Galatians at a Glance

September 29, 2014 at 10:17 am | Posted in Galatians | 2 Comments
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In the Book of Galatians we learn about the liberty that comes from grace, as opposed to the bondage found in works, but we also see that grace emanates from a source: the Cross of Jesus Christ.

In the Cross there is:

Freedom from self-worship

I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.

Galatians 2:20

Freedom from the flesh and our own desires

And they that are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with the affections and lusts.

Galatians 5:24

Freedom from the world

But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature.

Galatians 6:14-15

There is also the freedom from having to keep a list of religious rules, such as whether to be circumcised or not. Rules become a secondary consideration next to the real issue: Are you a new creature?

From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus.

Galatians 6:17

The Apostle Paul was “marked,” but he was not referring to the mark of circumcision. He was referring to the scars of persecution, and he was telling his critics that those marks marked him as being on God’s side more than their marks of circumcision. Beware of any outward show of piety that keeps you from persecution.

As many as desire to make a fair shew in the flesh, they constrain you to be circumcised; only lest they should suffer persecution for the cross of Christ.

Galatians 6:12

True freedom comes by paying a price, but it is not the price of self-inflicted wounds. It was the price that Christ paid on the Cross, so that He may freely offer His freedom to us.

Here are links to the previous lessons in Galatians:

1. Grace vs. Works
2. That Man Was Certifiable!
3. Confronting the Issue of Law and Gospel to Its Face
4. It All Depends on What Your Definition of “OF” Is
5. Our Part with God
6. The Doctor Who Never Fails
7. From Cursing to Blessing
8. The Freestyle
9. Going to Extrem(iti)es
10. Don’t Love Yourself
11. Dependent Freedom
12. Is it Animal, Mineral, or Tomato?
13. How Whack-A-Mole Can Help Your Marriage
14. Getting Full (Part 1)
15. Making the Proper Comparisons
16. Different Types of Burdens *
17. The Warning to the Weary
18. The Family of Faith (Galatians 6:10)
19. Especially the Family (Galatians 6:10)

* most-read post in category

The Stones of Curiosity

February 15, 2013 at 10:36 am | Posted in Joshua, The Stones that Don't Cry Out | 16 Comments
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Joshua was leading a new generation out of the wilderness and into the promised land of Canaan. Only he and Caleb were still alive from the old generation to see God’s chosen people finally cross the Jordan River. Despite what many of the old hymns proclaim, this is not a picture in Scripture of making it to Heaven. There were still battles, wars, enemies, and obstacles to be overcome in Canaan; there will be no wars in Heaven. No, the crossing over into the promised land is a picture of believers claiming their inheritance in the Lord, and receiving the promises of confidence and assurance by faith.

The priests bearing the Ark of the Covenant went down into the Jordan and God stopped the waters like He had done at the Red Sea. The people crossed as on dry land. Then the Lord spoke to Joshua and told him to choose twelve men – one from each tribe – to gather big stones and put them in the river at the place where the priests had stood.

Some Bible scholars believe that this was to be a symbol of faith in the unseen. Once the stones were in place, the waters of the Jordan would cover them up, and future generations would believe by faith that they were there. Others argue that the stones would only become visible in times of drought when the water went down – to remind people to be faithful during hard times, and to trust God to send water – life-giving water – which would once again conceal the stones.

http://daughterbydesign.files.wordpress.com/2012/05/a-memorial-to-gods-faithfulness-josh-4.jpg?w=365&h=260

It is generally agreed that these stones were to be some kind of memorial, and, as they say, either of those interpretations “will preach.” As Christians today, we should set up memorials in our own lives to remind us of the great things God has done, but we must not make idols of God’s past accomplishments. God can do even greater things in the future.

What I want to do is look a little closer at the passage of Scripture.

And Joshua said unto them, Pass over before the ark of the LORD your God into the midst of Jordan, and take ye up every man of you a stone upon his shoulder, according unto the number of the tribes of the children of Israel: That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?

