Thu, Apr 29th - 7:59PM
II Peter Epistle Study
Some people would challenge the authorship of this epistle but it is a total waste of time and energy to do so. Suffice it to say that many of the early Church writers accepted it as authentic. I will simply say that there is substantial internal evidence which substantiates Peter as being the author.
This epistle was written shortly before Peter's martyrdom. It is strikingly similar to II Timothy's message from Paul shortly before his death. Both apostles raised red flags of warning against the then growing apostasy which has now arrived fully in our time. Peter warned of heresy among the teachers and Paul warned of heresy among the laity.
Both men faced their prospective deaths with joy, both knowing that their time had come at last. Paul wrote that he had finished his course, the race was done. He had fought the good fight and had kept the faith. Both apostles anchor the church on the Scriptures, on the Word of God. That is the only acceptable defense against the storm of apostasy. Why else would Satan attack II Peter by questioning its authenticity? Because it alerts believers to the way to combat apostasy. The Word of God can be our shield to deflect the darts that Satan shoots at us daily.
The subject of this letter from Peter is going to be not just the apostasy but also that which will be our best defense: knowledge of God. Where is this knowledge, and how does it come to us? The only way is through the Word of God, "a more sure word of prophecy," which we will read about soon.
Beloved, our Christian lives are more than just a birth. Once reborn we must grow and develope. Keep in mind throughout this study that the key verse is the last one: "But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory both now and for ever. Amen." I sort of picture myself to be more of a pediatrician than an obstetrician, as Dr. McGee described himself many years ago. I just do not fancy myself to be as fine a one as he was. I wish to help educate new believers so that they may grow and become mature Christians. Beloved, you and I cannot live for God today in these times of growing apostasy unless we have a knowledge of the Word of God, unless we gain understanding of the Holy.
Keep track of how many times Peter uses the word knowledge in this letter as well as the word faith. We find in this letter the answer to what true Gnosticism is all about. Gnosticism is all about gaining secret knowledge that no one else has. They obtain a form or formula, a rite or ritual, a secret order or password that one has to have to get on the inside to discover the secret knowledge. Peter says that real knowledge is to know Jesus Christ.
In the first fourteen verses of the opening chapter we discover what the foundation is that we are to build our Christian character upon.
Simon Peter, a servant and an apostle of Jesus Christ, to them that have obtained like precious faith with us through the righteousness of God and our Savior Jesus Christ(1:1).
Precious is another of Peter's often used words. It is almost a "signature" with which to identify Peter's writings. He also uses both of his names. As Simon he was weak, as Peter he was strong. Now he is the rock-man, the one who is to be crucified for Christ.
"Faith" is used here, I think, in reference to the body of knowledge which increases our faith in Christ. Christ spoke about having little faith. Here is a pointer for the importance of obtaining greater faith through learning about God.
When the hardened heart of man turns toward God the veil that blinds the heart will be rent asunder. Then learning about Christ and God can truly begin in earnest. God's Word can begin to open up and the person may comprehend all that is intended to be learned of God.
That is all for today, my friends. May the grace and peace of Christ be yours! God willing, we all shall meet here again to open up God's Holy Word and find new knowledge of the Holy.
Thu, Apr 29th - 1:29PM
Knowledge of the Holy
In the Bible justice and righteousness are hard to distinguish one from another. The same word in Hebrew becomes in English both justice and righteousness. They appear to be interchangeable in Biblical usage.
When God announced to Abraham the imminent destruction of Sodom Abraham interceded on behalf of those few righteous who lived in that doomed city. He pointed out that God would surely do right. He would not slay the righteous along side of the wicked.
The psalmists and prophets of Israel held the concept that God was an all-powerful ruler, high and lifted up, ruling in equity. They knew that righteousness and judgment were an intrinsic part of God's throne. It was prophesied of the long-awaited Messiah that He would come and judge the people with righteousness and the poor with judgment. Each and every time that we come across exclamations poured out to God for Him to come and end the wicked from triumphing we see a deep longing for moral equity to prevail in society.
David and Daniel knew, and acknowledged, their own unrighteousness was in contrast to God's righteousness. This lead to their penitent prayers which lead to great power and effectiveness. And way over in the Book of Revelation John witnesses the long-withheld judgment of God beginning to fall upon mankind and he sees the victorious saints standing upon a sea of glass mingled with fire. They hold harps of God, they sing a song of Moses and of the Lamb. Their song's theme is the divine justice of God.
Justice embodies the idea of moral equity. It is so in American society and is so in many other societies around the world. Iniquity is the exact opposite; it is in-equity; the absence of equality from human thoughts and acts. Judgment is the application of equity to moral situations and may be favorable or unfavorable according to whether the one under examination has been equitable or in-equitable in heart and conduct.
We cannot fall into a trap by saying, "Justice requires God to do this." To believe this creates a principle of justice outside of God which compels Him to act in a certain fashion. There is no such principle.
Justice, when spoken of God, is a name we give to the way God is. When He acts justly He is not conforming to an independent criterion, but simply acting like Himself in a given situation. Everything in the universe is good to the degree it conforms to the nature of God and evil as it fails to do so. Saint Anselm, Archbishop of Canterbury, sought for a solution to this apparant contradiction between the justice and mercy of God. How could God spare the wicked if He was all just and supremely just? He found his answer by looking squarely at what God is. There is nothing in God's justice which prevents the exercise of His mercy. God is never at cross-purposes with Himself.
Goodness without justice is not goodness. God spares us because He is good, but He could not be good if He were not just. Knowing all things places God in the position of being able to exercise mercy, whereas mankind does not possess the same knowledge and therefore does not show mercy, only judgment.
Of course, the simpler solution for this problem can be found in the doctrine of redemption. Through the work of Christ in atonement, justice is not violated but satisfied when God spares a sinner. Mercy does not become effective toward a person until justice has done its work. The just penalty for sin was paid for when Christ substituted Himself for us on the cross. No matter how foreign this may sound to the ear of the the natural man, it is ever so sweet to the ear of faith. Millions have been transformed morally and spiritually by this message, gone on to live lives of immense moral power and died peacefully trusting fully in it.
Justice discharged and mercy operative is much more than a pleasant theory. Because of our sin we are all under death sentences, judgments which resulted when justice confronted our moral situation. When infinite equity encountered our chronic and willful in-equity, there was violent war between the two, a war which God won and must always win. But when the sinner repents and casts himself upon Christ for salvation, the moral situation is reversed. Justice confronts the changed situation and pronounces the believing man just. This, then, is the meaning to what the apostle John said, "If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness."
But we must realize that God's justice stands forever against the sinner in utter severity. It is false hope to believe that God is too kind, or to good, or is too much Love, to punish the ungodly. That hope has become a fatal opiate for the liberal minded masses. It has quieted their fears, and allows them to continue to live sin-filled lives even while death draws nearer every day and God's command to repent goes unheeded. And thus the motivation of the believer to reach out to them and to alert them of their impending judgment from God must become the greater.
That is all for today. Next time I shall write about God's mercy. Hope you experience the grace and peace of Christ in your life!
Wed, Apr 28th - 1:01PM
Knowledge of the Holy
What does "good" mean to you? It seems to mean an awful lot of things today. We can arrive at a definition by means of using several synonyms.
When it is said that God is good it is not the same as saying that He is holy or righteous. The goodness of God disposes Him to be kind, cordial, benevolent, and full of goodwill toward mankind. He is quick with sympathy, and is tenderhearted. His unflinching attitude towards all moral beings is open, frank, and friendly. Note, I say to all moral beings. By His very nature He is inclined to give blessing and He takes holy pleasure in the happiness of His people.
That God is good is evidenced on almost every page of Scripture. It is a necessary foundation in thinking of God in order to have moral sanity and to have sound thought about God. If God is not good, then there can be no distinction between kindness and cruelty, and heaven can be hell and hell, heaven as some would claim as being so. They make this claim because their assumption is that God is not good, He can't possibly be good.
But the goodness of God is the basic drive mechanism behind all of His blessings that are bestowed upon man each and every day. God created us in His image because He felt good in His heart, and thus He redeemed us for the same reason.
Six hundred years ago a woman saw clearly that the basis for all blessedness is the goodness of God. In chapter six of her perceptive classic, Revelations of Divine Love, she begins, "This showing was made to learn our souls to cleave wisely to the goodness of God." Then she went on to list some of the great and mighty deeds God has accomplished on our behalf, and after each one she added, "of His goodness." She understood that all of our religious activities and works, however right and useful they might be, are nothing until we understand that the unmerited, spontaneous goodness of God is behind and underneath all of His acts.
Divine goodness is self-caused, infinite, perfect, and eternal. Due to His immutability His goodness never varies in its intensity. He has never been kinder than He is right now, nor shall He be kinder in the future than He is right now. Yet, He is no respecter of persons. He showers all of us with His goodness equally. The cause of His goodness is in Himself; the recipients of His goodness are all His beneficiaries without merit and without recompense.
God's goodness is always the ground for our expectations. Repentance, though necessary, does not hold any merit but it is a condition for receiving the gracious gift of pardon which God gives of His goodness. Get that? Our salvation from sin, which God gives out of His innate goodness, requires repentance from sin first. Likewise, prayer does not of itself hold any merit. It puts God under no obligation nor puts God in debt to anyone. He hears prayer because He is good, and for no other reason. Faith has no merit; it simply is confidence in the goodness of God, and the lack of it is not a reflection upon God's holy character but upon our own.
The entire outlook of mankind might be forever changed if we could only believe that we dwell under friendly skies and that the God of heaven is eager to be friends with us.
But sin which entered into creation so long ago has made us timid and self-conscious, as well it ought. Years of rebellion against God have created in us a fear that cannot be overcome in a single day. The captured rebel does not willingly enter the presence of the King he has so long resisted and fought to overthrow. But, if he is truly penitent, he may come before the King, trust in his loving-kindness and the past will be forgotten.
Someone out there stumbling across this post and is not a believer in Christ may ask, "If I come to God now, how will He act toward me? What kind of disposition has He? What will I find Him to be like?"
The answer is this: He will be found to be exactly like Jesus Christ. Jesus came and walked with men and women in order that they might discover what God was like and make known to them the true nature of God and wipe away the wrong ideas they had of Him. This was only one of the things He came to do in the flesh but He did it with perfection.
From Jesus we learn how God acts towards all people. The hypocritical, the insincere, will find Him to be cold and aloof, as they once found Jesus; but those who are repentant will find Him merciful; the self-condemned will find Him generous and kind. To the frightened He is friendly, to the poor in spirit He is forgiving, to the ignorant He is considerate; to the weak He is gentle; and to the stranger He is hospitable.
Though God's kindness is infinite, an overflowing fountain of goodwill, He will not force His attention upon us. To be welcomed as the Prodigal Son was we must come as the Prodigal Son came. Come in this fashion and there will be a feast of welcome within the Wedding banquet room for us, with music and singing and dancing as our Lord takes us back into His family.
Even as the greatness of God raises fear within us, His goodness encourages us not to be afraid of Him. And that is the paradox of faith: to fear and not be afraid.
That is all for today, beloved. Next time I will write about God's justice. I pray that you will join me as we continue to explore and reveal the nature of God.
Tue, Apr 27th - 9:09PM
I Peter Epistle Study
Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walks about, seeking whom he may devour(5:8).
The word sober here is from a different Greek word than back in chapter 4 verse 7. Here the word means “to be watchful.”
“Be sober, be vigilant” because we have an enemy, an adversary out loose in this world. He is not a flesh and blood adversary whom we can spot visually. Satan, the devil, is a fallen angel and is thus a spiritual being who is immortal as far as we can be concerned. The picture God gave Peter to give to us is very strong. God does not want us to have the wrong impression about Satan. Like any human enemy, Satan will strike out at us when we least expect him to. He will come and attack us in the midst of Sunday worship, or in the midst of choir practice. He is not shy about the place nor the time. Whenever we give him a place in our hearts or lifestyles Satan will take full advantage of our weakness. Thus we must be sober and vigilant all of the time. Male lions patrol their territory on a regular basis to keep intruding younger male lions out. They roar loudly which carries many miles at night. They chemically mark their boundaries from their scent glands. The young male lions constantly are searching for any weakness in the ruling male of each pride of lions. To not do so translates in perpetual exile in which they cannot mate at all. We must be like the ruling male lion of his pride. Be on guard, be vigilant, clearly mark your territory around your family and alert Satan to your awareness of his presence nearby. Will this guarentee he will not attack you? Of course not. But it will cause him to be forced into approaching you from an angle, and not head on. It will force Satan into using less effective weapons in attempting to take you down spiritually.
Whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world(5:9).
Resist Satan, through remaining steadfast in your faith in Christ Jesus. Do not attempt to engage Satan in testosterone contests, don’t think that you can outwit him on your own. You will fail miserably if you try. Simply stand strong in your faith in Christ. Be unshakeable.
Should we attempt to resist Satan all on our own? No, I believe that there is strength in numbers, especially when everyone joins in prayer. We are told elsewhere in Scripture to put on the armor of God in order to remain standing against the onslaught of Satan, but we also need others to stand alongside of us. We should not falsely believe that no one else in the entire world could possibly be experiencing anything close to what we currently are. There is nothing new under the sun. Any problem that I may have, someone else is either going through the exact same thing right now too, or they just finished going through it. The same afflictions are experienced by other Christians, I am not alone.
But the God of all grace, who has called us unto His eternal glory by Christ Jesus, after that you have suffered a while, make you perfect, establish, strengthen, settle you(5:10).
We have no lasting glory in, and of, ourselves. Lasting glory comes through Christ Jesus. The universal church of Jesus Christ is sort of like our moon. It reflects the light of the Son out onto the earth. This reminds me of the song lyrics, “Daystar shine down on me, and let Your light shine through me in the night.” Through reflected glory we are able to share in that glory.
Even in our deepest afflictions we must remember that they shall last only for “a while” and then Christ will make us perfect, established, strengthened, and settled. Afflictions are to make us stronger believers at their end. God intends to mold us into strong, vibrant saints who can carry His message of redemption to the world.
To Him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.
By Silvanus, a faithful brother unto you, as I suppose, I have written briefly, exhorting, and testifying that this is the true grace of God wherein you stand(5:11-12).
Peter gives a benediction and then informs the reader that Silvanus wrote down what Peter dictated. He states that what is written in this epistle is true and it is the grace of God.
The church that is at Babylon, elected together with you, salutes you: and so does Marcus my son.
Greet one another with a kiss of charity. Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus. Amen(5:13-14).
Babylon means the city of Babylon and is not a figurative name for Rome. Peter was too practical of a man to have used figurative terms.
Most scholars believe that Marcus was Peter’s son through faith in Christ and was John Mark who wrote the Gospel of Mark.
To greet one another with a kiss of charity in America is still quite awkward. We do better with warm handshakes and perhaps hugs. As did Peter, I leave all of you with this final benediction: “Peace be with you all that are in Christ Jesus.”
Mon, Apr 26th - 6:53PM
I Peter Epistle Study
What color is glory? We simply need to look up at the night time sky or look at the earth itself. If in New England in the autumn just look at all of the colorful leaves in the trees. Look at the mountains in all of their grandeur. Or gaze upon the endless grass, soybeans, and corn across the Great Plains in America. That's glory, the glory of God. And God's glory is something that we are going to share in one day in the future. God calls it a crown of glory that we shall wear.
Peter calls God "the chief Shepherd" in the text verse from this morning's posting. In Psalm 22 we find Him being called the Good Shepherd for He gives His life for the "sheep." The Great Shepherd is seen in Psalm 23 as He watches over the "sheep." In Psalm 24 He is the Chief Shepherd who is coming again. When He returns He will still have the entire "flock" with Him.
Likewise, you younger, submit yourselves unto the elder. Yes, all of you be subject one to another, and be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble.
Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time(5:5-6).
Today we have reversed this concept, the elder are to submit to the younger. The young are the ones wishing to discard the establishment and be in charge. But the young Christian person needs to obey the Word of God and give honor and respect to their elders.
Christians are to be subject to one another. That is accountability. We are not just to be subject to one another but we are to do so humbly. Proud people will not get to experience grace for God gives it out to those who practice humility. God actually resists the proud people of our world.
In remembrance of the coming of Christ, humility ought to be the attitude of the children of God. Christ will establish justice and make things right when He comes again. You and I cannot straighten out this world, even if we think so. This concept angers the liberals of the world for they believe that mankind can figure out and solve all of its problems. It's their pride that gets in their way to seeing the truth about mankind.
Casting all your care upon him; for He cares for you(5:7).
This verse literally means that it matters to God what happens to you and I here on earth. The LORD Jesus Christ said, "Come unto Me all you that labor and are heavy laden, and I will rest you(Matthew 11:28)." Bring our burdens to Christ and give them over to Him and initially He will save us. Then later come to Him again and He will meet us and help us with our problems in life. Just cast all of our cares upon Him; worry about nothing and pray about everything. That is where we need to get to in our spiritual lives as Christians. And when we take a concern to God in prayer we must leave it there and do not pick it up and take it with us again!
That is all for today, beloved. Next time, God willing, I will begin with a verse that many believers know about, but do not exercise in their daily lives. I pray that you will cast all of your troubles onto Christ for Jesus really desires to free you of worries so that you may live a life that is free indeed!
Mon, Apr 26th - 12:58PM
Knowledge of the Holy
To correctly understand the attributes of God it is necessary that we see them all as one. We can consider them separately, but we cannot separate them one from another. Nicholas of Cusa said, "Whence, although we attribute to God sight, hearing, taste, smell, touch, sense, reason, intellect, and so forth, accoring to the diverse significations of each word, yet in Him sight is not other than hearing, or tasting, or smelling, or touching, or feeling, or understanding. And so all theology is said to be established in a circle, because any one of His attributes is affirmed of another."
As we have been studying one attribute after another we notice that each rely upon the others. For instance, if God is self-existent He must be also self-sufficient; and if He has power, being infinite, He must have all power. If He possesses knowledge, His infinitude requires that He possess all knowledge. His immutability, His unchanging nature, presupposes His faithfulness. He can't be unfaithful if He is unchanging. Any failure within God's divine character would argue imperfection and because God is perfect it simply can not happen. What we are able to learn of God explains and proves that they are but mere glimpses of the totality of the Divine Being.
What follows then is this: all of God's actions remain consistent with His attributes. All of His attributes harmonize and blend one into another in infinity. All that God does agrees with all that God is, being and doing are one in Him. Any picture of God as being "torn" between mercy and justice is a false one. This would imply that God is unsure of Himself, that He must weigh alternate options of handling each situation on earth. No such thing exists. This is to transfer upon God our own, human, frailties.
