Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Ashamed of the Testimony



“Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord, nor of me his prisoner...” 2 Timothy 1:8.

Shame, according to Merriam-Webster’s is a “painful emotion caused by consciousness of guilt, shortcoming, or impropriety. A condition of humiliating disgrace or disrepute. Something that brings censure or reproach.” Timothy was tempted to feel ashamed, but not for doing wrong, but rather the pain of disgrace, impropriety, and reproach that comes from following Christ. This is directly tied to the fear in the previous verse. Fearing man, rather than God, will cause us to care more about what men think of us than what God thinks of us. To bear the testimony of our Lord is not a popular opinion held by the world. You’ll be thought of as a fanatic, a zealot, or a “fundamentalist”.

Preachers love to speak of Paul as if they would have been fast friends - but I’m not so sure. A lot of men didn’t like Paul. A lot of preachers didn’t like Paul because he took the things of God seriously. That rubs people the wrong way. And friendship with Paul wasn’t a badge of honor with the elite. It wasn’t exactly the fast-track to fame and popularity to be the buddy of an old, fervent, preacher in chains, especially with the unbeliever. To preach the gospel, and to be associated with that old man in prison was disgraceful and maybe a little embarrassing to the highbrow, and those that would like to be. But only a disgrace to those who didn’t know the Lord. Paul was no disgrace to God.

You don’t have to be part of the elite class to be tempted by the desire to fit in. Just the desire to be among them is enough to watch what you say and how you say it. Preachers and churches face the temptation of carrying what the world thinks of us. Those in New York City don’t care what we think or believe here in West Virginia, but oh how many desperately care what they think of us! Catch phrases, ministry strategies, acceptable speech and behavior is set by worldly men, and those who want to fit in must adapt.

The only way to be ashamed of Christ and the gospel is to put more stock in what men think of you than what God thinks of you. To be ashamed of the gospel of Christ is to care more about men thinking well of you than caring for their soul. Christ is my judge. Jesus saved my soul and that is a fact. The blood of Christ does indeed wash away sin. There is a Hell as sure as there is a Charleston. Why should I be ashamed at believing and declaring the truth? People who are duped by con men are ashamed when it comes to light, because they feel the disgrace of believing and trusting in a lie. Why be ashamed of the truthful reality described in God’s Word?

Are these things true or not? What things? The things of Christ. The things of doctrine. The things of the church. The things of living a holy and separated life.

Then don’t be ashamed of the truth and don’t be ashamed to associate with those who believe it. Nothing would make the wolves happier than to convince the sheep it's a disgrace to stick close to the Shepherd. I'm sure the wolf would be glad to give all sorts of advice to the sheep. And nothing is more perilous to the soul than for a sheep to care if the wolves think they are nice and friendly.

Monday, September 16, 2019

Foulest Whelp of Sin

"Slander occasions distress of the most grievous kind. Those who have felt the edge of a cruel tongue know assuredly that it is sharper than the sword. Calumny rouses our indignation by a sense of injustice, and yet we find ourselves helpless to fight with the evil, or to act in our own defence. We could ward off the strokes of a cutlass, but we have no shield against a liar's tongue. We do not know who was the father of the falsehood, nor where it was born, nor where it has gone, nor how to follow it, nor how to stay its withering influence. We are perplexed, and know not which way to turn. Like the plague of flies in Egypt, it baffles opposition, and few can stand before it. Detraction touches us in the most tender point, cuts to the quick, and leaves a venom behind which it is difficult to extract. In all ways it is a sore distress to come under the power of "slander, the foulest whelp of sin." Even in such distress we need not hesitate to cry unto the Lord. Silence to man and prayer to God are the best cures for the evil of slander."
C.H. Spurgeon

Monday, September 2, 2019

Maybe I'm Wrong


Years ago, I had a theological debate with a man over a vital doctrine. He pleaded with me to open my mind up to his unorthodox teaching. I told him I would I not open my mind, but it would, God willing, remain firmly and finally shut on the matter. He told me I was arrogant because I didn’t believe I could be wrong, and I should live with the idea that I could be wrong about everything. Granted, I could be wrong about a lot of things, but on this particular matter, I wasn’t and it would be the height of folly to walk around persuading myself not to believe. It isn’t humility to convince yourself not to believe any divine truth with all your heart and soul. False teachers always want their people to doubt and to question everything, except their allegiance to their mystic, mushy, pliable uncertainty.  

Understanding and true knowledge is a gift of God (Ephesians 1:7). One of the purposes of the church and the role of the pastor is to teach and declare the Word with the goal of "the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God," (Ephesians 4:13). Paul prayed the church in Colossae would be "filled with the knowledge of [God's] will" and increase in the "knowledge of God," (Colossians 1:9-10). Paul wanted the people of God to be comforted and "knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ," (Col 2:2). Not only is knowing the truth possible, the Bible stresses the importance of coming to the knowledge of the truth and provides the way for it to happen. 

Yes, it’s possible to become proud in what you know. I read an article where the author quoted from Jeremiah 9:23-24, “Thus said the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might…” Very powerful and on point. Don’t be proud and lifted up with your “doctrine” warned the author. But what was left out of the verse after the ellipses? “But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the Lord.” This verse wasn’t condemning theological knowledge, but condemning the pride of wisdom of men. Jeremiah tells us to know and understand the Lord. 

It is certainly possible to be deceived. It’s not only possible, but common for a person to deceive themselves, and become proud and hard-hearted refusing to be corrected, insisting they are right when all the evidence points to the contrary. With the Spirit's help, we can know the truth and be settled in what God has given us in His Word. Pray that He would open your heart to the truth, examine your heart and motives for any wrong, any pride, and then cling to His inerrant word (Psalm 139:23-24). 





Sunday, September 1, 2019

All we need in trial


"All that we need in trial, is the simple promise of God that he will sustain us; all that we need in the hour of death, is the assurance of our God that we I shall be happy forever. What would this world be without a “promise?” How impossible to penetrate the future! How dark that which is to come would be! How bereft we should be of consolation! The past has gone, and its departed joys and hopes can never be recalled to cheer us again; the present may be an hour of pain, and sadness, and disappointment, and gloom, with perhaps not a ray of comfort; the future only opens fields of happiness to our vision, and everything there depends on the will of God, and all that we can know of it is from his promises. Cut off from these we have no way either of obtaining the blessings which we desire, or of ascertaining that they can be ours. For the promises of God, therefore, we should be in the highest degree grateful, and in the trials of life we should cling to them with unwavering confidence as the only things which can be an anchor to the soul."
Albert Barnes Notes on the Bible from Second Peter 1

Thursday, August 29, 2019

It's A Trap


Proverbs 26:27  Whoso diggeth a pit shall fall therein: and he that rolleth a stone, it will return upon him.

Every time I read this verse, I think about Disney's Swiss Family Robinson. It's not very spiritual, I know, but it's the truth. When the family learns of an imminent attack by pirates, they make various traps to defend their home, including digging deadfall traps (with a tiger thrown in for good measure). They  fortified themselves atop the mountain and made log falls to roll down if the enemy was foolish enough to climb up for them. But what if it wasn't a Disney movie, and the bad guys are the ones making traps? That's the image we have in our proverb.

The bad guy in the scene really wants to hurt his enemy, and he's going to go through a lot of trouble to set the trap. It takes a lot of work to dig a pit. Naturally, after I watched the Swiss Family Robinson, I wanted to dig a pit and try it out, like most boys probably did. But it takes a lot of  time and effort to dig a  deep pit and I always gave up. And to roll a stone up a hill? You would really have to hate someone to go through all the trouble to destroy them. One wonders what the payoff was for the man in the proverb? Most of the  time, the effort we put into vengeance is far more costly than the original offense.

Think about the effort pushing that rock up the mountain. Covered in sweat, muscles straining, gasping for air, pushing that rock up the hill –  all for vengeance and to hurt and kill. Every inch of ground takes all his strength to keep pushing and also to keep it from falling. It is up the mountain a pretty good way, but not far enough. It needs to be high up to cause maximum damager, because he cannot allow them to get away with that offense, or that slight. Suddenly, the stone is caught and it won’t go any further.  Hard as he tried, it won't budge, but he also can’t let go of the stone, he'll get run over. The stone of vengeance is caught by the rock of divine justice. He's worked himself into his own trap. Your sin will find you out and now there is no place else for the rock to go but down and to destroy whatever is in its path, starting with the one who worked so hard to get the stone up the hill.

