Big Words of the Christian Life: Omnipotence (Part 2)

April 9, 2018 at 1:41 pm | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 1 Comment
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Previously, I showed that God’s power is limitless and logical. Now we will see that:

3. God’s power is laudable.

It is right and good to praise God for His power. God’s demonstration of His own attributes is always for the greatest good of His people. As He demonstrates His power, we find the assurance that our God can overcome any enemy and provide absolute protection for us. We were created to praise Him and find our ultimate joy in knowing Him.

Be thou exalted, LORD, in thine own strength: so will we sing and praise thy power.

Psalm 21:13

The presence of His power is a key element and motivation in corporate worship, and it is easily observable in His universal creation. Such power fills those who are thinking correctly with sublime joy as they contemplate it and know that they are loved by the wielder of this magnificent power.

Praise ye the LORD. Praise God in his sanctuary: praise him in the firmament of his power. Praise him for his mighty acts: praise him according to his excellent greatness.

Psalm 150:1-2

4. God’s power is looming.

God’s power is a great comfort to His own children, but it also serves as a great threat looming over the heads of the defiant.

But the LORD, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt with great power and a stretched out arm, him shall ye fear, and him shall ye worship, and to him shall ye do sacrifice.

II Kings 17:36

God is not prone to uncontrollable fits of rage whereby He unleashes His fury without regard to His own will. No, a significant aspect of His power is the power to CONTROL that very power. However, once His power is directed by His wrath toward one of His creatures, any reasonable person would tremble in abject terror.

Who knoweth the power of thine anger? even according to thy fear, so is thy wrath.

Psalm 90:11

We are accustomed to the feeling of fear in this lifetime. However, there is a limit to the power of human beings that places a limit, too, on their ability to terrify us. No such limit exists in God. When we balance the fear of human beings or earthly institutions that might threaten to punish us for obeying God, it really should be no contest as to Whom we should really fear.

And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.

Luke 12:4-5

Perhaps the greatest power we hold in our finite human minds and hearts is the power of self-deception, so we should be constantly exposing our feelings and thoughts to the superior power of the Word of God.

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

Hebrews 4:12

 

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Can I be Born Again and Still Commit Sins?

April 4, 2018 at 1:13 pm | Posted in Q&A | 1 Comment
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Question: I John 3:9-10 seems to be saying that true Christians never sin. How can I make sense of this?

Answer: By examining the verses carefully, in their context, and in light of the dominant doctrines of the Bible which address the same issues.

Whosoever is born of God doth not commit sin; for his seed remaineth in him: and he cannot sin, because he is born of God. In this the children of God are manifest, and the children of the devil: whosoever doeth not righteousness is not of God, neither he that loveth not his brother.

I John 3:9-10

Who is “born of God?” True Christians, according to John 3:3-7, are people who have been “born again” (reborn spiritually) by the Spirit of God. Therefore, the “whosoever” which begins I John 3:9 is anyone who is really a Christian. Taken in isolation, the statement,”True Christians do not ‘commit’ sin,” could easily be taken to mean that if you are truly a Christian, then you will never commit any sins. And, logically, the inverse would be true: If you sin, then you must not be a true Christian.

However, true Christians know from experience that they do still sin. It would be difficult to find a true Christian that denies sinning every week, every day, even every hour. We don’t use our experiences, though, to interpret Scripture, so let’s keep reading.

Why don’t those who are born again commit sin, according to I John 3:9? It is because “His [God’s] seed” REMAINS (stays permanently) in those who are born of Him. What does that mean?

Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.

I Peter 1:23

If you are truly a Christian, God, by His Word, at the moment of salvation, gave you His “seed” – something of His nature. This does not mean that true Christians become “gods” (a false belief of Mormonism), but we do get a new “heart” – new essence or nature – which is “of God.” This is not a physical impartation, like when our children inherit our DNA, but there is a similarity, even though it is spiritual, not physical. So, we could reason that, the occurrence of sin after a “salvation” experience means that we did not really receive God’s gift of salvation, because sin is not of God. It’s “of” us. (Note the impossibility of the seed of God leaving His spiritual offspring, which emphasizes the truth that real salvation, once granted, can not be “lost.”)

