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


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.


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.


 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.”

Monday, July 23, 2018

When God Wants to Drill a Man

It's been a while since we've had a Monday morning verse. I came across this poem in a Bible commentary, of all places.

When God wants to drill a man
And thrill a man
And skill a man
When God wants to mold a man
To play the noblest part

When He yearns with all His heart
To create so great and bold a man
That all the world shall be amazed,
Watch His methods, watch His ways!

How He ruthlessly perfects
Whom He royally elects!
How He hammers him and hurts him
And with mighty blows converts him
Into shapes and forms of clay
Which only God can understand

How He bends but never breaks
When his good He undertakes
How He uses whom He chooses
And with mighty power infuses him
With every act induces him
To try His splendor out—
God knows what he's about.

Author "Unknown". Sort of

Thursday, July 19, 2018

No Beauty in Christ?

Isaiah 53:2 For he shall grow up before him as a tender plant, and as a root out of a dry ground: he hath no form nor comeliness; and when we shall see him, there is no beauty that we should desire him.

Isaiah paints a dry and desolate landscape. A twig breaks out of the parched earth; a small sucker climbs heavenward. A living vine where it is least expected. The picture shows the promised Messiah will be born in David lineage. As Isaiah writes, the days of David’s sons on the throne are numbered. At the dawn of the New Testament, from all outward appearances, the line is lifeless, dry ground. However, the appearance is deceiving. God’s promises will not fail. From the dry ground will grow the Tender Plant, the Righteous branch from Jesse's root, son of David.

When Christ came, he was not born in a palace but a manger. He was not welcomed by royalty but persecuted. The Herod did not honor the birth of Christ but tried to end his life. Christ was born in poverty, secluded in youth, reared in an infamous town. Despite images on painted canvas, Jesus face did not glow as he walked on the Earth, and a halo did not adorn his brow. He looked like an ordinary man. Nothing in his features denoted glory.

“And when we shall see him.” Jesus came and lived in Israel. Jesus healed, preached, ate, and drank in the presence of Israel. And they saw him. Our celebrity culture gets excited when a famous person is around. Out come the phones and the selfies and posts to prove we were in the presence of the rich and famous. Israel did not see a famous poet, or a renowned artist, but the Christ. They looked upon his face and they saw no beauty. God’s people looked upon the Lord of glory, whom the Father was well pleased, and saw no beauty in him. In the flesh, there was nothing any different than any other man in the region. The priests needed Judas to point out which man was Christ when he betrayed him.

Oh, but how lovely is the Lord of glory! He beautiful in his holiness. He is glorious in his perfection. He is majestic in his power. Do you see beauty in Christ? Do you see anything in the Lord to desire him? Years ago, I saw nothing desirable in Christ. He was a man in a book, but as far as having any personal feelings toward him? No, a stranger more than anything else. But when God showed me my sinfulness, and I saw the darkness of my heart and the filth of my sin, I beheld the Lord Jesus, nailed to the cross for my sins, and I saw all the desire of my heart. No longer a stranger, but a Saviour. No longer just a man, but the Godman. No longer a man in the book, but the Word of God incarnate.

Embed from Getty Images

Thursday, July 12, 2018

Soft Men

Can you spot the difference?

1 Corinthians 6:9 (KJV)  Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,

1 Corinthians 6:9 (ESV) Or do you not know that the unrighteous will not inherit the kingdom of God? Do not be deceived: neither the sexually immoral, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor men who practice homosexuality,

Effeminate is ommitted in the ESV.

I looked at  other translations and most of the contemporary translations (except for the NASB) omit the word effeminate. What's the deal? The Greek word is malakos and it's pretty clear what it means. Soft. Effeminate. Normally, when there is such an omission, commentaries say things like, "the best translations omit" or "this word is not in the original." I went to the commentaries and Greek scholars and no one said malakos wasn't supposed to be there. Robertson and Vincent (published in 1930, and 1888 respectively) both say the word means effeminate. So everyone agrees malakos is there, but suddenly, in the last 50 years, the word means homosexual instead of effeminate? Must be a coincidence, I suppose that along with the rise of feminism and the sexual revolution, the word effeminate is edited out of the Bible. From what I understand, at one time, malakos was used to try and prove that homosexuality was not forbidden in the Bible, so people started saying that malakos meant the sexual act and editorialized Paul. Who knows why, but the fact remains, Paul said soft men won't go to Heaven. 1 Corinthians 6:10.....shall inherit the kingdom of God.