People become unfaithful out of desire, fear, weakness, loss of interest, or because of some strong influence from outside of themselves. Obviously, none of these forces can influence God in any way. He can't be compelled from without, but speaks and acts from within Himself by His own sovereign will as it pleases Him.
It probably can be said rather confidently that all of the problems that have afflicted the whole church throughout the centuries originates from believing about God things that are not true, or from overemphasizing certain true things over others, to the point of exclusion. Magnifying any attribute, such as love, above and beyond all of the other attributes leads us directly into religiousity and spiritual error.
Yes, the Bible teaches us that God is love, some therefore have preached this in such a fashion that they deny that God is just, which the Bible also teaches. The same can be done in teaching His goodness to the point where we are forced to contradict His holiness. Or His compassion to the point of cancelling out His truth. Or His sovereignty to the point it destroys His goondess and love.
What we must do is dare to believe everything God has said about Himself for then we find a correct view of truth. It is a grave mistake for any of us to take upon ourselves to edit out of God's self-revelation such features as we in our ignorance deem objectionable. Why do it? We do not need to fear the truth for it can stand on its own as it is written. God's being is unitary. All that God is must agree with all that God does. Justice must be present in mercy, and love in judgment. The problem with mankind has always been that we do not show justice in our mercy nor love in our judgment. We normally screw things up royally when we force our own efforts into play.
For the believer the faithfulness of God becomes nourishing food for the soul, it becomes something more than just theological data. The Bible teaches truth but it also shows us its uses for mankind. To the inspired writers of God's Word this truth became their life motivation, their hope, and their confident expectation. The Book of Psalms is full with thanksgiving for the faithfulness of God. The New Testament has the same theme and celebrates the loyalty of God the Father and His Son Jesus Christ who before Pontius Pilate witnessed a good confession. What name does Christ bear when He returns on a white horse? None other than Faithful and True. The message is hammered home time, and time again. God is faithful and true.
What motivates the writing of the incredibly popular gospel songs? Lyrics which praise God's attributes. "Our God is an Awesome God" and "Holy, holy, holy" and "Amazing Grace" are just some examples of songs which highlight God's perfection in every phase of His character.
Upon God's faithfulness rests our entire hope of future blessedness, of our salvation. His faithfulness sustains His covenants and His promises. This allows us to live in peace and look confidently to the life yet to come.
The tempted, the anxious, the fearful, the discouraged may all find new hope and good cheer knowing that our Heavenly Father is faithful. He will ever be true to His good pledged Word.
That concludes this post, beloved. Next time I will write about the goodness of God. I would suggest you spend a little time pondering just what the word "good" means to you today in your culture. God willing that will be tomorrow! Hope you can return and spend some more time in His Word!
Mon, Apr 26th - 6:30AM
I Peter Epistle Study
Feed the flock of God which is among you, taking the oversight thereof, not by constraint, but wilingly; not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind(5:2).
Peter points out that an elder is to be the shepherd of a flock of believers. This suggests provision and protection, supervision and discipline, instruction and and direction. This ministry is to be done in a very positive fashion.
Peter also gives out a warning, he alerts us to be on guard against those who might wish to become elders and work improperly in this office. An elder is to work with the right attitude and in the right spirit; they do this work not because they must do it but because they freely choose to do so. An elder is to feed the flock willing, not through coercion by others.
Here is another negative from this verse. "Not for filthy lucre, but of a ready mind," speaks of doing this ministry for the sheer delight in doing what is right rather than doing it for the material gain, or for questionable gain. If your monetary compensation is arrived at in a questionable manner then it becomes "filthy lucre." Elders are to find their satisfaction in the doing of the service rather than in what they are getting financially out of it.
Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being examples to the flock(5:3).
This has been one of the verses which speaks to me of what went wrong within the Catholic Church. Those in leadership positions in congregations are not to become bosses, nor are they to become the "keepers" of doctrine and act like police. They are to serve their brothers and sisters of faith and be living examples to them of how to live a godly life in Christ. Christian leaders ought not to drive or domineer their brethren but lead by example. Preachers should not enter a pulpit and browbeat the congregation to do something that he is unwilling to do himself. Tell the congregation they ought to be praying for him? Is he praying for them? Tell the congregation they ought to be giving to a certain cause? Is he already doing so? Tell the congregation they ought to treat others with compassion? Is he doing so himself? The leaders cannot make demands of other people that they, themselves, are not doing already.
And when the chief Shepherd shall appear, you shall receive a crown of glory that does not fade away(5:4).
Elders ought to serve in their ministry being fully aware of the fact that they serve Christ, who is the Chief Shepherd. Christ serves all of us even though He is God. Elders are answerable to Christ and He compensates their service with rewards which are eternal. Are Christian leaders to work for nothing then? No, for Paul made it very clear that a Christian is not to work for nothing. You are to work for Him and look to Him for a reward some day. You are also to work with your hands to make a living in order to support you and your family, if you are married.
There are many crowns mentioned in Scripture, including the crowns of life and of righteousness. I believe that this crown of glory means that we will share in God's glory some day. It is something unspeakably remarkable and unsurpassingly beautiful. There are around a dozen different words in the Old Testament which get translated as glory. It is a word that is used often today. How big is glory? What shape is it? What color is it? Do you understand what glory means?
Studying God's Word we can discover that glory does, indeed, have shape and size. "The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament shows His handiwork(Psalm 19:1)." The size of the universe, as staggering as its estimated size may be, is only the front yard of God's immense universe. That is what glory is all about-the greatness of our God.
That is all for this morning beloved. More to come this evening!
Sun, Apr 25th - 4:32PM
I Peter Epistle Study
Wherefore let them that suffer according to the will of God commit the keeping of their souls to Him in well-doing, as unto a faithful Creator(4:19).
To each person who suffers in this world because they obey the will of God must also do well-doing. We must look out for the best interests of others, their health and welfare, and do our jobs to the best of our abilities. We must be model citizens, not given over to rebellion, dissent, terrorism, or flagrant illegal activities. We must participate in society in a civil, orderly, honest manner. We also see here another reference to our Creator who is ever faithful in nature.
Paul spoke of this, "...I know whom I have believed, and am persuaded that He is able to keep that which I have committed unto Him against that day(II Timothy 1:12)." What did Paul commit to Christ? Is it not everything? Paul went from persecuting Christians to converting people into Christians. Paul gave his entire life over into the keeping of Christ. Paul listed something like eight different things that he had formerly considered trusting in for his salvation(Philippians 3:1-6). But then he declared, "But what things were gain to me, those I counted loss for Christ. Yes doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ(Philippians 3:7-8)."
Have you really trusted Christ? Do you worry at night when you go to sleep? Got some things that niggle at your mind every night as you try to drift off into sleep? Give them over to Christ and trust Him with everything. Give it away to Him. I go to sleep each night and do not worry about Eric Rajaniemi's soul. I go to sleep in peace because I know that Christ Jesus has taken care of all of that stuff for me. I have made my "deposit" with Christ, and I trust that He shall keep it safe for all of eternity. When the dark days come I have spiritual assurance upon which to rest. When I am called upon to walk through the valley of death, I shall not fear nor want anything. God will be with me.
That finishes up this chapter number four of I Peter. We now begin chapter five, which focuses upon suffering and the second coming of Christ and how that produces service and hope, humility and patience.
You may ask, "What is the relation of our suffering to the second coming of Christ?" Our spiritual lives began for each of us with the suffering of Jesus Christ upon the cross where He bore the penalty for our sins. There is also suffering in the lives of the children of God today because God uses suffering in our lives to sharpen us, to hone us, and to make us the kind of Christians that He wants and that He can use to reach out to people.
So we have the suffering of Christ in the past and the suffering today of the saints, and then we have Christ's second coming. Christ's return ought to be in every believer's plan for the future. "Plan out your life!" we are often told. So, is Christ's return a part of your life plan? Are you making His return for you and giving to you a glorified body its proper place of importance in your life? Or is it some abstract concept that you keep on the dusty back shelf of your mental closet? Christ's return is not some dusty doctrine, it is something which will enter into your life. It is a reality, if you so choose to believe in it. We shall see Him some day, face to face. We shall stand in His very presence.
The elders which are among you I exhort, who am also an elder, and a witness of the sufferings of Christ, and also a partaker of the glory that shall be revealed(5:1).
Peter clearly states his position although he does not call himself an apostle, he is simply an elder. Peter never claimed to be more than this. He did not call himself a bishop or cardinal, or anything else of that sort. He was simply one of many elders.
Peter also states that he was a partaker of Christ's glory which was to be revealed. He saw Him die upon Calvary and also upon the Mount of Transfiguration. God's future glory was revealed to those men upon that mount, a sharing to be remembered after the resurrection. But the greatest glory is yet to be revealed in our future, the return of Christ the King.
That is all for today. Next time I shall continue with the next few verses. I hope and pray that you continue to follow along with this study. Grace and peace be yours.
Fri, Apr 23rd - 8:40PM
I Peter Epistle Study
But let none of you suffer as a murderer, or as a thief, or as an evildoer, or as a busybody in other men's matters(4:15).
Is there any distinction made between murder, gossiping, stealing, or sticking your nose into other peoples' business? None. Whether you read Paul, Peter, or James you will find agreement between all three on this subject matter. They all preached the exact same gospel, urged believers to have the same kind of life.
Do not suffer for your own sins in this world. God never tests with sin. God never tests with evil either. This verse informs us all that we are to eliminate these things from our lives, we are to turn to the light of the world. Walking in darkness is no longer an option for believers.
Yet if any man suffer as a Christian, let him not be ashamed; but let him glorify God on this behalf(4:16).
Our hearts need to go out to the Christian who is serving time in prison for they are truly suffering punishment. If he/she is suffering because of their own sin then they cannot glorify God for the fact that they are in prison. They can glorify God by their prison behavior and witness for Him in the midst of their imprisonment.
For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God(4:17)?
We can interpret this verse any which way we deem appropriate. We can think that judgment began with the Temple at the moment of Christ's crucifixion, or that it began with the universal Church of believers after the Day of Pentecost. We do know that the Book of Revelation records Christ declaring that He will judge the churches from within their midst. But since Peter clearly states that "if it first begin with us" then he meant it had already begun in his day. Judgment always begins first with God's people before it spreads out into the remainder of the world. And if God judges His own children, then how much more shall He judge those who reject His Son and gospel?
And if the righteous scarcely be saved, where shall the ungodly and the sinner appear(4:18)?
Each believer barely made it into heaven. We who believe are saved only by the death of Christ and our faith in Him. John Wesley spoke of himself as "a brand plucked from the burning," and that is true of most of us. Peter here asks of us where shall the lost sinner appear? If any of you reading this post have not yet accepted Christ as your personal Savior and Lord, if you have not admitted your utter shortcomings before God, then how do you think that you shall make it into heaven at the end of your physical life? I barely made it in, and that by trusting Christ and only Christ. Jesus said that He was the way, the truth, and the life. No man can get to the Father but through Him. One way to salvation and to heaven. That is Jesus Christ, our Messiah, the Son of God, second Person of the Godhead.
That is all for tonight beloved. God willing, I shall write tomorrow and finish up this chapter. I hope you will come and perhaps bring another along as well. Grace and peace be yours.
Fri, Apr 23rd - 1:15PM
Knowledge of the Holy
OMNIPRESENCE OF GOD
The word present means "here, close to, next to." The prefix "omni" gives it universality. God essentially is everywhere here, close to everything, next to everybody.
This truth is taught in the Bible with great clarity. Scripture declares that God is immanent in His creation, that there is no place in heaven or earth or hell where men can hide from His presence. They teach that God is at once far off and near by, that in Him men move and live and have their being. They compel us to assume that God is omnipresent to account for other facts they tell us about Him.
His infinitude means that there can be no limit to His presence. He must be everywhere. God is our environment as much as the sea is to the fish and the air for birds. This belief that God is present within His universe can't be held all by its lonesome. It holds implications in many areas of theological thought and bears directly upon religious problems such as the nature of the world. Thinking men of every age have pondered long and hard about the nature of our world. Is it material, is it spiritual, is it abstract? Does this interlocking system explain itself or does its secret lie somewhere outside in mystery? Does the flow of existence begin and end in itself? Or is the source much higher up and farther away?
Christians claim to have the answer to these questions. Christianity itself does not speculate, it does not offer an opinion, but it gives "Thus says the LORD" as its authority. Pretty much what Moses presented to Pharaoh. Christianity declares positively that our world is spiritual, it originated in spirit, flows out of spirit, is spiritual in its essence, and it is meaningless apart from the Holy Spirit of God that inhabits it.
The doctrine of divine omnipresence gives meaning to all other truths and gives supreme value to all man's little life. Because God is near me, next to me, sees me, and knows me thoroughly, my faith may begin. It may go on to include a thousand other truths, but those all refer back to the truth that God is, and God is here now. The Book of Hebrews says, "He that comes to God must believe that He is."
The New Testament teaches that God created the world by the Logos, the Word, and the Word is identified with the second Person of the Godhead who was present in the world even before He became incarnate in the flesh. The Word made all things and remained in His creation to uphold and sustain it and be at the same time a moral light enabling every man to distinguish good from evil. Our universe operates as an orderly system, not by impersonal laws which work independently of each other. It is orderly because of the creative voice of the immanent and universal Presence, the Logos.
Pagans have been known to walk from tree to tree and stone to stone, tapping each and asking in turn, "Are you there?" They looked for their god, striving to find him/her. An instructed Christian can bring the answer to them, God is indeed there. He is there just as He is here and everywhere, but not confined to tree, rock, river, ocean, or mountain. He is free in the universe, near to everything, next to everyone, and through Jesus Christ immediately available and accessible to everyone who has a loving heart.
This entire concept is of deep comfort to Christians in every age. The believer must recognize the real presence of God whom all sound theology declares to be already there, an objective entity, existing apart from any observation of Him on the part of His creatures.
What does a certainty that God is always near us, present in all parts of His creation, closer to us than our own thoughts? It maintains us in a state of high moral happiness a majority of the time. Not all of the time. We have to be honest and it would be unrealistic. Just as a child often will cry out in pain while being embraced by its mother, so too, believers may sometimes suffer even in the presence of God.
In a world like ours, tears have a therapeutic effect. The knowledge that we are never alone calms the fear which whips up the troubled sea of our lives, and speaks peace to our souls.
Here is a final thought from the pen of Gerhard Tersteegen:
"God reveals His presence:
Let us now adore Him,
And with awe appear before Him.
Him alone, God we own;
He's our Lord and Saviour,
Praise His name forever.
God Himself is with us:
Whom the angelic legions
Serve with awe in heavenly regions."
God willing, next time I shall write some about the faithfulness of God. Until then, grace and peace enfold you. May you walk in the knowledge that God is closer to you today than the air that you breathe.
Thu, Apr 22nd - 1:22PM
Knowledge of the Holy
I mean that God is exalted far above the created universe, so far above that our human thoughts cannot imagine it.
But "far above" does not refer to physical distance. It is in reference to quality of being. Location is not our concern here, but with life.
Remember, God is spirit. To Him magnitude and distance have absolutely no meaning. To us they are useful as analogies and illustrations and thus God uses them when speaking of Himself to allow us a measure of understanding since we operate with finite minds. In Isaiah we find, "Thus says the high and lofty One that inhabits eternity," which gives us an impression of altitude, but that is simply because we are creatures of space, matter, and time and we tend to think in material terms. Abstract ideas are grasped only when they are identified in some fashion with material things.
It is spirit which gives significance to matter. We may spend time admiring the natural beauty of a national park up until our three old child goes missing. Of a sudden, our entire perspective, and that of many other people present, totally changes. The natural beauty is forgotten, fades away into irrelevant shadows while the search for the missing child unfolds. What caused the change in thinking? One lost soul. The child's quality of being gives the child more worth than all of the natural beauty put together.
But we can not compare God's being with any other. God is not highest as in an ascending order of beings. Such a concept only grants God eminence, even pre-eminence, and we must grant Him transcendance in the fullest, most complete, meaning of that word. God stands apart in light unapproachable. God is as high above the archangel as above a caterpillar for the immense gulf separating the angel from the caterpillar is finite while the chasm between God and the archangel is infinite. Both the caterpillar and the angel are alike in that they are both created things, no matter how far apart on the scale of created things they may be. They both fall into the category of that-which-is-not-God.
Hhhmm. How can we get to know that which we cannot approach? God puts in our hearts the compulsion to seek Him and in some measure makes it possible for us to learn a little about Him. What is a joy to know is this: God is pleased with the weakest, feeblest effort made to know Him.
So we must stop and consider here what sort of words we are hearing coming from our pulpits. Are they lofty? Are they directing all of us to seek out God early and often? Are they attempting to teach us about God and what He is like? Or are they flat, stale, off-topic, and profitless? What has happened to all of the fascinating descriptions of the Godhead, and of the coming End Times? Why aren't more pastors preaching to us from the mount of divine vision? Don't they understand how to climb up to the apex? Don't they have the desire anymore?
When the psalmist saw the sinfulness of the wicked his heart told him how it could be. "There is no fear of God before his eyes." This reveals the psychology of sin. When people no longer fear God, they break His laws without hesitation, without any thought of consequences. The fear of consequences is not a deterrent when the fear of God is gone. Children in our schools have been taught over the past twenty years that they should not concern themselves with accountability. It has created an entire generation of people with a moral disconnect. They believe that they are not to be held accountable for their actions. It is someone else's fault for everything that happens around them. Kicking God completely out of our public schools began the earnest demolition of fearing God.
In the old days people of faith were described thusly: " walked in the fear of God" or "served the Lord with fear." No matter how intimate their communion with God, however bold their prayers, at the foundation of their faith was the idea of God as awesome and dreadful. God was someone you did not want to face in judgment. What do we have today? God is my friend, He is my copilot, He leads me beside the still waters. I have news for you my friends, God is not the copilot in your life! I have been there and done that, it does not work and only leads you into sin. God pilots your life, 24/7 period! To think otherwise only leads to faulty assumptions which get you into deep, deep trouble.
The fear of God throughout the Bible is more than a nonrational dread, it is an acute feeling of personal insufficiency in the very presence of God Almighty. We always are able to distinguish when God is present and speaking directly to someone in the Bible. The person being spoken to usually was told that he was standing upon holy ground and was to take off his sandals. The results are always the same: an overwhelming sense of terror, dismay, immense feeling of sinfulness, wretchedness, and guilt. When God spoke, Abram stretched himself out on the ground to listen. When God spoke to Moses from out of the burning bush Moses hid his face in fear to look upon God. Isaiah's vision forced him to cry out, "Woe is me!" and "I am undone, because I am a man of unclean lips."