Another interesting thing to note is that I John 3:9 is a chiasmus:
A. Whoever is born of God
B. Does not commit sin
C. Because God’s seed remains in him
B. He cannot sin
A. Because he is born of God

It seems very black and white, but, without regard to its proper context, it could be used to teach the false doctrine of “perfectionism:” the idea that any sin in the life of a person excludes the possibility that he is a true Christian, so it must be possible for human beings to reach a state of sinless perfection in this lifetime.

On the flip side, it would also be an error to use the verse to support the Gnostic idea of antinomian dualistic perfectionism: the “antichrist” doctrine that the physical body doesn’t matter, so a spiritually transformed Christian can sin all he wants in his body, and it doesn’t “count” because the spiritual self is no longer even capable of sinning.

The better view is to allow Scripture to interpret Scripture, and to analyze I John 3:9-10 in light of other verses in I John such as:

My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous:

I John 2:1

And:

If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness. If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.

I John 1:8-10

Additionally, passages like Romans 3:10-23 and Romans 7:14-25, and pretty much all the New Testament epistles that deal with Christians getting the victory over sin and fighting against it all the way to our ultimate sanctification and glorification, make it clear that no Christian ever reaches a state in this lifetime where he is completely free from the commission of sins.

So, when we come to a somewhat jarring verse like I John 3:9, we interpret the dominant pervasively-Biblical precept over the more obscure in-context precept. And the next verse, I John 3:10, actually helps us get a better sense of the context. It says that the children of God are “manifest,” which is a key word in the Book of I John. It means “to make apparent; to reveal openly.” It is what we look to when determining the status of something’s invisible essence by what Thomas Aquinas called its outward “accidents.”

How can we make the best human judgment in distinguishing the children of God from the children of Satan? By their manifest righteousness, or lack of righteousness. We would expect the children of God and the children of Satan to be polar opposites when it comes to the patterns of their lifestyles, and their responses to sin, in the sense of repentance or unrepentance. Of course, we also identify the children of God by their love for other Christians.

This helps us to get a deeper sense of the use of the word “commit” in I John 3:9, so that we understand it as describing an ongoing, habitual life of sin, rather than the commission of any one individual sin. When we are looking at other people, trying our best to determine the genuineness of their profession of faith, we can not judge their hearts, but we can make a practical determination of how much trust to place in their profession based on what we observe. Furthermore, when we examine our own hearts in light of the outward fruit produced in our lives, we will lack assurance if we act and talk more like the devil than like Jesus.

The Holy Spirit Who indwells true Christians CAN NOT initiate sin or practice sin. Our “flesh” – our old nature that is still subject to worldly and Satanic influence – CAN NOT produce God-pleasing righteousness.

So, in response to the question, “How can I make sense of I John 3:9-10?” let me summarize with six points:

1. Sin the life of a Christian does NOT automatically mean the person is not really a Christian. (As Martin Luther said, the Christian life can be described as simul iustus et peccator: simultaneously justified yet sinning.)

2. Unrepentant persistent sin in the life of a professing Christian may be seen as the manifestation of a false profession of faith in Christ.

3. God’s nature in believers is not the source of their sin; it IS the source of any outward righteousness produced in their lives. (Justification is settled in Heaven; regeneration should be evident on earth.)

4. Our assurance of salvation should be challenged, and we must examine our profession of faith if we are manifestly non-Christian in our love of sin and lack of love for Christians.

5. Our obedience to the law of God is important for Christians, although it is not the basis of our status as children of God. (We must avoid both extremes: legalism and antinomianism.)

6. Gnosticism is a heresy. Our bodies are important to God, just as our spirits are important to God. Christ died and rose again to redeem them both.