Jesus used the word malakos in Matthew 11:8, "But what went ye out for to see? A man clothed in soft raiment? behold, they that wear soft clothing are in kings' houses." Soft. The picture is clear. John the Baptist was a rough man. He was a strong man. If you wanted weak and soft, and prissy, go to the palace. Apply that to men, and soft is to be a precious, girly, submissive, dainty man. Men who are feminist. Men who refuse to take up their calling. Men who refuse lead their homes. Men who avoid service and sacrifice. In other words, men who do not live up to God's standard of manliness as defined in the Word of God. John Wayne or The Rock do not represent the standard of manliness either. The effeminate man is soft. He acts like a girl. 

When I played sports, in the politically incorrect realm of a locker room, we would not have said "effeminate" we would have said "gay" – not because we thought wearing pink socks and listening to New Kids on the Block meant you "practiced homosexuality." We called them gay because they acted effeminate. They adopted the gay culture. I recently watched a friend's son play in his Little League game. I saw a field full of boys wearing jewelry, ear rings, long hair with highlights. There was a lot of sighing, shrugging, complaining, and whining, but not a whole lot of hustle or toughness. There was also, no anyone saying anything about it because these kids were fashionable. And also effeminate. And sinning, according to Paul, but not according to the ESV, NKJV, CSB, and the other modern translations. 

If a man is effeminate, he's acting like a woman regardless whether or not there is sexual sin. Effeminacy doesn't exclude homosexuality and includes the sexual acts. But it is not limited to homosexual acts. You can be a married man with kids and be effeminate. Parents who let their boys act prissy and prance around and take interpretive dance lessons are sinning. There is a certain way men ought to act. There is a certain way men ought not to act. There is a certain way men ought to dress. And comb their hair. And talk. And worship. This is counter-cultural to say, but -- get ready -- men and women are different! It's a sin for a man to be effeminate and act like a girl. 

No wonder they took it out of the Bible.

Who Hath Believed?

Isaiah 53:1, “Who hath believed our report? and to whom is the arm of the LORD revealed?”
Seven hundred years before Christ, Isaiah proclaimed perhaps the clearest gospel message in the Old Testament. But the whole book, from beginning to end, is about Jesus. Our Lord himself said in John 5:39, "Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me." And then, on the road to Emmaus, as the resurrected Jesus opened up the Word of God to the disciples, Luke 24:27 tells us, "beginning at Moses and all the prophets, [Jesus] expounded unto them in all the scriptures the things concerning himself." So when Isaiah said, "Who hat believed OUR report" he is one of many Old Testament witnesses, who at various times and in different ways, conveyed the message of the saving grace of God, the promised Saviour, and God’s plan of redemption. The report began in the Garden of Eden, and continued with Noah, and to Abraham and his descendants. The report was declared by Moses and in types and shadows, pictures and ceremonies. With poetry, pictures, and prophesies God gave us more of this blessed report. By types and teachings, we learn more of the coming Messiah who would save his people. Down the centuries and by many different men, the report was preached and remained consistent because it came from God.

So, what's the answer to this first question? Who did believe the report? Much like today, relatively few people. Prophets pleaded and preachers proclaimed and yet the people did not hear the word of the Lord. The scene is repeated through the ages and sadly even today. The good report is made known yet who will believe? The question is amazing. People don't believe the report? The good news that God forgives sinners, not based on works but by grace, through faith in the death of God's Son who came and paid the debt of sin and pardoned us with his blood. This report is about the Christ. The arm of the Lord, a phrase in the Bible describing God's power and particularly, in the person of Christ (Isaiah 40:10). The strong arm of the Jehovah, Jesus Christ, is mighty to save and the report, though not universally received, is believed by those to whom God has revealed it. The answer to the first question about few believing the report, is explained in the answer to the second question, Christ must be revealed. The God of all grace, according to his mercy, provided full and free salvation to all who come and believe. But even the good news itself was not sufficient to save because man is both unwilling and unable to come to Christ to be saved. The Lord, in mercy and grace, and in great power, reveals himself and draws sinners unto himself and gives them life and faith. “Is the LORD'S hand waxed short?” No, He is mighty to save.

