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

June 29, 2018 at 2:40 pm | Posted in big words of the Christian life | Leave a comment
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The presence of God, though invisible in its true essence, is inescapable throughout all of creation.

3.God’s presence is infinite.

God is not limited to any “place” – to any location or “point” of existence. He is truly everywhere all the time. Not only that, but “all of Him” is always present at every point all the time. We could say that He “fills up” the entire universe, but, being finite ourselves, such a concept is difficult to grasp. It might be more useful to think of everything in all of existence existing “within Him.”

God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands; Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things; And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation; That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us: For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.

Acts 17:24-28, emphasis added

4. God’s presence is invigorating.

The revelation that God is everywhere should prove to be a great comfort and a great motivation to His people. He does not stand aloof from His creation, and there is no possibility of an opposing regime or faction ultimately establishing itself anywhere within the realm of existence, because He not only supervises each molecule, but reigns absolutely supreme and victorious.

Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?

Isaiah 66:1

Can any hide himself in secret places that I shall not see him? saith the Lord. Do not I fill heaven and earth? saith the Lord.

Jeremiah 23:24

And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.

Ephesians 1:22-23

The Be Quietudes

September 20, 2016 at 12:14 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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Talking itself is not a sin. Christianity is a verbal religion, and the Gospel is communicated by words. “Faith cometh by hearing” (Romans 10:17). However, the Bible does emphasize that we should not talk sinfully.

The “Beatitudes” are found in the Sermon on the Mount.

Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God. Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God. Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness’ sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.

Matthew 5:3-11

The beautides describe the conditions for expeiencing blessedness, and they prescribe what some of the blessings are. Those who are blessed, according to Jesus, experience God’s favor, and are marked by the types of attitudes and actions which are pleasing in God’s sight, and which bring contentment, peace, and happiness to one’s life.

For this lesson I have borrowed the name “beatitude” and applied it to the idea that there are times when it is more blessed to be quiet than to speak up: “The Bequietudes.”

1. Blessed are those who don’t gossip, for they will not make things worse.

Where no wood is, [there] the fire goeth out: so where [there is] no talebearer, the strife ceaseth.

Proverbs 26:20

Gossip ends when nobody is willing to repeat it – the way a fire ends when there is no fuel left to burn.

2. Blessed are those who LISTEN, for they will gain understanding.

The hearing ear, and the seeing eye, the LORD hath made even both of them.

Proverbs 20:12

And he called the multitude, and said unto them, Hear, and understand:

Matthew 15:10

You can’t listen while you are talking. When people are talking all at once, it causes confusion. You learn more by listening than by talking. God gave you two ears and one mouth – take the hint, and try to listen at least twice as much as you speak.

3. Blessed are those who THINK, for they shall renew their minds.

And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what [is] that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.

Romans 12:2

The Gospel is intended to engage your intellect as much as your emotions. Christianity is not mysticism. Serious thinking is hindered, not enhanced, by talking.

4. Blessed are those who READ, for they shall gain knowledge.

And the book is delivered to him that is not learned, saying, Read this, I pray thee: and he saith, I am not learned.

Isaiah 29:12

Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane [and] vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness.

II Timothy 2:15-16

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Acts 17:11

It’s difficult to talk while you’re reading (unless you’re reading aloud!) Read the Bible. Read books about the Bible. Read other books, too, but be careful what you read. Don’t read things that do not edify.

5. Blessed are they who CONTEMPLATE, for they shall be prepared.

Or what king, going to make war against another king, sitteth not down first, and consulteth whether he be able with ten thousand to meet him that cometh against him with twenty thousand? Or else, while the other is yet a great way off, he sendeth an ambassage, and desireth conditions of peace. So likewise, whosoever he be of you that forsaketh not all that he hath, he cannot be my disciple.

Luke 14:31-33

Your mind is a temple. A temple is where man meets with God. Serious decisions are made during periods of silent contemplation, not audible conversation.

6. Blessed are they who MEDITATE, for they shall be glad in the Lord.

My meditation of him shall be sweet: I will be glad in the LORD.

Pslam 104:34

Meditation is deep thinking; unlike contemplation, though, it is not always thinking about a pending decision. It is where you seriously and silently consider what you have learned about God in His word. Meditation is an acquired taste that tastes better the more seriously you take it.

7. Blessed are they who DON’T BUTT IN, for they shall not look foolish.

A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.

