“Saved” as a Term of Art

August 1, 2018 at 2:21 pm | Posted in Salvation | 3 Comments
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“Saved” has, for the last several decades, been the common Baptist and evangelical term for someone who has believed the Gospel and trusted Christ to forgive his/her sins, and called upon Him to give him/her eternal life. Because it has the “ed” on the end, it sounds better grammatically as a past-tense word: “Have you BEEN saved?” But it is has become so common that we see it frequently used to describe a present-tense condition: “ARE you saved?” It can be synonymous with the terms: “born again;” “redeemed;” “converted;” “Christian;” “regenerated;” and “believer.” And, while one of its faults may lie in the fact that Christians who use it commonly can forget that non-Christians don’t really know what we mean when we use it, it IS a Bible term:

And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?

Mark 10:26

Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them,

Luke 13:23

For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.

John 3:17

And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Acts 2:21

Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Acts 2:47

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

Acts 4:12

And they said, Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.

Acts 16:31

That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.

Romans 10:9

For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.

Romans 10:13

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it unto us which is the power of God.

I Corinthians 1:18

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

Ephesians 2:8

Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost;

Titus 3:5

…. and many, many other verses. It is not very likely that someone these days will come up to you out of the blue and ask if you are saved, but, if someone does, AND IF YOU IN FACT ARE, then you should treasure that opportunity to affirm the great undeserved gift that Christ has given you in rescuing you from paying the price for your sins for all eternity.

The Foolishness of God?

January 29, 2018 at 10:41 am | Posted in I Corinthians, Q&A | 4 Comments
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Question: If the Bible is true, how can it mention the terms “foolishness of God” and “weakness of God” in I Corinthians 1:25? God is not foolish or weak.

Answer: I Corinthians 1:25 is part of a type of argument called a rhetorical argument. The Holy Spirit was using the Apostle Paul to point out, from the point of view of the worldly philosophy used by the Greeks of that day, that to preach that Jesus died on the Cross for our salvation would seem “foolish.” The Greeks and the Jews both thought the Christians were “foolish,” and they that they themselves were “wise.” But, if you follow the argument on through Verse 29, you can see that God specifically chose things that seem foolish to people who are proud in their “wisdom” to demonstrate His greatness. Preaching the crucified and resurrected Lord seems silly to people who are proud of their own “wisdom” and works, so God uses this to humble them, so that they will bow down and worship Him alone, admitting that He is wiser than them. That’s one of the failings of the false “works-based” religions, such as Islam, Mormonism, and Roman Catholicism. They do exactly what Verse 29 says we must never do: try to “glory” or show off our goodness or our good deeds before God. Any “god” who would accept daily prayers and pilgrimages and fasting and dietary restrictions and so forth as bribes or payments to be placed on the cosmic scales of justice is a false god. Men have invented these false deities, claiming that their gods would accept the “glorying of the flesh (human beings)” in their presence. The real God will not.

How We Know What We Know

October 27, 2016 at 11:05 am | Posted in I Corinthians | 16 Comments
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That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;

I Corinthians 1:5

In the book of I Corinthians knowledge is seen as a gift. Those who have knowledge (“the Knows”) are not Knows because they are worthy. They didn’t “figure it out.” They didn’t acquire this kind of knowledge on their own.

For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. For it is written, I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and will bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent.

I Corinthians 1:17-19

Those who do not have this knowledge (“the Know-Nots”) think they have wisdom – and the world around them confirms them in this – when really they are the opposite of wise: foolish. This is one of the most tragic things about being a Know-Not: You know NOT that you are a Know-Not.

This keeps us from discounting the possibility that we are secretly Know-Nots, except when we receive the knowledge of Christ from Christ Himself.

Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.

I Corinthians 1:20-25

Good news: Just because you wake up and realize that you are a Know-Not, you do not have to stay in that camp.

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

I Corinthians 1:26

In fact, the Holy Spirit is calling you out of that camp into the tribe of the Knows.

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:

I Corinthians 1:27-30

It is humbling to be a Know – even though you wouldn’t think so. The Knows have the knowledge, but it is a dependent knowledge. Our only source of so-called boasting is boasting in how great our God is and how unworthy we are.

The Apostle Paul was a know-not only in a purposeful way.

And I baptized also the household of Stephanas: besides, I know not whether I baptized any other.