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

England Plays Croatia in the World Cup Wednesday

"This Wednesday evening something momentous is happening. All around the country, people will gather together. They will probably be keyed up all day, and it will only get more intense as the evening draws on. They will come together with expectation and hope in their hearts. Their songs will express these deep desires. After all, something will happen that is special in itself, with the prospect of much more ahead. By the end of the evening, those people might be rejoicing over something that has not happened, for most of them, in their lifetime."

Read the rest here...

Thursday, July 5, 2018

The Marred King

Isaiah 52:14 As many were astonied at thee; his visage was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:

Isaiah directs our attention to the Servant of Jehovah, the high and exalted one (Isaiah 52:13), but not as we might expect. The onlookers are “astonied” or dazed when looking at this man and were filled with dismay. He was not sitting upon a throne, nor honored by prestigious men. He did not impress you with his dignity and strength as you might expect from the extolled one, but he was scourged and blooded. His face, marred and disfigured almost past the point of looking like a human man. Beaten, whipped, spat upon, even ripping the beard from his face (Isaiah 50:6).  The same Messiah who will be exalted and who will deal with wisdom and prudence, will be marred beyond recognition (Psalm 22:6; Matthew 26:67).

"So shall he sprinkle many nations; the kings shall shut their mouths at him: for that which had not been told them shall they see; and that which they had not heard shall they consider" (Isaiah 52: 15). This same Suffering Servant, in the very next verse, will sprinkle the nations with his grace and mercy and kings of the Earth will hush their mouth in quiet submission to his power and glory. The deep truths of his glory will be opened up and explained and the truth of His glorious person will be revealed and proclaimed. In the same person, you see a man who will rule the nations, be praised and honored, will rule in power as God’s anointed, and quiets the kings of every nation --  will also suffer beyond imagination. How can Messiah be both? How could one man be so exalted and yet brought so low? The Jews in the gospels were looking for the exalted king, but they cared nothing for a Messiah who would suffer.

The Suffering Servant was mysterious for the Old Testament saints. However, we have the mystery revealed in the Lord Jesus who offered himself a sin sacrifice – the Lamb of God. We have two views of the same man at different times. It is because Jesus came and suffered that he is lifted up and exalted (Philippians 2:5-11).  Isaiah prophesied of the crucified Saviour and the glorified King. We still wait the day for the Lord to return in glory and to hush the mouths of the nations (Psalm 2). Even so, come Lord Jesus. Isaiah shows us a King who is exalted, but one who suffers beyond comprehension. One who subdues the kings of the world and also who astonishes those who looked upon him at his suffering. I wonder how you see the Lord? Do you see Jesus as revealed in Scripture or as revealed in your imagination? Do you know the Jesus of the Bible? Do you know the King who gave his life's blood to save his people from their own sins?

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Behold God's Servant

Isaiah 52:13 Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and extolled, and be very high.

I can remember the first time I heard Isaiah 53. I probably had heard it many time before, but this was the first time I actually heard it. I attended a  Bible conference at King’s Addition Baptist Church in South Shore, Kentucky and before the preaching began, we had the preliminary announcements, prayer requests, and stood for the singing of hymns (it’s near impossible to sit and sing, in my opinion) and  remained standing for the reading of the Word. The pastor had us turn to Isaiah 53. I didn’t even turn, I just listened and as he read, I couldn’t believe what I heard. I was astonished. Never before had I perceived such a vivid description of the blessed Lord Jesus. Around 25 years have passed, and I still haven’t gotten over the stunning picture of Jesus in Isaiah's prophecy.

After we sat down, I grabbed my Bible, found the passage and read it for myself over and again (sorry to whomever was preaching!) and could hardly contain my wonder over the Old Testament containing descriptions of Jesus. Isaiah prophesied from 739–681 BC, so that means around 700 years prior to the time of Jesus. The physical prophecies are profound, but what amazed me was the spiritual insight into the cross. Isaiah gives us a glimpse of the Son of Man from the perspective of the people, but  he also tells us what transpired between the Father and the Son. Isaiah 53 is one of the great texts on the atonement and what Christ accomplished at Calvary.

