God vs. Sin (Part Two)

October 21, 2019 at 4:27 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments
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God is not disinterested in sin. As I pointed out in Part One, He actively opposes it. Here are some of the figurative ways the Bible describes how God deals with sin:

1. God subdues and drowns sin in the depth of the sea.

He will turn again, he will have compassion upon us; he will subdue our iniquities; and thou wilt cast all their sins into the depths of the sea.

Micah 7:19

To subdue something is to apprehend it, hold it down, control it, and keep it down. The “depths of the sea,” to an Old Testament Israelite, was a forbidden place, a place where no one would ever want to go. God throws sin into outer darkness, where the record of it against His people can not be retrieved or “brought up” again.

How does this image of God’s victory over sin help us? It reminds us to live our lives figuratively up in the open air of God’s presence, not down in the depth of darkness and despair.

2. God places sin beyond reach.

As far as the east is from the west, so far hath he removed our transgressions from us.

Psalm 103:12

The joining of the east to the west is a geographical impossibility. These destinations are never connected. There is an infinity of distance between them, and that is the type of removal that God does with the guilt caused by our sins.

How does this image of God’s removal of sin help us? It reminds us that we are free to move in all directions in the grace of God. We may go to places that remind us of our sins and past temptations, but they are no longer in the same hemisphere that we occupy in Christ.

3. God washes sin away.

Come now, and let us reason together, saith the LORD: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.

Isaiah 1:18

Even the strongest detergent can not remove ALL dinginess from a white garment once it has been stained, but the blood of Christ is stronger than the strongest detergent. It completely removes the stain of sin, and grants believers the pure white robe of Christ’s righteousness.

How does this help us? We don’t have to feel the shame of defilement or believe that we are too “dirty” or that we are covered with too many telling stains to be of service to God.

4. God throws sin behind His back and covers it up.

Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back.

Isaiah 38:17

Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.

Romans 4:7-8

While we have the comfort of knowing that – in Christ – our sins are behind us, here we are told that they are also behind God. He who covers his own sin will not prosper, but the person whose sins are covered by ANOTHER – specifically, by God – is truly blessed. He has placed them out of His view, back in what we think of as the past. We draw near to God, He draws near to us, and, because our sin is now behind Him, it is no longer between Him and us.

How does this help us? It reminds us that a life of Christian service is a life of moving forward. Things thrown behind us do not stand in our way. We are free to advance in our sanctification and out of our former comfort zones, as we stay active in serving Him. Everyone has a garbage can, but no one chooses to hang out near it. This is important in our relationships too. Getting hysterical is bad; getting historical is worse. Don’t retrieve things that God has thrown behind His back.

5. God blots out and forgets sin.

I, even I, am he that blotteth out thy transgressions for mine own sake, and will not remember thy sins.

Isaiah 43:25

Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;

Colossians 2:14

For I will be merciful to their unrighteousness, and their sins and their iniquities will I remember no more.

Hebrews 8:12

This blotting-out has a connotation of an official notation made of and the satisfaction and cancellation of a debt in a bookkeeping or record-keeping context. Sin was taken by Jesus and nailed to His Cross. There it was covered by His blood and stamped “paid in full.” This is done not merely for our sakes, but for His own sake – His own glory. He divinely erases, cancels, and “forgets” the record of sin on our ledger and in His holy “books.”

How does this help us? We face an accuser who is quick to remind us of our sin, but God does not remember it. The official record has been erased as though it never existed. With a clean slate, we may serve the Lord with a clean conscience.

F. God expiates (takes away) sin.

The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.

John 1:29

God has thoroughly defeated sin. He has subdued it and drowned it in the depth of the sea. He has placed it beyond reach. He has washed it away. He has thrown it behind His back and covered it up. He has blotted it out and forgotten it.
He has expiated it by laying it upon Jesus who carried it away. He can therefore forgive us for it, demonstrating His grace, mercy, and love, while remaining holy, just, and righteous.