God said vengeance is His – He'll take care of evildoers. You want vengeance because you are proud and don't like it when someone sins against you. Do you think God likes it? Stop trying to do God's job, because He's much better at it than you. You'll just end up mumbling to yourself in the bottom of a pit, or getting flattened by a rolling stone.

Friday, August 23, 2019

The Pastor's Wife




A Detailed and Exhaustive Exposition of the Biblically Prescribed Duties of the Office of the Pastor's Wife
by 
Doug Newell

1.








The End


He that hath an ear, let him hear what the Spirit saith unto the churches.

Tuesday, August 20, 2019

The Gospel of God


Romans 1:1-2  Paul… separated unto the gospel of God, (Which he had promised afore by his prophets in the holy scriptures,).

Paul's life calling was to preach the gospel of God. It's a common misconception that people in the Old Testament were saved by works and in the New, saved by Grace. No doubt, there are two covenants (that's the whole reason it's called the Old Testament and the New Testament), but that doesn't mean that God changed his mind about the way people are saved.

In the Old Testament, the people of God offered sacrifices after the pattern of the Heavenly. The sacrifices pictured the way God would redeem His people. Moses was saved by grace, through faith, like all other of the saints of God. The Old Testament sacrifices, ceremonies, prophesies, and poetry, pointed God's people to the future Messiah. God promised to save his people from the very start. When man fell in the Garden, God cursed man, women, the earth, and the serpent. In the judgment of the serpent, in Genesis 3:15, God said, "And I will put enmity between thee and the woman, and between thy seed and her seed; it shall bruise thy head, and thou shalt bruise his heel." This is a promise. God promised that through the seed of the woman, a man would come to crush the serpent. The Devil will be defeated. All things will be made right by this man. This is the first gospel. The first "good news" and who preached it? God.

Listen to Christ Jesus Himself. After his resurrection, on the road to Emmaus, Jesus met with some disciples and began to preach to them. In the gospel of Luke 24:26-27;44, it says, "Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." Then later he said, "These are the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and in the prophets, and in the psalms, concerning me." Jesus started in the Old Testament, and opened up the Scriptures, from every book, and taught and expounded how Christ suffered and entered into His glory. The Old Testament is about Jesus. The Old Testament preaches God's gospel.

Do you read your Bible like Jesus? Do you see God's gospel in the Old Testament? Do you take the light of the New Testament and see the glory of Jesus Christ and his gospel in the Old? Yes, Paul gets very deep, and very specific in His teaching in the epistles. It's not a different gospel, it's a deeper examination of the gospel of God. It's always been there, we just have more light. Paul gets very deep,  in the epistles, but it's not a different gospel, it's a deeper examination of the gospel of God.





Thursday, August 15, 2019

Hi, I'm Paul


Hi, I'm Paul

The Apostle Paul is one of the great men in history. The Christian men and women we often admire in history and look up to as being great, were people hated in their own time, and lived not for their glory, by for God’s. Paul's humility and service to Christ is exemplified in the way he introduces himself in the book of Romans, "Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, separated unto the gospel of God."

Paul introduced himself first as a servant of Jesus Christ. Ethnically, Paul was a Hebrew and nationally, a Roman citizen. Paul enjoyed all benefits and privileges of Roman citizenship and appreciated and used those privileges, recognizing  God's blessing. But he didn’t identify himself here with his family heritage or his nationality. Paul didn’t deny who he was, and was not ashamed of his family or lineage, but that is not the most important thing about him. Paul was a servant of Jesus Christ. Paul did what his master wanted him to do. He thought the way his master wanted him to think. He lived in a way that pleased not himself, but his master, Jesus Christ. And he loved it.

You'll also notice Paul was not a servant of the church. He never identified himself a servant of other men, but a servant of Christ, unto the church. The church did not give him the office of apostle. Paul didn’t earn this position making his way up the ranks, but rather, Jesus called Paul to be an apostle. Paul continually had men trying to deny his apostolic authority (his authority is still challenged and attacked today by liberals and unbelievers). Paul went from persecutor of the people of God to the Lord’s chosen vessel to spread the good news of Jesus Christ and he says he was separated or set apart for that good work. The whole mission of Paul’s life was to make Jesus Christ known. It is good to point out that being separated unto the gospel does not limit one to preaching only a gospel message. Consider the book of Romans. Paul preaches about sin, about justification by faith, the relationship between the believer and the law, election, predestination, the end times, Israel, the church, how to live under the rule of a government and much more. A truly “gospel-centered” church must not only preach the gospel, but also doctrine, law, and applications of the gospel. If a church neglects teaching on all the truths of scripture they are not Christ centered.

Paul sometimes called the gospel he preached, “his gospel”. Here, he calls it the gospel of God. The good news didn’t come from the mind of Paul, which is another way liberals attack the apostle. The good news is God’s message of salvation through faith in the blood of Jesus Christ. God's gospel is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believes. Believe God's message – "The just shall live by faith," (Rom 1:16-17).



Sunday, August 11, 2019

The Amen

"[Jesus]was also “the Amen” in all His teachings. We have already remarked that He constantly commenced with “Verily, verily.” The Pharisees in their teachings began with insinuating doubts, beclouding the mind with mystifications, and raising needless difficulties. It was considered to be the right thing for a philosopher never to teach dogmatically, but Christ never spoke in any other way. You find Him beginning, “Verily, verily, I say unto you.” Christ, as teacher does not appeal to tradition, or even to reasoning, but gives Himself as His authority. He quotes indeed the authority of “It is written,” and speaks of the things which He had seen and heard of His Father, but this He states upon the authority of His own oneness with the Father. He comes clad with divine authority, and He does not deign to dispute or to argue, but He claims for His words that they are Amen. We have accepted His teachings I hope in that same spirit. I do not open the evangelists to find Christ’s words to cavil over them. I do not turn to the epistles to criticize the teachings of my Lord, nor to raise difficult questions wherewith to wrangle with the great Teacher. The position of a Christian is at his Master’s feet, not disputing but receiving; not questioning, but believing; and in this sense Christ claims, as a prophet and teacher to be “the Amen.”
Charles Spurgeon, The Amen

Wednesday, August 7, 2019

An Essay on Anger by John Fawcett

I'm working my way through a little treatise "An Essay on Anger" by John Fawcett. One profundity after the other, to where it would almost easier to mark the passages that are not striking.

OK, perhaps I overstated the case a tad, but it is really good. If you have a Google account, you can read it for free by clicking right HERE.

Otherwise, you could sample these quotes. Chew them up and ruminate on their truth.

"It is pride that makes men passionate. They cannot bear the least slight, or that which hath the appearance of it, because they think themselves of so much importance."
"A weak mind is easily kindled into resentment."
"Let us learn to expect injuries and affronts, that we may not be surprised when they occur. — We do not live among angels, nor among men free from perverseness, and unspotted with impurity : we dwell among a people of irregular tempers and unclean lips. If we would have no provocations, we must needs go out of the world."
"The mettle of a young and vigorous steed is not only harmless, but serviceable, when under due regulation. Much the same may be said of anger in the mind of man. When meekness is the bridle that restrains it, and wisdom the hand that guides it, we are safe ; but if it be not under proper government, it breaks through all decorum, grows headstrong and outrageous, and threatens mischief to our selves or those about us. So the unmanage able horse tramples on those who stand in his way, and perhaps throws the rider headlong on the ground : it should be restrained, there fore, with bit and bridle. We are not to submit to anger as to our master, but to govern it as our servant. It should never appear but on proper occasions, nor then but under the strictest guard. We should never suffer it to carry us beyond the bounds of decency. our resentment should never be either deep or lasting."

Friday, August 2, 2019

Life



Lazarus has been dead for four days. His cold, dead, body is laid in a tomb. His family, especially his sisters, are heartbroken at the loss of their dear brother. He's gone. Death is a separation. It's a very unnatural thing that happens. It's seems like the most natural thing. But in the beginning, it was not so. When sin entered the world, death followed. It's most natural for the body, soul, and spirit to be united. But because of sin, death separates the body and soul.

Death also separates the living from the dead. Mary and Martha were upset because there brother was gone. It's a separation of loved ones, a separation of family relations. It feels like a hole is left in your life because of the absence. Life will never be the same since that person is gone. After my Mother passed away, for almost a year, I would grab my phone to send a text, a picture, or to call her about something and then it hit me afresh, she was gone.