Joshua 4:5-6 (emphasis added)

We can imagine children asking their fathers, “Dad, what mean these stones? Dad, I want to know about those stones – there in the river. People still talk about them. Tell me again why they’re there.” But that is not precisely what Joshua 4:6 is telling us.

That this may be a sign among you, that when your children ask their fathers in time to come, saying, What mean ye by these stones?

Joshua 4:6 (emphasis added)

That’s the question for us today, dads, grandpas, Christian men. The question is not, “What do these stones mean?” The question is, “What do these stones mean TO YOU..?” Because that’s what our children are really wanting to know. “Dad, what does that Cross mean to you? Is it just a decoration? Just something to wear on a chain? Just a design on a t-shirt or a bumper sticker? A bookmark in your Bible? A tattoo for rock stars?” I don’t think we should ever stray from the theological truth of the Cross, but our children need more than a theological discourse. They need to know more than what the Cross means. They need to know what it means TO ME.

Whenever God has entrusted you to fulfill some responsibility for your family the right way, and you don’t want to do it, the devil or the world has someone waiting in the wings who will be glad to do it the wrong way. Satan could explain the theological meaning of that Cross far better than any of us could. He could tell us exactly what that Cross means. He could tell us more about that Cross than we ever thought we knew. What your son – your daughter – your grandchildren – want to know is, “What means this Cross TO YOU?”

“Why do we go to church, Dad?”
“Because of that Cross, and what happened there.”

“Why do you sing songs about God and Jesus, Dad?”
“Because of what happened to Jesus on that Cross – and what happened to Him after they took His body down.”

“Why do we do things differently from the other kids at school, Dad? Why can’t we go to those kinds of movies? Why can’t we listen to that kind of music? Why can’t we dress like everyone else? Why can’t we say some words? Why do have to have a Bible study in our house, Dad? Why do we have to say our prayers and pray before we eat?”
“Because of that Cross. Because of what that Cross means to me – and what I want it to mean to you.”

The King of this universe – the One True God – the Creator of everything – came to die on that Cross for me – and for you. Don’t make the mistake of thinking your children – your whole family – are not watching you. They want to know what is important to you. You must have a desire for your Father if you want to be “a” father.

We must bring the Cross of Jesus Christ into our daily lives and everyday conversations – especially with our children.

“Dad, they told us in school that the earth revolves around the sun, and the earth rotates.”
“That’s true, sweetie, but did your teacher tell you that the earth 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. Did she tell you about the moon? 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.”

You can have conversations like this with your children if you are prepared – if the “stones” that memorialize what Christ has done in your life provoke your children to curiosity.

God’s Revelation of Himself

February 27, 2012 at 10:27 am | Posted in Selected Psalms | 10 Comments
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Psalm 19 is considered to be a “wisdom” Psalm. Wisdom Psalms generally do two things:

1. They promote God’s Word, and pronounce blessings on those who study it and practice it.
2. They deal with theodicy.

Theodicy is normally phrased like this: If God is all powerful (omnipotent) and all good (omnibenevolent), then how can there be evil in the world? However, we know from the Bible that this is not the correct question. The real question of theodicy is this: Since God is all powerful and God is all good, why does He bless any of us wicked folks with any good at all?

Psalm 19 focuses on God’s revelation of Himself in this world. Did man discover God? Or did God reveal Himself to man? Here are some examples of how God has revealed Himself to man:

1. The Cross of Jesus Christ. (This revelation appears further down the list in most systems of theology, but it is my personal preference for No. 1.)
2. His acts of creation.
3. His “natural” laws (consistency and beauty in the material world, which we can identify in the studies of areas like physics, chemistry, and mathematics).
4. Miracles (acts whereby God bends His Own “natural” laws in order to demonstrate His Ownership and power over His creation).
5. The Bible
6. Internal moral law
a. People inherently know there is a right and a wrong.
b. People find themselves unable to consistently do what is right in their own power.

The first six Verses in Psalm 19 deal with God’s revelation of Himself in what we see outside of ourselves.