What about Daniel? "I Daniel alone saw the vision for the men that were with me saw not the vision, but a great quaking fell upon them, so that they fled to hide themselves. Therefore I was left alone, and saw this great vision, and there remained no strength in me: for my comeliness was turned in me into corruption, and I retained no strength. Yet I heard the voice of His words: and when I heard the voice of His words, then was I in a deep sleep on my face, and my face toward the ground." These experiences show that a vision of the divine transcendence soon ends all controversy between man and God. Your perception becomes crystal clear. Awareness of your shortcomings becomes brutally clarified in your heart and mind. There can be no more masks, no more playacting. What about Saul on the road to Damascus? The fight goes out of the man and he is suddenly ready to ask meekly, "Lord, what will You have me do?"
Many today call themselves Christians but do not have this fear of God within themselves. It is a healing fear that cures all of our illnesses spiritually. How many of your Christian friends talk as if God was their equal, copartner in all that they do? If we are impressed by God's greatness, we will be struck dumb. We will bow our heads down to the ground and simply ask Him, "What would You have me to do?" Then, we would go out and do it.
That is all for today, beloved. God willing, I will write about God's omnipotence next time. I hope and pray that you have a Godly day.
Wed, Apr 21st - 8:36PM
I Peter Epistle Study
But rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ’s sufferings; that, when His glory shall be revealed, you may be glad with exceeding joy(4:13).
Why go through all sorts of suffering and trials? Because these things prepare us for the second coming of Christ. Paul wrote in Romans 8:17, “And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together.” We all must face up to the fact that there is no shortcut to living the Christian life. We must suffer with Christ before we may be glorified with Christ. The Christian life is a banquet because He has invited us to sit with Him at the table of salvation but it is not a picnic. We must suffer for Him and with Him. And we will know the reason for each testing when we stand in His presence one day. Today I hear so many people criticize Peter, Paul, and the other apostles. But when we get to heaven we are going to look up to these men with great respect for all of the suffering that they went through for our great benefit. Suffering is what makes you better. Today’s churches that preach that the Christian life is supposed to be smooth and easy and wealthy are full of hooey. Sorrow and suffering will come to the Christian home and make it stronger than it was before. If you are not experiencing any suffering in your Christian life, then perhaps you are not living correctly as a Christian. If you witness for Jesus there will be people who will cause you suffering because you stand for God. If you and your family have made a spiritual stand against Satan then it is guaranteed that he will come against you. If you are involved in establishing a new congregation that stands squarely for God, then Satan is going to attack you and attempt to stop your efforts before they are able to fully get off of the ground. Stand strong for the Lord! He is with you always!
If you be reproached for the name of Christ, happy are you; for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you: on their part He is evil spoken of, but on your part He is glorified(4:14).
Peter tells us that if we are rebuked, scorned, reproached for Christ’s sake then we are to be happy and rejoice in it. That is mighty strange language to most people!
We are to be happy in that we know the Spirit of God rests upon us. Any suffering due to our living out our faith in Christ will be a token of our being Christians. The greatest proof that we are a child of God is if we are able to endure suffering for His sake. Suffering brought on by our own foolishness and ignorance is not proof of a Christian life being lived out properly. Only that which afflicts us because we have been doing God’s business proves that we are living correctly.
You and I are to glorify God no matter what comes our way. During our greatest suffering we must be able to sing praises to God. Those who are unbelievers speak evil of God all of the time. They call Him misbegotten, evil, a bigot, a racist, a pervert, an abuser, a child killer, sadistic, psychopath, murderer, liar, fake, and akin to Santa Claus.
That is all for now my friends. Next up are some verses to encourage us during our sufferings for Christ. Until next time, grace and peace be yours.
Wed, Apr 21st - 1:00PM
Wall of Partition Has Come Down
"For He is our peace, who has made both one, and has broken down the middle wall of partition between us(Ephesians 2:14)."
This middle wall of partition is a figure with important symbolic applications. In the Old Testament the only reference made to a partition is to the wall shielding the Holy Place in the Temple as built by Solomon. "So Solomon overlaid the house within with pure gold: and he made a partition by the chains of gold before the oracle; and he overlaid it with gold(I Kings 6:21)." This gold-laid partition separated the Holy Place from the Holy of Holies, where God met annually with the high prest at the Ark of the Covenant. This opening was apparantly covered with a thick veil, preventing others from entering, or seeing, or even hearing what happened around the Ark inside. But that veil was torn, from the top down, and soon the wall itself torn down when Christ died and rose again, forever opening up the way to God for all who would come in faith through Christ(Hebrews 10:19-20).
But the "middle wall of partition" in our text refers to the wall separating the court of the Gentiles from the rest of the Temple. This symbolizes the distinction placed upon Jew and Gentile in the Mosaic system. This system served the divine purpose of preparing a nation of people to receive the coming of Christ, with the goal of providing salvation for all people. But this wall also has now been broken down by Christ, and "through Him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father(Ephesians 2:18)."
There no longer is any distinction between priest and people, between Jew and Gentile, between man and woman, or between any other two kinds of people. As we are told in Colossians 3:11, "There is neither Greek nor Jew, circumsision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all." There is no more separation of any kind between God and mankind. Any person may approach God through Jesus Christ. Accept Christ and you may walk boldly up to the throne of God. The time has come to make a choice. What will yours be?
Tue, Apr 20th - 6:34AM
Knowledge of the Holy
In the time of his vision John the Revelator heard what was a voice of a great multitude and as the voice of many waters and as the voice of mighty thundeings sounding throughout the universe, and what this voice proclaimed was the sovereignty and omnipotence of God: "Alleluia, for the Lord God omnipotent reigns."
Sovereignty and omnipotence must go together. One can't exist without the other. To reign, God must have power, and to reign sovereignly, He must have all power. Omnipotence means just that, having all power. The word derives from Latin and is identical in meaning with the much more familiar almighty which we have from the Anglo-Saxon. Almighty occurs 56 times in the English Bible and is never used of anyone but God.
God possesses that which no other creature can: absolute, incomprehensible power. We know this by divine revelation, but once we know, it is recognized as being fully in agreement with reason. Once we grant that God is infinite and self-existent we see immediately that He must be all-powerful as well, and reason kneels to worship before the divine omnipotence.
The Psalms proclaim this truth, and Paul declares that nature itself gives evidence of the eternal power of the Godhead in Romans 1:20, which is one of my favorite verses. Our reasoning goes this way: God has power and since He is also infinite, whatever he has must be infinte as well. We see as well that the Creator is the source of all power there is, and since a source must be at least equal to anything that flows from it, God is of necessity equal to all the power there is.
God delegated power to His creatures, but because He is self-sufficient He cannot relinguish anything of His perfections, thus He has never surrendered any of His power. He gives but He does not give away. All that He gives remains His own and returns to Him again. Forever he must remain what He has forever been, the Lord God omnipotent.
Upon reading the Bible sympathetically one cannot help but notice the immense disparity between the outlook of men of the Bible and that of ourselves. We suffer from a secularized mentality. Where the writers of Scripture saw God, we see the laws of nature. Their world was fully populated; ours is all but empty. Their world was alive and personal; ours is impersonal and dead. God ruled their world; ours is ruled by the cold laws of nature and we are always once removed from the presence of God.
So what are these laws of nature that have displaced God in the minds of millions today? Law has two meanings. One is an external rule enforced by authority, such as the common rule against robbery and assault. The word is also used to denote the uniform way things act in the universe, but this second use is error-filled. What we see in nature is simply the paths God's power and wisdom take through creation. Properly these are phenomena, not laws, but we call them laws by analogy with the arbitrary laws of society.
We are forced to grapple with questions of where the power came from to begin the universe, where does the power to begin a new person come from, and why do certain phenomena fit nicely together in either repeating cycles or meshed interaction. We normally end up concluding that they "just happen" that way naturally. It is a safe, easy answer to a hard question. Why does the law of gravity exist never gets explained satisfactorily. Why does El Nino occur the way it does is beyond our reckoning. Why do weather oscillations exist can't be explained, only predicted. How come we have mitochondria within us for power supplies and not something else is unanswerable. We are at a loss as to "why." God alone knows the "why" of these things. He alone provided the power for them to come into existence, and He alone understands why they must do what they do the way that they do it.
Since God has at His disposal all the power in the universe, and then some, the Lord God can do anything as easily as anything else. He speaks and it comes into existence. At the touch of His garment someone is healed of all disease instantly. At the sound of His voice the dead arise from the grave. He requires no preparatory period, no need to gather ingredients for a spell, He simply thinks it and it can be done. He does not become tired. He does not need to look outside of Himself for a renewal of strength. Within His infinte being resides all of the power required to do all that He wills to do. It is this fact that enables us to have hope in victory over the power of sin in our lives. Nothing is too great for God to accomplish.
I choose to place my faith in the God of limitless power for He gives me all the strength I need to carry on each and every day. He promises to be with me every step of the way to heaven, and will never leave me nor forsake me until the very end of time. His faithfulness is infinite. His presence is infinite. His love is infinite. His mercy is infinite. I choose God to follow with all of my heart and not the wisdom of mankind which changes from day to day.
Next time I hope to write about the divine transcendence of God. I hope you will continue to follow along with me. There are more things to discover, or remember!
Mon, Apr 19th - 1:20PM
The Strategic Plan of Satan
"But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtility, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ(II Corinthians 11:3)."
The Book of Genesis establishes the foundation for all Scripture that follows. Without the actual events of the creation week, the fall of Adam and Eve, the inevitable growth of sin in the world, and the terrible judgment of the Flood, the gospel message would make absolutely no sense to any of us.
Paul's warning in this verse points out the importance of Satan's strategy to mislead and ensnare mankind in the exact same trap. Satan's tactics may change over time and with culture, but his strategy remains the same.
Satan always tries to create doubt in the Word of God(Genesis 3:1). If we question the accuracy, the meaning, the authenticity, the historicity, or any other aspect of all scripture(II Timothy 3:16), then we begin slipping down a slippery slope that will ultimately lead to the next stage.
Satan always confronts the doubter with a denial of the Word of God(Genesis 3:4). When one begins to deny the authority, the capability, or the will of God to carry out His Word, the slipping into the final stage is inevitable.
Satan ultimately piles denegration on the Person of God Himself(Genesis 3:5). Once one embraces the notion that the Word of God is not trustworthy and that God either will not or cannot do what He says, it guarentees the idea that God is either a liar, a hypocrite, or a capricious and whimsical ogre.
To avoid this trap laid out in our paths by Satan we must remember Ephesians 6:11, "Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil." We need to keep our faith in Christ simple, and pure. We need not get lost in senseless meanderings through commentaries about non-doctrinal Scripture. We must not give place to other people's opinions about the nature of God. Stick to what the Bible says about God. Study God's Word, know God's Word, and calmly refute wrong statements made about God. Do not become angry over slanderous statements, calmly repulse the false accusations.
Our text today voices concern that believers will put more stock in the traditions of men than esteem God's ways as being priceless. Faith in Christ is simple and not complicated. There are not tons of rules, there are no quotas to meet. Giving is governed by the depth of your faith in Christ, not by rules made up by men. Church attendance is not a measure of your faith in Christ. Faith in Christ is an intimate, personal relationship with God. It is one on one.
Sun, Apr 18th - 8:57PM
I Peter Epistle Study
Use hospitality one to another without grudging(4:9).
Hospitality is worthless if we do it grudgingly and not happily, willingly. We can not do this sort of thing reluctantly and expect other people not to notice that our hearts are simply not in it. Hospitality generally means opening up one's home to others. Either you invite others over for a meal inside, or you have a cookout/pool party for one or more families who can't have either at the place where they live. We can also exercise our hospitality by inviting visiting missionaries over for a meal and fellowship. We could also help cover part of their travel expenses or housing costs. Hospitality can take many different forms. Whatever we do, it must be done with the correct heart attitude.
As every man has received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God(4:10).
This gift that is mentioned is none other than those spiritual talents God has given to each of us. There are many of these spiritual gifts. Not everyone receives the exact same gift, and so each of us must use what God has given us to lift up other believers. Paul tells us in I Corinthians 12 that there is one body and many members physically and that the church is a "body" in which there are many members with many gifts. It does not matter where in the world you live, you need to exercise your gift/s to teach, uplift, encourage, or strengthen other believers. I would also remind you of the parable of the talents found in Matthew 25:14-46.
If any man speak, let him speak as the oracles of God; if any man minister, let him do it as of the ability which God gives: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen(4:11).
If any preacher is not speaking the Word of God from the pulpit then he ought not to be standing in that pulpit at all. We need to be speaking the Word of God which is the oracles of God, specifically the doctrines of Christ. And whenever we attempt to do anything through ministry it needs to be done through the power of Christ working through us and not through our own efforts. That requires us to be plugged into prayer and knowing what our spiritual gift/s are. One pastor may preach a certain way which is different from the next one down the street or across town. Do not be upset with any pastor who is preaching God's Word in a fashion not to your liking. Simply realize that God has him preaching the way he has been gifted.
All that we do must have as its number one goal that of glorifying Christ. No other goal is acceptable to God. Our praise songs must bring glory to God through Christ. Our preaching must do the same thing. Our vacation bible schools must do the same thing. Our teen ministry must do the same thing. Our marriages must do the same thing.
Beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you(4:12).
Peter now talks about a different sort of suffering. This is the persecution of believers which was about to flood the entire Roman Empire. Emperor Nero had already begun persecuting Christians within Rome itself but it soon was to encompass everywhere Rome held sway.
When suffering comes to us we react as if it were something odd, or strange. We tend to think that no one else has ever suffered from such stuff as we have. It is a parochial point of view. It may even be considered as being rather self-centered. Our suffering rarely, if ever, is unique to just us.
Beloved, I have absolutely no idea what problems you may be suffering through right now, but know this: others have gone through the same thing and you will not be suffering more than anyone else. The Apostle Paul went the limit in terms of suffering for that is what God intended for him, but it is not what He has intended for you and I. If you have been told that you have cancer it is a terrible piece of news to receive, but others have suffere through it before you. If you have just learned that your spouse is leaving you and your kids, that is a terrible piece of news also but others have gone through that type of suffering before you.
We must go through these "fiery trials" just as the believers back in Peter's day had to endure them. Christ told us that we would be scorned by the lost because they had already scorned Him first. Identify yourself with Christ and expect that some persecution will come your way. It is inevitable. So far in America Christians are not facing persecution where they must become martyrs. In other parts of our world this is a daily expectation for believers. So, do not think that it is strange, it is normal experience for Christians.
"Fiery trial" is literally smelted in a furnace. This thought is found throughout the Bible. It conjures up pictures of immense heat, pressure, stress, breaking down of bonds, separation, and purity. It is this that points us toward knowing that God has a purpose in our suffering.
That is all for tonight, beloved. Next time, God willing, I shall cover verses 13-18 where it can be seen what our reaction to suffering in this world must be. Until then, may Christ speak to your heart and show you the way to unlocking your gifts to their fullest potential.
Sat, Apr 17th - 10:37PM
Knowledge of the Holy
WISDOM OF GOD
I will not waste time seeking for proof that God is wise. The unbelieving mind would not be convinced by any and the worshipping heart needs none.
"Blessed be the name of God for ever and ever," cried the prophet Daniel, "for wisdom and might are His: ... He gives wisdom unto the wise, and knowledge to them that know understanding: He reveals the deep and secret things: He knows what is in the darkness, and the light dwells with Him." God has all wisdom and gives it freely to those whom He chooses. Since God knows all things it follows that He is able to communicate some, or all, of His knowledge and wisdom to whom He so chooses. We must realize that reality. Desire more wisdom? Then it behooves you to draw as close to God as you possibly can.
When any of us claim that God is wise we use a term that means immensely more than it can possibly mean in our minds. It forces a mere word to contain an imcomprehensible amount of meaning that ultimately threatens to rip it apart.
We creatures do have a secondary created wisdom which God gives us, but this pales beside the boundless wisdom of God. God is wise in Himself, all the great wisdom of mankind, or angels, is but a reflection of that.
If God did not contain boundless wisdom, from where would we obtain our moral code? Our moral sanity depends upon God and the sustainer of the universe having a wisdom entirely perfect. To reject this point removes the very thing which separates us from the rest of the animal kingdom.
In the Bible when wisdom is used of God it always carries a strong moral connotation. God's wisdom is thought of as being pure, loving, and good. The wisdom of manking which is mere shrewdness is often associated with evil men and women, but is considered as being treacherous and false. So we have two types of wisdom in perpetual conflict. All of history is simply a contest between the wisdom of God and the cunning of Satan and fallen mankind. The outcome is not in doubt. The imperfect must fall before the perfect. God has warned repeatedly that He will take the wise in their own craftiness and cause the understanding of the prudent to fail.
Wisdom, among other things, is the ability to devise perfect ends and to achieve those ends by the most perfect means. It sees the end from the beginning, there is no second guessing or conjecture. Wisdom sees all things in focus, each in its proper relation to all else, and so is able to work toward predestined goals with precision.
All of God's actions are done in perfect wisdom. No one could do them any better, no better way to do them could be found. Without the creation God's infinite wisdom would have remained forever locked away in the boundless confines of the divine nature. He created all living things that He might enjoy them and they rejoice in Him.
The Christian view of life is realistic. This is not the best of all possible worlds that we live in, it lies under the pall of the Fall of mankind. The entire creation groans and travails under the tremendous weight of sin. The Old Testament writers do not attempt to give "sufficient reasons" for they merely state that the creature was made subject to vanity due to their choices. No effort to justify God's ways with mankind, just a simple declaration of fact.
But there is hope through all of our suffering. When the hour of Christ's triumph arrives the entire suffering world will be brought out into the glorious liberty of the sons of God. The golden age is not past but future for the men of the new creation. When it is ushered in all shall see the wisdom of God has abounded toward all. Meanwhile we rest in our hope in the only wise God, our Savior, and wait patiently the slow development of His good purposes.
Just as Abraham did not stagger at the promises of God through unbelief, giving glory to God, so too, we should be persuaded that what God has promised He is able to perform. We must rest in what God is. This is true faith. Remember these words? "Jesus said to him, Thomas, because you have seen Me, you have believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed."