Law Keepers or Lawbreakers?

April 2, 2018 at 1:59 pm | Posted in Luke | 1 Comment
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And it came to pass on the second sabbath after the first, that he went through the corn fields; and his disciples plucked the ears of corn, and did eat, rubbing them in their hands.

Luke 6:1

The act of plucking wheat and separating the chaff from the kernels of grain was viewed by some of the Pharisees as harvesting and preparing food, which they claimed violated the fourth Word of the Decalogue, prohibiting working on the Sabbath day.

And certain of the Pharisees said unto them, Why do ye that which is not lawful to do on the sabbath days?

Luke 6:2

Assuming that the Pharisees were actually concerned about seeing a violation of God’s law (usually not a valid assumption where Jesus and His disciples were concerned), were they right to take this view?

When thou comest into thy neighbour’s vineyard, then thou mayest eat grapes thy fill at thine own pleasure*; but thou shalt not put any in thy vessel. When thou comest into the standing corn of thy neighbour, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand; but thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbour’s standing corn.

Deuteronomy 23:24-25

It appears that even a strict interpretation the Old Testament law as it applied to the case at hand would have made it permissible for Jesus’s disciples to do what they were doing, as long as they didn’t use a farming implement or a container.

And Jesus answering them said, Have ye not read so much as this, what David did, when himself was an hungred, and they which were with him;

Luke 6:3

“Have ye not read so much as this” indicated that Jesus was pointing out that His disciples had at least one case-law precedent on their side.

How he went into the house of God, and did take and eat the shewbread, and gave also to them that were with him; which it is not lawful to eat but for the priests alone?

Luke 6:4

We can read about this in more detail in I Samuel 21:1-6.

And he said unto them, That the Son of man is Lord also of the sabbath.

Luke 6:5

It’s as if Jesus was sayin, “And, besides, the Sabbath is all about Me, anyway, if you really want to get technical. It’s Mine and I’ll do what I want.”

And it came to pass also on another sabbath, that he entered into the synagogue and taught: and there was a man whose right hand was withered. And the scribes and Pharisees watched him, whether he would heal on the sabbath day; that they might find an accusation against him.

Luke 6:6-7

The more organized Jesus and His followers became, the more systematic and scheming the Pharisees became about shutting Him down.

But he knew their thoughts, and said to the man which had the withered hand, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth. Then said Jesus unto them, I will ask you one thing; Is it lawful on the sabbath days to do good, or to do evil? to save life, or to destroy it?

Luke 6:8-9

The Sabbath was set aside by God as at time of “rest” – meaning rest in reference to God’s cessation of the work of ex nihilo creation – but also as a means of separating the Jewish people from the pagans among whom they lived, and as a way to demonstrate the right kind of difference between the ways of the world and the ways of God’s Kingdom. The Sabbath was made “for man” in that sense, rather than man being made for the Sabbath.

And looking round about upon them all, he said unto the man, Stretch forth thy hand. And he did so: and his hand was restored whole as the other.

Luke 6:10

What was the reaction of the religious leaders to this miraculous act of kindness, generosity, and healing? “Good job on the healing?” Sadly, no, not even close.

And they were filled with madness; and communed one with another what they might do to Jesus.

Luke 6:11

The Greek word translated as “madness” is anoia. They were so frustrated and confused about Jesus’s teaching, compassion, and power that they became enraged. And not only were they overcome with “madness;” they were FILLED with madness! Behaving crazily was bad enough, getting angry was even worse, but they were crazy and full of rage at the same time! Sure, the Pharisees were supposed to be experts in the Mosaic law, but who was more in violation of God’s law here? Jesus’s disciples, who “might” be seen to have technically violated a tradition attached to the Law? Or the Pharisees themselves who were filled with rage because God miraculously healed a man with a useless hand?