[To the chief Musician, A Psalm of David.] The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge.

Psalm 19:1-2

The ungodly see the majesty of nature and worship the creaTION. Godly people see the majesty of nature and worship the CreaTOR.

Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun,

Psalm 19:4

The word translated as “line” contains the idea of a “sound” or “influence.” It is reiterated in the New Testament:

But I say, Have they not heard? Yes verily, their sound went into all the earth, and their words unto the ends of the world.

Romans 10:18 (emphasis added)

David was excited just to see the sun coming up each day. To him that was a bigger deal than how his favorite contestant would perform on Israelite Idol that night. How excited are you about the wonder and majesty of God’s creation?

Verses 7-11 in Psalm 19 deal with God’s revelation of Himself in Words (the Bible). God didn’t create the physical universe and then develop words later on; He created everything that has been created by His Word.

Note some of the names and functions of God’s Word:

The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple.

Psalm 19:7 (emphasis added)

God made the “law” to be our teacher. The “testimony” is God’s explanation of Himself.

The statutes of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart: the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes.

Psalm 19:8 (emphasis added)

God’s “commandments” are His orders, and they are beyond question. They are “pure,” and they help us see where to go when the path looks dark to us.

The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever: the judgments of the LORD are true and righteous altogether.

Psalm 19:9 (emphasis added)

Worldly fears are polluted and unclean; the “fear of the Lord” is a “clean” fear.

“Judgments” describe how God deals with men: rewards, punishment, chastisement, rebuke, etc.

For a Christian the Word of God is more important than food.

Strange Weapons Lesson 2: The Peg (illustrations)

April 4, 2011 at 12:42 pm | Posted in Strange Weapons | 7 Comments
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Strange Weapons: A Prod, a Peg, and a Pitcher

Lesson Two: The Peg (continued from previous post)

Here are three illustrations drawn from Jael’s “nail” (what we would call a “tent peg.”)

1. The peg was a hidden weapon.

The first thing Sisera would have done when he entered Jael’s tent would have been to look around for a sword or a dagger. Being a trained warrior and a man on the run, not sure who he could and could not trust, he would have immediately scanned the tent for possible threats or advantages. But he probably didn’t even notice a peg and a hammer. These items would have been common.

The weapons of our spiritual warfare are spiritual weapons – they don’t look like material weapons. Prayer, for example, doesn’t seem like a weapon, but, like a tent peg, it stabilizes. It also marks out the boundaries of the territory God has given you. Maybe God has given you a spouse or children. Maybe he has placed you in a Sunday School class or some organized group of fellow Christians. If so, those are some of your “territories,” your “tents.” The peg of prayer is very important. How would you like to come back to your tent and find that it has been blown away? Prayer is simply talking to God. It should be an everyday, ordinary thing. It’s always lying around the tent. You mostly use it in secret, but it is potent. When the enemy invades your tent, you can reach for it and defeat him.

2. The peg was a honed weapon.

“Honed” means “sharp.” Jael’s tent peg had to have a very sharp point* in order for her to be able to pound it into the hard baked earth in that part of the world. When it comes to spiritual weapons, we have the sharpest weapon of all – the Bible.

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

Hebrews 4:12

The Word of God pierces and cuts. It stings. It gets past the superficial into the heart of the matter. It breaks up hard ground. A Bible looks like a book – everyday leather and paper. Like a peg, it doesn’t look especially dangerous – until an expert pegswoman or pegsman wields it. The business end of the Word of God can go right into a man’s brain and it can make a serious difference.

3. The peg was a handy weapon.

Prayer and the Bible should always be handy if you are a Christian. However, there are times when your Bible might not be right there next to you. There may be times when you are willing to pray, but, in a crisis, you are not always afforded the time to gather your thoughts, have some peace and quiet, and pray effectively. One of the handiest weapons we have in spiritual warfare – the one that’s always right there – is love. Love is always right at hand. You don’t have to special-order it. If you’re truly a Christian, it is not even “second nature” to you – it’s first nature! Love is the key component of Christianity.