Proverbs 18:2

He that answereth a matter before he heareth it, it [is] folly and shame unto him.

Proverbs 18:13

Even a fool, when he holdeth his peace, is counted wise: [and] he that shutteth his lips [is esteemed] a man of understanding.

Proverbs 17:28

It is important to analyze a situation before getting involved. A person with a reputation for wisdom is more trustworthy than a person with a reputation for being a know-it-all or a busybody. People have less of a tendency to trust someone that is shooting his mouth off all the time.

7. Blessed are they whose words are few, for they shall give a better account.

O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things: and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you, That every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment.

Matthew 12:34-36

One of the best evidences of what is in your heart is what comes out of your mouth, but, just because you are thinking something, you don’t have to say it. There needs to be a probationary holding pen (filter) before the words formed in your mind are deemed fit to come out of your mouth.

ability to not speak

(photo courtesy of: https://www.challies.com/a-la-carte/a-la-carte-august-28-3/)

How to Read the Bible (and Get Something out of It): Part 3

May 7, 2014 at 9:52 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 4 Comments
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Previously I discussed some of the exciting things about reading the Bible. Be patient with the Bible. Some sections are like a torrid novel (there are even some scandalous passages!), but some parts are more like the terse outline in a study guide for a history exam. Other sections are beautiful poetry. Take some time to figure out what genre you are reading. The Bible has an unlimited depth. The more you learn, the more you will want to know. And the more you want to know, the more fascinated you will be. Here are some practical tips for getting more out of your Bible-reading:

1. Remember the truthfulness of it.

Thy word [is] true [from] the beginning: and every one of thy righteous judgments [endureth] for ever.

Psalm 119:160

The Bible is unique in this respect. It is absolutely true in every circumstance and situation. It is the Word of God, and God cannot lie, and He cannot change. Therefore, His Word cannot be wrong, and it does not become outdated. Everything else you hear is susceptible to being (and often is) a lie. The Bible is the “verily verily” of God – the “true truth.” You can depend on it and rely on it, even when everything around you and “common sense” seem to indicate otherwise.

… yea, let God be true, but every man a liar; as it is written, That thou mightest be justified in thy sayings, and mightest overcome when thou art judged.

Romans 3:4

2. Reacquaint yourself with God in it.

Some people only have a second-hand knowledge of God. You know Him through your parents. You know Him through sermons. Your main experience of Him is through praise and worship. It’s time you get to know Him better – in the Bible.

According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that [pertain] unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

II Peter 1:3

We know that God is loving, just, merciful, gracious, wise, and powerful, because He tells us these things about Himself, and He has recorded Himself demonstrating these things in the Bible. Can you imagine your spouse, child, or favorite person in the world giving you a letter telling you their most important thoughts, and telling you what they are truly like, and you don’t bother to read it? God has demonstrated His love and His care for us in the highest way conceivable. How can we not want to find out as much as we can about Him?

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Acts 17:11

3. Recognize yourself in it.

The seeker-sensitive cliche’ “it’s not about you” is true, in a sense. But in another sense, it is about you. The Bible is where we learn how we got here and what our reason for existing is. A good hermeneutic principle to follow is to picture yourself as the sinner in every Bible story you read.

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is [the book] of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Revelation 20:11-15 (emphasis added)

For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.

John 3:16 (emphasis added)

You are in the Bible in one of those two verses. If you are truly a Christian, then you are a “whosoever” in John 3:16. If you have never trusted Christ as your Savior, then you remain one of the “whosoevers” in Revelation 20:15, and I plead with you to ask the Lord to change your status today.

Preparing to Hear from God: Responsive

February 5, 2014 at 12:26 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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The first two principles we noted in preparing to hear from God were R.eady and R.eceptive. We also need to be:

R.esponsive

Prepare to hear from God by pre-determining you are going to do what He says. Be responsive to God in two ways:

1. Be reactive.

Obey Him.

But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.

James 1:22

A response is a reaction. It’s changing your behavior to line up with what God says, or taking some new action – even if you don’t feel like you want to do it – because God said to do it.

2. Be realistic.

You can hear from God and not understand it completely the first time. What do you do when you honestly wanted to hear from God and you think He was speaking to you, but you are confused? You keep asking and listening.

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Acts 17:11

Be realistic. Don’t pretend that you have understood God when you haven’t, and don’t let somebody tell you that this is what God told me to tell you without checking it out for yourself.