Martha rebuked the Lord for not showing up in time to save Lazarus. Jesus responds by telling her Lazarus will rise. She agreed, but the hope of the resurrection and eternal life was no comfort because she knew the truth, but didn't rest in the truth. Then, in John 11:25-26, Jesus said, " I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die."  Eternal life. Death doesn't end eternal life. Eternal life begins when we believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and are united to Christ by faith. Knowing God through Jesus Christ is eternal life. Death isn't the end of life because those who believe in Christ, even though the body dies, the soul lives. Better still, the body will be raised and reunited with the soul. Whosever believe in Christ shall never die.

When they arrive at the tomb, and Jesus says to roll away the stone door of the tomb, Martha reminds Jesus that it's too late. His body has already been dead so long, it stinks with corruption and decay.  But when Jesus calls for Lazarus, he came out of the grave. Jesus is the resurrection. Jesus is life. Lazarus' soul was reunited with his body and he lived.

Death is the great separator, but the sting of death has been taken away by the life of Christ. Jesus Christ defeated death, when He died and rose again.  Death separates, but what a glorious truth in the gospel, that the soul goes on to be with Jesus and the body of death will be raised and glorified. For the Christian, the separation of a child of God is only temporary. One day, at the resurrection, body and soul will be reunited. Loved ones will be reunited. The family of God will be gathered, and never again experience the pain of death.

Thursday, August 1, 2019

Great and Precious Promises




Do you have peace in your life? Do you know God? In Christ, there is peace that passes all understanding, but for the child of God, there is a multiplication of grace and peace through the knowledge of God (II Peter 1:1-4). The more you know God the more peace you’ll experience. You cannot get "more saved" or "more forgiven" but you can experience more of God's peace and reap more benefits of God's grace in your own soul. Knowing more about God gives us more peace. That's a motivator to get after it and read your Bible. You don’t need anything else. No matter what hobby you have, there is likely a whole industry designed to cater to all the “needs” that come along with it. I heard one astute gentleman recently say, “Half the fun of fly-fishing is buying and using all the gear.” Fishing is one of those hobbies that it can get as expensive as you want it to get. Makes me embarrassed catching fish as a boy with my Zebco 33, I obviously didn’t know at the time I should have been using the latest $500 carbon fiber rod. God has given us “all things that pertain until life and godliness, through the knowledge of him,” so you are equipped, child of God, with all you need.

The more you know of God, the more confidence and assurance you’ll have in your salvation. When you leave behind your natural feelings about religion, and understand true sovereign grace, then will you experience more peace. We are given “exceeding great and precious promises” in so many aspects of our lives, not the least the promises of salvation. The more you know God’s character and the more you understand his promises to you, the more joy and peace you’ll have when this life isn’t going like we want it to, or when we sin and fail in the midst of temptation.

These promises are not for the saints of old only, but for all God’s people. Peter was an apostle, but he wrote Second Peter to those who have “obtained like precious faith” and are saved by and have the imputed righteousness of Jesus Christ our Saviour. Are you saved? Then you have the same promises Peter had. You have the same Lord, the same Saviour, the same covenant, the same promises, and the same assurance. Though we live in a fallen, sin-cursed world, we have escaped the corruption that is in the world and by God’s grace, will be parkers of the divine nature. One day, we’ll stand on golden streets, breathe the air of the New Earth, always and forever in the peace of eternal life. Oh, what great promises we have! Christian, do you look for the promises in the Bible? They are yours! Read them, think about them, and believe them. If you want to be fruitful in this life, know what God has promised you and live in joyful confident assurance.


Wednesday, July 31, 2019

God's Name

In G. Campbell Morgan's book, The Ten Commandments, in addressing the first commandment lays the foundation of who the God is we are to worship -- Jehovah. Readers of this blog know this is something I've studied for a long time. I find it interesting that there is a rise in the number of books and authors who no longer use the name Jehovah. Morgan gives a defense of His Bible and the name Jehovah.
"There is deep significance in the name by which God here declares Himself, JEHOVAH. It is a combination of three Hebrew word, which may be translated into an English form thus: Yehi, "He will be," Hove, "being," and Hahyah, "he was." A combination is made from the tree workds by taking the fist syllable of the firs YeHi, the middle syllable of the second, hOVe, and the last syllable of the third, hahyAH, so that we have the name YEHOVAH. The whole name means, "He that will be, He that is, He that was."
In a footnote, Morgan went on to explain:
"This interpretation of the meaning of the word Jehovah has been severely criticized, and among other things has been designed "elaborated absurdity." The interpretation is that of the late Mr. Thomas Newberry, the author of the Englishman's Bible, a Hebraist of conspicuous ability. Of course it is a personal conclusion by one who interprets the Old Testament in the light of the New. The original Hebrew form YHVH left open the question of hte vowels. The generally accepted idea that the word Jehovah is a hybrid of the combination of the vowels ADONAI and YHVH is also a conclusion arrived at, and cannot be fairly stated to be a certainty. In correspondence with Mr. Newberry on the point, after the criticisms referred to, he said in a letter to me, 'The explanation of the Divine title Jehovah is given as a simple statement of facts on the authority of the Sacred Scriptures. In Revelation 1:4, the Holy Ghost has so interpreted its meaning." this may appear to some to be "elaborated absurdity," There are others of us who look upon it as sound and spiritual exposition."

Friday, July 26, 2019

Two Difficult Things




Thomas Watson, in his book, The Divine Cordial wrote, "There are two things, which I have always looked upon as difficult. The one is, to make the wicked sad; the other is to make the godly joyful. Dejection in the godly arises from a double spring; either because their inward comforts are darkened, or their outward comforts are disturbed." The reason a Christian does not experience the our promised is we forget God and His promises while trial and tribulation shake us until all we see are our troubles. When we don’t look to God and trust in His provision for us in Christ during life’s many or constant trials, we loose sight of our hope, which in turn, makes us miserable.

On my way to work this morning, I was listening to a podcast by a former Navy Seal talking discussing staying calm under pressure. He gave some practical tips but also a warning, knowing and doing are two different things. You can know what to do mentally but putting it in practice takes discipline and patience. Not an hour later, I was at work and with several deadlines approaching and passing me by, I was under pressure, and completely forgot the Seal’s advice. We may know, but we also need to remember. This only comes by constant meditation on the promises of God.

Romans 8:28 tells us, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” All things, good and ill, work together for good for God’s people. Nothing will stop or slow God's will and everything God wants to do, He will do. What a wonderful thought, especially when I think that God loves me, and is for me; He is not my enemy, but my Father. Christ is my Lord, my Saviour, my friend, and sits at the right hand of the Father making intercession for me.

The wicked, on the other hand, seem unconcerned with weighty spiritual truths of eternity. Living, as if God did not exist, with no regard of sin and eternal judgment. Where the Christian loses hope and comfort when they forget what God has done for them, the ungodly has a groundless confidence. The Christian has ever reason to look beyond their failures and heartaches and look to the Author and Finisher of their faith, but the wicked know not God. The Christian forgets they are justified in Christ and nothing can separate them from the love of God in Christ Jesus, while the unsaved justifies himself and finds contentment in his own good works.

If you have repented and turned to Jesus Christ and his finished work at Calvary and trusted in Him for the salvation of your soul, then believe Him and have assurance in what He has done for you. Take the promises of God, who does not change and cannot lie as a sure and strong consolation and rejoice in Him.

Monday, July 22, 2019

The Worry Business

This is from a sermon delivered by C.H. Spurgeon on Thursday January 27th 1876.
Have you, - You who are in the habit of worrying and fretting, ever made any profit by doing so? How much a year do you think that anybody would give you for all your fretting? How much has it brought you in ? Come, brother, if it is a good business, I would like to go into partnership with you; but I should like first to know something about your profits. As I look at your face, I notice that I is careworn and anxious. That does not seem to indicate that the business is a profitable one. If I listen to your speech, I hear you murmuring a great deal instead of praising God. That does not seem to me to be a profitable concern. In fact, as far as I have ascertained, either by my own experience or by the observation of others, I have never discovered that anxiety has comforted anybody, or that it has brought any grist to the mill, or any meal to the barrel. Well, if a thing does not pay, what is the good of it?

Thursday, July 18, 2019

The Decalogue and Gettysburg



In 2007, Kelton Research surveyed 1,000 Americans showed 80% of those surveyed knew the ingredients of McDonald's Big Mac. Of that same group, less than 60% knew the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill," and only 45% knew "honor thy father and thy mother." I often wonder how many people who are for and against the 10 Commandments in public schools know them for themselves? Could you name them from memory?