I Corinthians 1:16

He determined not to know the record of his past accomplishments, and not to know things that would distract from the Gospel.

For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.

I Corinthians 2:2

This was a selective and special instance of voluntary “Know-Notism,” because the true Know-Nots crucified the Savior.

Which none of the princes of this world knew: for had they known it, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory.

I Corinthians 2:8

They did it in ignorance, but it was a culpable ignorance. They doubled down on being Know-Nots by blaspheming the Holy Spirit.

But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him. But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God. For what man knoweth the things of a man, save the spirit of man which is in him? even so the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God.

I Corinthians 2:9-11

These verses apply Isaiah 64 to progressive revelation. The Spirit searches even the deep things. Don’t sell yourself short concerning what you are able to comprehend about God’s Word, since you have its Author, His Spirit, residing in you to teach you. The Know-Nots want to know less. The Knows want to know more. And the Knows have received the Spirit of God

The “flesh” has a spirit, but it is a selfish spirit, and the world also has a spirit that is not a good spirit.

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 2:12

Spiritual knowledge is ignorant of fleshly, worldly knowledge.

Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual.

I Corinthians 2:13

“Comparing spiritual with spiritual” is a good rule of Bible interpretation, but also a good rule to live by. Spiritual minds want spiritual truths.

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

The Bible holds no real attraction for a lost person. A big difference between the Knows and the Know-Nots is that the Knows know the mind of the Lord, because, through the ministry of the Holy Spirit, they have received the mind of Christ.

But he that is spiritual judgeth all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.

I Corinthians 2:15

The Knows should not be proud, but they also should not be intimidated by the Know-Nots.

For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? but we have the mind of Christ.

I Corinthians 2:16

Christ is knowledge and wisdom personified, so we ask not just “what would Jesus do?” but “what has Jesus done?”.

Clear Calls for Christians: Point Upward

September 3, 2014 at 12:04 pm | Posted in I Corinthians, Uncategorized | 8 Comments
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As Christians:

I. We are called to Pure Upgrade.
II. We are called to Proper Unity.
and
III. We are called to Point Upward.

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

I Corinthians 1:26

We are called to recognize our weakness, our foolishness, and our lack of nobility, and to still believe and act as though this message from our King and Redeemer will confound the mighty.

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

I Corinthians 1:27

We are called to believe and act as though the message will conquer the world. We are called to admit that we do not deserve to be loved and helped by this King. God calls the weak and the foolish, not because He has a weak spot for the helpless, not because it’s His fault that we are like that, not because He has to take what He can get. No, the primary reason He uses the weak and the foolish is to show off His glory.

That no flesh should glory in his presence.

I Corinthians 1:29

Thus saith the Lord, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the Lord.

Jeremiah 9:23-24

We are called to preach and live the Gospel, and – when it works – to point straight upward.

Clear Calls for Christians: Proper Unity

August 11, 2014 at 11:49 am | Posted in I Corinthians, Uncategorized | 7 Comments
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Last time we saw that, as Christians:

I. We are called to Pure Upgrade.

Additionally:

II. We are called to Proper Unity.

The fellowship with Christ to which we are called is a good segue into another fellowship to which we are called: the fellowship with each other.

Now I beseech you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye all speak the same thing, and that there be no divisions among you; but that ye be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgment.

I Corinthians 1:10

“All speak the same thing” = “all be on the same page.” This is not what was going on in Corinth:

For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you.

I Corinthians 1:11

According to Proverbs 13:10 contentions only come by pride. They often lead to factions – choosing up sides – and that’s what happened here.

Now this I say, that every one of you saith, I am of Paul; and I of Apollos; and I of Cephas; and I of Christ.

I Corinthians 1:12

Paul’s response to this was his usual response, in a way. He pointed to Christ.

Is Christ divided? was Paul crucified for you? or were ye baptized in the name of Paul?

I Corinthians 1:13

Christ is not divided, and He never has been – neither bodily (one of many reasons why the Roman Catholic practice of the “eucharist” is heretical), nor doctrinally. Only Christ died for us, and we are to be baptized in His name, not in the name of the preacher who does the dunking.

Paul did not preach that baptism saves.

For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect.

I Corinthians 1:17

He preached a message that has always sounded foolish to unbelievers.