This is how important hearing from God is:

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.

Hebrews 11:6

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Romans 10:17

If you say that you believe you are going to Heaven one day, could you open a Bible and show how you know that? People get saved by grace through faith – and that faith comes from hearing God’s Word.

Standing before the Throne: Possession

April 18, 2012 at 1:59 pm | Posted in The Great White Throne | 10 Comments
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And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them. And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire.

Revelation 20:11-15

The King of all kings is sitting on a Throne. Will you stand before Him one day? Are you prepared to stand before the King of all creation and be judged?

Lord, thank you for Your great plan of salvation. It is a grace-gift offered freely to us – even though it cost You so much. When we look in Your Word we see that we are so unclean – and we have no excuse. We are undone. All our reasoning, all our speculation, all our schemes and imaginings amount to nothing. Lord God, help us not to just put You “first.” Help us to recognize that You are now, have always been, and will always be so much more than just “number one” out of many others. Help us to see that You are worthy ALONE, and that You alone can save and sanctify. In the Name of Christ Jesus I pray. Amen.

Most of our lives are passed in a haze of distraction. We are caught up in entertainment, in amusements, in the day-to-day business of earning and spending money, and tending to our families and talking to our friends. It is as if all three of our enemies – the devil, the world, and our flesh – are conspiring to keep us preoccupied with the temporal and superficial. But there are times – maybe a five minute interlude of unexpected solitude – when we get what recovering alcoholics sometimes refer to as a “moment of clarity.” The cold water of reality hits us in the face and we suddenly see what life is really about. This can be terrifying – and terror is a rational response. Here’s why: Within a relatively few years everyone reading these words will see God. And the stark reality is that the most pressing issue in your life is: How will you be judged when you stand before His Throne?

If you are truly a Christian – if you have been truly born again – you will stand before the Judgment Seat of Christ. Your works will be judged there, but you won’t be judged for your sins. The reason why you will not be judged for your sins if you have been truly born again is that Christ Jesus was already judged in your place.

For those who are not truly Christians there is another judgment. If you choose to reject God’s Son, you will stand before God and be judged by Him at His Great White Throne. There are three things I want us to see about this Throne.

I. The Throne’s Possessor

And I saw a great white throne, and him that sat on it, from whose face the earth and the heaven fled away; and there was found no place for them.

Revelation 20:11 (emphasis added)

The Possessor of this Throne is the King. In fact, He is THE King of kings – the Lord of lords. He is the Possessor not only of this Throne, but of all of Heaven and of Earth – of all creation. This is a King who once appeared Himself before the judgment seat of men. Pontius Pilate sat on a judgment seat with Jesus Christ standing before him, and he bartered over him. He used Him like a pawn to bargain with King Herod. He trifled with this Man Who was a King, but the real King will one day judge Pilate.

For the Father judgeth no man, but hath committed all judgment unto the Son:

John 5:22

Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.

Acts 17:31

You see, God never stopped being God, but in the Person of Jesus Christ He became what God had never been before: a Man. Men crucified Him and He laid down His life. They buried Him, but the grave couldn’t hold Him. He was resurrected and He ascended. He came – in the body of a Man – to the gates of Heaven. Imagine the scene with me… Can you hear the silence within? The gasping and the holding of breath within the courts of Heaven? Who is this One who dares to come to these gates? What manner of man – a MAN! – dares to approach where only angels have come before? And this Man says,

Lift up your heads, O ye gates; and be ye lift up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

Psalm 24:7

Can you see the significance of this? A Man commanding the ancient gates to lift up! Perhaps a lone inhabitant of the Heavenly City dares to speak up:

Who is this King of glory..?

Psalm 24:8(a)

And the reply comes back:

…The LORD strong and mighty, the LORD mighty in battle.

Psalm 24:8(b)

Now – with great authority – not a request for admission, but a command:

Lift up your heads, O ye gates; even lift them up, ye everlasting doors; and the King of glory shall come in.

Psalm 24:9

The gates lift at His command, and this King of Glory enters… All bow before Him. All give Him praise and honor and glory. All worship and adore Him. He goes up to the Father – to the Father’s right hand – and He sits on a Throne that is both great and white – and He looks to the Father, and He says, “Father, it is finished.” Not a question. No hint of not belonging. Perfect Son and perfect Father and perfect Holy Spirit – all Three in One. The Father looks at the Son, and says, “Yes, Son – it is finished indeed.” Oh, can you see the Possessor of this Throne – the rightful Owner – the rightful King!