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

October 22, 2018 at 12:49 pm | Posted in II Corinthians, Quotes | 1 Comment
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We are finite, we are sinners, and we are lost. We need a word from God. We need gospel. We need Christ. And you can tell how bumfuzzled we all are in that the Christians are the first group that needs to learn how important Christ is. The evangelicals are the first group that needs to learn that the parliaments of earth need the evangel. We are not going to be able to get secularists out of their secularism until we get out of it. Somebody needs to get all the lifeguards off the bottom of the pool. That would be a good start.

Douglas Wilson

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

II Corinthians 6:17

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

Colossians 2:8

Where the Sun Don’t Shine

August 3, 2018 at 2:23 pm | Posted in Biblical Eyesight, Social Media Shares and Mass Emails | 7 Comments
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Last year, I shared these helpful, but vastly underappreciated, thoughts with the married couples Sunday School class that I teach:

Because absolutely no one has asked me to share my thoughts on the big solar eclipse, I find myself unable to resist the urge to publicize my opinions and innermost convictions about it. Here goes:

1. The solar eclipse (Lord willing) is happening this Monday, August 21, 2017, which is also one of my daughters’ (maybe the 4th or 5th one, I forget) birthday. I don’t know where the moon got the big idea to block out the sun on the most important day of the year, but whatever.

2. From everything I’ve heard and read there is a possibility of going blind or at least losing part of your eyesight by looking at the sun. As somebody who has struggled with some fairly serious vision problems, that pretty much seals the deal for me. Seeing a black shadow pass by in the sky, a little dot with a corona, weird perspectives in the clouds – those might be cool, I guess, but I’m not risking my eyesight, so if you want to borrow my huge black old-people shades they make me wear when I ask for the senior citizen discount at the hospital cafeteria after my eye exams, you’re welcome to them. I won’t need them, because I’ll be looking at the ground just to be on the safe side. I found a five dollar bill lying in a gutter during the last eclipse!

3. My first grade teacher (in our one-room mud-and-straw schoolhouse on the prairie) had a scale model of the solar system. We could play with it and make the little model earth pass between the little model sun and moon, and the moon pass between the sun and the earth, and all sorts of configurations that happen when spheres move around each other in circles. Whether a solar eclipse happens once in a lifetime or once every thousand years or whatever, it seemed apparent that it would happen eventually, so I was kind of over it at that point. It’s like when your car’s odometer rolls over to 111,111 miles. Sort of neat, but not really a reason to take off work or skip school.

4. So, if I’m such an eclipse-scrooge, why bring it up at all, you ask. Because I don’t want Christians (especially Christian parents) to get too carried away with the latest cultural fads. Colossians 2:8 says, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” The word translated as “rudiments” contains the idea of the regular movements of the celestial bodies (the stars, planets, sun, and moon). People in Bible times tended to place spiritual significance in astrology, and many people still do it today. I don’t want our children to think that this is some “miracle” or “sign from God,” and, more to the point, we don’t want them to think that normal (though God-controlled) natural occurrences are more interesting than the glory of God Himself which is the real purpose of these things. Just as some children’s Bible lessons teach that thirsty deer remind us of how we ought to thirst for the presence of God, and how soaring eagles remind us that waiting upon the Lord allows us to soar above our trials and temptations, and that bold lions remind us of the power and strength of the Lion of Judah, so too, we need to make sure that they know that the heavens (and the celestial bodies that revolve around each other in them) declare the glory of God (Psalm 19:1). I hope my children think I’m much more excited about God, His Word, and His people than I am about inanimate spheres and their orbits.

5. Here’s a suggestion for “redeeming” your eclipse-viewing experience – something that I’ve told my kids and something that you can explain even if a typical South Louisiana thunderstorm covers the sky on Monday afternoon, spoiling your plans to go blind. You can even demonstrate this with a globe, a flashlight, a bouncy ball, and a mirror, safely within the confines of your air-conditioned living room. Tell them this: The earth revolves around the sun, and the earth rotates, but it doesn’t just rotate – it “repents” – over and over again – it turns to darkness, and then back to light. And the sun is like God – it shines its glory. We want to be like the moon. The moon reflects the glory of the sun onto the part of the earth (the world) that’s turned away from the sun. We need to be “moonlight” Christians. We don’t care about shining our own light. We just want to reflect God’s light on a dark world.