When I was in 6th grade, I sat next to the wall with a poster of the Gettysburg Address. After staring at it for a couple days, I decided to memorize it. I may have been better served to do the work  assigned – but that is beside the point. My teacher asked me why I was staring at the wall, and I revealed my plan. Instead of scolding me for not paying attention, she was happy I was interested and thought it would be a wonderful idea for the whole class to memorize and recite. I was not the most popular person after that stunt.

I read and meditated on the Gettysburg Address and it began my lifelong fascination with the American Civil War. It changed me. No one (except for my classmates) discouraged what we were doing.  People were happy that we were studying a political, philosophical speech. But why? The speech draws from Biblical passages and themes (Psalm 90:10; John 3). I think it's because it's religious enough, but not too religious to turn people off. It talks of great ideas, but boils them down to generalities about freedom and equality. He speaks of God, but which God? It urges action, even unto death, to defend the cause. It deems any against the "idea" is worthy of death. The speech begins and ends with a proposition which is, "a statement that expresses a judgment or opinion."  And to declare someone worthy to die for opposing that proposition is a moral judgment. Apparently, people are not opposed to morality and moral judgments, just God's morals and God's judgments.
Americans have an opinion about the 10 Commandments, whether they know them or not. Just as Americans have an opinion about the Gettysburg Address, whether they have read it or not. As a boy, I was allowed to read and think about Lincoln's proposition, but not God's. Lincoln's philosophical idea, civil religion, and moral judgment is acceptable. God's law is unacceptable because it condemns us and shows us we have sinned. Men are not against moral judgments, just against God's law.  

Maybe Americans know the law. It's hard to say if that poll is accurate - it's hard to believe any poll anymore. I know many people who are tied of deceiving polls and pundits, spinning the truth to advance their agenda. It aggravates me when politicians and the news media manipulate polls to spin things the way they want. The pollsters and the media may have just been bearing false witness. There ought to be a law against that.

Monday, July 15, 2019

Who are you going to believe?

I was once at an event about Biblical creation. In the parking lot, I met a group of protestors. Atheists who came to tell me I was believing a lie and should be ashamed for bringing my kids to an exhibit based on blind faith. They told me (in many different ways) I should abandon "faith" and trust in reason. Scientist, they said, are neutral and are only concerned with the facts and come to a conclusion after fair deliberation. I suppose, once a man puts on the sacred white lab coat, they cannot lie and are infallible. It's a popular, albeit false premise. Both creationist and evolutionist deal with the same evidence. The difference stems from  faith and belief. You cannot recreate evolution to examine it by scientific method. Creation and the origin of the species are historical events. Observing changes in kinds of animals is not the same as observing one species evolve into another.  It comes down to our starting points and who we are going to believe.

Maybe you are thinking, “Sure, Bible believing scientists have the evidence, but they have a preconceived agenda.” But, how can an evolutionary scientist be fair and unbiased while excluding possible outcomes from the beginning? The assumption of evolutionist is God did not create the Heavens and the Earth in six literal days. Every test starts with the assumption there is no God, which is coming to the table with a preconceived bias. Everyone has a predisposition. Neutrality is a myth.

Here is some evidence I would like to bring to your attention. Not about creation or evolution, but about man.  You can test it out yourself and use your friends, family as subjects. Every man is a liar (Romans 3:4). All of humanity are liars (Psalm 116:11). We have all sinned (Romans 3:23) and have a deceitful heart, even fooling ourselves (Jeremiah 17:9). The evidence of our wicked heart is how we live (Matthew 15:19-20). If you tell me the Bible isn't accurate about the heart of man, then you are a liar and are deceived, and also prove my point. The same Bible that gives us such an unflattering, yet accurate look at our own heart tells us that the Bible is true (Psalm 119:160) and it's an enduring truth that will not be overturned (Psalm 117:2) from a source of infinite understanding (Psalm 147:5).  Who are you going to believe?


Since science cannot recreate origins, everyone must start somewhere with an assumption to interpret the data. There may be millions of volumes of scientific writing on the big bang, or evolution, but that is a mountain of research, all written on the assumption of an unprovable theory, from fallible humans. Are you willing to build your view of the world, and eternity based on the words of biased, agenda based men?  Are their studies a sure foundation for your soul? Will you trust in the ever-changing works of scientist and live and die by their conclusions? 

Since the beginning, Satan has attacked God’s word telling Eve “Ye shall not surely die” when God said they would if they ate the fruit. Eve had to ask herself “who am I going to believe?” It was a direct attack on the authority of God’s word. Every since, man and Devil alike have attacked God’s word, its truthfulness, its accuracy, its reliability, its authenticity; yet the Word of God remains! The great shame of it is that God’s children put more faith in a fallible scientist and believe gap theories and theistic evolution rather than the Holy Spirit. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear. Hebrews 11:1-3 Who are you going to believe? Faith in a scientist or faith in the Word of God? We will use the Bible as our proof, because it is the best proof and it would be foolish not to use it. Why hide the very Word of God as our proof and try to use words of men when God has plainly told us in His inerrant word. Who are you going to believe?

Who are you going to believe? The scientist starts saying there is no God. We start with the text “In the beginning, God created the Heaven and the Earth (Gen 1:1).” The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and to exclude the Bible from the start is to assume the evolutionist is correct in their claims about God. Evolutionist insists we start with the idea there is not God, then look at the facts, which of course is prejudice to the fact there is a God. It is not impartiality or objectivity to speak about creation without using the Bible, it is extreme bias. The Bible is our starting place. The Bible is the unchangeable, infallible Word of God, so we must look at everything through the eyes of the Holy Bible. Want to know about fossils? Look at fossils through the Bible. The Bible tells us that all creatures were created in the first six days of creation. Start first with scripture, the known truth, and then interpret the evidence. You may think that is biased, but consider what evolution does. They take a fossil and start with the premise of evolution, then interpret the fossil in the context of millions of years.

Who are you going to believe? Creation is not a developing science, it is history. One that studies the Civil War is a historian, one that studies Greek or Roman Empire, historian. A person that examines ancient ruins is called an archaeologist. How is creation any different? The science of origins is not an ongoing repeatable science but rather a onetime historical event. Any scientific study that occurs now in the study of origins will only prove a preconceived notion since it cannot be repeated, and it was a historical event.


Who are you going to believe?
It is an act of faith; you will either believe the Word of God or the word of fallible men. The Bible is firsthand testimony from the one who was there! You cannot dispute He who never lied. "In the beginning God created the heavens and the Earth."

Do not mistake a belief in creation for eternal life. God makes it clear that man naturally can see that there is a Sovereign God, in His creation. Believing God exists will not save your soul. Some confirm God’s existence, believe in creation, yet reject the Saviour. Many will call Him Creator and many will call His the Son of God; but few will call Him Saviour.

Who are you going to believe? Your heart, or the Word of God? What the bible says is true, from front to back. The Creator demands for His creation to be Holy. Failure to keep His commandments is called sin. The wages of sin is death, eternal judgment in the Lake of Fire. The Bible also tells us that there is salvation in Jesus Christ. That God sent His only begotten Son into the world to be a sin sacrifice. Christ Jesus bore the sins of His people on the cross and gave himself for a ransom for sinners, shedding His blood as the sin offering. He died and after three days and three nights rose from the dead.

Believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, trust in His word on the cross and be saved.





__________________________________________________________


Douglas Newell IV

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Melchis-who?



  
Melchisedec  is only mentioned twice in the Old Testament, in Genesis 14 and Psalm 110:4. Why does that matter to a Christian today?  The latter part of Hebrews 5 and all of chapter 6 is a rebuke, a warning, and an exhortation to press on in the Christian faith. Those professing Christ at this point, should have been teachers instead of kindergarten students. They should have had their doctorate, not learning their ABC’s. Their lack of knowledge and spiritual growth was directly tied to their lack of knowledge, wisdom, and understanding of the Bible. What brought about this lengthy rebuke? They didn’t know about Melchisedec. How is a man mentioned twice the Old Testament that important? The Psalmist, says the Messiah will be a priest forever after Melchisedec’s order, God swears it. From Psalms, we know this man is connected, in some way, to Christ. But how?

Melchisedec means “king of peace”. He lived in Salem, which means peace. He was also a priest. But wait a second -- the priesthood came into effect in Exodus, not Genesis. Moses received the law, and that won’t happen for around another 400 years. The patriarchs of the family offered sacrifices during this time. Genesis 14 is the first time the word priest is used in the Bible. So how did he become a priest? Who was his family? Well, we don’t know. He just came on the scene and sort of disappears. He isn’t connected to Abraham or his family. 