Maybe someone at some time has exhorted you to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Maybe you have been told to “crown Him King.” Perhaps someone has pleaded with you to “put Him on the throne of your heart.” But according to the Bible, God has already made Him Lord over all!

Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ.

Acts 2:36

The word which God sent unto the children of Israel, preaching peace by Jesus Christ: (he is Lord of all:)

Acts 10:36

He is Lord over His children and over His enemies. He reigns and rules in Heaven and on Earth and in hell. One day you will stand before Him in judgment. Are you ready for that day?

The Lord is the Possessor of the Throne. Next time we will look at the Power of the Throne.

Discipleship Lesson 6: The Local Church

February 7, 2011 at 10:18 am | Posted in Discipleship Lessons, I Corinthians | 62 Comments
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God has established three main institutions here on earth: the family; the government; and the local church. The local church acts as Christ’s body in carrying out God’s purposes in reaching the lost and helping to perfect the saved.

I. What is the local church?

And when they were come, and had gathered the church together, they rehearsed all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith unto the Gentiles.

Acts 14:27

The local church is not a building.

God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.

John 4:24

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

There is “The Church,” which is the Bride and Body of Christ, and which consists of all the born-again Christians from all times and from all over the world. And then there is “the local church.” Local churches are made up of people who meet together regularly to worship and serve the Lord in a specific place.

For the body is not one member, but many. If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling? But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body.

I Corinthians 12:14-20

Each part of your body has at least one specific function. Each member of the local church should have at least one specific function. Not all members have the same function.

And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you.

I Corinthians 12:21

No part of your body can function alone. In the local church, members aren’t meant to function alone.

Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness.

I Corinthians 12:22-23

Each member’s contribution is important.

For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.

I Corinthians 12:24-28

A properly functioning body operates as a single unit. A local church should operate in harmony and unity.

II. What are the responsibilities of the local church?

The first local church was organized in Jerusalem.

And they continued stedfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers.

Acts 2:42

The local church’s responsibilities include: the teaching of the Word of God; fellowship with other believers; prayer.

Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added unto them about three thousand souls.

Acts 2:41

The local church should observe the two ordinances of the Church: baptism and the Lord’s Supper.

And fear came upon every soul: and many wonders and signs were done by the apostles.

Acts 2:43

The local church should be a testimony of God’s grace and power.

And all that believed were together, and had all things common; And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.

Acts 2:44-45

The local church should be involved in mutual assistance and ministry.

And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.

Acts 2:46-47

The local church should reach out into the community and glorify and praise God.

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

Ephesians 4:11-16

According to the Scriptures the number one priority of the local church seems to be to build up, teach, and strengthen believers.

III. Why is it important for you to be involved in a local church?

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Ephesians 4:11-12

There are three basic growth stages in the life of a believer: (1) observe and learn; (2) participate; (3) lead by serving.

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.

Ephesians 2:10

And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

II Timothy 2:2

As a believer who belongs to a local church, first you learn, and then you teach what you have learned.

IV. Questions

A. How should you decide with which local church to become involved?

Pray about it.

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him.

James 1:5

B. What are some qualities you should look for in a local church?

1. Evidence of evangelism

Wherefore by their fruits ye shall know them.

Matthew 7:20

2. A belief that the Bible is the Word of God and that it is absolutely true.

Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

Titus 1:9

Members should be encouraged to read the Bible as much as leaders.

These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.

Acts 17:11

3. Ministry to needs

And in those days, when the number of the disciples was multiplied, there arose a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration.

Acts 6:1

4. Support of missionaries

And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away.

Acts 13:3

C. What are two of the main purposes of the local church?

Reaching the lost and helping to perfect the saved.

V. Memory verses

And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

Ephesians 4:11-12

Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.

I Corinthians 12:27

And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

II Timothy 2:2

The Husband of One Wife – Part 1

September 23, 2010 at 9:02 am | Posted in Bible Studies, Biblical Marriage | 8 Comments
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Why did some of the Old Testament patriarchs have multiple wives?