A One Thousand Year Flood

October 18, 2016 at 12:59 pm | Posted in The Flood | 3 Comments
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Although the flood which happened in southeastern Louisiana in August, 2016, was declared to be a “1000-year flood,” there is some confusion as to exactly what that meant. Some people were saying it was such a rare catastrophic occurrence, that it was the kind of thing that only happens once every thousand years. Others said it meant that there is only a .001 percent chance of such an event happening in any given year. For those who found themselves wading through three feet of rain-and-river water flowing through their uninsured living rooms, it did not make much difference at that point, other than the meager consolation that, having rolled the meteorological equivalent of snake eyes during their lifetimes, at least now they wouldn’t have to deal with such a problem again.

While it is dubious as to whether or not this makes sense even statistically speaking, Christians, of all people, ought to know better. God – Who controls the weather – does not deal in “odds,” “chance,” “luck,” or blind “fate.” He could bring a flood in 2017, 2018, 2019, and every year thereafter, or He might decide never to allow a mud puddle to form south of the Mason-Dixon line until Jesus comes back. Living in a world that is obviously designed, but subject to apparent randomness in the events that affect it, can cause us, if we are not careful, to forget that the Lord is in control.

The lot is cast into the lap; but the whole disposing thereof is of the Lord.

Proverbs 16:33

He is under no obligation to follow a statistical pattern or to bow down to any so-called laws of probability.

But our God is in the heavens: he hath done whatsoever he hath pleased.

Psalm 115:3

As faithful Christians, we have the privilege of praying that God would send favorable weather, but we also recognize that He knows best, and we joyfully submit to His supreme, perfectly wise will. Otherwise we run the danger of being “spoiled” by this world’s system, which gives praise to “fortune” or “luck” rather than the sovereign God.

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

Colossians 2:8

A Diet of Distinction (Part One)

July 13, 2016 at 2:43 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Comments
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And the LORD spake unto Moses and to Aaron, saying unto them, Speak unto the children of Israel, saying, These are the beasts which ye shall eat among all the beasts that are on the earth. Whatsoever parteth the hoof, and is clovenfooted, and cheweth the cud, among the beasts, that shall ye eat. Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the hoof: as the camel, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. And the coney, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. And the hare, because he cheweth the cud, but divideth not the hoof; he is unclean unto you. And the swine, though he divide the hoof, and be clovenfooted, yet he cheweth not the cud; he is unclean to you. Of their flesh shall ye not eat, and their carcase shall ye not touch; they are unclean to you.

Leviticus 11:1-8

Although the Old Testament law is in the Bible, and although it was given by God, not all of the Old Testament law is binding upon Christians today. A misunderstanding of the relevance, context, and application of Old Testament law breeds common claims of inconsistency among Bible skeptics, but we understand that there were different categories of law under the Mosaic Covenant.

Some of the laws were moral laws, such as the Ten Commandments. These laws are written upon the conscience of every human being, and they have applied at all times in all places for all people.

Some of the laws were ceremonial laws. These dealt with the Aaronic or Levitical priesthood and Tabernacle (later Temple) worship.

Some of the laws were civil laws. These were casuistic, or case law principles and precepts for governing relationships between people. They were “if, then” type laws.

Some of the laws were dietary laws. They promoted cleanliness and practical holiness, but they are no longer binding under the New Covenant.

