophets was risen again. And Herod said, John have I beheaded: but who is this, of whom I hear such things? And he desired to see him.

Luke 9:8-9 (emphasis added)

Some people were speculating that Jesus might actually be Elijah or another one of the Old Testament prophets resurrected, but Herod did not comprehend who Jesus was. Is that YOUR problem, too? You can’t really be a Christian without knowing Jesus, but a DISCIPLE needs to not only KNOW Him personally (although that is of paramount importance), but also to keep knowing more and more about Him. Disciples need to know His attributes and principles and precepts. Perhaps you aren’t following Jesus like you should, and it’s a little similar to what Herod was experiencing. Something is bothering you. You know that you need to be serving Jesus in different ways and with more passion, but have you really comprehended WHO HE IS? You are wondering: Will He leave me or forsake me? Will He forget to repay my costs and my hurts? Just how trustworthy is He? What does He think about people like me? What does He think about the people around me? Jesus does not have to be incomprehensible to us. Herod desired to SEE Him. If you desire to see Him, you can.

But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.

Hebrews 2:9 (emphasis added)

First, see Him on the Cross – a Man suffering and dying for you. You will comprehend that He loves you. Then see Him seated in glory at the Father’s right hand. You will comprehend that He is victorious.

For it became him, for whom are all things, and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons unto glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings. For both he that sanctifieth and they who are sanctified are all of one: for which cause he is not ashamed to call them brethren,

Hebrews 2:10-11

This promise will demolish any “but” of incomprehension that stands in your way. Jesus has suffered what you have suffered – and MORE than you have suffered – yet He is not ashamed to call you “brother” or “sister.”

2. The But of Indecision

It doesn’t always work out this way when you compare the Gospel accounts, but you can look in Luke 9 and Mark 9 and see the same incident.

And it came to pass, that on the next day, when they were come down from the hill, much people met him. And, behold, a man of the company cried out, saying, Master, I beseech thee, look upon my son: for he is mine only child. And, lo, a spirit taketh him, and he suddenly crieth out; and it teareth him that he foameth again, and bruising him hardly departeth from him. And I besought thy disciples to cast him out; and they could not.

Luke 9:37-40

Here was a child possessed by a violent demonic spirit, yet Jesus’s disciples could not cast the demon out. Mark gives a parallel account of the incident:

When Jesus saw that the people came running together, he rebuked the foul spirit, saying unto him, Thou dumb and deaf spirit, I charge thee, come out of him, and enter no more into him. And the spirit cried, and rent him sore, and came out of him: and he was as one dead; insomuch that many said, He is dead. But Jesus took him by the hand, and lifted him up; and he arose. And when he was come into the house, his disciples asked him privately, Why could not we cast him out? And he said unto them, This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.

Mark 9:25-29 (emphasis added)

Now you can see why the disciples could not deal with this demonic spirit. They believed they had authority, BUT they were undecided about what was wrong. They had not prepared. How in the world are we going to know what to do when we face an unexpected spiritual battle if we haven’t been preparing by prayer and intense serious devotion to God? If I don’t meditate on His Word – in prayer, too – then I’m going to wind up on my “butt” when the first tough ministry opportunity knocks me right down.

And Jesus answering said, O faithless and perverse generation, how long shall I be with you, and suffer you? Bring thy son hither. And as he was yet a coming, the devil threw him down, and tare him. And Jesus rebuked the unclean spirit, and healed the child, and delivered him again to his father. And they were all amazed at the mighty power of God. BUT while they wondered every one at all things which Jesus did, he said unto his disciples,

Luke 9:41-44

Don’t get caught “wondering” in the “but of indecision” while it’s time to act. Be prepared.

3. The But of Ignorance

Let these sayings sink down into your ears: for the Son of man shall be delivered into the hands of men.

Luke 9:44

Jesus’s disciples knew by this time that He was referring to Himself when He used the prophetic title “Son of Man.” They also knew that “delivered into the hands of men” meant taken captive by His enemies – most likely through betrayal – for punishment, torture, and death. Why didn’t this have a bigger impact on them?