I. What God Authorized

And the LORD God said, It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him an help meet for him. 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. 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. And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Genesis 2:18-25

From what part of Adam was Eve taken? Not from his head or his foot, but from his side. This symbolizes equality, protection, and proximity to his “heart.” How many ribs did God take from Adam? Not two, not three – just one. Adam named the fish and the birds first. They could do things he couldn’t do: live underwater and fly. The land animals were doing something that Adam couldn’t do alone: mating with the females of their kind – and the fact that Adam did not have a mate was not good. God created man so that one woman is sufficient to meet all his needs. That’s God’s plan. That’s His standard. That’s what He authorized. God made it very clear: one man; one woman; two people; one made for the other; becoming one flesh.

However, note that they became one flesh – not one spirit. Marriage is a physical, earthly union, not a spiritual, eternal union. Marriage is an earthly institution ordained by God. God’s rules for it are to be obeyed. He does not want us tampering with them. When God ordains something there are blessings in doing it right. There is danger in doing it wrong. The same principle applies to baptism, the Lord’s Supper, and the Church.

Are there people who were married on earth who are in Heaven right now and are still in a marriage relationship?

He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches; To him that overcometh will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knoweth saving he that receiveth it.

Revelation 2:17

Marriage relationships in Heaven would require divided affections as spouses would still owe allegiance to each other. In Heaven all allegiance, service, and worship will be directed toward the Lord alone. My wife is God’s daughter first and foremost.

So, what about the polygamy that we see in the Old Testament? It’s always good to look in the Bible and see the “firsts.”

And Lamech said unto his wives, Adah and Zillah, Hear my voice; ye wives of Lamech, hearken unto my speech: for I have slain a man to my wounding, and a young man to my hurt.

Genesis 4:23

The Lamech from the ungodly line of Cain was the first bigamist. (He may have also been the author of the first sinful poem or song.) The “and” in Genesis 4:23 does not denote two separate killings. It is like when I say, “I went to the store and I went with my shoes on.” That does not mean that I went to the store twice. It is parallelism for emphasis. The same kind of “and” connects Genesis 1:1 and 1:2: “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters.” Lamech not only celebrated his killing with a little ditty, but he made a mockery of God’s mercy to Cain.

If Cain shall be avenged sevenfold, truly Lamech seventy and sevenfold.

Genesis 4:24

Jesus made a mockery of Lamech, though, when He said that His followers were not to get revenge to a degree of seventy times seven, but are to forgive to the degree of seventy times seven.

What God authorizes (what He “wills,” in one sense) and what God allows are two different things.

II. What God Allows

Remember, God destroyed the world, saving only Noah and his family, but at the tower of Babel men turned to idolatry and paganism. God called Abraham at a time when there weren’t that many Godly women around. When we read about the patriarchs of the Old Testament we have to remember that Old Testament examples are given for good and bad examples. God did use bigamists and polygamists at times. Who is He using today? “Great men of God?” No, He is using liars, adulterers, murderers, idolators, blasphemers – broken, pitiful, sinful, wretched men of a great and merciful and loving and holy God: trophies of His grace. Therefore, we can not assume that because God used polygamists in the Old Testament to do His will that He condoned their polygamy.

If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated:

Deuteronomy 21:15, emphasis added

This is a case where the first wife has died.

Then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn:

Deuteronomy 21:16

Now the husband is focused only on his living wife, but God is saying that he must not forget his firstborn child.

But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his. If a man have [present tense] a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them [present tense]:

Deuteronomy 21:17-18, emphasis and parentheses added

To say that polygamy is okay with God based on Deuteronomy 21:15-16 is the same as saying that having a stubborn and rebellious son is okay with God based on Deuteronomy 21:17-18.

Many times the New Testament clarifies the Old Testament.

Forasmuch then as we are the offspring of God, we ought not to think that the Godhead is like unto gold, or silver, or stone, graven by art and man’s device. And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent:

Acts 17:29-30

God, in patience, longsuffering, and love, overlooked the iniquities of men. But where Christ is proclaimed, God will not wink at idol worship.

Consider the Words of Jesus:

And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder. They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so.

Matthew 19:4-8

Some Old Testament patriarchs had multiple wives and appeared to be blessed: Jacob, David, some of the kings of Israel and Judah.

Here are some men greatly used by God that had one wife: Adam, Noah, Isaac, Moses, Job, Isaiah, Hosea, Joseph, Jesus (His “bride” being the Church).