*My wife and I shared a good laugh over this verse, because this was similar to the advice given to us by my grandmother-in-law when we first got married. She told us that, if times were tough in the early years of our marriage, we could always take a little shopping trip to the local grocery store and pluck a few “free” grapes from the produce section as we walked by! Thankfully, by God’s grace, even during our leanest financial periods, we’ve always been able to pay for our grapes.

The Hope of Glory

March 30, 2018 at 10:19 am | Posted in I Peter | 2 Comments
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The Book of I Peter was written by the Holy Spirit, using the Apostle Peter as His human instrument. Peter’s first name was Simon. “Peter” meant “rock” or “stone.” The two leading Apostles of the early church were: Paul, who was assigned by the Lord to minister primarily to the Gentiles; and Peter, who was assigned to minister primarily to the Jewish people.

The Lord Jesus, during His earthly ministry, had given these to commands to Peter:

1. Strengthen the flock.

And the Lord said, Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren.

Luke 22:31-32

2. Care for the flock.

So when they had dined, Jesus saith to Simon Peter, Simon, son of Jonas, lovest thou me more than these? He saith unto him, Yea, Lord; thou knowest that I love thee. He saith unto him, Feed my lambs.

John 21:15

Many Bible scholars believe that the letter we know as I Peter was written from Rome, so Peter probably did minister there, but he was not the first to minister there, and he did not establish the first Christian church there, and he was not the first pope.

Yea, so have I strived to preach the gospel, not where Christ was named, lest I should build upon another man’s foundation:

Romans 15:20

Paul did not minister evangelistically where other Apostles had gone, and we know that Paul accomplished the Lord’s goal for him to take the Gospel to Rome.

I Peter is believed to have been written in or around 63 A.D. It was written to believers who were undergoing severe persecution and suffering. The Holy Spirit’s word of encouragement for those who were suffering was that their suffering would lead to glory.

Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

I Peter 1:6-7

The suffering of the believers would be terrible, but we must also keep in mind the superior sufferings of Christ.

Searching what, or what manner of time the Spirit of Christ which was in them did signify, when it testified beforehand the sufferings of Christ, and the glory that should follow.

I Peter 1:11

We might say that Paul was the Apostle of faith, and John was the Apostle of love. If so, we would say that Peter was the Apostle of hope. Hopelessness is a condition produced by an unhinged mind – a mind that has come loose at some point between the beginning and the end.

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,

I Peter 1:3

Wherefore gird up the loins of your mind, be sober, and hope to the end for the grace that is to be brought unto you at the revelation of Jesus Christ;

I Peter 1:13

Your physical birth did not come with a guarantee of glory, but if you have been “born” spiritually (born again), you were born for glory.

Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away: But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.

I Peter 1:23-25

Because of God’s promise at our birth (our spiritual birth), He guards us until that glory is fulfilled – until it “comes into bloom.”

To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

I Peter 1:4-5

While we are being guarded, and watched over, we are not to be idle, and God is certainly not idle in our lives. He is working to prepare us for glory. What is the number one way to prepare something for glory? To pamper and coddle it? To leave it to its own devices? No. Trials, temptations, tests, even suffering, purify us and prepare us for glory.

That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ:

I Peter 1:7

Does all this mean we have to wait to experience glory? Not necessarily. We must have the gift of faith to receive the gift of salvation that secures our home in Heaven, but, until then, we are striving to grow in faith – to see something of what Heaven will be like begin to come into our lives now.

Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory:

I Peter 1:8

As we begin to think about all this glory, we get excited, and we might tend to get “carried away,” which is a common expression we use for someone who we perceive to be overexcited, but the expression, “carried away,” should also remind us that Satan is like a roaring lion who is looking for the opportunity to “carry away” sheep who disobey their shepherd, and who wander away from his protection.