BUT they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying.

Luke 9:45 (emphasis added)

They were ignorant of what Jesus came to do. Is that the “but” of your problem when it’s time to serve Jesus? Are you really ignorant of exactly what Jesus came to do? Was He a good role model? Yes, but you are ignorant if you think that’s the message of Jesus’s Gospel. Was He a good example – willing to serve others even to the point of laying down His life as the ultimate example? Yes, but you are ignorant if that’s what you think His real message was and is. Was He on the right track, but He just got overcome by the evil in this world, so we honor Him for “a good try?” That’s romantic and heroic, but you are ignorant if you think that’s what the Gospel of Jesus is about.

But they understood not this saying, and it was hid from them, that they perceived it not: and they feared to ask him of that saying.

Luke 9:45 (emphasis added)

We can’t be afraid of facing what Jesus really came to do. We can’t be afraid to tell people that He suffered and died, and that it was a bloody gruesome death, and that God forsook Him on the Cross and emptied the cup of wrath on His head. We’re afraid to talk about that because of its implications. Why was the death of the Son of God so awful – so horrible – so atrociously bloody? Because you and I were so wicked, so vile, so perverse, so at enmity with God, so undeserving of the love wherewith He loved us. We can’t remain ignorant of those facts, and we can’t let others “but” their way around that Truth. We needed an awesome Savior because we were awful sinners.

Next time we will look at the “buts” of immaturity and independence.

Douglas Wilson: S.W.I.M. to Get Out of Secularism

October 22, 2018 at 12:49 pm | Posted in Quotes | Leave a comment
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We are finite, we are sinners, and we are lost. We need a word from God. We need gospel. We need Christ. And you can tell how bumfuzzled we all are in that the Christians are the first group that needs to learn how important Christ is. The evangelicals are the first group that needs to learn that the parliaments of earth need the evangel. We are not going to be able to get secularists out of their secularism until we get out of it. Somebody needs to get all the lifeguards off the bottom of the pool. That would be a good start.

Douglas Wilson

Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.

II Corinthians 6:17

Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.

Colossians 2:8

Suffering, Sin, and Sobriety

October 19, 2018 at 3:15 pm | Posted in I Peter | 2 Comments
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Forasmuch then as Christ hath suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that hath suffered in the flesh hath ceased from sin;

I Peter 4:1

Christ did not cease from His own sin, because He had no sin, but the principle that suffering in the flesh can bring about a cessation from sin helps us prepare for not giving in to sin when suffering comes, and it prepares us to arm ourselves against the temptation to sin that often accompanies suffering.

Suffering is not always caused by a specific sin in a direct one-to-one relationship, but, even when we see suffering as the result of sin, the Devil still often manages to trick us by using our suffering as a temptation TO sin. We need to recall Christ’s resistance against temptation when He suffered for sin that wasn’t even His own.

That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God.

I Peter 4:2

The will of God is perfect. Therefore, it should bring contentment, if not outright enjoyment or ecstatic pleasure. However, we’re often so anxious to get more without giving up what we already have. What would make me think God would entrust me with more spiritual blessings if I haven’t even obeyed Him in my use of the ones He’s already entrusted to me? If God has commanded me to do something, it OUGHT to be done, and if it OUGHT to be done, it CAN be done, through the power and grace of God.

For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries:

I Peter 4:3

When we look back at our pre-conversion days, we must not make the excuse of “just” being trapped in sin. We were not Christians on the inside, just waiting for Christ to cut the strings on the package so we could burst free. No, let’s be honest. We enjoyed sin. We wanted sin more than we wanted holiness, and, in some cases, even salvation. Now, don’t let the Devil beat you up over this and give you a false reason to be defeated. We were slaves to sin, but we weren’t totally miserable in every sense, or we wouldn’t have been so good at it. When we remember this, we won’t get so exasperated with people who meet our attempts to share the Gospel with a reply of, “Come on, join the party.”

Wherein they think it strange that ye run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you:

I Peter 4:4

Light is strong, but light is not always popular. A child lost in the woods, cold, scared, and hungry, rejoices to see a light and runs to it. But the barroom crowd hates the light, and they’ll likely throw a beer bottle at you for shining it in their face.