The practice of multiplying wives grew and increased under Saul. David engaged in it. It culminated under Solomon.

We have seen:
I. What God Authorized

Next time we will finish looking at:
II. What God Allows,
and discuss:
III. What God Accepts

After the Fire

May 20, 2010 at 10:22 am | Posted in Daniel | 4 Comments
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Lord, we know that You are in the midst of Your people in their times of trial, testing, and trouble, just like You were with Daniel’s friends in the fiery furnace. You were in the midst of their troubles because You had been in the midst of their prayer time, their Bible study time, their time of assembling together with their brothers to learn about You. Please remind us to call upon You to enter into our midst when we do these things also. In Jesus Christ’s Name, Amen.

The king answered and said to the Chaldeans, The thing is gone from me: if ye will not make known unto me the dream, with the interpretation thereof, ye shall be cut in pieces, and your houses shall be made a dunghill.

Daniel 2:5

The threat to make their houses a dunghill was a threat not only to them, but to those they represented. For the Chaldeans it would only be their own families, but to Daniel and his friends, it would be all the Jews they represented. Daniel did not take sole credit for what the Lord allowed him to do. His friends had been faithful to pray with him for the interpretation of the dream (Daniel 2:36), so he was faithful to give them part of the credit.

By Daniel Chapter 3 Nebuchadnezzar had already forgotten how he had been forced to acknowledge the greatness of Daniel’s God. He builds a statue (Daniel 3:1) 60 cubits by 6 cubits. If we think of the number of the beast, 666, we see two of the sixes in these dimensions, but where is the third six?

That at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet [1], flute [2], harp [3], sackbut [4], psaltery [5], dulcimer [6], and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the golden image that Nebuchadnezzar the king hath set up:

Daniel 3:5 (bracketed numerals added)

There are six instruments mentioned, which, combined with the measurements of the false idol, may be a clue to us that this music was being inspired and used by Satan.

And whoso falleth not down and worshippeth, that he should be cast into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. There are certain Jews whom thou hast set over the affairs of the province of Babylon, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego; these men, O king, have not regarded thee: they serve not thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.

Daniel 3:11-12

Three stood up when when everyone else fell down.

Then these men were bound in their coats, their hosen, and their hats, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace.

Daniel 3:21

He answered and said, Lo, I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire, and they have no hurt; and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.

Daniel 3:25

Daniel’s friends were saved from the fire and their bonds were loosed. They were set free and their bonds were loosed, but their clothes were not burned off.

And the princes, governors, and captains, and the king’s counsellors, being gathered together, saw these men, upon whose bodies the fire had no power, nor was an hair of their head singed, neither were their coats changed, nor the smell of fire had passed on them.

Daniel 3:27

Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort.

Daniel 3:29

Daniel’s friends yielded their bodies. How did they know to yield their bodies to righteousness when they didn’t have the New Testament? They knew the principle of Romans 6:13 before it was written.

Daniel Chapter 4 is Nebudchadnezzar’s official autobiographical document. This is unique in the Bible, that God made a pagan king’s official writing a part of inspired Scripture.

Nebuchadnezzar had a vision of a tree, and he was overcome again with pride. When Daniel interpreted the dream for Nebuchadnezzar, it was revealed as a vision of Nebuchadnezzar himself, being cut down, and banded or sealed in the wilderness for a period of seven years. Daniel followed the pattern of calling an unbeliever to repentance, which I have analyzed with the acrostic O.A.R.S. from Acts 17. He O.pened. (Daniel 4:24). He A.lleged (Daniel 4:22), as he cited the Word of God as prophesied by the prophet Jeremiah. He R.easoned (Daniel 4:18-19), as he dialogued with the king and used tact and love. He S.poke and S.hared the truth (Daniel 4:27), as he preached.

