Tuesday, November 13, 2018

A Beloved Son - Tuesday with 2 Timothy #2

2 Timothy 1:2 To Timothy, my dearly beloved son: Grace, mercy, and peace, from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Lord.

Timothy was like a son to Paul. They traveled together, preached together, and suffered together. Timothy was his child in the faith. If we remember Paul’s love for Timothy in these two epistles, we see how, I believe, God wants seasoned pastors to help, mentor, and disciple younger preachers and younger pastors. Paul loved Timothy and wanted Timothy to be a good pastor and a faithful servant of Jesus. There was no jealousy on Paul's part. Jealousy in the minister is ugly, but it’s been there from the start (Luke 9:46). Most men, by nature, are competitive and competition is not a bad thing. But if a competitive nature causes you to be jealous of others, and regard their growth and the Lord's blessing on their ministry as a point of contention, then that’s shameful. If a young man, full of zeal for Christ is outstripping his fellows in work and service for Christ, the answer is not to tear him down until there is nothing left but a shell, too broken to do anything. Use his zeal to light a fire under you, and get moving. And, as Paul aged, there were things he couldn’t do anymore. Providence restricted Paul’s movements, chained to a Roman soldier will keep you from moving around. But Paul encouraged young Timothy, to go and do what he couldn't anymore and he certainly didn’t tear him down.

Paul and Timothy labored together serving the same Lord. The normal and Biblical way that young men should be prepared for ministry is through the church. A faithful pastor mentors and guides those men under their care in the Word of God and prepares them for their work. Let's be honest, a man, if he is diligent, can read and study and learn truths from trusted theologians and not have to spend $150,000 on seminary. It's shameful how men peddle the Word of God for filthy lucre. You cannot get the pastoral insight and training from a seminary processor that you would get from being in the local church and preaching the Word, guided by the pastor that actually knows you. I think fondly of certain men in my ministry and in my life who loved me enough to be truthful to me and help me along. They told me hard truths about myself and about my preaching because they loved me and wanted to help me. There may have been some things that Timothy didn’t want to hear, but coming from someone he knew cared for him and wanted the best for him made all the difference.

And may I add this, to any  preacher who is new to the ministry of the Word who reads this and thinks, “That’s not my experience! I haven’t had any elder pastors help me!” My question is, have you asked? Have you listened? Have you gone to men who started preaching well before you were born and asked for advice, counsel, books to read, doctrine to study? A man only has so much to give, and if he has a family, a church, his own friends, you won’t find him trying to pour his life into every single preacher that he hears is called to preach, especially if that man thinks they already know everything. But if you are humble enough to seek counsel from other men, then you’ll find men willing and eager to mentor you.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

Hey Jude


Jude 1, "Jude, the servant of Jesus Christ, and brother of James." I hear a lot of talk about "identity". People are concerned about how others see them, who they are as individuals, while some even wanting to identify to others something they are not. In the salutation to the epistle of Jude, we find out the Christian's identity is who they are in Christ.

I believe Jude is the Lord’s half brother. This may be offensive to hear for some, but Mary and Joseph had kids together. Mary was a virgin at the conception of our Lord, but after Jesus was born, Mary and Joseph had sons and daughters, and had boys named James and Jude – the only set of brothers named James and Jude in the Bible (Matthew 13:55-56).  However, when Jude introduced himself, he didn't say, "I'm the Lord's half-brother." Why? Because there was nothing in the flesh that attributed to his position with God. He was not saved because of Mary was his mother. He was not in the family of God because he was in the family of Mary and Joseph (Matthew 12:46-50). Reared in the same home as our Lord,  provided no benefit. Being the half-brother, of Jesus gave no advantage spiritually. In fact, Jude was an unbeliever until after the resurrection (John 7:5; Acts 1:14). There is no profit in the flesh, so when Jude thought of himself, he was first and foremost, a servant of Christ.  Jude’s identity was not wrapped up in who his family was, it was in Jesus Christ the Lord.

Jude was no longer his own man, nor was he a slave to sin and his own passions, because he was bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:13; 19-20).  When we think of slaves, or servants, we think of one without will, without hope and trapped against his will in an insufferable situation. Jude wasn’t complaining, Jude rejoiced in His situation.  Jude loved being a servant because he had a love for the Lord. In Bible times, men would sometimes get in such a financial bind, they had to sell themselves into slavery. In Israel, every seven years, God commanded all Hebrew slaves be set free, so it was a temporary financial situation. Unless, the man didn't want to be set free. Exodus 21:1-6  tells us that some masters were so good, and the slave lived a much better life as a slave than he did struggling as a free man, he would ask to remain in service. If everyone agreed, the master would pierce the man's ear as a sign that he belonged to him forever.  I feel like that with the Lord Jesus. He purchased me, saved me from sin, and is so good to me, having  such a wonderful service with glorious benefits, I wouldn’t trade being the Lord’s servant to be set free for anything. Who was Jude? He was a child of God, a sinner saved by grace, a servant of Christ.

Wednesday, November 7, 2018

V.D.M



The Pulpit is Not a Platform.


"By definition a minister is a servant. That is what the word means. Perhaps only 70 years ago it was not uncommon to see the initials VDM after a minister’s name. They stand for the Latin expression, Verbi Dei Minister, servant of the Word of God. That was the minister’s brand, if you will. By definition, a minister has no platform but only a pulpit, a place to announce the Word of the King."

Tuesday, November 6, 2018

According to the Promise of Life - Tuesday with (2nd) Timothy #1

Back by popular demand (and by popular, I mean no one in  particular at all) I present: Tuesday with Timothy. As we did with 1 Timothy, we will work our way through the book of  Second Timothy, a section at a time, every Tuesday (and by "every" I mean generally on most Tuesday's, unless something happens and I get behind) looking for encouragement to preserve in the ministry of the Word.


2 Timothy 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, according to the promise of life which is in Christ Jesus,

Paul wrote the second epistle to Timothy while imprisoned in Rome, and soon to be put to death, making this his last epistle. Timothy was with the church at Ephesus, and Paul wanted him to come quickly (2 Timothy 4:9). We can take this letter as Paul's dying counsel to the young pastor. 

Paul begins with his office - an apostle of Jesus Christ, by God’s will. Paul was not elected into the office. No one voted Paul in as an apostle. God called Paul unto salvation and God made Paul an apostle and He did so according to the promise of life in Christ Jesus. Those who are opposed to God's sovereign grace in salvation will say that God's election makes men robots and make them cold toward the salvation of sinners. Who could dare make the claim Paul was either? Paul was the most zealous of all preachers and missionaries, and yet he knew that God not only called him unto salvation (Ephesians 1:4-5) but that God had called him in to the apostleship, by his sovereign decree (Acts 9:15). Knowing God called Paul unto salvation and unto the ministry did not make Paul a fatalist, but set a fire under him to greater service and zeal for souls. 


God promised eternal life to all who put their hope and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. The promise of life is for those who have a real, vital, union with Jesus.  Union with Christ, wrote Louis Berkhof, is the “intimate, vital, and spiritual union between Christ and His people, in virtue of which He is the source of their life and strength, of their blessedness and salvation.”  Paul served His Lord, receiving the promise of life and preaching the promise of life. 

Saturday, November 3, 2018

A Living Mirror

"For children are the glory of marriage, the treasure of parents, the wealth of family life. They develop within their parents an entire cluster of virtues, such as paternal love and maternal affection, devotion and self-denial, care for the future, involvement in society, the art of nurturing. With their parents, children place restraints upon ambition, reconcile the contrasts, soften the differences, bring their souls ever closer together, provide them with a common interest that lies outside of them, and opens their eyes and hearts to their surroundings and for their posterity. As with living mirrors they show their parents their own virtues and faults, force them to reform themselves, mitigating their criticisms, and teaching them how hard it is to govern a person. The family exerts a reforming power upon the parents. Who would recognize in the sensible, dutiful father the carefree youth of yesterday, and who would ever have imagined that the lighthearted girl would later be changed by her child into a mother who renders the greatest sacrifices with joyful acquiescence? The family transforms ambition into service, miserliness into munificence, the weak into strong, cowards into heroes, coarse fathers into mild lambs, tenderhearted mothers into ferocious lionesses. Imagine there were no marriage and family, and humanity would, to use Calvin’s crass expression, turn into a pigsty."
The Christian Family by Herman Bavinck

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

Who is Jesus?




A.W. Tozer wrote in, The Knowledge of the Holy, "What comes into our minds when we think about God is the most important thing about us."  What do you think about when you think about God and why? Thoughts do "pop" in our head, but they come from someplace. I may start singing a song I haven't listened to in 20 years and it seemingly comes out of nowhere, but something triggered a memory of information I already had in my brain. Calculus or trigonometry doesn't just pop into someone's head unless they previously studied mathematics.