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

I Corinthians 1:18

But it is a message that is incredibly exciting and transformative for new believers. Why such a simple message? Why a crucifixion? So God would get all the glory and credit, not His messengers.

But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

I Corinthians 1:23

The Jews tripped and fell over the idea that their King would be crucified. The Greeks could never be impressed by a message which said that the Savior of the world was a Jewish carpenter from Nazareth. But we need to see ourselves as having a third specific calling, which we will look at next time.

Clear Calls for Christians: Pure Upgrade

August 8, 2014 at 12:07 pm | Posted in I Corinthians, Uncategorized | 18 Comments
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Have you ever heard someone say that he was “called to preach?” Or “called to teach?” Or “called to join the choir?” How does this work? Is it like when someone says, “God laid this on my heart?” “God told me to go back to that person and ask her if she’s okay?” Have you ever felt left out and lonely because it seems like everyone but you is getting private messages from the Lord telling them what to do? Did it make you feel like the sterotypical broken-hearted lover staring at the phone – just trying to will it to ring?

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Christian publishers and booksellers have capitalized on this idea with books and devotionals like Jesus Calling, in which a young lady claims to have written down what Jesus told her privately, so she can pass it on to the readers.

I will confess that I am not sure what to do with all this. I have never to my knowledge heard the audible voice of God. There have been a few times when I have felt like He wanted me to do something, and I am often convicted about my sin – in my heart – but I never know for sure how to discern whether I’m hearing directly from God, or if it’s just something that occurred to me.

I don’t know what God might be calling you to do, but I do know that there are some things that He calls all Christians to do in the Bible. I like these much better than ambiguous feelings and nudgings which are open to my own private interpretation. Some of them are pleasant, some are not. “Die to self daily.” That’s a calling, but it’s not always easy to do. “Give your spouse a lot of hugs.” That’s easy (for me, anyway. My wife may see it differently!) In this short series I want to point out three things that you have been called to – in the Bible. They are specifically for Christians (and even more specifically for church members), and they are found in I Corinthians Chapter 1.

I Corinthians is a letter that the Holy Spirit used the Apostle Paul to write to the church at Corinth. Paul had been there for about 18 months before moving on, and now he was writing to address the problems they were having.

I. We are Called to Pure Upgrade

Paul called to be an apostle of Jesus Christ through the will of God, and Sosthenes our brother,

I Corinthians 1:1

Now, Paul was directly called by God. He didn’t become an Apostle by finding a Bible verse that told him to do it, but the age of the capital A Apostles is over, so that call – in the truest sense – is not for us. It is the next verse that lists a calling which every Christian has received, and which every Christian needs to answer.

Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all that in every place call upon the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:

I Corinthians 1:2

Notice that the Holy Spirit is addressing the church of God which is at Corinth. This was a local church body – an organized local fellowship of believers meeting together. You don’t have to go to a local church to be a Christian. You also don’t have to go home to be married, but I would be a terrible husband if I never went home, and I would be a poor Christian if I didn’t go to church frequently and regularly.

Notice also the two types of sanctification in Verse 2: positional (“are sanctified”), which means that Christians are set apart in Christ Jesus, marked by God as belonging to Him; and progressive, which deals with our participation (“called to be saints”). God has called us to be special – sacred – set apart – set apart from the world – and set apart unto Him.

Our sanctification classification comes with gifts, too. The Corinthian church members were wealthy in gifts.

I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge;

I Corinthians 1:4-5

They were especially wealthy in revelatory gifts. Our spiritual gifts are given to us by God so that we can use them not as trophies to brag about, or toys to play with, or weapons to fight each other with, but as tools with which to build Christ’s Church.

So that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ:

I Corinthians 1:7

We are building a building of fleshly stones – believers brought into the Kingdom and placed in the body of Christ to serve and glorify Him.

This is one of the clearest callings for Christians: the call to pure upgrade. When we get saved, the blame for our sins is taken away, but we are still blameworthy on a daily basis. Our sanctification is about going from being blameworthy to blameless.

Who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.

I Corinthians 1:8

Blameless is not sinless, but it does have to do with the purification of our motives.

God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ our Lord.

I Corinthians 1:9

God is faithful to get us to a state of blameless sanctification. We could not do it on our own, but we are “called unto the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ,” and that fellowship is promoted and enriched by our sanctification, just as it is hindered and strained when we move backward from blamelessness.