Big Words of the Christian Life: Propitiation

March 11, 2010 at 11:35 am | Posted in big words of the Christian life | 21 Comments
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Here are three Big Words of the Christian Life:

*Justification: the act of God, Who, by grace, declares sinners who have believed on Jesus Christ to be righteous

*Adoption: the act of God by which He grants believers an adult standing in His family

*Regeneration: the act of God which grants a second, spiritual birth, and new life, to the person who has trusted Jesus Christ as his Savior

Here is a fourth Big Word of the Christian Life:

*Propitiation: The sacrifice of Jesus Christ on the Cross which made it so that God could be both merciful and just in saving lost sinners

That is Propitiation defined. Here is Propitiation declared:

Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;

Romans 3:25

God and Jesus work together in everything having do with salvation, so do not get the idea that God “set Jesus forth” because He was angry at Him. They are one God – one God in three Persons. (The Holy Spirit is also included in the Godhead.) Propitiation in general means to appease wrath, but God and Jesus sort of agreed that the Son would be the sacrifice for sin. Jesus did not plead with an angry God Who was prepared to destroy everyone. This was God’s plan, but God’s holiness and justice and wrath do require blood for the remission of sins. “Through faith in his blood,” says Romans 3:25, and to declare His (God’s) righteousness. Propitiation is the only way God could still be righteous and forgive sinners.

The sins that were past – the sins of the Old Testament and from the beginning of the world – had not been forgiven. They had been passed over through the forbearance of God.

Propitiation defined
Propitiation declared
Now,
Propitiation demanded:

Jesus Himself was the propitiation – and propitiation was the transaction between God and Jesus. Propitiation was the only possible meeting and satisfaction of God’s love and mercy with His wrath and justice.

Wherefore in all things it behoved him to be made like unto his brethren, that he might be a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to God, to make reconciliation for the sins of the people.

Hebrews 2:17

Jesus, the great High Priest, did what no earthly priest could ever accomplish in the Levitical system. He fully atoned for the sins of all God’s people for all time. Under the Levitical system of propitiation the high priest carried the blood into the Holy of Holies and sprinkled it on the mercy seat, between the images of angels looking down at the top of the ark, the dimensions of which represented the Law of God. God’s Law had been broken, and only His Own blood would satisfy His wrath and the curse caused by the breaking of His Law.

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: And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.

I John 2:1-2, emphasis added

If you have a Bible version that uses “sacrifice” or “atoning sacrifice” you are missing out on a big part of the richness of what God is telling us here. Our Advocate with the Father is not just some heavenly lawyer. He’s not some created being – not even an angel. He is Jesus Christ the righteous – and when God’s justice demands satisfaction for the penalty of sins, He not only brings payment in to the mercy seat, He is the payment – the bloody sacrifice that is demanded.

Propitiation defined
Propitiation declared
Propitiation demanded
And here’s the part that’s even richer:
Propitiation desired:

Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins.

I John 4:10

God loved us – we did not love Him. He desired us – we did not desire Him. He sent His Son – not only to make the sacrifice, but to be the sacrifice. That’s propitiation! God did not just “demonstrate” His love. (Romans 5:8) He commended His love – He sent His love – His Son! Herein is love – do you want to know what love is? Do you want a motivation to be loving?

Propitiation defined: Tell people about it.
Propitiation declared: Look to Jesus whenever you don’t feel loving. In fact, look to Him all the time.
Propitiation demanded: Remember what our sin cost God.
Propitiation desired: Remember that God was not trapped by some mysterious cosmic law into doing what He did for us. He truly loves us.

Let’s love like Him – giving, providing, encouraging with words and deeds, covering the sins of others, fixing other people’s messes, getting involved in other people’s problems.

Swimming for Spiritual Fitness

October 19, 2009 at 9:06 am | Posted in BiblicalSwimming, Ezekiel | 3 Comments
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Swimming is one of the best forms of exercise. It utilizes almost the entire body: the arms, legs, shoulders, back, and abdominal muscles. It is great for the cardiovascular system because it increases the heart-rate and helps to control breathing. Water can seem as hard as concrete if we fall into it from a high distance, but swimming in it is a low-impact exercise because it causes no jarring to the bones and joints. Water is thicker than air, so swimming involves muscle-building resistance.

The water of God’s grace is likewise a good place for spiritual exercise.

Afterward he measured a thousand; and it was a river that I could not pass over: for the waters were risen, waters to swim in

Ezekiel 47:5 (Emphasis added.)

God’s grace teaches us to present our entire bodies over to Him for our complete spiritual exercise (Romans 12:1-2). The grace of God influences our breathing (Psalm 150:6) and our heart rate (Luke 24:32). The impact of God’s grace can break us like a rock, but He is the Rock Who then redeems us, puts us back together, and makes us whole (Psalm 78:34-35). The very presence of God Himself envelops Christians the way water engulfs a swimmer.

For in him we live, and move, and have our being…

Acts 17:28

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