What you think about God and who He is comes from someplace. Either what someone told you, or what you read about God, or who you wish God was, informs what you think about God.  But, anything you think about God, that does not come from God's Holy Scriptures, is an idol.

In Matthew 16, Jesus asked the disciples two questions. "Who do men say that I am," and "who do you say that I am."  What do you think about when you think about Jesus? Do you think he was a prophet? A good man? A good teacher? A Jewish rabbi? Who do you say Jesus is? Jesus said He was the Christ. The Son of the Living God. Jesus said the only way to Heaven is through Him, and without believing and trusting in Him, you are eternally condemned and damned. What do you think about Jesus? You shouldn’t be indifferent to Jesus, based on His claims on you. By saying that He is the Christ, Jesus is the King of Kings, and all people must bow before him (Psalm 2). What do you think about Jesus? Who do you say He is?

The Bible says Jesus is the eternal Son of God. The Word made flesh. The second person of the Trinity who entered His own creation to seek and save the lost sheep the Father gave Him. Jesus was crucified, died, and laid in a tomb, and after three days and three nights, rose from the dead. The Lord Jesus, who said you must believe in Him or go to Hell. Jesus rose from the dead, as he told everyone He would. Who do you say Jesus is?  A lot of people say they believe in Jesus, but what Jesus? The Jesus of the Bible or  of their own imagination? A great number of people say they believe and even love Jesus, but when you dig a little deeper, the Jesus they describe is not the same Jesus of Scripture, but an idol. Sadly, many people believe in a man they have invented, with all the attributes they admire and called him Jesus. Your most pressing need is to know the true Jesus revealed in Scripture (John 17:3). Matthew Henry said, "many people have a high view of Jesus, just not high enough."




Thursday, October 25, 2018

They Do Exist



Last week I heard a segment on the radio about a man who spent his life looking for Bigfoot. He believed Sasquatch was the last of a giant ape species. He walked around the Pacific Northwest with a high powered rifle, looking for Bigfoot (“Look, my life’s work is vindicated! Bigfoot exists! Kill him!”). People claim to have seen Mothman, Bigfoot, or the chupacabra, but I sure never have. These creatures don't interest me much,  but there are others I tracked for years, but seldom seen for myself. The signs are everywhere, and when I'm sure I found one, they just deny it and think I'm crazy. I'll tell you about the five I'm searching for.

The first, and maybe the most elusive is the lost person. There are many people who don't have any idea about religion, but I rarely hear someone who will frankly say that they don't know Christ and are going to Hell.

I've never talked to a fool. Even when I know I've spotted a fool, they have convinced themselves the world is against them, or they have some ninja like street-smarts. They aren't foolish, just 25 moves ahead of everyone else. But, even these people admit foolishness and fools abound everywhere, they just aren't one.

I’ve never talked to a weak Christian. Not in the bench pressing sense, but in the Romans 14-15 sense. Paul said some brethren were weak in their faith, not able to partake of lawful activities because their faith wasn't strong. Everyone is the strong brother, in their own mind.

The bitter person is truly hard to find. The signs are very easy to see, but when I think I've discovered a rare find, and talk to someone where the root of bitterness has grown deep in the heart, they proceed to tell me why they do well to be angry and retell every last detail.

The legalist (sometimes called a Pharisee) is a truly obscure and seldom seen species. I've hear of their great numbers, and the danger they pose, but I've never actually talked to one. Even those who try to keep the law to earn favor with God say they do it because they love him, and often deny what they say they believe.  

One of two things are happening. I either am not very good at spotting the signs of these groups, or we all could stand to get in front of a good spiritual mirror. Truth is, these people do exists and in high numbers. We are just too blind to see it in ourselves. We lie to ourselves (Jeremiah 17:9). We justify our sinful behavior and dismiss our failures. But how can there be healing and forgiveness if we refuse to admit the plain facts? Isn’t it better to know the painful truth and be forgiven than to lie to ourselves, keep up our self-esteem, and remain in darkness? Jesus came to save the sinner. Don't deny the truth, confess and find mercy with Jesus.


Saturday, October 20, 2018

Elitism or Love?



"And it is not necessarily an arrogant and presumptuous thing in us if we strive to bring honored fellow Christians to views which we honestly believe to be more scriptural, and therefore more wholesome. Apollos was an eloquent man and mighty in the Scriptures, and Aquila and Priscilla were lowly people who doubtless admired him; yet they taught him the way of the Lord more perfectly, and no doubt greatly rejoiced that he was willing to learn. He who tries to win people from other denominations to his own distinctive views may be a sectarian bigot; but he may also be a humble and loving Christian." John A. Broadus


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Thursday, October 18, 2018

Don't Forget Your Raisin'



Philippians 1:27, "…let your conversation be as it becometh the gospel of Christ." The English word "conversation" comes from both a French and Latin word meaning, "the place you live, the way you act, or the way you talk". We only use the word in one sense now, to talk. This old idea of the word is spot on with the Greek word Paul used (politeuesthe), translated "conversation "in the King James Bible. It means to be a citizen and to live as a citizen of that place.  

My Mom was a stickler for table manners. After one incident at a restaurant, me and my brothers were effectually reminded with Proverbs 23:14 type power, when we ate like half-starved Vikings, it was a reflection on her, and how we were raised.  It was the first time I ever considered that how a person lives is a reflection on what they believe and the place they were raised. She reminded us when we traveled somewhere, we not only represented ourselves, but also our parents, our family, and our community in Eastern Kentucky. That kind of behavior, she said, was not suitable for our family, or where we were from.  "We don't act like that here."

As Christians, our citizenship is in Heaven, our home is above, our actions should reflect those of our Father, and our country. Our life, actions, speech, should be suitable to the gospel of Christ, according to the customs of Zion.  It's not becoming. Wearing blue jeans and a sleeveless faded t-shirt is rather unbecoming for a meal with the President at the White House. But it is becoming a 4th of July picnic. It's appropriate, or suitable. It fits well together. Our way of life, our actions, the way we talk and live, needs to be suitable with the gospel of Jesus Christ.

The gospel is not a lifestyle, it's the good news that all who will repent of their sins and trust in substitutionary sacrifice of the risen savior, Jesus Christ will be saved. He will forgive you of your sins, and grant you eternal life. Now, live a life suitable with that truth. A life of love and grace. A life full of forgiveness and mercy. Live with tenderheartedness and compassion. A life of boldness for Christ and self-sacrifice. Is it suitable for a Christian to make and worship an image? Is it becoming a follower of the Truth, to lie? Is it right behavior, for a person with eternal life, and a home in Heaven, to live coveting the things of this world? Is it becoming a citizen of Heaven, who has been given eternal life through God's grace, and forgiven of all his trespasses, to live with bitter unforgivness toward others? Is it becoming for a Christian to walk in untruth? Of course not. The law of God, for a Christian, is our "raisin". It's how we live where we are from, in our Father's house, the home county of the Heavenly Zion.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Tradition



In religious circles, tradition can be the North Star to guide through life, or considered the filthy, soul binding rules of a bygone age. Is tradition good or bad? Well, it depends. The word tradition in the Bible is actually neutral. The word doesn’t denote something good or bad, or it doesn’t mean authoritative or optional. It all depends on the context.  The word simply means a “handing down by instruction."  Unless your Thanksgiving tradition involves drunken revelry, or sacrificing a Turkey to the Sun, your tradition probably is a morally neutral family custom. It’s neither good, nor evil, nor authoritative. In the Bible, some tradition is both good and authoritative. Paul uses that word when discussing the doctrine he preached and taught (1 Corinthians 11:2, 2 Thessalonians 2:15; 3:6). As an apostle, Paul received his doctrine from the Lord. Paul “handed down” this tradition as he was moved by the Holy Ghost and penned the God breathed Words of Scripture. Because the source is from God, his instruction isn’t optional. Paul’s "tradition" is both morally good and binding because of the source.

To discern the value of a tradition, you must go upstream  and see where it started and what it’s asking of you. Maybe your traditions came from our elders for good, wise, and thoughtful reasons and you just don't understand their purpose. Maybe the tradition is of men, and is good, but not authoritative. Or, perhaps, there was no reason and it became a habit.  G.K. Chesterton said,  "…let us say, for the sake of simplicity, a fence or gate [was] erected across a road. The more modern type of reformer goes gaily up to it and says, “I don’t see the use of this; let us clear it away.” To which the more intelligent type of reformer will do well to answer: “If you don’t see the use of it, I certainly won’t let you clear it away. Go away and think. Then, when you can come back and tell me that you do see the use of it, I may allow you to destroy it."