I Corinthians: The Knows vs. The Know-Nots

March 26, 2018 at 1:42 pm | Posted in I Corinthians | Leave a comment
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Bible scholars and commentators have identified many themes in the Apostle Paul’s first letter to the church at Corinth: the importance of being wise, the proper use of the spiritual gifts, the correction of improper ecclesiology, and the necessity of unity within the Church, just to name a few. As I studied through the Book of I Corinthians in preparing to teach an adult Sunday School class, though, I became convinced that one of the main keys to understanding it is to see it as a letter about the knowledge of God in Christ, and the danger of operating outside of that knowledge. I enjoyed studying, teaching, discussing, and learning about topics ranging from our “calling” as Christians, to how our conscience informs our spiritual decisions, to the true meaning of Christian love, to the roles of men and women in church, to the doctrine of bodily resurrection, to the right and wrong kinds of addiction, all the while focusing on the tension existing between those who live in the light of God’s gracious knowledge, and those who do not.

Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the spirit which is of God; that we might KNOW the things that are freely given to us of God.

I Corinthians 2:2

But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he KNOW them, because they are spiritually discerned.

I Corinthians 2:14

KNOW YE NOT that ye are the temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwelleth in you?

I Corinthians 3:16

For I KNOW NOTHING by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

I Corinthians 4:4

Your glorying is not good. KNOW YE NOT that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump?

I Corinthians 5:6

KNOW YE NOT that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

I Corinthians 6:9

KNOW YE NOT that your bodies are the members of Christ? shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot? God forbid.

I Corinthians 6:15

What? KNOW YE NOT that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?

I Corinthians 6:19

Now as touching things offered unto idols, we KNOW that we all have KNOWLEDGE. KNOWLEDGE puffeth up, but charity edifieth. And if any man think that he KNOWETH any thing, he KNOWETH NOTHING yet as he ought to KNOW.

I Corinthians 8:1-2

Do ye NOT KNOW that they which minister about holy things live of the things of the temple? and they which wait at the altar are partakers with the altar?

I Corinthians 9:13

KNOW YE NOT that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain.

I Corinthians 9:24

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

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

I Corinthians 12:2

For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I KNOW in part; but then shall I KNOW even as also I am KNOWN.

I Corinthians 13:12

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye KNOW that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

I Corinthians 15:58

Here are the links to posts in the category, I Corinthians:

1. Clear Calls for Christians: Pure Upgrade (1:1-9)
2. Clear Calls for Christians: Proper Unity (1:10-23)
3. Clear Calls for Christians: Point Upward (1:26-29)
4. How We Know What We Know (1-2)
5. Pavlov’s Kids (1:20-21)
6. What Christians Want You to Know (1:23)
7. The Foolishness of God? (1:25)
8. Knowers, Growers, and Showers (3:1-13)
9. It’s Time to Grow Up (3:1-9)
10. Wise Watering (3:5-6)
11. Quarterback Commandment No. 9 (3:13-15)
12. What the Knows Have and What the Know-Nots Have Not (3:15-23)
13. Ministers Must be Managers (4:1-5)
14. Faithful to Him and to Each Other (4:2; 12:14)
15. Ministers Must be Meek (4:1-13)
16. Ministers Must be Mild (4:14-21)
17. Pride Is Everywhere (4:7; 5:6-7)
18. The Know-Bodies (5:1-5)
19. Delivery and Birth (5:1-5)
20. Beware the Fight with the Flesh (5:1-5)
21. Spiritual Body Shaming (5:6-13)
22. Leavenless Lump (5:7:11)
23. Know When to Say Know (6)
24. Mercy / Memory (6:9-11)
25. Douglas Wilson: S.W.I.M. to be Detestable (6:9-11)
26. Adiaphora and Analyzing Ambiguous Activities (6:12; 8:13; 10:23, 31, 33)
27. Fooling Around with Celibacy in Marriage (7:1-2, 7, 32-37)
28. Having a F.I.N.E. Marriage (7:1-5, 9, 32-37)
29. Getting Busy in Marriage (7:2-5)
30. A Concupiscible Marriage (7:2-5)
31. Imagination in Marriage (7:2-5)
32. Guarding the Top of the Wall in Marriage (6:15-18)
33. An Irascible Marriage (7:2-5)
34. A Knowledgeable Marriage (7:11-16)
35. Know Your Real Identity (7:17-23)
36. Having a P.C. Marriage (7:25-35)
37. What the Knows Ought to Know about Conscience (8)
38. Know Your Rights (9)
39. A Prize-Winning Run (9:24-26)
40. Know Your Limits (10:1-28)
41. Quarterback Commandment No. 4 (10:11-13)
42. The Blessings of an Unhappy Marriage Part 2 10:13)
43. Head Knowledge (11:1-15)
44. The Cause, Confusion, and Consequences: Problems with the Lord’s Supper (11:17-30)
45. Forgetting To Remember – Part 1 (11:24)
46. Forgetting To Remember – Part 2 (11:24)
47. The “Ways” to Remember (11:24, 4:17)
48. Forget-Me-Nots (11:24)
49. How the Knows are Gifted (12:1-6)
50. Discipleship Lesson 6: The Local Church (6:19; 12:14-28)
51. The Determination, Demonstration, Distribution, and Designation of the Spiritual Gifts (12:7-31)
52. Love and Order (13)
53. Suffering in Marriage
54. LONGsuffering in Marriage *
55. Be Kind to Your Spouse
56. Objections to Being Kind to Your Spouse
57. Jump-Starting Your Marriage
58. Performing a Biopsy on Your Marriage
59. Getting the Puffiness Out of Your Marriage
60. More Testing for Puffiness in Your Marriage
61. A C.A.L.M. and Courteous Marriage
62. A C.A.L.M. and Accommodating Marriage
63. A C.A.L.M. and Longsuffering Marriage
64. A C.A.L.M. and Merciful Marriage
65. The Right Kind of Rejoicing in Marriage
66. Practical Principles for Policing the Exercise of Spiritual Gifts in Church (14)
67. Order in the Church (14:23-25)
68. Up from the Grave with the Knows! (15)
69. A Major Breaking News Story (15:3-4)
70. Put It On and Pack It On (15:9-10)
71. Vanity Must be Expelled (15:53-58)
72. Immortality Must be Entered Into (15:53:58)
73. Corruption Must be Eliminated (15:53-54)
74. Thankfulness Must be Expressed (15:57)
75. Opportunity Must be Embraced (15:55-58)
76. Reality Must be Encountered (15:56)
77. Yesterday Must be Eclipsed (15:58)
78. The Needs of the Knows (16:1-14)
79. The Addict (His Characteristics) (16:15-18)
80. The Addict (Signs of Addiction) (16:15)

*most-viewed post in category

Yesterday Must be Eclipsed

March 20, 2018 at 11:58 am | Posted in I Corinthians, V.I.C.T.O.R.Y. | 2 Comments
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The victory that Christ has achieved for us means that, as we live for Him in this temporal world:

V.anity must be expelled;
I.mmortality must be entered into;
C.orruption must be eliminated;
T.hankfulness must be expressed;
O.pportunity must be embraced;
R.eality must be encountered;
and
Yesterday must be eclipsed.

The past should not be ignored, but it must be kept in the shadow of what is to come if we are to be victorious. Past failures and sins can’t be denied, but they can be covered with the light of the Truth about Christ.

Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.

I Corinthians 15:58

We must be steadfast, meaning faithful, and unmovable, meaning stubborn about standing on the Word of God. We must be abounding – going further AND farther – challenging ourselves to do more for Christ, and to overcome our fears and the things that make us uncomfortable. We must know that what we are doing for Him is not vain – it does make a difference in eternity.

This is the antidote to the worldly philosophy – especially highlighted in Ecclesiastes – that nothing really, ultimately matters – that what happened before is going to happen again. No, the past is in the past, and it must be eclipsed by our hope in the future victory and in the battle for victory that we are waging right now.