Next time, we will see another clear call for Christians: the call to proper unity.

Honesty in Church

June 17, 2013 at 10:35 am | Posted in C.H.U.R.C.H. | 5 Comments
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C.hrist
H.oliness
U.nction
R.esponsibility
C.ommunion
H.

The second “H” in C.H.U.R.C.H. is for “Honesty.”

But if I tarry long, that thou mayest know how thou oughtest to behave thyself in the house of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and ground of the truth.

I Timothy 3:15 (emphasis added)

Church should be the one place where we can be honest about who we are and what we’ve done. Everyone there should be a forgiven sinner.

Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.

James 5:16 (emphasis added)

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called:

I Corinthians 1:26

One of the prerequisites for being a Christian is being a sinner. Our sins are forgiven in Jesus and He is our One Mediator, but we still need to bear one another’s burdens.

Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another’s burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself.

Galatians 6:1-3 (emphasis added)

We need to bear one another’s burdens honestly – not thinking that we’re better than the person who is struggling. We all struggle, and Christ has given us each other – and “church” itself – to help us.

More Strange Weapons: A Bone (Simple, Silly, Serious, and Successful)

July 20, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Posted in II Corinthians, Strange Weapons | 5 Comments
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The jawbone of the donkey that Samson used to slay 1000 Philistines was not only a strange weapon – as we saw in the last lesson:

1. It was a singular weapon.
2. It was a surprising weapon.

Now we will see that:

3. It was a simple weapon.

In other words, it was an unsophisticated weapon. I for one am glad that the weapons of our spiritual warfare in New Testament Christianity are not overly complex or difficult to use. In fact, God sometimes blesses the crudest means when there is both faith and zeal in the one who wields the weapon. Samson had many faults and flaws, but he had two big advantages when it came to fighting: faith and zeal. The jawbone that he picked up must have looked pretty weak to the Philistines who were ready to attack him, and to the men of Judah who were standing by watching. But in our moments of simplicity and seeming-weakness God often shows Himself strong.

For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.

II Corinthians 1:12 (emphasis added)

Samson’s “conversation” on that day was very simple. In fact, he didn’t have to say a word. He let his weapon “speak” for him, and his weapon said, “This is not of the world – this is of God and by His Spirit.”

I find it humorous and fitting that God arranged it so that Samson used the jawbone of an ass. The jawbone is an instrument of speaking, and previously in the Bible (in the case of Balaam), God had spoken through a living donkey. Here, he “speaks” through a dead donkey! God is certainly not limited in His ability to use the simple to confound the wise.

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

II Corinthians 11:3 (emphasis added)

There are times in spiritual warfare when the simplest weapon is the best. What could be simpler than a soft word to turn away wrath? What could be simpler than asking a hard-hearted lost person, “What are you going to do about your sin?

In spiritual warfare some of our weapons are strong in the sense that they are built to last. But sometimes God wants us to use a weak weapon because we are more inclined to use it trustfully and obediently. Many of our specific, situational weapons just are what they are. They don’t need to be adorned to be effective. Your physical appearance is a gift from God to be used in spiritual warfare. He designed you to look the way you look partly in order to help you connect with and influence others. Don’t be too quick to change your appearance in order to make yourself more “attractive” according to worldly standards. God has blessed each of us with certain natural talents. Some are better at teaching publicly; some are better at ministering privately. Some have a great memory. Some have the gift of not being easily offended. Natural talents are some of the simplest, and yet most potent, weapons that God has given us.

4. It was both a silly and a serious weapon.

When I say silly, I mean downright absurd when you think about it! Killing 1000 men with a donkey’s jawbone??? Samson must have looked at least a little ridiculous using the mandible of an ass as though it were a sword or a club! He didn’t look silly for long, though – at least not to the Philistines. What seems silly to us was deadly serious to them.

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In spiritual warfare our “silliest” weapon may also be our most serious.

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

I Corinthians 1:18 (emphasis added)

The Gospel message is life and death to those of us who have been regenerated and are willing to wield it for the glory of Christ. But it is foolishness to those who are unregenerate, and who will not receive it – all the way up to the point where they will be slain by their rejection of it. I wonder if our enemy, the devil, can even comprehend how he is defeated over and over again by the simple preaching of the Truth.