In Matthew 15:2, the Scribes and Pharisees accused the disciples of transgressing "the tradition of the elders," for not washing before they ate. Let's examine the tradition. First, it came from men, the elders. Since it is not God's Word, we know it is fallible. Next, why? It wasn't for cleanliness. The Pharisees believed you could defile yourselves by touching something unclean, then eating with "sinful" unclean hands. They were not washing away the germs, they were washing away sin! The tradition came from men (optional) and was evil (contradicting the Bible). This tradition should be avoided (Colossians 3:8). Discover the origins of your tradition, uncover the reason why, determine if it is Scriptural before you tear it down, or follow it blindly. And before you condemn and hang someone for breaking your beloved tradition, make sure it's of God, not of men. Don't bind men's souls for your preferences.

Thursday, October 4, 2018

Faith at Sea



The disciples experienced one of the great sea adventures of all time. This was no fish tale. They saw Jesus walk on water.  Late afternoon, having fed the multitude with five loaves of bread and a couple of fish, Jesus sent the disciples to the other side of the sea. Flash forward 10 hours, and the disciples are in a fight for their life. In the early morning hours, somewhere between 3am and 6am, in the middle of the sea, the waves crashed against the boat. The men were fighting for their lives, rowing with all they had. The wind was fierce and the boat was tossed about. Wet, tired, afraid, and still several miles from shore. When things were at their worst, one of the men look over and couldn't believe his eyes. A man – walking on the water. “Is that…? Wait, a ghost?!” Not quite. The commentators give the disciples a hard time for being so foolish. A ghost? Really? But what would you have thought? Have you ever seen someone walking on the water? Yes, it was a silly thing to think, but they were probably 20 hours into their day, exhausted, fighting for their life in the wee hours of the morning.

But, of course it was the Lord Jesus, flesh and blood. His real, physical body, was truly walking on top of the water. I’ve tried to imagine what I would have said or done. I’m pretty sure I would not have asked to join him. But that’s exactly what Peter did, and Jesus granted him the privilege. But when Peter turned his eyes from Jesus, and looked at the dangers, he began to sink. He cried for the Lord to save him, and Jesus stretched out his hand and rescued him. Jesus asked Peter, " O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?" Good question. Why do you doubt? When you doubt your salvation, or doubt the Bible, you are doubting Jesus, but why? What has Jesus ever said that would give you a reason to doubt him? What has Jesus ever done, to give you pause in trusting him? What promise has he gone back on? What way has he failed? There is no good reason to doubt Jesus. You may say, "I don't doubt Jesus, I doubt myself!"  But why are you trusting in yourself?  Peter looked at the waves and began to doubt, but why? Peter didn't have the power to walk on the sea, and he didn't have the power to say above water. From the beginning to the end, the power was with Christ. Peter actually doubted the ability of the Lord to see him all the way through. "I doubt whether I'm saved, not Jesus." Who saved you? Whose work are you trusting in, your work or the Lord's? Stop doubting and start believing. Trust in the Lord Jesus, the perfect Saviour of the elect. "Heaven and earth may pass away, but Jesus never fails".


Tuesday, October 2, 2018

At least there is balance

“The whole modern world has divided itself into Conservatives and Progressives. The business of Progressives is to go on making mistakes. The business of Conservatives is to prevent mistakes from being corrected. Even when the revolutionist might himself repent of his revolution, the traditionalist is already defending it as part of his tradition. Thus we have two great types -- the advanced person who rushes us into ruin, and the retrospective person who admires the ruins. He admires them especially by moonlight, not to say moonshine. Each new blunder of the progressive or prig becomes instantly a legend of immemorial antiquity for the snob. This is called the balance, or mutual check, in our Constitution.”

G.K. Chesterton

Thursday, September 27, 2018

Miraculous Supper


The story of the five loaves and two fish is an amazing miracle. Jesus took the disciples up in a mountain place for a season of rest. That didn't happen because the people followed Jesus. Some were sick and desired healing, others, heard that Jesus healed, and wanted to see the show. Some believed, most didn't. Lost, like sheep without a shepherd, the people wandered to Jesus and he had compassion. He healed and taught, but nightfall approached and the disciples figured it was time for everyone to go home. A hungry crowd in a desert place in the wilderness without the ability get something to eat is a logistical nightmare. If Jesus sent them home now, they could make it to a town or back home in time to find something to eat.

Not only did Jesus not send the crowd home, but told Philip to feed them. Philip, being very practical mentioned that even if they found someplace to buy food, they didn't have enough money between them to buy enough food to feed so many people – 5,000 men not counting the women and children. That's a lot of mouths to feed, especially if there were any teenage boys in the crowd. Five loaves. Two fish. Jesus sat everyone down and divided them up into groups. He took the food, prayed and blessed the food, then distributed what they had to the disciples, then instructed the disciples to pass it out to the crowd. Peter reached into his basket, and gave some food to the first man and did the same for the second. And the third. And the fourth. And he looked in his basket, and there was still bread and fish. And then he kept going. To the 50th man, through the 100th man, through the 1000th man and Peter's basket still had bread and fish. By the time the disciples were finished, and everyone ate and was satisfied, with 12 baskets leftover.

What an amazing act of divine power! It is impossible to imagine how it happened because it was a miracle and the only explanation is God’s miraculous power. Chesterton wrote, “The believers in miracles accept them (rightly or wrongly) because they have evidence for them. The disbelievers in miracles deny them (rightly or wrongly) because they have a doctrine against them.” We have this story so you would believe in Jesus. Not just believe it happened, or believe in the supernatural, but believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, the Saviour of the world. To believe Jesus came to seek and save the lost. To believe in this man, who had the power to heal the sick and feed the multitude has the power to forgive sins. The tragedy of this story is in John’s account, we learn the people ate the bread and the fish, but did not “eat” the Bread of Life, desiring physical healing, and a full belly, but did not  Christ nor his salvation.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Joyful Prisoner


Unjustly imprisoned and far from home, with little hope release, Paul is a man full of joy (Philippians 1:3-8). That is amazing. Who would blame him if here were full of bitterness and anger at the injustice of his situation? But Paul is full of joy is because Paul is full of love. True, Biblical, godly love. The apostle is constrained and motivated by the love of God and this love fills him with great joy. In Paul, we see an unselfish love that results in undiminished joy. A joy that finds itself in the faithfulness of others. A joy found in the faithfulness of God –a compassionate and caring joy in God’s glory in the life of the church.

Every time Paul thought of the Philippians and each time he prayed for them he was filled with joy.  You can tell how much Paul loved these people by how often he prays for them. I wonder if we could say the same for ourselves? How often do you pray for your loved ones? How often do you pray for their spiritual needs? Do you really care for a person if you never pray for them? Paul recognizes all good gifts come from God, especially and including friendship and brotherhood.
Paul is joyful when he prays, not only because his love for the Philippian church, but also because of their love for him. Honestly, it's not a joy to pray for our enemies. It's not a joy to pray for the wayward. The heart breaks when friends separate, loved ones betray us, family members go astray, or disaster strikes (have you ever considered how your unfaithfulness brings sorrow to the heart of those that love you? How many tears are shed in your beloved's prayer closet because of your rebellion?). Certainly we find comfort and peace that leads to joy in those situations, but in our text, Paul's existing joy leads to prayer. It was a pleasant thing to pray for people who loved him and loved the Lord. Perhaps you don't have the joy Paul has because your prayer life consists only of praying for the sick and praying for the wayward. Don't stop doing that. But your faithful friends need prayer. Your faithful parents need prayer. Your faithful pastor needs prayer, and how joyful it is to pray for those walking with Christ! Praise God for the good he is doing in your life.

Paul rejoiced in the fellowship of the gospel, which is a shared belief, or a shared goal in a deep, abiding, shared community. Paul found joy in the friendship of this fellowship of the gospel. The tie that bound them together, was their love for the same Saviour, and the love of telling the good news about him. Because of his love for Christ, his love of the brethren, and the fellowship they had in serving Christ, Paul rejoiced, no matter his situation. Don't base your joy in the world, but find joy in Christ.


Monday, September 17, 2018

If by Rudyard Kipling

The Circe Institute has a new podcast called The Daily Poem. It's interesting to listen to someone read a poem, and how their interpretation impacts their reading. Anyway, check it out, subscribe, and so forth. Listen and read If, by Rudyard Kipling.



If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!


If you want to deep dive on a poem with a former Navy Seal, check out this podcast:

Thursday, September 13, 2018

God Does Not Change



Someone wrote, “The only thing constant is change.”  In the last 200 years we went from riding horses to flying to the moon. In fifty years we have gone to amazement over space travel to yawning over NASA. We complain when our flights are delayed rather than in awe that we can fly. We can go from West Virginia to California in a half a day's time. 200 years ago, you could leave Virginia a family of five and arrive in California a family of six. Science, technology, biology, all have undergone significant shifts. I worked for AT&T when they rolled out the first iphone. It was amazing to navigate the phone by touching a screen. Now, it's so common, I've seen babies swipe picture frames, thinking it was a device.  Our government is changing, our way of life will most likely have to change. I had a joke for the kids about Social Security, but they probably won't get it. “The only thing constant is change.” But, that quote isn’t right. God never changes, never thinks about changing, never has considered changing, and actually couldn’t change.  In a time of a continual change in thought, philosophy, governments, technology and way of life, I derive great comfort from the fact that God never changes. James 1:17  Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, and cometh down from the Father of lights, with whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning.