Who shall give account to him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead.

I Peter 4:5

Lost people are heading toward a judgment date with the most terrible Judge of all; they don’t need us to judge them.

For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit.

I Peter 4:6

That’s not talking about folks who are physically dead. If they died without receiving Christ, we can’t pray enough, pay enough, or light enough candles to bring them to eternal life. It’s talking about the spiritually dead judging the living – people lost in sin causing suffering for living saints now, and not even being able to see that they will one day be judged themselves. This type of suffering, though, conforms us to the image of Christ, teaching us to be longsuffering, patient, slow to anger.

But the end of all things is at hand: be ye therefore sober, and watch unto prayer.

I Peter 4:7

If you are a Christian experiencing suffering, financial problems, or the temptation to sin right now, and it is causing you, in panic, to turn to whichever religious charlatan is offering you a quick-fix scheme, chill out. You don’t have to run around your house “pleading the blood,” doing incantations and spells around every window sill and door frame to ward off the attack of the Devil. Be sober. Gird up the loins of your mind. Get your eyes fixed on God’s glory. Stay right on the line of the Word and His will. Watch and pray. Be vigilant and militant and harsh about sin in your life. The Devil can’t beat you up unless you fall asleep on your watch.

The Woke Bloke Who Broke the Yoke

October 15, 2018 at 3:53 pm | Posted in Jeremiah | 1 Comment
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Jeremiah Chapter 28 features a false prophet named Hananiah who stepped up to face Jeremiah and to challenge his message and authority. Even more dangerous than disregarding the Word of God is claiming that you yourself have a “word” from God when you do not. AND, even more dangerous still, is doubling down and claiming that God’s actual Word is false because it contradicts your own word. If you are partial to the Charismatic school of prophecy claims that God is giving extrabiblical revelation privately to “anointed” individuals today, then please take heed of this: Not all violations of God’s Old Testament law were considered to be capital offenses, but false prophecy certainly was.

Despite the risk involved with contradicting God and challenging His true prophecies, Satan has never had any difficulty in finding people willing to do it. Here, it would appear that his servant was the false prophet Hananiah.

And it came to pass the same year, in the beginning of the reign of Zedekiah king of Judah, in the fourth year, and in the fifth month, that Hananiah the son of Azur the prophet, which was of Gibeon, spake unto me in the house of the Lord, in the presence of the priests and of all the people, saying, Thus speaketh the Lord of hosts, the God of Israel, saying, I have broken the yoke of the king of Babylon.

Jeremiah 28:1-2

This is a reference to, and refutation of, Jeremiah’s use of the ox-yoke as a symbol of how the people’s only hope now lay in submitting themselves to the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar.

Within two full years will I bring again into this place all the vessels of the Lord’s house, that Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon took away from this place, and carried them to Babylon:

Jeremiah 28:3

Hananiah claimed that God told him the captives would be returned in two years, along with the accessories and implements used in Temple worship. This was another contradiction against Jeremiah, who, back in Chapter 25, had already revealed that God intended for the Babylonian captivity to last seventy years, not two years!

No doubt this emboldened the conspirators/ambassadors who had met together to form a secret alliance against Nebuchadnezzar. Here was a brash prophet claiming to speak in Yahweh’s name just like Jeremiah did, but saying that God would help them in their scheme. You can be sure that you will always find someone to support your unbiblical ideas if you look hard enough.

The prophets that have been before me and before thee of old prophesied both against many countries, and against great kingdoms, of war, and of evil, and of pestilence. The prophet which prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the Lord hath truly sent him.

Jeremiah 28:8-9

Jeremiah, realizing that competing claims to speak for Yahweh were giving excuses for the leaders to put their faith in the false Hananiah, reminded them of the prophetic tradition of which he was clearly a part. It’s not that God NEVER sent prophets to encourage people with messages of hope; it’s just that He did not lie and proclaim “peace” through His prophets to people who were in clear breach of the Deuteronomic Covenant. And, more importantly, Jeremiah’s previous prophecies had already been confirmed. Many of them had already come to pass. Beware of counselors in your life who coddle you in your sin, or who never tell you hard truth.