On the morrow, as they went on their journey, and drew nigh unto the city, Peter went up upon the housetop to pray about the sixth hour: And he became very hungry, and would have eaten: but while they made ready, he fell into a trance, And saw heaven opened, and a certain vessel descending upon him, as it had been a great sheet knit at the four corners, and let down to the earth: Wherein were all manner of fourfooted beasts of the earth, and wild beasts, and creeping things, and fowls of the air. And there came a voice to him, Rise, Peter; kill, and eat. But Peter said, Not so, Lord; for I have never eaten any thing that is common or unclean. And the voice spake unto him again the second time, What God hath cleansed, that call not thou common. This was done thrice: and the vessel was received up again into heaven.

Acts 10:9-16

The ceremonial and sacrificial and dietary laws of the Old Covenant pointed to Christ and were fulfilled in Him.

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?

Colossians 2:16-22

Only the moral laws are considered binding under the New Covenant. The law of Christ is the law of love. True love never encourages, condones, or tolerates immorality, much less celebrates it.

However, the dietary laws, and the reasons for them, have much to teach us even to this day. These laws protected God’s people from uncleanness. They commanded purity. To some extent they were laws promoting good health and hygiene, but, more importantly, with so many laws stressing what not to eat, what not to touch, where not to go, what not to wear, God’s people would have a constant awareness of the ubiquity of sin.

If thou doest well, shalt thou not be accepted? and if thou doest not well, sin lieth at the door. And unto thee shall be his desire, and thou shalt rule over him.

Genesis 4:7

In a fallen world, we need to be reminded of sin’s constant presence. In fact, as New Testament Christians, it would be good if we were even more conscious of, and afraid of, sin than the Old Testament Israelites were.

Furthermore, regardless of the “science” or the “common sense” behind the Old Testament dietary and hygiene laws, they were to be obeyed because “God said so,” and, for the Jewish people before the time when Christ fulfilled and did away with the ceremonial and dietary laws, it was sin for the people to break them.

In Part Two we will look at the role that the Israelites’ special diet played in God’s requirement for them to be “holy.”

God’s Will concerning Your Joy

October 5, 2015 at 11:36 am | Posted in Where There's a Way There's a Will | 2 Comments
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Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body: not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

Colossians 2:23

The heresy in the church in Colossae was an early example of what would later become called Manichaeism. Manichaeism was started by an Iranian false prophet named Mani. It taught that the “spirit of the world” must be denied to the point where misery was a necessary ingredient of Christian service. Originally, its ideas competed with Christianity, but its principles appealed to some Christians, and the Gnostics attempted to sort of “adopt it into” Christianity, although it was quickly denounced as a heresy.

The truth is that God’s will for your life is not that He simply wants you to be miserable. However, in an attempt to counteract the false teachings of Manichaeism, it may be that the pendulum has swung too far the other way. The crisis in the modern Church is that we have a tendency to associate God’s will only with our temporal happiness. We fail to take into account the eternal weight of glory (Romans 8:18) which might be built, and we devalue perseverance and discipline as means of sanctification.

God does not get a kick out of you being unhappy in your marriage or on your job or from any physical or financial limitations you might have, but neither does He give carte blanche to be guided by your feelings. God is God of the decretive and He’s God of the absconditus, but He’s also God of the circumstances and the details.

As Christians, we are soldiers, so we have to train (unpleasant but necessary); we have to go to battle (excruciating but necessary); and we will eventually get to enjoy the spoils of victory (have a feast and ride in a parade), which is joyful while still being God-glorifying.

So, you may get the joy of helping people on a job you hate, and you may experience the ecstasy of “making up” (or the virtues of patience and contentment) after enduring mistreatment by your spouse. Either way, God’s will for your life is sanctification and joy in Him. Don’t get too caught up trying to demonstrate your “free will.” We are terrible judges of our own summum bonum. We are “settlors” when God wants us to be “overcomers.”

These things I have spoken unto you, that in me ye might have peace. In the world ye shall have tribulation: but be of good cheer; I have overcome the world.

John 16:33

This reference to the spirit of “the world” includes Manichaeism (let’s hurt ourselves to prove our own will power) and Libertinism (let’s eat and drink for tomorrow we die).

Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter. Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.