God is "independent" in that He is self-sufficient, Self-satisfied needing nothing or no one. Bavinck said, “Every change is foreign to God. In him there is no change in time, for he is eternal; nor in location, for he is omnipresent; nor in essence, for he is pure being." God freely chose to create and was under no obligation or was it a necessity to create the universe and everything in it. For his own good purpose, for his own good pleasure, from his own sovereign choice, and for his own glory God created the heavens and earth. God cannot change and does not change. Why do you change your mind? Maybe you found out you were wrong about something. Perhaps, when you formed your opinion, you didn't have all the information. Maybe time and maturity has shifted your opinion and circumstances have changed your mind. There is no reason that God would change his mind. Being perfect, all knowing, omnipresent, and all powerful, there is no circumstance that could arise where God would need to change. Plus, God being holy, cannot change because he is perfect. You can only change to get better or worse, and since God is perfect how or why would he change?

The God who promised salvation, does not change. The God who said "whosoever believeth in me, shall not perish" doesn't change. God's promises are sure and trust worthy, because he does not change and are a sure and steadfast anchor for the soul (Hebrews 6:13-20).




Saturday, September 8, 2018

Do you Pray for Ministers?


“Do you pray for the men who stand to preach & teach in the church - and elsewhere—pleading with God for a blessing upon the work?  Good—there will be no success without it! Do you support the church with cheerful generosity financially and in other ways, so that the local church [and missionaries] might spread the gospel? Excellent—much to be commended! Do you encourage others who engage in their work, drawing alongside truehearted brothers & sisters, assuring them of your prayers and concern for them? Praise God – much to be appreciated. Do you personally exercise your particular obligation and privately to teach transgressors God’s ways?”                                           

Jeremy Walker  – The Brokenhearted Evangelist

Thursday, September 6, 2018

Aim and Application



 Did Jesus successfully accomplish what He set out to do? Isaiah 53:11-12 gives us insight to the aim and application of redemption. Jesus said himself in Luke 19:10, " For the Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost." The Lord's stated purpose was to seek and save the lost. Was he successful? The angelic announcement also provides the mission statement of our Lord in Matthew 1:20-21 where it says, "he shall save his people from their sins." Not he would try. Not that he would offer, but he shall, without question and without fail, save his people. The Father has chosen a people, the son came to save the people the Father gave him, and the Spirit draws, gives life, and indwells those Christ died for.  The sacrifice Christ made on the cross was made for the people the Father gave him. Our text in Isaiah says the same thing that Matthew and Luke say, Jesus shall, without question and without fail, justify many, not every and not all. Who is it that will be justified? Those whom "he shall bear their iniquities." Jesus Christ is a perfect Saviour.
                  
On the cross, Jesus made atoned for the sins of his people, satisfying God’s justice. The aim of that sacrifice, was  to save the people Christ came for, and give them eternal life and the forgiveness of sins. The sacrifice Christ made on the cross was made for His people. All that Christ redeemed shall be saved because of redemption. Think about the words of salvation. To redeem is to purchase. To save is to rescue and deliver. Justify is a legal term to declare one innocent. These are specific terms – mathematical, financial, and judicial expressions. Redemption, salvation, and justification are acts that are done to us, not acts we contribute to.

Before the foundation of the world, God had chosen a people. Christ, the Father and the Spirit had an aim, and unified will in the eternal covenant; Christ came to the Earth, to obtain and provide eternal redemption for His people. The means by which we are saved was the substitutionary sacrifice, and the work on Calvary was not a general work, but a judicial work; a specific work for a predetermined purpose. The aim  of redemption was a total success.  Christ fully achieved what He came to accomplish.  The sacrifice Christ made on the cross was made for His people –  redemption, accomplished and applied.  

Isaiah 53:12. Christ will divide the spoil. Christ will reign over his victors, because he poured out his soul unto death. Wait, what? How is that possible? How can Christ be victorious and divide the spoils as a victorious king if he was despised, rejected, deemed forsaken, crushed by the Father and died and laid in a rich man's tomb? Simply stated, it's possible because he wasn't in the grave very long. Three days and three nights to be precise. He arose.

Friday, August 31, 2018

Satisfaction




Isaiah 53:10-11 is one of the sections of Scripture the saints of God, “enquired and searched diligently” into the grace of the LORD (1 Peter 1:10-12). God reveals what man could not know regarding the transaction between the Father and the Son on the cross (1 Corinthians 2:9-10). Isaiah tells us it pleased the Father to bruise the Lord Jesus, the high exalted Messiah. The one who has done no violence or spoken no lie. It’s striking to read, especially when it is we  who despised and rejected the Lord, who saw no beauty in the Lord’s Christ. We esteemed him not, nor believed the report. And yet, it pleased the Lord to bruise HIM, and not us. Why? Because on the cross, the Lord Jesus was punished on our behalf. It was the Father's love for us, that sent His only begotten Son to be our sin bearer. Being made a curse for us (Galatians 3:13), Jesus bore our sins in his own body on that cursed tree (I Peter 2:24). He suffered for our sins, the just for the unjust, a sin sacrifice (I Peter 3:18). It pleased the Father that Christ was fulfilling the eternal plan of redemption. It pleased the Father that through the sacrifice of the Son, he was securing the eternal salvation and happiness of the elect. It pleased the Father to deal with sin and see justice and peace come together on the cross. It pleased the Father that the Son, in his Sacrifice, would honor and glorify the attributes of God like no other event in history.

We also see something unique in verse 11. The Father saw “the travail of [Christ’s] soul.” and “shall be satisfied”. As Christ suffered, and as the wrath of God was poured out on Jesus for my sins, the Father was satisfied. When the Father said it was enough, Jesus said, It is finished.” It was unique, because this is the only time and only place where this will happen. Pharaoh has been in Hell for thousands of years and the wrath of God has not been satisfied. One day, Pharaoh will stand before God at the Great White Throne judgment, and then will be cast in the Lake of Fire. The wrath of God will not be satisfied. Crimes against an eternal and infinite God require eternal punishment. Time does not lessen the offense against the God who is beyond time. Sin against God is ever before him. A sinner will never satisfy God’s wrath against sin. But Isaiah told us the wrath of God was satisfied in Christ. The perfect, spotless, Lamb of God, bore all the sins of all His people, and offered his soul as a substitute. The Eternal Son of God, the Godman, Jesus Christ, bore that infinite wrath, and the sinless blood was shed for remission of sin, and the Father accepted his substitutionary, perfect atonement.  On the cross, we see the display of God's attributes in perfect consistency.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Cut off from the Land of the Living


Judas betrayed Jesus with a kiss. He was arrested and brought before Annas and Caiaphas. The conspiracy advanced . From the Sanhedrin then before Pilate, Jesus was falsely charged. Pilate, not wanting involved sent Jesus to Herod, who in turn, sent Jesus back to Pilate where the Lord was accused and condemned. “Crucify Him!” the crowd chanted. Pilate relented and  sent him to die. Jesus, bearing his cross fell under the weight, so they compelled Simon a Cyrenian, who passed by, to bear his cross to Golgotha, the place of the skull. The soldiers took the hands of Jesus, the hands that had blessed the children, hands that healed the leapers, hands that broke break with sinners, hands that gave sight to the blind; those same hands were pierced and nailed to a cross. The feet that carried Jesus to the mountain to pray, and to preach. The feet that took him on his mission to Samaria, to save the woman at the well, and the feet that carried him from town to town, glorifying God, pierced through with the spike to the tree. Hoisted up above the Earth, the Son of Man hangs, dying.

About the ninth hour, Jesus cries, “It is finished.” Jesus died. So quickly? Are we sure? The soldier drives a spear into the side of Jesus, confirming his death. The soldiers broke the legs of the thieves on either side to hasten death, and the saga, it seems is over.  Jesus died. A  rich man of Arimathaea, named Joseph, begged Pilate for the body of Jesus, and laid the Lord’s body in his own new tomb, hewn out in the rock and sealed the door with a large stone. With the thieves, robbers, sinners, the Lord Jesus made his grave with the wicked.

Jesus was cut off from the land of the living, but why? He had done no violence. Deceit never left his mouth or entered his mind. An innocent man was framed and murdered. But we don’t chalk this up to a sad tale of a ministry gone wrong. At any time, the Lord could have called thousands of angels to come and annihilate any person who looked at Jesus crossways. Much more went on here than what the Jews and Romans did in their wicked cruelty. The main event happened between the Father and the Son. Why did Jesus die? For the transgressions of his people. Jesus died as a sin sacrifice, atoning for sin, for the sins of God's people, Jesus was stricken. In my stead, Jesus died for my sins He bled.