No matter how things might look in this world, all of God's actions are done in perfect wisdom. Incarnating the Eternal Son in mortal flesh was one of God's mighty deeds, and we can be certain that it was done in a perfect way only capable to the Infinite. "Without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh."
Atonement? Accomplished with the exact same flawless wisdom. Christ's expiatory work perfectly reconciled God and men and opened the kingdom of heaven to all who believe. Is it possible for our finite minds to grasp the totality of what happened at the cross? According to Peter's account not even the angels know all of what happened there, and they are eager to look into those things.
The working of the gospel, the new birth, the coming of the Holy Spirit into human nature, the ultimate end of evil, and the final establishment of Christ's righteous kingdom---all have flowed and still do flow out of God's infinite fullness of wisdom.
We need to believe actively that God constantly spreads around us providential circumstances that work for our present good and our everlasting well-being brings to our souls a boon. Most of us go through life praying a little, jockeying for position, hoping but never being quite certain of anything, and always secretly afraid that we will miss the boat. It is a tragic waste of truth and never gives us the rest to our hearts that we require.
The better way is to reject our own wisdom and claim as our own the wisdom of God. We do not need to see "ahead." We do not need to "figure it all out." To do so hinders our spiritual progress. God has charged Himself with taking care of our daily needs and eternal happiness and is ready to do so the moment we turn in faith to Him. Here is His promise: "And I will bring the blind by a way that they knew not; I will lead them in paths that they have not known: I will make darkness light before them, and crooked things straight. These things will I do unto them, and not forsake them."
Again and again in the Old Testament God encourages mankind to trust in Him in the dark. He will lead us through the mazes of this world, guide us through the landmines of life. When God created the heavens and the earth darkness was upon the face of the deep. When the Eternal Son became flesh he was born in darkness for several months. When He died for the sin of the world it was in the darkness. When He arose it was very early in the morning, during darkness. It is as if God has been saying to mankind: I will do what I will do, how I do it is My secret for now, just trust Me and be not afraid. Surely we are the most favored of all creatures.
God willing, I will write about God's omnipotence tomorrow. I hope that these posts in this study help you to develop a clearer picture of God and to strengthen your faith in Christ. Walk confidently in your faith in Christ, encourage all to believe in God.
Sat, Apr 17th - 9:08AM
I Peter Epistle Study
But the end of all things is at hand: be you therefore sober, and watch unto prayer(4:7).
The fact that the end of all things has been at hand was firmly established the day and hour that Jesus Christ went back to heaven. Peter relays the fact that God is going to bring this world to a standstill one day while He judges it. `Now some people believe that all believers will be caught up out of this world before any judgments take place, before the final three and a half years of the Great Tribulation. It is a possibility, but I think a small one. There are too many verses which tell us that God does not intend to pull us out of the world but rather He wants us to in the world but not of it. We are here to witness to the lost right up until the end. Yes, we shall meet Christ in the air right before He returns to pass judgment upon all of the earth, but that can be very deep into the End Times. But that is another study topic entirely! When Christ comes and calls us to Him in the air we shall have to face our own judgment before God's Great White Throne. This a very good reason for living our lives to the glory of God now.
"Be you therefore sober, and watch unto prayer." "Sober" actually is saying we ought to be sober-minded, we need to be intelligent Christians. It means that we know the Bible the best that we can. We will discover the more that we study it the less that we thought we knew about it. For one thing, the entire Bible I believe is a revelation of who and what God is. There is no excuse for claiming that God is totally unknowable to man. Being sober also means that we look at things clearly, not overly influenced by emotions which color our pereceptions.
"Watch unto prayer." This tells us that our prayers ought to have an element of anticipation, of expectation, of the coming of Christ. Too many of our prayer meetings are spiritually dead because we are forgetting that Christ is the Living God. If we are not looking toward His return our prayers will not be as fervent and effective as they should be. We ought to be talking to Him now, getting used to doing it, for we shall soon be spending eternity doing it face to face. At the Judgment He shall be speaking directly to us, and I personally am not so sure I am looking forward to that!
And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins(4:8).
This verse speaks about our love relationship amongst other believers. We can find this exact same thought in Proverbs 10:12, "Hatred stirs up stifes; but love covers all sins." Allow any sort of hatred to enter into any church body and strife is guarenteed to follow on its heels. It will form a little clique that ends up being against everyone else who thinks other than themselves. Perhaps you do not like the way your pastor combs his hair, or the suits that he chooses to wear. Allow charity to cover your dislike, do not voice it and do not act upon it. Be kind to your brothers and sisters in Christ.
That is all for this morning beloved. God willing, I will continue with verses 9-12 tomorrow. I hope you stop by and read along, study out these verses further at your leisure. Grace and peace be with you today!
Thu, Apr 15th - 6:16AM
I Peter Epistle Study
Who shall give account to Him that is ready to judge the quick and the dead(4:5).
The entire world, living and dead, are going to be judged by Christ Jesus one day. Believers and rejectors will both be judged. Believers are to be judged to find out what rewards they are to receive in heaven. The unsaved are here by warned that they shall be judged by what they have done with Jesus Christ.
For for this cause was the gospel preached also to them that are dead, that they might be judged according to men in the flesh, but live according to God in the spirit(4:6).
"For this cause" means because of coming judgemtn the gospel was preached. God desires the gospel to be preached to all people. God also makes it quite clear in His Word that if they don't hear the gospel or respond to the gospel they are already dead in sin and they will be judged as men in the flesh. But if they accept Christ they can live according to God in the spirit. Paul wrote about this in Ephesians 2:1: "And you has He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins." And Jesus Christ said this: "Truly, truly, I say to you, he that hears My Word, and believes on Him that sent Me, has everlasting life, and shall not come into dondemnation; but is passed from death unto life(John 5:24)." "Jesus said unto her[Martha], I am the resurrection, and the life; he that believes in Me, though he were dead, yet shall he live: And whosoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this(John 11:25-26)?" You and I were dead in trespasses and sins. We were spiritually dead. Peter is saying the gospel gets preached and two things happen. Some people accept it, and if they accept it, they are going to live for God and live throughout eternity. Others reject it, and those who reject the gospel are the ones who are dead in sins and are dead to God throughout eternity; that is to say, they have no relation to Him whatsoever. They are the ones in the parable to whom it is said, "Begone, I do not know you!"
I pray that you have a wonderful day! Seek Christ, search for Him early! Knock on the door and it shall be opened to you, ask and it shall be given to you. Say, "Here am I, Lord. Use me to do your will." It shall be done.
Wed, Apr 14th - 9:41PM
Knowledge of the Holy
GOD'S DIVINE OMNISCIENCE
In saying this we are saying that He possesses perfect knowledge and therefore has no need to learn anything. Yet it is more, it is saying that he has never learned and cannot learn. This is no lack but rather a reflection of the fact that God knows everything.
This is an accurate teaching from out of Scriptures. Who has ever taught God anything? Or counseled Him in anything? Has He ever been instructed? Or corrected? No, He has not. Who has known the mind of God? No one has. These are all rhetorical questions that can be found in the Book of Isaiah.
It is a short step from there to concluding that God cannot learn anything since He already knows everything. It is an impossibility. To even imply that He can learn means that He is less than perfect. So let's move on.
Thus far in this study of God's attributes we have been resorting to quite a few negatives. He has no beginning/origin, He needs no helpers, He suffers no change, and that He has no limitations whatsoever.
This approach works for it allows us to see what God is not. The prophets of the Old Testament often resorted to such an approach. "Have you not known? Have you not heard, that the everlasting God, the Lord, the Creator of the ends of the earth, faints not, neither is weary?" was uttered by Isaiah. And of course we have the concrete statement by God Himself: "I am the LORD, I change not." This tells us the permanence of God.
God perfectly knows Himself and it logically follows that He knows all that can be known. He is the source of all things and knows instantly and with the fullness of perfection. God knows effortlessly all matter, all mind, and all spirit. This extends to all laws, all relations, all causes, all thoughts, all mysteries, all thrones, all dominions, all powers, all things visible, all things invisible, all motion, space, time, life, death, good, evil, heaven, and hell.
Since He knows all things, He knows them all perfectly. He does not discover things, nor does He get surprised by anything. All of His questions are meant to offer opportunity for mankind to respond and show their spiritual condition. God is self-existent and self-contained and knows what no creature can ever know---Himself perfectly. No finite being can ever come to know what is infinite.
In this divine omniscience can be witnessed the setting forth against each other the fear and fascination of the Godhead itself. That God knows each person completely can be a cause of great fear to them who have something to hide, such as unrepented sin, crimes against man and/or God. That person trembles inwardly at the thought that God never accepts poor excuses given for sinful conduct, since He knows perfectly what the true cause of it is.
May I hide, or flee from God? How? He knows all thoughts. Conversely, we have no need to fear that God will believe any gossipper, nor any slanderer. False accusations made against us by another hold no weight with God for He already knows the truth of the matter.
God knows our inward, inborn treachery and for His own sake engaged to save us(Isaiah 48:8-11). God's only begotten Son felt our pains while He walked among us. He knows our afflictions and adversities more intimately than any theoretical exercise ever could. His knowledge is more personal, warm, and compassionate. God knows and cares about what happens to us as no one else in all of creation can.
"He doth give His joy to all,
He becomes an infant small;
He becomes a man of woe;
He doth feel the sorrow too.
Think not thou canst sigh a sigh
And thy Maker is not by;
Think not thou canst weep a tear
And thy Maker is not near.
O! He gives to us His joy
That our griefs He may destroy;
Till our grief is fled and gone
He doth sit by us and moan."
I leave you with that thought. May Christ's omniscience wrap you in its comforting embrace. May you rest assured that your journey home is navigated by He who knows all routes home.
Tue, Apr 13th - 8:15PM
I Peter Epistle Study
That he no longer should live the rest of his time in the flesh to the lusts of men, but to the will of God(4:2).
The apostle Paul speaks very strongly concerning this in Romans 8: "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit. For to be carnally minded is death; but to be spiritually minded is life and peace(8:5-6)." To be carnally minded and be saved means you're dead to any fellowship with God. We can't walk in spiritual darkness and have fellowship with Christ. Sin keeps people away from the Word of God today. Genuine Christians are a minority today. Too many people are searching for a shortcut to living the Christian life, and there is simply no shortcut.
Ceasing from sin therefore leads one into living one's life seeking to serve the will of God and turn their back upon the lusts of the flesh. We no longer take life for granted, each day counts, each hour counts.
For the time past of our life may suffice us to have wrought the will of the Gentiles, when we walked in lasciviousness, lusts, excess of wine, revellings, banquetings, and abominable idolatries(4:3).
Once we have converted to believing in Christ it would be very foolish of us to continue spending our lives doing the things that we did before. We are now joined to Christ, we are united with Him, and we can't run with the "world" in sinning. Life is short, time is fleeting, and we have to understand that we are going to come before God for judgment before very long.
Six sins are listed for us here. I do believe they cover everything that we do that is sinful. Let's be a bit more specific. "Lasciviousness" is living in sexual sin. "Lusts" includes a great many excesses of the flesh: eating, drinking, smoking, sex, work, drugs. "Excess of wine" is drunkenness. "Revellings" is all sorts of raucous partying; "banquetings" is akin to feasting and carousing; "abominable idolatries" contains the love of money, covetousness, and envy among others. These things all take one away from God and closer to Satan.
Too many preachers are too indefinite about sin. Sin is spelled out for us here. It is written in bold neon letters here in the Word of God. This is one reason people do not like to open up God's Word and read it. They do not want to know anything about sin.
Wherein they think it strange that you run not with them to the same excess of riot, speaking evil of you(4:4).
When I accepted Christ my closest friends noticed that I was different. I acted different, spoke different. I steadily stopped frequenting nightclubs and my drinking abated. They could not understand what had changed. I tried to explain it to them but they did not get it. My best friend's(at that time) wife was a Catholic, quite devout actually, and she did not get it at all. That surprised me at the time, but not later on. Beloved, people will not be able to comprehend what has changed within you. Some will simply shrug and forget about you, others will heap scorn and scoffing upon you.
Either you are going to please God or you'll please men. We need to remember John 15:18. If the world does not hate you, then there is something wrong about your faith. I learned the hard way that you cannot break off gradually from the world, to try to do so invites backsliding. The world does not appreciate you at all once you declare yourself for Christ so do not attempt to continue in your old ways.
That is all for tonight, beloved. Until next time we meet here together, I pray that you determine in your heart to stand strong for the Lord upon the ramparts of your home.
Mon, Apr 12th - 8:22PM
I Peter Epistle Study
In this chapter Peter makes it very clear that when life is easy there is danger of drifting into a state of mind which accepts every blessing in life as if it were owed to us. We arrive at a point where we do not value life as we ought to. God permits His children to suffer in order to keep us from sin and to give us a proper value of life. Many people comment about how they did this or that in order to achieve a new direction for their life. Beloved, suffering will give a new direction to life. Ever hear the story of Joni Mitchell Tata? Paralyzed from the neck down after a swimming accident as a 17 year old woman. She had asked God two weeks before her accident to show her what to do with her life. He did. She has inspired thousands of people to trust in Christ, and to use the suffering in their lives to show them the path that God wishes them to walk. She found her service for God through dealing with her accident's aftermath. Is it always easy? Rarely. Upon reading Psalm 66:10 we can know that God tries us as silver is tried in a furnace. He puts us through the test that it might draw us to Himself and give us a new direction and drive for life. This is what suffering's purpose is.
Forasmuch then as Christ has suffered for us in the flesh, arm yourselves likewise with the same mind: for he that has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin(4:1).
This can be a difficult verse to understand. Hopefully I will do this justice. "Forasmuch" seemingly refers us back to I Peter 3:18, "For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit." These two verses would appear to go together.
Some years back there was a very popular book, When God Died, as well as a popular theology which said, "God is dead." God isn't dead, He is risen indeed! Christ took a human body over in Bethlehem and He was tempted just as we are. He knew shat it was to suffer. He knew what it was to bleed. He knew what it was to shed tears. He knew what it was to be brokenhearted. He died in that human body.
Christ brought to an end His relation to the sins of mankind when He died on the cross because He bore the penalty for sin in His own body. This we were told back in chapter 2, verse 24. Three times already we have read this statement of fact. Christ therefore did not die in sin nor under sin, but He died to sin. Christ took my place, He took your place, and He paid the penalty for our sin. Christ did that one time, once for all time. He will not be coming back to do it again. When Christ came back from the dead He received a glorified body, quickened by the Spirit. He now dwells next to God the Father in heaven. He is up yonder in a body that is completely devoted to the service of God, for He is God and He is in the enjoyment of full and free access to God and to all creation.
Peter tells us to arm ourselves likewise with the same mind, for Christ desires to make over this same benefit to us. "Same mind" would seem to mean to have the same thought, which leads to resolution to do. "Christ has suffered for us in the flesh," and so those of us who have likewise suffered in the flesh have "ceased from sin." The Greek verb translated as "cease" is pauo, which in the active voice means "to stop or to cease." In the active voice this word means "stop." In this verse pauo is in the middle voice or the passive. Therefore this time around it ought to be translated as meaning "has got release." So if you have suffered in the flesh, you've got release from sin.
What doe this mean then? God may use suffering to keep you from sin. Peter says here that we have release from sin through our suffering in the flesh. God has made provision for you and me to live the Christian life. Perhaps this verse condenses what Paul wrote about in Romans 6.
It is clear that we have ben born again by the Word of God. The Spirit of God using the Word of Gos will produce a son of God. And that son of God now has a new nature, a new nature that is not going to live in sin.
One illustration of this concept is the parable of the Prodigal Son. The son ended up going down into the pigpen of life. He found out that he didn't enjoy eating out of the pig trough for he had the nature of his father who lived over in a fine mansion. And so it is with each child of God.
Peter tells us that we are now identified with Christ. When we come to Christ Jesus and are born again, the Spirit of God baptizes us and He identifies us with Christ. You and I have been purchased, bought with a price, and are no longer our own masters. Christ owns us. Do you think that once you accept Christ as your Lord and Savior that you can go living in sin? The Pentecostals preach a doctrine that emphasizes living a holy life for God. And they are correct in that. The Calvinists preach a doctrine emphasizing the security of the believer, and they are correct in that. What we need to do is take all of these doctrines that are correct and apply them to ourselves, not just one or two, but all of them. We cannot be a child of God and go out and live in the pigpen. If we do, then we are a pig and not a child of God.
Peter says that God has made every provision for us to live successful Christian lives. In Romans 7 Paul shows how the Christian is defeated when he/she lives in the flesh, but in Romans 8 he tells how God has provided the Holy Spirit that we might live by the power of the Spirit. We may end up in the pigpen temporarily, but one day we will have to say to ourselves, "I will arise and go to my father...(Luke 15:18)"
If any of you are today living in sin and are comfortable with it, I have to say that I question your salvation. To sin once is one thing, to continually sin is quite another. A child of God with a new nature longs to please Christ in all things. This why we need the entire Word of God, not just little snippets here and there. We cannot live our Christian lives by following sets of rules.
That is all for tonight my friends. God willing, I will find the time to post again tomorrow. Grace and peace be with you all!
Mon, Apr 12th - 1:13PM
Knowledge of the Holy
To say that God immutable is to say that He never differs from Himself. The concept of a growing or developing God is not found within the Scriptures. God does not change nor does He vary from Himself in any way.
The immutablility of God is easier to understand, but to grasp it we must discipline ourselves to eliminate the usual thoughts we have about created things, and home in on the rarer ones which are left when we attempt to lay hold onto whatever may be comprehended about God.
Can we expect a moral being to be changeable? If so, then we could expect a change in one of three directions. He could go from better to worse or from worse to better; or, granting that the moral quality remains the same, He must change internally, as from immature to mature. It is clear that God cannot move in any of these directions. His perfection forever rules out any such possibilities.
Since He is perfectly holy, He has never been less holy than He is now and can never be holier than He is and has always been. As soon as we think that something about God could deteriorate, or change, we have made Him a creature and not the Creator.
The being of God is different from all other beings. His moral character cannot be mutated. One who can suffer any slightest degree of change is neither self-existent, self-sufficient, nor eternal, and so is not God.
All beings composed of parts may change, for change is a shift in the relation of the parts of the whole or admission of some foreign element into the original grouping of parts. God is unity itself. The Godhead is Three in One but it is not a question of parts but of aspects. The Trinity are all equal to one another for they are God. They all share the same attributes.
To gain appreciation for God's immutability one only has to compare Him to mankind. Man is mutable. In man change is impossible to avoid. Neither man nor his world is fixed, but he and it change constantly. Poets have long been fascinated with the pathos and humor of mutation and mortality.