When Melchisedec came to Abraham after the battle of the kings, he brought bread and wine and Abraham tithed the spoils of war to him. The tithe came before the law as we see Abraham tithed to God through a priest. But the law in the Old Testament says only the tribe of Levi could be priests, and the children of Israel tithed to them only.  Hebrews 7:7 the less is blessed by the better. Or, the higher office blesses those under him. The office of priesthood is higher than the rank of those they bless. So Melchisedec  was higher than Abraham, the father of Isaac, the Father of Jacob, the father of Levi and the priesthood.

You could only be a priest based upon your family tree. Israel tithed to the Levites, who had a higher office. But in the family tree of Abraham, Melchisedec is better than Levi, since the family tithed in Abraham. The very thing the priests were proud of, their family tree and their lineage, was evidence that the family tree was “lesser” to the line of Melchisedec. Jesus, is greater than the Levitical priest. He is the true king of righteousness, the true king of peace, taking the office of High Priest, not out of inheritance, but sworn by an oath by God the Father. A Priest in an everlasting line, one where no one can or will take his place. We have a sure salvation in Christ, who ever lives to make intercession for us.

Tuesday, July 9, 2019

Wimbledon and the Family

This is Peter Hitchens’ Mail on Sunday column:

"Nobody seems to have asked for it. No real reason was given for it. But female players at Wimbledon will no longer be referred to as 'Mrs' or 'Miss' by the umpires. It will just be bare, unadorned surnames. Why is this small thing so dispiriting? Because it is by a thousand such small things, imposed by faceless people, impossible to prevent, that our world is being changed beyond all recognition.

I will be told that it is trivial and that it does not matter. But if that is so, why did they bother to do it? Because it matters greatly to them, just as the incessant, relentless imposition of the metric system matters greatly to them. Oppose any of these things and you will be told that you are fussing about trivia.

But you didn't start it. They did. And see the expression that comes over their faces if you accuse them of obsessing over trifles. And that is why it should matter to you. These titles symbolise a great deal.

Wimbledon has done away with titles for women . Above all, they refer to the distinction, once enormously important but now more or less abolished, between those who were married and those who are not. The force behind this is the same force that caused the British State to seek out and destroy every possible mention of the words 'husband' and 'wife' from official forms and documents. You would have thought that this stately old practice might have been allowed to continue in picturesque, old-fashioned bits of biscuit-tin Britain such as Wimbledon, in so many ways a museum of pre-1939 middle-class suburbia. But no. The thing about totalitarians is that they have to control everything, that everything must be brought into line.Every last trace of the old regime must be discovered, erased, painted over, demolished or chiselled away.

 The process is still not quite complete. Marriage, that fortress of private life, has pretty much been destroyed in this country.It still has an official existence, but the authorities give it no privileges or help, and the law waits like a vulture to pounce on every united home, and impose a high-speed divorce at the first sign of trouble.The whole way in which we deal with each other has been transformed by this sort of change. The main beneficiary has been the all-powerful State, which now reaches into what were once our personal lives in ways that would have been quite shocking even in 1980. And the main sufferers, as always, are the abandoned, neglected, baffled, misled, miseducated children, so many thousands of them, with no secure place to turn to, just more freedom than they have ever been shown how to cope with."

Monday, July 8, 2019

Christians and the Commandments

What happens if a child of God sins? Since there is no condemnation to those in Christ Jesus, does that give us the freedom to sin? God forbid. There are consequences when God's children disobey His commandments. Here are a few.

1. Loss of fellowship with our brothers and sisters in Christ.
1 John 5:2 By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God, and keep his commandments.

2. Loss of assurance of salvation.
1 John 2:3 And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

1 John 3:24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

3. Hinders prayer life
1 John 3:22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

4. Makes you a liar
1 John 2:4 He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

5. Causes you to loose your joy.

John 15:10-11 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love. These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.

I John 1:4-10

Romans 7:22 For I delight in the law of God after the inward man:

6. The chastisement of God.
Hebrews 12:5-11

7. Blinds you where you will eventually fall

II Peter 1:9-10
“The key to the mystery that the doctrine of redemption, although not demanding good works, produces them, is to be found in the fact that love excites love and the desire for holiness. Hence obedience is no longer slavish. We strive to obey, not in order to be saved or to please God, but because God saves us with out works or merit of our own, whom, because he is reconciled in the Beloved, we delight to serve.” Charles Hodge in his book Romans.
We are not under the law, in that we are justified by the law; there is no hope in the law, there is not comfort in the law, there is no mercy in the law. It is black and white either guilty or not guilty. When God gave the law to Israel, they were terrified (Hebrews 12:18-22) because they were guilty.

But, there is now no condemnation for those in Christ, we have been justified before God but that doesn't free us from our moral obligations to live and follow Christ.

James Boyce says in Abstract of Systematic Theology
It will be seen, from the preceding statements, that the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints does not deny that Christians are liable to sin, not that they do sin, nor that they do turn away from God, and backslide from their Christian profession, and even fall into grievous wrong, by which they displease God, and lose confidence and hope in him, and become barren and unfruitful in good works: nor does it deny that final apostasy would be possible to the Christian if he were left to the exercise of his own will, subject, as he would be, not only to the natural fallibility of a creature, but to the still continuing lusts of his flesh, and tempted not only by these, but by the attractions of the world, and the malice of Satan. But it asserts, that it is the purpose of God that none shall finally be lost who have been given to Christ by the Father, and have been by faith vitally united with him, and justified through him; and that, for the fulfillment of this purpose, the power of God is sufficient to keep them unto final salvation, and the love of Christ is so invincible, in his forbearance, mercy, and grace, that nothing can separate them from it. It also teaches, that they are not saved while indulging in sin, and walking after their own lusts; but that they are sanctified through the work of the Holy Spirit, which enables them to persevere in the divine life in co-operation with his influences, that their life and salvation is not a mere gift without effort on their part, but a growth through perseverance unto the end in the use of the appointed means.

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

A Vision for Interpretation




"A church without a vision is a church that will never grow." I've seen that statement and many like it for years. “Vision” is a mystical way of talking about a plan for the future. It sounds more spiritual to have a "vision" than it does to have a "plan".  It's good to have a plan, but the church should be driven by the mission of God rather than the vision of a man. But, what about Proverbs 29:18, “Where there is no vision, the people perish," doesn't that show you must have a vision? If there is no plan for the future, if there isn't a vision caster at the helm, we're all going to die! That is a dreadful proposition, unless, of course, this verse means something else.

According to the dictionary, the word vision has three definitions: 1) the power of sight; 2) something seen in a dream or revelation; 3) the power of imagination, i.e., foresight. The Hebrew word translated vision correlates with our second definition, Divine revelation. I don't like to hear people always "correcting" their Bible. They see a verse like this, go to Strong's Concordance, look at Mr. Strong's definition of a Hebrew word and say their Bible is mistranslated because vision doesn't mean planning prudence, in the Bible! Words can have more than one definition. Instead of correcting the Bible and saying a word is mistranslated, look up the word in the dictionary – you may misunderstand the meaning of the word. It's always better to question your own vocabulary than to question the Bible and pronounce it wrong.

Despite the smart set declaring the Bible has been mistranslated, it appears those who misapply this Scripture, do so because they didn’t take time to understand the English word. Besides, we can know what the word means by the context, and by knowing the rest of the Bible. The Hebrew word translated vision is found 34 times in the Old Testament. In each instance, it refers to God’s revelation, or false prophets not having God’s revelation. Three books of the Bible are called "visions" (Isaiah, Obadiah, Nahum). Never is the word used in the sense of a man’s plan for the future. If a vision is God's Word, it must be followed - no questions asked. Indeed, it is sin NOT to follow God's Word and believe God's vision. But, a man's "vision" for the church is not infallible. It is not God's revelation. It may be a good plan. And if he's a good pastor, it is probably a wise plan and you should seriously consider what your pastor thinks. But it's not a sin to disagree with another man. If I say what I want is God's word, I took God’s name in vain by claiming God’s authority for my desires and plans. The context of Proverbs 29:18 proves this to be true. "Where there is no vision, the people perish: but he that keepeth the law, happy is he." The first half and second half of the verse parallel each other. Vision parallels law. Perishing contrasts with happy people. No word from God equals death. Keeping the law equals happiness. 

We have a vision, a revelation from God. It's important that we understand what God is telling us. It takes time and diligence to make sure we understand what God is telling us, but it is well worth the effort.