Prayer, your Bible, and love are three of the tent pegs of the Christian life. They are the hidden, honed, and handy weapons of our warfare. Jael’s tent peg slew Sisera; these weapons slay sin. Sin is kind of like Sisera if you think about it. Sin is an oppressor. It will control people. It will dominate their lives. It will steal their possessions, but, more importantly, it will steal their joy. It will put people at risk. It will create danger in lives. Sin is cruel to begin with, but when it starts to get routed – like when Barak routed Sisera – and when it gets “on the run” in our lives – look out! Sin will get desperate, and will be especially eager to come into your home.

And Jael went out to meet Sisera, and said unto him, Turn in, my lord, turn in to me; fear not. And when he had turned in unto her into the tent, she covered him with a mantle. And he said unto her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water to drink; for I am thirsty. And she opened a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, and covered him.

Judges 4:18-19, emphasis added

Sin wants to be hidden.

He that covereth his sins shall not prosper: but whoso confesseth and forsaketh them shall have mercy.

Proverbs 28:13

And he said unto her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water to drink; for I am thirsty. And she opened a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, and covered him.

Judges 4:19, emphasis added

Sin is thirsty. It will dry you up, and create a desire for more.

Again he said unto her, Stand in the door of the tent, and it shall be, when any man doth come and enquire of thee, and say, Is there any man here? that thou shalt say, No.

Judges 4:20, emphasis added

Sisera wanted Jael to lie. Sin breeds more sin – and different kinds of sins.

And he said unto her, Give me, I pray thee, a little water to drink; for I am thirsty. And she opened a bottle of milk, and gave him drink, and covered him.

Judges 4:19, emphasis added

Deborah was the one who encouraged Barak to fight against Sisera. Her name meant “bee.” Bees are associated with honey. Jael used milk to sedate Sisera. Therefore, Sisera had trouble in the “land of milk and honey.”

Now, here is something that many Christians don’t realize: Sin can be sedated. I Peter 2:2 calls the Bible the sincere “milk” of the Word. Sin can be sedated by Bible study, prayer, accountability, safeguards, even will power – to some extent. But those things can’t “kill” sin. It will inevitably (and sooner rather than later) wake up, escape, and wreak havoc. Sin can be sedated by the lesser “pegs” we have talked about, but it can only be killed by one truly great PEG.

And, behold, as Barak pursued Sisera, Jael came out to meet him, and said unto him, Come, and I will shew thee the man whom thou seekest. And when he came into her tent, behold, Sisera lay dead, and the nail was in his temples.

Judges 4:22, emphasis added

Christ was held to the Cross by “pegs” (nails). He knew no sin, but was made sin for us. To claim the victory that Christ wants you to have in Him, you are going to have to come into the tent and see sin slain. Get a good look – see sin slain on the Cross of Christ – then look in the tomb and see the Slayer of sin has risen – victorious!

I find it significant that the Bible makes a point of saying that the peg went through Sisera’s “temple.” Your temple is the place between your eye and ear – the place where you “conTEMPLate.” It is also the word we use for the place where people worship. Have you made your mind a place of worship – a place where Christ is the center of all your thoughts?

So God subdued on that day Jabin the king of Canaan before the children of Israel.

Judges 4:23

That’s when God will subdue the “Jabin” that is invading your thoughts. Worship Him – the Lord God – as King of your “temple.”

 

*loose reenactment of Judges 4:21 during camping trip to Lake D’Arbonne:

reenactment of judges 4

Objections To the Doctrine of Everlasting Security Answered (Objection 1)

November 11, 2010 at 10:44 am | Posted in Eternity, John | 10 Comments
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Objection: You can lose your salvation because God gave us free will, and if a Christian decides to walk away from God and live in sin, he will surely die in his sin.