The sacred writers also faced up to man's mutability, but they did so in a healthy manner. They found the cure for the great enemy. God changes not, they say. The law of mutation belongs to a fallen world but in God men of faith find at last eternal permanence. Once redeemed in Christ all change works for the children of the kingdom. These changes are created by the hand of the in-dwelling Holy Spirit. "But we all with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the LORD, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the LORD."
In this world of change and decay even the person of faith can not be completely happy. We instinctively seek the unchanging and are despondent at the passing of dear, familiar things. As much as we may dislike the lack of stability in all earthly things, in a fallen world such as this one the very ability to change is a rich treasure, a gift from God of such inestimable worth as to call for constant thanksgiving from us. For us, the entire possibility of redemption resides in our ability to change. The essence of repentance is the ability to move from one sort of person to becoming another completely different from the first. The liar becomes truthful, the thief honest, the lewd pure, and the proud humble. The entire moral texture of their being becomes altered. The thoughts, the desires, the affections are transformed, and the person is no longer what they had been before. To picture this change, the apostle calls the man that used to be, "the old man" and the man that now is "the new man."
But this change is deeper and more basic than any external acts ever reveal. It involves the reception of life of another and higher quality. The old man possesses only the nature of Adam: the new man has the life of God through Christ Jesus. It is literally true. The believer becomes a member of a new and higher order of being.
God utilizes change in working out His redemptive process, and does so through a succession of changes until He arrives at permanence at last. This is shown most clearly in the Book of Hebrews: "He takes away the first, that He may establish the second." The old covenant, as something provisional, was abolished, and the new and and everlasting covenant took its place. The blood of goats and bulls lost its significance when the blood of the Paschal Lamb was shed. The law, the altar, the priesthood---all were temporary and subject to change; now the eternal law of God is engraved forever on the living, sensitive stuff of which the human soul is composed. The ancient sanctuary is no more, but the new sanctuary is eternal in the heavens and there the Son of God has His eternal priesthood.
God, who changes not, uses change to bless us. Again, the question of use comes up, "Of what use to me is this knowledge that God is immutable?"
If we consider only "practical people" then these posts are meaningless. But as was the case with Elijah, there are still seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal. There are those people who believe they were created to worship God and to enjoy His presence forever, and are eager to learn all that they can about God.
In this world where men and women forget us, change their attitude about us as their private interests dictate, and revise their opinion of us for the slightest reason, it becomes a true blessing to know that God does not change His opinion of us, nor forgets us, nor ever leaves us! His attitude towards me today is the same as it was in eternity past and will be in eternity future. Hallelujah!
Peace ought to flood our souls in knowing that our God never changes. We do not need to wonder if we will find Him in a receptive mood, or not. He does not keep office hours. He is not off on weekends or holidays. He does not close His door to go golfing. Today He feels the same way toward all of us as the day He sent His Son into this world to die for all mankind.
That is all today by friends. Next time I will write about God's divine omniscience and how that impacts our faith. Grace and peace be yours!
Sun, Apr 11th - 9:58PM
I Peter Epistle Study
CHRIST'S SUFFERING PREACHED BY THE HOLY SPIRIT IN NOAH'S DAY
For Christ also has once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh, but quickened by the Spirit.
By which also He went and preached unto the spirits in prison(3:18-19).
It is very important for us to understand that Jesus Christ became a human being, and it was in His humanity that He died on the cross. He died on that cross, and it was the Holy Spirit who raised Him from the dead.
Verse 19 is often misunderstood. The key word to this entire passage is found in the next verse; it is the little word "when."
Which sometime were disobedient, when once the longsuffering of God waited in the days of Noah, while the ark was being prepared, wherein few, that is, eight souls were saved by water(3:20).
What spirits did Jesus preach to? When did He do this? The spirits of those people that Noah had preached to were in the grave during the time of Christ walking this earth. They were imprisoned in Hell for they had rejected the message from God. They were waiting for final judgment. So He could not preach to them then for they were beyond the reach of salvation. Christ obviously preached to them while they were alive during Noah's time. He preached to them through Noah. For 120 years Noah preached the Word of God to the people while he built the ark. He saved his family but no one else. The Spirit of Christ spoke through Noah, trying to reach lost people before it became too late to repent. They laughed at Noah, mocked him, and went their merry way. The thought is that Christ's death meant nothing to them just as it means nothing to a great many people today who will come into judgment.
The like figure whereunto even baptism does also now save us (not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God,) by the resurrection of Jesus Christ(3:21).
Which baptism does this speak of? Water baptism? I think not, beloved. This is the baptism of the Holy Spirit. That is the real deal, the real baptism. Water baptism is ritual, showing publically that you are associating yourself with Christ Jesus, repenting of your sin. I am not going to digress into what is the proper method of water baptism other than to say sprinkling infants is a waste of time spiritually. Infants can not be saved from their sin in such fashion since salvation is a personal choice made by individuals to repent and return to following God. Baptism of the Holy Spirit is hat puts us into the family of believers in Christ. This verse tells us that we cannot physically wash away the "moral filth" which stains our souls. Only a good conscience toward God , by the resurrection of Christ; that is a faith in the redeeming work of Christ upon that cross, brings us into close communion with His Holy Spirit and through His baptismal work in our hearts can begin to regenerate us.
Who is gone into heaven, and is on the right hand of God; angels and authorities and powers being made subject unto Him(3:22).
This is the LORD Jesus Christ. You and I are sinners but we can come to Him, receive Him, and join the family of the redeemed. We are baptized by the Holy Spirit into the body of Christ (church) because he is raised from the dead and is today sitting at the right hand of God. All things have made subject to Christ, nothing remains outside of His dominion.
That completes chapter three of I Peter. It is a powerful chapter, full of wonderful declarations, and promises. It teaches that baptism is by God's Spirit and not by physical immersion into water. It teaches that all authority has been given into the possession of Jesus Christ.
Chapter four's theme is that suffering produces obedience to the will of God. God willing, I shall begin this leg of our journey tomorrow! Grace and peace to all of you!
Sun, Apr 11th - 1:45PM
Knowledge of the Holy
THE INFINITUDE OF GOD
The world we live in is evil, the days are growing late, and the glory of God has left from the church as the fiery cloud once lifted away from the door of the Temple in the sight of Ezekiel the prophet.
The God of Abraham has withdrawn His Presence from us, and another God whom our fathers knew not at all is making himself at home among us. This is a God that we have made and because we have made him we can understand him; because we have made him he can never surprise us, never overwhelm us, nor astonish us, nor go beyond us.
In olden days the God of glory revealed Himself like a sun to warm and bless, but often He revealed Himself to astonish, overwhelm, and blind before He healed and gave permanent sight. This God will still come and reside with us if we only prepare Him a dwelling in love and faith and humility. If we want Him badly enough He will come and manifest Himself to us.
God's infinitude is difficult to grasp. How to even conceive of it? It requires of us something which we know at the very beginning we can never accomplish. Yet we must try, for the Bible teaches that God is infinite and, if we accept His other attributes then we must of necessity accept this one also.
We who have been spiritually blind must acquire "eyesight" and overcome our deafness. Infinitude means limitlessness, and our finite minds find it impossible to grasp that which is limitless. You and I in this study are forced to stop one mental step short of that which we consider. It is of necessity. It is this attribute which feeds the depths of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God. It is what makes unsearchable His judgments, and His ways past finding out.
Unfortunately the term infinite does not always get held to its precise meaning, but is used carelessly to mean much, a great deal. We speak today of an artist who takes great pains to perfect their creation, or of a teacher who shows infinite patience with their students. Properly, this word cannot be of any created thing, but only of God.
Saying that God is infinite we mean that He knows no bounds. Whatever He is and all that He is, God is without any limit. To say that God is infinite is to also say that He is measureless. Measurement is how we creatures account for ourselves. It describes limitations, imperfections, and thus does not remotely apply to God. Weight describes the effects of gravitational pull of the earth upon all objects found upon it; distance describes intervals between bodies in space; length means extension in space, and there are many other familiar measurements covering such things as liquids, energy, sound, light, and numbers for pluralities. We try to measure abstract qualities, and speak of great or little faith, high or low intelligence, large or meager talents.
But none of those things apply to God. It is merely the way we see the works of His hands, not the way we see Him. Our concepts of measurement embrace mountains, depth of oceans, atoms and stars, numbers, speed, but never God. There are no degrees of anything when speaking about God. All that He is He is without growth or addition.
Somewhere in the depths of the divine Being may lie more attributes of which we know nothing and which can have absolutely no meaning for us, just as mercy and grace can have no personal meaning for the angels. They become to us just like the far side of our moon, which we know is there but which has not been explored and has no immediate meaning for anyone on earth.
So, because God's nature is infinite, everything that flows from out of it is infinite as well. We humans are constantly frustrated by limitations imposed upon us from without and within. Our lifespans are fleetingly short. Just as we attain some measure of proficiency in our lives we are forced to lay down our "instruments" and depart this life. There simply is not enough time to think, to become, to perform what the composition of our natures indicates we are capable of.
Against this backdrop of the reality of our lives gleams the eternity of God. For Him time does not pass, it remains, and those who are in Christ share with Him all the riches of limitless time and endless years, if that measurement even exists at all with God. God does not hurry. Try and find in the Gospels any instance where Jesus hurried to meet some deadline. There are none. For all who are without Christ, time is a devouring beast. To those who are in Christ time becomes their friend.
God's gifts in nature have their limitations. They are finite because they have been created, but the gift of eternal life in Christ Jesus is as limitless as God. The Christian possesses God's own life and shares His infinitude with Him. In Christ there is life enough for all and time enough to enjoy it. Everything which possesses natural life is slave to its particular life cycle, from birth to death, and then ceases to be. To know eternal life is this: to know the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom He has sent.
God's mercy is infinite also. Where sin abounds grace does much more abound is what we are told in Scripture. Abounding sin is the terror of our world, but abounding grace is the hope of mankind. Sin has its limits no matter how much it abounds for it is but the product of finite minds and hearts, but God's grace introduces us to infinitude. God has the infinite ability to cure.
Our Christian witness continues to be "That God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son." It remains for us to see that love in view of God's infinitude. His love is limitless. It is boundless. His love is not a thing but a part of the essential nature of Himself. His love is something He is, not something He has created. Here is a thought from Joseph Hart:
"This, this is the God we adore,
Our faithful, unchangeable Friend.
Whose love is as great as His power,
And neither knows measure nor end.
'Tis Jesus, the first and the last,
Whose Spirit shall guide us safe home;
We'll praise Him for all that is past,
And trust Him for all that's to come."
That is all for this part of our study. Next time I will write about the immutability of God which is something that is easier for us to understand. Until then, may you give all of the praise, honor, and glory to Christ, who alone is worthy of it.
Fri, Apr 9th - 9:45PM
I Peter Epistle Study
And who is he that will harm you, if you be followers of that which is good(3:13)?
Does this mean that God gives us an armor so that nobody can touch us at all?
But and if you suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are you: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled(3:14).
Suffering for doing what's right should bring joy to our hearts. Some Christians actually make themselves obnoxious in their witness to others, thinking they are taking a stand for the LORD. But we are normally to take a simple, quiet, stand for the right and for God. We ought to rejoice if we suffer for that. If you are a child of God you are not going to escape suffering in this world. We might be invited to a banquet in heaven, but Christ did not promise us a picnic while we are living in this world.
But sanctify the LORD God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asks you for a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear(3:15).
This means that you and I ought to know more than little about the Bible. The problem today is that too few believers know enough of the Bible to prevent themselves from becoming all knotted up in any debate about God's Word. Why? Because they do not know the Word of God. They fail to study it at all and yet think that they are knowledgeable. It is why Christ told us to study to show ourselves approved of God.
Do any of us sancify God in our hearts? Do you have an "inner garden" where you can regularly go to meet with God and commune with Him? If you do, people will realize that you are different in your faith. You will not have to speak of it all of the time or become obnoxious in making pious statements.
Habbakuk wrote, "But the LORD is in His holy temple: let all the earth keep silence before Him(2:20)." On Sunday you may go to your worship service, but the world is passing you by, they are heading for the beach, the golf course, the lake, the mountains, or places of amusement. They do not wish to keep silence before God. They do not sanctify God in their hearts.
Having a good conscience; that, whereas they speak evil of you, as of evildoers, they may be ashamed that falsely accuse your good conversation in Christ(3:16).
Make sure that those who speak evil of you are in error. We are to have a clean conscience so that when rumors about us come about we will not allow them to bother us because we will know them to not be true.
For it is better, if the will of God be so, that you suffer for well-being, than for evil-doing(3:17).
When we suffer for Christ's sake we can rejoice in that; but if we suffer because we have played the fool, or have stumbled into sin, then that is a different story altogether.
That is all for tonight, beloved. God willing, I will write about how Christ's sacrifice for our sakes' is similar to what happened with Noah before the Flood. Until then, may Christ bless your efforts to carry out His will for your life.
Fri, Apr 9th - 7:00AM
Knowledge of the Holy
ETERNITY OF GOD
This idea of everlastingness permeates the entire Bible like a high mountain range, it stands large in orthodox Hebrew and Christian thought. To reject this concept renders it impossible for us to think again the thoughts of prophets and apostles since they were full of the visions of eternity.
Because the term everlasting is sometimes used to mean no more than long-lasting (as in "the everlasting hills, or mountains"), some people argue that the concept of unending existence was not the intention of the biblical writers. This is a serious error and has no grounds in serious scholarship. It is an escape from the doctrine of eternal punishment. They reject this position of the eternity of moral retribution, and in order to be consistent they are forced to weaken the whole idea of endlessness. Basically, it is an attempt to kill a truth to keep it quiet so that it won't seem to be a material witness against an error.
The truth is that even if the Bible did not teach the endlessness of God, we would be forced to infer it from His other attributes, and if the Scriptures did not have a word for absolute everlastingness, we would find it necessary to coin one to express this concept. Whew! That is one long sentence! What is a similar type of inference that we can find in our world? Well, endlessness is to the kingdom of God what carbon is to the kingdom of nature. As carbon is present virtually everywhere, as it is an essential element in all living matter and supplies all life with energy, so the concept of eternity is necessary to give meaning to any Christian doctrines. There aren't any tenets of the Christian faith that would retain significance if this idea of eternity were removed from it.
Moses said, "From everlasting to everlasting, You are God." We can gaze back through time to the distant vanishing point in history, turn around, and stare ahead into the future until our thoughts and imagination collapse from exhaustion; and still God is at both points, unaffected by either.
Time merely marks the beginning of created existence, and since God never began to exist it has no application to Him. "Began" is a time-word and thus can have no personal meaning for God. He has no past and no future. Time-words in the Bible refer to mankind, not to God. In the Book of Revelation, when the four living creatures before God's throne cry day and night, "Holy, holy, holy, LORD God Almighty, which was, and is, and is to come," they are identifying God with the flow of creature-life with its familiar three tenses. It is right to do so for God has sovereignly willed it to be this way. We are impacted by the passage of time, God is not for He is outside of time.
God may dwell in eternity but time does dwell in God. He already knows all of our tomorrows as He has lived them along with all of our yesterdays. Perhaps we should look at eternity as C. S. Lewis suggested, it being a sheet of paper infinitely extended before us. Then on that paper draw a short line to represent time. As the line begins and ends on that infinite expanse, so time began in God and will end in Him.
That God appears at the beginning of time is fairly easy to comprehend, but that He appears at the beginning and end of time simultaneously is much more difficult to grasp. But it is still true. Time is known to us by a succession of events. Changes take place in succession, not all at once, and it is from this relation of "after" to "before" that gives us our sense of time. We wait for this succession to take place, but God is not compelled to wait. For Him everything happens at once, in the here and now.
It is why God can say, "I am God,...and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning." This is why Moses rested in blessed assurance that his time-driven people would always have God as their one safe home. It is why we today can rest assured that Christ will be with us until the end. But because eternity is so long and our years are so short, how will we establish the work of our hands? Moses grasped our dilemna: "So teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts unto wisdom." Since our days are so short upon this earth, let us not foolishly waste them!
It then behooves us, in this nervous age of technology, to meditate upon our lives and our days long and often before the face of Almighty God and on the edge of eternity. For, make no mistake about it, we are made for eternity as certainly as we are made for time, and as responsible moral beings we must deal with both. All within us cries for life and permanence, and everything around us reminds us of mortality and change. Yet, that God has made us of the stuff of eternity is both a glory yet to be realized and a prophecy yet to be fulfilled, amen.
The marks of the divine image in man may have been so marred by sin that they are not easy to identify, but is it not reasonable to believe that one mark may be our insatiable desire for immortality? The ancient image of God whispers within each of us of everlasting hope; somewhere we will continue to exist. That there must be more than just this life upon this planet. And yet we cannot rejoice for the Holy Spirit troubles our conscience, frightens us with proofs of guilt and evidences of coming death. And so we are mashed between the "millstone" of hope and the other stone of fear.
How timely, and sweet, is the relevancy of the Christian message then. God's eternity and our mortality join to persuade us that faith in Jesus Christ is not optional. Out of eternity our LORD came into time to rescue His human brethren whose moral foolishness had made them not only fools of the passing world but slaves of sin and death as well
So ends this section of our study. Next time I shall write some about God's infinitude. I hope that you will return to share in these things. Grace and peace be yours!
Thu, Apr 8th - 8:01PM
I Peter Epistle Study
Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing; but contrariwise blessing; knowing that you are thereunto called, that you should inherit a blessing(3:9).
We are told to turn the other cheek. People do evil things to us we are not to seek out revenge. We do not try and get even with them. Commit that person to God, God will take care of him/her. If we take this position we stop all the fighting within the congregation of believers.
For he that will love life, and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile(3:10).
We all want to live good lives, but too many believers are not enjoying life. They are not getting all that they should out of life. Want to enjoy life to the fullest? Then do not speak evil of others, do not seek to avenge yourself of any slights or hurts, and refrain from deception and telling of lies.
Let him eschew evil, and do good; let him seek peace, and ensue it(3:11).
Let's live it up friends but do not do so by indulging in gossip and slander. Turn away from evil and pursue that which ministers to peace between people.
For the eyes of the LORD are over the righteous, and His ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the LORD is against them that do evil(3:12).