Hananiah’s pride would not let him accept a wait-and-see proposition to determine who was really speaking God’s truth here. He became either very angry or very dramatic.

Then Hananiah the prophet took the yoke from off the prophet Jeremiah’s neck, and brake it.

Jeremiah 28:10

He snatched Jeremiah’s yoke from his neck and broke it. (Apparently Hananiah was a pretty strong dude.)

And Hananiah spake in the presence of all the people, saying, Thus saith the Lord; Even so will I break the yoke of Nebuchadnezzar king of Babylon from the neck of all nations within the space of two full years. And the prophet Jeremiah went his way.

Jeremiah 28:11

He acknowledged Jeremiah’s interpretation of the yoke as a symbol of Nebuchadnezzar’s dominance/protection, but, by breaking it, he was saying that God would break Nebuchadnezzar’s hold over the nations in two years. We can imagine everybody in the crowd looking at Jeremiah, who was not known for being violent, but WAS certainly known for being passionate and something of a loose cannon in their view… but he just meekly walked away.

He was not gone for long, however.

Then the word of the Lord came unto Jeremiah the prophet, after that Hananiah the prophet had broken the yoke from off the neck of the prophet Jeremiah, saying, Go and tell Hananiah, saying, Thus saith the Lord; Thou hast broken the yokes of wood; but thou shalt make for them yokes of iron.

Jeremiah 28:12-13

He came back wearing a yoke of iron, as if to say, “Let’s see you break this one, Hananiah.” This symbol reminds us that in Revelation it is prophesied that Christ will rule the nations with a rod of iron.

Then said the prophet Jeremiah unto Hananiah the prophet, Hear now, Hananiah; The Lord hath not sent thee; but thou makest this people to trust in a lie. Therefore thus saith the Lord; Behold, I will cast thee from off the face of the earth: this year thou shalt die, because thou hast taught rebellion against the Lord. So Hananiah the prophet died the same year in the seventh month.

Jeremiah 28:15-17

Jeremiah showed that he did not leave the previous confrontation because he lacked courage or doubted his own prophecies. He returned to get right in Hananiah’s face, called him a liar, and basically pronounced his death sentence for for false prophecy.

Marriage Should Not be Static

October 11, 2018 at 10:19 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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Last time, I looked at Isaiah 62:1-4 and developed the principle from Verse 1 that marriage should not be secret. Additionally, marriage should not be static.

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.

Isaiah 62:2

One day the Lord will give His people a new name. As Christians we are associated now with suffering and failure, unpopularity and persecution, but there there will come a day when non-Christians (described as “Gentiles” in Isaiah 62:2) – even the mightiest of them – will see the glory that our glorious God shares with us.

In marriage, wives get a new name when they get married. Husbands do not, except collectively. A married couple comes to be known as the “Smiths” or the “Joneses” or the “Wilsons.” For Christian married couples we should not be satisfied with a shared and commonly known “new” last name. We want to achieve even more names that reflect glory on the Lord of our marriages. We want to be the married couple about whom people say: “They go to church;” “They teach their children to pray; “They look so IN LOVE.”

When you refer to your spouse in the presence of other people, don’t fall into the worldly practice of speaking disparagingly about him or her, calling your husband, “my old man,” or calling your wife, “the old lady.”

Pleasant words are as an honeycomb, sweet to the soul, and health to the bones.

Proverbs 16:24

Your spouse may know you’re joking, but we’re talking about other people and their perceptions, and what they think of marriage in general and yours in particular. Don’t let the way you talk about your marriage become static. Avoid terms that are presumably supposed to be funny, but, in reality, reveal boredom, dissatisfaction, or exasperation about your spouse or your marriage. Don’t say rude things like “the old ball and chain” or “the battle axe.”

Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

Ephesians 4:29

“Hearers” in that verse is plural, and being “edified” means being built up, not remaining static. Unkind words, and, worse, false unkind words, not only fail to minister grace to the one you are saying them ABOUT, or saying them TO, but to everyone else listening in, or to whom they are repeated.