" He was taken from prison and from judgment: and who shall declare his generation? for he was cut off out of the land of the living: for the transgression of my people was he stricken. And he made his grave with the wicked, and with the rich in his death; because he had done no violence, neither was any deceit in his mouth," Isaiah 53:8-9.


Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Quiet Lamb


Isaiah 53:7 He was oppressed, and he was afflicted, yet he opened not his mouth: he is brought as a lamb to the slaughter, and as a sheep before her shearers is dumb, so he openeth not his mouth.

It’s natural for a man, when he is wronged, to stand up and defend himself. When he is slandered or lied about to want to set the record straight. When his life and liberty is on the line, he fights for his rights and for justice for himself. Unless he chooses to suffer. A man will stand and fight for justice, unless he has a purpose in remaining silent. And, what a glorious silence to suffer for another.  Jesus was brought up on false charges, railroaded in a miscarriage of justice. Betrayed by friend and countrymen, mocked by religious leaders, and derided by wicked men. Christ Jesus must die because he came to suffer death as the substitute, to be the satisfaction for our sins. He was obedient unto death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:8). Despising the shame, but enduring the shame for his friends. For his people. For sinners he came to save.

Jesus was led as a lamb to the slaughter. Imagine the Passover. All over Israel, in every home, the father of the household would go to his flock and look for a lamb without spot or blemish. He would pass by the sickly sheep and lame until his eye came to his best lamb. The unsuspecting animal would follow the father, obediently, wherever he was led. The sheep did not fight, nor cry, nor object, but faithfully went to his slaughter. On this particular Passover season, the Lamb of God was brought to his own death. In the first Passover, the lamb’s blood was shed and when God’s wrath came through Egypt, every place where the blood was shed, the wrath of God passed. The lamb died so those in the house wouldn’t. Jesus, the Lamb of God, went to cross as our substitute. He died in the place of His people. As a lamb, mute as he came to the shearers, Jesus opened not his mouth, completely aware of what he faced as our sin bearer, and quiet in the face of His sacrifice. 

The Lamb of God “committed himself to him that judgeth righteously,” (1 Peter 2:23). Christ is both our saviour and our example. We see the meekness and the manliness of our Lord when he was “reviled, reviled not again” but for the joy set before him, endured this greatest injustice, and the greatest suffering, for the glory of God and the salvation of His people. Marvel at this silence and glory in Christ’s sacrifice. And if you know Christ, imitate him. How foolish and wicked is the pride of life, when we must fight for every inch of everything we can get our hands on. How wicked church disputes over trivial matters, when we are followers of the Lamb of God.


Wednesday, August 8, 2018

Wounded for Me




Isaiah 53:5-6 But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed. All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned everyone to his own way; and the Lord hath laid on him the iniquity of us all.

Three men hung on three crosses. Two were nailed for their transgressions. Tried and convicted for their crimes, they suffered the agonizing death sentence of crucifixion. They paid  for their crimes against Rome with their life. The third man was pierced for a different reason. He was not wounded for his transgressions, but for mine. He was not crushed for his iniquities, but for mine. Jesus died in the place of his people. Jesus suffered in our stead. The Romans found the two thieves guilty, but Pilate said, I find no fault with Jesus. The bodily pain Jesus endured is unimaginable. Remove from your mind the paintings and statues where Jesus hangs on a cross, with a few drops of blood upon his brow. No, the physical torture of the cross is beyond compare (Psalm 22:14-17); but they pale in comparison to the suffering of the Lord for our sins. Here, on the cross, the Lord Jesus received the punishment I deserved for my sins, and paid my sin debt. He was my substitute, dying for me and paying my pardon with his blood. 

Like sheep, we have all gone astray, going our own way. Caring nothing for Christ, we walked and wandered wherever we desired to go. Caring not for the voice of the shepherd, lost in the darkness of this world. The hymn tells the story, “Years I spent and vanity and pride, caring not my Lord was crucified.” Before salvation, we are like a sheep without a shepherd. A sheep will wander wherever it pleases, but won't find his way back home on his own. Without the care of the shepherd to protect, lead, and feed, the lost sheep is subject to many dangers. But we were not without a shepherd. The Lord, came to rescue His sheep. No man took his life from Him, but He laid it down to give his life for mine. As I turned my way, for myself, and my pleasure, my Lord turned towards Golgotha and was wounded for my transgressions. While I wandered astray looking for peace and comfort, my peace was purchased in His body on the tree. While I looked for fulfillment and satisfaction in sin, and by His stripes I was healed.

The Lord laid on him the iniquity of us all. The prophecy weaves back and forth between the people's perception of Christ versus the reality of Christ’s work. Jesus did not die as a martyr for a cause. He did not die as a sinner for his sins. Jesus died as the scapegoat. Jesus, the lamb of God, dying to expiate our sins. The just for the unjust.


Friday, August 3, 2018

Why Pastors want women in leadership.

David Bayly writes:
"Without examining motives, we’re at the mercy of those pushing against God’s Word who, quite naturally, only speak well of themselves. They describe themselves as freedom fighters and liberators, leaders raising the oppressed from bondage. Unexamined, it’s a hard narrative to oppose. For that reason the narrative warrants critical consideration..."
Read the rest here.





Doug

Wednesday, August 1, 2018

Man of Sorrows


Isaiah 53:3-4 … a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were our faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not.4 Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows: yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

If you turn on most TV preachers, you probably wouldn't have to wait long before you heard one talk about how God wants you happy. The prosperity gospel teaches that God will favor his people with material blessings and happiness. Our Lord Jesus did not have such a life. He was a “man of sorrows.” It seems counterintuitive, one blessed of God would be acquainted with grief.

Jesus grieved at sin (Mark 3:5). Jesus was sorrowful in the Garden Gethsemane (Matthew 26:37-38), and over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41-44), or at the graveside of Lazarus (John 11:35). Jesus was no stranger to grief. Jesus was truly man, thus sorrowed and grieved, but without sin. Jesus sorrowed in personal humiliation and suffering. Jesus was acquainted with a life of hardship, toil, and pain. Most of all, he was grieved as our sin bearer and was sorrowful on the cross.

As our Lord hung on that awful tree, men looked on Jesus and despised Him. How terrible, a sight, the children of Abraham rejected the God of Abraham. How sad, He, whom the Father gloried, was denied, rejected, and despised before Pilate. What an awful scene, men claiming to look for the Messiah rejected Him in favor of a murderer. What a terrible sight, they killed the Prince of life (Acts 3:13-15).They despised His features, His shame, but they despised His person. They did not esteem Him as God’s Son, the Saviour and King, but they esteemed Him as stricken and smitten of God. He whom the Father calls His beloved Son, the world saw as despicable. The man of sorrows bore our grief and carried our sorrows.

But while the prophet was speaking of the men who lived in the time of Christ specifically, he said “we”, not “they”. We hid as it were our faces from him. We esteemed him not. We did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted. Everyone who has heard the gospel and not believed, has in essence, looked upon the Lord Jesus and judged him not worthy of esteem. You have weighed the Lord of glory in the balance and found Him wanting. But, when you turn your eyes from Jesus, to whom will you turn? Where will you go? Who can stand in your stead? Who can bear your sins? Who can remove your guilt? Who can cover your shame before a Holy God? And yet the despised and rejected one, who we judged rejected, bore our sins. I was the reason the Lord was crucified, and yet, I looked upon His crucifixion as a matter to reject him. Oh, wicked heart! The Lord died, not for His sins, but for mine.


Sunday, July 29, 2018

Despised and Rejected


"I don't know why people don't like me? What's not to love?" Bob sat on the porch, trying to unravel the enigma of how anyone could be upset with him. "I don't know man," his friend replied "you're pretty awesome. Humble too." 

The older you get, the more you understand that some people are just not going to like you. But you also may begin to realize there are a more than a few justifiable reasons.  I'm a sinner, saved by grace. I still battle remaining sin, and will until I die, so I know I offend people. I open my mouth when I shouldn't and keep it shut when I should open it. My jokes fail. My words come out wrong and offend. My words come out right and wrongfully give offense. I'm a sinner, and I would guess that most of the times when I'm not liked, they are more than justified in their charge. 

"He is despised and rejected of men," Isaiah 53:3. But Christ was despised and rejected. Jesus was scorned by the Scribes, hated by the Pharisees, and mocked by the Romans. Why did men despise him? He healed the sick, raised the dead, and fed the hungry. The Messianic Psalm tells us Jesus delighted to do the law of God. He did not refrain himself from preaching righteousness. Jesus did not hide this truth, but declared God's faithfulness from the great congregation (Psalm 40:7-10). And he was despised. He was rejected.