Answer To Objection: The question is really not: “Can I lose MY salvation?” because it’s not really “mine.” Salvation is of the Lord. (Jonah 2:9) The question is, “Can Jesus lose those people that HE has saved and has promised to keep?”

One of the functions of the Holy Spirit is to seal believers unto the day of redemption. Jesus paid for the sins of Christians once and for all on the Cross. Many people would sometimes like to think that Jesus did “most” of the work of salvation on the Cross, but we have to “be good,” too, in order to add to what He did, and to help Him keep us saved. The reason this belief makes me so sad is that it is a type of “works” salvation, and the Bible teaches that we are saved and kept saved by God’s grace through faith alone, and our works have no merit before God when it comes to salvation.

The Bible teaches that Jesus cannot lose those whom He has saved. If you believe that He can, then let me ask you this. Do you believe that saved people have God’s Holy Spirit dwelling within them while they are saved? If you believe that, then what happens if they “lose” salvation and go to hell? Does the Holy Spirit go to hell with them? Surely you do not believe that. So, under your theory, what does the Holy Spirit do when a saved person “loses his salvation?” Does He leave that person? If you say yes, then you are calling Jesus a liar.

And I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever; Even the Spirit of truth; whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, neither knoweth him: but ye know him; for he dwelleth with you, and shall be in you.

John 14:16-17

I emphasized “abide with you for ever,” because that is how long the Holy Spirit abides with a person who has been saved. Not “until they sin.” Not “until they live in sin.” Not “until they walk away from God.” FOR EVER.

Clean and New

April 5, 2010 at 9:01 am | Posted in Selected Psalms, Uncategorized | 16 Comments
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The prophet Nathan came to David the king. Nathan told him about a man who had been blessed by God with more than he deserved. However, this rich man was covetous, and he took a fancy to something that God had given to a poor man. Even though the poor man valued the thing dearly, the rich man stole it from him.

David was furious. He wanted the rich man to be punished with the loss of his very life. That was when Nathan revealed that the Lord knew David had committed a sin like the rich man’s, but to an even worse degree.

The anger drained from David. It was replaced by shame, and he admitted his sin and earnestly sought God’s forgiveness (II Samuel 12:1-13).

David realized that he needed cleansing from sin, but even more than that, he needed to remove the cause of the sin. Otherwise, it would only be repeated. Therefore, he prayed,

Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.

Psalm 51:10

Who alone can “create?” Who can make something out of nothing? Who can bring into existence a thing which never before existed? Only God. David needed more than a repaired or improved heart. He needed a whole new heart. Furthermore, he needed a “right spirit.” Christian preachers have a saying whereby they encourage people to “get right” with God. Despite the dubious grammar in this expression, it correctly captures the idea of David’s plea. Grievous sin has grievous consequences, but for those who come to God by faith in Jesus Christ and His work on the Cross, the Lord will create a new heart, a right spirit, forgiveness for past sins, and the victory over repeated sin.

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.

The Most Obvious Difference between Jesus and Us

August 21, 2009 at 11:13 am | Posted in I Peter, Salvation | 17 Comments
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Most people will say that they believe in God. But many people do not really understand much about God’s nature. Jesus Christ, God’s only begotten Son, showed us the true nature of God (Colossians 2:9). Jesus Christ was completely sinless (Hebrews 4:15). Even His earthly enemies, who would have stooped to any level to find fault in Him, had to admit that He was perfectly without fault (John 8:46). As you read this, of all the differences between you and the Lord Jesus, this is the one that should be most obvious: He never sinned; you sin all the time (Romans 3:10-12). Your sin has brought you in line for God’s judgment. God’s holiness and justice require that His judgment be carried out (Ezekiel 18:4). God’s great desire, however, is to show you the bright ray of hope that shines over this bleak scenario. For all those who trust in Jesus Christ as their Savior, God’s judgment was satisfied in the Cross of Calvary. You can receive God’s gift of salvation through Jesus Christ’s payment for your sins, because He, being perfect before God, died and rose again for those of us who are filthy with sin before God.

For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit:

I Peter 3:18


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