Thursday, June 27, 2019

Elect Lady


2 John 1, "The elder unto the elect lady and her children…" There are many different theories about who (or what) this “elect lady” is. Some say she is a metaphor for the church, chosen of God. Since the church is the bride of Christ (Ephesians 5:25,32; 2 Corinthians 11:2), some say John used the imagery of a chosen woman as a metaphor for the Lord’s church. Others believe, since the meaning of Bible names often have significance, the Greek word translated lady in our Bibles was actually her name, Cyria, while others say her name was Electos (elect). I believe John wrote to a particular woman, and addressed her as “the elect lady” just as it’s written. It's always best to believe what the Bible says. There are many different theories and they can’t all be right. However, this truth is not such a weighty matter that we need to fight and argue about it. Truth is important – all truth is important. But some truths have a greater weight than others (Matthew 23:23).

Truth matters. You might say, "What's the big deal, what you believe about who this lady is?" It's very possible for two people to be wrong about the elect lady and still apply the text of 2 John the same way. But there are potential consequences for misinterpreting this passage. Once you begin to allegorize parts of Scripture, without Biblical cause, where does it end? If the "elect lady" is a church, then is the "house" in verse 10 a house? If not, what does the house represent and why? What about the "paper and ink" in verse 12? What does that represent? If the lady is not a lady, but a metaphor, how do I know if ink is ink? Good Biblical interpretation takes the passage literally unless there is Biblical justification to do otherwise. So it may not be a big deal, who this lady is in the grand scheme of things, but how you get to what you believe could have ramifications. Little foxes spoil the vine.

If the letter was written to a church, and not an individual, the letter takes on a completely different tone. The aged John writes to a  woman, whose husband, for whatever reason, is out of the picture. She continues to preserve, along with her children, following her Lord and Saviour. John warns her of men, who prey up on widowed women and their kind hospitality, to introduce damnable heresy. If the letter was written to a church, the letter gets less specific, and the application of verse 10 to "receive [false teachers] not into your house, neither bid him God speed," becomes unclear. Also, just read the letter, substituting "Lady" with a woman's name, Samantha, for example. It's clear and understandable. You can see John writing a letter to his dear friend in Christ. Now, substitute 'Lady" with Buffalo Valley Baptist Church. Not only does it seem a little clunky, but it raises questions about being "children" of the church and what that even means, and why the children where away from the assembly. And, since not all of her children were walking in truth, why was John not concerned with church discipline? A big part of the letter becomes unclear. 

Truth matters. And while some truth may be weightier than others as Jesus said, He did not mean to say some truths are not important. He condemned the Pharisees for being so scrupulous about tithing, but neglecting the "weightier matters of the law." Their problem was not paying attention to small things, but neglecting the big things.  


Thursday, June 20, 2019

Objective Truth




John's second letter is quick and to the point and that point is truth. Just a little over 300 words, the word truth is found 5 times in the first 3 sentences. Adding the times John talks about doctrine or the commandments of God, we can see John's heart for truth. He writes about knowing the truth, and walking in the truth, but he says we need to live by the truth and disassociate ourselves with those who deny the truth.  With such particular and life-altering applications (John himself was exiled for truth) we can straightway see that truth must be definable and it must be objective.

In times past, many would say truth about God is ultimately unknowable. Now, many people think they have their own truth. Who's to say I’m right and your wrong? Quite frankly, the definable and objective truth is who tells us we are wrong. Truth isn’t defined by your feelings. Truth isn’t defined by your heart. Webster’s Dictionary says truth is, “the body of real things, events, and facts; the state of being the case.” Some things we all still agree is truth. Water is wet and 100 is more than 99. But I wouldn’t be surprised if even mathematical axioms will begin to be called into question, especially if I can be called a bigot for daring to say gender is objectively definable. Objective truth,  means truth is not influenced by feelings, just the facts. In a world that denies objective truth, our feelings become the final arbiter. A rational, logical human being, when confronted with facts that are contrary to the way we feel or think, should, at the very least, pause and consider why new information is contrary to the way we feel. Instead, we get emotional and call people bigots, haters, and try to silence their voice.

Even in the realm of spiritual things, you don’t get to decide what is truth. There are a lot of religious assemblies who meet to worship every Sunday. Sadly, not every organization preaches the same gospel. We can’t all be walking in the truth if we disagree. If you have two contrary gospels, they can’t both be right. It matter very little how many people believe a particular doctrine, or how passionately someone believes it. The only thing that matters is, “is it true?” As a Christian, the truth is not found within me, it’s found outside of me, in the Bible. The truth isn’t in a mystical feeling, because my feelings might be different than yours, and if so, who is right? Truth, very often, is contrary to my feelings and contrary to what I feel is the right thing. The truth is revealed to us by God,  in the 66 books of the Bible, by rightly dividing that word of truth. The Bible has a meaning and to know truth, we must know what the Bible actually says and means; living with  joy  and confidence in the certainty of objective truth.


Sunday, June 16, 2019

Happy Father's Day

I ran across this while looking up the words to a Watts hymn.
"When teenager Isaac Watts complained to his father about the monotonous way Christians in England sang the Old Testament Psalms, his father, a leading deacon, snapped back, 'All right young man, you give us something better.'

To Isaac Watts, the singing of God's praise was the form of worship nearest to Heaven and he went on to argue: 'It's performance among us is the worst on earth.' Young Isaac accepted his father's challenge and eventually wrote a total of more than 600 hymns, earning him the title 'The father of English hymnody.'

Even as a child Isaac had shown a passion for poetry, rhyming and such mundane things as everyday conversation. 
His serious-minded father, after several warnings, decided to spank the rhyming nonsense out of his son. But the tearful Isaac helplessly replied,

'Oh father do some pity take,
and I will no more verses make.'

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Historical Context




The Bible is a spiritual, supernatural, and living book. It is the inerrant, infallible, sufficient Word of God. But the Bible didn't float down from Heaven in a mystical scroll. God used men as the instruments to pen the words of God. Moved by the Holy Spirit, men wrote the very words of God. Our Lord didn't give the writers an idea and let them interpret it the best they could. God didn't give them themes, and then they filled in the pages with their own thoughts.

God used men, but also used men in history, in certain situations, with their unique frames, to give us the words He wanted us to know, in the way He wanted us to know it. Amos was a farmer-prophet who God sent to the "Big City" to preach to the rich aristocrats. We know this from the text of Amos, when he gives us a little biography of himself.  When we read Amos 4:1, where her said, "Hear this word, ye kine of Bashan," we can get a flavor for what was going on. This rough around the edges farmer, goes to the rich women in Jerusalem and calls them a bunch of fat cows. Coarse? Absolutely. I can't imagine Daniel or the Apostle John saying such things. And that's the point. Amos is the instrument God used to deliver His word. Amos' life, upbringing, education, and language was exactly tuned to give the certain sound God ordained for this prophesy. Sometimes, the word needed a violin. Sometimes it needed a claw-hammer banjo. God tuned and used men as the instruments, which tuned and flavored the text, just as God wanted.

Historical context is important too. We use caution, of course, because we all know history belongs to the victors, so man's history is flavored by whose writing it. A history of 1776 may read differently from a British author than an American. History revealed in Scripture is there for a reason. Take Hebrews 4:3-8, for example. The main point of this passage is to show there remains a rest for the people of God, so we need to believe in the gospel, and not be like Israel, who because of unbelief, died in the wilderness. God promised Israel rest in the promised land, and some did not enter because of unbelief. God rested on the 7th day, but that rest, even though foundational for the Sabbath day, was God's rest, not man's. Then he tells us David wrote in Psalm 95, inspired of God (Hebrews 3:7), the word "Today".  Why is that important? The rest that remains can't be the 7th day of creation, because God rested on the 7th day from HIS work. It can't be the rest promised to  Israel entering into the Promised Land because David wrote, "today" talking about our rest, long after Joshua died. Since David lived after Joshua and wrote, "today", the author of Hebrews proves there remains a rest for the people of God today.

Friday, May 31, 2019

Consider the Oyster



"I heard one say the other day that a certain preacher had no more gifts for the ministry than an oyster, and in my own judgment this was a slander on the oyster, for that worthy bivalve shows great discretion in his openings, and knows when to close."