 

Big Words of the Christian Life: Omnipotence (Part 1)

March 16, 2018 at 1:42 pm | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 1 Comment
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If you’ve ever seriously studied your way through Jesus’s model prayer (Matthew 6:9-13), by the time you finished the part about being delivered from evil you may have felt a little overwhelmed. To say that there is “a lot to” this short prayer is a massive understatement. However, hopefully you didn’t stop until you reached the very end. “For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever” is a statement, in and of itself, that contains a wealth of information about God. Recently, as I prayed my way through it, I was struck by the placement of the word “power” in between God’s kingdom and God’s glory. If we think about the awesome power of God, we are reminded of the attribute of God that we call “omnipotence,” and if we study the implications of this attribute we can see that:

1. God’s power is limitless.

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

Genesis 18:14

Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee:

Jeremiah 32:17

But Jesus beheld them, and said unto them, With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible.

Matthew 19:26

And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

Mark 10:27

For with God nothing shall be impossible.

Luke 1:37

“Omnipotence” comes from two words: omni, meaning “all,” and potent, meaning “power.” The omni applies to other attributes of God too: “omnipresence,” meaning that God is everywhere all the time at once; “omnscience,” meaning that God knows everything; and “omnibenevolence” meaning that God (and what He does) is always good. We use the idea of “potency” when we think of someone with great authority, and, hence, the power to carry out his will: a “potentate.” We think of it antonymously when we talk about someone who lacks the power to do something: “impotent.” And we even use it to describe health supplements when we somewhat hyperbolically refer to “high-potency” vitamins. To say that God is omnipotent is to say that He’s all-powerful. And He is!

There is nothing that goes beyond His ability. He has the ability to bring forth everything from nothing. He has the ability to carry out His will in the minutest details. He has the freedom – the truest freedom – to choose what He will do, apart from any intrusive or coercive influences, and to do it either by Himself as the primary cause, or through His agency in utilizing as many secondary or intervening causes as He wishes.

It is one thing for even the most powerful human being to come up with an idea for a project, plan the project, labor intensively on the project, and see it through to a hopefully successful, possibly even “perfect,” conclusion. But it is a whole other matter and realm of power to simply speak the words, “Let there be light,” and see a whole universe of matter spring into existence. We can talk about God’s omnipotence, and attempt to define it, and perhaps understand a small measure of it, but to truly comprehend a being with truly UNLIMITED power is beyond our grasp.

That thou keep this commandment without spot, unrebukable, until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ: Which in his times he shall shew, who is the blessed and only Potentate, the King of kings, and Lord of lords; Who only hath immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can approach unto; whom no man hath seen, nor can see: to whom be honour and power everlasting. Amen.

I Timothy 6:14-16

Saying, We give thee thanks, O Lord God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned.

Revelation 11:17

To whom then will ye liken me, or shall I be equal? saith the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high, and behold who hath created these things, that bringeth out their host by number: he calleth them all by names by the greatness of his might, for that he is strong in power; not one faileth.

Isaiah 40:25-26

2. God’s power is logical.

It is important to remember that, when we make a statement like, “God can do anything,” that we are prepared for skeptics to try to use basic logic to create nonsensical contradictions. “Can God make an object so immovable that He Himself cannot move it?” “Can God make a square circle?” “Can God make Himself cease to exist?” “Can God Himself commit the sins which His Word says He cannot do?”

It is tempting, when addressing these types of challenges (which are essentially just word-plays rather than legitimate questions), to respond with the argument that “logic” itself is a thing outside of God, and that even God can’t perform a true logical contradiction, nor can His power be exercised in logically “impossible” ways. That might be a valid response, but I think it overlooks the bigger picture that, to the extent logic can be considered a “thing,” it is something that arises from the nature of God Himself, as the Creator of all principles, rules, and precepts that exist, “natural” or otherwise, and that, while it might be possible in some way that we do not understand for God to overcome a logical contradiction, He does not in fact do so.