Romans 8:35-37 (emphasis added)

God’s Will and Our Will

September 18, 2015 at 9:26 am | Posted in Where There's a Way There's a Will | 8 Comments
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Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law;

Romans 2:17-18 (emphasis added)

One of the distinguishing features about sometimes categorizing God’s will as preceptive, rather than decretive or secretive, is that God’s preceptive will is clearly revealed.

For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not.

Romans 7:18

There is nothing good in our flesh. Have you come to grips with this in your life? Have you preached this to yourself and to the children entrusted by God into your care? God’s will can sometimes be described as dispositive, as can ours, but, in a stark contrast to His, our disposition, apart from His Spirit controlling us, is toward evil.

For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members. O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death? I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord. So then with the mind I myself serve the law of God; but with the flesh the law of sin.

Romans 7:19-25

Our wills are always subject to God’s decretive will, but they are often in abject rebellion against His preceptive will. Our wills are subject to our desires, but there is hope in Christ, for He can change our desires and thereby make our wills subject to God’s will.

One important thing to remember about God’s hidden will is that it is intentionally hidden. God has His reasons for not revealing His secret will to us, and those reasons are good. Historically, though, this has not sat well with everyone who claims to be a Christian. There were those in the early Church – including ascetics, gnostics, and legalists – who wanted to add their beliefs to Scripture’s teaching about God’s preceptive will, and to insist that their additions were binding, when in fact God had not revealed them to be so.

Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body: not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.

Colossians 2:23

The “things” referred to were possibly things like refusing to eat and wearing itchy clothes – things that appeared to mortify the flesh in an attempt to exercise “self”-control over the will. These denials of self and comfort were supposed to “prove” how spiritual the practitioners were by demonstrating their own “will power,” but they were basically worshiping their own will by pretending it was God’s will.

The truth is that there are certain areas where Scripture grants liberty and the application of personal conscience – for example, exact clothing choices, which holy days to observe, and what to eat or drink. In these areas, we should acknowledge that, where God has chosen to close His holy mouth, we ought not to be loud with ours.

The Man Who Fell out of Church (Narrative)

January 11, 2013 at 11:50 am | Posted in Outcasts of Ministry | 10 Comments
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This is a continuation of a series of lessons entitled Outcasts of Ministry: The Addict, the Slave, and the Man Who Fell Out of Church.

The Man Who Fell Out of Church

God’s people were being called outcasts.

For I will restore health unto thee, and I will heal thee of thy wounds, saith the LORD; because they called thee an Outcast, saying, This is Zion, whom no man seeketh after.

Jeremiah 30:17

One of the promises God made to the people of Israel was that one day their “congregation” would be established: their organized meetings for worship, and the business of church government.

Their children also shall be as aforetime, and their congregation shall be established before me, and I will punish all that oppress them.

Jeremiah 30:20

They were a people who had been punished, persecuted, and enslaved. They had become addicted to sin, and they had fallen out of the habit of going to church – of meeting together in a congregation. You may know someone right now who has gotten out of the habit of going to church, or you may be tottering on the edge of faithful church attendance yourself, about to fall out of church. You may have gone through a period in your life when you did in fact “fall out of church.”

In Acts Chapter 20 we find the true historical account of a meeting of the early church.

And upon the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul preached unto them, ready to depart on the morrow; and continued his speech until midnight.

Acts 20:7

These events occurred a place called Troas. The Apostle Paul was on his way to Jerusalem. He was trying to make it there for the celebration of Pentecost, and it was a very important missionary journey. He was planning to depart on the “morrow” – the next day – and this was the last time he was going to see these friends – these fellow-servants of Jesus. There were things he had to tell them.

They met together on the first day of the week – “the Lord’s Day” – which was their custom, although certainly Sundays were not the only days they met, worshiped, or ministered.

Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days:

Colossians 2:16

Acts 20:7 says they broke bread – which probably means they observed the Lord’s Supper – and had fellowship. Then the Apostle Paul preached until midnight. I have been in some long church services, but preaching until midnight..?! Paul knew he was going to be leaving, and he had a lot to say.