Peter quoted from Psalm 34. This thought is something that the Word of God has emphasized a great deal. God hears the prayers of those who are His own. Those who are not His may pray to Him but there is no guarentee that He will hear them. The one prayer that God will hear from any sinner is "LORD, I admit that I am a sinner, and accept Jesus Christ as my Savior, and ask that You accept me in Him." To anyone who thinks that a reprobate can live any sort of life he/she wants and then come to God in prayer when in trouble has watched too many movies. Get right with God first, then He will listen to your prayers. Continue to reject God and you can pray all day and all night fruitlessly.
That is all for tonight. God willing, I shall continue along tomorrow. Grace and peace to you all.
Thu, Apr 8th - 12:46PM
To Exalt the Anointed One
"The adversaries of the LORD shall be broken to pieces; out of heaven shall He thunder upon them; the LORD shall judge the ends of the earth; and He shall give strength unto His king, and exalt the horn of His anointed(I Samuel 2:10)."
From out of the depths of the Old Testament comes affirmation of Christ Jesus' future redeeming work upon the cross. This is a remarkable prayer, uttered by Hannah, thanking God for the miraculous birth of Samuel. It contains the very first explicit reference in the Bible to the Messiah("anointed," in Hebrew, is Messiah, equivalent to the Greek "Christ"). Her prophetic prayer predicts the ultimate exaltation of Messiah over all the adversaries of God, even to the very ends of the earth.
She also prophesied of the coming of God's great King. This came during the time of the Judges of Israel, long before the Israelites requested having a king to rule over them.
It is the first of many passages which look forward to the return of the LORD from "out of heaven" to judge all nations, to destroy His enemies, and to establish His anointed one as King of the earth.
Nothing compares to this in any of the earlier books of the Bible, but this theme is emphasized in the psalms and the books of prophecy as well as the New Testament. For instance, "The kings of the earth set themselves, and the rulers take counsel together, against the LORD, and against His anointed...Then shall He speak unto them in His wrath...Yet have I set My King upon My holy hill of Zion...and the uttermost parts of the earth for Your possession(Psalm 2:2, 5-6, 8)." King David knew about God's intentions for the future, he simply did not know the exact "when."
There are many similar prophecies, but it is significant that the very first one also contains the first mention of Messiah, and that was from the lips of a humble, but devout, mother.
Thu, Apr 8th - 7:11AM
Knowledge of the Holy
SELF-SUFFICIENCY OF GOD
"The Father has life in Himself," said Jesus. One brief statement establishes truth which is lofty and goes beyond the best of human thought. God is self-sufficient; He is what He is in Himself. And whatever He is, He is in Himself. All life is in and from God, from viruses all the way to angels. All life is a gift from God.
The life of God is not a gift from any other being. It is an impossibility, for another to be able to give to God something He lacked would make the other God. God contains all that He requires, He requires nothing from anyone else. God is able to give all things to all things and yet remains the same for He loses nothing of Himself in the giving.
For God to admit the existence of a need would be to admit incompleteness in the divine Being. God's relation to everything is a voluntary one, there is no necessity for Him to relate to anything. His interest in His creatures comes from His sovereign good pleasure, not from any need that they could supply nor from any completeness that they could possibly bring to Him.
Once more, we must force ourselves to reverse our normal flow of thoughts and try to understand that which is unique, that which stands alone as being true in this situation and nowhere else. To us all creatures have "needs" which must be met. Nothing is complete in and of itself. All breathing things require air, every organism requires food and water. Green plants require sunlight. Fish require water. Generally speaking, every created thing requires some other created thing and all things need God. We need to think outside of the "box" when it comes to God.
We do not know why God created the universe, but we can at least know that He did not bring this Creation into being to meet some requirement in Himself, as a man might build a house to shelter him against the elements of nature or plant a garden of vegetables to provide him with food. We must always remember that the word necessary is completely foreign to God.
What effect does mankind have upon God? If all of mankind's billions were to become atheistic it could not affect God in any way. To believe in Him adds nothing to His perfections, to doubt Him takes nothing away.
There is no nervous, ingratiating God fawning over us trying to win our favor. And yet today's Christianity attempts to put God on charity. So lofty is our opinion of ourselves that we find it quite easy, it not downright enjoyable, to believe that we are necessary to God. We can easily deceive ourselves into thinking that God requires us to usher in His Millennial kingdom. But the truth is that God is not greater for our being, nor would He be any less if we did not exist at all. That we exist at all is of God's free choice, not out of divine necessity.
Perhaps today the hardest thought of all is that God does not need our help. There are denominations which teach that God needs our support, our help, our assistance in order to reach the souls of the lost. The truth is that the God who works all things requires no help and no helpers. He did not when He came in the flesh to show us the way, He does not today.
Too many today feel that God's love of mankind has gotten Him into a pickle of sorts; His obviously limited abilities seem unable to convert everyone to His way of thinking. Add to this a degree of commendable idealism along with a measure of compassion for the underprivileged and we have the true drive behind much Christian activity and efforts today.
In order to communicate to us the reality of what is spiritually underway all around us daily God resorted to using military terms; but He never intended for us to believe that His throne was under some sort of massive siege which Michael and all of the other angels were defending it from. No, to think that way is to misunderstand all that the Bible tells us about God. God needs no one to defend Him from anything. If this were true, that He needed to be defended, then who could help defend us? No one.
It is morally imperative that we eliminate from our minds all ignoble concepts of God and let Him be the God in our minds that He is in His universe. Our Christian faith has to do with God and man, but its focus is God, not man. Our only claim to any sort of importance lies in the fact that we were created in God's image. God exists for Himself and man for the glory of God.
Herein we may begin to perceive why the Bible says so much about the extreme importance of faith in Christ and why any sort of doubt or unbelief is sin. To doubt that Christ died on a cross is sin, to doubt that He arose from the dead is sin, to doubt that He is coming again is sin. To doubt that Genesis records the beginning of life accurately is sin. To doubt that we are not still under the Law is sin. It is that basic, beloved. No man is safe, and secure, trusting in any other man for no one knows what lay in any other man's heart. We are safe and secure trusting in God who does not change and cannot lie. Unbelief is perverted faith, for it puts trust in dying men and not in the living God. The unbeliever usurps attributes from God that are not his/her own. Thus sin dishonors God and ultimately destroys the soul of the unbeliever.
In His love and mercy God came to us in Christ Jesus. This is the consistent message throughout the Bible. God became manifest in the flesh to show us the way to redemption and reconciliation. The Man Jesus walked among us as a demonstration, not of unveiled divineness but of perfect humanity. The majesty of the Godhead was mercifully veiled in the covering of human flesh and nature to protect mankind. Moses was commanded by God to go down the mountain and charge his people so that they would not come too close to Him and thus die. Moses also had to stand in the cleft of the rock as God passed him by for Moses would perish if he were to gaze upon the face of God Almighty.
We cannot truly achieve communion with Christ as long as we continue to think of Him as only being in the flesh. Today Christ exists in all of His burning holiness and unapproachable majesty, the very attributes which He veiled from us while He walked this earth. There is no weak Christ, He has become that which ought to impress all of us. Christ does not need us, but we surely do need Him.
All of this talk about the self-sufficiency of God ought not to paralyze us either. It ought to stimulate us into increased holy works. For while He requires no one He has condescended to come to work by and in and through His obedient children, the saints of Christ. That is the blessing which we receive upon accepting Christ as our Savior.
The various elements of truth stand in continuous antithesis, requiring us to believe apparant opposites while we wait for the moment when we shall know as we are known. Then truth which now appears to be in conflict with itself will arise in unity and it will be seen that the conflict has not been in the truth but in our finite, sin-damaged minds.
In the meantime, our inner fulfillment comes from loving obedience to the commandments of Christ Jesus and the inspired writings of His apostles. God needs no one, but when faith is present He works through anyone. A healthy spiritual life requires that we accept this statement. At least one full generation has forgotten the first part of this statement, and it has caused a deep spiritual injury to the body of Christ.
Next time I shall write some about the eternity of God. Today there is much said about how God had to come from somewhere before being here. I hope you follow along on this train of thought about the attributes of God, for it ought to alter your concepts of who and what God truly is!
Wed, Apr 7th - 6:59AM
Knowledge of the Holy
So, man is a created being, who of himself possesses nothing but is dependent for his existence upon God who created him after His own likeness. The fact of God is necessary to the fact of man. Take God out of the picture and man has no ground of existence. We become required to fill that void with wild imaginings, such as evolution, or reincarnation.
Everything that exists came out of and is dependent upon the continuing creative work of God. Genesis dictates this necessity. "All things were made by Him and without Him was not any thing made that was made." That is how John explains it, and the apostle Paul agrees with him: "For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him, and He is before all things, and by Him all things consist." And to this witness the writer of Hebrews adds his support, testifying of Christ that He is the brightness of God's glory and the express image of His Person, and that He upholds all things by the word of His power.
One of the marks of God's image upon mankind is man's ability to exercise moral choice. One of the teachings of Christianity is that man chose to be independent of God and confirmed his choice by deliberately disobeying a divine command. This choice violated the intimate relationship that existed between God and His creature, it rejected God and put man back to relying upon himself. This took him from being a planet revolving around the central Sun to being a sun in his own right, around which everything else must revolve. Man then became the center of the universe.
No more positive assertion of selfhood could be made than what Jehovah gave in response to Moses' question: "I AM THAT I AM." Yet in God self is not sin but the very essence of all goodness, holiness, and truth.
Natural man is a sinner because and only because he challenges God's selfhood in relation to his own. For us, God's dominion ends where ours begins. For us, self becomes Self, and we all imitate Lucifer who said in his heart, "I will ascend into heaven, I will exalt my throne above the stars of God...I will be like the Most High." But self is so subtle that not very many people are aware of its presence. Oh, we like to talk about the concept, but we remain quite blind to what it does to us. To most of us assertion of self is quite a normal thing to do. We are willing to share ourselves, even sometimes to sacrifice ourselves for a desired end, but we rarely are willing to dethrone ourselves. No matter how poor, we remain locked into seeing ourselves as being in ultimate control of our lives, and no one, not even God, can ever take that "throne" away from us. What folly on our part! Because we are born a rebel we too frequently remain totally unaware that we are one.
Sin can, and does have many, many manifestations but basically it boils down to one. A moral being, created to worship before the throne of God, sits on a throne of his/her own selfhood and from that lofty position declares, "I AM," That is sin in its concentrated form. Because it is so natural it appears to be good. We are told by self-help gurus that we must learn to love ourselves in order to be happy and whole. It is partially true. We must love ourselves, but not to the extent of coming to believe that we are in control of our lives. At that point we have crossed over into an unhealthy belief system. Once we are brought before the face of the Most Holy One our immorality is exposed to ourselves in frightful fashion, conviction of our hearts takes place.
This first occured at Pentecost when Peter preached. Those who heard this great sermon felt their hearts be pricked and asked, "Men and brethren, what shall we do?" That was the deep heart cry of recognition that they were usurpers and sat on a stolen throne of self-righteousness. It is this, this acutely painful realization, that produces true repentance and creates a genuine Christian once the person is dethroned and has been forgiven and has achieved peace with God once again. This is what the gospel of Christ is meant to do.
Before I reach this point in my life, all of the attempted "good works" that I perform are as unacceptable to God as was the offering of Cain. Only once I restored my stolen throne to God did my works become acceptable to God once more. This is why good works on their own can never gain me entrance into heaven.
This struggle of Christians to be good while the nature toward self-assertion still kicks within them as a sort of unconscious moral reflex is potrayed by the apostle Paul in the seventh chapter of Romans. Eight hundred years before the incarnation of Christ the prophet Isaiah properly identified sin as rebellion against the will of God and the assertion of the right of each person to choose for themselves the way they shall go. And isn't that what we still see, and hear, in our culture today? It is the woman's right to decide what to do with her body, not the baby's? It is the right of a person to decide what is good and proper for other peoples' children? I decide when to put the bottle of alcohol down, or not? Don't tell me what is wrong or right!
I don't think a more accurate description of sin can be given that that.
Next time I shall write about the self-sufficiency of God. God willing we shall all meet here again tomorrow morning and study this out some more. May the grace and peace of Christ be yours this day!
Tue, Apr 6th - 8:11PM
I Peter Epistle Study
For after this manner in the old time the holy women also, who trusted in God, adorned themselves, being in subjection unto their own husbands(3:5).
I have mentioned Ruth already, who was part of the genealogical line of Jesus Christ. I think of Esther who was married to a foreign king and was able to be an influence in her husband's affairs. There is Rachel, whom Jacob fell in love with. She was one of the few bright spots in that man's life. Women need to adorn themselves on the inside, in their inner gardens. If they would cultivate their spirits, develop compassionate, loving character, they would become extremely desireable to Christian men.
Even as Sara obeyed Abraham, calling him lord: whose daughters you are, as long as you do well, and are not afraid with any amazement(3:6).
Sarah was a beautiful woman in her youth. Several kings wanted her as their wife and this created problems for Abraham. But, she called Abraham "lord." She was in subjection to her husband and her husband alone. She looked up to him.
Likewise, you husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honor unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered(3:7).
We could assume that this speaks to two Christians married to each other. But it is applicable whether or not both spouses are believers. A husband is to treat his wife as the weaker vessel, and he is to give her honor because of that. This does not mean that she is less important than her husband nor mean that she is to be subservient to him. A woman ought to want to be a woman, and a man want to be a man. Because she is weaker she ought to be honored. The husband is to give her first place. She ought to get into the car first, enter buildings first. She should be the first to sit at a table in a restaurant. Women's liberation proponents are wrong in their claims for when a woman loses her place in a marriage she goes down, not up. For a wife to become elevated in her marriage she must then lose her proper place in the relationship and that throws the entire relationship into imbalance.
Husbands and wives that fight like cats and dogs will not have their prayers heard and answered by God. Prayers are hindered by the infighting for position, for achieving the moral "high ground." Harmony is needed within the marriage in order for the prayers of both partners to be heard by God.
God gave marriage to the entire family of man. In Genesis we can read about how God made woman from out of man. She was intended to be his "help mete." She was to be his capable helper. This was not meant to be a servant position. She was meant to be the other half of man. She was to complete him. Neither spouse is supposed to snap their fingers and the other jumps to comply. The wife is there to help him. She is there to be a part of him. She is there to love him. And, of course, he is there to love, protect, and honor her. That is as God has intended marriage to be.
Finally, be you all of one mind, having compassion one of another, love as brethren, be pitiful, be courteous(3:8).
All believers are supposed to be like-minded,sympathetic, tenderhearted, and courteous. This means that they do not try to lord it over one another. I am to esteem what others do to be more important than what I do. If I am the CEO of a huge company I am to esteem the work of the janitors to be better than what I do. This way I remain humble. I am to love each and every other believer equally. I am not to prefer some better than others. That gives place to Satan and opens the door to sin. To be of one mind requires all to be studying God's Word and to be the Holy Spirit's control. Arguing over doctrine ought not to be an ongoing concern whenever believers gather together. Live according to what God has said, not what men have said.
That is all for today, beloved. God willing, I will return tomorrow to continue this study of ours. Grace and peace to you!
Tue, Apr 6th - 6:43AM
Knowledge of the Holy
Novatian said, "God has no origin," and it is precisely this concept of no-origin that we wish to explore. Origin is a term applied only to things which have been created. It is a term that can not be applied to God for He is self-existent.
By experience we are taught that everything comes from something else. Whatever exists today had a "cause" which predates it. By asking, "Where did God come from?" unwittingly acknowledges the asker's creaturehood. The concept of cause and source and origin is firmly fixed in the mind. Without any further data the asker is reasoning correctly. Further data then is gleaned from the Word of God. Yes, it is hard to comprehend. God has no origin. God resides within a new category which is completely new and is unfamiliar.
When we attempt to focus upon One who is pure uncreated being we probably will see nothing at all since He dwells in light that no one can approach. Only by faith and love are we able to glimpse Him as He passes by our place "in the cleft of the rock."
Our human mind, being created, has an uneasiness about this concept of the "Uncreated One." We are uncomfortable with the idea. We find initially that it is scarey to allow for the presence of One who is completely unbound by this natural world of ours. That there is a Being who does not account to us for His Being is disquieting. He is responsible to no one, self-dependent, self-existent, and self-sufficient.
Philosophy and science are not normally friendly towards the concept of God for they are dedicated to the accounting for things and have trouble with anything which refuses to give an account of itself. They may admit that there are things which they do not know much about, but it is quite different from admitting that there is something of which they can never know. How do we normally handle this problem? We tend to try to save "face" by thinking God down to our level, or at least down to where we think that we are able to manage Him. And yet this is such foolishness. God is everywhere while He is nowhere, for "where" has everything to do with time, space, and matter, while God is independent of all three. He is unaffected by time or motion.
What does it say about the vast majority of us who live by belonging to churches and work to promote the Christian faith, may even pass our entire life without once giving thought about the being of God? Shouldn't we let our hearts gaze in wonder at the I AM, the self-existent God of which no creature may think? We prefer to think about more concrete things, about how to build a better program for teaching about Christ, or how to build an effective bus ministry. We want to be able to do things rather than sit down and seriously think about God. But for us to do this makes us pay a very large price in that we create a religion full of rituals and ceremonies and we do not grow in our inner lives. Man tends towards focusing upon the outer world rather than the inner world.
Are you puzzled by this? "What possible relevance does this have on my life?" "What possible meaning can the self-existence of God have for me in a world such as this, and in times such as these?" could be questions popping up in your mind.
Because we are the work of God it only follows that all our problems and their solutions are theological. Oh, oh. That sounds complicated, eh? Not really. Some knowledge of what kind of God it is that operates the universe is indispensable to any sort of sound philosophy of life and a sane outlook on what happens in our world. We cannot accurately know ourselves by only studying ourselves. That approach only yields a superficial understanding of ourselves. To proprly understand ourselves requires us to know at least something of what God is. Thus, the self-existence of God is as near as our breath and as practical as the latest surgical technique in medicine.
That is all for this morning, beloved. God willing, I shall continue this study tomorrow morning. I hope that you all return to learn more about our God, the author and finisher of our salvation!
Mon, Apr 5th - 10:15AM
I Peter Epistle Study
While they behold your chaste conversation coupled with fear(3:2).
Wish to force your husband(or wife) to recognize that you have changed? Stop indulging yourself in the things of this world and bridle your tongue. Your conversation can no longer be laced with invective, profanity, or demeaning terminology. You are to demonstrate through your actions and sincere conversation a powerful testimony towards your spouse.
Whose adorning let it not be that outward adorning of plaiting the hair, and of wearing of gold, or of putting on of apparel(3:3).