For example, in Matthew 12, Jesus explains the true nature of the Sabbath Day. The Sabbath was given to man, by God, for the good of man. Only a wicked sinner and depraved heart could despise God for giving people a day off to rest. The ensured everyone got to rest their bodies from work and rest their souls by meditating on God. The Pharisees had so twisted the meaning of the Sabbath, men were in subjection to the Sabbath, rather than blessed by the Sabbath. But Jesus showed the true meaning of the law, revealed God's truth, and set men free from the bondage of legalism. Then, to illustrate the point, Jesus heals a man, demonstrating how God would have mercy and not sacrifice in these matters. How did the Pharisees react? Matthew 12:14, "Then the Pharisees went out, and held a council against him, how they might destroy him."

The Lord Jesus lived a sinless life. He we perfect in every action, pure in every thought. Jesus never misspoke. Jesus never lost His temper and shouted things He wished to take back. Jesus did not live with the regret of wasted words, or wasted thoughts. Every day, every moment, His live was directed to loving the Father and doing His will and loving his neighbors. He delighted to do the will of the Father. Jesus was not proud. He was not hypocritical. He always told the truth. He was never a false friend or never betrayed friend or enemy. He never disrespected Joseph or smarted off to Mary.  There was no "rebellious phase". He was compassionate to the downcast. He was kind to the unkind. He loved the unlovable. He died for His enemies and made them His friends. What a glorious Saviour! Which makes these words, which are still true, so shocking. He is despised and rejected of men.



Wednesday, July 25, 2018

Covering Context

1 Corinthians 11:2  Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.

 Brother Lewis Kiger, in his sermon Uncovering the Head Covering Issue, attempts to show the head covering was a cultural issue for the Corinthian church by providing a cultural context for the City of Corinth and then a reading of 1 Corinthians 11 which frames the head covering as part of the liberty discussion Paul starts in chapter eight. I hope to prove that both the historical context and the context of the epistle proves the head covering is part of orderly church worship and not a cultural issue of Paul’s day.

Lewis is a dear friend of mine and I respect him enough to offer some public push-back to a public sermon. I don't write this to attack him personally (Proverbs 27:6) or attack expository preaching as a method. I also think Lewis is enough of a man to handle a public critique and hope that he can at least appreciate someone disagreeing with him face to face, so to speak. Since Lewis is a well respected man who has changed is position, this sermon has drawn a lot of attention and I think worthy of a response.
Hear me out before you toss the veil...

 The only way out from under the veil is to say the covering is the hair, or Paul was talking to the Corinthians about a cultural issue, and thus not for the church today. It is clear Paul instructs the Corinthian women to be covered. Does the covering then deal with how to live in the culture, thus a liberty issue, or is this a church issue? I will first deal with the context of the epistle, then conclude the historical context.

 In the eighth chapter we find instruction on Christian liberty, and whether or not it is proper to eat and drink food offered to pagan idols. In chapter nine, Paul defends his apostolic authority and shows his willingness to deny himself of his rights to be supported in the ministry for the good of others. In the tenth chapter we find Old Testament examples about Israel concerning sin and temptation, applying this to the church. Paul details how  the one body, the church cannot partake of the cup of the Lord and the cup of devils.

I contend the natural reading of 1 Corinthians 10:33-11:1 is Paul’s concluding remarks after a long section on Christian liberty. An idol is nothing, but we are not idolaters. We have liberty, but there are bounds to our liberty. All is lawful, not all expedient, and all we do should be for the glory of God.  We have freedom in Christ, and no man is our master, but whether it was Jew  or Gentile or in the church our out, try to live without offense. 1 Corinthians 10:33-11:1  “Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.  (11:1)  Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.” Verse 1 of chapter 11 is tied to chapter 10. However, it is equally clear verse two begins a new thought and as I will show, the actual context puts the head covering on the church side of the issue, not the liberty side. Chapter 11 deals with the head covering and the Lord’s Supper. Once we leave the subjects of chapter 11, we go on to teaching on spiritual gifts and other church worship issues.

 Paul’s liberty message is beautiful. Corinthians, you have liberty, but, like me, you can deny your rights to show love to others by either teaching them truth or preaching the gospel. However, remember Israel, how they sinned against God. Your Liberty doesn’t give you license to sin. Flee from Idolatry. Chapter 10 concludes with instruction to do all things for the glory of God. A fitting capstone to this difficult doctrine. First, he deals with a legalistic view of the Mosaic law, then he shows us liberty is not selfishness, but we use our freedom to love others. Next he deals with the opposite extreme, because having freedom to eat meat doesn’t give you freedom to commit idolatry. He corrects errors on both sides, then exhorts us to walk down the middle of this road, and avoid both ditches, by doing all things for the glory of God, follow Paul’s example as he followed Christ. I think we are all on board so far.

11:2 Now I praise you,brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you. The word “now” in the book is either untranslated, used to continue a thought (1:12), or used to start a new discussion (7:1; 8:1) , so it depends on the context. After telling the church to follow him, he praises them for remembering him in all things and to keep the ordinances as he delivered them when he organized the church. He concludes one subject by saying "follow me" and transitions to the next topic by saying they were doing well by remembering previous instruction. Chapter 8 began a new discussion on liberty, “Now as touching things offered unto idols…” Clearly new territory there. In 11:2, Paul praises the church for remembering his prior teaching, which are the ordinances that he had already delivered, which was old familiar ground.

Paul uses a technique in 1 Corinthians called an inclusio. An inclusio begins and ends a section with either the same thought or even the same phrasing Think of them like bookends. You have a bookend on the left, holding the books up on the shelf, and another matching one on the other end, doing the same. Or, think of an inclusio like brackets holding a section of thought together. A clear example is in chapter 11.

1 Corinthians 11:2  Now I praise you, brethren, that ye remember me in all things, and keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you.

1 Corinthians 11:17  Now in this that I declare unto you I praise you not, that ye come together not for the better, but for the worse.

1 Corinthians 11:22-23  What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in? or despise ye the church
of God, and shame them that have not? What shall I say to you? shall I praise you in this? I praise you not.  (23)  For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you, That the Lord Jesus the same night in which he was betrayed took bread:

  • 11:2 I praise you
  • 11:17 I praise you not
  • 11:2 “keep the ordinances, as I delivered them to you”
  • 11:23 “ For I have received of the Lord that which also I delivered unto you”
This is important because the inclusio shows a new section of thought, not a continuation of Christian liberty. Paul begins a new section in verse 2 with keeping ordinances and ends chapter 11 with keeping the ordinance of the Lord Supper. First Corinthians is a church epistle, and these ordinances are church ordinances. He begins verse 2, not with liberty issues, but praising the church for keeping some of the ordinances he had commanded them when he organized the church, and to remember and keep what he instructed in the ordinances. Then halfway through the chapter, then uses the same language to correct them. It’s good you remember what I told you before, but I can’t praise you for remembering what I said about the Lord’s Supper. Lewis said it’s clear from the context that the head covering is continuing the thought of the liberty issue. If that is true, the Lord Supper must also be a liberty issue, since the covering and the supper are connected. Lewis does point out that ordinance is translated "tradition” in other places. Depending on the context, it could be a bad, man made tradition.  But, since it means tradition, it's not a big deal, right? 2 Thessalonians 3:6 "Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us." Whose "ordinance" was it?  The inspired apostle of Jesus Christ, and Paul says to disassociate with anyone who doesn't walk after the tradition Paul taught.

Since Paul started preaching, men have attempted to discredit what he taught as non-binding, which is why he spends so much time in the New Testament defending his apostleship. We must hold to Paul’s apostolic authority. If I were in Rome, trying to be all things to all men, I might mention argumentum ad verecundiam. But I’m not, so I’ll just mention that my stack of commentators has quite a few learned men saying Paul started a new line of thought in verse two. It’s also interesting to note that the closer one gets to the women’s liberation movement, the more “insight” men have into the culture at Corinth. The downside with appealing to authority is I've got just as many commentators on my side. Sadder still when we take the authority of commentators and historians over the authority of Paul.

 Both issues in chapter 11 deal with the glory of God and order in the church, which fits the overarching theme of 1 Corinthians. Paul's proof for the covering has to do with God's glory and order, not door to door evangelism. In order to make the head covering a cultural issue, the reason for the covering must be the gospel of Christ to the lost world. But the reasons Paul actually provides have nothing which the lost world. The unsaved would neither care about nor understand Biblical headship.