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

I Corinthians 1:27 (emphasis added)

When the Apostles were thrown into prison for preaching the Gospel, did it seem foolish that they would sing songs of praise in their cells? Do your lost friends think it’s idiotic that memorizing verses from an ancient Book could drive away something as mighty as a massive wave of depression? Don’t be afraid of looking silly for the cause of Christ. Humility itself can be a weapon in spiritual warfare. Humility is revealed in circumstances. An embarrassed person is not necessarily a humble person. We can be in a humbling situation, but still think about ourselves. Humility is not deciding to think too little about yourself in contrast to thinking too much about yourself. True humility is not thinking about yourself at all.

5. It was a successful weapon.

Samson’s victory with the jawbone was not his last exploit, nor his greatest. In fact, he wound up killing more Philistines in his death than he did in his life. When Christians today talk about “flowing in the Spirit” it conjures up images of a sort of effeminate passivity where church people are just “letting go and letting God,” focusing on their personal worship experiences and hoping that the Holy Spirit will supernaturally bless them without any effort of their own. We would do well to take a lesson from Samson. He certainly isn’t the ideal Old Testament saint to emulate when it comes to victorious Christ-like living, but you have to give him one thing: In the days in which he judged Israel, nobody flowed in the Spirit like Samson! Samson’s problem wasn’t the ability to receive God’s Spirit. His problem was that he could not be consistent – he could not get his life organized. He could not get himself organized and he had little interest in getting the people he was supposed to be leading organized. The jawbone that he wielded so effectively was what the British call a “one-off.” It is a picture of the type of unpredictable, unexpected, spur-of-the-moment weapon we encounter in our spiritual warfare all the time. We pick them up, and we throw them away, forgetting that they were successful weapons. If you have been a Christian for several years, take a moment to look back over your life at some of your spiritual victories. Was there some type of strange weapon that worked then which might work again now? Occasional, circumstances-specific weapons may seem strange and impractical, but it is God’s power, not the weapon itself, which makes a weapon successful. One time a great preacher told me that when you talk to children, you should get down on one knee and look them in the eye instead of towering over them: that has turned out to be a great spiritual weapon for me over the years. A note or a greeting card sent to someone who is hurting or discouraged can be a weapon. A bouquet of flowers delivered to a hospital room can be a weapon. One of the deadliest weapons in my wife’s arsenal is her smile. Many a time I have seen her turn a friendly smile and an unexpectedly kind word on the scowlingest, most negative person you would ever want to meet, and just absolutely route whatever demon was making that person so mean! A telephone can be a weapon when it is used to call up someone and invite him to Sunday School, or to tell someone you are praying for her.

After Samson killed all those Philistines he made up a song about piling their bodies in heaps upon heaps. When you get discouraged in spiritual warfare, and you think God is not coming through for you, take heart! Are there not heaps and heaps of slain sins in your past? Are there not heaps and heaps of slain temptations? Heaps and heaps of slain doubts? Heaps and heaps of slain fears? Sure, we’ve lost our share of battles, but the battleground is strewn with our enemies and we’re still standing. If no weapon formed against us can prosper, then it stands to reason that any weapon formed for us – to God’s glory – must prosper against our enemies.

Samson ultimately surrendered to the Philistines, and God made him the victor only in his death. God is not asking us to surrender to our enemies – He’s asking us to surrender to our King and Father. One day Jesus is coming back to vanquish all His enemies once and for all. Have you made sure that you will be on the right side when Jesus starts conquering HIS enemies?

Strange Weapons Lesson 3: The Pitcher (spiritual application)

April 29, 2011 at 12:16 pm | Posted in II Corinthians, Strange Weapons | 4 Comments
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The factual summary of the account of Gideon highlighted the use of some of the strangest weapons in any Biblical battle: pitchers. In the spiritual warfare which Christians are called to wage, we have a corollary for Gideon’s pitchers: our bodies. The Christian’s body sounds like more of a physical than a spiritual weapon, but the key is in how God works in us.

For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strong holds;)

II Corinthians 10:3-4

1. Pitchers can contain.

The purpose of a pitcher is to hold something. Just as Gideon’s pitchers were used to contain something, our bodies also serve as containers.

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

Romans 12:1

The bodies of born-again believers are the containers of God’s Holy Spirit.