The passage of Isaiah 53 actually starts in Isaiah 52:13 and gives  a good example of why you should not assume the chapters in your Bible complete a thought. In novels, each chapter is its completes section. It may be a cliffhanger, but usually it ends a scene. This isn't always the case in our Bibles. The chapters in our Bibles, as they are now, were added in the 1500’s to help us find passages in the Bible. You can think of chapter and verses like addresses. Imagine how difficult a task to find this section of Isaiah without verse numbers or chapters! I’m very thankful for that innovation, but we have to remember it’s not a perfect system and sometimes the chapter ends or starts in the middle of a thought, like we have here. The context shows us where our passage begins. Notice in 52:13, it starts with the word “behold”. Isaiah says “behold” to get our attention. Hey, listen up. Jehovah's servant (the Messiah, Isaiah 42:1), will come and deal with man wisely (Isaiah 11:2) and in His great success will be highly exalted. Isaiah describes a glorious, holy, man who has come to do the work of God. Surely, such a man would be honored by all, which making the next verse we’ll study next week so shocking.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Sinning to become mature?

From What is Sin, by J. Gresham Machen

"Sowing wild oats is thought to be rather a good way of transcending childish innocence and of attaining strong and mature manhood. Do you know how that lie can best be shown to be the lie that it is? Well, my friends, I think it is by the example of Jesus Christ. Do you despise innocence? Do you think that it is weak and childish not to have personal experience of evil? Do you think that if you do not obtain such experience of evil you must forever be a child? If you have any such feeling, I just bid you contemplate Jesus of Nazareth. Does He make upon you any impression of immaturity or childishness? Was He lacking in some experience that is necessary to the highest manhood? Can you patronize Him as though He were but a child, whereas you with your boasted experience of evil are a full-grown man? If that is the way you think of Jesus, even unbelievers, if they are at all thoughtful, will correct you. No, Jesus makes upon all thoughtful persons the impression of complete maturity and tremendous strength. With unblinking eyes He contemplates the evil of the human heart. "He knew what was in man" (John 2:25), says the Gospel according to John. Yet He never had those experiences of sin which fools think to be necessary if innocence is to be transcended and the highest manhood to be attained. From His spotless purity and His all-conquering strength, that ancient lie that experience of evil is necessary if man is to attain the highest good recoils naked and ashamed. That was the lie that the tempter brought to Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden. Man was told to seek discernment in Satan's way and not in God's. Had man resisted the temptation what heights of knowledge and strength would have been his!

He sought to attain knowledge, and lost the knowledge of good; he sought to attain power, and lost his own soul; he sought to become as God, and when God came to him in the garden he hid himself in shameful fear."

Monday, June 18, 2018

A Picture of a Dad

Around Father's Day, I always notice how our society portrays dads -- aloof, absent, uninvolved, or selfish. Selfish, self-centered men whose lives, if they have any guiding principle at all, are governed by sports, hobbies, or pleasure. The Bible paints a very different picture of what it means to be a dad.  There are a multitude of passages that give us a picture of what a Dad should be, so  don't take your idea of fatherhood from the media, but from God's Word.

A father needs to correct and instruct his children. Far too many men have abdicated the role of discipline to the mother. By doing so, they have forsaken one of the primary duties that God has given them over their children. The responsibility of discipline and correction lays at the feet of the father. In Proverbs 3:12, Solomon tells us how God corrects his children, then reminds us how it is similar to a Dad correcting his children, "For whom the LORD loveth he correcteth; even as a father the son in whom he delighteth." The dad in proverbs corrects the son he loves. The proverb says the father has delight in his son – he loves him, and because he loves him, he corrects him when he is not walking in the right path.

Paul uses similar language when he describes his own ministry in 1Thessalonias 2:11. "As ye know how we exhorted and comforted and charged every one of you, as a father doth his children." Paul acted like a father should. He exhorted them, or urged them on to do the right thing. Fathers need to correct their children when they do wrong, but also exhort them to do right. Nothing is more frustrating for a child than to always be told what not to do, but never instructed on what they need to do. Paul also comforted them, or gave them heart to press on in their work. Dad needs to show the right way, but work in the heart of the child to want to do the right thing. Bengel said, "Exhortation leads one to do a thing willingly; consolation, to do it joyfully." Paul charged  the church or appealed to their solemn responsibility to God to walk worthy. The father has the duty, but also the responsibility to raise his children and his authority comes from God. It doesn't come from being bigger and stronger  or having a deeper voice. The authority to lead, teach, instruct, and correct is given by God.