This verse does not prohibit all clothing but rather the sort of over indulgence many people today display. In the Roman Empire great emphasis was placed upon how women arranged their hair. They put jewelry in it and used hair add-ons to increase its volume and thickness. The same type of emphasis upon dress and cosmetics exists in today's culture. If you can't win your man to Christ with your sex appeal before marriage, you sure won't win him to Christ by your sex appeal afterwards. A gallon of perfume and wearing the skimpiest negligee around will not win him for Christ either.
Christian women ought to dress stylishly. Minimal makeup should be used to slightly enhance facial features, don't overdo on jewelry. God does expect us to look the best that we can with what He has blessed us with. God also does not want us to dress immodestly, attempting to attract the opposite sex through sex appeal.
But let it be the hidden man of the heart, in that which is not corruptible, even the ornament of a meek and quiet spirit, which is in the sight of God of great price(3:4).
The main ornamentation a woman should wear is found on the inside, of a gentle and quiet spirit. In the Book of Ruth we can read about how Boaz fell in love with beautiful Ruth. But before he saw her out in the fields he had already heard about her character. He fell in love with her total person, not just her physical body.
There are very many cosmetic products out on the markets today that can be helpful. Be in style, wear clothing that suits your body type, and do not try to use your body as the means of leading someone to the LORD. Develope your inner person and let your character shine out for the whole world to see.
That is all for today, my friends. Next time I shall finish up with what this chapter says about wives and move into the husbands area. Enjoy this fine Monday! Have a song upon your lips, a smile upon your face!
Mon, Apr 5th - 5:58AM
Knowledge of the Holy
The answer of the Bible to this yearning of ours to know God is simply “through Jesus Christ our LORD.” In Christ and by Christ, God provides complete self-disclosure, although He shows Himself not to reason but to faith and love. Faith is an organ of knowledge, and love an organ of experience. God came to us in the incarnation; in atonement He reconciled us to Himself, and by faith and love we enter and lay hold on Him.
God purposefully prevents man from finding Him through reasoning. He desires man to seek Him out through the cloud of obscurity flung up between us and Him. That requires us to seek Him through faith, for it is by faith that we may break through into His Presence if the seeker believes the Word.
So we come to the other question that must be answered: What is God like? We cannot ask “What is God like in Himself?” for there is no answer. But we must ask “What has God disclosed about Himself that the reverent seeker can comprehend?” To that question I think there is an answer both full and satisfying. While His essential nature and name are both secret and incomprehensible, He in condescending love has by revelation provided certain things to be true about Himself. These things many of us call His attributes, or characteristics.
It is necessary for us to define the word attribute as we are to use it in this study. We are not speaking in any philosophical sense nor are confining ourselves to its strictest theological meaning. We wish for it to mean simply whatever may be correctly ascribed to God. Nothing more and nothing less. An attribute of God is whatever God has in any way revealed as being true of Himself.
What about the number of divine attributes then? Some religious thinkers have insisted that there are seven. I surmise that since we deal with an infinite being in God, that His attributes could very well be infinite as well. To dicker over the number is pointless, it gains us nothing of lasting value.
For our purposes here we shall not even attempt to discover all of the attributes revealed within the Word of God. We will strive to understand a few of them and how they may impact our faith-walk with Christ.
To our questions God most certainly has provided answers, not all the answers to be sure, but enough to satisfy our intellects and win over our hearts. The answers have been provided through nature, through the Scriptures, and through His Son.
The idea that God reveals Himself in our natural world is not generally held with much conviction by modern Christians. Still, this concept is set forth in the inspired Word, especially in what David wrote and Isaiah and Paul.
And the Christian message is that the full sun-blaze of revelation came at the incarnation when the Eternal Word became flesh to dwell among us. Christ came to allow us to learn more about the attributes of God the Father. “He who has seen Me has seen the Father,” rings true in the ears of any who so choose to listen to the message of Christ.
Yet this revelation does not give answers which can be found by merely doing surface reading of God’s Word. They must be sought through prayer, by long meditation on the written Word, and by earnest and well-disciplined study of the Word of God. “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they shall see God.”
A man is the sum of his parts and his character the sum of the traits that compose it. Human character is not a constant thing, it’s traits are unstable, they change with time. Our traits may burn brighter or feebler at various points throughout our lives. A kind man at thirty may be quite cruel and heartless at sixty.
But when we turn to consider God’s attributes, we must enter an entirely new realm. We can no longer think creature-thoughts. God the Father is made of none, neither created nor begotten. Christ the Son is of the Father alone, not made, nor created, but begotten. The Holy Spirit is of the Father and the Son, not made, nor created, nor begotten, but proceeding. God’s being He owes to no one. His substance is indivisible. He has no parts but is single in His unitary being.
This means tha God is simple, uncomplex, one with Himself. The harmony of God results from there being an absence of parts. There can be no contradiction between His attributes. An attribute of God is not a part of God, it is simply how God is.
THE HOLY TRINITY
For us to consider, to meditate upon, the three Persons of the Godhead is to stroll in thought through the garden of Eden and to walk on holy ground. The Trinity is incomprehensible, and all efforts to wrestle a logical reasoning about it are futile.
Of course, there will be people who reject all that they cannot explain. They deny a Triune God. They conclude in their mind it is impossible that He could be both One and Three. They are trapped within their creature-thoughts and cannot escape out of that box. They fail to remember that all of life has been shrouded in mystery and only some things have been revealed through the efforts of science. Can any scientist create out of nothing an acorn that will grow another oak tree? No, it is shrouded in mystery.
How presumptuous we have become. How many natural phenomena do we take for granted each day of our lives? Do we yet completely understand any of them, or do our “experts” attempt to sound as if they totally understand them? Can thunderstorms be predicted as to exactly when and where they shall form? No. Can tornados be predicted as to exactly when and where they shall form? No. Can we predict exactly when El Nino will begin to form? No. On and on I can go with examples of natural systems of which we can only partially see what they are and how they form, let alone how they interact with each other. Can we pinpoint exactly when and where a bolt of lightning will occur in a cumulonimbus cloud? No, we can not do this.
Not all who have called themselves Christians have been Trinitarians. But just as the presence of God in the fiery pillar glowed above the camp of Israel thoughout the wilderness journey, so belief in the Trinity has since the days of the apostles shone above the Church of the Firstborn as it has journeyed down though the ages. What God has declared the believing heart confesses without the need of further proof. To seek proof is to admit doubt, and to obtain proof is to render faith empty of all value.
This was the attitude of Abraham when told by God to leave his homeland and take his family on a journey to a new land promised to him by God. It was the attitude of Joseph when God gave him a dream of the future. It was the attitude of Saul upon the road to Damascus. It must be the attitude of each believer today.
This doctrine of the Trinity is truth for the heart. Love and faith are at home in the mystery of the Godhead. The Godhead is revealed to us throughout creation, it is up to us to discern the truth of it.
Christ did not hesitate to use the plural form when speaking of Himself along with the Father and the Spirit. “We will come unto him and make our abode with him.” It is most important for us to think of God as Trinity in Unity. To do so is to think rightly of God.
It was Christ’s claim to equality with the Father that thoroughly outraged the religionists of His day and led at last to His crucifixion. Most attacks upon Christianity aim at the deity of Christ.
That is all for now, beloved. Next time, God willing, I shall begin with God’s self-existence. Hope you return to follow along! Grace and peace be yours.
Sat, Apr 3rd - 9:18PM
I Peter Epistle Study
For even hereunto were you called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that you should follow His steps:
Who did no sin, neither was guile found in His mouth(2:21-22).
Jesus Christ suffered two kinds of suffering: as a human being when He became a man, suffering for righteousness' sake. He also suffered for the sins of the world.
His suffering for the sins of the world is not an example for us to follow, it is our redemption. It is something that we believe and accept, but we can by no means imitate it. But in His life down here on earth Christ did leave us an example to follow. During His first thirty years he suffered ridicule and misunderstanding, as Psalm 69 makes clear. Then, when He moved out in a public ministry, the gospel records tell us how He suffered for righteousness sake. When you and I suffer for our faith, we only need remember the example of His life that He left behind for us.
Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, He threatened not; but committed Himself to Him that judges righteously(2:23).
Jesus Christ did not seek revenge against those who caused Him suffering. He allowed God His Father to settle the account. Remember Romans 12:19, "Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is Mine; I will repay, says the LORD." We must allow God to handle any vengeance that needs to be done. God has said that He will settle these accounts and we must trust in Him.
Who His own self bare our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes you were healed(2:24).
You and I can't suffer to wash away our own sins, much less suffer for the sins of the world. Peter speaks about redemption. "That we being dead to sins" refers to our condition, not Christ's. Through Christ's beatings and sufferings we were healed of our sin.
Many faith healers use the words, "by whose stripes you were healed," which they take from Isaiah 53:5 rather than from this Scripture. Peter has made it clear that the healing is of sins. No human physician can heal us from the effects of sin nor of sin itself. Isaiah himself spoke primarily of healing from sin and not from physical disease. To be healed from sin itself is far more important than healing from physical illness.
For you were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls(2:25).
Perhaps this is another verse that the Catholic faithful think promotes their belief that Bishops ought to rule over our congregations. I do not know. But mankind in general is always referred to as "sheep." And this verse tells us that we have all gone astray, we are lost, can't find our way home anymore. But Christ came to call us all back home. He came to rescue our souls. Isaiah 53:6 gives us this knowledge that mankind has turned away from God and unto its own wisdom, imagination, and ways.
Christ's suffering becomes the theme of the last part of this chapter. He suffered to set us an eternal example, and it was a substitutionary death for our sins.
That completes chapter two of I Peter and leads us on into chapter three. Chapter three teaches that suffering will also produce Christian conduct in the believer's life. This conduct will be shown in two places, in the home and in the church.
Likewise, you wives, be in subjection to your own husbands; that, if any obey not the Word, they also may without the Word be won by the conversation of the wives(3:1).
"Likewise" means 'in the same manner.' So this verse ties back in to chapter 2 which discussed separation. "Conversation" could also mean 'behavior.' Separation and conduct are blended and molded together in this verse.
In Ephesians 5 we can find this same theme of the position of the wife in the home. But Peter presents us with an altogether different situation from that which Paul discussed in Ephesians. There the relationship was between a believing wife and her believing husband. Here in I Peter we are faced with a believing wife married to an unbelieving husband. What is she to do?
For the sake of order in any situation there must be headship. In a marriage, that headship has been given, by God, to the husband. When the wife is told to submit, it is not like the obedience of a child. Too many men believe this verse grants them the authority to order their wives around like children. That is not true of God's intent. Submission has to do with that which is voluntary.
I wish to briefly relay some facts about marriage. Marriage is composed of three different planes. The first is the physical plane of which we are all well aware. It is important and the Word speaks a great deal about it. Between two believers sex can become the most precious, most beautiful, most wonderful thing there is in this world.
The second plane in marriage is the mental or psychological relationship. It is nice when both husband and wife enjoy doing the same things. Yes, it is good for each to have their own hobbies which the other does not share in, but the majority of things need to be enjoyed by both spouses for the relationship to be fully healthy.
The third plane in marriage is the spiritual relationship, and this applies to a union between two believers. When trouble, problems, sorrow, and sufferings come, a husband and wife should be able to kneel down together and come to God in prayer. They ought to be able to study the Word together. I do think that these three are the "cords" which are spoken of in Ecclesiastes 4:12. Have all three planes and you ought to have a great marriage. The first two can be broken but as long as the third holds the marriage will hold together. But once the third is broken the marriage is headed down the tubes, it is doomed for failure.
But this verse in chapter three talks about a believing wife and her lost husband. Some would quickly respond with, "Well, she should never have married a lost man!" What if both were lost at the time of their marriage but then the wife accepts Christ as her LORD? What then?
We have here an unfortunate relationship. The world would recommend that the man divorce her. Christ commands her to stay. She is to subject herself to her husband, to be the sort of Christ-like wife through her words and actions that her husband over time will be convinced that her faith is too real for him to ignore any more. She is not to preach to him, nag him to go to church, or to pray with her. She is to pray so that he is able to see her do it. She is to go and fellowship with other believers. She is to study God's Word frequently, if not daily. She is to love him as Christ loves her, and him. She is to allow her husband to be the head of the family. She supports him as long as he does not expect her to violate any of God's commands. She cannot go with him to nightclubs, or stripclubs, or to taverns to get drunk. She can't lie for him, steal for him, or enable him in any of his possible sins. She must defend her morality properly. She must maintain her purity. Those things are very important. A Christian wife must live her life very carefully before an unsaved husband. She must pray for God to touch her husband's heart, to call him to Christ. She does not try to change her husband through her own efforts. It does not work in any marriage. On her knees praying, asking God to change her husband's heart is the proper way. She is to preach a wordless sermon daily through her actions, her behavior.
I am going to stop here for tonight, beloved. There is more to be said about how your spouse is to be influenced properly by you. God willing, that opportunity shall come tomorrow. I pray that each and every person who reads this post has an extremely special Resurrection Sunday tomorrow! I hope that each of you will identify with the women who first arrived at His tomb shortly after daybreak; that you will find yourselves among the disciples who heard their excited report. Will your heart begin racing, awaiting in anticipation meeting Christ in His glorified body? I hope so. I hope to meet Him tomorrow, to spend an hour or so in His presence during our evening service, to allow my heart to feel His love embrace me. We all need a hug from time to time from Christ. i hope you get one tomorrow...
Sat, Apr 3rd - 7:37PM
KNOWLEDGE OF THE HOLY
It must be realized by everyone that God is not like anything; He is not exactly like anything or anybody for He is the one and only Living God. In learning something new we use what we already know as a “bridge” over the gap in knowledge to what is unknown to us. Our finite minds can’t simply leap across a huge gap from the familiar into the completely unfamiliar. We would lose all of our necessary reference points. None of us are able to produce something out of nothing simply using our imagination. The Greek and Roman mythology didn’t suddenly spring into existence from out of the thin air, but arose out of the experiences and knowledge of those cultures. Their imagination created their gods and goddesses by extending the familiar beyond their normal boundaries, or by mixing two or more forms into something new to them. But however beautiful or grotesque these deities became, their prototypes could be figured out. They were like something already known.
In the Holy Scriptures inspired men spent great effort to express the unexplainable. Many times the Scriptures were a revelation of a world above, and beyond, the natural world. The minds for which these words were written being a part of the natural world, the writers were compelled to use a great number of “like” words to make themselves understood.
Each time God’s Spirit attempts to teach us about something beyond the reach of our knowledge, He tells us that this new thing is like something we already know. But He also takes much care to phrase the description in order to prevent us from becoming locked into literalism. We this in the Book of Ezekiel when the prophet saw heaven opened up before him and witnessed things never before seen by human eyes. He resorted to the language of resemblance. “As for the likeness of the living creatures, their appearance was like burning coals of fire.”
And as Ezekiel got closer to the throne the less sure he became. “And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness of a throne, as the appearance of a sapphire stone: and upon the likeness of the throne was the likeness as the appearance of a man above upon it. And I saw as the color of amber, as the appearance of fire round about within it…This was the appearance of the likeness of the glory of the LORD.”
His language does not give us an impression of unreality but rather, it informs us that the entire scene was very real but entirely alien to anything that man knew on earth. He was forced, by the Holy Spirit, to use words which could convey enough information so that we may understand some of what he saw in heaven. What he saw in heaven would still be beyond our knowledge even today. The throne was like a throne but not exactly. He who sat upon the throne was like the appearance of a man but it implies that not exactly like a man. And of course, the glory of the LORD is somewhat like the color of amber in the form of fire. Was that the color of the flames that fell upon those saints on the Day of Pentecost? Who knows today?
When we read that man was made in the image of God, we cannot add to it any ideas from our own minds and make it to mean “in the exact image.” That would be a grave error to make. Man is not an exact replica of God for that would force God to lose His uniqueness and in the end there would be no God at all. There remains an infinitely high wall separating mankind from God. For us to fall into the snare of thinking that creature and Creator are alike in essential being is robbing God of most of His attributes and reducing Him to the level of a creature. That is what atheists attempt to do in their arguments. It takes away His infinitude, His sovereignty. There cannot be two absolute beings in the universe for eventually two completely free wills must collide.
So we are forced to use that-which-is-not-God to visualize in our minds what He is. But, whatever we conceive God to be, He is not, for our image of Him arises from out of that which He has made and what He has made is not of God. Follow that logic? If I create an oil painting it is not of me, it may come from me but it is not me. I am not part of what I have created, I am separate from it. This is how we must think of God. He created our universe but He is apart, separate from it, He is beyond our natural world.
We humans almost always attempt to reduce God to some sort of manageable terms. We either try to get God where we can use Him or so we can at least know where He is when we do need Him. In other words, we want to be able to control God. We do not generally enjoy being under someone else’s control.
Does this sound strange to you? If so, it is because for a very long time we have taken God for granted in our lives. The glory of God has not faithfully been revealed to this generation of people. We are forced to live with an inferior God that is weak, helpless, and has no power in our lives. That, beloved, is unacceptable.
How then shall we think of God? If He is in actuality incomprehensible, and unapproachable, how can we satisfy our longing for Him? How can we be held accountable to know that which cannot be known?
These are questions to be answered next time. God willing, we shall meet here again and come to know exactly what we are supposed to do with these two questions. Until then, study the Word in order to show yourself approved of God and to provide a ready answer to those who ask you why you have hope in reaching heaven.
Fri, Apr 2nd - 7:21PM
I Peter Epistle Study
Why are we to obey all of the laws of the land in which we dwell?
For so is the will of God, that with well-doing you may put to silence the ignorance of foolish men(2:15).
When we become model citizens by submitting to governmental authority and those who are in authority over us, we reveal the praises of God through our lives. God's grace becomes visible to all who observe our lifestyle. Stopped for speeding? Gracefully accept the ticket, pay the fine, and determine in your heart to not speed anymore. Obey the law. In doing this God says that we give testimony of His existance.
As free, and not using your liberty for a cloak of maliciousness, but as the servants of God(2:16).
How we keep our relationships with other people is a testimony which speaks louder than the message from any church pulpit. As believers we have a certain liberty which the unbeliever does not have. Our liberty originates in Christ Jesus. I believe that I could go and see things that many Christian brothers and sisters could not, and not be hurt by it. But, I avoid all appearance of questionable actions because of my public testimony. Weaker brothers and sisters of faith could be mislead into stumbling in their faith-walk if they were to see me doing these questionable things. Since I do not wish my brothers and sisters in Christ to be hurt by what I do I must remember that even though I am free, I am a servant of God.
Honor all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the king(2:17).