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

Is God’s Spirit directing your body, and controlling it? Are you an obedient container? Do your feet go where God wants them to go? Do your hands touch only what God wants them to touch? Are you placing in your mouth and your stomach those things which help, instead of hurt, your body? Are your eyes looking at what God wants you to see? Are your ears listening to what God wants you to hear? Is your tongue saying what God wants you to say? Pitchers don’t decide for themselves what goes into them. The owner of a pitcher puts into it what he thinks is best.

When Gideon’s army brought their pitchers to the battle, God had a plan for them. In the spiritual battles we fight every day, we have our armor to protect us. We also have have prayer, the Bible, and love to help us fight. But don’t forget, your physical body is a part of the spiritual battle, too.

2. Pitchers can conceal.

Gideon’s pitchers concealed lamps. As Christians, we are to be light in a dark world, so we do not want to conceal the light of Christ, but there are times when the container of your body must be used to conceal things.

Nothing can be concealed from God. He looks on the inside, at the secret things. He knows the thoughts and intents of the heart. The pitchers of Gideon’s army concealed their lights from the enemy until the time was right. The devil can’t read your mind, but he is watching you. There is a principle in the Bible of controlling yourself so that your weaknesses are not exposed.

And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway.

I Corinthians 9:25-27

We are to bring our bodies under self-control. Gideon’s pitchers contained nothing but light.

3. Pitchers can crumble.

Gideon’s army had to use pitchers that were breakable.

For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.

I Corinthians 1:26-29

God has given us a great treasure – greater than wealth, health, fame, or influence. It is the Gospel message. He could have entrusted it to an angel. He could have given it only to powerful, wealthy, or influential men.

In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake. For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.

II Corinthians 4:4-7

This way, God gets the glory, not men. Pitchers are fragile, but there is power even in a broken pitcher.

Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.

II Corinthians 12:10

When we are broken, empty, and weak, then His glorious light shines forth and frightens and confounds the enemy, and causes him to flee.

Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you. For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.

II Corinthians 13:3-4

When we look meek to men, we are strong in Christ. His power is strong in us. When Jesus was going toward the Cross He emptied Himself out of everything we tend to rely on for strength – He had no wealth, no reputation, no family, no friends, not even any clothes! On the Cross He was the emptiest Man Who ever lived. He even lay His Own life down when no man could take it from Him.

Into thine hand I commit my spirit: thou hast redeemed me, O LORD God of truth.

Psalm 31:5

I am forgotten as a dead man out of mind: I am like a broken vessel.

Psalm 31:12

Pitchers can contain. Does God’s Spirit live within you? Pitchers can conceal. Are you able to surrender to His Spirit and be controlled in your body? Pitchers can crumble. Have you ever been broken before God? Does His light shine through your brokenness? Will you make noise for the Lord in the midst of His enemies, even if it means you have to be broken into pieces to do it?

Pavlov’s Kids

November 17, 2009 at 9:16 am | Posted in Biblical Parenting, I Corinthians | 4 Comments
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Despite what is taught in biology classes all over the world, human beings are not a highly evolved form of animal. The Bible clearly delineates the differences between people and animals. However, there are some behavioral similarities.

Animals can be trained by a process of lure and reward. A dog which does not want to enter the veterinarian’s office might be tempted into the examination room with a dangled morsel of meat. The painful vaccination which follows will no doubt be good for the dog, even if the dog does not particularly enjoy it.

When the dog is later benefitting from a healthy heartworm-free and rabies-free life, he will not necessarily associate the benefits with his trip to the vet. Therefore, he must be enticed anew each time.

The ordinary, every-day, average, garden-variety 21st Century American teen-aged child is much the same. You can win over his or her willingness to come to church with delicious treats. Food and fun, games and gimmicks, seem good TO them, but they are not necessarily good FOR them. And, although they might be willing to sit through a Bible lesson in order to receive these treats, when the treats run out (usually around the time they turn into legal “adults”), it is unlikely they will continue to endure spiritual “treatment” without the fleshly “reward.” In other words, what you win them WITH, is what you win them TO.

Thankfully, the Bible gives us a better way to win converts to the Lord, regardless of their age or personal preferences.

Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.

I Corinthians 1:20-21

Believe it or not, it is the preaching of the Cross of Christ that wins converts to Christ, regardless of their age or interests. There is no Biblical authority for separating the means for getting young people to the Cross from the message of the Cross itself.

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