Don’t let this go to your head. Where some men would rather go play and leave the children to mom, other men become overbearing dictators and see their children as little serfs. Psalm 103:13 says, "Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him." Dad, you need to have compassion on your children. Remember their frame. You want them to grow up to be strong men and godly women, but they are not there yet. Have compassion, take interest, get involved, love them and lead them. They may not like it and you may not to get to be their buddy, but you are their Dad, and they would much rather have you be their father than for you to be their buddy.

Saturday, June 16, 2018

Wise Words from John Brown

The more I read John Brown's Exposition Of The Epistle Of Paul The Apostle To The Galatians, the more I love this commentary. He doesn't skip over any difficulties and digs deep, but it's so full of practical wisdom, especially in the introduction of different sections. For example, in Galatians 5, dealing with churches in danger of leaving the faith. They have not apostatized, but they are on the edge looking over. How do you deal with people in such a state? I'll quote Brown at length as an example of his wise insight in dealing with other men.

"The paths of error and vice are downward paths ; but the descent is sometimes so very gradual, especially at first, that it is often no easy matter to convince those who have entered them that they have left the level ground of truth and duty. To use another figure, the divergence from the straight road is often so very small that he who has abandoned it may easily for a time persuade himself that he is still prosecuting it. The lines of direction seem to be almost parallel ; yet at every step he takes they are diverging, and by and by it will become abundantly apparent, even to the individual himself, that the path he now treads and the path he formerly trode are different paths. It is quite possible he may still think that the path he has chosen is the preferable one ; but he can no longer indulge the delusive notion that he has not altered his course. 
Many a man has begun with doubting or denying some particular doctrine of revelation which seems beset with peculiar difficulties, such as the doctrine of original sin, and has ended with denying the Divine authority of the Bible altogether. Many a man has begun with venturing on what he was afraid was wrong, or at any rate was by no means quite sure was right, who has ended with disregarding all religious and moral obligations. Had these men understood the tendency of the first step, they might perhaps not have taken the second. Had they contemplated the termination of their career they might probably never have commenced it."
Error is dangerous. It's nothing to joke around about and many a man has shipwrecked his soul by listening to and courting falsehood. You can see the trajectory. Paul knew that if the Galatian churches kept listening, they would end up in apostasy. He wants to warn them because he can see where this is headed. So how does he deal with the situation?

"Nothing is more unfair than to charge a man with holding principles which he disavows, however justly deducible from his professed opinions. Such a mode of reasoning, however common, is obviously uncandid, and has a much greater tendency to irritate than to convince. To charge a man with crimes of which he knows he is not guilty, though the faults he has committed may naturally lead to the perpetration of these crimes, is certainly not the most likely way of reforming him. But it is a matter of the last importance that the tendency of a false principle, and of a criminal action, should be distinctly and fully laid before the mind of him who has adopted the one, or committed the other; and that he should be faithfully and affectionately warned against holding an opinion or indulging a practice the moral characters of which are very different from what he apprehends them to be, and which will in the ordinary course of things sink him in depths of error and guilt, from which at present he would perhaps recoil with terror. It is most unfortunate when a person just about to commence the downward road of apostasy falls in with a well meaning, it may be, but most mistaken friend, who flatters him in the opinion he has formed that there is nothing very dangerous or wrong in the course he is taking, who says "peace, peace," to him while there is no peace. A true friend will in these circumstances not thus help forward the delusion ; but, at the hazard of displeasing him whom he wishes to save, he will honestly, but at the same time kindly, tell him the truth, and, leading him to the brink of the precipice, bid him ponder ere he goes farther in the path which terminates so fearfully. "

You cannot charge someone of a crime they have not committed just because they are on a path that very well could lead to that destruction. Paul was rough with the Galatians, but he did not accuse them of something they had not yet done wrong, while at the same time, warns them of the consequences if they continue on in they legalistic path. Paul makes great points, but he is also dealing with human beings. You can't just be "bold for the truth" and stomp all over people you disagree with and falsely accuse and portray the in the worst possible light, and then think that you will be able to influence them to listen to you and give you a fair hearing. That's being foolish. Be strong. Be resolute. Never compromise, but have some wisdom in your dealing with people.