Charles H Spurgeon, Lectures to My Students

Thursday, May 23, 2019

God’s Plan is Better


Philippians 1:12-13 “…the things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel; So that my bonds in Christ are manifest in all the palace, and in all other places;

Life can change in a hurry. Rarely does life go like we wanted. I know my life is nothing like I thought it would turn out. Husbands and wives have plans and circumstances suddenly and unexpectedly change the whole direction of their life forever. What are we to do? How are we to respond? The right answer is to rejoice. Rejoice, if you are in the Lord Jesus Christ, saved and forgive, because God’s plan is better than your plan. It might not be what you wanted, and it might not be the easiest, but know it is better in God’s plan. “All things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.” All things, even those bringing us pain and suffering, work together for good.

Paul, the man who wrote these words wasn’t a self-help guru, living his best life. He was a prisoner, not knowing if he would ever be set free. Not many boys grow up dreaming to die a prisoner, but Paul looked the spiritual reality of his life (Philippians 1:12). “The things which happened unto me have fallen out rather unto the furtherance of the gospel”. What a blessed way to look at a terrible situation. Rather despondent because he sat in bonds for preaching Christ, he realized his imprisonment meant the gospel would progress. The church worried his ministry would end, but his persecution had furthered the gospel. Paul’s desired to spread the gospel in Rome. God’s plan? Lock Paul up. Now we can understand how the Philippians thought prison wasn’t the best place for a missionary. It would have been easy for this to become a bitter providence, but God’s plans are always better than ours.

According to secular history, Paul probably had to rent house for his confinement, continually chained to Roman soldiers. No privacy. No time alone for prayer and meditation. His unwanted circumstance provided unique ministry opportunities. While Paul taught Christians who visited him, he also had another captive audience listening in. How was Christ “manifest” in all the palace if Paul was locked up? The guards. Every shift, they had to listen to Paul pray, preach, teach about Jesus. The guards couldn’t leave and Paul couldn’t stop preaching. They heard about Jesus all day long, and by God’s grace, were converted. These guards filled with the Spirit, were able to carry the gospel places Paul would have never been able to go. Paul was not chained to the guard; the guards were chained to Paul.

Are you chained to a desk? A chair? A hospital bed? Be like Paul. God has you where you are so rejoice and serve him where you are. You may have access to people no preacher ever will. Paul’s imprisonment had some unintended consequences. God ordained the gospel to spread in ways no one would have considered. Not only were Paul’s prison guards saved and spreading the gospel, but his confinement motivated others to get to work.

Paul’s trail planted the seeds that grew a backbone in other men. Philippians 1:14, “And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much bolder to speak the word without fear.” Men had to step up with Paul locked up because now, someone had to do it. Great basketball players can sometimes make a team worse. Because of their great ability, average players continually defer to the star instead of being aggressive. Sometimes they stop to watch their MVP do great things. With Paul on the bench, these men could longer stand aside and defer to the great Apostle to spread the Word. Necessity is the great motivator. Few Dad’s work their dream job but labor in whatever job can provide for their family. Toss “personal fulfillment” out the window when you’ve got hungry kids.

The dedication and commitment, that landed Paul in chains, stirred up these other men to follow him with boldness. Perhaps they were shamed at their own walk or inspired by his. Sometimes it just takes one to stand. I’ve been in situations where a whole group of people wanted to do something, but everyone was afraid to speak. The whole group just sat there and stared at each other, waiting for someone else to do what they wanted to do but were afraid to start. Finally, when one stuck their neck out, and they all saw it didn’t get chopped off, others said “Yes, that’s right, I agree!” It took one to stand. When Paul was thrown in jail, the men of other churches saw and said “Paul is right, and I will not fear what Man can do to me!” Don’t let the fear of man stop us from our duty. Paul’s pain planted the seed of blessing for others.

Philippians 1:15, “Some indeed preach Christ even of envy and strife…” Paul’s trial also stirred another group of Paul’s fellow preachers. They indeed preached Christ and really preached the truth, but they were jealous and envious of Paul. They were jealous of Paul’s position, resentful of Paul’s preaching, and envious of Paul’s authority. They competed against Paul on their way to “the top” which in reality, was a race to the back of the line (Matthew 20:16). This happens all the time. Power struggles in churches or between pastors of other churches of like faith, all trying to be the top dog. With Paul sidelined, now was the perfect opportunity to make a play to be the next big preacher. Out of strife and jealousy, they preached even more to move up in position. Remember, God knows your motives. Praise God the gospel is preached, but what a shame to serve in the truth to make your own name great.

Let’s be honest, shall we? There are some charlatans who pick up a Bible and preach. Some less than stellar individuals stand behind a pulpit every Sunday and preach the gospel for many reasons other than Christ’s glory. However, as Paul said in Philippians 1:15, there are “some also of good will.” Some who preach because they love the Lord. Their desire is Christ exalted and his gospel proclaimed. Philippians 1:16-17 says, “The one preach Christ of contention, not sincerely, supposing to add affliction to my bonds: But the other of love, knowing that I am set for the defense of the gospel.” Some men preach the truth out of spite, believe it or not, and only preached because Paul wanted to and couldn’t and they wanted to rub it in his face. They wanted to tear Paul down to build themselves up. Others saw the standard bearer fall, and couldn’t let the colors hit the ground, and picked up the flag and carried on the fight for the glory of their King. Some preach for fame. Some for fortune. But that doesn’t mean everyone does. Just because you had a bad experience with one pastor or church doesn’t mean all pastors and churches are wicked.

Philippians 1:18, “What then? notwithstanding, every way, whether in pretence, or in truth, Christ is preached; and I therein do rejoice, yea, and will rejoice.” Paul doesn’t rejoice at the preaching of error. Paul didn’t put up with heresy for even an hour (Galatians 2:5). This verse doesn’t address what they were saying, but why they said it. They preached a holy message with wicked motives. Hypocrites who were thoroughly orthodox and really bad guys. Men who were right in doctrine but deceitful in heart. They were correct in theology but with wrong motives. Paul’ main concern was not his own feelings but Christ’s glory. If men preached the truth just to hurt him, or to get a big following, they could go right ahead. They can preach to get amens at his expense, if that floats their boat, as long as Christ the Lord is preached in truth.

I love the Baptist church. I try and pray never to compromise on Baptist distinctives. Anything worth believing is worth fighting for, and that includes church truth. However, I rejoice whenever people are saved, and Christ is preached.

The circumstance is not suited for Paul to rejoice, but he does because he rejoices in the Lord. Paul saw the big picture and what he wanted most was for sinners to trust in Jesus and His name proclaimed – and that was happening. Not the way he would have planned it or not the way he wanted it, but it was the way God planned it and God’s ways are the best ways. Every. Single. Time.

Are you going through a difficulty? Has God’s providence proved to be a confusing disappointment? Have you considered God’s ways are better than your ways? Have you applied gospel principles to your life?

Tuesday, May 21, 2019

AA Hodge on Public Education


"I am as sure as I am of Christ's reign that a comprehensive and centralized system of national education, separated from religion, as is now commonly proposed, will prove the most appalling enginery for the propagation of anti-Christian and atheistic unbelief, and of anti-social nihilistic ethics, individual, social and political, which this sin-rent world has ever seen."

Archibald Alexander Hodge, principal of Princeton Seminary between 1878 and 1886.






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Thursday, May 16, 2019

A Pleasant Surprise

"That of course is the advantage of being a pessimist; a pessimist gets nothing but pleasant surprises, an optimist nothing but unpleasant."

Rex Stout, Fer-de-Lance

Monday, May 13, 2019

On the death of your mother


To MR. JAMES ELPHINSTON - September 25, 1750.

'DEAR SIR, You have, as I find by every kind of evidence, lost an excellent mother; and I hope you will not think me incapable of partaking of your grief. I have a mother, now eighty-two years of age, whom, therefore, I must soon lose, unless it please GOD that she rather should mourn for me. I read the letters in which you relate your mother's death to Mrs. Strahan, and think I do myself honour, when I tell you that I read them with tears; but tears are neither to YOU nor to ME of any further use, when once the tribute of nature has been paid. The business of life summons us away from useless grief, and calls us to the exercise of those virtues of which we are lamenting our deprivation. The greatest benefit which one friend can confer upon another, is to guard, and excite, and elevate his virtues. This your mother will still perform, if you diligently preserve the memory of her life, and of her death: a life, so far as I can learn, useful, wise, and innocent; and a death resigned, peaceful, and holy. I cannot forbear to mention, that neither reason nor revelation denies you to hope, that you may increase her happiness by obeying her precepts; and that she may, in her present state, look with pleasure upon every act of virtue to which her instructions or example have contributed. Whether this be more than a pleasing dream, or a just opinion of separate spirits, is, indeed, of no great importance to us, when we consider ourselves as acting under the eye of GOD: yet, surely, there is something pleasing in the belief, that our separation from those whom we love is merely corporeal; and it may be a great incitement to virtuous friendship, if it can be made probable, that that union that has received the divine approbation shall continue to eternity.