As Christians, we ought to respect other human beings. We aren't told to love all men, but to honor all men. I give our President the honor he is due, as I do the members of Congress as well as my state governor. I honor my employer and my boss.
We are told to love the brotherhood of believers. We are to hold them equally in our esteem, not preferring some over others.
By our daily lives we are to show to others that we fear God. This means that we hold God in awe, and extremely high respect. We understand what He is capable of, what He has done in the past and what He will do in the future.
When it comes to the leader of our respective nation, we are to honor and respect that person. We are not to ridicule them, demean them, or slander their name. We do not engage in vicious character assassinations nor do we condone this from others. Do I feel our curent President is capable of leading our nation back to the morally high ground it must be upon in order to lead this world? No. But I still will respect that person.
Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the unreasonable(2:18).
Anyone who works as a servant for anyone else needs to pay close attention to this verse. Back in the day when Christ walked this earth in the flesh slavery was predominant in most cultures. This was a revolutionary concept to these people. Christ said to not rebel against your master but to serve them with the same fear as they held for God. That was to be their public testimony of their faith in Christ. Serve equally both the good and the bad master. How does this apply to us today? Do you work for somebody? They are your "master." Serve them with the same fear that you hold for God. Don't bad-mouth them, don't be bitter towards them. Serve them gladly. This is part of your good service to God. He wants you to be there and to be an excellent testimony of His love for mankind.
It is far easier to work for a Christian boss than any other. But not everyone can do this, can they. I do not work for Christian bosses, they cuss and swear from time to time. I must work the best that I can for them and allow my testimony to stand on its own merit. As long as my boss does not request that I do something dishonest or illegal I do what he asks of me.
"Subjecting myself" contains the idea of freedom of choice. I am to willingly, voluntarily, subject myself to my boss. Not because I think that he/she is great person but because of my testimony for Christ. All of my labor relations must reflect this same attitude. Some days this can be challenging!
For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully.
For what glory is it, if, when you be buffeted for your faults, you shall take it patiently? but if, when you do well, and suffer for it, you take it patiently, this acceptable with God(2:19-20).
"Glory" probably could be translated today as fame and prestige, celebrity status. Slaves long ago were beaten with fists when they messed up their tasks or duties. That is what we are being given as a picturesque example. If we screw up and are taken to task by our boss but take it patiently, that is to be expected of us. But if we do what we are supposed to, and still get taken to task by our boss, we are to take that suffering with patience and be praised by God. Our natural reaction to being treated badly for no reason is to strike back and defend ourselves. We need to brand Romans 12:19 into our memories along with Matthew 5:11-12.
That is all for tonight, beloved. God willing, next time I shall cover some verses which describe what our Savior had to go through in purchasing our redemption from sin. May you serve God gladly, with a cheerful heart, and a song on your lips continually.
Fri, Apr 2nd - 12:58PM
Knowledge of the Holy
My friends, for us to effectively walk in truth, in the light, in righteousness, it requires that we have found that which is true, is light, and is righteous. It means that we have found the source of correctness. So where is that?
This study searches out what we might know about God, the Holy One. If Jesus said that He was the Way, the Truth, and the Life then we must find out everything that we can about Him in order to apply it to our lives.
This study originates from the work of A. W. Tozer who wrote a book with this title. I recomend it to everyone for study.
Today's church suffers from a serious lack. We lack a proper concept of the majesty of God. All denominations have effectively surrendered the once lofty idea of God and now subsists on a low view which is unworthy of thinking, worshiping mankind. In most instances it has not been deliberate, it has happened little by little through ignorant choices. That is what makes it so sad.
This low view of God creates a myriad of lesser evils all around us. It has lead many into erroneous beliefs that provide them with nothing of eternal value. As we have lost our sense of majesty in God we have also thrown away our awe and awareness of the divine Presence, of Jehovah. We find it immensely difficult to withdraw into solitude and worship Christ intimately. The words, "Be still, and know that I am God" have become meaningless to the independent busy worshiper of today. Too many feel compelled to be in constant motion and never stop long enough to meet God in quiet solitude, just you and Him. Churches are growing by leaps and bounds in different parts of America but it tends to be all external gains and we continue to rack up internal losses. It is the quality of our beliefs that is affected by internal conditions.
How may we recover those losses? We must go back to the cause of them and correct the mistakes made, according to how the truth dictates. Our knowledge of the Holy affects our perceptions of what and who God is. It colors our thoughts on what God can do, and it affects how we perceive His thinking. Our moral code can not be sound if our idea of God is faulty or simply inadequate. To reacquire spiritual power in our lives, we have to think of God more accurately, more closely, as He is.
THINKING RIGHTLY ABOUT GOD
What do comes into your mind when you think about God? A white-haired elderly man smiling down on us from the clouds in the sky? A stern, fist-clenching figure with dark hair streaming out behind Him as He comes to punish mankind?
Most of us tend towards developing a mental picture of God which aligns with our personal preferences. That leads to errors in knowing God accurately. The most revealing item about any denomination is its idea of God, and its message will be what it says about Him, and does not say about Him. Silence can speak volumes. See, it comes down to public witness. Christ said that His saints would be known by their works.
And so we must strive always to keep our concept of God as pure as possible. It means that we must use the Word of God as our mirror each and every day to keep that picture unchanging. The truth is, we will only worship according to our concept of God. If we believe that He is truly almighty, omniscient, omnipresent, and eternal, then our worship will reflect that. We will often have tears in our eyes from the depth of feeling evoked during singing our praises to Him. He will truly become our "all in all."
I have said elsewhere that the person who reaches a right belief about God is relieved of innumerable temporal problems in this life. Daily issues become insignificant in light of eternity in heaven with Christ. If I do not believe that I am going to make it to heaven then I do not have much, if any, hope in the future. If I do not believe God keeps His promises then I have doubts in what my future holds for me. It is all important to have the proper concept of God in our minds.
Those of unbelief say that God is a misbegotten bastard who relishes in sadistic tormenting of people too stupid to be aware of such a being. This picture comes out of their personal concept of what God must be, which is colored by their personal experiences. Any image of God formulated in the darkness of a fallen heart will not be any true likeness of the true God. It is twisted by the darkness of that heart. In the Psalms we can find where God said, "You thought that I was altogether such a being as yourself!" What an insult to a being that is eternal, to have its created creatures fling insults back into its face. I have said before that idolatry is not just kneeling before graven images, or statues. It is any concept about God that is unworthy of Him. Unthankful for what God has been doing in your life? It is idolatry. Think that God has lied to you about forgiving you of all of your sin? It is idolatry. Think that Jesus is not God? It is idolatry. Think that you must pray to Mary, mother of Christ for forgiveness of sins? It is idolatry. Think that man can become just like God by unlocking hidden potential within man? It is idolatry.
The single main reason the Christian faith is in decline today arises from a corruption of its basic theology. "What is God like?" gets answered wrongly too often. We must therefore purify and elevate our concept of God so that it once again becomes worthy of Him.
Next time I will write some about the incomprehensibility of God. I hope that you can return here and follow along as we explore the attributes of Jehovah and discover what God is truly like.
Thu, Apr 1st - 6:29PM
I Peter Epistle Study
Which in time past were not a people, but are now the people of God: which had not obtained mercy, but now have obtained mercy(2:10).
In time past we were in the darkness of ignorance and sin, but now we have obtained mercy from God and become His chosen people. We were very far from God before we came to a point in our lives of accepting Christ into our hearts. The one gift from God you and I do not want to miss out on is that of "mercy." It is a huge box for God is rich in mercy towards mankind. If you need mercy today, you can go to God for it.
Again, Peter is writing to those Jews who have accepted Christ but are still scattered all over the region in other countries/nations. He wishes to assure them that they too can be a part of God's new work, the calling out of people and extending to them His mercy.
Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul(2:11).
The child of God ought to show his gratitude to Christ by not manifesting the works of the flesh. We earlier found out what some of these works of the flesh are, and so those are things that ought not to be found in us. Our attitudes should reflect what we are now reading in the Word of God. We also need to note that our lusts war against our soul. Two natures inside of us are battling it out for control over us. Our fleshly, carnal nature; and our spiritual, Godly nature. Which ever nature that we feed the most will win out for control over our bodies and actions. We must choose wisely.
Having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation(2:12).
True Christian living is not separation from the world in total or of refraining from doing worldly things. It is very positive action. It is being honest, and doing good works. It is seeking out the best for your neighbor and friends. That is our witness to the world, loving each other as Christ loves us. Being willing to sacrifice your needs for those of another.
Submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord's sake: whether it be to the king, as supreme;
Or unto governors, as unto them that are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers, and for the praise of them that do well(2:13-14).
Nero was just coming to the throne of the Roman Empire. His government was just like any of our time, boastful of its accomplishments on behalf of man. The poor man never has had a fair shake; the rich man always has been able to buy lawyers who were smart enough to evade the law. Nothing changes on that front. The poor always has more, and deeper, problems with the law. What then should our relationship be to the law of the land? We are to obey it. We are not to rebel against it, nor are we to attempt to extricate ourselves from being under it by peaceful resistance. Christ said to submit ourselves to every ordinance. That does not allow for any "wiggle room." Back in Peter's day they were under Roman law and they were to obey it. No passive resistance was called for by God. Rome intended most of their laws to be just, they simply did not end up that way most of the time. Rome crucified Christ and persecuted the early believers, and yet boasted loudly about their justice. It sounds much like modern America where religion, specifically Christianity, is very politely being suppressed. Are we to rebel against the governmnet? No. We are to obey the laws of the land and be model citizens by example. Refuse to participate in elections and you no longer are a model citizen and lose all footing for any type of debate about what is wrong with our nation. Refuse to pay your taxes and you are in the wrong in God's eyes. God is the one who institutes governments to rule over us. Far be it for us to decide He is wrong.
That is all for today for this study, beloved. Now you may understand why I frequently use the term "beloved" in my posts here. It is what every believer is in the eyes of God and should be that way for each of us as well. May Christ bless you and your loved ones with life, grace, and peace.
Thu, Apr 1st - 2:06PM
Win the Battle for Our Homes
THE INTENTION FACTOR
"Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth," says Solomon in Proverbs 5:18. If we are to have strong families, we must comprehend God's intention for us. He intends for us to have strong, lasting marriages. We are not to be like the honeybees, flitting from flower to flower searching for the sweetest nectar.
God's intent is that our marriages last a long time. It ought to be a loving marriage as well as a long one. "Let her be as the loving hind and pleasant roe; let her breasts satisfy you at all times; and you be ravished always with her love(Proverbs 5:19)." Do not think that by living according to God's standards that you are to miss out. If you live according to this world's ever-changing standards you will definitely miss out on fulfillment and joy. Obey God and find satisfaction in your life.
What are God's laws for? They are for our welfare. God asks us to do our best, expects us to perform our best. God doesn't try to keep sex from us. He's simply trying to keep joyous sex for us. That is why He calls us to run from fornication. God desires us to have something so much better than illicit sex. He wants us to experience a happy marriage. So, keep yourself pure for God has something wonderful in store for you!
Let's look at a few things. Are there ways in which you can see our homes under attack in our society today? Perhaps you are thinking about the debates ongoing over what constitutes a marriage? Or the debates over abortion; who has control over their bodies? Or perhaps empowering the rights of children? Or not requiring the permission of parents for a girl to have an abortion?
What about our reactions to the questions raised about the traditional view of husbands and wives? Or fathers and mothers? Who can be a father, or a mother, or a husband or a wife? Are there distinctions which have been getting more and more blurred in recent years? Who has more rights in raising children: parents or the state? I think that you may decide that there has been attacks made against traditional marriage and the family unit. Now we need to ask ourselves, Why has Satan made destroying the home such a priority? Why is this so important to him? Could it be that he knows that the family unit is the basic building block of any society? No culture can sustain itself once the families that compose it are broken apart into something different. Could the Jewish culture remain intact if its members married outside of the culture? This was an issue back with the Samaritans and the Jews. The Samaritans were the offspring of mixed marriages of Jews with area tribes which were non-Jewish. The Jews did not consider these people to be Jews. Rightly or wrongly, this was their perception of their cultural heritage. Satan knows that he can easily change any societal group as long as he can alter/corrupt the basic family unit upon which that societal group is constructed of. In America, he attempts to change our basic family concepts in order to change our culture. We accept these alterations we will then lose our Christian heritage and will become that much farther apart from God.
Let me ask you a delicate question. Where do most people learn about sex? Why is this significant? If the public school system is allowed to dominate in the teaching of sex to our youth will that result in most, or all of them, becoming at odds with God's teaching? I think the answer to that is a big, YES! By skimming through the first four chapters of Proverbs we can find much being said about the importance of getting God's perspective on matters before seeking the counsel of men. Every mother and father ought to study these four chapters of Proverbs before having any children in order to understand what is to be expected of them from God. I have to admit that even though I remembered some of what I had read of Proverbs there was much that I had forgotten by the time my wife and I were raising our eldest son. I am doing an improved job in raising my grandsons.
Turn to Proverbs 5:1-5 again. "My son, pay attention to My wisdom; listen closely to My understanding
so that you may maintain discretion and your lips safeguard knowledge.
Though the lips of the strange woman drip honey and her words are smoother than oil,
in the end she's as bitter as wormwood and as sharp as a double-edged sword.
Her feet go down to death; her steps head straight for Sheol."
How are we drawn into sexual sin? First, we do not believe in God's Word, or we forget all about it in our daily life. Then, we run across an individual who is a smooth talker, one who strokes our ego's. We like what we see and hear and so we are drawn after that person.
Turn over to chapter 6:23-29, "For a commandment is a lamp, teaching is a light, and corrective instructions are the way to life. They will protect you from an evil woman, from the flattering tongue of a stranger. Do not lust in your heart for her beauty or let her captivate you with her eyelashes. For a prostitute's fee is only a loaf of bread, but an adulteress goes after your very life. Can a man embrace fire and his clothes not be burnt? Can a man walk on coals without scorching his feet? So it is with the one who sleeps with another man's wife." Sexual sin leads to one attempting to hold onto fire and not get burnt badly. Adultery will lead you into experiencing deep pain and anguish, like walking barefoot on red-hot coals. It is to be avoided at all costs. Read about the young man in Proverbs 7:6-27 and think about how he is described. He "impulsively" follows after her seductive lead, not stopping to think things through at all. He allows himself to go with the flow of emotions and hormones racing through his mind and veins. He is not in control of himself at all, another person controls him. Is this how you wish to live your life? To be at the whim of someone else?
In all three passages here the result of sexual sin is the same destination: Sheol, or Hell. It is like the movie, Final Destination. Walk this road and you cannot change the outcome. It is better to never begin walking down this path. It is better to stop and remember what God has said about these things. Turn and flee from seductive people who only desire physical pleasure and offer nothing else of lasting value to you.
I remind you of what Proverbs 5:8 said to us. We are to stay far away from the immoral people of this world. Do not hang out with them. Do not become best buddies with them. Look at II Timothy 2:22, "Flee from youthful passions, and pursue righteouness, faith, love, and peace, along with those who call on the LORD from a pure heart." Oh, how I wish I had done this when I was in my twenties! I would be a different man today!
Turn now to I Corinthians 6:18, "Flee from sexual immorality! Every sin a person can commit is outside the body, but the person who is sexually immoral sins against his own body." There it is, my friends. Sexual dalliances impact our bodies. There are consequences for every choice that we make. Sexual sin, of necessity, involves our bodies and ought to give us even greater pause before committing to them. But in today's world less thought is given to sexual sin than is given to overeating, or to the abuse of domestic pets.
So are we promised a means of escaping out of these situations that inevitably show up in our lives? Yes we have. Look at I Corinthians 10:13, "No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to humanity. God is faithful and He will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation He will provide a way of escape, so that you are able to bear it." As long as we are not allowing ourselves to be swept away on a torrent of feelings we can discover the escape hatch from sexual temptations. A woman once tried to coerce me into her bedroom by claiming that at the rate I was going I would be 50 before I ever had any kids! I stopped dead in my tracks, looked her squarely in the eyes, and said, "Then so be it!" And I wasn't even a Christian at that time! God provided me the escape route to follow to get out of there. God will provide you with the means to flee these situations, it is up to us to recognize them.
Will we be able to always remain free of other peoples' desires to involve us in their sexually immoral desires? Of course not. Study how Joseph tried to deal with this issue in Genesis 39:6-12. Did God ever abandon Joseph? No, He did not. Remember, we cannot reason with sexual temptation, we simply need to flee from it.
Here is another good question for us to consider: What are the consequences of pornography in the life of a Christian? Or the life of any person? In rereading Proverbs 5:9-14 I see that if I continue in being addicted to pornography, when I reach my old age, if I indeed make it that far, I shall lament my folly in not listening to those who warned me of the consequences of doing such things. My utter ruin will be evident to the entire community within which I am living. No truer statement can be made today, what with our media outlets which broadcast all transgressions once discovered by anyone. It is only a camera phone click away. Pornography is on our televison sets daily. Victoria's Secret commercials leave nothing to the imagination, which is exactly their intent. There are many more examples that you can think of. To be spending any amount of time fantasizing about these things is stealing from my spouse, plain and simple. We need to stay away from all of this.
What principle was Jesus speaking of in Matthew 5:27-28? "You have heard that it was said, You shall not commit adultery. But I tell you, everyone who looks at a woman to lust for her has already committed adultery with her in his heart." Yes, He was speaking to primarily a patriarchal society back then, but this applies to both men and women today. In our society both genders clothe themselves to attract and distract members of the opposite gender. This makes it very difficult to not notice things that we ought not to even know about. We must guard our minds, our eyes, and our ears from these temptations.
I will leave you with this from Hebrews 13:4, "Marriage must be respected by all, and the marriage bed kept undefiled, because God will judge immoral people and adulterers." And so, we come to a point where we are forced to ask ourselves, "Does our society in general still respect marriage?" We need to always remain cognizant of the fact that God shall judge immorality, and He shall judge it harshly. Immoral people will not inherit the kingdom of heaven as revealed to us in I Corinthians 6:9-10. Let us then, beloved, cleanse ourselves with the sweet Word of God, and remove ourselves from all appearance of immorality. Let us determine in our hearts to flee sexual immorality and to protect our purity, our marriages, our children, and our homes. For to do this allows our society to become stronger, healthier, and more stable.
I sincerely hope that this study triggers a response within each reader to dig deeper into God's Word for more on this subject. I have not attempted to make this an exhaustive study, merely to bring it to light before you.
Grace and peace be yours!
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