And there were many lights in the upper chamber, where they were gathered together. And there sat in a window a certain young man named Eutychus, being fallen into a deep sleep: and as Paul was long preaching, he sunk down with sleep, and fell down from the third loft, and was taken up dead.

Acts 20:8-9

https://swimthedeepend.files.wordpress.com/2013/01/firespeakseutychus.jpg?w=291

A young man named Eutychus came to church to hear the Apostle Paul preach. They were meeting up on the third floor of a building, and he sat in the window, fell asleep, fell out of the window, and died! Have you ever wondered if the Holy Spirit put some stories in the Bible for a a little comic relief? Like Balaam’s talking donkey or Samson tying together the tails of 300 foxes, we can’t help but laugh even though something serious is happening. Even funnier is the meaning of Eutychus’s name: “Eutychus” meant “fortunate” or lucky.”

I have heard this passage of Scripture preached on before in church, and the theme was the folly of falling asleep in church, but I don’t think we should be too hard on Eutychus. First of all it was late. There is a good chance that Eutychus was a slave or a servant, and he would have been tired from working all day. That may even be the reason why this meeting took place at night – the first Christians were not able to skip work on Sundays like many of us can. Eutychus did make it to church. Additionally, if the weather was warm, it would have been very stuffy up there in the third loft. It’s not like they could turn on the A.C. Furthermore, verse 8 says there were many lights burning in the upper chamber, which would have produced fumes, and would have burned up much of the oxygen. Have you ever tried to stay awake and alert in an extremely stuffy room? This may be why Eutychus was sitting by the window, but, if so, it certainly backfired on him! So, for whatever reason, Eutychus ended up being “the man who fell out of church” – literally.

It is very important for Christians to attend church faithfully, and to be involved in church ministry activities. God doesn’t “need” me at church – but He knows I need to be there. The Church is the body of Christ. As Christians, we are the body and He is the head. It is incongruous for someone to love the Head, but hate the body. The Church is also the bride of Christ, and, likewise, it makes little sense to love a person, but hate that person’s spouse. When you become a Christian you become part of the capital “C” Church – the universal Church consisting of all born-again believers everywhere – but it is crucial for you to be a part of a local body of believers, too.

The main purpose of the local church is the edification of the saints.

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

The Lord uses the local church to help believers to grow and to get stronger. If you are trying to decide on a local church to join right now, pray about it. Search the Scriptures. Listen to the Holy Spirit. God wants you to be attending and serving somewhere.

Next time, we will look at some of the dangers and consequences of falling out of church.

The Danger of Horoscopes

January 2, 2012 at 11:45 am | Posted in Uncategorized | 7 Comments
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As people prepare for a new year, many will seek guidance in their spiritual lives in horoscopes, psychic advisors, and all manner of foolishness. The Bible warns us of being spoiled by the “rudiments of the world” (Colossians 2:8). These rudiments include things which occur sequentially in nature, such as the periodic alignment of the stars, planets, and the moon.

Believers on the Lord Jesus Christ should not meddle with mystical or occult practices. We trust in Christ, and Christ alone, for the salvation of our eternal souls. What idiocy it would be to seek counsel or advice by any means other than Biblically-sanctioned doctrine.

More Strange Weapons: A Bone (Singular and Surprising)

July 5, 2011 at 11:53 am | Posted in Strange Weapons | 7 Comments
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Strange Weapons (Series 1): A Prod, a Peg, and a Pitcher

More Strange Weapons: A Stone and a Bone

The Bone (Judges 15:15-16)

Then Pilate entered into the judgment hall again, and called Jesus, and said unto him, Art thou the King of the Jews? Jesus answered him, Sayest thou this thing of thyself, or did others tell it thee of me? Pilate answered, Am I a Jew? Thine own nation and the chief priests have delivered thee unto me: what hast thou done? Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence.