Glory, order, judgment, and knowledge are major themes you'll find weaving in and out the epistle. Paul either addresses these issues positively or negatively. For example, Paul writes about unity or he'll address division from the negative side. There were divisions over the preachers in the church (1:10-11), divisions over spiritual matters in the church (3:1-4), divisions over spiritual gifts in the church(12:25). Divisions over their freedom in the church, and out (8-10). Divisions at the Lord's supper in the church (11:17-21). He addresses order, or disorder. They were out of order in sexual relations and church discipline (5:1-5). They were out of order in how they dealt with problems with other church members (6:1-8). They were out of order in the whole church service, 1 Corinthians 14:40, "Let all things be done decently and in order." Paul needed to come back to put things back in order. 1 Corinthians 11:34, "... And the rest will I set in order when I come." He even set in order how and when they were to give their offerings in the church (16:1-4). They also had a glory problem (5:2, 6; 3:21; 4:18-19), in their glory was out of order.  The church is to judge Scripturally (2:15), judge themselves (5:12; 6:2; 11:31), judge each other(6:2), judge right from wrong (chapters 8-10), judge good from better. The church is also to cling to the wisdom of God, revealed in His word, through his apostles, in the power of the Spirit (chapters 1-3). The Bible is a spiritual book and must be understood spiritually (2:15-16). This is opposed to the folly of the world, that "puffeth up" (8:1-2). The context of the whole book is Paul, with Apostolic authority, puts the church back in the right order, for the glory of God.

Lewis said 1 Corinthians 11 is the only place in Scripture teaching the head covering, so you can’t build a doctrine when there is only one verse, or in this case one section of verses. Ok, is Scripture God breathed? Give me two verses. Is it valid for a man to dress like a woman? Lewis, in the third sermon said it was, but give me two verses saying otherwise, or one New Testament verse. I’m not sure where this idea came from, but I don’t think that is a well established principle of theology. This is this potential danger of Biblical Theology. I know saying you have a problem with Biblical Theology sounds bad -- but Biblical Theology is a system of theology, taking doctrinal development chronologically, as it was given, rather than as a whole, like Systematic Theology does. Biblical Theology can lead one to overemphasize the history of the passage over the interpretation and meaning of the passage. Certainly, it can be helpful, but it does have dangers. We have the closed Book. We can know what God has said on every topic God revealed in His Word (Deuteronomy 29:29). To know the truth about the head covering, we don't need  to see how it developed over time, or even see how the Corinthians would have received this teaching, to know what God has said. Obviously, it is important to know who is speaking, and who he is speaking to, but if you go too far, you ignore what Paul actually said by trying to get in the head of the Corinthians. The Bible gives us everything we need to know to rightly interpret and understand the Bible. Sequential exposition has a blind spot when not backed up by sound systematic theology. Herman Bavinck, in Reformed Dogmatics, Volume one rightly states, "...according to Scripture itself, dogmatics has the right to rationally absorb its content and, guided by Scripture, to rationally process it and also to acknowledge as truth that which can be deduced from it by lawful inference."

 But even within this short passage, Paul connects the head covering to other Biblical truths and  principles - headship, the created order, and the glory unto God, creation, the angels, then nature itself. Moved by the Holy Spirit, Paul instructs the church in an ordinance practiced by the other churches (11:16) and previously taught in Corinth (11:2) and based upon the foundation of Scriptural inferences. This not the same thing as saying the head covering is only taught in one place. For  example, 1 Corinthians 15:9  talks about "Baptism for the dead", and is a very difficult passage. However, the Scriptures elsewhere shed light on what  baptism for the dead  cannot mean. We know what baptism is, and what it is for, and who it is for from other passages of Scripture. We know what it cannot mean, even if we are not sure what it actually does mean. The principle is, you cannot build a doctrine on one verse, without supporting verses. If you take 1 Corinthians 15:9 on an island, then yes, you would be foolish to build a doctrine on one verse. But given the analogy of the faith, and harmony and perfection of the Scripture, you know it cannot mean Christians are to baptize dead people. However, the inverse is true. For example, 2 Timothy 3:16, says the Word of God is inspired, and is the only place the word inspiration is used in the Bible. Liberals deny God's inspiration by pointing here and saying, "that's the only place in the Bible where it says the Bible is inspired, you can't build a doctrine of inspiration on one verse!" However, you can see the inferences and supporting passages buttressing the doctrine of inspiration. Just because something is only explicitly found in one place, doesn’t mean it isn’t true and doesn’t mean it isn’t inferred in other passages. A similar tactic is used by people pushing for ordaining women and advocates of the “gay Christian” theory. Paul supports his teaching on the head covering on Biblical principles and foundation of creation and headship. The head covering does not contradict the analogy of Scripture but supports and is in perfect harmony with the whole of the Bible’s teaching on headship, order, creation, and the roles of men and women. Which is someone ironic, considering the my next point.

 The whole foundation of Brother Kiger's interpretation is the head covering as a Jewish tradition or a cultural phenomenon of the ancient times and has no bearing for us today (see the second sermon An Exposition of the Head Covering Issue).  His entire argument and exegesis of the text is built on this presupposition, and if that foundation cracks, the whole interpretation falls down. But he has a hard time proving this assertion from the Bible. The cultural covering interpretation tells us it was the custom for women wear coverings all the time, and it would be an offence to be seen without one in public. His proof the covering was a liberty issue is based on the presupposition that every woman in town wore one, it was scandalous for a women not to wear a veil, and for the furtherance of the gospel, women had to wear the covering outside the church so they could share the gospel. It sounds very good.  He even compares modern day reporters going to Muslim countries, wearing a burkas as not to offend the culture. And hints in the third sermon, that they did wear the burka. Here's the kicker. We have 15 verses on the head covering, that we can’t build a doctrine around because there is no other epistle that talks about the covering , but we have ZERO verses on the fashion tastes of Corinthian women  that we are supposed interpret these verse through? Corinthian women had to wear veils all the time in public? Uh, says who? Whose "tradition" are we supposed to listen to? Looks like we’ve got an authority issue.

 God’s Word does not show us that women wore veils all the time in Gentile nations. This is also not corroborated in history. The common fashion of the day was either sleeveless (or down to the elbow) tunics called the peplos with hats only for fashion purposes. They also wore “elaborate coiffures and [held] their hair in nets..” Bible Manners and Customs, Vos. You can take 5 minutes and Google ancient Grecian or Roman fashion and you know the veil was not a custom of Corinth. It is just not true that Paul entered a modest city and he instructed women to keep up the secular practice of wearing veils as not to hinder door to door visitation. Yes, look at the Middle East now, and you’ll see women covered from head to toe. The burka and covering you see today is not Greek or Roman influence, but rather Islamic influence, which was still several centuries down the road. Our culture in the United States, indeed all of Western Civilization, is down stream from Ancient Greece and Rome. We have more in common with Corinth culturally than we do the modern day Islamic states. The Jews were Hellenistic Jews, which means they were Hebrews, but lived in Greek culture, spoke Greek, and dressed as Grecian people. Corinth was established by the Greeks, over 700 years before Paul ever came around. Plus, Corinth was conquered and destroyed, and rebuilt by the Romans nearly a century before this epistle. With Corinth’s long and storied history, it would not be hard to find any number of cultural movements in the course of a millennia, dominated by two of the greatest world empires.

Let's imagine, in the year 4017, some scholar was going to write a paper on the spiritual condition of New York City as relating to the dress of the day. Without knowing the exact date, he reads some papers on the fashion and times of New York, from 1750 and applies their dress to his thesis about the culture of New York City in 2018. From the distance of 2,000 years, a hundred years or so doesn't seem like a lot of time, he’s in the ballpark. But the city moved from the hands of British control to independence in the new United States, not to mention the cultural shift the era matters and a lot can change in a decade or two.

With Corinth, there is a whole lot of history and the data in the commentaries that may be true, but what era of Corinth are they describing, and how do we know that is the context Paul is preaching? Some scholars point out much of the historical information used to talk about women shaving their heads in  temple prostitution was from an earlier era in Corinth and had long since come to an end by the time Paul arrives (the temple of Aphrodite, where this was practiced, was destroyed 200 some years prior). Plus, we do know from God's Word, women wore their hair in elaborate, and beautiful hairstyles (I Timothy 2:9; I Peter 3:3) not covered up all the time. The idea the Greek and Roman culture was a tad too heavy on the patriarchy, so Paul wanted the women to wear their head coverings is foreign to the Bible (1 Corinthians 14:34; 1 Timothy 2:11; 1 Timothy 2:12; Revelation 2:20). The consistent teaching of the New Testament churches was for women to dial back the immodesty of the culture, and for women to cover their hair, rather than make a show of it, like the world. According to God’s Word, women are counter-cultural, and cover their glory, not to be proud and flaunt it like the world. Wearing the head covering to avoid offending the Greek women of Corinth is the opposite of reality. If this is true, then how far do we apply this principle of dressing like the culture? The cover for the culture theory means Paul meant something other than what he actually said. So my question stands, “Says who?” I’ll need a lot more proof than commentators to deny Paul’s Apostolic authority on the matter. I waited until the end of his series to post a response, but his issue isn't how he treats the verses as he comes to them, but rather his presupposition is false.