Wherein God, willing more abundantly to shew unto the heirs of promise the immutability of his counsel, confirmed it by an oath: That by two immutable things, in which it was impossible for God to lie, we might have a strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold upon the hope set before us:

Hebrews 6:17-18

If we believe not, yet he abideth faithful: he cannot deny himself.

II Timothy 2:13

Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man:

James 1:3

Next time we will see that God’s power is also laudable and looming.

The Real Emancipation Proclamation

March 9, 2018 at 2:04 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 5 Comments
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Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?

Proverbs 20:6

We have a strong tendency to promote ourselves. The Hebrew word translated as “proclaim” in Proverbs 20:6 is qara. It is from a root word meaning to stop someone and accost them. Most of us are willing to go out of our way – to insert ourselves into someone else’s path if necessary, to stop them in their tracks, to grab hold of them – and in some way try to cause them to think well of us as individuals. We are like traveling salesmen or street-corner preachers, distributing a good opinion of ourselves and seeking our own glory.

This category, “most men,” is contrasted with the “faithful man.” The rhetorical question, “Who can find one?” emphasizes the scarcity of faithful people, but it also draws a sharp distinction between the self-promoter – the one who accosts people to tell them of his own goodness – and the faithful person who is literally hard to find. Why is he hard to find? Because he’s not trying to be found. He’s too busy serving other people.

In the Book of Exodus God spoke with Moses face to face, in a sense. He spoke to him as a friend, and assured him that He had favor with God. This prompted Moses to ask for a huge request. Knowing that ordinarily no man could see God with His glory unveiled and live, Moses asked for a special dispensation: “Lord, show me your glory.

God agreed to a partial granting of this request:

And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy.

Exodus 33:19 (emphasis added)

God, like the boastful men of Proverbs 20:6, proclaims, too, but this is a different type of proclaiming. This is an announcement not tinged with a desperate need for acceptance. This is a bold, straightforward, official proclamation of Who God is – according to God Himself! And he told Moses flat-out: “I will decide on my own – without anyone else’s help or input – who will receive grace and who will receive mercy.”

As Christians, we are commanded to serve. Part of our service is to proclaim the truth about God, and part of that truth is that the results are up to Him, not us. Our part is to be faithful – to walk humbly with God, and to obey His Word. Our accosting of other people on God’s behalf may be successful or unsuccessful according to our estimation, but we should find comfort and hope and the resolve not to quit in knowing that the distribution of God’s grace and mercy to those to whom we minister is in His hands.

Who Carried the Cross?

March 6, 2018 at 3:16 pm | Posted in Q&A | Leave a comment
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Question: John 19:16-17 says that Jesus carried His cross. HOWEVER, Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:21, and Luke 23:26 say that soldiers carried cross. Which one is true?

Answer: First of all, Matthew 27:32, Mark 15:21, and Luke 23:26 do not say that soldiers carried the Cross. They say that a man named Simon carried it. Jesus carried the Cross AND Simon carried it. They both did. Jesus first, and then Simon the rest of the way. Jesus in His humanity knew what it meant to be so tired and injured that He could not carry a burden that others were demanding of Him. In this respect, although He is God, He can still sympathize with us when we are forced to carry some spiritual or emotional or other burden that is too much for us. We can pass our burden to Him in faith, believing in Him, and He will take it for us without despising us for it.

For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as we are, yet without sin.

Hebrews 4:15

Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.

I Peter 5:7

Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls.

Matthew 11:28-29.

Douglas Wilson: S.W.I.M. to be Detestable

March 1, 2018 at 3:09 pm | Posted in I Corinthians, Quotes | 1 Comment
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There is real hope here for the sexual detestable, but it is not to be had for anyone who is indignant over the word detestable. Anyone who is offended when their [sic] sin is called detestable is still a drowning swimmer trying to fight off the lifeguard.

Douglas Wilson

Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.

I Corinthians 6:9-11

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