'There is one expedient by which you may, in some degree, continue her presence. If you write down minutely what you remember of her from your earliest years, you will read it with great pleasure, and receive from it many hints of soothing recollection, when time shall remove her yet farther from you, and your grief shall be matured to veneration. To this, however painful for the present, I cannot but advise you, as to a source of comfort and satisfaction in the time to come; for all comfort and all satisfaction is sincerely wished you by, dear Sir, your most obliged, most obedient, and most humble servant,


'SAM. JOHNSON.'


The Life of Samuel Johnson by James Boswell







DPN

Of Mice and Testimonies

B.H. Carroll tells of a man who had a wonderful Christian experience that...
"when he joined the church [his particular experience] evoked unusual praise from the pastor and the church. So much was said about it that he, himself, began to glory in it. He carefully wrote it out and would read it to every visitor. He became so complacent over it that he stopped right there - no progress - a cause of arrested development. In the lapse of time the mice got int the drawer where he kept his precious document and ate up his Christian experience! We need and experience that rats cannot eat up - an experience not folded up and put in a drawer, but one that moves forward taking the steps of the faith of Abraham."

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Every Wise Woman Builds




The Bible says every single wise woman is a builder. Proverbs 14:1, “Every wise woman buildeth her house: but the foolish plucketh it down with her hands.” She doesn’t lay the foundation, build the frame, and do the roofing. But she does build up the home in an equally important way, making  it her mission to build, keep, and maintain the wellbeing of her home. She uses the gifts God gives her to build and preserve a godly home, being faithful to her calling.

Every wise woman builds her home with wisdom and knowledge (Proverbs 24:3-4). She thinks about what kind of home she wants. She knows the strengths, weakness, and the heart of those who live in her care and labors to build up and strengthen her family. Every wise woman builds her home with pleasantness (Proverbs 24:3-4) and makes it a place where her family wants to be.  A home with godly peace and pleasantness is a treasure, much to be desired. Every wise woman builds her home with love because she loves God and loves those God gave her. Every wise woman goes outside of herself for wisdom to build her house. And no, I’m not talking about Pinterest, but the Bible. She won’t find recipes, suggestions for paint schemes and home d├ęcor, but she will find everything she needs to know about herself, her husband, her children, and how she can build a stable homelife for her family. It’s better to live in a house built by love than to live in a picture perfect, modern home, sitting around a feast with a perfectly dressed and mannered family (Proverbs 15:17).

The foolish woman, however, doesn’t build, but tears down her home. She will leave it rubble. She’s a one-woman demolition crew of her own home and one day will look up from the ash heap and wonder, “what happened?” The foolish woman doesn’t want to bring her house to ruins, but it’s inevitable. Foolishness never builds a strong family. She tears down her own house with selfishness. When she puts herself first and her family is always last, she will destroy her home. This is the principle for any relationship. Any leader who puts themselves first will have control and get what they want in the short term but destroys the foundations in the long-term. Where the foolish woman lives for today, the wise thinks toward the future. The foolish woman tears down with anger (Proverbs 21:9). An angry home is an empty home. She tears down her own house with contentions (Proverbs 19:13). A small leak in the roof over time with a continual drip will bring a home to ruin. The constant and continual quarrelsomeness of the foolish woman slowly tears her home apart.

Like anything worth building, it takes hard work, planning, dedication, and a commitment to see it through. A home isn’t built in a day. Thank you, wise wives and mothers for all you do.  

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

Not Ashamed


2 Timothy 1:8-12 “Be not thou therefore ashamed of the testimony of our Lord…” The Tolerance Police stand ready to keep people in line. Think differently than the commonly accepted line of "truth" and you'll soon hear a version of their battle cry. To some, more intimidating than the "Rebel Yell" or an Apache war cry,  the phrase “You ought to be ashamed!”  sends grown men whimpering off to the corner mumbling to themselves. Should it?

Shame is the feeling of judgment when we are guilty of a transgression, or embarrassed by one of our characteristics, or embarrassed by our associations.  Shame or feeling ashamed can be both a good or bad thing – it all depends on why you are ashamed. If we’ve done wrong, shame leads us to seek forgiveness. Having no shame means you never feel the weight of your guilt. However, it’s just as bad to feel ashamed when you shouldn’t. The feeling of shame comes from our conscience but sometimes our conscience is out of tune with the truth.

Amazingly, Timothy was ashamed of Jesus. Many Christians are also ashamed of Jesus. Timothy was ashamed of the Lord’s testimony and embarrassed by the gospel, the testimony that Jesus died on a cross for his sins. Timothy was embarrassed to be associated with Paul, the persecutor turned prisoner, the fanatical preacher of the gospel of Jesus.

Jesus did nothing wrong, ever and had nothing to be ashamed of. But in the court of public opinion, Jesus is guilty of breaking with the world. Put to death on a Roman cross, the world judged Jesus and condemns him. Because the carnal heart is enmity against God, the world always will think poorly and judge harshly the Lamb of God. The cross is a stumbling block for the Jews and foolish to the Gentiles. He is guilty and condemned in the eyes of the world. Anyone who associates with Christ, shares His beliefs and moral characteristics, and trusts in His name is guilty by association in the world system. Timothy felt shame because he feared the judgment of the world more than the judgment of God. He elevated the opinion of nonbelievers higher than the opinion of His Lord. He didn't want the world to hate him.

Paul was not ashamed (2 Timothy 1:12). He boldly proclaimed the gospel of Christ despite the condemnation. Jesus saved us, called us with a holy calling by his grace, ordained before the world began. Jesus Christ our Lord, abolished death and through his death burial and resurrection gives eternal life and by faith in Christ, we are saved. Paul is a preacher of such glorious good news and he isn’t ashamed because he knows Jesus. People will condemn him. People will tell him “he ought to be ashamed” but he’s not ashamed, because those judges are wrong. He knows his soul is safe in the Lord Jesus and so his is not ashamed now and won’t be ashamed in the last day.

Thursday, April 25, 2019

A Hard Won War


Proverbs 18:19 A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city: and their contentions are like the bars of a castle.

The longest known siege in history started in 1648 on the small Mediterranean island of Crete. During the Ottoman-Venetian wars, the Ottoman Empire besieged the city Candia, Crete's capital. The fight to take the city lasted 21 years. It all started when a Catholic organization known as “The Knights of the Order of the Hospital of Saint John of Jerusalem" looted an Ottoman ship carrying treasure to Constantinople. The Ottoman forces attacked in kind and took over the island, all except the capital. But the city was well fortified and protected, and for the next two decades, countless lives and fortunes were lost in the battle until Candia finally succumbed to the never-ending onslaught.

A hard-won battle taking down a fortified city designed to resist attack is the image Solomon has in mind describing the attempt at repairing a busted relationship with a brother. Whether in families or in churches, brothers in the flesh or brothers in Christ, when we are hurt by the wrongdoing of brother, it’s going to leave a mark much deeper than if it were an enemy.

Why? Well, it doesn't take much effort to get the relationship of an acquaintance back to the normal. You aren't that close anyway, so you don't have far to fall, or don't have to far to travel back. But, with a brother, it's different. We love and trust our brothers. We don’t expect the betrayal. When brothers have bonded in struggles, fights, blood, sweat, and tears, there is a bond that develops that is like no other. So when that love is betrayed it shakes us to the core.  We expect our brothers to have our back, not stab us in it. We expect our brothers to walk with us. Why is it sometimes easier to let things slide with an acquaintance than a brother? We show more leniency toward an acquaintance because we are either trying to win them to our side, or don’t expect as much from them. That’s also why we are harder on our friends and brothers than we are those outside the camp.  A brother’s sin is a betrayal of both the relationship both people have devoted so much to and the big part of our life we share with them.

You need to guard your relationship. A small matter can cause irreparable harm, and once the offence has been committed, it’s very difficult to win them back. Because the bond is close, it’s very easy to take advantage of a brotherly bond. Once the brotherhood is broken, it takes great effort and struggle to make it right again. I’ve known brethren at odds a lot longer than Ottoman-Venetian conflict. Though it is possible to win him back, it would be better not to sin against him in the first place or when we sin, quickly ask for forgiveness.