You don’t want your spouse telling his or her friends bad things about you, but the best remedy for that is not to swear your spouse to silence. The best remedy is to give your spouse good things to say – to improve yourself, with God’s help, as a spouse, rather than merely trying to hush up the talk about your relationship.

Next time we will see that marriage should not be spurious.

The Father of Lights

October 9, 2018 at 3:04 pm | Posted in Q&A | 3 Comments
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Question: I can understand why God would be called the “Father of Light,” but why is He called the Father of lights (plural) in James 1:17?

Answer: That’s one of my favorite verses.

Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

James 1:17 (emphasis added)

Although the word “light” is found frequently in the New Testament, the plural “lights” is used only four times.

The first time, it is a translation of the Greek word lychnos, which was the generic word for mobile lights. Back in Bible times it would have been used to describe candles or lamps, which could be carried around to light up dark areas or rooms. I imagine it would be the ancient equivalent of our modern flashlights.

Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning;

Luke 12:35 (emphasis added)

The second time, “lights” is from lampas, meaning torches. These could have been for outdoor or indoor use, including traveling at night, or to illuminate meetings where people gathered after dark. Think of the angry villagers who came after Frankenstein’s monster to terrorize him with fire.

torches

And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together.

Acts 20:8 (emphasis added)

The third time plural “lights” is used, it is a translation of the word phoster, which has a connotation of objects that burn with their own, self-generated light.

That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world;

Philippians 2:15 (emphasis added)

The word you are asking about – “lights” in James 1:17 – is a translation of the Greek word phos, a shorter form of phoster, and which emphasizes lights that are used for the express purpose of revelation – revealing through illumination that which was previously hidden by darkness.

In its context, James 1:17 supports the truth that, although Christians will be tempted severely by the lusts of our own flesh, we may not blame God for these temptations. He – and every gift He sends down to us from on high – is perfectly good, and His immutability makes it impossible that He could fail to do what is right.

Therefore, although I can’t say for certain exactly why the Holy Spirit inspired James to use the plural “lights” when describing our Heavenly Father’s perfection, benevolence, and blessed immutability, I suspect it has to do with all the different types of light – both literal/physical and spiritual/metaphorical – we see in Scripture as coming from, or representative of, Him.

For instance, God is the Creator-Father of all the celestial bodies, including the Sun and the stars which light up the sky both at night, and in the day.

And God said, Let there be lights in the firmament of the heaven to divide the day from the night; and let them be for signs, and for seasons, and for days, and years:

Genesis 1:14 (emphasis added)

God is the Father of all wisdom, which is symbolized by light, even to the extent that we refer to an exceptionally intelligent person as “brilliant.”

I have even heard of thee, that the spirit of the gods is in thee, and that light and understanding and excellent wisdom is found in thee.

Daniel 5:14 (emphasis added)

God is the Father of Truth itself (Himself).

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 (emphasis added)

God is the Father of the Light of the World.

In him was life; and the life was the light of men. And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not. There was a man sent from God, whose name was John. The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe. He was not that Light, but was sent to bear witness of that Light. That was the true Light, which lighteth every man that cometh into the world.

John 1:4-9 (emphasis added)

Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.

John 8:12 (emphasis added)

God is the Father of our inheritance, as His children, of light.

Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

Colossians 1:12 (emphasis added)

God is certainly the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ and His chosen, redeemed, and sanctified people, and in that sense, among many others, can it be said with joy, reverence, awe, and praise that He is the Father of Lights.

Passing over the Passover?

October 5, 2018 at 9:28 am | Posted in Q&A | Leave a comment
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Question: It looks like the Jewish people didn’t observe the Passover any more after leaving Egypt. Why not?

Answer: I believe they did observe the Passover the very next year, but it is not clear whether they kept doing it during the 40 years of wandering in the wilderness. Remember, they lived mainly on manna (and later quail) during that time. Joshua 5:5-15 seems to indicate that they did not celebrate it again until they entered the promised land, but the Bible doesn’t specifically state for sure whether they did or not.

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