John 18:33-36

Christ’s Kingdom is “of the world” in the sense that He owns everything, but it is “not of this world” in the sense that His followers don’t use the same weapons that warriors involved in worldly warfare use. As followers of Christ, the weapons of our warfare are not carnal (fleshly) or physical, but they are mighty to the pulling down of (spiritual) strongholds. Christ does not say that His followers do not fight, but that we do not fight in a worldly way, and that we do not use worldly weapons. We are not out to conquer by force. We want to conquer by love. Our goal is not to create a worldly government or to some day elect government officials who are Christians. Our goal is to establish the kingdom and government of God in the hearts of men and women and boys and girls. We are engaged in a strange war and we use strange weapons.

Previously we have looked at some the strange weapons in the Book of Judges – cattle prods, tent pegs, water pitchers, millstones – and we have compared them to spiritual weapons. These spiritual weapons may also seem strange, but they seem less and less strange the more you learn about spiritual warfare. Most Christians are aware of the role of the Bible in spiritual warfare, and of prayer, but we are learning to think of other things – such as love, the role of the Holy Spirit, our own bodies, and even God’s sovereign will – in connection with spiritual warfare.

This lesson will focus on some unpredictable weapons which are dependent upon specific circumstances and occasions.

In Judges 15 we find Samson – bound and betrayed by his own countrymen – depressed and discouraged – when the Spirit of the Lord suddenly comes upon him again:

And when he came unto Lehi, the Philistines shouted against him: and the Spirit of the LORD came mightily upon him, and the cords that were upon his arms became as flax that was burnt with fire, and his bands loosed from off his hands. And he found a new jawbone of an ass, and put forth his hand, and took it, and slew a thousand men therewith.

Judges 15:14-15

The jawbone which Samson found was a “new” jawbone – a “fresh” jawbone. It probably still had some flesh or skin on it – maybe some teeth in it. With it he killed 1000 men by himself.

The jawbone of a donkey was perhaps the strangest of all the strange weapons we have considered from the Book of Judges, and it teaches us about the unexpected and unpredictable nature of some of the spiritual weapons in our daily warfare as Christians.

1. The jawbone was a singular weapon.

As spiritual warriors, God has given us freedom to think creatively within the boundaries of His Word and His will. I am glad that we have a number of Christian organizations. In fact, the Body of Christ, which is more of an organism than an organization, must still be organized, since an unorganized organism will not function properly. We must be organized, but we must have a healthy suspicion of routines.

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

Colossians 2:8

Rudiments are things ordered by the wisdom of man as opposed to God. Traditions are not bad (although traditionalism is), and traditions and discipline are useful in Christian warfare. They are more in the category of training than in weapons. Samson needed a weapon, and God provided a jawbone. It was a singular, unexpected weapon. You may encounter a circumstance where you find yourself having to apply your spiritual disciplines – love, prayer, Bible study – in a way you never have before. So remember, discipline is the way to experience the Person of God, not a means in and of itself. Weapons are gifts from God, and must be seen that way. The jawbone “just happened” to be there when Samson needed it, and he used it effectively even though it was a “singular” weapon.

2. The jawbone was a surprising weapon.

In an intense battle, if we wait around for the perfect weapon to be forged, the battle may be lost. My wife used to like to say, “Some is better than none.” There are times when sudden action is required and we need to use whatever God has placed near at hand. Satan loves sneak attacks and God often calls us when we least expect it. In Acts 27 the Apostle Paul found himself in the middle of a shipwreck and still managed to use it as a ministry opportunity. In the course of Christian ministry you may suddenly find yourself somewhere you never thought you would be invited to go. When this happens, do not keep silent. Pick up whatever “jawbone” or spiritual weapon that God has provided, and by faith start swinging: slaying doubts and fears and demons. We must not think that God is limited in what He gives us as weapons. In the Kingdom of Christ nothing is supposed to be secular – it’s all supposed to be sacred.

The next post in the series will focus on the simplicity of the jawbone.

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