 But, whether of Greek or Roman influence, can we really say Corinth was a modest culture? I’m sorry, but it’s  really hard to fathom the City of Corinth, from reading the text, was so bashful and modest a woman couldn't walk downtown without her head covered, especially in light of the sexual sins addressed in this one letter. Have you ever seen a Greek goddess statue? Read the Odyssey? The Isthmian games were held in Corinth and hardly a modest affair. I’m all for reading history to get as much of a feeling of the culture as possible, but you wrest the Scriptures by putting the epistles in a false setting. Corinth was such a place of women's subjection that men bowed down and worshiped goddesses? How can we, in 2018, know more about the culture than the men who actually lived it? Men such as Clement of Alexandria (150-215 AD), Turtullian (160-220 AD), Hippolytus (170-236 AD), Ambrosiater (366-384 AD), Jerome (347-420 AD), Chrysostom (349-407 AD) Headcovering Throughout Christian History, Phillips, all believed and wrote that women need to wear the covering in public worship. Lewis provided a different interpretation of the text by putting Corinth in a culture, assuming it looked like modern day Afghanistan. It is more likely, if a woman happened upon a church service coming home from the market, she might enter and say, "what's the deal with all the veils?"

History from outside sources is not inspired. We have to be very careful with commentators who want to correct the clear meaning of the words of Scripture by showing us a new context or a fresh way of seeing things from sources outside of the Bible. 1 Timothy 1:4, "Neither give heed to fables and endless genealogies, which minister questions, rather than godly edifying which is in faith: so do." “Says who?” If you are going to take off your veil, you need to ask by whose authority. If you won't put on the veil, you need to give a justification of why Paul didn't mean what he said, and is that authority sufficient to stand at the day of the Lord? It would be impossible to come to the conclusion Lewis comes to by Scripture alone. Impossible. To say the covering was a cultural issue, you need Scripture plus something else. A man and a Bible would never have come up with the idea this was a cultural issue. Prior to publishing this article, I read the book of First Corinthians, straight through, front to back, several times. I did this to honestly assess whether or not I had missed the "cultural issue" context. I read honestly looking for any sign of information relating the cultural dress of the day and did not find even the slightest illusion. Having listened to Brother Kiger's message carefully, I looked for any Biblical justification for his claims about the culture, and they are just not there. You cannot, from the Bible, make the case that head coverings were the cultural norm of Corinth. You will find historical evidence to the contrary.  Brother Kiger, no doubt, can provide a big list of references showing this was the cultural norm. I can do the same to show it wasn't. Taking the word of fallible men, where there is NOT consensus, to rewrite the Apostle Paul is unwise and dangerous.

If the head covering was cultural, Paul would have contradicted himself to explain the principles of Christian liberty and then immediately tell the women at Corinth they must subject themselves to traditions of men. Would Paul subject Gentile women to Pharisaic tradition? Not likely. He didn’t say they should for the brethren's sake? Paul said with Christian liberty, we are FREE to eat meats offered to idols, but immediately says you are not free to ditch the covering? Paul would have been teaching, "You are not free to take off your head covering, because of all these scriptural reasons about angels, God’s glory, the Trinity, your husband and creation, because you might offend the unbelieving Gentiles?" If the head covering is a “liberty” issue, Paul would have dealt with it in the same way he dealt with it with idols and meats. He would have showed why a woman doesn't have to wear a covering, but then explained why she should.

When Paul dealt with meats offered to idols, he doesn't give any Scriptural reasons why a person should abstain from meats from Old Testament principles. The only reason to abstain is if it bothers your conscience or offends a brother, because we are free in Christ. If it comes down to offending a lost person or offending a saved person, you should offend the lost person. If the head covering were a "liberty" issue, Paul would not have labored to give the Biblical reasons for wearing it, connecting it to the glory of God. Liberty in Christ is a blessing of the New Covenant, not the Old. When Paul told the church they couldn’t commit adultery and idolatry by giving Old Testament examples, but he said you are free to eat meat because an idol is nothing. The Jews would have had all sorts of Old Testament principles to prove why Christians should abstain from meats offered to idols. They had a whole list, I'm sure. If the head covering is a liberty issue, Paul would be doing the same thing the Jews did with meats offered to idols, by drawing from the glory of God and creation that doesn't explicitly say anything about the covering, to command women to wear a veil. But since this is Holy Spirit inspired, we know Paul is rightly applying Scriptural principles. Beside Paul’s explicit instruction (which ought to be enough), he also gives at least 8 reasons why a woman ought to wear a head-covering and gives zero reasons why she shouldn't. Following the way Paul argues, there is no way this was a liberty issue.

Plus, Paul doesn't mention liberty. Paul doesn't mention lost people, or others being offended. In fact, the only people offended in chapter 11 is God the Father, the Lord Jesus,  the angels, and her husband, if she is uncovered. If this is a liberty issue, who is the weak Christian in that scenario, or who is the woman trying to win? If she wasn't allowed to go outside without a covering, is she really going to be able to go house to house and witness effectively? Who are they trying to win, by wearing the covering? The central theme of chapter 11 is the glory of God. It has nothing to do with the world at large. If the head covering were a liberty issue, Paul would have shown, as he did with the meats -- the covering is nothing" and women had the freedom to leave it behind. If the head covering were a liberty issue, Paul would have shown how this freedom is good and used for the glory of God. As Paul tied the head covering to headship, freedom from the covering is freedom from submission. It is freedom from headship. It is freedom from the God ordained role of men and women, and that, is not freedom.

The Lord’s church is the last bastion of Biblical modesty, and God glorifying headship. It’s gone in the culture, the workplace, even the home,  so any act of Biblical submission or headship is foreign to unbelievers and even many believers. I'm afraid the commentators making the covering a cultural issue were looking for a plausible reason why they wouldn't' have to tell the women in their church they needed a covering. They made a way to be faithful to what the text says without having to be faithful to what the text means. When visitors come to the house of God and see women with covered heads, they may find the veil strange. I have many times answered the question, “what’s the deal with all the veils?” Is the answer then, to take off the veil, so the unbeliever, coming in the church, feels warm and welcome? How far do you take that principle? Are you going to choose your Bible translation based on the preference of unbelievers? Or is the answer to wear the veil for the purpose Paul gave, and model the glory of God in humble obedience? Believers come in the house of God to Worship the Lord of Hosts. If an unbeliever comes, great! But the service is for God and God’s people. Everything about the worship service should make an unbeliever a bit uncomfortable, if holy people, read a holy book and worship a holy God. It is also a mistake to assume that the further back in history you go, the more modest you will find men and women.


Finis

 If you are still with me, thank you for taking the time to read. I have heard a lot of slander about Baptist over the last year, on both sides (and yes, there are now two sides) and the last thing I wanted to do was to add more fuel to the fire. I may not have done the best, but I’ve done my best to present my case. It is rather long, and for the internet age, perhaps should have been a series, but I don't want this to drag on for six weeks.

Sequential exposition forces you to deal with the text of Scripture. Even the difficult passages. Indeed, if you stick with the plan, you will have to deal with chapter two before getting to chapter three. However, preaching verse by verse, doesn’t mean you get the context correct, or guarantee an accurate interpretation of the passage. It is possible to miss the meaning of Scripture, going verse by verse by adjusting the context, and to illustrate how you can be in context one way out of context in another.

One reason I felt I had to write this article is because it is dangerous to reinterpret what Paul said by applying a different cultural context. Scholar, N.T. Wright, the much beloved heretic of evangelical intellects, reinterprets Scripture by providing a "new perspective" through which to interpret Paul to deny justification by faith. If you can’t change what the Bible says, try and change the setting, and put a different spin on it. With this same technique, you can make Paul believe in works for salvation in Galatians, you can make him favor women preachers in Timothy, or even condone homosexual relationships in Romans and 1 Corinthians. This happens all day, every day. All you have to do is build an extra-biblical cultural context, say that we don't get what Paul says because we are Americans, then convince people to accept your way of looking at the Scriptures. It's more than a difference of opinion on a"non-essential". A man and his Bible would have never come to the interpretation of the "cultural covering". Foundationally, this way of Biblical interpretation undercuts the authority of the Apostle Paul. I don't think that is a "second tier" issue. This IS a hill I'm willing to die on. However, I would not make the head covering a test of fellowship, and never have. But I do think the root of this interpretation points to a deeper problem than the message itself.

I thought I’d let Presbyterian, Reformed, sequential expositor R.C. Sproul have the last word
from his book, Knowing Scripture.
“The basic problem here is that our reconstructed knowledge of first-century Corinth has led us to supply Paul with a rationale that is foreign to the one [Paul] gives himself. In a word, we are not only putting words into the apostle’s mouth, but we are ignoring words that are there. If Paul merely told women in Corinth to cover their heads and gave no rationale for such instruction, we would be strongly inclined to supply it via our cultural knowledge. In this case, however, Paul provides a rationale which is based on an appeal to creation, not to the custom of Corinthian harlots. We must be careful not to let our zeal for knowledge of the culture obscure what is actually said. To subordinate Paul’s stated reason to our speculatively conceived reason is to slander the apostle and turn exegesis into eisogesis.”